For as long as I can remember, making and creating has been my passion. Mum always used to say to people that I was never without a pencil in my hand. My sister was fourteen years older than me and she became a huge influence on my creativity. I was extremely lucky! I have a vivid memory from when I was just three years old of her leading me out of the world of stick men and showing me how to draw real people with bodies and legs. I can still remember the little picture she drew with a Biro of a girl in a calf length coat and lace up boots! Isn't it funny how these things stick with you?
My sister soon moved away with her new husband to do teacher training. I regularly spent some of the School hols with them in Northamptonshire. This is where we started what would become a tradition for years - our summer sewing project. My first makes all came from the 'Golden Hands Book of 80 Toys to make for Children'. I made a simple doll with a ping pong head and plaited arms and legs. Next came little snakes made out of pipe cleaners, felt and sequins. You could make a whole Noah's Ark but I never got past the snakes! For months my family were inundated with little reptilian gifts. Three of them sat proudly in my Nana's glass cabinet in her dining room amidst the Royal Doulton.
In 2005 my sister and her husband were living in County Durham and I was settled in Brighton. We were at opposite ends of the country but we were in regular contact discussing, amongst other things, our latest makes. When my husband and I finally tied the knot (after an eighteen year engagement) she made us a beautiful quilt embroidered with our names and the date of our wedding. It still graces our bed to this day.
Unfortunately, due to illness, my sister had to take early retirement. She made the most of her time though and when I had my son at the end of 2006, we received a stream of beautifully handcrafted gifts. Every so often we met up in London for a meal and a trip to an art gallery or the theatre. We began to discuss setting up a website and selling our makes together. We even talked about calling ourselves 'The Scissor Sisters' but thought we might get sued for copyright! Sadly it was never to be. My sister eventually lost her seven year battle with cancer.
When I inherited my sister's sewing paraphernalia, I knew that I had to do something with it. It spurred me on to sew more regularly I had in the years previous with a renewed sense of urgency. There were other factors that also made me take the plunge into self employment, but the fact remains that, without her, I would not be doing what I do today. I do wish that she could be here to see what I am up to and that we could chat about our sewing. But I am lucky enough to have so many memories attached to all the beautiful things she made. She was, still is and always will be my greatest inspiration. Cheers Caroline!
Bottom wedding photograph by James Pike Photography