look | spin

Mess and Moving

November 26, 2018

As I write, the house is filled with boxes and empty shelves as we are getting ready to move into our new home in Ballarat. We will have a proper garden again, there’s a little greenhouse, room for chickens and over a dozen established fruit and nut trees in the back and front garden.

There’s not been much energy left for making at the moment but I do have some spinning on the go. It gives my brain a rest from all the logistics of relocating four people and a dog whilst keeping everything as normal as possible.

This is a lovely chocolate Finn x Corriedale from Fairfield Finn’s shearing from last year. I am making a worsted 3 ply fingering weight for a cardigan and the spinning is giving me such pleasure.


This is an unstyled picture of my making and mending station. It’s a lovely but battered Deco occasional table that I always intend to be clear of clutter but is usually completely colonised by my bits and pieces. I sit in the chair next to it, right next to the window and the natural light and reattach buttons, mend dog toys and bear ears and sew up holes in tights and leggings. It is also where I spin and knit.

Perhaps you are wondering why I didn’t tidy up to take this pic, after all, that is what we do on blogs and Instagram. We style the set, take the pic, edit the pic and then publish a beautiful, ordered scene. But life is not like that. Life is messy. Packing tape sits next to a vintage tin next to an ugly but useful plastic bag for my flicker which I don’t want to loose. My knitting bag is pretty side down and I think there are even discarded hair ties from my kids on the table. You can just make out my knitting basket underneath the table, a medusa-like tangle of yarn and sleeves. My spinning wheel is just out of shot.

I find I am becoming increasingly wearisome of all the hidden labour of artifice which dominates our online craft photos. Orderly lines of tools and staged knitting with cakes and tea just tire me at the moment. We are not companies finessing every aspect of our brand…we are makers and making is messy. Making is about process and skill not simply a finished object set within other pretty objects. Where can we see the process? Where can we see the entrails and bones of being creative?

Let us embrace the entrails of our creativity dear readers, they are the true medals of everyday life.

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  1. Oh my goodness. Your new place has a lot of fine aspects–established fruit trees, hurrah! I wish I could attach to this comment a photo of the armchair over there which has ironing (BEFORE not after–) a pattern I cut out weeks ago which is still tissue paper and fantasy, with a cushion on it, two baby knitting books a friend brought over (haven’t finished the bootees, so can’t start a jumper yet) and a random folded, ironed hanky. The chaos in my making corner of the lounge encompasses sewing mending tin always overflowing, and the knitted vest that has been stopped for a few years–I ripped out half the colour work the other night. Then the wheel and a basket of bits and bobbins. And so on and on. I ADORE having stuff out where I can see it and pick it up in any spare moment, and only sometimes does it freak me out to be surrounded by so much incomplete work in progress. Mostly I still think about how much I like the fabric, what colour I will dye that yarn… and so on. Happy moving.

    1. I love this reply Mary, it is anthropological in its detail. It makes me think that perhaps adopting an anthropological lens to looking at our making might help to free us from this tendency to stage photos like advertising studios. As non selling makers perhaps we need to view our photos as documents of the creative process. mmmm…ideas are forming.

  2. OH, Bones and Entrails…….welcome to my world! LOL I totally agree and always seeing beautiful pictures doesn’t do anything for my ‘guilt’ complex !! But I did manage to find the kitchen table last week 🙂 I am amazed you even can find time to ‘talk’ to us with all that is swirling around you. Looking foreward to your garden and chooks!! Cheers for Thursday.

    1. That should be a doctor’s prescription I think…No more beautiful pictures to make us feel bad…a pretty pic diet! I am only finding time to post because my legs have given up and are making me rest! I was too tired to go to yoga…so here I am!

  3. such a good point… I often feel “unworthy” when I post photos of my knitting projects because they are far from perfect, instagram-looking… I tried once or twice but the rest of my pictures are just normal, a shawl hanging in a spot after it was used… I like your reminder that work is a process that is messy not perfect and thats one of the wonderful things about it.

    1. Thanks Amanda, ‘unworthy’ is a great word to use I think. We do often feel we have to live up to some unwritten, unspoken aesthetic standard and that somehow our realness as a knitter or a spinner or a sewer is lessened by falling short on our pics. I think we have internalised a professional/advertising/corporate kind of styling to make us feel legitimate as makers. I have worried about not having a particular look to my images, a kind of look that will beguile and entice…to what end though? It is not like I am selling anything! Time for all of us to start feeling worthier I reckon!

  4. Oh, I really laughed out loud with this post. I am such a messy maker but I always pack away. I agree about the perfect pictures. I think I’m guilty of it, or if not I’m always taking my best selfie angle – no wearisome baggy eyes on my Instagram. I’ll save that for in vivo!

