Category: life & family

when the words won’t come

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It has been a pretty long while since I have written here.

Twenty months into this journey of motherhood, there is so much I want to write about. Little stories from our daily life. Reflections on this new (and still at times overwhelming) adventure that is motherhood. My highs and lows as I find my creativity returning, little by little.

And yet. Every time I come back to this place, I open the page in the expectation that the words will appear…then they don’t. I had always taken it for granted that word craft was like breathing for me, something I didn’t really think about and that didn’t require much effort. Like knitting. Then I became a mama. And both these parts of my life suddenly became incredibly arduous. Which has been such a shock. I had anticipated motherhood would bring about big changes in my life. But I just could not have imagined that I would struggle so profoundly to make it to the end of a row. Nor to find the words.

Just as knitting has been a common thread stretching down the years from childhood to adulthood, so too my previous life was bound inexorably to language. I worked for a number of years as a freelance translator and peripatetic language teacher, and before that I spent six years as an undergraduate unravelling the mysteries of the French language. So to find myself so tongue tied has been hard to say the least.

It would be so easy to give up on this little space. To decide that instead of leaving it here lingering and open to change, I will just close the shutters & lock the door. To make a clean break of it. But that would be a bit like me deciding this time last year to gather up my yarns & knitting paraphernalia and donate them to the local charity shop because I was struggling to pick up my needles. And that would have been a real shame. So instead, I shall just leave a little window ajar, in the hope that if I keep looking for the words and making space for them, they will eventually return to me.

If I’m daring to hit the publish button tonight, it’s because I felt so heartened to read Ruth’s words a few days ago. Hers is a blog that I come back to time and time again, and to read her own thoughts on her own journal keeping made me feel so encouraged. Whilst I find the excitement & buzz of other online gathering spaces to be a source of stimulation & inspiration, I must admit that I am particularly fond of those smaller, quieter and more meaningful places of connection and sharing that can still be found in blogs. Over there it often feels like being at a very crowded, very noisy party, albeit one filled with very kind & lovely folk. There is an energy and a creativity to be found there in the thronging crowd, but sometimes I can find it all a little overwhelming and exhausting. However visiting a favourite blog feels more like being invited round a dear friend’s house for a cup or tea and a knit. A moment to share some meaningful conversations about life & knitting whilst we quietly work on our respective projects. Ruth’s blog is just one such lovely place, here are some other friends & favourites I continue to visit.

So whilst I cannot tell you when I shall next drop by here, nor where or how I intend to take this journal, consider it a renewal of my intention to keep that little window open. And to keep showing up for the words.

looking back

hills

As we prepare to let the old year passes, I take to the hills. Not literally, not physically. But in my mind’s eye.

Drifting off into that place between waking and dreaming, there is no real time to mull over 2016 before I surrender to sleep. No need really either. Sleep is beckoning and I’ve learnt enough now to welcome it with open arms when I can.

But it’s good to take a cursory glance back across my shoulder, back down the mountain of the year. For it is only now that I can see it has all been worth it, that we did the right thing to keep going, to keep on hoping and not give up when the going got tough. If 2015 was the year that I became a mama, this is the year that’s truly starting to make me one. These past twelve months dedicated to being the mama of a little boy have been amongst the toughest I have ever known. Physically, emotionally and mentally. But standing here now at the closing of the year, I see that 2016 has truly been the most beautiful, personally fulfilling year ever. I’m excited to see what 2017 has to offer me, us, without resolutions but with an open heart and the courage of a mama of a busy toddler!

spindrift

Spindrift

Spindrift on the Néouvielle, January 2011 (Hautes Pyrénées)

The name “Spindrift” comes from a lot of different places.

It’s a beautiful little word of Scottish origin, referring to both the spray blown up from the surface of the sea or the powdery snow blown off a mountain top.

Born and raised on the south coast of Britain, I now find myself living on a mountainside in the French Pyrénées, raising a joyful little boy with my French sweetheart.

Where salt in the air and sand between my toes always felt like the smell and feel of home for me, now the scent of pine trees on a summer’s afternoon and the distant tinkling of sheep bells are also anchor points for me. Where once I missed the energy of a blustery walk along the seashore on a stormy day, now I find I miss the familiar contours of the mountains when I am away from them too long.

And so for someone who came from the sea and now finds herself settled on a mountainside, Spindrift seems the perfect way to bring  these two threads together.

For me, “Spindrift” also signifies a steady but intentionally slow movement. Not seeking to rush, but rather letting oneself be gently carried along by the gentle pace of things; love, nature, life. It’s a value we actively seek to incorporate into every aspect of our daily lives, and one I would love this space to embody.

