There’s just something about October that makes me want to dig out the craftwork. I think it’s nothing more atavistic than the traditional autumn screen binge, actually – because I’m currently watching Mad Men (still wonderful, despite the broken tension), I,Claudius (because of feeling rather ancient worldy following a short September treat in Rome) and Escape into Night (elderly TV version of chilling childhood book Marianne Dreams). I’ve even – don’t start on me – watched The Apprentice on TV3. (But please tell me I didn’t hear Bill Cullen ask the male team “So what was it like being project managed by a woman?”) That’s a lot of sofa-time, and having spent my childhood doing my homework lying on my stomach in front of Diff’rent Strokes and All Creatures Great and Small, I’ve never been comfortable with the idea of watching television and not doing something else at the same time, so I’ve started thinking about the boxes of crafty crap up in the attic, and wondering whether to heave one down.
Lurking there are:
- the knitting box (needles, patterns, scraps of wool and my half-finished projects of Octobers gone: an out-of-date class timetable from the Yarn Room, hats, a jumper sleeve, a knitted patchwork quilt in blues, purples and greys which was going to be a. lovely and b. an heirloom)
- the jewellery box (semi-precious stones, pliers, silver wire – for a few years a friend and I had weekly jewellery making sessions together, leading up to a Christmas sale, but we’ve been more diffident for the last couple of years about asking people round for mince pies and Babycham and then springing a till on them)
- the batik box (funny wax pens with brass reservoirs, and a great, split bag of wax pellets – currently sliding all over the attic like a monster version of the green lentils at the back of my dry food cupboard)
- the sewing box (sadly reduced to some gaudy fat quarters and a bag of recycled nametapes. God be with the days I made my own debs dress. Further into the eaves there’s the sewing machine – must, must, must watch online tutorials)
- the art box (lovely, lovely watercolours and that horribly expensive thick, grainy paper, a red bamboo roll of brushes and silky pencils)
- the card box (mainly for the youngstas, I couldn’t be more fed up with mini clothes pegs, stick-on shoes, dresses and prams, glue pens and all that general school artroom knick-knackery, give me a beautifully drawn or painted card any day)
Then instead of a cosy asbestos stuffing in the roof, we have several half-finished patchwork quilts and those enormous sitting room curtains whose goblet pleats never sat smoothly. Perhaps I could rework them into a maxi dress? No – because this year I’m not going into the attic on October 1st. I’m ignoring the mouldering relics of previous autumns and learning something new, so that I have something fresh to discard in February. My jewellery friend and I have signed up to a blacksmithing course at Russborough House, run by Gunvor Anhøj and we’re going to learn how to make fire irons. I’m a little worried about the actual hammering – bang, bang, metal on metal is veering into the sensations of fork-scraping-teeth or nails-scraping-terracotta-pot – and it’s obviously heavy work, too, but I think I’m game, so let’s shovel on a little more coal, and I may well spend the winter lifting embers with half a tongs. I don’t think I’ll test the attic rafters with an anvil, though.
I can’t be the only one with itchy fingers this autumn – what are you up to?
Or, more nosily – what lurks in your attic?