I heard someone on the radio today describe the period between Christmas and New year as that “little moment of stillness”. And so it is. The mad rush of Christmas is over (did you really need all that food/last minute shopping/that extra packet of biscuits/the partridge?!) and the Hogmanay celebration is yet to come. The week bridging the two can be a little haven of sanity to reflect on the year passed and the year to come.
I don’t like to navel gaze too much about the year which has just been. For me, personally, therein can lie the road to melancholy. And I think we’d all pretty much agree that 2017 wasn’t the most successful year politically – well not in the UK anyway, and on a personal level it had some difficult moments too, but 2017 did see some wonderful events in the life of Ripples Crafts – the purchase, arrival and building of The Dye Shed being just one.
It is not an understatement to say that this single event has revolutionised how I work. It has given me such a lovely space in which to create and has freed up the part of the house which used to be used as the “parcel packing station” aka our living room.
So as Hogmanay approaches I’m pondering the year ahead rather than looking back. Forward to 2018 which brings a celebration all of its own. Ripples Crafts will be celebrating its 10th birthday. I can hardly believe that it has been 10 years. They have just flown by. 10 years since I tentatively began offering my hand dyed yarn for sale. The past 10 years had brought me into contact with some amazing people in the industry, including wonderful designers who have used my yarn in their designs. I will always be grateful for the world which opened up to me when I began this career.
The new year holds some challenges and some exciting events to look forward to. I have 3 new shows in the diary (which I will tell you more about in the near future), and some very special product plans which I can’t divulge yet, but I am pretty upbeat about what is to come in new year. And while the political landscape still looks bleak, I intend following Kate Davie’s example – her words in her most recent blog entry really chimed with me. Kate said she intended to “focus on making good things that I believe in, and do what I can from my small corner to effect change”. It really is all we can do. And if I’m honest, it has always been my aim right from the early days of Ripples Crafts with regards my yarns – I have always tried to make colours that give me pleasure and which reflect where we live, and which add something to the world rather than taking. And if others like what I do enough to buy my yarn then my work is done.
To celebrate the 10th anniversary, I’ve revived the Totie Toe Sock Yarn Club – the very first yarn club I ever ran back in 2009. You can find all the details here. It isn’t too late to join in time for the January posting so if you feel like receiving a surprise once a month in a purple parcel, you know what to do.
2018 also brings the 10th anniversary of our living in Assynt. In some ways it feels like we have been living here for so much longer, and in other ways it has passed in a flash. 10 1/2 years ago when we came to the conclusion that we needed to escape our old corporate lives, I don’t think we could have foreseen how much our futures involved creativity, colour and community to the extent which it now does. I take immense pride in the fact that we still live off grid, generating all our own electricity through a wind turbine and solar panels. This brings its own unique challenges and sometimes feelings of vulnerability, especially when serious storms approach this corner of Assynt. But it really is one aspect of our lives which really makes me stop and think “yes, that is good”. I can’t take credit for any of it, mind you! It is all Stevan’s hard work which keeps our power flowing, and our computers switched on! Electricity is still a complete mystery to me. I still marvel that you can put a plug into a socket and electrical items work. I was looking for photographs for something or other the other day, and came across pictures which showed just how much impact we’d had on the “look” of where we now live. Our house has gone from looking okay in 2008 (just the one shed hidden behind the house, a very young hedge, no hen house, and only a couple of solar panels):
To looking very much “lived in” in 2017 (where there are now 4 sheds hidden behind the house, a polytunnel, more solar panels, and a lovely large hedge which shelters apple trees that you can’t see, and provides cover for hens and hundreds of little house sparrows when the sparrowhawk is overhead.)
We’ve learned so much in the past 10 years about living in a small community, and we still have so much to learn. We’ve had experiences we could only have imagined if we didn’t live here. We’ve rescued and fed a wild otter cub, abandoned by its mother:
We’ve watched ewes give birth alongside our fence, and rescued lambs which have got themselves into trouble:
And we go to bed each night knowing that just outside our bedroom window our garden is being visited by badgers and wild deer:
So here’s to 2018 and all it holds for us. I wish you all a very happy New Year, and let us all make 2018 a creative, happy one.
May it be the year where kindness to others is the norm.