And what a year it’s been.
Obviously coming into 2020 no one knew we’d end up in one of the strangest and most dangerous periods of our lives to date. I’m 30 and have never experienced anything like this – I’m lucky enough to have come after the AIDS crisis and most of the big 20th century wars, and prior to this the most difficult years were entirely for personal reasons like bereavement and such. It would be remiss of me to fail to acknowledge the enormous toll this year has taken on everyone, whether because they themselves were ill or had family members suffering, or the more adjacent issues of employment insecurity, stress and isolation.
However, this year has allowed me space to focus inwards in a way that’s not often possible. I was furloughed for much of the year and only working intermittently in between – my museum shared the security checks and lockdown duties across all the staff so we all kept in touch, and that meant I perhaps only actually attended site once a week even during non-furlough periods. My health isn’t always fantastic, both mentally and physically, and I have absolutely struggled without the routine and structure I’m used to in ‘regular’ life – but I’ve also had more time to explore weaving, to get back into garment making, to research historic ideas and to experiment with new techniques. I can’t help but be glad of that, even if I’d never have chosen for the year to have turned out this way when we set off in January.
People on Twitter and such have already started their ‘what did you do this year?’ threads, and my partner put it wonderfully – “if you’ve made it through this year, you’ve done enough.” But I do like looking backwards and whilst I’m sat on this cold December evening, I’ve got another moment to think.
I’ve made clothes for me (two picnic skirts, two Upton dresses, a Mood Blackthorn coat, a Krissa crop top, the Calder dungarees, two jumpsuits in different velours); clothes for my partner (Ellie and Mac Shawl Collar Sweaters, which might get their own post soon but ’til then can be seen on my Minerva profile); an Ellie and Mac Moto Jacket for my mum; I’ve made glasses cases and zipped pouches and cloth sanitary pads and scarves and keyrings and even I made a foray into bra making too.
When I look back at my Instagram I’m just really proud of all the new things I’ve learned this year. I had a big wobble with my hands due to trying the crochet again, and it’s been a real journey working out how to balance Getting Things Done with limiting harm on my joints. I think I’m in a place where I’m much better able to recognise my limits and acknowledge when I have to stop and rest. That flare up was probably the worst I’ve experienced to date but has become a true learning experience, and when reflecting on it recently with my partner I realised how the simple fact I don’t want to experience that again basically forces me to be more compassionate with my body and more considerate of the quirks it possesses.
I’ve also been treated to some lovely Christmas gifts – including these beautiful Merchant and Mills shears which should last a lifetime – and I bought myself a present I definitely will share more about soon (hint: we’ve named him Jerome and if you follow me on Instagram you know about him already). As 2021 approaches I’m looking forward to the projects on the horizon: my wedding garments, more Minerva Maker surprises, and experimental historic items too with any luck.
It’s been a heck of a year but we’re here, we’ve made it through, and I’m so grateful to have people by my side that support my crafts. My heart hurts for those who through no fault of their own did not survive this year, and I send all the warmth to anyone suffering with illness and loss in this dark period. Here’s to wishing everyone a happy, healthy and prosperous new year filled with all the things that bring you joy – a brighter 2021 for us all, I hope.