Well on a quest to better myself I took up an English class.. I want to learn more about punctuation and try my hand at creative writing. Our tutor wanted us to write a true story for the BBC website My Story. I wrote about my inspiration and why I decided to make stuff.. Here's my story.. Norman!
This is a fairytale of one girl with a bellyful of hopes and a head full of daydreams. A tale of big love and imagination, A story that tells you to hang onto the child inside of you, believe in yourself, believe that anything is possible. This is the story of doodles and daydreams and everything sweet and candy covered all sewn together. This is my story, the story of who I am and what I want to be. This will tell you how I became Kittypinkstars and why it's all I ever wanted to be. The tale of making something out of nothing, and that's a real achievement!
“Thanks Nan, I love him, I’m going to call him Norman.”
I remember most of the toys my Nan made me as a child, she was so clever and ever so creative, either knitting or sewing a special friend for me and my brother every Birthday or Christmas when we were growing up. I remember how I felt when I unwrapped every toy, slowly peeling back the paper to peep inside. It was a mixture of excitement and impatience; it left a warm fuzzy feeling inside. I remember the way each new toy smelt, it was an indescribable smell, an amazing scent of Nan that I have bottled in my mind. I remember the wardrobe, the magic wardrobe that I still own. We opened it one day and bags of stuffing fell out, along with many other wonderful crafting goodies. We laughed about it for years.
But most of all, I remember Norman. Well actually it’s not so hard to remember Norman because still today, 28 years later, he lies on my bed a memory of that feeling from all that time ago, a magical keepsake from my Nan. In case you’re wondering about this elusive Norman, let me explain. Norman is a fox, a knitted fox. Not just any fox, but one of the green dungaree and scarf wearing variety. He’s seen a lot in his years (haven’t we all?) but unlike the rest of us, he just doesn’t age.
“You’re a lot like your Nan, you know?” Mum will say, and I take this as the greatest of compliments. And yes I am an advertisers dream, always wanting to test out any new product or gimmick that comes along. I also have her crazy sense of fashion and colour, I bite my nails, I love rubbish television and I’m a real hoarder, but most of all, I love to make stuff.
I guess being born into creativity helped a lot, but I just love to draw, sew, knit, anything really that involves making something out of nothing. I thank my Mum for the knitting bit. Mum taught me to knit when I was 10, yes the usual, a square, well more of an unplanned triangle, created by dropping so many stitches. But slowly with perseverance a doll’s scarf appeared. I didn’t really knit for a long while after this, but then along came my little boy, Noah.
Sadly my Nan passed away during my pregnancy and Noah never got to meet her, but I was determined to continue her special magic and pass it onto my child, Noah was my new inspiration. As one great love left my life, another one was born into it. I got back into knitting for a short while, making some soft toys for Noah from patterns. I found it extremely relaxing, a lovely way to spend the evening once I’d put the little guy to bed. Then one day, he fell in love with a little monkey that we saw online.
“That’s the one Mummy! I love him. Can we get the blue one please?”
I ordered the little blue monkey and Noah aptly named him Little Blue. He was a funny little monkey, long and thin and made out of a sock. Wow a sock of all things, this was amazing to me, a whole new idea I’d never ever seen before. I’d heard of sock puppets because I’d always loved them as a child. I was always amazed at how much personality you could get from just a sock on your hand, seriously more personality than a lot of people project, but this was new. Determined to find out more, I searched the internet for any information. And that’s when I found my hero, John Murphy.
Based in NC USA, John is an artist and plush toy designer. He had published a book called Stupid Sock Creatures. My Mum bought it for me that Christmas, and I followed the patterns and made a couple of creatures in his design. I was fairly happy with the results but there was something missing. I pondered what was needed to make it just perfect.
Meanwhile, Noah had lost Little Blue. He came home from playschool one day without his little friend and was absolutely devastated and completely crushed. Little Blue had become part of our family so I was also terribly upset. We searched everywhere for the little guy, but no luck until two weeks later when he finally came home. But that’s the secret magic part, the bit where you just have to hang on to the child inside of you and believe that wishes come true. When I saw the fantastic reunion between these two long lost friends I was instantly inspired. I loved Little Blue’s long skinny limbs and the joy he brought to my little boy so I bought a really long brightly coloured stripy sock and drew up a few doodles, creating a sock creature design of my own, with long legs and arms, jumbo hands and big chunky feet and ears.
And that was how Tutti Frutti was made. She was a citrus coloured sock with a blue stripe that ran through it. I made her a knitted orange as a sweet treat; after all we all need a little treat these days don’t we?
“Mummy I love it, can I have a blue one please? He can be a friend for Little Blue.”
Yes! I loved how excited Noah was about my little hand made toy. All those memories of my Nan came flooding back. So I found a stripy blue sock and made the perfect friend for my little boy. Inspired by the lovely blue and a need for daydreams, I knitted him a rain cloud and we named him Raymond.
Raymond quickly became an online celebrity; he was so much fun to take photos of and in turn awakened my love of photography. I set up photo opportunities and would take a daily series of photos for Noah so that when he came home from school he could see what his new friend had been up to. From reading the paper to doing the gardening, Noah would love to see how busy his little friend had been. I started making more, in different colours with different treats, I had lots of photos up online and people were getting really interested in this new creation.
“You need to sell those things.”
That was the message from a friend of mine who saw my latest creatures online. He told me about Etsy, a website where you could set up your own online store and sell your handmade crafts. So that’s exactly what I did, and on 27th March 2006 I was the proud owner of an online shop, selling my creatures around the world.
Sales picked up and the word was spreading. One day a creature was bought by a girl who sang in a new up and coming band Bo Pepper. This lead to one of my sock creatures appearing on MTV in a music video, Noah nearly burst with excitement. This was a real creative peak for me. I made creatures for Noah’s friends when he was invited to birthday parties. And I soon made creatures for the teachers at his school too. The children would take them home and write diaries for them, it helped with their creative writing and was so much fun for them. I became known as the stripy lady and was making regular appearances at the school fairs. I even made a 3ft creature from a wonderful cloudy patterned fake fur fabric.
Using a completely different fabric was fun, and I soon moved on to making things out of felt, the colours available were so inspiring. I started to make even more plush toys in this new fabric, so incorporating felt with colours and my love of googly eyes on inanimate objects, I started making little friends to go with my sock creatures. A whole new look for my online store and a fresh new start for my creativity and imagination. I contacted the self employment office and registered as self employed. This was a completely new start and I decided to actually make something out of this little business.
I started a Facebook fan page to promote my new business and to my amazement I gained 230 fans in 2 weeks, one of them being John Murphy! I was stunned. He messaged me saying
“You are still one of my favourites and I love the wrestlers. I forward people looking for new ideas onto you. You do the mouths even better than me, mega kudos”.
That was a great moment and I felt a real sense of achievement. So with a mind full of ideas and a belly full of dreams, sometimes I feel that my wish is really coming true.
One day I’m going to be a real artist.