[ Narrative ][ Wrapped in Jamie ]

Where she announces a loss, a birth and a funeral

Shocker, isn’t it?

I was about to write a post about my latest video tutorial upload (which you can find here), when I saw this draft dated the 1st of January this year (2023). I looked inside, but there was only the headline, no further text.

Now I don’t know if you are aware of this: I had a pretty shitty life change last year. We moved our little private farm from the Sunshine Coast to the Fraser Coast, which was a traumatic experience that took us around eight weeks to complete and from which I am only slowly starting to recover.

Before our move we were busy with things like 

  • getting connected to electricity (our aim was to be off grid and independent, but that unfortunately requires a lot of roof space and the solar panels, which we did not have then – and still don’t),
  • installing the bed for two big water tanks (there are no pipes in the rural parts of Australia!),
  • setting up a basic camp under the roof and within the space that was supposed to become a chicken palace and an aviary,
  • fencing the property to avoid our chickens wandering off and discourage visits from neighbouring dogs, foxes, dingoes and wild dogs,
  • organising a port-a-loo when thanks to people loosing their home due to floods almost none were available and
  • trying to find (what we thought would be temporary for around three months) storage for all except the most basic furniture and household items. (Did you know that it is possible to function on only one plate, glass, and set of cutlery per person? It is possible. For quite a while, even. But given the choice, I’d prefer not to.)

Our move was initiated by necessity, not by choice: our landlord wanted to ‘sell’ his house, but later decided ‘for tax purposes’ that it would be better to rent it out again to people who may or may not pay about a third more than what we paid…

Admittedly, we had told him that we were planning to build soon and I guess he just wanted to make sure that there was no gap of income. We did have our ups and downs, but we did have more freedom and privacy during our tenancy than we would have had had we rented through a real estate agency. The private rental agreement definitely suited both parties.

Our best option – so we thought – was to safe us the most likely fruitless trouble of trying to find another rental in the area, and so we decided it would be easiest to move directly onto the piece of land we own/are the guardians of and on which we intended to build a home soon anyway. We had been travelling between the two places irregularly for about a year to organise some basic earthworks and roughly prepare a few things (like the roof for the chicken area and a small water tank to start collecting water), but hadn’t done any serious work until we got (at least a generous amount of time ahead) notice that we would have to leave the rental property.

I am not a fan of camping at the best of times. I can maybe cope with a night or two away from home, but anything beyond that is a stretch. Any hardcore camper would insist on calling our situation ‘glamping’. I am also aware that many of the people who had lost their homes in the Gympie floods just when we started to move (hence – no loos to rent, no tradies available and definitely no rentals that can accommodate a small farm) are much worse off then we are.

Instead of having to live in a tent, we have an undercover tent and shipping container. Instead of a camping cooker we have a primitive bench with a 3-burner gas cook top. Instead of having to use public toilets we have a port-a-loo to ourselves. We did not loose our possesions; we were even fortunate enough to have access that we could give away to those who had nothing and we still have a garage full of stuff. 

Yet we have something in common with the flood victims: we too don’t have a home (yet). 

Now while it may sound romantic to live in extremely minimalistic circumstances, it is not. At least not for me. When the formerly estimated three months turned into six, then seven, then eight with not even a hint that the situation might change for the better soon and one problem/disapointment/delay after the other, I fell. 

The hole was deep and dark and for about four months I had either one foot on the edge or I was in it completely. 

So, what is my loss? Actually, it is not just one, but at least three.

  • I lost my focus and re-gained each of the 20 kilos excess body weight I had lost previously and then gained some more.
  • I completely lost my cro-jo and could not even look at a crochet hook, even as I craved nothing more than a creative outlet. But until I had not finished the pattern releases I had planned (but felt I could not do for various reasons), I would not allow myself to crochet. Not even for the sake of staying in the light. 
  • I felt like I lost my tribe. The fellowship with the other homeschool mums, who had become the best of friends, was reduced to monthly meetings as we all supported our adolescent children on their different paths. Neighbours, people with similar interests and my fellow crochet colleagues were further away. 

I felt stuck (and literally often was stuck in the mud on our land) and alone. 

So I decided to quit. 

But I have a son who needs me and besides, I am not a quitter. So I stopped thinking about quitting myself.

But something had to go, so I thought that something might as well be Black Sheep Crochet. 

But I have my flock and people who are still with me and checking in on me and there are too many ideas still in me, so I can’t quit that either. Besides, I made you a promise to finish the Wrapped in Jamie CAL. 

