Month: February 2018

about February

That was February.

At times overwhelmingly heavy, as difficult family news meant melancholy was often lurking at the edges. We have also found ourselves plunged into winter with bitterly frosty mornings, biting wind and sprinklings of snow. It would have been so easy to loose ourselves in worries of what is to come. Instead, we light the fire and seek to rest in that safe haven of now.

Making is one of the things which anchors me firmly in the present moment. And so many little bears have come to life from the mohair and wool this past month. Each one surprising me more than the last. Each one so unique and yet all capable of raising a smile & the spirits.

Comfort has also come in the form of heartfelt messages, meaningful exhanges & surprise parcels in the post, from women from across Europe and further afield. Friends I have never met, and yet whose kindness and caring have brought me such warmth on these cold days. Not for the first time, I feel so incredibly grateful for the magical way that wool & a shared love of working with it can weave such meaningful connections & lead to friendships in such unexpected places.

As March begins with it’s promise of Spring not far off, I will continue gently & quietly working on some dear little woolly things for my shop. All being well, I hope to open it’s doors around the 21st March.

Thank you so much for being here. What has brought you comfort during February?


One of the many meaningful connections I have treasured this month has been with my dear friend & incredibly talented maker Adriana. This first monthly round up was actually inspired in part by one she does on her beautiful blog. A little window into a quiet life in Portugal, her blog Mundo Flo is one of my long term favourites. I love to sit down with a mug of something warm and soak up her simple but wonderfully poetic reflections on life, mothering, making and all that is between. You can read more about Adriana here, see her most recent blog post here, and find more of her beautiful work here and here.

 

in my workroom 1#

On the western end of our little Breton cottage is a little room, with thick stone walls and one door to our living room and another straight out onto the garden. The garden wall has a chimney breast, just hoping to soon welcome a wood burner. And there is a sky light and the sweetest of square windows with a deep sill to let in plenty of natural light.

Along with the large garden and the large south facing windows, it was this room and all the possibilities it immediately inspired that helped me fall in love with  this place. Boxes are being unpacked, shelves arranged and rearranged as I start to spread out my tools, materials and dreams into this nook.

When talking about this room amongst ourselves, my boys generally refer to it as “mama’s atelier“, which feels simultaneously strange and natural. For the first time in my life, I have a dedicated making space to call my own. And for now, that feels mostly like an incredible luxury, but sometimes almost a bit of an indulgence. So I have to be mindful of these feelings and not let them undermine me. I have to keep reminding myself that this house is big and there is plenty of room for us three to each stretch out. The other that that occasionally flutters into my mind is the one that makes me feel reluctant to refer to this space as my studio, for fear of coming across an impostor. As if somehow I am dishonestly pretending to be someone with more experience, skills, talent or creativity. Or simply that I am having ideas above my station. I find exploring these different thoughts interesting, because ultimately they are symptomatic of a lack of courage and self belief in this project, and in my own legitimacy in pursuing it. But that does not mean they are true. They are something I wish to explore a little further in the coming weeks, but for now I shall practice here referring to this little space for what it is: not the spare room nor the garden room.  But rather my workroom.

I’m curious to know, do you have a dedicated space to call your own, for making or other projects? Whether a whole room or “just” a little basket or a favourite armchair, I’d so love to hear about it, and also about how spending time in that place makes you feel. Please tell me in the comments below.

a new home in the hills

It’s now four months since we arrived in our new home in the hills. For the time being, life has brought us from our mountain village in the Pyrenees, north & westward to the green and rolling hills of central Brittany.

Last year saw a great many challenges sweeping through our quiet little life. At times it felt like a tidal wave, leaving us tired and wrung out in it’s wake. Over the summer, in the midst of a significant flare up in my health, we both felt an unexplainable tugging on our hearts to uproot our mountain life and move over 800 miles northward to be closer to our respective families. We found a little Breton cottage nestled in a gentle valley, with a large garden and surrounded by fields. It seemed like the perfect place for us to rest & recuperate from a difficult year. But to move here was to take a leap into the unknown…because my poor health over the summer meant I wasn’t well enough to come and visit the place before we moved in mid October.

But there was love and hope and trust (and wool) to see us through. And it’s worked out fine in the end.

