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Month: March 2020

The New Normal

This week has been a real rollercoaster. I’m sure it’s been the same for the majority of people. I veer from worry to panic to calm and I can’t seem to get a firm grip on how I feel from one day to the next.  We’ve settled into a bit of a routine here with the homeschooling, and it seems almost normal after a week of it, as do the empty streets and closed up shops.  That said, I went into the Job Centre yesterday to ask about ID verification (we’ve just moved, so the online system doesn’t recognise us) and I was stopped at the doorway by security rushing over with a raised hand to stop me entering.  I spent the next 10 minutes talking to someone standing two metres away, and gingerly exchanging bits of carefully handled paper. It was bizarre, and a stark reminder that this is not normal, and it’s terrifying for people on the front line. It’s one thing knowing this somewhat abstractedly from the shelter of your home, but it’s another to see it and experience it.

Anyway, today I feel quite calm. Yay me. I’m sending big virtual hugs and comforting thoughts to those who are not.   I’m up to date with orders, and I can start thinking about the projects I had planned before this started. (I say that, but I just turned to look at my office, and there are piles of unlabelled fibre and unskeined yarn, so I guess I’ll be doing all that first.) I’m going to start a Catwing Sweater, by An Caitin Beag’s Marna Gilligan, using Oh So Fine BFL/Silk 4ply yarn in shades of turquoise and fiery orange – The Highbury Life and Desert Sunset.  Can’t wait! Does anyone fancy joining me?

Oh, and speaking of joining me, I’ve been taking part in a lovely daily morning Zoom session, hosted by Nicky Jerrome and Janet Friel from The Frome Yarn Collective, Ria Burns and Rachel Le Page from Millie Moon haberdashery in Frome. Come and join us!  You can find the details here.

Yarn shows go online!

It’s yarn show season in the UK, or it should be. Given the circumstances, many yarn shows are taking the sad but necessary decision to cancel this year’s events. Social distancing has been shown to make a huge difference to the spread of COVID-19, and we need to try and reduce the pressure on an NHS that is already beleaguered by cuts and a population that’s been hit by the government’s austerity measures.  I’d like to shout out to all the people in the emergency services and other key professions to are basically keeping us all afloat. Perhaps the government will start to realise how much we need them, and how underappreciated, financially and socially, they generally are.

As I said in my newsletter the other day, the yarn shows that have been cancelled are more than just shopping opportunities. They are chances to learn, be inspired and to catch up with and meet friends who share a passion for all things woolly.  Many people will be missing the social and learning aspects of these events, and the yarn show community – organisers, dyers, artists, designers, teachers – to provide some kind of alternative.  There will be more news on this as we work things out.   Yorkshire Yarn Fest (@yorkshireyarnfest on instagram) has already run an Instagram live event featuring their vendors.  More events like this will be forthcoming and I’ll keep you updated here, on Facebook and by newsletter.

This is also an opportunity to try and hone my internet skills. I already have an advanced degree in dicking about on the web, but actually getting out there and interacting I find significantly more difficult than I do in person. That will change! I’m going to miss seeing everyone this summer in person, but that doesn’t mean I can’t get out and about online. I’m going to try and do some live events, top tip videos and other stuff, and I must remind myself that even if it’s just me, talking into the void, at least I know you’re all out there somewhere.

See you online soon!

Trying to find silver linings

Well, these are odd times, aren’t they? I used to write a regular blog, years ago, when I lived in Namibia as a VSO volunteer.  I had some mental health problems that writing regularly helped me to deal with. Now I have a blog that I haven’t written in nearly enough and times are stressful, so I thought, why not? Writing and crafting are two things that make a huge difference to my mental wellbeing, so why not combine the two in the way I’ve always wanted to?

I’m wondering where you all are at the moment, and what your current worries are?  For me, my family and I moved into a new house last weekend. Almost immediately my husband, who is the main breadwinner in our household, was put on hiatus at work as his company waited for a new project to come online. Now we are left wondering when and even if this project will happen, and as he is self-employed, he isn’t being paid. Hello, new mortgage!  My silver lining from this particular scenario is that he is here right now to help us settle in, unpack the gazillion boxes that surround us, and give me a hand homeschooling our kids (7 and 10) while I continue working.

Second is homeschooling my kids. I’ve always been hugely in awe of anyone who takes this on, knowing that I couldn’t do it. Cue school closures. Oddly, I’m really looking forward to this (ask me again in a week when I have bald spots on my head and am gibbering with confusion). I get to spend more time with my little monsters, and suddenly everything in the house seems like a lesson.  Biology – let’s talk about houseplants and work out how photosynthesis works. Geography – how are people in other countries living right now? How are they affected in different ways? Home economics – let’s make bread and sew some reusable bum wipes.

Third, but not least, is worry for my family. My aunt has an autoimmune condition that would make her extremely vulnerable to COVID-19, and I just don’t want to think about it. They’re self-isolating, and I’m keeping my fingers crossed. My mum and her husband are in their 70s, and while they’re pretty fit and healthy, I still worry for them. I know we’re all probably in similar situations. My reason for writing this is partly to get it down on paper, and partly to say to anyone reading, you’re not alone. Please don’t feel alone.

As for crafting, my friends Nicky and Janet from The Frome Yarn Collective (lovely yarn shop, lovely people), myself and some other local business people are going to be hosting a daily Get up and Craft session online between 9 and 10 am BST on weekday mornings. All you need is the free Zoom app. Head over to the Facebook page for details. If you’re self-isolating, you don’t need to be isolated. I can’t wait. I need to feel normal, and sitting and crafting with other people helps.

I can’t help thinking that our society is going to change hugely over the next few weeks and months, but that doesn’t mean that change is going to be all bad.

Until next time,

Rach x