|I yearn for basics, a cat on my lap, knitting and decent telly, a few hours at the allotment, bulbs coming up, hugs with my kids. In such a controversial year, such a clusterfuck of a year, so much pain and sadness and anger and division and arguments, the least simple and basic of all years, to me next year will have to be about simplicity. There’s not going to be a taking stock or celebration of achievements, I cant wait to just put this year in the bin! This year I’m celebrating getting to this day with my mind vaguely in tact, and that is that. I’ve lost a child (he’s moved to his dad’s, not lost lost, but it still feels like a gaping wound, a chunk of happiness missing), I’ve lost one of my best friends (she’s gone proper hermit, she’s not dead, but I’m grieving like she’s died as I can’t see her or talk to her and it hurts like a death), I’ve lost time and my resilience and a lot of my normally infallible happiness, I’ve lost hope and patience and I’ve never felt more serious, less silly, and I keenly feel that too personally.|
|As a nation we’ve lost too much to put into words, everything is in chaos, vaccinations are a mess already, schools don’t have a clue what is going on, and Brexit is just the icing on the shit cake that was 2020. It’s making me incandescent with anger and I’m so tired of thinking about it and reading about it and yet I keep thinking about it and reading about it, like an addiction. I’ve deleted Facebook and Twitter and the Guardian app over and over but keep reinstalling some of them back and deleting them again, but like an abusive relationship I go back for more of the same bad news. I can’t not know what’s going on even though it’s never good news. I’ve come to terms that I may not ever reinstall Facebook as I feel suddenly that that relationship at least is done. But I’ve started a new one with the news and Twitter apps (would you believe despite having a presence on Twitter I’d never properly used it until April?!) and for now I’m resting in that need to know stuff that gets satisfied a little by reading the newsfeeds. I feel even worse not knowing! I can’t even begin to talk about the bigger stuff out there. The systemic racism, the utter ineptitude and lack of care from this government for their people, especially the people that aren’t like them, that aren’t in their tiny circle of cronies, the people that are consistently thrown under the bus so they can stay safe and get richer, it makes me utterly sick. At least Trump is going. And we have vaccines. The year ends on a slightly better note. But we’ve been so divided, so misinformed, so torn apart, so lost. I’ve been so saddened to see so many people take up the anti-expert and anti-science stance, believing the simpler and neater answers that conspiracies provide over the not so neat truths our medics and scientists provide. Having someone tell you that they aren’t so sure but they are working on it clearly isn’t enough for some people in these chaotic times. They’d rather hear that that isn’t the story, that it’s all a plan, that lives and economies are wrecked for a reason, rather than chaotically and randomly by a pandemic. I sort of get it I guess, some people need certainty even if that certainty seems like an evil fairy tale to more rational people. This is really the stuff that scares me most. The pandemic will end but will the people we’ve lost to stories of the great reset and scientists being in cahoots with the government and the virus being deliberately set lose and vaccines not being tested, will we get these people back? That’s the stuff that keeps me awake at night!|
|But this year has seen unexpected beauty and joy, having my gorgeous son Dylan live here from June has been an amazing experience, we’ve really found a way to be together and look after each other, meeting in the kitchen for hugs and discussions about meals and Trump and cats and science. He’s been my rock and I hope I’ve been of some use to him to. Max is a continued delight of a human and his hugs and kindness and wisdom and then more hugs have sustained me through all. Of course Oscar is a bigger human than the other two and he rightly has his own life but he’s learnt some very grown up lessons this year and we’ve had many chats the least few months that every time leave me so proud of this talented, funny, gentle, unshakable soul! My children are some of my favourite people ever!|
|This year I’ve truly suddenly discovered the power of walking in order to restore my happy, to clear my head, and also in order to catch up with friends. I have SO valued the power of my witchy tribe of girlfriends (oh how we cackle when we meet in person and how have we had to prop each other up through the most difficult times ever). Growing stuff, the utter joy of my new allotment and my allotment wife Sara, our early morning and after work meet ups, our wordless love for our acorn strewn bit of green, the delight of finding a pond and jumping in each other’s arms for that first (but not last!) illicit hug during lockdown1 has been one of the best things of this year. The joys of drinking tea with but not with my gorgeous neighbours, listening to Brian spin the happy tunes all through that hot summer, dancing on the stairs