There has never been a better time to embrace all things British as we host the largest international sporting event in the world. Everyone is watching and celebrating the passion, determination and skill of athletes from around the world – and inevitably we’re all rooting for our own country’s sporting heros to win.
But it’s not just sporting heros that make Britain great. Our country has always been admired for the our art and craft as well. British creativity shown through at the Olympic’s opening ceremony but every day thousands of designer-makers show as much passion, determination and commitment as our Olympians in the way they go about thinking, developing, perfecting and creating their work.
We’ve collected together some of the tales that show the lengths they go to:
“I think the thing that connects designer-makers with athletes is the way we all strive for excellence and perfection. I actually think we share a competitive gene too – but most designer-makers wouldn’t admit to this! Making can also be as physically tiring as a race. Anyone who has witnessed me cutting and folding 8 metres of tweed will testify to this!”
“Like many of our Olympians, I started young. My mother taught me to knit at the age of seven. I am left handed and she sent off for a leaflet from Woman’s Own about teaching left handed children to knit. It was quite a complicated leaflet, so her attitude was “You will just have to knit like everyone else”. This served me well, especially in my own teaching, as it would have been difficult to follow patterns if I was trying to use a different method.
When I started to make dolls clothes and simple scarves, she used to cast on for me, then the rest was up to me. I dreaded making a mistake as her retort in her brisk Scottish accent was “Are you bringing me another of your fankles” (fankle being a superb Scottish Word for mess or tangle). I soon learned to make as few mistakes as possible, and to correct them myself.”
Lucy Atkinson, Cheshire-based maker of the Vintage Style Union bag, tried her hand at several different areas of textiles while studying in College. Like many Olympians, she has a favourite piece of advice that drives her forward to continue her passion:
“The best advice from my Mum was to “Do everything, never miss an opportunity.’”
Claire Lovett, a designer-maker who focuses on nostalgic ceramics embodies the determination of our Olympians. She juggles making with a part-time job and seems to thrive on always being busy.
“I work best when I’m really busy and have a hundred things to do, like many makers I balance a part time job with making and attending fairs.”
Richard Shock is another maker who knows all about dedication.
“My wife says that I am obsessive and, given the chance, would work 24 hours a day. She may be right!”
As for fuel, forget sports drinks, a good old British cup of tea and Radio 4 seem to be essentials for keeping many of our designer-makers going! So get in the spirit – put the kettle on and take a look at our ‘Spirit of Britain’ range for more reasons to celebrate.