A number of people have been sharing their hits and misses from 2016 (me included). The braver ones go on to share their reflections on the past year, and their plans for the new. I really enjoy reading these posts as it hard to get perspective on the trails and tribulations, joys and pleasures, without a little distance.
Firstly a huge, and heartfelt thank you every one who has read the blog, commented on my posts, offered advice and help (especially knitting help, but also tailoring and fitting help).
As a child I understood community as being family-based (especially cousins) plus my local neighbourhood. As I aged my community was work based, plus people I knew through my political interests. Now my community is as much a virtual one as any other. This doesn’t diminish my real life relationships – in fact I meet up with bloggers and sewing people whenever I get the chance. But the rich and important relationships I have made through sewing are of a fundamentally different quality to some of the relationships one has in the course of everyday life. The supportive understanding, with just a tiny bit of helpful challenge, has enriched my life in so many ways. In a sentence we “get” each other, don’t we? – how we struggle, learn, share, encourage those with less skill and win praise for our achievements.
I follow lots of blogs and comment whenever I can, and I appreciate more than I can say all those who stop by to say something here. I like to think I am hosting a virtual party! I wish I could do this in real life more often but I do it when I can – food, drink, a warm welcome – but even virtually I hope you will discuss, debate and share. The comments are the best part of this blog and I know many of you enjoy reading what others think. Dozens read but never comment, which is also fine. But if you do find time to say hello from time to time, please do. It means so much.
A new focus
I wrote an impassioned post about having too many clothes, and I am still feeling the truth of that. I really enjoy making clothes but I have a huge wardrobe that suits my lifestyle, and it would probably last me for the rest of my life.
As a result I have decided to do a SWAP (11 coordinated garments) for my son Gus this year. One of my main motivations for sewing is the learning that it involves, so learning more about men’s fitting and construction is a positive aspect of my apparently “selfless sewing”.
This year we did some doll-making workshops, and hat making, and indigo dying, as well as pattern cutting. I absolutely loved learning new techniques and extending my sewing skills (mainly hand sewing with the dolls and hats).
This year my friend Bukky had a little girl. She looks alot like my Ted doll!
I learnt how to crochet a hat in the doll making class, and it brought back to me that I did actually know how to do it but I had forgotten. And then a chance conversation with a woman I see at the bus stop led me to consider her advice that crochet is a lot easier on public transport than knitting. So perhaps something new to try in 2016?
But knitting has proved to be the most interesting new interest for me, so thank you to everyone who helped me overcome my fear of actually making a garment. The dressmaking background has definitely helped, but mainly I had to overcome my fear of failure. As I watched my two year old grandson learn to talk this year I realised that everything worth doing takes considerable practise, and you make lots of mistakes along the way. Kit would repeat himself many times until we understood what he meant. And many skills just require perseverance. With the knitting I now believe I can make just about anything I would like to wear. So I expect 2017 may have more knitwear in it. I like knitting and love wearing soft, cuddly knitted jerseys.
Family, aging and death
Growing older is a privilege. My dear old Mum is now in her late 80s and cannot walk anymore. She needs help to get about, but her mind, hearing and sight are good. We go up North once a month and spend a day or two with her. She still goes out to the shops, loves being taken to restaurants and enjoys a full life, but restricted mobility creates dependence which is not easy. Let’s try to stay active, engaged and as helpful to others as we can, but when we need help let’s just accept it gladly.
My dear ex-husband John died this year, never experiencing the joy of retirement and slowing down a little. He hated the dependency that his illness brought with it, and fought to the bitter end to avoid the reality of his condition. And to protect us all from his pain, fears and loss of control. His death was a giant blow for our family and I feel like I lost a leg. He was such an important person for my kids even though they are all over 25. Neither I nor Nick nor Jo can possibly supply the unique style of love, care and support he offered the children. But we will try.
I am also thinking of my own aging. I am not intending to quit my job for another five or six years. But with Nick retired and our holiday/weekend home complete, I am changing gear. I was never a one for staying up late, going to clubs, or listening to rock music. But I love meeting new people, making friends and having conversations. This year we will be spending more time in the country, breathing fresh air and just enjoying nature. I expect our centre of gravity will begin to shift a little in the coming months. Being a grandparent continues to be my greatest joy, and I find spending time with the little ones to be a real pleasure and such fun.
I will share my 2017 sewing and knitting plans, and some of my life plans, in a future post. Thank you again for reading and responding.
I have just read your entire blog over the last couple of months, and I want you to know how much I appreciate you taking the time to do it! I love the variety of topics you present. Your writing is very enjoyable, although as a Californian I don’t always quite get the British terminology.
Thank you so much Sydney. Do let me know what sort of words are causing some puzzlement – I would love the chance to explain.
