My name is Gilly, and I am a knitter.
When I look back to being a little girl, I remember having a home made childhood - that sounds like a criticism, but I mean it in the best possible way. We all proudly sported jumpers knitted by my Grandma (illustrated in the lovely and not at all embarrassing picture of a 4 year old me with my little sister); and my Granny was constantly undertaking embroidery, tapestry and crochet, with beautiful tapestry's hanging on the wall at my Granny and Grandad's house. My mum is a skilled seamstress, and so my sister and I also had mum-made matching party dresses, and brilliant outfits for the annual fancy dress parade held in our village.
I've been able to knit since being around 4 or 5 years old. My Grandma taught me when I was very small and I still have, and treasure, the child-size knitting bag that she made me to keep my mini-needles and projects in. In fact, Cuddles the Teddy Bear is still stashed on a shelf at my parents house proudly wearing a red scarf I knitted him over 25 years ago. I was also obsessed with cross stitch when I was young which I used to sit and undertake for hours, and I got my own sewing machine when I was about 8, desperate to be able to make clothes like my mum.
Then I became a teenager, and suddenly it was incredibly uncool to be able to do any such activities. All crafting abruptly came to a halt, and it remained that way until I graduated university over 10 years later and started working in an accountancy job that involved long weeks away from London on my own.
I was bored, and so one day after passing a knitting shop, I decided to pick up my knitting needles again. I was spending every evening watching bad TV in my hotel room, I figured that I might as well knit at the same time. The first thing I made was a scarf for my boyfriend (now husband) that he still has and wears to West Ham games in the winter. Then when he was taking his young cousin to a game for the first time, I was enlisted to make a matching scarf for Tom.
Despite being proud that I'd made these items, there was still something holding me back from promoting or celebrating my wares. I couldn't put my finger on it, but there was still a level of embarrassment at my ability to knit - I think its because it used to be an activity society associated with old ladies, not 20-something year olds.
And then my first set of friends announced they were having a baby, and amidst the excitement at the news, I decided I was going to make something special for them. I raided the family archive of patterns, and undertook the challenge (with a lot of help from my Aunt, who is also very crafty!) of knitting a traditional lace baby blanket.
Ollie's blanket took me 6 months, and probably more knitting backwards to fix mistakes than knitting forwards, but I did it, and I found unexpected satisfaction in being able to present it to his new parents. Then once the babies started, they didn't stop... Arthur, Jessie, Maddy, Zoe, Leo, Henry, Ivor, Eddie... I've tried to make something for each of them, albeit many creations have not been completed on time. The list of beautiful babies goes on, and currently has many due dates on the end of it, with four of my closest friends pregnant at the moment - projects for these babies are pending! A quick side note to my friends planning children - the longer notice you give me, the more likely you will get a timely gift...
I found that once I started knitting my love for other crafts returned as well. I made my first dress that I wore to one of my best friends weddings in August 2014, and (after a lot of coaching from my mum) picked up crochet one Christmas at home.
And suddenly I find that I'm no longer ashamed of my skills. And that I'm actually quite proud of my ability to take a ball of yarn or a piece of fabric and make something wearable or useful out of it. And that is why I have created madebygilly - after years of being a closet crafter, I'm ready to celebrate my makes.
My name is Gilly, I am in my 30's, and I am a knitter. And damn proud of it.