with a beer in hand, in our separate gardens but together in joy, hanging out on the green outside, fixing sewing machines, drinking endless cups of tea with students and friends and neighbours, my almost weekly walks with Sam putting the world to rights over expensive coffees whilst dodging hipster parents with cute as a button kids and dogs in the park, the endless summer that sustained me… it’s not all been bad. Being able to teach, albeit in a toned down fashion, made me realise again how much joy I get from my students. I’ve missed them all so much! I’m glad to have squeezed in classes for a few months and looking forwards to more when lockdown ends again. Putting our minds into measuring and sewing straight lines and fitting bodices and choosing funky fabric means we can forget our worries for a few hours. Craft really can save the world. In the meantime this year cheekyhandmades turned 10. Not a great year for a celebration and in fact I shrugged the date off completely. Likewise the 5 year anniversary of my studio being built. I will celebrate next year! I’ve decided to keep my Xmas tree up until it’s safe to celebrate Xmas and I shall have a knees up to celebrate my 51st birthday (January), my then 11 years in business, Christmas 2020, end of the pandemic, everything. We shall rise from the ashes, lick our wounds, hug our friends and dance in a crowded space once more (or whatever your tipple is).|
|I’ve thing that I’m sure has really hit home for a lot of people is our wish to tread more lightly on our planet. Consume less, love more, make more, throw away less. To this end personally I am going to have another year of not buying any clothes. I did this in 2015 and it was SO powerful. I made well fitting bras and jeans and knitted socks and learned to make do with what I had. Since then we’ve all learned even more about how polluting and nasty the world of fast fashion is. Cheap clothes made to be worn once. Don’t know if any of you caught the sale a few weeks ago of an online retailer selling brand new clothes for as little as 9p? This is morally and ethically so reprehensible. I heard an interview some months ago with a Bulgarian woman sewing for a large fast fashion retailer who earns on average £2.50 an hour. She is personally paying for our obsession with disposable clothes. She has to live with her husband and other couples in a tiny flat as they can’t even afford a space of their own. Needless to say she doesn’t get sick pay or holiday pay or any workers rights at all. So the clothes may be cheap to us but there’s plenty people footing the bill for this and it sure ain’t the people who can afford it. Here’s an article I read today. We cannot be complicit in this: https://www.theguardian.com/business/2020/dec/22/boohoo-selling-clothes-made-by-pakistani-workers-who-earned-29p-an-hour?CMP=Share_iOSApp_OtherOf course making your own isn’t without its pitfalls. I was listening to the radio this week and heard how all cotton produced in China should be considered as having a proportion of cotton farmed by Uighur prisoners in labour camps. Some large retailers have now undertaking not to buy any Chinese cotton any more but can we as makers be sure our fabric isn’t produced by slaves? And anyway cotton is a fabric that isn’t kind to the planet, it is extremely hungry for resources, dyeing and printing often pollute heavily, and add in air miles for your fabric to be flown to your local fabric shop… tricky! There are fabrics that are grown organically and sustainably but of course they are often outside of our budgets. I am as guilty as the next person of buying stacks of fabrics from the local market cheaply with no idea where they’ve originated. So in addition to making what I need I am putting myself on a fabric diet too. And a pattern diet! I have more patterns that I could ever hope to make even if I stopped work today! I was going to add that I’d stop buying yarn too but actually I do want to carry in supporting the amazing yarn designers I know so I won’t make that promise! I mean I have more yarn than I could ever use but it gives me so much pleasure and I can think of much more disturbing hobbies or addictions than being a yarn hunter and treasurer! Oh and I’m also undertaking, talking about yarn, to knit a pair of socks a month. I did quite well this year but gave most of them away! So with the idea we may be in this lockdown until February or even March, I leave you with all my love and best wishes and hope for the future and please do drop me a line to say hi or join me in my Sew Your Own 2021 challenge or Knit 12 Pairs of Socks in 2021 or to show me stuff you’ve made or want to learn. I’m here, I’m not going anywhere!|
|Hope you get to have a kitchen disco tonight, I’m going to have some zoom bubbles with some of my besties and hugs with my boys but knitting feels a little more apt than any kind of celebration tonight. My heart feels sick and I just want to hibernate pretty much!
Here’s a little happy playlist that’s seen me through some crap this year:
|oh and I made many many quilts! I got so many orders, I’m not even finsihed yet. Will restart the sewing next week but first I’m going to do some more knitting. Here one of the best quilts I have ever made…|