Tag Archives: working with the seasons

Dealing with the dark days of winter.

I often feel low at this time of year, probably down to the short, dark days of winter.

Last year in the run up to Christmas I felt stressed by my workload, as well as the preparations for the Christmas celebrations. So this year I made the decision to do things differently, I estimated how much stock I would need from last year’s sales, I made it in the summer months and started listing in the autumn. So all I need to do at this time is network, answer emails, do some custom orders, pack and post. This has helped enormously, I feel rather calm and relaxed this year which is a huge difference to last year.

Even if I didn’t have a rush on at this time of year I would probably feel low, not depressed but dulled, I want to sleep all hours of darkness but  when I go to bed often I wake up about every hour or very early in the morning, then my thoughts take over.

I’m reading a book called The Wild Remedy by Emma Mitchell, which Lesley reviewed on Art Elements .
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It’s a beautiful book and I’m really treasuring reading it, I take my breakfast back to bed and read a little from this book while I wait for the house to warm up and the daylight to emerge from the gloom. I could happily sit and read the book from cover to cover but I’m forcing myself to read just a few pages at a time and savour them like a delicious chocolate truffle. I found myself running my hands over the cover and feeling like I was giving the book a hug this morning which I thought was unusual behaviour but it’s  such a lovely book.

I  already know and relate to the ‘feel good’ powers of nature, I try to get out for a walk as often as possible. The little things like ice on some rosehips catching the sunlight, or a flock of redwing visitors squawking in the trees, or crunching through frozen puddles can fill me with feelings of happiness and calm.

Today  it’s sunny so I took a short walk in the bitingly cold wind to see the fells covered in snow.  On my arrival home I had a brief inspection of the newly replanted border to see if the snowdrops were coming up, they are at least a cm tall. I got told off by a blackbird, then I went to look at the vole holes in the bank. I noticed a pile of berries from the cotoneaster gathered at the entryway. I thought this was a little odd as it tells everyone where you live, I  might have to read up online and see if this is typical behaviour.
UntitledDuring the short days I no longer try to work in the semi darkness of mid afternoon, I find the energy saving lights really bad, they don’t give me enough light to work. I just accept this now and stop when the light goes. I do sit and knit or crochet in this half light, so long as it’s a simple pattern. I have also discovered this winter that knitting tactile soft fluffy yarn can lift the spirits. Sitting by the fire knitting is pure, simple hygge pleasure, like stroking a cat on your knee.

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Comfort foods also help, a bowl of steaming homemade soup ( recipe here) is like a hug in a bowl.
UntitledA slice of homemade cake and a cup of tea can make those looming dark skies at 3 pm seem not so gloomy at all,  if I  sit by the window I often see skeins of geese, or flocks of starlings flying in haste to join the flock for their murmuration ballet before roosting.

I think the weather so far this winter has played a huge role in my more upbeat mood. This winter we have had a lot of bright crisp frosty days with lots of sunshine, I know sunny days makes a big difference because as soon as the wind and rain returned last weekend my mood dropped significantly. So if the sun shines even briefly I try to get out for a few minutes and enjoy it.  Every little helps, and once the end of January comes I can see the days starting to get slightly longer, the snowdrops will start to bloom I know the gloom won’t last much longer.

While writing this I have come to realise this is just an extension of what I’ve been doing all year, I’m working with the seasons and not trying to fight against the long evenings and short days. It seems to be working, I feel really quite relaxed and content .

Do you struggle with the dark days, what do you do to combat them?


 

New eco printed silk scarves

As part of my plan to work with the seasons I have been eco printing silk scarves in plenty time to stock my shop for Christmas.

I normally steam all my scarves but I’ve bought a huge aluminium pot for fabric dyeing so I thought I’d boil some scarves to see how they would turn out. I love the effect of the twine  from tying the bundles. I got some beautiful and unusual asymmetrical scarves, that  also have a mirror image effect from the folding.

Eco Printed Scarves

This is all one scarf, it has sweet chestnut leaves and geranium.

Close up of a sweet chestnut leaf.Eco Printed Scarves

This shows a print from the other side of a leaf, with twine marks.

Eco Printed Scarves

I love the way the pattern is graded along the length of the scarf, almost like 2 scarves in one, the other end is much lighter. Eco Printed Scarves

I think this scarf is my favourite out of this batch, I love the asymmetrical ends, the rose leaves and the twine marks. Can you see the ‘butterflies’?

Eco Printed Scarves

Eco Printed Scarves

The folding with leaves and onion skins create symmetry. Eco Printed Scarves

Eco Printed Scarves

Eco Printed ScarvesI steamed some scarves as well, these two have been dyed with a food based dye before placing the leaves.
Eco Printed Scarves
Eco Printed Scarves

This one was left the natural silk colour, this scarf has some gorgeous leaf prints showing the detailing from the veins.

Eco Printed Scarves

 

Eco Printed Scarves

There are more photos and more silk scarves over in my Etsy shop if you would like a look.

I love the eco dying process so much, working with foliage connects me with nature, and sometimes a memorable walk, but also I love not being totally in control and working with serendipity, but of course I don’t always win them all. I printed a cotton T shirt and it looked like someone had washed the floor with it. Not a good look.

I have to prune my apple trees  soon, I hope to make a dye from the shoots and leaves, then make a Japanese cross over back apron top, more to follow.

Working with the seasons – trying to keep up

A lot of the work that I enjoy doing involves working with the seasons, using the leaves and foliage available at certain times of the year. Last year I only got a couple of hosta pots made before the leaves fell victim to the frosts. So this year I patiently waited for them to come into leaf. But then we had a couple of trips away so it’s only now that I have had the time to make some more pots. I made some small incense stick holders and tea light holders, or they could even be used as a ring tray.
UntitledI made some ‘fossil’ tiles too, but I missed the buttercups and late spring flowers that I wanted to use so I tried some new ideas like clematis and lavender as well as seed heads.

Working with the seasons

Working with the seasons
UntitledAnother thing about working with the seasons is the weather, it’s been quite hot so I’ve worked in the garden, playing mud pies and recycling some clay.
Working with the seasonsIt’s firming up nicely now.

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I took some time in the shade to make some fish, hares, and soap dishes for my handmade soap. I think I need to make a few more for the shop. I had to work quickly in the heat and keep everything damp while I was working. Handling the clay kept me feeling cool, I love playing with mud on a hot day.
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I’ve been out collecting leaves for eco printing too, more on that later.