Wool Week etc

It's been a bit of a weird month, so expect a mix of themes below...

First up was Shetland Wool Week. This event is a seriously big deal if you're into Shetland heritage, wool, textiles and handknitting in particular. I work at Jamieson & Smith and Shetland Wool Week is our busiest time of year. 2016 was no exception, in fact it was even more full on than last year which is incredible! We hardly had a chance to take a breath for ten days.

I'm not going to write much more about Shetland Wool Week as there have been some great blogs written already, here are just a few: Ella Gordon - Jamieson & Smith - Donna Smith - KnitBritish

I will share a couple of photos though

Cakes!! These were so good! Created by Amy, pastry chef at the Scalloway Hotel. I think they sat quite well among the wool on our Jamieson & Smith stand, along with one of my favourite tipples :)

I got to try out a super-fancy zoomy lens (thanks to proper photographer Scott Goudie!) to get this shot of Claire White who was compere for the evening.

I got to try out a super-fancy zoomy lens (thanks to proper photographer Scott Goudie!) to get this shot of Claire White who was compere for the evening.

Action shot! One of our best customers at J&S who, along with her friend, visited us every day at the shop. This photo was taken at Ella's talk at the beginning of the week, she was the patron for the 2016 Shetland Wool Week (Ella on the left in the Wool Week t-shirt) Ella's vintage knitwear collection.

Action shot! One of our best customers at J&S who, along with her friend, visited us every day at the shop. This photo was taken at Ella's talk at the beginning of the week, she was the patron for the 2016 Shetland Wool Week (Ella on the left in the Wool Week t-shirt)

Ella's vintage knitwear collection.

Now, a change of pace. And a lot more text! Please go with it and keep reading x

I was fortunate to be accepted for funding to help me attend the Craft Scotland Conference in Dundee (review in my next post). Wool Week had just ended so I hadn't had much time to recover before packing up and heading down to Dundee. My accommodation was walking distance from the station and on the way I passed the Dalhousie Building of the Dundee University, where the Conference was taking place, so I was glad of the chance that gave me to get my bearings. As I arrived a bit early I had time to visit Fluph! Yay! The shop was right across the road from the flat so I stopped in there and met Leona who was so so lovely! She realised I was weary from my travels and after meeting the pups behind the counter she offered me a cup of tea. While she was boiling the kettle I flopped down on one of the sofas where classes, Knit Night and Fluphy Twisters meetups are held. We chatted for a while and I was invited to join Knit Night that very evening, of course I had taken a knitting project with me so planned to come back later.

I headed back across the road to be shown into the flat I'd rented and get settled in. A black pudding supper later and armed with my knitting I was back at Fluph where I had a super evening with a very friendly and laid-back group. As Fluph is the home of Rusty Ferret (hand-dyed yarn) I couldn't leave without making a purchase! I chose this beautiful 'one of a kind' (OOAK) Doll - Darkest Delusion. Still not completely decided what I'm going to make with it but it's so incredible to look at I could just have it sitting around on display for a while!

Ok, so that was all fine, I was a little more nervous about my trip than usual but convinced myself I'd be fine in the morning when I got to the Conference. The venue was great, it was all organised well and everyone was very welcoming. On arriving I registered, picked up a few booklets and a cute badge! I got myself a cup of peppermint tea and had a wander. Still feeling a little apprehensive I drank my tea and wished for the time to hurry up so everything would start.

The Conference began and I reminded myself that all I had to do for the next couple of hours was sit, listen and relax. I made it to the break for lunch, even managed to keep breathing while I sensibly got myself a sandwich and tried to distract myself from the rising discomfort by pondering which cake I might try, then by escaping to the bathroom a couple of times. This was all within ten minutes but it felt like an eternity. I couldn't do it anymore. Although my lungs felt like they simply weren't getting enough oxygen I calmly made my way to the main entrance and stepped outside. I didn't pause or look back, I kept walking steadily until I was around the corner. I picked up the pace and carried on, trying hard not to think but just concentrate on getting one foot in front of the other. Inside the door of the flat I stopped and stood. My head was empty, I made tea, sat on the sofa and stared at nothing. My breathing was easier but weirdly slow.

Later in the afternoon I decided I'd need to get some food and found a bakery which had been recommended to me. I so wanted something to eat, the menu looked amazing but my eyes darted back and forth along the options, people kept coming in to join the queue and I kept stepping aside to let them ahead of me. Getting increasingly frustrated with myself that I couldn't make a simple decision about what kind of sandwich to get didn't help. Ok, just a hot chocolate then, with marshmallows, something warm and comforting. But no. The idea of standing there surrounded by people was not something I could even consider.

Back at the flat I made do with eggs, bread and butter for the next 24 hours. I cried, I sat still for long moments, I despaired, I contemplated not going home and instead disappearing somewhere else. I eventually got myself to bed pretty late.

In the morning I felt a bit better, an odd temporary peacefulness. I decided I'd go home on the boat that night, a day earlier than planned. Packed, tidied up, phoned a taxi, got the train, got to the boat, in my cabin (usually I'd get a shared one but that was not an option despite money not being in great supply then). I started to relax again and pretty much slept right away.

My brother met me at 7:30am the next morning. He was the only one I could deal with at that moment (well, him, my sister-in-law, niece and nephew). I knew he wouldn't ask me a million questions, or tell me what I should have done, or judge me.

It was a beautiful morning, cold and still.

I took the week off work. I still had that odd empty feeling for a few days but I tried to keep a routine, made sure I ate reasonably and got dressed. I didn't even feel guilty about work which was really strange! I just didn't think about anything, I felt like I was in slow motion. Gradually I was able to work on some weaving and by the following Monday was ready to go back to work. I'm lucky that I have many people around me who are understanding and supportive although I know that some of them really don't get it. I'm glad that mental health is beginning to be talked about more and that it's becoming more accepted that it can be as debilitating as a physical illness. I've noticed an increase locally, among friends and family, online and nationally, even globally of openness about the subject. People very close to me have experienced serious anxiety issues and every one will go through this in a different way. There is not one way to 'fix' these difficulties, it's important to get to know yourself, no-one else can tell you what you need, no-one else can tell you what you 'should' do. Every emotion possible is part of being human, not knowing how to cope with these emotions is what results in things getting out of hand. For me, it's learning to not try to do everything, all at once, and feeling like a failure if only one of those things don't work out. It's learning that a thought is just a thought, not something I have to grab onto and believe. A thought occurs in a moment and it can be gone the next moment, it doesn't have to control the rest of your day. Life is not as complicated as we often make it. Maybe we can remind ourselves of that more often.