I’ve always been one of those crafty types; drawing, painting, sticking, making. Sewing though, that was my favourite, that’s stuck with me from childhood. I progressed from a mouse shaped pincushion made out of felt, complete with whiskers and cotton tail which I made when I was about 5, to great big cross-stitch embroidered pictures which took months to finish.

Mouse pincushion
Poor shabby little thing, but I have been sticking pins in him for 25 years. That’s a fair age for a mouse…

Then school got in the way, exams, and then university. And very slowly this wonderful imaginative and creative side of me was squashed by a pile of books and leaver-arch folders. I enjoyed school, I was academic but before I quite knew it I was a doctoral student in a cancer research lab, working far too many evenings and weekends to discover something new and important about a protein called CRAF. Science can be quite beautiful, and I loved it. I even found out quite a bit about my little protein.

Beautiful picture of a cell [Science stuff: Immunofluorescence image of a fibroblast, showing BRAF localisation to the nucleus, Green: BRAF:GFP Blue: DAPI]

So there I was a doctor, not the kind that can tell you if your mole will kill you (though people did ask), but the kind that knows quite a lot about just one protein which might contribute to whether your mole will kill you. It’s a fine distinction! But after the birth of my daughter, science wasn’t a good fit for me anymore; it didn’t work for our family, so I became a stay at home mum.

My creative side peeped out from hibernation; having a small child is a great excuse to play with glue and glitter again. I learnt to knit with my Little Beanie crawling around by my feet, trying to pull the ball of wool to the other end of the room. So knitting became an after hours pursuit and youtube filled in the blanks when my mum couldn’t describe a particular stitch over the phone. I started designing my own patterns, and I made my daughter woolly jumpers – literally; have you seen Woolly and Tig?

It’s only a woolly jumper!

A fellow mum-friend invited me to join her on a machine sewing course. The possibilities for creativity with a sewing machine and a bit of cotton were a revelation, and so here I am now creating clothes and accessories.

I tried to tell the Little Beanie the other day that I’m a doctor, she said, “Don’t be silly Mummy.” She might be wrong about that, but she’s absolutely right when she sends me home from the school drop-off telling me “Do your sewing work mummy… and the ironing.”

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