Monthly Archives: July 2016

July Rolag Club: St. Swithun’s Day

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July Rolag Club: St. Swithun’s Day

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Welcome to Forgotten Festivals Rolag Club!

This month we are celebrating St Swithun’s Day on the 15th of July.

St. Swithun was an Anglo-Saxon bishop, born around the year 800, who lived until approximately 862. His feast day is on the 15th of July, and in popular lore he is remembered for the famous weather myth:

St Swithun’s day if thou dost rain
For forty days it will remain
St Swithun’s day if thou be fair
For forty days ’twill rain nae mare

Swithun was appointed as bishop of Winchester by Æthelwulf, the Anglo Saxon King of Wessex. He was known as a pious and deeply spiritual man, preferring to share banquets with the poor rather than the rich. Upon his deathbed he begged to be buried not inside the church, as dictated by his place in society, but “outside the north wall of his cathedral where passers-by should pass over his grave and raindrops from the eaves drop upon it.” In 971 Swithun’s remains were moved to a new indoor shrine, and legend grew up that the heavy rain on that day demonstrated the saint’s displeasure at the move. So grew the idea that if it rains on St. Swithun’s day, it will rain for the next 40 days.

Funnily enough, there is some meteorological truth in the proverb. The jet stream that influences our summer weather is usually fixed by mid July and tends to remain steady throughout August. If this jet stream lies to our north, high pressure from the continent leads to a warmer, drier summer. Alternately, a jet stream lying to the south of our islands brings arctic and atlantic weather systems, possibly including 40 days of rain.

This month’s rolag club is themed around our changing weather. You have a set of rolags inspired by glimpses of rainbow colours in a cloudy sky. We have an abundance of guest makers: your mini skein from Setting the twist is based on summer showers, you have the most amazing stitch markers from All Wound Up, and to cope with all this weather, you have handmade lip balm from Lifebloom. I’ve thrown in a few extra treats, including your tea, which has a bit of a twist this month.

Enjoy!

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“Shy Rainbow” rolags were blended with white falkland and alpaca, and colourful silk.

In your box you should find:

  • The story of St. Swithun’s Day
  • 30g of striping rolags in “Shy Rainbow” – 50% Organic Falkland, 30% Mulberry Silk, 20% Baby Alpaca
  • A handspun mini skein in “Summer Shower” by Setting the Twist
  • Flower tea
  • Stitch markers by All Wound Up
  • Lip balm by Lifebloom
  • A mini umbrella (or parasol – you get to decide)
  • Silver-lined clear beads – beautiful little raindrops!
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Weather-based stitch markers from All Wound Up.

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Blooming Flower Tea from The Exotic Teapot.

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Handmade lip balm from Lifebloom.

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A handful of raindrops: clear, silver-lined beads.

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And a little umbrella (or parasol!) to match.

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A pair of rainbows!

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Hook to Heal: Wk 12 reading/Wk 11 check-in

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Hook to Heal: Wk 12 reading/Wk 11 check-in

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It’s our final week of the read along, and we are reading:

Week 12: 18th-24th July

  • Conclusions and Reflection, pp. 227-254

For Kindle folk that is from the chapter heading “Conclusion: Back to the Beginning” to the final paragraph before the section “References and Resources.”

We are past the main chapters and the exercises this week, and reading the final Conclusion pages, where Vercillo details the circuitous journey leading to the creation of Hook to Heal. We have the opportunity to reflect on our own journey, what we have learnt and our experience with the crochet exercises.

All the information about the read along, including how to join, can be found on the project page.

Personal check-in, week 11

  • Morning pages: 3/7
  • Artist’s date: Me and my garden
  • Exercises: 4/12

So in this final chapter before the book concludes we swing back to the theme that we started with: Artistic Development. “I am an artist.” Am I?

This is a real theme for Vercillo, and resonates with both mine and the author’s study of The Artists Way. So it is a question that I have sat with for several years now. I still don’t have an answer. And maybe that’s the best way. To come to a final answer would be to stop thinking through the question. If you visit my facebook page you will see that the category I chose for the page was “artist”. This isn’t a declaration to you. It is a challenge to me. And every time I load that page on my browser, the word still challenges me.

I have come a long way in the last few years. I now accept that much of what I do every day is creative (having previously thought of myself as completely uncreative: a mere technician, skilled only in following the instructions of others). That self-categorisation represented the boundaries of my comfort zone at the time. And my struggles with the A-word are a reflection of my comfort zone as it stands now.

