Friday Folks

A view across the valley from where Brenda and Tonia live, wherein you can see - just between the trees in the very far distance - a tiny triangle of blue sea

For me, launching a new book (in this case an eBook) is always followed by a massive crash. There’s this epic build up to the finish line and a huge amount of work to get the new thing BORN and then – well, it’s done – but so, often, am I.

KNITSONIK & Friends Colour to Knit - a composite grid of images that look both like hearts and knit-stitches, and which contain photos detailing the creative process of designing stranded colourwork - coloured in drawings, grids, charts, pencils etc.

Luckily there are some awesome talented people around for moments like this who are able to help. Since book launch day almost two weeks ago I have been taking solace in some wonderful things they have made, and that I would like to share with you today.

Firstly, can we talk about Kat Goldin’s wonderful Everyday Sourdough online class? I love Kat’s newsletters where she shares the ups and downs of running a small business. Something she said in her last letter really resonated with me:

I know it is far trendier for businesses to tell you how well they are doing – how they are smashing 6 figures and going on to bigger and better. But sometimes just existing and keeping going despite the odds and not being broken are the real successes.

I put that straight into my Bullet Journal as an amazing reminder to myself and am sharing it in case it resonates with you too.

Anyway back to sourdough (though this is related). Since the start of the pandemic I have been making all our bread and was winging it with a basic recipe that was yielding tasty, good-enough home-made bread, but not the chewy-crust, holey, salty/sour magic I’d been hoping for. From Kat’s newsletter I felt sure that any approach to bread-making taught by her would be incredibly informative but also realistic and kind, emphasising do-ability and making things manageable rather than any form of unattainable perfectionism. I asked Mark for a place on the course for my birthday and a new Dutch Oven after I’d totally corroded the old one. The everyday sourdough : level 1 course is everything I had hoped for and more. Everything is explained helpfully so that I understand what is happening with my bread at each stage, rather than just smushing it about and hoping for the best; there is an atmosphere of encouragement and reassurance that I appreciate very much and – best of all – THE RESULTS SPEAK FOR THEMSELVES. I am so excited to be able to produce artisanal loaves WITH FANCY CUTS ON THEM AND EVERYTHING here in my kitchen, but the whole thing fits into real life. You do need to build time into the plan, but it’s all explained so well in the course – how to fit the breadmaking into a full life – that it actually feels like less work than my previous routine. Thank you so much, Kat.

Find the course here.

EVERYDAY SOURDOUGH LEVEL ONE - the words are imposed over a delightful image of a fancy cut loaf of well-risen sourdough

I also want to shout out my dear friend Brenda whose long-standing and legendary Cast On podcast was one of the first (and best) knitting podcasts of our times! I love Cast On – it has been the soundtrack to many drives and late nights of knitting and perhaps most importantly, were it not for her amazing podcast, I might never have met Brenda. Cast On had a hiatus for a few years but Brenda rebooted it in October 2020 in a beautiful little half hour format with the mix of life, creative enthusiasm, knitting geekery and reflective philosophy that was always at its heart. I love listening to Brenda talking about her life in Wales, her continuing obsession with sustainability and fashion and her full on geeking out about the best ways to construct a sock heel or make a bra (Brenda has been making some truly amazing Bras in feats of sewing that really blow my mind). You can hear the podcast here, but I like listening on Patreon because 1. I get to hear the episodes earlier that way and 2. it is a joy to be able to support all the work that goes into researching, creating, editing and producing audio joy as good as this. Today I really enjoyed listening to Episode 177: The Sea, The Sea in which the ocean thematically ties together a range of glorious projects from dyeing fabric with rusty items found on the beach to sewing landscapes from old stash, to socks (incorporating numerous innovative techniques) to a linen top, to the renewed view of the sea from Brenda and Tonia’s home across the valley where they live.

A view across the valley from where Brenda and Tonia live, wherein you can see - just between the trees in the very far distance - a tiny triangle of blue sea

I have lovely memories of this exact sea and recording its sounds over ten years ago when we were working together on A Knitter’s Manifesto (Brenda’s essays, my sounds).

Felix recording in the sea for A Knitter's Manifesto

Anyway, personal memories aside – if you’ve never listened before, you need Cast On in your life. Hear it here, support it here.

Another person whose beautiful work has been bringing me joy this week is Shetland Wool Week’s 2022 patron, Linda Shearer. Linda’s hat design for this year, Da Bonnie Isle Hat – is incredibly addictive! From the looks of the KAL on Facebook, I am definitely not the only one who can’t stop knitting this. I love the significance of the motifs that Linda chose including “the anchor, a common motif in Fair Isle knitting, symbolises a sense of keeping grounded, connected to what matters most, and able to cope with life’s challenges”. I can’t show you the hats I’ve been making yet, but suffice to say, I’m just weaving in the ends on one hat and immediately planning the next…

…So the post-book crash is being pretty well-cushioned, I’d say, and I’m truly grateful to the beautiful things that other people make and share. I think it’s as simple as this: when you’re really busy producing creative work, you pour all this energy out. And it needs to be put back in. Hurrah for folks who can teach you how to bake bread, who will talk to you about knitting at all hours of the day and night, and who can create a hat that speaks to memory, fun and fortitude in equal measure, and get everybody knitting – this is exactly the sort of thing that will fill and refresh and mend an empty well.

Have a lovely weekend x

2 thoughts on “Friday Folks

  1. Oh my gosh! Brenda’s back? I’m zipping RIGHT over there to catch up! Her podcast Cast On got me through several really hard years at work after my husband died. I LOVED her podcast! That alone puts your post here right up in my top ten favorites of yours – but sourdough bread? YUM! I’ve tried several times over the years but always failed. Hmm…

    1. Brenda is most definitely back! I’m so happy to learn you are also a fan of her work, and am so sorry to hear about the loss of your husband; I can’t imagine how hard that must have been.

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