She might be a successful singer, radio presenter, author, journalist and festival curator to name but a few accomplishments, but Cerys Matthews still manages to find the time for a spot of crafting. Here she talks to Kayleigh Rattle about her love for all things creative, plus why she feels craft is becoming increasingly important in the digital age.
As a child, I was pretty good at sewing and received high marks at school in appliqué and chain and blanket stitching. I also did a lot of pottery, which led to me making beads, jewellery and working with leather. Knitting is more tricky for me, though. You have to keep your eye on the ball; if you drop a stitch the pattern changes – and that’s what used to happen to me! I went through a bit of a goth stage in the 1980s and wanted to make a long, black jacket. I started knitting it, but got so impatient that my stitches became longer and longer, until in the end it wasn’t so much a coat, but rather a net – there wasn’t much knitting involved really! It looked like a giant spiderweb and if you tried wearing it, it just caught on everything. Vivienne Westwood would have loved it!
I still stitch now. In fact, I have a lovely old sewing box which I picked up from an antique shop. I don’t know who owned it before me, but it had my initials on it, so I knew I had to have it. I’ve also got my grandmother’s old button box, and I love the idea that her grandmother would have added buttons to it, and I’ll also add to it. I’ll probably hand it to one of my children, too. My mum’s a great knitter, as is my aunty Ida on my husband’s side, who knitted me an aran cardigan that I just love wearing.
There’s been a rise in interest in slow craft and traditional pastimes recently due to how busy and switched on we all are. I definitely think we have to go out and purposely make more of an effort for our children to access the traditional aspects of life, away from the sophistication of the internet. If we don’t make a purposeful effort, it won’t happen and our kids won’t have those get-filthy-dirty-in-the-mud moments like we did. My daughter, who is 13, is part of the Snapchat and Whatsapp generation, but she still manages to paint, sew and learn to knit with her grandmother.
The Good Life Experience festival provides the perfect opportunity to get outside, slow down and to craft. From potters to glazers, mosaic makers, ceramic designers, blacksmiths, bow and arrow makers, wood carvers, leather workers and weavers, you’ll find all the traditional arts you don’t see as much these days due to mass production. Plus, all crafts are free, so children can try them out – you can’t beat seeing their faces as they experience a craftspeople using his tools for the first time.
I love baking and making and receiving homemade gifts. My daughter, who is 23, made us bunting out of cotton scraps for Christmas last year and it was such a lovely gift. I’ve always loved things that have a personal stamp on them and I’d always choose a homemade cake over something that looked perfect. I like things with character and I love gifts that are out of the ordinary – I’m not one for jewellery or fancy clothes. If someone makes me something handmade, that to me is more precious than anything.