What a lovely post, you share so much of yourself on your blog. You are a brilliant role model for me. Your approach to learning and trying new things, and fitting so much into your life is a real encouragement.
What an honour to be included – I can picture the moment I realised that you and I had a common interest in fabrics – I already knew you and Nick were similar souls – as we walked round the back of Petra talking to a young policeman about relationships. It seems much, much more than a year ago. I hope 2017 is a settled year.
Thanks for such a lovely and heartfelt recap! Your blog has inspired me in so many different ways, and I appreciate the time, effort and thoughtfulness you share here. It’s inspiring me to contemplate starting my own blog, as I’ve decided that I won’t be buying any clothes in 2017.
It’s been fun watching your knitting adventures. Right before Christmas I bought yarn to make the purl alpaca cardigan you introduced me to, in a lovely burnt Orange. I thought I’d get a start on it while recovering from surgery, but no such luck! Instead I read many sewing blogs, watched lots of tutorials, and bought lots of fabric online. Maybe not the best idea while taking Oxycodone, but I’m a stash minimalist and I really needed some leggings!
All the best in 2017, and look forward to meeting you and showing you around Seattle’s fabric stores when you make a visit to our gorgeous part of the world!
I don’t know why, but the photo of you and your Mum brought a tear to my eye. All the best for 2017.
Such beautiful words Kate. I look forward to seeing your creations for Gus this year. Xxx
I’ve so enjoyed reading all your posts this past year Kate! You write so well and on such a varied selection of topics. I am enjoying following along with your SWAP plans too!
A wonderful post. Thank you for sharing so much of yourself on your blog; I love following the enormous number of activities you manage to pack into your life. Looking forward to following your SWAP plans and seeing more of Rainshore. All the best for 2017.
A year of creativity, learning, joy and sadness. Thank you for sharing so honestly. I look forward to following in 2017.
I should thank you Kate, not the other way round. It’s spooky to read Ellen’s comment as I could’ve written it. Swept along by your enthusiasm I asked Santa for alpaca yarn for Christmas to start a sweater while I recovered from minor surgery, that hasn’t commenced yet but it will. Meanwhile, laid low and bored, I’ve been buying up the Internet and have lovely fabrics heading my way.
You have found your tribe that’s for sure and I’m delighted to be team Kate! Lord knows what 2017 has in store for us, to be connected even virtually to people who ‘get’ us will be reassuring in a rapidly changing world.
Such a heart warming and inspiring post. Life is always a bit of a roller coaster ride with a dash of boring bits thrown in for good measure. I am always most engaged and creative when I am learning new things and building on existing skills. Here’s to family, good friends, good food, quiet times and roller coaster rides. Enjoy 2017 and all it brings with it.
What a wonderful recap of the year. You touched on every aspect of life, the joys, the sorrows, friends both old and new, learning new skills and so much more. I look forward to waking up here in the US and reading your latest news. I’m amazed that you post as often as you do. As another blogger, I realize how much time and effort goes into every update. The photo of you with your mom is so special and you are fortunate to have her in your life. I so enjoyed meeting you in person this year and hopefully we will have another opportunity somewhere in the world to meet again. I hope 2017 is a joyous one for you and loved ones.
It’s always a pleasure to read your posts. I’ve learnt of lot through them. Thank you Kate.
Thank you Kate, for such an articulate, engaging blog. I posted an Instagram picture this weekend of a project in process, and someone liked it and asked if I had a blog…the answer to that would be no, because I’m not ready for such a commitment! So a double thank you for taking the time and energy to create your blog.
Lovely….I’ve been “self comforting (through a dark time here, in so many ways) by rereading your blog from the beginning -its been a great help and inspiration. As always, thank you!
Your comments are always so thoughtful, interesting and illuminating Ceci – it surprises me to hear that you you are dealing with difficulties. People like you, and Brenda, seem to create positive energy by offering kindness and support to others even when dealing with your own problems. That is very impressive and lovable.
Wonderful post-an emotional roller coaster indeed. I love this online life, and the people we meet!
Thank you, you are very eloquent and found just the right words. Your relationship with your late ex husband sounds just as good as it can get and what a wonderful example for your children. Thank you for finding the time to write I so enjoy reading your posts. Kind regards and all the very best for 2017. Sue Newth
Dear Sue – how kind of you to comment. I feel I have been very lucky. Divorce can be very troubling for all involved so it is important to try to come to terms with it and behave as grown up as we can. I am grateful to John for that. Thank you for reading and I wish you well for the coming year too.
I really enjoyed reading this post, it was touching and heartfelt. Good luck in 2017!
Thank you Helen. I always enjoy your blog – the way you write and the clothes you make.
