I'm lucky. I come from a loving, supportive and inspiring family. But I became very aware that all the "family history" stories were based around the men. Don't get me wrong, the men in my family are great, but I got to thinking about how great and how unsung the family's women are.
My maternal grandmother was a true matriarch. She ruled her family with a iron will, but also with a velvet glove. She was strong, determined and always loving. From her I inherited my commitment to try and do things right.
My paternal grandmother was a court seamstress. Sadly she became crippled with arthritis, but somehow she managed to continue being creative. I knew her too late to experience the full flow of her skills, but I still own and treasure a number of her creations, both finished and incomplete. From her I inherited my crafting skills - and probably also my temptation to begin a new project before finishing the last!
My mother is a truly wonderful woman. She is devoted, hard-working, talented, level-headed, reliable, loving, clever and has an indomitable energy to keep experiencing life. I can't list the qualities I have inherited from her - they are too numerous. I have many of her good qualities, and some of the bad ones too - and I am eternally grateful.
For the whole of my life I wanted to be an actress. I had lots of hobbies and interests, but my career choice never faltered. In 2001 I discovered my dream job, and have been working as a clown entertaining children in hospitals since then. I work for an amazing charity called Theodora Children's Trust, who enable a growing team of performers to offer this service to hospitals across the UK. (Check them out on www.theodora.org.uk ).
Then, in 2011, I collapsed. I was taken seriously ill. Medical tests were unable to give a specific diagnosis, but I was totally incapacitated, and the only advice the doctors could give me was "rest".
I'm not great at sitting still (thanks for that quality, Mum!), and especially not for months at a time. So I took this enforced free time to revisit some of the crafting hobbies that I never usually had time for. I began dressmaking, knitting, jewellery-making, crochet, as well as experimenting with some crafts that were new to me, such as needle-felting.
And as the months have progressed I've ended up with quite a stash of eclectic (and completed!) projects.
So here I am, over sixteen months since I was first taken ill, wanting to share some of my projects with the world. I've enjoyed them and found them therapeutic - the blackwork embroidery photo at the top of this blog was done at the height of my illness, and was incredibly calming to work on - and I'm proud of the things that I have produced. I hope you enjoy them too!
Post script: Since writing this post, I have received a diagnosis for my illness. I have something called PoTs - postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome. I won't bore you with the details. My uncle described it as "trying to run a four-star engine on two-star petrol", and that sums it up pretty well. If you want further information there is a fantastic website www.potsuk.org
It is a chronic illness, so whilst my symptoms may improve, I will never be completely free of it. Enforced resting will mean more sewing time, so look out for more posts! H.x