I struggle with the idea of calling myself an artist. It seems far too big a claim. It seems like a claim that would expose me and my work to much greater scrutiny. And I think that is the heart of the struggle for me. The biggest leap I have taken in this whole journey is to open me and my work to the public, when in many ways I’d really rather stay unnoticed. I don’t see an end to that any time soon, and I was struggling to finish this blog post, having no satisfactory conclusion. Then something happened.

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My daughter, who hadn’t been privy to these ruminations handed me this note. It says:

Mum, you’re the artist.

Time to shine.

I asked her why she had given it to me. Why “artist”, I wanted to know. “Because that’s what you do,” she said, “with your spinning and your crochet and your drawing and writing.” It was so simple to her. She doesn’t carry the baggage that I cling on to. She doesn’t care about the weight of others’ expectations. Would I reach the same conclusion as her if I started from that place of simplicity? I shall think on …

Hook to Heal: Wk 11 reading/Wk 10 check-in

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Hook to Heal: Wk 11 reading/Wk 10 check-in

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It’s week 11, our penultimate week and final full chapter of Hook to Heal! Here is the reading for this week:

Week 11: 11th-17th July

  • Artistic Development, pp. 211-226

For the Kindle readers, that’s from the chapter title “Artistic Development” to the text box “Yarn for Thought: More Musings About Being An Artist.” The text box has 7 bullet points and the final one begins “What is the difference …” and ends with “What are the similarities?”

This week may come as a real challenge to many of us. Vercillo throws down the gauntlet in this final chapter, asking us to define and then test our ideas of what an artist is, of who an artist is, and of whether or not we belong in that category. She has a definite view to put forward here, and you may or may not share it, but I suspect it will be a very interesting experiment to allow ourselves to question our preconceptions.

Have a great week.

All the information about the read along, including how to join, can be found on the project page.

Personal check-in, week 10

Coming soon … 🙂

Hook to Heal: Wk 10 reading/Wk 9 check-in

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Hook to Heal: Wk 10 reading/Wk 9 check-in

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Our week 10 reading is:

Week 10: 4th-10th July

  • Balance, pp. 191-210

For the kindle readers, that’s from the chapter heading “Balance” to the text box “Yarn for Thought: More Musings on Balance.” This box contains 6 bullet points, and the last one starts “Make a list of your 10 favourite things to do,” and ends “How can you adjust that?”

This week we deal with that essential feature of a rounded life: balance. Balance is one of those things I seem to be always in search of, never achieving. We will have opportunities for crochet exercises that face the often contradictory needs we have. We will challenge our perceptions of the “right” way to do a task by doing it several different ways. We will look at symmetry, harmony, discord and tension. We will see how our crochet lessons translate into broader aspects of life.

This is our penultimate topic, so have fun with this one. x

All the information about the read along, including how to join, can be found on the project page.

Personal check-in, week 9

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  • Morning pages: 4/7
  • Artist’s Date: Designing and working on squares for Woolly Hugs’ Jo Cox memorial blanket.
  • Exercises: 4/7

Week 9 was all about giving back, something that has always been important to me and is reflected not only in charitable donations, but also in the voluntary work that I do. It was a real treat to give back via the medium of crochet and fibre art.

The crochet that I worked on for this week’s artist’s date is destined for the woolly hugs charity (exercise 1), and I have made plans to teach a new student to crochet (exercise 2). I have been gradually reducing my yarn stash over time and had another ruthless sort out, the results of which will be donated to charity (exercise 3), but the real excitement for me this week was exercise 6: Slow Yarn.

I love the idea of slow making, and slow yarn is really what I’m all about. Slow as in taking time to appreciate the process, to make the most of the experience, and capture some of that care and attention in what is being created.

This exercise encouraged me to find out more about the slow yarn movement. I rather liked this post, and had a good mooch around slowyarn.com, but overall there was very little web presence for the idea of slow yarn. Which makes me more determined to carry on with this work and keep making, and writing about making, my slow, story-infused, unique yarn for crafters.

I feel the process that I have carved out for myself is one that gives back with abundance. It gives back to me, using mindful creativity to restore myself. It gives back to the craft community, with the offer of something unique and meaningful, and it gives back to the world: a little bit of a creative soul, shared freely. Make of it what you will.

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