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.
This morning is still and cold. As usual, I am woken early by my son. But today, instead of lingering in play by the wood fire, we bundle on woollens and head straight out into the still deserted street. Today is the start of a new week. And this morning, there is fresh snow on the ground. How could we resist?
Inching our way around the curve of the church, trying to avoid the invisible patches of ice, my little one stoops to pick handfuls of crunchy snow. I stop for a moment to lift my head from my feet and up towards the summits. It is so many months since I last called the mountains my home. And yet here I am, once again back here surrounded by them. We are new to this valley, having previously called a village across the peaks our home. And yet, no matter how new, it is still a familiar view. A soon to be treasured view. A view that lifts my spirits, no matter how low they may have fallen.
High above the village, the hillsides are silent and still, covered in a dusting of overnight snow. The first of this new year. Even when though the winter sun is slowly waking, the moon lingers on in the still, blue sky. And the summits of the central Pyrenees are struck with the golden early morning light.
AToday the sky is grey and the air thick with mist. The oak tree above the roof window has just a few solitary leaves still clinging to it’s otherwise bare branches. The flannelette sheets and woollen blankets have been on the bed for weeks. Back in the house, a fire is crackling merrily in the wood stove.
Here in the studio, there is no wood stove. So I’m staving off the cold as best I can. There are socks on my feet, a heavily cabled hat on my head and my favourite hand-spun shawl wrapped around my neck. There are so many woollen layers elsewhere that I’ve lost count. I’m also trying my best to stave off the runny nose and the prickling at the back of my throat hats been bothering me since yesterday. My boy has already succumbed so there is much soup sipping, eucalyptus balm rubbing, on the sofa cuddling, and nose wiping. We are in the waning days of late autumn, and here in Brittany they are mostly dark & damp.
Looking around my studio, cardboard boxes litter what I intend to become a usually tidy room. When packing up my old studio space a month ago, I had begun with the easy stuff, arranging my yarn neatly into boxes arranged by provenance, then moving onto my patterns, needles and notions, until I was left with all the more tricky things, the scraps of paper and notebooks. The half finished projects. The remnants and the scraps. If the early weeks of packing were easily dynamic and assertive, now things are a bit more tricky.
We leave this house in less than two weeks. Looking at the boxes and mess scattered around me, I am overwhelmed by how much is still left to do. And yet my heart is already yearning to be gone, to be flying south towards our new nest. Our year in Brittany has been such an enriching, wonderful experience. But the house we have called home these past months has been less than homely. And on a freezing, damp day like today, I am already aching to be elsewhere.