The value of reflection

As a teacher, and a teacher trainer for 15 years, I use and teach about reflection and its value, and have always enjoyed learning from my experiences. Like many other people, I have been thinking a lot about the last year as we come up to the first anniversary of the UK lockdown.

One of the reasons why I love having a blog is that it allows me to look back on my past makes, trips and life in general. One of the practical advantages is that I can always find where I sourced things from, but also it serves as a reminder of all of happy times. Unlike a diary, this blog is not about everything that happens, but the public facing positive things in my life

I have been reminded of the value of reflecting this week twice, once by my very good friend Sarah, whose blog I read this morning. She has written about her year here, and many of the things that she says I can very much relate to. She writes about her appreciation of living here in Marsden, with the beautiful countryside on our doorstep, and the advantages of not having to commute to work.

I am eagerly awaiting lambing time so I can go and see the little cuties like this one last year. Hopefully the weather will be beautiful again so we can go for lots more walks as well.

Like me Sarah’s life has changed a lot. She works at a university, in addition to being a GP, so she too has been working from home a lot. We have shared the frustrations of not being able to talk to colleagues easily, and missing the things we took for granted a year ago, like going to conferences and just spending time with people.

She has also completed far less projects than she thought she would this past year, and I can share that feeling as well, where did all that extra time go? I think for me, a lot of it went into thinking, and into connecting with others. I have certainly spent for more time talking to relatives and friends this year, on the phone and video calls, just reassuring each other that it would be ok in the end.

Early on in the lockdown I started taking part in a research project, I can’t actually remember how I found about this, maybe through an Instagram or blog post? It was run by Naomi Clarke, someone who I previously had come across as a crafter as she is an avid paper piecer. The project was called Crafting During Coronavirus and the involvement was to keep a diary for a number of weeks, recording what I was doing and how I was feeling. This is part of her PhD work on why people sew.

I really enjoyed being involved in this, I have kept diaries many times before, and being a diary, and only for Naomi to read it was good to be able to write about some of my frustrations of that time. I re-read them recently and we were all trying to get to grips with online teaching over the summer and feeling totally out of our depths. I have become quite adept at it all now, not that I want it to continue but feel very proud that I managed to get my head round all that complex stuff that was introduced last summer.

Naomi contacted me again this week, with another part of the project, which is to create a postcard to my past self. It is to be a crafted postcard so I think I should definitely make it using Liberty. One of my little lockdown treats has been spending what would have been travel to work money on more beautiful fabric like these from Duck Egg Threads.

I think it will have to be hexagons as well as you know how I love them. Not that I have done much paper piecing this year at all, that is one of the things that has not been achieved, overtaken by Barbie couture and Little Cotton Rabbits knitting! These are some of my favourite hexagon creations, made some years ago for Yarndale, so I think the postcard will have to be linen and Liberty.

She has asked us to think about what we would say to our past selves, from our current selves, knowing what we know now. Being a huge fan of any time travel time type stories I have been thinking a lot about what to write. Almost a year ago on the 21st March I wrote a blog post about the start of lockdown. I titled it ‘It was the best of times, it was the worst of times’

I think that what I wrote then still is very true today, but even more so. I consider myself so lucky to have all of my wonderful friends and family, who have been so supportive over the past year. There have been some lovely times, like going to Whitby and Northumberland with Ellen, and Aysgarth with her and Jacky. I will put that in the postcard, along with the power of positive thought and prayer.

My focus in that post, then as now, was on crafting. The immense comfort that I have had from knitting, sewing and embroidering over the past year cannot be underestimated. I know others feel the same, judging by the amount of knitted animals that have been created in the last year on the Little Cotton Rabbits Facebook page. This Egbert, who I finished last July, wearing the first set of striped jumper and dungarees. I am now on my third jumper so have really got to grips with top down knitting.

My stressful meetings, complex concerns about the job and the students, and worrying about my family, don’t completely go away when I craft but it makes it all so much easier to bear. The blog also serves as a useful reminder that I have failed so far to use any of the fabric that I bought on that trip that I posted about last March for Barbie dresses. I have made lots, as you know, including these two made at the very start of lockdown, but just not with that fabric. Oh well, at least it doesn’t go off, does it!

My plans for this weekend are to finish another striped jumper for a little animal and to create the fabric postcard. I also have lots of little DIY tasks to do, Ellen will be up again next week the last weekend of decorating, then it will only be a couple of weeks of finishing touches before the house goes on the market. Exciting times 🙂 What is even more exciting is the Easter holidays, I am not promising much in the way of crafting, due to the house prep, but you never know.

I hope that you are having a nice weekend and that things continue to be positive in the weeks ahead as well. It is strange to think that we may be on the way to a more normal life. I was sat in a friend’s garden this week, in the sun, having a cup of tea. Over a year ago that would be commonplace but I was so grateful just to be able to be there and have a chat with her. It is, as always, the little things that make a difference.

Take care, stay safe and thanks for visiting.

6 thoughts on “The value of reflection

  1. This was such an interesting read, looking forward to seeing the postcard. I love hexies, they are my first love in sewing and I often start something randomly when I feel the need for something simple and relaxing. Just yesterday I started some hexies which will probably become a cushion as a Christmas present.

  2. Thanks Kay. I love hexies as well, can’t remember why I first got into them but love the possibilities, must be the maths teacher in me! They are so simple, but so versatile. Enjoy your cushion.

  3. Yes, it’s useful to be reminded of good things. I went to look at your post from last year, and found my comment about how much more trying it would be if it were rainy and miserable outside. I can’t say I take any joy in having been proved right, but I am a better painter than I was a year ago, so on balance, a year of quiet and reflection has been a good thing.
    I like the sound of Linen and Liberty!

  4. Yes, little did we know then that we would have to endure a rainy and cold lockdown over most of winter, good job we didn’t realise what was going to happen. I am glad that you have improved your painting skills.

  5. This is a really lovely post and thank you for sharing your thoughts this way. You sound like a lovely friend. A scramble was definitely the word for it, though it feels completely ridiculous in hindsight that we ever thought that online teaching wouldn’t be extending what seems like forever…

  6. Thank you for comment. yes I think we were a bit optimistic about the teaching. Thankfully the students have been lovely and very understanding about it all.

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