It’s been Fall Break, two weeks off school for Jonah (in the British system) and one week for the rest of the kids. It couldn’t have come at a better time, just when the weather has turned cold and everyone is starting to get sick. It’s darker now too. The sun starts to set around 3:30 (that’s with daylight savings). For whatever reason, it just feels like you need some time off to adjust, so that’s what we’ve been doing…adjusting.
The snow tires are on, we’ve had a few sprinkles, but I’ve been warned snow is coming. The temperature’s been hovering right around O, which sounds substantially colder than 32 degrees Fahrenheit, don’t you think? It’s cold, I’m talkin’ freezing-stay-indoors weather if there ever was any, but since it was vacation time, I found myself saying bizarre things like, “Look, it’s only 0, it’s not raining, go outside and play.”
And we did, everyday, at least for a short walk or a trip to the park. We got in some sightseeing too; I can’t wait to tell you about the mine, Falu Gruva and the Dala Horse Factory…more blogs to come. They say here you have to be outdoors (even when it’s cloudy) each day to get some sun, or you run the risk of getting SAD. Not just feeling down but the real SAD, Seasonal Affect Disorder, where your body doesn’t produce enough melatonin and all you want to do is hibernate and eat carbs. (What do they mean disorder? I thought that was normal.)
For me the key to beating the “winter blues,” as they say, is tackling indoor projects. I have rekindled something of a love affair for all things crafty, especially my new hobby of knitting and crochet. Hobby, obsession, I’m not sure what you’d call it. I can’t seem to get enough of yarn, yarn shops, yarn blends, colors, it’s an excitement that’s hard to explain unless you’ve felt Alpaca and Wool yarn from the Andes, flowing through your fingers, transforming from simple strands into a design, a pattern, something altogether unique and functional, born from your hands. It’s so cool!
Pictured to the left is a beanie cap I crocheted using the puff stitch. The pattern is by Vickie Howell and you can find it if you Google Urban Jungle Beanie.
To the right is the scarf I just finished using a double crochet stitch. It’s simple, but fun and warm. I wear it all the time.
For my upcoming projects, I’ve taken inspiration from Kaffe Fassett, one of the world’s most celebrated textile artists, (although I didn’t know who he was until I came to Sweden). In Stockholm there’s a shop that sells his line of fabrics and needlepoint projects. But he’s not Swedish; he was born in Big Sur California, dropped out of art school and moved to England where he pursued his interest in what was considered to be home based trades (knitting, quilting, patchwork, ceramics). People scoffed, but he didn’t listen. In time he elevated his “craft” to the ranks of the professional artisan. His recent book, Dreaming in Color, showcases a lifetime of his incredible work.
Here’s some of his fabric designs…
Projects are fun year round, but especially during winter when you look outside and see so much of nature’s color has been striped away–from the sky and from the trees. It can feel bleak. You need something to inspire. Here are a few of Kaffe’s needlepoint designs. Don’t you love the saturation of color?
Right now I’m working on a couple of different scarfs, still perfecting my stitches. If that sounds boring, it’s not, especially because as I’m working, I’m listening to the dramatized version of The Hobbit (from Audible.com). (Did I just confess to being that big of a nerd?) It feels a bit old-fashioned, I suppose, no TV, listening to the “radio,” as it were, everyone huddled around, lit candles to ward off the dark. The boys tease and call me “Grandma,” but secretly I know they enjoy it too. Who knows, it might be that when spring comes again I’ll miss these winter days.
“Don’t only practice your art, but force your way into its secrets. For it and knowledge can raise men into the divine.”
–Ludwig van Beethoven