Paula's creative home is kid-friendly & full of crochet
Right now, crocheter Paula Risanto is feeling a bit envious of her one-year-old son, Ren. He gets to wake up in what was - until recently - Paula's dedicated craft room, complete with wall of yarn, neatly filed craft books and accessories, and a heap of super-bright half-done crochet projects. "I'm kind of jealous, actually, because I want to wake up with a wall of yarns!" Paula laughs. "Apparently it's stimulating for him. It's good when he wakes up and sees all the colours."
Along with baby Ren, Paula shares her house with her husband, Vian, and six-year-old daughter, Giselle. Sadly, Paula and Vian's eldest child, Gabrielle, was stillborn. In a way, she has become the lasting inspiration behind Paula's yarncraft obsession, and her crafting business, Flamingpot.
"I started crochet back in 2012 - it was therapy after I lost my stillborn daughter, Gabrielle. I actually was going to learn knitting, but then my friend taught me how to crochet, and I become addicted to it," Paula says. "So I opened an online shop. Then I started doing markets. And actually, I just learned knitting. Now I'm able to knit as well! But I'm still just a beginner.
"The first crochet project that I made was a granny square blanket that I dedicated to Gabrielle. It's really big, and I still have it on the sofa. That first one was really, really meaningful for me. I introduced it to my daughter as well, and she knows that she has an older sister. Giselle wants to learn how to crochet so she can do a granny square, and make the same blanket that I did."
These days Paula's crochet output for Flamingpot - brightly coloured donuts, cushions, dolls and custom orders - is still crucial for her mental health and sense of balance. It takes place on the couch in front of the TV somewhere between parenting duties, family time and a part-time job as a legal accounts clerk. "I do it when everybody is asleep at night, and it's my 'me' time," she explains. "That's when I catch up with my business, and with my crochet as well."
Though the house, in Melbourne's western suburbs, does feature a fair amount of crochet, Paula reckons that visitors notice the plants first. "Sometimes I feel like I live in a forest," she laughs. "Vian love plants. He loves indoor plants and outdoor plants. He loves succulents, and he has plants in every corner of my house. He keeps buying pots!"
Vian is also responsible for the toy collection and some of the artwork on display (he's a graphic designer), which Paula says is a good combination with her handiwork: "There's something bright and something living."
Though her yarns are some of her most treasure possessions - collected on travels to Japan and Indonesia, and also online - Paula says her favourite place in the house is her kitchen, and her favourite stuff is her bakeware.
"The kitchen is the place that I love the most in all of the house. It's quite an open space, with the kids' playroom in there and the living room as well. So I can see everything. While I'm preparing dinner, I can watch the kids at the same time."
Paula was once a professional cook, and says husband Vian often requests dishes from her native Indonesia. Occasionally she'll whip one up, but with all the spices and processes, traditional cooking can be a slow process. Weeknight dinners are some of her favourite times with the family, she says, and it's easier to keep it simple: "I just want something quick."
When it comes to baking, though, Paula doesn't mind taking her time. "Baking actually is what I love the most! I love making my own bread. I love making everything from scratch. I know it takes time, but I just love it," Paula says. She's already got Giselle helping out with baking, and Ren may not be far behind. "It's all about making memories. I love making memories, especially with my kids and my little family."
Between Flamingpot, a part-time job, being a mum and being a wife, Paula has a lot of demands on her time. There's no big secret to getting it all done, she says. "I guess I keep learning as I go along, because being a parent is the hardest job I've ever had, but it's the most rewarding as well.
"Having a routine helps: if I know that this is the time I have to do these things, this is the time I have to get dinner ready, or get my kids to sleep, then I know I can balance things, though it's really tiring. I really love being a parent! I love my crochet, and I love my afternoon job as well. I guess if you enjoy what you're doing, it makes it a little bit easier."