Postcard from... Norfolk

Today's postcard is from Claire (aka 'Me and Dot') whose relocation to the Norfolk countryside has sparked a new creative outlet involving locally foraged plants and flowers, and yarn!  

Hi, I'm Claire, I live in the beautiful Norfolk countryside with my family. Having recently moved here, I am seeking to reconnect with my craft through the amazing, inspiring and seasonal landscape that I now find myself in. I'd love to share the start of this journey with you...

When we moved last October I am not sure we even packed the kettle. Moving was stressful and everything seemed a little uncertain, I think it got hastily slung in a box then quickly re-appeared again during a hectic day strung together with frequent cups of tea. My craft supplies however, carefully packed and labelled days in advance, still mostly remain in the boxes and drawers they were transported in. It takes time to unpack when you move house, doesn't it? There seems to be an unconscious order with which it is all done. Essentials first, of course, but everything else, the more personal stuff, slowly emerges from all the boxes; things find their place as and when they are remembered and required, gently populating your new home with personality.

Our usual routines, just like the kettle, were quickly re-established too - school run, commute to work, bedtimes, morning coffee, these are the things that don’t ever change much- so it took me a while to realise that my own routine had shifted, the process of moving had consumed my daily life for almost a year and I had nearly stopped crafting and crocheting altogether. Winter settled in, as we did, Christmas came and went and the things I had been making no longer seemed relevant. More and more frequently my attention was drawn outside, to our new, large garden and to the surrounding countryside. My daily walks with Dot, our new cocker spaniel puppy, highlighted the slow, seasonal changes as the hedgerows gradually burst into life and spring arrived. The space in the garden, that was already filling fast with self-seeded cow parsley, grasses and wildflowers, was full of possibility to become a haven for wildlife, native plants and homegrown veg and flowers.

Yet in spite of my rather ambitious plans for the garden, I was missing the process of making. My craft, something that has been an almost daily habit for the last decade, had not yet found it’s place in our new life. I unpacked and reorganised my yarn. I bought some new baskets and started thinking about putting up shelves in our new study to put the yarn on. I thought about new projects and new ways to use up my stash, searched through old magazines and social media looking for ideas to spark that crafting itch.

Common Ragwort, Norfolk, July 2016
I think the solution dawned on me slowly, no light bulb moment, rather the gradual glow of a dimmer switch being gently turned in my head. The seasonal shifts in the countryside and the specific location of where we lived would be the perfect way to reconnect. A quick rummage through my book shelves and bit of internet research later (sometimes it is so wonderful to have all that knowledge at your fingertips in an instant, isn't it?), and I had decided to experiment with dyeing some yarn using local, native, homegrown and foraged wildflowers and plants.

So, I’ve been raiding my stash for every scrap of white, cream or neutral yarn I have, creating small bundles of wool for fragrant (and sometimes not so fragrant) dye pots of plants, all locally and sustainably foraged. Collecting only what I need, and only what is in abundance. Educating myself, constantly flicking through wildflower books, memorising names, illustrations, leaf shapes. My morning walks with Dot have become a delight of wildflower spotting and identification, a daily treat of subtle changes in colour, foliage and flower, and how it might all translate into yarn.

The cow parsley in May and June was perfect and, just as the flowers faded leaving fresh green seed-heads in their place, I collected some plants to dye a small sample of wool. It produced the most gorgeous greens, the perfect snapshot of the time of year and location, fresh green spring maturing into deeper summer hues.

Cow parsley (collected in Norfolk, June 2016) and hand dyed yarn using the whole plant (top) and fresh seed-heads (bottom).
I’m keeping things simple for now, experimenting, building my knowledge and deciding on plants, colours and yarn with which to start a new project - a project that is rooted here in my new routine and surroundings. I will make a shawl, or a chunky scarf maybe, something I can wear in the winter, our second winter, as Dot and I walk past those same hedgerows that inspired it all to start with, wrapped cosily in a little bit of craft that truly belongs to this place, that really connects to our new home and connects me to it as well. It feels good to be making again.

Me and Dot

Do come and join me on this journey. You can follow along on my blog, Facebook or Instagram where I'll be sharing my natural dye experiments and projects. Or come and join me on Instagram and celebrate our native, local and seasonal flora, by sharing your stories, photos, and folklore, wherever you are - it's all welcome - using #mywildflowerstory.

Read the entire series of Makers' Postcards here, and join in on Instagram with photos from the places that inspire your own crafting,
using the tag #makerspostcards.

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