Tag Archives: Favourites

Wrapping Up 2016

Standard
Wrapping Up 2016

Twelfth night has passed, Epiphany arrived and the morning brings St. Distaff’s Day. And yet, 2016 still plays on my mind and I feel it won’t let me rest until I’ve put it to bed. So here is my debrief, liberally scattered with my favourite images of the last twelve months as a reminder that there was plenty of good amongst the difficulties.

jan1

January: I finished The Doodler, my first Westknits MKAL.

jan2

January: Study and stitching played a big part in the year.

I started 2016 in good form and with clear plans for the year. It was to be a quiet year for Story Skeins whilst I concentrated on finishing my training course.

feb2

February: Buttons and yarn, gifted from fellow crafters, came together beautifully.

2016-02-26 17.48.19

February: Handspun Valentine’s yarn.

The year started well. Life, work, creativity and health were all good. Things were progressing as I planned. I enjoyed my 38th birthday in March.

mar1

March: Birthday gifts from my family.

mar2

March: A birthday note from a fellow spinner!

But that was the point when the year began to turn. Things started to get more difficult. Imperceptibly so at first, but soon becoming a relentless pattern.

apr1

April: My first Fibreshare – what I sent.

apr2

April: My first Fibreshare – what I received.

There were many reasons. I don’t really want to dwell on them, but briefly: several of us live with difficult health conditions and these gave us trouble, not least in that the mental and physical effort required each day leaves us with few reserves to draw on when life throws up a sudden plot twist. We had external pressures on us too: difficulties at work, strained finances,  threats to the roof over our heads, and more.

2016-05-10 17.18.09

May: The Orange Is The New Black yarn from The Captain and Lovely made me very happy.

may2

May: My very own custom blend of handspun, handdyed sock yarn.

I know many people have found this year difficult due to world events. In the face of what we were dealing with personally, it was hard to draw strength from those around us when they also seemed so distressed.

jun1

June: Stone that flows like waves at the On Form stone sculpture festival.

jun2

June: More inspiration in stone at On Form.

But I don’t want to go down the route of cursing 2016. There was plenty of good in it. Although it was personally difficult for us, it also forced us to find ways to make the future better. We set plans in motion, we acted upon them, we followed them through and we are optimistic that they will mean a more positive future.

jul1

July: A little mother-daughters treat.

jul2

July: A day I look forward to every year – Fibre East with good friends.

The year for Story Skeins was quiet, as planned, and successful in that it achieved its own modest goals. Despite cutting down on commissioned spinning work I wished to continue with my monthly rolag boxes, and I am so happy with how that club went. I also hosted my first read along and gained so much inspiration and more tools for my mental toolbox from our chosen text. It’s an exercise I will be repeating in the future.

aug1

August: It was all about the chicks.

aug2

August: Games with friends.

I had many firsts this year, including my first solo dyeing adventures, my first handspun sock yarn (not just sockweight, but designed in the fibre blend and the spinning to function well for socks), my first start-to-finish processing of a whole fleece into yarn, my first experience of finishing a mystery KAL on time, my first piece of brioche knitting, and my first Fibreshare (which prompted me to learn a new language, so I also made my first instagram post that was written entirely in Swedish!)

sep1

September: I dusted off my weaving skills.

sep2

September: A perfect leaf, found on my first study weekend of the new academic year.

I was less successful in my study goals. Mental fatigue amongst other issues really put a break on things. I was pleased with the progress I did manage to make, but I didn’t complete all the work I that wanted to. No matter, it just means a new timescale before I can pursue those plans.

2016-11-13-15-42-49

October: The last in my series of Forgotten Festivals rolag boxes saw the end of a successful fibre club.

oct2

October: My second Westknits MKAL, and my first brioche knitting!

Finding ways to work around obstacles has brought into focus my ideas about how I want Story Skeins to work, so 2017 may look quite different as I transition to a new working  pattern (more details to come in a future post). Given the things I have to juggle – even in a good year – in the rest of my life, I never expected an easy ride in this adventure. But part of the point is to use this creative process in a way that is beneficial to life. Stretching myself to breaking point in order to keep up business, or the appearance of it, would not only defeat the purpose of what I’m trying to do here, but it would not be an authentic way for me to work. The heart of Story Skeins is nothing to do with the final products that I make and you may buy. It is entirely rooted in the process: in the how and the why. It is about bringing meaning into the things I create, and embracing the creative process as a balm and a blessing.

