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Makers Month at the Forum


The The Forum Norwich is holding its first Makers Month from Monday 1st February to Saturday 27th February.  Golly that’s next week!  I am going to be there with the guys from the Mid-Norfolk Guild of Weavers, Spinners and Dyers on Friday 5th, Saturday 6th, Thursday 11th, Friday 12th and Saturday 13th.  The first two weeks are fibre focussed: week 1 Yarn; week 2 Fabric.  There will be spinning with all the Norfolk Guilds represented, weaving with Kim from The Saori Shed and a plethora of other activities and crafts people.  The following two weeks are paint and paper focussed if thats your thing.

Makers Month is for curious beginners and more experienced crafts people and master craftsmen to meet and share skills, ideas and enthusiasm for our craft.  For absolute beginners to have a go.  It should be really fun and exciting.  I’m  really looking forward to talking with other fibre obsessives to my hearts content!

I’m also looking forward to a fine talk and exhibition on the Norwich Shawl with Joy Evitt from the Costume & Textile Association on Friday 12th February.

So if you are in Norwich on those dates, come and find me and say hello.

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New Year New Horizons

frosty morningHi there dear reader welcome back. After the social hurly burly of the turn of the year life I’ve been having a few weeks of deep hibernation and contemplation as the dog days of January drag on.

On a positive note, living somewhere where there is no street lighting you notice the day light changing more acutely than in urban places.  The days are already noticeably longer and the darkness is creeping back a few minutes every day. Can’t you feel the energy rising?  Storing itself up like a tightly coiled spring just waiting to let rip like a seasonal Jack in the Box (no?).  In the past week we have seen a couple of spectacularly glorious sunrises as we tear along the back road to get the boy on the  7.30am bus. Particularly on a hard frosty morning like today where I spotted this deer (rubbish photo).It is good to be alive!

So, in the week that is supposedly the most depressing of the year, I wish you all a happy new year and to reflect on the past year and plans for the year to come.

2015 was an odd one for me. I guess the most momentous thing was that it was a year of not having a ‘proper job’.  How very feckless of me – I seemed to have lost my job and failed to find it. Despite not having a ‘proper’ job, the year was an incredibly busy one. It was one of construction, community and learning.

I don’t know about a bucket list but a dedicated work space for all my stuff was something I had desired and coveted since I was a crafty child. And the year started with the construction of my workshop. Spinzilla day one

It needs a bit of fine tuning to finish.  The roof needs insulating (brrr its mighty cold at the moment). We also have a problem common to many frugal folk scavenging cast-offs for our own purposes – things can sometimes be a bit crap.  The sliding patio doors were donated, as with a lot of free stuff, the sliding action is more of a throw your weight against and shove with all your might. Plus they leak. So they have to have a rethink. But it is and remains my very most treasured luxury and sanctuary from the madness outside.

Community is a difficult one for me. I am a bit of alone wolf. I ‘m happiest in my own company. But this year saw me moving out of my comfort zone and starting to participate in the most wonderful and generous community of fibre folk, all those spinners, dyers and knitters. Never having the time to look before, I had no idea that the community was so vibrant, so talented, so inspiring and so large and so open and friendly! The highlight was participating in the UKs Team HSN Spinzilla Team. The team continues with christmas swop, the contribution of a knitted square for a blanket to be auctioned off for charity and a group visit to Curtis Directs mill. In February and a meet at Fibre East. Honoured and amazed in equal measure.

With regards to learning. Having the luxury of time meant I had a lot of time for thinking, spinning and knitting. I learnt so much. Not just the time for reflection and thinking about what I want to be when I grow up (need to crack on with that one don’t you think?).  It is curious how having time on your hand begets creativity, experimentation and, ultimately, personal fulfillment. Although I have been knitting all my life and spinning for about 7 years it was always crammed into those precious minutes between the other stuff of life. Progress was slow mostly because I stuck with what I knew worked and could be accomplished in the small time available. My first fleece took nearly a year to turn from greasy fleece in to a finished article and was, more or less, the only project that year. This year I’ve played with through Romney, Norfolk Horn, Sheltland, Castlemilk Moorit, Zwartble, Southdown, Masham, Alpaca, mohair, and the ubiquitous BFL. I’ve learnt how to take my time, work slower and the results have been much improved. I’ve learnt new techniques for scouring, carding and combing. I finally got to be a competent wollen spinner with help from my friends at Guild and online.  Finally getting over my fear of long draw. Its all about the bubble gum moment…I also, thanks to reading all those magnificent blogstars, discovered the sheer joy of reading Elizabeth Zimmerman for pleasure.  I know.  where have I been?  Hiding under a rock?  T’would seem so.

So what are my plans for 2016?  I want to get a deeper knowledge of my craft. In particular this year I want to explore knitting with hand-dyed and handspun yarns.  I guess the most profound thing is to continue along this new path.  Lets see where it goes. Get a job? Yah boo, sucks to that!   Joking aside, this year will see me working very hard at reducing the bills to as close to zero as is feasible.  To be more self-sufficient and to afford the luxury of exploring a slower, different way of living. One in which I have the freedom to be more creative , more fulfilled and more content (if financially poorer) than I have ever been.

I look forward to sharing my experiences with you over the coming year. Happy New Year!