Wednesday, 25 December 2013

Hand-made Christmas - an apology.

I love to make things. It makes me happy.

Planning projects, finding materials, locking myself away with knitting needles, sewing machine or craft knife is just heaven. It's as if you're doing something useful and productive, but without the useful-and-productive thing being actually that useful.

The trouble is, I'm just not that good at it. In fact, everything I've made is just a little bit rubbish. I'm not very good at finishing things. As in, there are a lot of half-made projects in my house; but also as in I'm not nearly pernickety enough.

The corners of my sewing projects are a bit, well, un-cornery. The sewing-up of my knitting is far from  invisible. My decoupage? Oh lord, my decoupage is lumpy.

And the projects I choose to make: weird, just weird. A pair of knitted breasts; a Ferrero Rocher box emblazoned with a Rod Stewart collage; a packet of chocolates that look strangely like poos: "Loulou's Lumps".

For the last few years, I have elected to use my handcrafting "skills" to make presents for my beloved friends and family.

Poor bastards.

I don't think my brother will ever recover from opening his giant stripy gloves. "There's no such thing as too much space for thumbs, Loulou." Tactful boy.

As the man in receipt of this year's Ferrero Rocher/Rod Stewart collaboration, he'll be glad we aren't seeing each other this year. He'll have plenty of time to compose his face before the Christmas Skype this afternoon.

My theory is: kids'  presents are about "how long can I keep you busy before you start fighting with your siblings?" For adult males, it's "How much can I make you laugh on Christmas morning?"

What the shops want me to buy for my grown-up brothers can do that. A stick-on-moustache? "Vintage" aftershave gift-set? Or if I want to get them something useful, there's vouchers. Vouchers? Oh I dunno... It doesn't say "thoughtful" does it? And in order to make a voucher worth having you have to blow the budget you've carefully agreed. You can make that budget go so much further if you hand-make.

So, dear family and friends, this Christmas you are opening a parcel of something that looks like crap. (Literally, if you're getting Loulou's Lumps) Sorry.

But here's the process:

- I thought about you when I planned it.
- I thought  about you when I bought the bits and bobs I needed.
- I thought about you with every cut (and occasional slip) of the craft knife, every slop of the PVA, with every wobbly seam and every time my swearing machine refused to cooperate.

In every frayed edge, dropped stitch, mis-shaped lump, in every "no seriously, what actually is it?" there is love.

Merry Christmas. I'm sorry I'm not there to see your bemused faces this year.

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