Shaking things up

I’ve been putting off writing this post ever since I got back from Australia.

Well, actually, not quite right. I’ve been stewing over this post since I got back from Australia but things have been so crazy around here that I haven’t had time to sit down and formulate what I actually want to say.

Australia was bittersweet to say the least. On the one hand, so absolutely amazingly wonderful to be with my parents and my siblings, nieces and nephews. My family is and always has been very close -the irony of living on the other side of the world from them whilst typing that statement: not lost on me. So it’s always special to get to spend time with them. Especially over the last decade while I’ve been living in self-imposed exile on the other side of the planet.

On the other hand, it was really awful to see my grandparents so frail and so unwell and to see them in a place that wasn’t their home. Or rather, a place that now has to be their home, rather than the familiar space I associate with them.

Living over here, time moves in a weird way. I talk to people on the phone and I have this picture in my head of them, as they were the last time I saw them. And I see photos and get the updates on how people have changed and so on but the mental picture remains largely static.

So to go home and actually see the changes is a shock because those changes don’t happen incrementally for me, they hit me all at once.

In any case, it was good I went home when I did. I got to spend some time with every one and that was where I needed to be.

The time spent at home gave me time to think about things in depth and to decide that I want and need to make some changes in my life. I hadn’t realised quite how stressed out I was until I was back there, not doing all the things that have been making me into this angsty ball of grumpy stress.

I’ve pushed myself pretty hard over the last five years, first as a Bothered Owl and then Undercover. I realised earlier this year that I’ve been sewing the same bag for five years.

Sewing used to be something I did for fun – that was one of the reasons Alex and I started up The Bothered Owl in the first place. To have fun and see if we could make some pocket money from our hobbies.
I can’t remember the last time I really enjoyed sewing anything, if I’m honest. It’s become a drudgery and an obligation and that eats your soul after a while.

I don’t want to feel obliged to sit at my machine and make something – I want to feel excited and happy about it. These days, I sit down at the machine and my shoulders slump. So it’s definitely time for a change there.

So, first things first: Yarndale and Fibre Flurry will be my last shows. I am not sure what I am going to do with the business next year. The shop will remain open for now. I may top it up from time to time, if I feel like it. I may just let the stock slowly tick down and then close it altogether. But I won’t be doing any shows.

(It’s a shame because the shows are the part of running this business that I enjoy the most. But the weeks and months of preparation that go into getting my stock ready have finally ground me down.)

Secondly: I’m hoping to enrol at university and do some further study.  It’s something I’ve been thinking about for a long time – I started an MA years ago, before Orlaith came along, before I became a teacher. I never finished it because life happened instead.
I’m in the process of writing my thesis proposal and hopefully will be applying to complete my Honours year in English literature. I’ve been putting it off for a long time but I think I’m ready now.  If I get in, it’s going to be bloody hard work juggling three small people and study but I think I can probably manage it. Running the business has taught me some extra discipline.

I’m also going to concentrate on my writing a bit more. I’ve been working on some stories for children over the last year or so.  I want to see where – if anywhere at all- it takes me. I even sucked up every shred of confidence and submitted a story to an agent the other week.

It was the first time I’ve shown my writing to a non-family member. So quite a big deal for me.

Of course, it got rejected within about three days! But hey, at least I’ve got my first rejection letter under my belt and it didn’t sting that much. (Okay, I admit, it chafed a little.) Onwards and upwards, eh?

I’m not exactly racing for the exits on crafting. I will still knit and sew – if I feel like it. To be honest I don’t think I could stop making stuff if I tried. My hands start twitching if I try to sit still for more than a few minutes without something productive to do. It feels like idleness and wasted time.

I will probably even still blog here occasionally. Who knows, maybe I’ll blog more if it no longer feels like a work thing.

And I’m sure I’ll still be posting profanity, politics and general ranting all over Twitter.

But I’ll be doing it because I want to, not because I feel obliged.

I shall leave you with one of the only photos of my time at home, of Elias in a very fetching bath hat. Elias2Aug2013_2_1

My Dad washed his hair with shampoo in the bath one night. Subsequently he has The Fear when it comes to bath time. He became convinced that my Dad was going to swoop down on him and wash his hair. So the only way I could get him to agree to a bath was if his hair was covered and therefore safe from pesky wandering hair washing grandparents.

On that note, I must go and do some of that parenting and reading and a bit of preparation for Yarndale and Fibre Flurry. If I’m going out, I’m going out by doing the two very best shows I can do. Because I want to.




Filed under crafty life

5 responses to “Shaking things up

  1. Sadie

    My family are in the same country but I’m still surprised by how people have changed when I see them!

    One of the reasons why I’m not desperate to leave the corporate world to set up my own crafty business is that I worry that trying to make a living out of my hobby would suck all the enjoyment out of it, rather in the way doing a degree in English killed my love of reading (your mileage may well vary on that one!), so I do see exactly where you’re coming from.

    Good luck with whatever you do next!

    • I think it’s a decision you have to be absolutely certain about. I have learned an enormous amount from running this business and I wouldn’t undo any of it. Well, maybe some of the bits that involved me being so tired and distracted and stressed and grumpy that I haven’t been properly present with and for the kids. Those bits I would definitely like a do-over for.

      But it’s given me huge amounts of confidence in my own abilities that I was really lacking in previously. It’s taught me about doing my own PR, how to organise finances to keep the business running, how to do my accounts. It’s forced me out of my comfort zone – talking to people at shows? Excruciatingly hard for me as I am actually a naturally shy and hermitty type. But it’s been so good for me to have to do those things.
      And I’ve gotten to have a go at designing stuff and find out that actually, I am really pretty good at making useful stuff from fabric and I like doing it.

      The downside to that is that as your designs become known you end up having to make the same thing over and over and over ad infinitum. And for me, that is wearing beyond belief. I’m ready to take a break and do something else for a while!

      • Sadie

        I love the bags I have from you, especially my Doctor Who hooky pouch, but I do see that it can get very tiresome doing the same things over and over again – that’s pretty much why I left my last job!

  2. I found it hard living in Brisbane with all family down in the Riverina… I can’t imagine how tough it is when there are numerous timezones and a long-haul flight to contend with. Your blog has given me some great parenting tips (intented or not!). I love my bags and my wee teapot stitchmarkers. All the best.

    • Aw, thanks Trish!
      I have to say that seeing the bags go to their new homes and hearing stories from people about what they’re doing with their bags and so on, it’s one of the best things about doing this. I do love matching people to fabric and seeing the sort of light bulb flash that goes off when someone finds the perfect bag for them. I will definitely miss the slow grin of delight that spreads across someone’s face when they spot the fabric that is just right!
      I think I’ll probably keep blogging intermittently. It’s fun, it keeps me thinking about putting the right words in the right order and I actually quite enjoy it!

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