The turn of the year can be a time to look back with pleasure at things that have happened in the last 12 months. Or it can be a sad time, when all you want to do is see the back of the year that has just been.
2013 was one of those bad years for me because I said a last goodbye to my lovely mum at the height of the summer. This year I’ve begun to look forward again, although I will never stop missing her…
A creative change in 2014
At the start of the year I was still pretty low. I had taken the family off to a holiday in the Canary Islands as something different at Christmas and we had a quiet New Year. My house was a bit of a state, being filled with stuff from my mum’s house, which my brother and I had cleared so that it could be put up for sale. I did part with a lot of things but her special things were impossible to throw away or give away, so I felt a bit overwhelmed by continuing to sort through them.
Some were personal things and ornaments and reminders of times we had spent together and places we had been. A lot was craft related that sorting through it and seeing the potential to start enjoying more creative time was a big influence. You can read more about my journey into crafting here…
This year I have been on many workshops, courses and classes and I’ve learned a lot of new skills and polished others that I had already been working on steadily. And I started my Crafternoon Treats blog…
Looking for new crafternoon challenges
I always find New Year and early January full of promise but the rest of January and February is really depressing. The weather in Yorkshire can be snowy at this time of year but more often than not it is just grey, cold, wet and damp. The light is poor and the days are short. In 2014 I spent a lot of time looking for some crafting courses to look forward to in the spring.
Hours of googling didn’t come up with very much but I kept putting in the search terms, thinking that new ones would start appearing. In early February, that new entry popped up. A 3-day craft retreat in Bridlington, on the East coast of Yorkshire, at the end of March and run by Leonie Pujol of Create and Craft TV. I had watched her demonstrations many a time with my mum who loved Create and Craft and she was particularly fond of Leonie.
My first thought was that it was bound to be booked up but when I checked, it had only been announced a couple of days before. A few emails to the hotel and I had my place!
Funnily enough, I decided during this time to start on a big crochet project too. I had been getting back into crochet since Christmas when I took some cheap yarn and my rediscovered crochet hooks away to Lanzarote with me. During one of my craft-led internet searching sessions I had found woolwarehouse and saw that they were selling reasonably priced acrylic yarn – Special DK – in some exciting looking colours. When I was on their site I saw the link to Attic24 and the pattern for a granny stripe blanket, looked it up and decided I would do that as my first big project, using colours to match in with my lounge cushions in Cath Kidston fabrics.
Jogging these memories to write this blog has made me realise that this was actually how I discovered Lucy and her fabulous blog – ironic bearing in mind the recent criticism she has had for her links with Woolwarehouse and Stylecraft!
The Bridlington craft retreat
Everything about this was great. I stayed in a hotel in Bridlington near to the beach with around 12 other passionate crafters and Leonie Pujol, who was lovely, a skillful teacher and a lot of fun. She had planned the projects carefully and I learned more about papercrafting, distress inks and stamping in those three days than I had expected to learn all year.
I also met some fab people there too – Micky, who organised the Bicester craft retreat later in the year and who coordinates the British Stampers Network, and Sue, who now regularly appears as a demonstrator for Create and Craft herself and who makes gorgeous cards as samples for many of their shows.
The Royal Hotel Bridlington s run by Tim and Fiona who were great hosts and kept us fuelled with big breakfasts, morning coffee, lunch, afternoon tea and dinner. The weather was unusually pleasant, sunny but cold, and I got up early each morning for a long walk along the deserted, beautiful beach, taking in the bright blue sky, sunshine and sea air.
Meeting up at the Bicester craft retreat
In June, some of the same crafters met up in Bicester at the event hosted by Micky of the British Stampers Network. This was done more on a shoestring in Chesterton Village Hall and the experienced crafters in the group took it in turns to run a workshop. The Travelodge in Bicester wasn’t quite Bridlington but it was a great weekend.
But I am skipping ahead… In early April I saw another weekend workshop with places still available – in Skipton.
Making the rag rug spring wreath
By this time I had been following the Attic24 blog and had been reading the huge archive of posts that had past me by. I didn’t realise though until after I had booked my place on the course that it was held in the studio in Skipton that Tracy of Handmade over Yonder shared with Lucy. The workshop run by Rachel Terry of Bewitched by Stitch was excellent and I enjoyed learning about rag rugging and was enormously pleased with my finished wreath.
Returning to The Studio to make the Bower Bird with Lucy
By a quirk of fate, I managed to get a place at the final bower bird workshop in July after someone else had to cancel. I saw it advertised by chance on Facebook and was amazed that I ended up with the chance to go. The weekend of the workshop was the first anniversary of my mum’s death, so it felt like she was giving me a helping hand to do something positive and fun.
And it was certainly that. I loved being back in Lucy’s workplace again and its sad that she is now moving to the smaller place next door. The studio that Tracy and Lucy had set up was a magical place and crocheting with 8 other avid hookers with personal tuition from Lucy was wonderful.
A creative autumn
The summer was very busy and my daughter left for a year in the USA at the start of September. My son also went to university for the first time, but not far away. But that left me home alone with work, friends and a lot of crafting time.
I think that I am well suited to living in a solitary way and I still fee a bit guilty about this from time to time. But I am not bored and not lonely, just enjoying the chance to do my own thing, when and how I want to.
I’ve been progressing my silversmithing skills at Leeds College of Art, I went on a short break to Northumberland and discovered sea glass. I’ve started to make jewellery with it and I want to progress and do more of this in 2015.
My efforts on the crochet front have really taken off during the dark evenings, which has been a major source of happiness. In particular, my seascape ripple blanket, my cosy crochet along blanket and my chunky hexagon blanket have kept me very well occupied.
On Boxing Day this year, I finished my cosy stripe blanket, done as part of the crochet along with Attic24. A nice end to the year 🙂