This post was actually due to be published on Monday (two days ago). Unfortunately on Saturday evening disaster struck the North West coast of Britain with unprecedented rain fall causing flooding throughout Cumbria and North Lancashire. I was very fortunate. Areas of my village have been flooded and further afield friends have been cut off from the outside world or forced to abandon their homes as the flood waters have reached them. At the farm we found ourselves without power for several days. Mobile phone masts went down along with our landline telephone. We had no light, cooker or hot water. We however were very lucky. We have wood burning stoves and ample supply of wood so were able to keep warm and cook using these. Light was provided by candles and paraffin lamps but the most difficult part was communicating with the outside world. Without power though we had no way of charging up our phones or using the internet. The roads all around us were flooded, the bridges damaged and closed so we were genuinely cut off. And so, I was unable to publish my planned post until now. It did however give me more time to contemplate what I actually wanted to say.
It has been difficult as I have struggled over these last few days to find the ‘sunshine’ that I have been trying to bring to the blog recently but despite the devastation all around me at the moment, the one thing I have witnessed and heard about repeatedly is the friendship and support people have been showing each other to help others get back on their feet, to have somewhere dry to stay, to have some warm food to eat. So I guess the ‘sunshine’ I’m trying so hard to find right now is just that – friendship – and that’s what I want to talk about.
Woolly Wormhead is an incredibly skilled craftsperson, an amazing designer and photographer but what she is to me is far more than that. Woolly is my friend. We have been friends for eight of the ten years as a Hat designer that Woolly is celebrating. During that time I have been her publisher, her distributor, a collaborator. Gavin and Woolly have also worked together on the graphic side of things. These connections gave us the opportunity to get to know each other better. Talking regularly via email, phone, skype and enjoying the occasions when work brings us together and allows us to unwind together. Our friendship has grown over the years, as good friendships do. I travel to Italy to stay with Woolly. Woolly, Tom and Aran come and stay on the farm to escape the heat of the Italian summer. Tom and Gavin are friends and most wonderful of all Gavin and Aran are friends. Aran waking up early in the morning to accompany Gavin on the farm rounds, feeding the chickens and checking the sheep. Woolly has also become friends with my daughter, Charlie, helping her with her final film for her degree, allowing Charlie into her and her family’s life so that Charlie could create a truly beautiful film about Aran’s life on the ‘yard’.
Charlie and Aran are also firm friends. Woolly supported Charlie through this, giving her advice and encouragement when the creative process stuttered.
|Charlie and Aran at the farm|
Woolly and I don’t get to see each other often but we are always there for each other if needed. We have both created new lives for ourselves in a slightly unorthodox way and are both the ‘bread winners’ in our family group. Both of our lives are complex and sometimes difficult but having someone to talk to who instinctively understands is something everyone needs in their lives and I am very very lucky to have Woolly.
If you don’t already have any of Woolly’s patterns or books then you really should. From Going Straight, her first book to Painted Woolly Toppers, each and every one contains the patterns to some of the most exciting Hats design you are likely to see and Woolly’s website includes some of the best technique tutorials around. I for one go back to them again and again. And just in time for this blog post she even has a fabulous new pattern out in the latest knitty. In the background of Woolly’s stunning photographs you can just make out the time machine, an imposing structure, built by fellow artists living in Mutonia, and an important visual reference in much of Woolly’s work.
I don’t know what the next ten years will bring but I do know that Woolly will continue to be creative, exciting, unpredictable and will continue to grow as a craftsperson and designer and I for one just cannot wait to see what she comes up with. Here’s to you Woolly, I consider myself incredible fortunate to have you as a friend.
Images copyright Susan Crawford except for cover image of Painted Woolly Toppers copyright Woolly Wormhead. Film shorts copyright Charlie Moon. Not to be used without permission of the copyright holders.