Seasonally inspired things to Make, Learn & Do.


Seasonal living - why I left my great job because I didn't see Spring.

celebrate the seasons

I left my first (and only) proper job because I missed the seasons.

There were probably other reasons, I mean you don't leave a great and hard won job just because you miss seeing leaves come out in Spring, but that was definitely how I felt at the time.

I was Curator of British Art at the University of Glasgow - an amazing job, an amazing collection - working away in a basement office. It was long hours and I loved it, a mix of personal research and helping students, organising exhibitions and attending openings, everything took place underground.

But for six months of the year I seemed to hardly see daylight, I had no idea about the weather.

I didn't know what was sprouting, blooming, whether the birds were singing or the bulbs emerging from chilly soil.

I was always slightly ill, I seemed to have one cold after another, recurring tonsillitis, my mood turned a bit flat. Somehow I just seemed a little disconnected from life, disconnected from me.

I decided to leave the job and change direction. I retrained in horticulture and spent my days in the open air.

Not long after I resigned from the University, we moved here - a place where weather is full on, where seasons are well defined and the shift between them is slow.

A place where there is plenty of time to immerse myself in the signs of spring, summer, autumn, winter.

It turns out that I am a person who thrives when I am living with the rhythms of the seasons.

My life works best when I can spend time outside, noticing little things, feeling the wind and the rain and the sun on my back.

Now we keep chickens, we grow food and flowers, we spend time just watching storms come in from the loch.

At this time of year I wake to the geese honking overhead as they head to pasture. There is a loud chorus in the hawthorn trees each dawn and dusk. I watch the heron hunting from frogs, I spy the earliest, tastiest nettle tips, I inspect the swaying buds of the snakeshead fritillaries.

Over the past year I have been bringing this seasonal living into Snapdragon too.

Last year we decided to jump from the conventional retail train that has Christmas designs taking up the whole of February and summery designs being drawn in October.

Instead I now have a much faster, more immediate, more connected relationship with our customers. I can draw from life, I can make much more soulful designs and show both the workings and the final designs within a week.

It is a completely different way of working, and admittedly one that doesn't fit brilliantly into magazine lead times or for getting promoted by third party marketplace websites.

However, working with the seasons has transformed everything for me so it is worth it.

My designs are clearer, brighter, better - it is the difference between working away in an office cubicle (with an out of season inspiration board and a pantone picker) and having a desk with a beautiful view. I am much more present, I am actually living what I am making.

When we decided to create a series of craft subscription boxes it was clear from the outset that they would be seasonal and that each would be distinct in feel.

The first Studio Box is all light and bright like a frothy summer meadow, the autumn one (in its very pre-prototype state) is already looking more mellow.

This year we have had rather a lot of winter, I have been heard to say that we have had too much winter.

But now, with hazel twigs sprouting their perfect miniature leaves in a vase on my desk and daffodils cheering up the orchard, I am back in the swing of the season. Sketching and writing, gathering up eggs from the bantams who have also decided that it is a new season and time to start laying again.

the importance of seasonal living

Tags: life

Comments: 3 (Add)

Wendy T on April 11 2018 at 17:13

Every season, maybe Spring slightly more because of the promise of things to come! Everything is slowly coming to life, plants peeping out of the soil, birds building nests, the crops in the fields awaken from Winter and suddenly shoot up. Summer long days, sitting in the garden listening to the bats, fresh veg from the garden, dipping hot feet in cool streams, Autumn Harvest happening in the fields, bonus warm days, early misty mornings with beautiful sunrises. Winter brings frosty patterns, winter woollies, cosy fires and hot chocolate. Love them all

Snapdragon Jane on April 11 2018 at 17:46

I agree with you - all the seasons bring their delights and the main thing is paying attention to the changing. x

Meg Muir on April 12 2018 at 14:27

I agree with you I paint by season as this is the world around me...I believe in being part of the circle of life..growing, working and being with nature..I am making slow shifts to change my products I use when I can afford roll on deodorant from spray I noticed my morning cough had gone..I gave up my job because of culture and bullying of staff and residents and spoke out about it..I did what my heart told me was cost me financially and for a while my self esteem..because it wasn't the first time I had stood up for honesty, truth and dignity for vulnerable adults...I am still a little broken...but my art has flourished in ways I never thought although we make sometimes difficult or illogical decisions..we realise that around the corner..something far more special and real is about to happen which we could not have known..until we look for the were brave Jane ..and look at you now. God bless. Meg

Snapdragon social

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.

Learn more about why here