Friday, 29 December 2017

Words for living

As the end of the year approaches, like me you've probably come across a lot those blog posts and Facebook promotions getting you to think about resolutions, creating habits, setting goals for the New Year. I'm a sucker for all that, but very quickly get overwhelmed with all those ideas and intentions and never actually do any of it once we get to January.

But there are two things I've come across over the years which seem to offer a simpler approach. No goals, no lists, no new routines, just some words.

The first idea is from Christine Kane, a singer-turned-business-coach. She proposes that you choose a Word of the Year. Just one word - and it's not a goal, not necessarily a "doing" thing, more of an "attitude" thing, a way to approach whatever the new year throws at you. Click here to follow her process for choosing your word.

I tried this once before, and I managed to dig out a blog post about it too! The blog post about putting my word into practice was illuminating to read as well, three years on - if you want to know more about my "process", then have a read of this and know that nothing much has changed!

My word for 2018 is ACTION. If you read my last post, you'll probably understand one reason why I chose it. But I want it to mean actually getting stuff done, my stuff, to stop feeling so muzzy headed and frustrated with the outside world, and just get on with my life. It could mean political action if necessary, although this was not my intention.

The second thing I highly recommend is from Nicholas Wilton, an artist from California. He's such an unassuming chap but always has some really helpful advice about art and living the life of an artist - I thoroughly recommend his blog and newsletters and free video series.

Nicholas suggests that you choose three words - words that sum up why and what you do. The instructions for choosing your words are here.

A year or so ago, I chose the words: RHYTHM COLOUR NATURE.

Rhythm, because I like to listen to music with a strong and/or interesting beat - jazz, world music - all sorts of weird stuff. And rhythm is also pattern - and I love patterns - collecting them, doodling them, stitching them.

Colour - because I love bright colours!

Nature - because I love wild nature, wild landscapes, plants and leaves, shells, as well as "natural" materials like string and unbleached paper and calico.

I even made a little book with pics of some of my work - and I have a few left if you'd like to buy one (£8 plus P&P)

But I'm continually mulling this one over, and so I've had another go at my "words". My new words are:

NATIVE because I love all things indigenous - tribal - Sami, Indian, native American, Inuit, Aborigine etc as well as ancient symbols and marks, such as runes.

ELEMENT to describe the wildness I love - the elements of rain, wind, fire etc, but elements are also "basic" materials - so referring to my preferred materials of cotton, linen, shells, recycled fabrics. Elements are also parts of a whole - so could be pattern or colour - the elements of a design.

TRUTH because (again, see last post) one of my big things is honesty, being truthful, finding the "truth". It also refers to using unpretentious, simple materials - materials that don't pretend to be anything else. Natural, unvarnished, unpolished, raw, as you find them. Unbleached, recycled, found - honest. This one also loops back to "element", and "native".

The other thing I like about these words, is that they could refer to my very deep interest in food -  particularly traditional (native?) methods of cooking, like making sourdough. What is cooking if not creating something wonderful from basic materials? One of my Christmas presents is to go on a fermenting workshop and learn to make sauerkraut and kefir!

It's also been a jolly good excuse to have a play with my new favourite font:

These are good words too:

If you could describe your intention for the year, or for your art, what would you word or words be?

Thursday, 21 December 2017


This is me.

This is me back in March, when I actually managed to do a bit of knitting (I'm not a knitter, don't look too closely...) and went marching for Europe.

Since then I have also sorted my studio, I have decluttered, I've written lists, I've got reams of notes for online courses and/or ebooks that I want to write. I have plans for next year and workshops booked. I have worked at school, I've done a few Facebook posts and sales. I've been on some fabulous holidays and trips this year, too. Norway, Paris, the Netherlands. We've had a German exchange student staying this past weekend, which was very good fun, and we've put up our Christmas tree. But I just.can't.concentrate - not properly - on anything. Or not for long. Everything I try and do is a bit like the thing you do when you are waiting for a train or a doctor's appointment. For example, yesterday I picked up a library book that I've been wanting to start, but it just felt like marking time, waiting.

And I've been feeling this since June 24 2016. Waiting for it all to be sorted out, for the madness to end. But it doesn't, it just gets worse. Every day, more idiocy, more lies, more hatred in the media.

And I can't pretend it isn't like this any more. I have realised that in order to create, to use my imagination, to lose myself in something, I need everything else to be OK, to be settled. I can't create when "bigger things" are afoot. My personal Big Things are logic, rationality, honesty and justice. I probably value those things more than I value a cracking good find in a charity shop or a mighty stash of beads and/or handmade paper. And so these are hard, hard times. I am distracted and unsettled beyond measure. I have considered getting into politics, and also law, but I know I don't want to really. I just want the grown-ups to get a grip and sort it all out, so I can get back to my sewing machine and my kitchen and do what I love to do - noodling around with thread and flapjacks.

Sorry about the rant, but honesty is best. To make up for it, and thank you for your patience, here is a picture of an Indian toran that I'm going to put up in my doorway:

Tuesday, 5 December 2017

Order reigns

Well, if you've been following this blog since the beginning and believe that you'll believe anything.

But for now, it does.

My husband walked in with a cup of coffee for me and nearly staggered backwards with disbelief - "I can see your desk!!!"

Yes, behold the desk and its vast emptiness

And the vacant acres of worktop*

More to the point, ADMIRE the wonderfully ordered fabric drawers in their magnificence. Took flippin' ages that did! Soooo boring but I'm seriously chuffed to bits.

I should now make some headway on the massive to-do list, but I don't want to make it messy 😉

*There was also some major rejigging of the baskets and shelves above my worktop and desk - a lot of things were "utility" e.g. large envelopes, terracotta flower pot for the poker pen etc i.e.things I don't need on hand. They were "weighing me down" being there, but I still need them. Also, said Husband wanted access to the fuse box the other day, so he could do a spot of DIY (and that almost never happens) and the fuse box is behind the I took the opportunity to rejig things. It's been like playing "stash" solitaire - moving one heap of things to a blank space, to create order elsewhere. But I've DONE IT!!! Chuffed. Recommend it, good for the soul!!

As a result of all this, I have opened an extra Etsy shop. There's nothing in it at the moment, but there will be, including a few textile books and other goodies. Watch this space!