Tomorrow, on New Year's Eve, I will turn 40. I thought I would reflect on 2016, the first full year of sharing my sewing related adventures through this blog.
Firstly, thank you to everyone who has read it. I am not bombarded with comments but I can see in my page analytics that many come and take a look, and I really do appreciate it!
It has been a year for going out of my comfort zone, starting with me joining the Entrepreneurial Spark programme in February. To begin with I felt very out of my depth discussing financial forecasts and all of the rest. However, I also felt like I was amongst people with the same mindset as me, totally excited and engrossed in their vision and willing to just get on with trying to make it happen. I would recommend it to anyone 100%.
In March, eighteen of us escaped to the countryside for a weekend of sewing and cocktails in the childhood home of Florence Nightingale. We were all super productive and I was amongst my loveliest friends for three child-free days, with no interrupted conversations!
Sewing up the portrait of Wilfredo the dog for Lisa Congdon was probably my most creative spell of the year. I had set myself the challenge to have a go at it, and wasn't sure if I would like the end result. However I learned a lot and was very happy when Lisa asked me to send it to her, and did a fantastic interview in return.
Unfortunately I haven't had enough time to stitch more textile art, but I have sketched out another few projects and fingers crossed for 2017.
In May I organised my third exhibition of quilts by local makers. It was one of those events that came together without too much stress, and just worked. There was a fantastic atmosphere and some really beautiful textiles on display.
In the Summer I had a bout of bravery and decided to rent my own studio to teach and work from. Lovely friends and family helped me to kit it out and I smile every time I open up the door. The mill it is housed in, is growing into a creative hub and hopefully there will be lots of scope for collaboration.
August involved five days away at my first Festival of Quilts, working with Aurifil threads. I met Kaffe Fassett (another tick off the sewing bucket list) and also loved spending time Sheena Norquay, whose work I really admire.
The summer was also tinged with sadness with the loss of my beautiful friend and quilting guru, Annmarie. She had been a central part of the sewing community I have built up in the past few years. Annmarie had the knack of making crazy fabrics of all colours work harmoniously and was so generous with her skills and advice. I am currently hand quilting her amazing Moda Building Blocks Quilt that she made for her husband Paul and miss her very, very much.
In September, my son Harry went off to Secondary School, Edie started Year 4 and Ellis, my youngest, joined Reception. I have been pretty much a full-time mum for eleven years so this was a big change, but the studio was a fantastic distraction.
In Autumn I also employed my first member of staff and I think that this is my best decision of the year. Kay has made a massive difference. We run the studio classes together, discuss the many options and ideas, dream of trips to Quilt Market in the US, run up costumes for dance shows and very occasionally have time to sew for ourselves!
In the closing months of 2016 I have won two entrepreneur awards and also arranged leading sewing workshops at the new John Lewis in Leeds. I hope that 2017 is set to be an exciting one.
My nickname amongst friends these days is Jammy because I have had a lot of good things happen to me. All I know is that I am very lucky to have an amazing support system and people who believe in what I want to achieve, and go out of their way to help me.
Turning 40 doesn't fill me with dread, though the hangover after my party tonight does!
Wishing you all a very happy and crafty New Year xx