Why I do what I do.

Where your talents and the needs of the world cross; there lies your vocation. Hark at me, starting off a blog post with a quote from Aristotle. Don’t worry, it’s not going to be all philosophical. I just think it sums up what Zebra Creations is all about.

I have a conditional called Ehlers Danlos Syndrome Type 3, which means my ligaments are too stretchy. this causes me constant pain, sometimes my joints pop out a bit and I am perpetually clumsy. It’s a right pain in the neck. And the hip, the wrist, the back…(see, told you it wasn’t all philosophy. I also do dad jokes)

The products I make are all the result of either me, or my friends who are also in the bendy brigade, needing something. I have had microwaveable pillows in the past but they never stay put and the rice always pooled at the end of the pillow, so my sofa got all the benefit. I have had wrist supports, but hated wearing them as they are so flipping ugly, but also they get really hot and sticky as they are all made of nylon.

I knew my way around a sewing machine, although hadn’t really used it or years. When I had to stop teaching because my EDS got worse, I needed to draw on all of the skills I could use while sitting down in order to make a living. And so Zebra Creations was born. I create items that I know do the job they are supposed to but without looking hideous, sewing takes my mind off the various bits of me that ache and – hopefully – I can sell them and pay the bills.

How I create the items sounds pretty straightforward – I look at something I have,decide what is wrong with it and then fix it. Or, I will find a particular task tricky or uncomfortable and so I try to figure out what would make it easier. Take, for example, the wrist splints. I need to use a splint whenever my wrist hurts, which is pretty often. A friend suggested decorating it with sequins and glitter, and at first I thought it was a great idea, but then I realised it was totally impractical. You see, as well as looking grim, the nylon base of the splint means that after three days straight wearing it smells manky. They don’t wash well as it is, so adding glitter certainly wouldn’t help. So, I decided to make my own. I replaced the man-made fibres with cotton to make it breathable and used pretty patterned jersey on the surface to make it pretty. This was certainly more involved than the earlier stuff I made like the rice pillows, but I am growing in confidence and feel like I can start to tackle the sort of projects that can really make a difference to people with joint pain in any form.

But more importantly than that, it makes me feel happy. I used to distract myself from pain by playing stupid games on my phone. Now I get to make things and have something to show for my time. It turns a negative into a positive, so if I get to help other people in the process, even better.

Written for www.girlonpurlaction.co.uk