Week fifty two: that was the year that was…

Week 52! A whole year since I sat down at this computer and started to keep a diary of what we all thought would be a 12 week lockdown, by which time the pesky virus would have been sent packing: my first post, introducing the gang, was on 20 March 2020.

Instead, the kids have been in school for less than a term, and we have all become proficient (ha!) at fractions and angles if not SPAG. I have had half a year on furlough,which was – quite honestly – wonderful. My work mates have seen more of my living room than I ever expected, without them even setting foot over the doorstep. My cats and kids have meeting-bombed me literally hundreds of times. I have walked miles and miles around the village and seen the seasons change in close up. We have all forgotten what people look like when they are standing up, but on the other hand I am reminded on a daily basis that even scattered all across London I am part of a brilliant team of people. My beloved has transformed the garden. I’ve swum in icy water – voluntarily! Face masks have become a fashion statement and I’m sure sales of eye make up have rocketed while lip gloss is in freefall. It’s definitely been an interesting year.

On the flip side: many of us haven’t seen family for a very long time. I missed Irish sister’s 40th birthday, my niece’s confirmation, my dad’s 80th birthday, our family holiday in Wales, long lunches and chatty dinners with my girlfriends, cocktails and culture afternoons with my best friend, live music, spontaneous trips out with the kids, days out with my sister, post-work ‘debriefs’, visiting schools and seeing visitors in the museum. Organising the school run has been a military operation – hats off to the poor headteachers who have to manage hundreds of children instead of three!

But we are safe, and the vaccine is being rolled out so maybe the end is in sight: my beloved is old (oh OK, over 50) so his vaccine notification came through this week. One sister has had hers, my parents have finally managed to book theirs in as well. We are doing rapid antigen tests twice a week as part of community testing: it’s not a lot of fun, but there we are.

I started the year with a to-do list of things I wanted to achieve – and that was even before they furloughed us in April. Here it is:

  • Purple jacket (a 1950s design that the sleeves wouldn’t work on, so I gave up in a huff and its been hanging from the curtain rail for about four years)
  • Crochet diploma
  • Say Something In Welsh course
  • Coast ripple blanket (Attic24 pattern)
  • Long waistcoat
  • Attic window quilt (that I cut out when I only had one child)
  • Mini quilt (er, ditto)
  • Seurat cross stitch – at least I only started this last year!
  • Couch to 5k (again)
  • Spring clean the shed, evicting the winter spiders…and being realistic about what I will actually use in my stash, then donating the rest

How much did I achieve?

  • The purple jacket was finished, and now I just need somewhere to wear it.
  • Crochet diploma is ongoing – I have done the first seven modules and then put it down to do some actual crocheting
  • SSIW: no, but I did finish the Duolingo Welsh course and am on a 515 day streak
  • The blanket adorns our bed and is huge and cosy
  • The long waistcoat got frogged and the yarn got turned into a bishop sleeved cardigan instead, which I love
  • The Attic Window quilt – and another one in the same design – are on Thing Two and Three’s beds, and there are several other quilts of various sizes
  • Finished! Wonky but cute. I will find somewhere to put it one day
  • Seurat cross stitch – on hold while I do lots of smaller stitches.
  • Couch to 5k. Got to week 4 (twice) and damaged my Achilles tendon both times. Still walking though
  • The shed was spring cleaned, the spiders were evicted, a lot of stash got given away….but I seem to have collected more so I’ll have to do the whole thing again this year.

I also made a lot of clothes, did a lot of smaller cross stitches and crochet projects, read an awful lot of books, did a couple of online drawing courses, and have tried to put myself out of my comfort zone sometimes. I have applied for a job share (didn’t get it), to be a school governor (runner up) and for a Arts Council grant (find out next month – third time lucky?).

I wrote a lot on this blog. Some people read it and they liked it, and then some more people read it, and some people agreed with me and shared their own experiences. There have been a couple of posts that have really struck a chord with people: this one on food poverty, this one on mental health and last week’s one on violence against women. Thank you to those who shared them and commented on them on FB and LinkedIn. It’s always good to know that I’m not shouting into the void!

I have really loved writing just for the joy of it and would like to do more, so I won’t be giving up quite yet: the process is a good way to mark the weeks, and to take a sideways look at life as a working mum, a butterfly crafter, and a human being just trying to get along in the 21st century. I just need to find a new way of titling each week: Year 2, Week 1, perhaps?

That was the week I made…

I felt last week that to finish with the usual crafty round up would be to diminish the post: it needed to stand alone as what I wanted to say was too important*. To knock the sharp edges off a stark statement with something cosy felt wrong, somehow, even though I’d done it before. I think I was just too bloody angry. I’m still angry, in fact, especially after a few conversations I have had this week.

(*That sounds remarkably pretentious, I know, but as I’ve said before – it’s my blog and I can do what I want!)

I finished the ‘Galaxy in a Bottle’ cross stitch and been working on a couple of smaller pieces as part of the year of handmade gifts – one of them I designed myself, the other is an Etsy pattern, but both are housewarming gifts that I’ll share at some point. The Tunisian sock is coming on slowly on my journeys to work: I had to frog about 6cm of the leg when I realised I should have turned it after the cuff so it folded the right way. The self-striping yarn is Paintbox Sock Yarn in the rainbow colourway.

I made a couple of ‘Votes for Women’ sashes for Irish sister’s living history interpretation company, using this very clear tutorial by Susannah French.

The nature photos this week are by Thing Two, who went for a walk with her friend yesterday in a local woodland reserve and ‘took some photos for your blog, mummy’. 64 of them…

So there we are! Normal service resumed. Let’s give ourselves a massive pat on the back and a celebratory schooner of sherry for surviving a mad year all round.

Same time, same place next week?

Kirsty x

What I’ve been reading:

Heart of the World/Steel Guitar/Snapshot (Carlotta Carlyle) – Linda Barnes

What Abigail Did Last Summer – Ben Aaronovitch

Notebook – Tom Cox

The Grove of the Caesars (Flavia Albia) – Lindsey Davis (Audible)

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