Patchwork Construction

The Highlands of Scotland are my heart’s home. Landscape that at first glance barely seems to have been touched by human hands, until you look a little closer and see the mounds of overgrown rubble, once hearth and home – and the linear patterns of well chosen rocks, piled to stripe the hillsides, separating one patch of mountain from another.

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Drystone walls fascinate me, with their strength, their ability to shelter all manner of life forms, while remaining impervious to highland weather. Their longevity carried across the landscape, a testament to the hands that built them.

My dad was a Highlander, and he could, amongst many other things, build a great drystone wall. Or drystane dyke, as he would have said it, in his scottish burr. His first job, after leaving school at 14 was as a shepherd. Lonely, and not the warmest of places being out on the hills all day and night, but a great place to study construction in an ancient land, well used to human observation. And observe he did, for his skills in wall building were evident in our back garden – growing up I remember him building them with such care. I recall vividly the day he showed me how – you choose a stone, he said – and once chosen you don’t set it down again until you’ve found it’s place. A little bit like a jigsaw puzzle. He told me that day that eventually, you get a feel for which stone will work in each place, and you hold the slabs of rock for less time, spend less energy pondering where they fit – know, after as while, which one to choose for the space you’re needing to fill.

 

Patchwork, the way I like to do it, feels much the same. Finding a piece of fabric that sits perfectly against another. Sometimes its the patterns that speak to each other, a conversation of colours. Sometimes there are colours in one piece that pop colours from another. I never have a plan with my patchwork, though I do sometimes envy those complex, fantastically ordered quilts that I see fellow craftsfolk creating. My quilts evolve. I think that’s the best way to describe it. Each patch finds it’s place. Much like my dad and his drystone walls.

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Creative Catchup (where did this year go??)

It’s autumn already and I’m not quite sure what happened to my summer. The last I remember it was #plasticfreejuly and then suddenly all manner of things occurred and in the flurry of keeping up with news and changes and fantastic opportunities, it’s suddenly autumn! We are eating windfall apple pie and lots of autumnal soups and feeling the pull of dark evenings. It’s my favourite season and I’m relishing the air and the light and the cooler days.

I was so enjoying writing my monthly blog, and I’ve missed it this last few months, but now that things are calming down a bit, I have plans to write a little more often. Stretch my writing muscles and get back in the habit of writing little and often. But for now, this is just a bit of a catch-up, to get you all up to speed with what has been happening at Phoenix Green HQ in the last few months.

The big news is that I am now a freelance writer for No Serial Number Magazine, a publication that is dedicated to heritage and environmental crafts and which, given the chance, I’d just sit and read all day!21617820_798368587003743_4967548126347840087_n

It’s as aesthetically beautiful as it is principled, and I’m feeling very proud to be associated with it. Another reason to be writing regularly that I’m fair delighted about. Feeling sad that I can’t tell my mum, who we lost last December, but know she’d have smiled and been proud and that’s enough for now.

My plans for a website to act as a central point for all my work have long been bubbling away, and now they’ve been boosted considerably with the amazing news that I have been successful in a funding proposal with The Foundations for Women in Enterprise. I feel really honoured and grateful for this support, especially since it was the first such proposal I had ever written and my expectations for success where pretty low! I’m delighted to be working alongside Mandy Charlton Photographer, and Caroline Hagan from Blueocto to get this work done over the next six months.

I’m incredibly happy to have a Virtual Assistant on board in the form of the wonderful Gemma Forster, and she’ll be helping me with my monthly newsletter – first edition should be out *sometime* before Christmas!!! Sign up to my newsletter here and get a special discount code for my Etsy shop. I’m really excited about working with Gemma who will be doing what she does best and keeping me organised! As most creatives will know, being creative and being organised don’t always go hand in hand, and I’ll be collaborating with her on a blog about this very subject in the New Year.

Writing is providing a balance now to my craft work, and I recently attended an amazing writing retreat with Lynn Huggins Cooper, with a focus on finishing the novel I started writing almost 30 years ago. I’ve been feeling for a long time that I’d like to see it finished. A chapter closed if you like.  I have another full day retreat to look forward to with Lynn, where I’ll be looking at magazine work and approaching other publications. Being able to step fully back into writing has been a very welcoming journey and I feel rather content to be carrying both craft and writing along together now.

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Christmas is coming, and I’ll have lots of new, festive stock hitting my etsy shop, including more zero waste solutions as well as quilts and paintings. My workshop is a flurry of activity which I love though I have plans to have (another) huge clear out so I have more space and less clutter. A difficult task, and one which has to happen regularly in my workspace! I’ll be selling my wares at an Etsy Made Local event in the centre of Newcastle at the beginning of December, and have some other events up my sleeve too – watch this space!

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You may remember I was involved in creating a patch for the Blanket Without Borders collaboration (you can read about my experience here) – and was so excited to be asked to host a workshop to create more patches for this amazing project. I’m still working through details of dates and venues, but will create an event as soon as I have everything

in place. I’m both excited and nervous about this, as it will be the first workshop I’ve held for Phoenix Green, but so many people have asked me to hold creative workshops for things like patchwork and embroidery that I feel it will be a good initiation into the art of a good workshop. Email me if you’d like to be on the list for information as it comes in.

I’ve been very happy to be connected with The Paddock, in High Spen where I buy my beeswax for the cloth beeswax wraps I sell in my etsy shop. I’m excited to share with you that I will  be making some recycled cloth produce bags for Laura’s shop of organic produce, as a zero waste solution for her customers – I’ll let you know when they’re in stock.

So all in all, it’s been a very busy few months, but full to bursting with good news and exciting opportunities. The next few months will be the same and then we have plans for a few quiet months to rest and just enjoy life, but with more regular blog posts and maybe even a few YouTube tutorials (yes, I have a youtube channel – who knew!) Hope you stay for the journey!

Kate x

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