You are so right. Internet friends who understand your passion and feel it the same way can make lifelong friends. The photo of John is lovely, I can see where your boys get their good looks, and your Mum looks as chic as ever.
This year I am concentrating on quality sewing. Sewing slowly and carefully and making sure everything fits beautifully. I don’t need many clothes for my lifestyle but it doesn’t stop me wanting them and wanting to make them myself. I am also going to try to make more interesting clothes, but this will require me to be brave enough to wear them. I have made a most beautiful coat this winter which I am very proud of.
Sometimes I think I would like to blog, to keep a record of my sewing and to make more contact with the internet sewing world but then I think I am too lazy to keep it up. I can’t even keep up my Ravelry projects and I have only blogged a couple of projects on Pattern Review, after several years so nahhhhhhh!
Thank you for all your very interesting reads.
Lots of blogs float, untended, in the internet. I always thought 2.5 years was the absolutely natural limit for blogs, but so far I still feel I have lots to say. I don’t really recommend it unless you want another commitment, but if you put the work in it is very rewarding!
Such thoughtful words and beautifully written. Thank you so much for the sharing your wonderful creative pursuits. I hardly ever comment but always read your posts. Rainshore is lovely, best wishes in your new country home.
Thank you for reading Elaine. I will treasure this comment, even if it is the only one you ever leave!
Lovely post Kate. I admire your ability to connect with so many through face-to-face and virtual channels. you bring a lot to all of us readers.
So sorry about the loss of your ex-husband. These things are never easy to navigate, sounds trite but he leaves wonderful memories with all of you.
Thank you Wendy. I agree the memories are important and nice to have – for me they are part of my youth. But for my kids I think his actual presence – being there – was so important. You can manage with one parent, but two is even better. I still miss my Dad very much although he died at 83, so not too bad.
You’ve written another lovely post. I’m delighted to be in one of the pics you posted. : ) However, the most touching photo was of you and your Mum. She is the picture of elegance.
Dear Kate, I ‘discovered’ your lovely blog through Ruth at ‘Corecouture’ some months ago. So interesting & inspiring. Through you, I discovered another lovely blog ‘My Vintage Inspiration’ (Stephanie being a fellow Canadian,albeit at the other end of the country). I have never left a comment but have felt immense appreciation for your effort & creativity. I suppose I thought that my comments would be irrelevant. However, I now realise that ‘comments’ are meaningful and valued.With that, I wish to thank you for each & every post (I’ve read them all!).
Thank you so much for reading the backlog and for commenting today Coleen. Do let me know your thoughts as we go along, if something occurs to you. With very best wishes, Kate
Lovely post. I’m always behind, last to the party I’m afraid, again, but I want to say again how much I enjoy your blog. I’ll be tagging along for 2017 too….looking forward to every single post.
Joyce from Sudbury
Kate, what a generous post and a great summary of so much of what you have offered to your readers this past year. As one of your many blogless readers, the relationship seems so unbalanced: you offering so much, and I with little to offer back. Paola mentioned that the photo of you and your mom brought a tear to her eye. I was so struck by your mom’s beautiful face–what a depth of experience and love! Many thanks.
As always Kate your posts make me think. I’ve been subtly trying to change how I feel about ageing; my lovely son died at the age of 17 and he would have loved to have still been alive at my age, so I need to be grateful to be in my 60s. The sewing community has been a great help, just wish their were more chances to meet in the north! Hope your 2017 is a great one.
I really enjoyed reading this post. You write very openly and eloquently about life, and sewing and seem to be able to weave between the two effortlessly. Your posts are always interesting and informative and I am inspired by your creativity, warmth and curiosity. I look forward to swapping comments with you in 2017 and to making the most of this wonderful community we inhabit.
very interesting post Kate. It is true, lots of like minded people, civil and genial atmosphere.
Yes. I agree. When so much of “social media” behaviour is bordering on anti-social behaviour, this world is indeed “civil and genial”.
Wishing you and yours the very best in 2017. The photo of you and your mum is especially touching, but your words touched me all the way through the post. Yours was one of the first blogs I discovered, and you’ve been so kind and encouraging with comments on mine. I hope you know just how very inspiring your blog is for so many. Chock-full of good info and great, often funny photos!
Jennifer – thank you so much. Your encouragement and pure sweetness means so much. I love your photos too!
I have enjoyed following your blog since I found it. It has made me think, laugh, cry and everything else in between. You write so well about sewing and about other aspects of life and share so much. I’m glad you intend to continue. I hope to meet you (again) in 2017.
Thank you Anne. I love yours for all the honest sewing and life detail too. Let me know when you are down again.
I’ve not been a big commenter up to now, but spurred on by your encouragement, I’ll try to speak up a bit more. It could be fun. Enjoying working my way through your back catalogue very much.