Seasonally inspired things to Make, Learn & Do.


A Room of One's Own - .

a room of one's own

Over the past few months I have been feeling restless and rootless at work. I couldn't understand what the matter was - I love my job but I just couldn't settle to write or plan. Perhaps you recognise the feeling.

Then I realised it dated from a few months ago when we moved to hot desking, sitting wherever the work is and getting on with it.

That is efficient for day to day making and dispatching, for crunching through spreadsheets and answering email, but it turned out to not be good for anything creative, anything that needed a clear head.

In 1929 Virginia Woolf published "A Room of One's Own" which argued that without a dedicated room, creation is impossible. It made me think.

We are out of space in the workshop and I don't have a room in my home to convert into an office so first I tried working at the kitchen table.

I ate a lot of biscuits, I became easily distracted by unloaded dishwasher and unwashed dishes. I remembered why I had moved the business out of the house in the first place.

Then I thought that maybe what I needed wasn't a room, but a space - almost a sacred space - that was purely dedicated to creation. There isn't anyone else in the house during the day so, as long as I cleared things away, I could pick the best spot and make it my own.

I chose a corner of the sunroom - a rather neglected room that is mainly dogs and welly boots - and made my creation corner from a round table and a bedside chair. So far it is working.


My top tips for making space to create when you don't have a room.

1. Turn your back on household mess. If you can't see it, it can't bug you. I sit at a round table facing the garden.

2. Work out the minimum stuff you need in order to create - for me that is a notebook, a diary and a laptop, pens and a camera.

3. Dedicate the space. Make it like an altar, include a couple of things that make your heart sing. I have a bunch of sweet peas and a beeswax tea light by me as I type this. I particularly like tea lights as they smell wonderful and burn in about 4 hours which is a good writing session. Choose the prettiest water glass, the nicest jug.

4. Spend time setting out the space in the morning and clearing it up at the end of the day - think about where all your things can go when you finish - a box or a basket, a briefcase or bag. If it is set up when you start you are less likely to walk off leaving chaos. I have a simple rectangular cane basket that tucks under the table and sweep everything bar lap top, flowers and candle into it at night.

5.Put out drinks and snacks at the beginning of the session - if I don't do this I spend 50% of my time rootling around the fridge. I also find that if I have a big bottle of chilled water and a glass on the table by me I romp through my daily water.

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Between the plum trees and the studio is a sloping space that was created when we flattened a patch of land to build. It is a mix of subsoil, rocks and odd seams of rich pasture land. ⠀
As grass began to grow there about 7 years ago,  I sowed a perennial meadow mix, I planted lots of random plants from the cutting beds, I worked without a plan, without knowing what would thrive and what would gently vanish. ⠀
Now there is minimal gardening involvement - I try and keep the nettles from taking over, we dig out brambles - and in the autumn and winter I lure the chickens there to scratch out patches of bare soil for the wildflower seeds. ⠀
It’s a patchy space, caught on the cusp of abandonment - but it is the most beautiful space in the garden, buzzing with insects, rustling with birds. ⠀
Low light, bright petals, setting sun. ⠀
A couple of days ago I got a message from a friend asking what I thought about all the 'picking wild flowers' photos on here and the fact that a country style magazine was promoting it as a
My Gran had hangers like these.  Knitted from odds and ends of wool, hanging softly squashed together in the big dark wardrobe in her bedroom.⁠⠀
My cousin and I would take the fancy silky 1960s dresses from them and transform ourselves into glamorous detectives, spying on passers-by from behind the net curtains, making notes.⁠⠀
Now the hangers are my favourite things to make from wool scraps - each takes 37 grams of wool and you only need to be able to do a plain stitch to make it. ⁠⠀
As well as being chock full of nostalgia for me, they are also the most practical kind of hanger, as the garter stitch keeps even the flimsiest of straps in place so clothes don’t end up on the floor.
This week's business improvement was deciding to make the postcards that go in with orders more useful, getting Kate Stockwell to turn them into activity cards for me. ⁠⠀
This is the first, going out with orders from today.⁠⠀
I’m always amazed at how many plants from sunnier climes take to the garden. ⠀
Sicilian honey garlic - Nectaroscordum siculum - is one of the plants that grow in rows in the orchard - ghosts of the flower field, buzzing with bees, happy in grass, a strong whiff of onion as I pass. ⠀
This month I’ve been experimenting with solar dyeing- using plants and sunlight and a jar to dye wool on the windowsill. 
I was amazed at what bright shades were possible and at how easy and self contained it turned out to be. 
It was part of the Studio Membership mini “Introduction to plant dyes” course but I’ve also put together a kit in the shop with full instructions and everything you need to get started with solar dyeing wool (there are mini skeins in the kit). The photo is my drying rack on the dye deck - part of the studio where I used to prep flowers when I sold them. 
The wood rack used to be for shoes and wellies.
Inspired by @josephinepbrooks I’m still using this time for some serious decluttering of my business - looking hard at which parts have descended over the years into one of those drawers stuffed full of things.  Which bits are muddled, useless, impossible to open without everything falling out. 
Last week was the turn of the blog - so many out of date things, so many broken links, pretty much impossible to browse. 
Now it’s been sorted out - David and @fuzzyjill at Fuzzy Lime helped me divide it into sections and now it’s all easily accessible from the navigation bar.

So if you are looking for tutorials, nature notes, gardening, recipes or musings on life you can find them without scrolling through hundreds of pages. 
And - as always seems to happen when you  declutter - I’m suddenly full of ideas for things to write about, so that I can fit them nicely into my new space! 
The poppies are from Friday’s blog about how they make wonderful cut flowers.
Another week. Another new morning 
I was chatting to a friend yesterday about what was the best thing about running my own business - and I decided that it was probably being excited about each day and all the things I want to do. ⠀
That I now rarely need to force myself. ⠀

Today it’s finishing off this week’s Studio Members lesson about solar dyeing and putting together these activity postcards which I am getting printed to go out with orders. ⠀
What are you looking forward to doing today?

About Snapdragon

At Snapdragon we gently guide you through bringing the changing seasons into your daily life, helping you slow down, so that you can experience increased well being, calm and creativity.

Through our communities, both free and paid for, through Jane's writing on the blog, through carefully hand crafted gifts and activity kits, and through our online and in-person workshops we aim to bring people back in touch with the rhythms of a seasonal life.

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