Our new home is nestled in the green hills of central Finistère, at the furthest end of Brittany. It’s a place where the wind & rain are frequent and the wildlife abundant both inside & outside. We fall asleep to the hooting of a pair of tawny owls each night and often wake to find the left overs of the midnight feasts of the resident mice in the kitchen the following morning.

With most of the boxes unpacked and a gentle new rhythm unfolding, we have finally exhaled. As our thoughts start to turn to Spring, we find ourselves outside as much as possible, slowly settling into our garden as well as exploring our new land base. For the next few months, this little tumble down cottage will be our home. Our motivation to come here was simple: we are here to recover from a hard last year and to be closer to our respective families. Our intention for the coming months is just as simple: to lead a gentler & slower existence, centered around our home & garden. Where are hands are kept busy (and often dirty) pulling this or that from our veggie garden, tending to chickens and possibly even sheep.

I also intend to finally plunge in and start peddling some of my hand made wares – starting with my bears & other little playthings…and am currently working towards opening my little shop up for the first time at the start of Spring. I look forward to showing you next week a little of what I’ve been working on this past month.

 

woollen hearted

At my heart, I’m a maker. And at the heart of my making, there is wool.  Wool is the raw material I return to time and time again. Whether hand spinning, knitting, natural dyeing, felting or bear making, the golden thread running through my making is woollen.

And this work with wool feels somehow like an extension of the whole of me. When I work closely with this fibre in an intentionally slow & mindful way, I find some of life’s many tangles become unravelled, some of it’s creases become straightened out.

Working wool with my hands allows me to reconnect with myself and my values, my wildest dreams and my most cherished priorities. Each turn of the wheel, click of the needles, tiniest of stitches is an outpouring of my heart, as it were.

start where you are

 

I wake early.

Week by week, the nights are slowly getting a little less disturbed. A little more restful. So today I can creep from the darkness & the warmth of the family bed, knowing I am as rested as I’ll manage for this morning.

On tiptoe, I creep down the stairs, into the spare room and turn on the lamp. The project I was working on last night is still laying out patiently on the work table. Beside it, my wheel is also waiting. A bobbin half full with a cloud of fibres hanging in the air.

Not knowing how long I’ll have, it’s hard to know where to begin. Ideas flutter around my head like butterflies. I leave the sewing & the spinning untouched and instead reach to my notebook. The one with all the lists. And scribbled ideas. There is so much I am aching to do. But there seems to be no time. No energy. No right moment to get started.

Then I remember something I heard a few weeks back. About how there is indeed never a “right” moment to start anything. So instead of never getting started, it’s all about taking that first step right now. Starting where you are, wherever you are.

He stirs in his sleep, the bed creaks and after a moment I hear “MAMA” calling out. I drop what I was doing and dash back up the stairs, sinking back beneath the woollen blankets. The warmth of his little body warming mine on this foggy morning in early January.  After we have snuggled for a while, the day will begin with all it’s toddler energy & pace: there will be breakfast which will leave me mopping up spilt tea and trying to wipe crumbs and egg from the floor & table. Then we will play, and the floor will be covered in all the elements needed to create this morning’s particular playscape. Cushions will be pulled from the armchair, the little quilt dragged from the bed and soon wooden animals, teddies and a tea pot will be strewn across our living room. By mid morning I’m forcing a comb through my bedraggled hair, trying to make the best of myself without the shower I am so craving. I look at myself in the mirror, with the tired eyes and the stain on my t-shirt and wonder if this really is the moment. Even with the help of my partner, it is not always easy to find time and energy beyond the caring responsibilities I have at the moment. Caring for my boy. Caring for my partnership.Caring for my health.

It’s so easy at times like this to sink into a spiral of negative feelings: guilt, low self esteem, embarrassment. But today, I am resolved. Resolved that yes indeed, now is the time to start.

So here I am: with a toddler grabbing at my skirt, crumbs on the floor waiting to be swept and a deep resolve to give it a go. It won’t be perfect, but then when is anything ever perfect these days? I gave up aspiring to perfect long ago. Instead these days I try to find joy & beauty in the mess and the crumples, the tiredness and the tears. If I can somehow craft things of beauty from the mess on my work table, then I’m sure it must be possible to do the same with my life.

Consider this an intention to get started, properly sometime very soon. And also to begin some wild & wonderful adventures in sustainable creativity. All be it at a deliberately slow pace.