It's amazing to think that this time last year we only first learned terms like physical distancing, epi curves, and yes, even sourdough starter. I had just gotten into a consistent dyeing schedule to prepare for festival season when suddenly we hit that first lockdown, and I was planning homeschool routines and baking bread instead. I don't know if I was optimistic or naïve or something in between, but I remember thinking the kids would just have a long March break, we would all bake some bread, and then it would all get back to normal. That wasn't quite how things worked out. With the latest provincial lockdown just off the ground, it feels almost like nothing has changed. Though, it's so important to remember that there has been progress. This time last year there were no vaccines. There were no treatments. Everything was full of unknowns and I was scared, in a way that my privilege has protected me from feeling ever before.
The last year has been emotional to say the least. Everyone has had differing levels of impact by lockdowns and the pandemic at large, but I think most would agree that it has been challenging. There have been so many "new normals" now that I think my current "normal" is simply a preparedness for change that I had never quite mastered before. In spite of the challenges, or maybe because of them, I find it has been a year of unexpected connections. Given no alternatives, people seem to have been finding unique ways to connect from afar. I have found some awesome online spaces, including my Instagram page, where I have made very dear friends who I speak to all the time. I have spent most Saturday nights this year online with real-life friends who, under normal circumstances, I would have seen only a handful of times in a year. As a family, we spent more time outdoors than ever before, and even took our kids camping for the first time. I hope that, no matter what this pandemic has thrown at you, in spite of the isolation of the year gone by, you too have found some unexpected connections and surprising moments of joy.
Last March had many of us somewhat paralyzed by the implications of the pandemic, but today, I am hopeful. Perhaps foolishly so, but it feels nice to acknowledge that a light may in fact be at the end of this tunnel after all. As vaccines trickle into our communities, more and more often I can hear of someone I know who has gotten one. Just this week, my parents got theirs, and soon my in-laws will follow. While this doesn't mean anything changes for now, it is one of those signs to me that we are closer than ever before to getting back to the things, places, and people we love.
Fibre festivals, like so many other things, were cancelled in 2020. Some events that optimistically rolled over to 2021, have already been cancelled too. I have missed seeing customers in person so much this year! Making connections with my clients and helping them pick just the right yarn for a project, or hearing their excitement over making something beautiful is something 2020 was missing for me, and it's something I'm hoping I can get this year with virtual festivals. I don't know if you have heard of virtual festivals yet, but we are going to be presenting in two in the next month: Knit City Virtual, and Fibre Love Affair. In both festivals we will be giving an interactive Zoom presentation to showcase some of our favourite products, including some new felted stitch markers, and hand-dyed yarns made by yours truly. There will be an exclusive discount code for attendees and who knows, maybe a giveaway too.
Another thing I've missed about fibre festivals is connecting with other dyers, makers, and shop owners. There's a lot of fun comradery that happens behind the scenes of those festivals before the attendees arrive and after they leave. When some of my festival friends recently began chatting, I shouldn't really have been surprised that something awesome was going to happen. One second I was invited to join a chat, the next a really wonderful project was born and I get to be a part of it. "Be a Freaking Unicorn is a project inspired by the creative minds of makers, and designed to raise funds for local organizations that serve the LGBTQ+ community." (beafreakingunicorn.com) I will be dyeing up a special colourway for this project, and at least $5 per skein will be donated back to Pflag York Region, which supports and serves the LGBTQ+ community local to me. Please check out their website, and follow them and me on Instagram for more updates and details. All the products from all the makers will be available to purchase from May 1st to May 24th, 2021.
You can probably see now why, even as we begin lockdown yet again, online friends, virtual festivals, and super-rad projects are keeping my spirits up. I hope my excitement can bolster yours too. Until next time, stay safe, wear a mask, and keep on crafting.