2016-12-13-01-24-28

November: Back in the spinning saddle with a bit of art yarn.

2016-12-13-01-26-11

November: Some fun with the rainbow trilobal blend.

The last two months of the year were acutely, painfully difficult. It was one of those times when a fact of life that we all know to be true, but manage to put out of our minds suddenly reveals itself as a clear, undeniable and awful reality. The knowledge that our future is fundamentally uncertain suddenly became paralysingly real. (I do not mean to concern you. Rest assured that I and my family are fundamentally OK.) I have been fortunate in life to have the luxury of ignoring this fact, unlike many people in the world today, and most throughout history. Our comfortable lives protect us from harsh truths. But I don’t think it’s unchallenging comfort that leads to wisdom. The struggle with hard times and hard truths can bear fruit, in that I have a new understanding of simple ideas. Two main ideas have come into focus at a deeper level and helped me over the finish line: Counting my blessings, and Living in the moment. It is as easy, and as hard, as that.

dec1

December: Making rolags for Christmas.

dec2

December: A welcome reminder in my Christmas stocking.

Happy the man, and happy he alone,

He who can call today his own:

He who, secure within, can say,

Tomorrow do thy worst, for I have lived today.

                                                     –  Horace

Advertisements

July Rolag Club: St. Swithun’s Day

Standard
July Rolag Club: St. Swithun’s Day

2016-07-21 15.54.51

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!

2016-07-21 15.50.35

“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!
2016-07-21 15.49.57

Weather-based stitch markers from All Wound Up.

2016-07-21 15.54.14

Blooming Flower Tea from The Exotic Teapot.

2016-07-21 15.53.10.jpg

Handmade lip balm from Lifebloom.

2016-07-21 15.51.51

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

2016-07-21 15.52.20.jpg

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

2016-07-29 10.35.12.jpg

A pair of rainbows!

First Blogaversary

Standard
First Blogaversary

A year ago today I published my first post on Story Skeins. It seems like a good time to reflect on some favourite posts.

2015-12-02 14.56.23

One of the things I did before going public with this adventure was to put a few posts on my brand new blog explaining who I am, what I’m doing and why. But there was something I forgot to mention when I posted about the birth of story skeins. I forgot to mention how much I resisted doing any of this! I don’t feel like it’s something I tried to create. Story skeins was an idea that came into my mind fully formed and refused to go away. I did have dreams of making yarn for people. But I really didn’t want to be seen or known. Given how much of myself I put into each creation, as I mulled over in “The Story So Far …“, it felt like too much of a risk. But the more I tried to ignore it, the more insistent this idea became.

20140605_141029

One of the things I definitely wasn’t going to do was to run a monthly club. It seems ironic, then, that my monthly Forgotten Festivals Rolag Club has been one of the most successful aspects of Story Skeins’ first year, both creatively and financially. It was another of those ideas that arrived complete and refused to be ignored. It has been very satisfying to mark the passing of the year, to create my own memento of my first rolag club, and to work with so many talented creators.

Photo Collage Maker_TYESbL.png

2016-01-24 15.03.27

Many more opportunities to interact with amazing creators have come via skill swapping. It has just occurred to me that I could add their contributions to my yarn blogs, but for now here are my contributions to an amazing year of swaps.

2016-03-06 11.07.36

And, of course, I have loved making every skein. I have loved playing with new and unusual fibres, as in Kiss From A Rose, and the super-luxury blends used in  The Walk to Weyland’s and Arctic Equinox. My favourite textured skein was spun for a non-spinning friend who won a beautiful set of rolags: Oh! The Places You’ll Go. I’ve made flower yarn and beaded yarn and yarn kits. I’ve seen my children inspired to take up the blending board and create: Singularly Cheerful and One Sky, Many Stories. And I have enjoyed writing the mini stories. Despite this being the aspect about which I have the least confidence, I really cherish the part the word-images play in practising mindful creativity: Abstract ExpressionNebula.

However, if I had to identify one high point of the year, I couldn’t do better than those times people have been inspired to create something out-of-the-ordinary as a result of engaging with the kind of process that I promote through my own work. They’ve earned their own tag, called art inspires art. I hope to see lots more of this as we embark on the second year together.