I have always been interested in traditional crafts, not just knitting and sewing. And I believe it's something that most knitters eventually develop a fascination for and an appreciation of, even if they never try out these other crafts for themselves.
It's common to see new knitters progress from straight needles to knitting in the round, to crochet (or vice versa), perhaps branching out into sewing and quilting or maybe learning to spin and then weave. The relaxation that comes with making things by hand, the delight of giving a unique gift, a feeling that you are preserving knowledge and skills to pass on to others, and the understanding of the time, love and care that goes into developing and improving these skills are all factors that drive this interest and curiosity.
My interest extends far outside the textile crafts; a couple of years ago I went on a green woodworking course at this wonderful place and learned how to use traditional tools to make my own three-legged stool. It was a brilliant experience and I'm still intending to find the time to go back and do another course, maybe make a chair this time.
So it should be no surprise that on the final day of my holiday last week I made a trip to the Welsh National History Museum at St Fagans near Cardiff for a couple of hours. This is a wonderful place which is made up of a collection of buildings brought from all around Wales and rebuilt in the grounds of an old castle. As well as traditional houses, shops, pigsties and schools, you can see a water-powered woollen mill (complete with a rather sullen weaver on my trip - apparently he was having trouble with the weed in the pond blocking up his water supply), a leatherworker, baker (you can buy your homemade bread there) and even a clog maker.
What else to do but order some clogs from Geraint? I started talking to him about how he made his clogs - he starts with logs and leather - and then we started talking about how leather was tanned, and then it turned out that he gets his leather from a tannery in my home town of Chesterfield, and then it just all seemed to fit into place!
So he drew around my feet on a piece of card, then I chose a style (Mary-jane) and a colour (why, purple of course!) and he will give me a ring in a few months, realistically next year, when I will have to go back for a fitting. He then hones the final clogs to fit the buyers feet, taking into account any little weirdnesses such as my crossed toes, and scooping out a bit more wood from the sole, or adjusting the leather to fit. Rubber soles are added, and the final adjustments are made and then voila!
So while we are on the subject of other crafts, here's a selection of wonderful photos for you to browse. I only wish there were more in the way of explanations of the crafts and why and how they are done. As well as green woodworking, I am experienced in hedging, coppicing, dry-stone walling and footpath repair and planning to try out quite a few more!
6 hours ago