Had to concede defeat today and actually make a cash purchase in relation to the building of the gypsy caravan.  In order to paint some decorative designs on the panels of the doors and shutters, we needed a rigger (a very fine paintbrush with long bristles suitable for painting narrow, delicate lines – in case you didn’t know, ‘cos I didn’t!). We were passing a huge Hobbycraft, so we popped in.

Now, as you might know, I like making things – I like sewing, knitting, cross-stitch, quilting, painting things, etc, so you’d probably assume that I’d love Hobbycraft.  And I probably should.  Lots of my friends seem to love it, and I have to say I’ve bought a few things from there now and again, but something about the place seems to me all wrong.

The thing I like about sewing and knitting, and re-painting old things, is using time and imagination to turn something very ordinary (a bit of wool, some scraps of fabric, an old item of furniture) into something lovely. In Hobbycraft, you can just walk in and buy all the bits and pieces, and that seems to me kind of like cheating.  Quite apart from the fact it’ll cost you a small fortune which seems to go against the “make do and mend” ethos of making stuff for yourself, it’s just too easy.  Where’s the joy of rifling through your old button box to find the perfect button to use as decoration for your latest project? Where the sense of achievement from using that left over piece of fabric, or old pair of curtains to make something new?  If you’re just going to walk into a shop and buy all the bits, you may as well just buy the thing you were going to make, and save yourself the time and trouble.

Of course, I am a master horder of fabric and other useful bits and pieces – and my mum was too, so I have her old collections of buttons, fasteners, ribbon, beads etc.  I realise other people might not keep a whole load of “crafty” stuff for years on end, just in case, and so they might have to go to places like Hobbycraft.  But the idea of buying a specific kit which has been put together by someone else, and making something from a set of instructions doesn’t really appeal to me.  The best bit about home crafts is just being creative and making whatever you want – not what someone else has designed.

Hobbycraft is great if it encourages people to have a go at a creative project.  But I hope those people then go on to make more things for themselves just using the stuff they already have at home, and their own imagination. It’s so much more satisfying.  And cheaper!  And greener!  😉