Slow Making

Slow Making

As part of my ‘intentional 2016’, I’m experimenting with a loose theme for each month here on the blog.
Last month was all about introducing Buying Nothing New: finally blogging about why I buy nothing new; and the practicalities of finding the things you need when you’re buying nothing new; among other hopefully useful posts.

This month, I want to explore making, and ways we can create and make, while being conscious of the wider impact of that process, on ourselves, and on the planet.

 When I first learned to sew, I was so excited to discover the sweetie shop delights of the habersdashery, and all the beautiful fabric! And then I learned to crochet, and I got to drool over beautiful yarn too. It took me a while to realise that all these ‘ingredients’ have to be made, from raw materials, and that super cheap fabric and yarn has the same implications for the planet as super cheap clothes.
I’ve got a blog post planned that talks more about “Why Slow Making?” but for now, I want to try and nail down what Slow Making means to me.

For me, ‘Slow’ is nothing to do with the speed. It is possible to do quick things, and for them still to be Slow.
My personal take on Slow is two-pronged:

The first bit is the bit that I’m ok at. It’s about where things come from, who has made it, where it’s been made.
Our year of buying nothing new forced me to stop and think about all of these things, and now it has almost become second nature. Before I buy anything, I always think about how sustainable it is, how local it is to me, and how re-useable/recyclable it is. In fact, I came up with a geeky S.L.O.W pneumonic (indulge me…):

Soooooo, if something is sustainably produced, is local (ish. Living on a small temperate island does severely limit the local thing), and is Zero Waste, then that is my friends, the Holy Grail.
It’s also about mending, and re-purposing, and good old Making Do.

The second bit of my two-pronged take on Slow, is the process bit. The mindful bit, the focussing on that one thing bit.
The bit that actually really benefits us as makers and creatives, and helps to soothe our souls.
The bit I am really really bad at
I am not a slow person at all. I rush into things, I rush things, and I definitely focus on the product rather than the process.
This bit of slow appeals to me. I want to be one of those people who sit and quietly knit and relish the difficult fiddly bits and really focus on the feel of the yarn, and take their time to enjoy it. But I tend to think I don’t have time for it. Which is frankly kind of ridiculous.
I have loads of new crafts I want to learn: knitting; spinning; natural dyeing; candle making…
But what I really need to learn, or to work on, is the process bit.
It seems vaguely futile for my desire to make ‘all the things’ to take the pleasure out of making them. If I am constantly rushing projects, so that I can get on to the next one, it means I end up making things I’m not happy with. Precisely because I rushed them.

I guess for me, Slow Making is all about being more conscious and deliberate about the raw materials I am using to make with, and also trying to be being more conscious and deliberate about the process of making. My hope is that in focussing on Slow Making, I can maybe start Making Slow, and create the time and the space to stop and enjoy the process.


Does any of this make any sense?
I’d love to hear your thoughts about Slow Making-I think it will probably mean something different to everyone. Let’s start a whole conversation around this-I think it’s really important stuff. Leave a comment if you’d like to, or hop over to Facebook or Twitter to let me know your take on Slow Making.

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  • Reply Pandora Lotte March 25, 2016 at 2:16 pm

    Really nice topic! Thank you for sharing your thoughts! Slow living really interests me. I usually find myself concerned about making or about the ways of acquiring the materials you need in order to make. It’s still chaotic in my mind though..

    • Reply Jen April 12, 2016 at 10:10 am

      So glad it’s not just me Pandora!

  • Reply Karen @ simplystashless February 5, 2016 at 10:25 pm

    SLOW is the way to go. I used to be great at hunting down awesome deals on craft supplies and then I learned more about the processing and the true cost (environmental and to the workers) of the production process. I learned to spin and now love using my own handspun for knitting, crocheting and weaving. I also sew, but found a ridiculous deal on someone’s fabric stash so have a lovely assortment of secondhand fabric to choose from now and can supplement if needed by picking up clothing items from thrift stores to cut up. I’ve only made a skirt so far, but have plans for more of my own clothes. I’m also learning to quilt. Since I’m no longer buying new anything, creating my own or repurposing what I find is a wonderful option and leaves a much lighter footprint. Added bonus that I get the entertainment and enjoyment from making things myself. 🙂

    • Reply Jen February 24, 2016 at 1:44 pm

      That alls sounds fabulous Karen! I’m starting a spinning course this weekend, and I’m so excited!

  • Reply agy lee February 5, 2016 at 4:29 am

    I so agree with your philosophy of SLOW. Sometimes I feel that people just learn a skill but want to be able to master it in the least possible time. Unfortunately they forget that it’s the process that they should experience!

    • Reply Jen February 5, 2016 at 12:05 pm

      It’s something I’m still trying to learn Agy!

  • Reply Tracey Holsgrove February 2, 2016 at 9:01 pm

    Its only in the last couple of years that I have started knitting and am just learning to sew now (beyond sewing on buttons that is) and while I would naturally be a ‘rusher’ as well, I find that I have to slow down with crafts or I make a complete hash of it all. This in turn has led to me enjoying it all a lot more. I’ve only recently discovered your blog and am very much enjoying it!

    • Reply Jen February 5, 2016 at 12:05 pm

      That’s great to hear Tracey (both that you have learned to slow down, and that you are enjoying the blog!)

  • Reply charlotte February 2, 2016 at 8:27 pm

    I’m with you. I want to get things done, become an expert. Wear that new dress give out those hand made presents. It’s so exciting with so many things to try that it is easy to forget, enjoy myself on the actual making process. A similar concept to slow down and stop revelling on a busy to do list.

    • Reply Jen February 5, 2016 at 12:06 pm

      I’m glad it’s not just me who naturally rushes Charlotte! The whole slowing down and enjoying the process is a learning curve!!

  • Reply Tass February 2, 2016 at 8:18 pm

    That’s a really good post, Jen.

    I make inkle & tablet woven braids for fun (and presents) and thoroughly enjoy the slow process of producing these items. Warping up takes me ages and while I’m itching to get onto the actual weaving, the warping has to come first! And the end result is very gratifying.

    The bit I struggle with is sourcing sustainable yarns. Must try harder!

    I enjoy reading your posts very much. As a family we’re not ready for a buy nothing new revolution but we’re very careful about what we buy. This is partly out of necessity (money’s in short supply) but also because we’d rather own quality, artisan items as they’re unique, beautiful and long lasting.

    Thank you.

    • Reply Jen February 5, 2016 at 12:07 pm

      I’ve got a post planned on sustainable yarns Tass!
      Weaving is on my list of crafts to learn (slowly..) 🙂

  • Reply Marta Mitchell February 2, 2016 at 7:48 pm

    Interesting read! I like your two pronged take on slow. I have the same approach but hadn’t really thought about it in this way. I’m 18 months into making a hand made quilt and I’m maybe half way there! The material is mostly scraps from my mum, shirts/ dresses from charity shops I’ve cut up and I have bought some new (with the promise to enjoy it and use it all up!).
    Marta xx

    • Reply Jen February 5, 2016 at 12:07 pm

      Oh wow, that quilt sounds fab! Another skill on my long list I want to master..!

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