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Is crafting bad for women? We don't think so (and we know some great crafty places in North London)

Some time in the past few years, crafts became cool. First it was knitting - made cool by things like Stitch n Bitch and then slowly, this spread to other crafts too. Now everyone is making do and mending and discovering new crafty activities. In this post we wonder why everyone's suddenly getting crafty and then tell you some places you can go in North London to indulge your love of crafts and learn some new ones.

Having been a closet cross stitcher and tapestry enthusiast for a while, I am very happy about crafty activities coming in to the mainstream. No longer do I have to keep my hobby to myself, hidden away in my Cath Kidston sewing basket.

I personally got into sewing during a time in my life when things were difficult and it was really comforting to sit and do a quiet activity where I was making something beautiful. This felt so much more positive than just sitting in front of the TV and gave me a great outlet. I am not brilliantly creative so I tend to use ready made kits from great sites like Jolly Red and The Bold Sheep who send you lovely kits to complete. Pictured below is my current work in progress, which is one of Jennifer Pudneys lovely needlepoint postcards. This is literally stitching by numbers so anyone can do it.

Jennifer Pudney's Needlepoint Postcards, from Jolly Red

I read a great article last week about whether this renaissance in crafting amongst women in their twenties and thirties is a good thing or whether it is in fact concerning that we are returning to the home based activities that our mothers and grandmothers tried to free themselves from. The author of this interesting article (wish I could remember who/where it was) said that her friends were all making their own clothes, jam, cakes and crafts in a way she never would have imagined a few years ago and were gaining great contentment from these things that their mothers abhorred. 

I personally think that it is a very positive thing as we now do these things because we chose to, which is quite different to our grandmothers who probably had to. Very few of us probably sew, knit or bake because we can't afford to buy things and most of us do it because we enjoy it and find the activity itself relaxing.

In this busy life of constant distractions, it is important to take time to sit down and do something that requires a quiet mind and I think that it is no coincidence that crafting is gaining in popularity as life gets busier and busier and technology ever more intrusive. I am pretty sure that the uncertainty brought about by the credit crunch also means that it is comforting to turn to things which we can control and shape ourselves and that sewing, knitting and baking fall into this category. They don't confine us to the house in any way but mean that we can add to our home without spending any money.

I can see the argument that women should be out there changing the world, rather than prettifying their home and baking up a storm, but I feel that there is probably time for both in life and that taking time to be domestic doesn't mean you are writing off other aspects of life. As ever, the key aspect is choice. 

We've noticed recently that there are a number of great places springing up where you can indulge your love of crafts and learn some new ones. These are some great local places:

The Make Lounge, Islington has a huge wealth of lovely workshops to chose from as well as offering hen parties and other private parties. There are so many different activities on offer here (from chutney making to paper cutting and lampshade making) and we've heard that the classes are really well run and easy to follow so that you always get to take something nice home with you at the end.

Oak Studio, Hampstead does lots of lovely workshops for children and adults. Coming up you can make a vintage cake stand, learn to crochet and make festive cake pops.

Fringe at Studio 108, Muswell Hill is a really lovely new venue that is also doing workshops for children and adults. Coming up they have make christmas cross stitch cards, knitted tea cosys and making lavender bags (for children).

We know that there are also craft groups that meet up so do tell us if you belong to one as we'd love to join!

What do you think - is crafting a positive thing for women or a step back in time? Do you think women should get out more and take on the world instead of the home? Where do you go to learn new skills and meet other crafters? Do tell us your thoughts.

sweet without sugar 6 December 2011 at 13:42 said...

Nest in Crouch End is wonderful, friendly and does lots if classes & groups.
Several libraries in Barnet & Enfield have knitting groups and Big Green Bookshop in Wood Green has a knitting/crochet/yarn craft afternoon on the first Sunday of every month.

Anonymous 6 December 2011 at 14:32 said...

The Emporium Tea Rooms in Muswell Hill is also good for crafty stuff (including buying handmade items). This is an interesting topic. Whether it's an innocent expression of retro chic or a more sinsister harking back to when women had no choice but to be homemakers is debateable! I learnt most of my crafting from my mum, and becoming a parent myself rekindled my interest. But it's also a reaction against the disposable, throwaway culture we live in...and I find it so satisfying to make something (I don't "make" anything in my job!). On the gender front, I'm currently being frustrated that craft books for kids/craft parties all seem to be aimed at little girls as I want my son to grow up not thinking of craft as "a girl thing"...

Anonymous 7 December 2011 at 09:16 said...

Thanks both. Nest sounds lovely and will check it out really soon.

I can't believe I forgot Emporium though as I go there all the time for tea, I've just never done crafts there.

Totally agree with everything you say lowimpactparenting about crafting, I also find it very satisfying to make things. We went to Creation Station classes and they do parties too and are definitely as good for boys and girls.

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