A new year always seems to bring with it a renewed motivation to push forward, try new things and settle into good routines. After the disruption of Christmas and two kids birthdays, we’re about ready for some normality and I am determined to make this a good year, no matter what else might be going on.
I know that 2021 is going to be a challenging year and that my resolve will be tested along the way. Another year of lockdown will push us to our financial limits, it will mean that our children still don’t get an opportunity to form friendships here. It will be a year of make do and mend, making the most of time spent together, learning new skills and using them to move forward with our lives.
Okay, so that doesn’t really sound all that different to the last couple of years!
It is a little daunting though and I am sure like many people across the UK and indeed the world, it is difficult for us to plan for the future, when so much seems uncertain.
Our little family has faced difficult times before and for me, the only way to deal with them, is by digging deep, finding all of the stubborn determination that you can muster and ploughing on.
Fortunately, the year has kicked off with a week of sunshine to lighten our spirits and we once again find ourselves so grateful to be here.
I needed to get my basket making head back on, so I started by looking through my stores of plants. Opening up the carefully wrapped packages, always releases a wonderful aroma of our first summer in the Orkney Islands. All of the leaves and stems are still in perfect condition and I could feel it awakening my creativity. The beauty of the natural world around us, is so inspiring and I hope that I can do these little treasures justice, as I weave them into baskets.
I decided to begin by working with the honeysuckle vine, that I collected in early autumn. Already stripped and ready for use, the flexibility of these stems lend themselves perfectly to basketry.
I wanted to get stuck into learning new skills straight away. The run up to Christmas, had meant that there was no time for experimenting or development, so I have been craving the chance to try out some new basketry techniques.
Working in the early hours, when the house was quiet and still, I got stuck in. I usually learn by trying things out, trusting my instincts rather than following instructions. It helps me to find the questions that I need answering and then I can look for solutions to any specific problems that I have.
I did a lot of work with coil basketry last year, something that I will continue. It lends itself easily to lots of different options when you get to the border. I am a lot less confident with how to finish woven baskets, so I will research some different traditional techniques and then adapt them in my own way.
I really enjoyed working with the honeysuckle, so I will make the most of the stores that I have and hopefully produce some for my shop.
Although I really love the winters here, with the golden winter sunshine and the power of the rough seas, I am eagerly awaiting spring, so that I can start gathering once more. Plants for basketry, plants for dyes, plants for paper making and any other crafts that I can think of!
As well as the wild plants that grow naturally on our land, this year I will be preparing and using a part of our garden, to grow some plants specifically for dyes and weaving. I have picked out a spot where they will be fairly sheltered from the worst of the Orkney winds.
I haven’t only got to learn new skills in natural crafts this year. I have also got to learn how to produce my own You Tube videos, so that I can share my skills. A much more daunting prospect than working with plants, but I am sure that it will be rewarding in a different way and I hope that it will be helpful to others as they work through this year of unknowns.