Hello! My name’s Charlotte (Lotte). I’m a freelance writer and crafter and a mother of two small people. Sometimes I feel like I’m a people wrangler more than anything else though — get those shoes on, put that sword down, get that mud off your knees, stop hitting your brother… you know the drill. In between wrangling small people, I try and earn some money — to feed them and buy them pointy bits of plastic that they can stick in each other’s eyes — by writing for people who don’t know how to write (they do, but they don’t like doing it) and by knitting and sewing things for people who don’t know how to do that either. Basically, when I’m not shoving children into the car or hosing them down with the shower head, you can find me either sat in front of a computer, a sewing machine or with a pretty chunky pair of knitting needles in my hands.
I set up Lotte Jamieson Crafts after losing my “proper” job due to budget cuts. Having that secure job removed from the equation not only took away a large chunk of money from my income each month, but more importantly, it took away a huge chunk of my pride and my self-worth. I suffered a complete crisis of confidence in my ability to write, work, create, look after my children or to be a social and competent person in many situations. I had a bit of a mini breakdown really and suddenly didn’t know who I was any more. By very definition I was a mother, I knew that much — and attempted to work as hard as I could at being a good one — but I was also a writer and an editor and suddenly nine years of doing that work and being that person disappeared. Rightly or wrongly, I know now that I identify myself by what I do, not by how many small people I have managed to give birth to, or by how well I can do the washing and cleaning. I know that for some people having children is their drive, their reason to move on, and I’m not denigrating that at all, but being a stay-at-home mother was never for me. I love my children more than anyone else on the planet (I also find them more annoying than anyone else on the planet) but I need to work.
Today I’m working in the craft shop where I have my wool concession. I also do some PR and editorial work for Clair who owns the shop and I do a lot of the merchandising. Today I’ve got to fit in writing the shop blog, planning my knitting/sewing schedule and any other admin, while serving customers. We tend to have at least one of our children in the shop with us — a recent nursery inset day saw both my daughter (4) and Clair’s son (2) in at the same time, making for quite a crowded setup in the work area what with all the colouring in, shape sorting and playing of CBeebies on various devices. And due to high level of pins, needles and whopping great sewing shears lying about, having kids in the shop can involve quite a lot of “Arghhh! Please put those pins down!” and “No, No! Not the scissors!
On my to-do-list right now is a massive pile of knitting. I launched my own wool brand at the end of last year and my very first pattern came out just before Christmas so I’m developing more patterns, working with the wool to try out new techniques and generally making the most of showing it off around the shop.
Developing the patterns is something I love doing as it gives me the chance to let my creative energy loose and turn it into something concrete. The problem is that at some stage of the development, it’s not just about the “oooh, look what I made” factor, I have to start thinking properly about how it’s going to translate for other people — will they like it, will they understand my pattern instructions, will the printers do a good job, and ultimately, will it sell? This bit is not fun. It also starts to get problematic with children. As tensions get higher and panic brews, you don’t want to be interrupted by someone telling you that they need to watch twenty Ben and Holly’s Little Kingdoms back-to-back in order to get through the morning, or having to constantly shout down the stairs, “I’m just coming!” in a faux-cheery voice when actually you damn well know that you are not just coming and that you really need to sort out this one little thing that has been giving you palpitations for the last half hour before you can even consider going downstairs to put on a witch’s hat and wave a stick about, whilst exclaiming “Expelliarmus!” in a poor imitation of Maggie Smith.