The Numbers Game

Numbers of pounds were spent on this fabric.

The radishes came free.

Above is a snapshot of my latest fabric purchase, costing £7 a metre. (Radishes grown by my boyfriend and added as some sort of surreal extra detail!)

Some people find numbers reassuring. They scare me. As an 8-year-old, our teacher’s announcement that it was time for the class recitation of times tables would make my stomach shrivel. I tried to mime, opening and closing my mouth like a fish, but this fooled no one – least of all, my classmates. As an adult, I’ve continued to struggle. I have to force myself to check my bank balance, process invoices at work, compare prices in supermarkets or care about over-tipping. (I am so dreadful at working out the tip percentage that I often grossly over-tip for fear of offending waiting staff.) If there’s a number equivalent to dyslexia, I wouldn’t be surprised if I have it.

But age brings wisdom. Or, at least, an ability to recognise your shortcomings and manage them. So this year I bought some software to help me keep track of my spending. Oh my gosh, I love my software. My dad (an accountant) and my sister (who trained as an accountant) stared at me, open-mouthed, when I was able to reel off to them how much I’ve spent on lattes in the past four months. (£98.35 if you’re interested.) I can also tell you how much I’ve spent on sewing – £145.67 – and knitting – £25.75. I’ve no idea how this compares to other people’s spending on their hobbies, but over four months? It doesn’t seem sooo bad.

Unlike this:

Are they having a laugh?

This well-known chain department store (never knowingly undersold) has a haberdashery selling this kit. Don’t rub your knuckles into your eyes, you’re reading right – the best part of £100. To make a cushion. Come on, people! A few balls of wool, enough common sense to use Google, and anyone can knit a cushion cover for maximum a quarter of that price.

But look, crafts involve numbers – and not just in terms of currency. There’s as much – indeed, more – maths involved in a sewing or knitting pattern as there is creativity. I am forced to think logically, scientifically – obeying the number rules that make a pattern work. It’s odd, isn’t it? The number phobic is casting on 107.

And spending. This lunchtime I bought:

  • a new zipper foot and needles for my sewing machine
  • 13 buttons for my latest knitting project
  • a 30cm invisible zipper
  • the gorgeous sewing machine necklace that Tilly recently blogged about.

I could have bought more. Walking through the doors of Topshop on Oxford Circus is a shopper’s equivalent of taking a massive drug hit. Wow, I had to be strong – especially when I spotted the below bags. God knows what the security guard thought when I whipped out my iPhone to photograph them. Oh well, at least I didn’t try to tip him. I’d probably have got my percentages completely wrong.

Bag of Dreams

So, what do you spend on your crafts? And tell me, honestly… £98.35 on lattes. Too much?

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7 Responses to The Numbers Game

  1. Aldara says:

    There is something called dyscalculia … but it can’t be too bad with the number of stitches you have to count for knitting… 🙂

    I spend… more than I like but less than I want on sewing. I spent over 50 Euro on buttons this month. Lots and lots of buttons from ebay, though…

  2. Roobeedoo says:

    £1.85 a day on lattes. 5 days a week. Do the maths. GULP.

  3. ejvc says:

    Hi – I just clicked over here from Gertie’s blog. I’m in London as well, and have just found a lady who teaches draping. And also I’ve made a duct-tape double for myself and would be happy to do another. We’re about the same age and I am always looking for sewing buddies in the area!

  4. Tilly says:

    Oh golly, we’ve almost had the exact same few days – not only the necklace, but I walked through Topshop World yesterday and that bag was the one thing that caught my eye. Plus last night my boyfriend and I had a financial summit to try to work out where all our money goes and concluded that he should stop buying lattes and I should stop buying fabric… for a while… until I use up some of my stash. I’ve spent LOADS on sewing in the past few months, but now I’ve got the essential kit and built up my stash hopefully I can cut down a bit. What software do you use by the way?!

  5. The software is Personal Accountz (it’s UK friendly as opposed to US) and you can download it from Amazon. The biggest pain in the proverbial is set up – inserting all those direct debits etc. But once you get past that labour intense set up, it’s not too bad. And fascinating to track your spending… I always thought buying clothes was my achilles heel, but I’ve learnt a lot about my latte habit!

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