Finally, that drifting also encompasses the idea of unexpected deviation from an intended course. I would never, could never have expected the shape of my life to be turning out as it is now. But here I am, abandoning myself to the natural flow of things.

on secret, quiet days

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As you may already know, I live with the chronic health condition ME. Have done since I was eleven years old. It’s something I’m always a little reticent to talk about online, partly because despite it being such a big part of my life, it’s also so very personal. But mainly because it’s not always easy to know how to talk about it. But seeing as we’re at the start of things here, I’d like to share with you a post I wrote elsewhere, originally inspired by my dear friend, the wonderfully talented print-maker Jai…whose gorgeous work you can now find here and here.

Living with a chronic illness means there are good days and bad days.

Mountain days and fire-side days. Up-right, walking sort of days. And secret, quiet days that nobody knows about but me and my closest loved ones.

There are days where I feel on top of the world. When I literally am on top of the world. And there are days when just getting out of bed seems like is an expedition.

I don’t need to talk about these secret days all the time. But I’m also slowly starting to understand that they are nothing to be ashamed of either.

Because the pattern of my days mirrors the patterns of the mountains surrounding our home. These highs and lows are what make the landscape so very interesting.

And in my daily life, it is these secret, quiet days that make the others so very, very special.

welcome

spinsterI’m Fran, a slow yarn maker, knitter & natural dyer.

I live with my French sweetheart and our darling little baby in a mountain village in the Hautes Pyrénées – stick a pin in a map between Lourdes and Spain and you’ll find us somewhere in the mountains.

We are immersed in this landscape – these green mountains are what inspire and sustain us through the ups and downs of life.

They are also ultimately what steered the course of my life (back) towards craft, and specifically wool & natural fibres. It was whilst searching for a way to weave more meaningful connections with the natural world & pastoral traditions that surround us that I remembered a long held desire to hand spin & naturally dye my own yarn. One fleece led to another…and all of a sudden, I found myself involved in an incredibly rich & satisfying activity that just won’t seem to let me go!

When I became a mama in 2015, we knew it was now or never to embrace projects that fulfil and sustain us. And so both the name & intention of Spindrift were born in the same week as our son.

This coming year (2016), as our little man begins to take his first steps, we also hope to begin taking baby steps towards a more manageable & sustainable life as a family. One which will have us outside in the great wide open as much as possible. And ultimately one which will also enable me to work with wool, dye & fibre plants more closely.

We are interested in learning more about permaculture, self-sufficiency and off grid living. We hope very soon to have a patch of earth to call our own…a place where we can build a little (woolly) nest, grow our own fibre & dye plants…and maybe keep a few sheep.

Until then, this will remain a place to delight in slow & sustainable wool. Wool that’s been grown, gathered, spun & dyed in our mountains: hand-spun on spindle & wheel, dyed with plants, knitted on my needles.

Welcome.

back home

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Almost two months of family and friends, both sides of the channel. There have been plenty of challenges these past weeks, but also plenty of joys in between. It was good to be away, but it’s also nice to be finally back home.
So here we are now, back in our beloved mountains. And like everyone else, wondering if winter will ever come. Getting along quietly with life, with our baby. Taking each day as it comes. Trying to live slowly. And sustainably. Because really, that’s the best path for me. Breathing in. Breathing out.
But all the time, keeping our eyes on the hills, ready to grab the next adventures that may well just be blown in on the next gust of wind.

growth

gardeningWhenever we’re in Brittany, we spend as much time as possible outside in parent-in-laws garden and their little allotment, situated on the old family farm. My beau père is a keen veggie grower and it’s always a joy to be sent off with a bucket and fork to dig up some spuds for lunch.
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This time, I tied the babe on me, pulled on my wellies and took him to watch his grandpère getting grubbing on a chilly January afternoon. Come the spring, when our man will be starting to eat, he’ll be out here again sowing the seeds of the summer crop into the ground. And not long after that, we’ll be here again, those seedlings will have already grown and we’ll be harvesting them with him tied on our backs. Or if he’s already toddling by that time, that he’ll be helping us pick.
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slowly

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A walk beside the Breton sea on this first day of a new year.
Slowly, we say hello to 2016. If last year was dedicated to embracing the wondrous gift of parenthood, we hope that in this coming one, we have the opportunity to embrace new projects that lead us towards fulfillment us as a family.
As this year unfolds, we shall endeavour to walk on slowly and with confidence, whether the paths be well-worn or unfamiliar.

half a year

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As summer was on the brink of beginning, we welcomed a whole new little person into the world.
And now. Already, half a year. Life is so different now, I hardly remember how it used to be. What was before now seems to incredibly distant, like some far off land I have a disant memory of inhabiting once a long time ago. It seems strange to think that once upon a time I had two free hands, could linger in the shower, had time or energy to read a book. Could eat a meal in one sitting. Could fall asleep at 9pm and be sure to not wake until the morning. And yet. Oh this love, this little life sleeping soundly on the bed beside me.