    1. Yes, I too am very guilty of trying to make perfect pictures. We all know it is a lie and yet we do it anyway and often feel bad looking at other people’s perfect pics, wondering why their life is so beautiful. What funny beasties we are.

  5. My desk has 3 looms on it for weaving. My spinning wheels are tucked away, out of reach of my cat who likes to chew wood. I can never have a hot beverage near my knitting, in case the cat jumps up and sends it flying. No “styled” photos from me! Good luck with the move ?

    1. How funny that so many of us practice our craft work in real life chaos, and yet how under represented are those kind of images about craft practice.

  6. Good luck with your move, Ballarat is a lovely area. We have recently visited the area, for the Remembrance Day ceremony held at the Kingston Avenue of Honour.
    And yes, making is indeed messy….I can barely find my sewing machine for all the fabric that surrounds it.

  7. Oh how true you are! I am very aware of only presenting what I want others to see on my own blog though in more recent times I have been less concerned about the impression others will take and more interested in the therapeutic value of my writing. Both for me as the writer and for my reader. As pretty as the staged photo is I like to see the chaotic workspace too.. since my regular crafting is done amid a tangle of threads, yarn, boxes of needles and recharging wires for phone and tablet often along with the dregs of a mug of tea. But moving house!! Something I’ve done many many times in the past requires an organization and energy that is at the other end of the spectrum from chaos. Only those who have never managed a house move would think your workstation disorganized. It sounds like a really good move too.. good luck with it.

    1. Thanks Jane, moving is very trying but I have to say, my workspace looks like that all time, as does the dining table! It is cleared briefly for dinner and then like a magnet it refills with homework, notices, books and random objects. One of the things I value in your blog, is the realness there.

  8. I cannot tell you how much I love what you have written and thought about here. I too am so tired of “pretty”; not art and beauty per se, but the artifice of making daily life tidy and pretty so it can be impressive to a bunch of online viewers.
    And I am trying to think through this discontent because I love making beautiful things and I love looking at the wonderful world around me and, heaven knows, I love a tidy house (although it is a goal more often than a reality). All those things are wonderful. So why am I feeling irritated? I think you really broke into it for me- it’s putting the focus too much on finished product and attractive appearance and not enough on the process of making and how a item functions and moves through a daily lived life.

    Thank you! That made my day! Good luck with your move. I find that whole process incredibly stressful and I hope it all goes well for you.

    1. Thanks so much Becca, little did I think when I posted that my discontent was such a shared one. I too am working through what it all means, how to share in an authentic way rather than just display, how to refocus on process and creativity. Yes, moving is horrible, there is no getting around it.

  9. Yes, I agree with you about mess – but then I would. My pics are always dodgy, featuring all sorts on odd things lying around …. Wishing you all the very best for your move, and many happy days in your new home!

    1. I love your pics…I always enlarge them and look at the details and the books in the background…real life is just fascinating!

  10. I chuckle at the “staged” photos of whatever, but I can’t post any…..no Smart Phone, just a Dinosaur Flip Phone! Sometimes I go on a tidying binge to make things easier to find!
    Congratulations on your new home. I’m really looking forward to seeing pictures of everything. Have the children settled in to the area now? Cheers, Rebecca!!

    1. I think your Dinosaur Flip might just be keeping you psychologically healthier! Yes, kids are just thriving now…thank you for asking.

  11. What a hoot…..I just read all the posts and laughed at the realness of it all. I think ‘Madison Ave’ got ahold of our brains at some point and all those damn glossy magazines!! that we Love to look at it. Good for you to bring out our realness 🙂

  12. I share your sentiment about styled shots. I come at it from a different angle as I spent 35 years working on consumer magazines carefully arranging and editing shots with photographers. I loved my work and still appreciate a “styled” shot. They are hard work. Everything needs a balance. which is why I love the shot you chose for this post. Thank you, Rebecca, for welcoming me as a reader into your personal space. If only you would move that packing tape roll to the left a quarter of an inch THEN it would be perfect…(just kidding. old habit).

    1. Thanks for such a great comment Kate. I think it illustrates how blurry that line between professional and amateur has become online for makers/creatives and how the culture of professionalism in a commercial context can start to define the culture of creativity. Neither good nor bad of course, just something we need to be aware of as makers so that we can make conscious choices about how we represent ourselves. It was actually hard to leave the packing tape in shot…I really wanted to move it too but only once I decided to take a pic of the table! Before that I didn’t care it was there. How funny we are.

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