Ah…the ‘CAL’. The project that made me an accidental designer. The project that was fun in the beginning, but that is only reminding me of how much I failed you. The project that kept me up at night, made me despair when I could not deliver, drove me into depression when I could not release the patterns in time. When I would have liked to record the tutorials, but my hands were dirty from the mud and I could not get it off and was too embarrassed about them; when it was too cold outside in winter and too hot in summer to record, when there was not enough light to get a good picture for the photo tutorial or not even a clean surface to work on, when I could not find my samples, printouts, my yarn or even stitch markers. When everything regarding Black Sheep Crochet and especially the Wrapped in Jamie ‘CAL’ was put on hold for the three months of acclimatising to the new place (that turned into a year and counting)… that project. 

So here comes the funeral part.

Before you put on the black clothes or a mourning band, let me remind you that there is also a birth. 

I have decided that I am going to bury the Wrapped in Jamie CAL. Now don’t cry yet, let me explain first, please. 

We have 12 squares in Season 1. These squares are the originals that I wanted to release as a CAL. It was only a result of bad judgement and a desire to please paried with a bit of megalomania, delusional aspirations and not noticing that I would bite off more than I could chew that the CAL was expanded to what seems to be infinity and beyond, and therefore seems to be taking forever and day. 

Since none of the above quits are an option, I am quitting the CAL. Or rather, I declare it finished. We have Season 1. That’s all I wanted to do initially. 12 squares, telling a story, then moving on to the next project. Instead, things happened and this thing gets drawn out an it goes on and on and on. 

So from now on it is official. The Wrapped in Jamie CAL is complete. 

Yet while there will be no release dates for the next patterns, many of them are almost ready to go. I will definitely keep my promise to you. There is a Season 2 and there will be 12 patterns in that Season. There will also be a Season 3, with the triangles to turn this project into the megalo-wrap should you wish to do so. 

So from now on, let’s celebrate something new. Let’s say the Wrapped in Jamie CAL is complete. And let’s call Season 2 and Season 3 a MAL – a make along. In the sense of “I am making it up as I go and you are invited to join me”. I have the plan for the squares and you know them already. Apart from the Stag  the Scottish Cross and the Dragonfly patterns that are already released, there will be another nine patterns. 

Initially I wanted to release them in the respective order they were introduced, but that may prevent them from being released any time soon as there are two that are a bit stubborn. They just don’t want to come out as I envisioned them. So they have to ripen a bit more. In the meantime, we simply move on to the next in line. Another three patterns have been designed by the wonderful lady who contributed the Dragonfly pattern, Veronika Gadulová, and she does not deserve to have her beautiful patterns in hiding until I get my shit together. 

So the patterns of the Wrapped in Jamie MAL previously CAL will be released at random, just as they are ready. Whichever pattern I, my testers and my main supporter Karin Ridderhof are drawn to most, will be next. That might be a pattern that is not part of the Wrapped in Jamie MAL, but one that means a lot to me at this moment in time. 

Which brings me to the birth I might have had in mind when I created that headline (or maybe not, I really don’t remember most of that time in the darkness and definitely don’t want to go back there!).

Throughout the last year, I had one consistent rock beside my Beloved, and that other rock was Karin Ridderhof. 

What has turned into a solid friendship started with a gift from Karin, an alternative version of the Royal Stag pattern that I have to admit is more beautiful than the original design and which you are going to see some time in the future. This turned first into a series of forward and backward emails where we discovered lots and lots of things that we have in common and that indicates to us that we have to be soul sisters. 

Karin has been a guardian angel during my darkest hours and is the reason why Black Sheep Crochet is still alive. You see, I was so frustrated with the rules and expectations I had created for myself in regards to the pattern releases, that I was ready to give it all up and start again. Karin talked me out of it. Instead, unknowingly, she sparked a new thought: a sister website to Black Sheep Crochet. 

We talked a lot about our work together. You would be surprised to see the many beautiful designs Karin has created, and there is an idea that popped up during our conversations about a project we would like to work together. Not sharing it yet. It is one of those things that need more thought an attention.

Karin does not have a website and is not intending to sell her beautiful patterns, but I can’t allow that. Her designs are just too beautiful to be kept within her circle of beautiful people who receive items made from these designs as gifts in the form of potholders, wash cloths or any other way. 

So, after giving it much more time and thought than I would if I would decide just for myself, we have given birth to our Black Sheep Crochet sister website:

Silver Sisters.

Dont go there just yet – the website is still as blank as a baby bottom. As of today (23rd of April), there is even still the generic sample page! No, don’t look! I know you want to, but there really is nothing there yet. But there will be. 

With this website I want to do it ‘right’. For you and for Karin. I don’t mean that there is anything wrong with Black Sheep Crochet, just that I have always been ahead of myself, rushing things, being topsy-turfy and head over heels. From now on, I want to be more mature, more mindful. Thinking things through before getting started on a whimp. 

I will be officially introducing the Silver Sisters (and the Silver sisterhood) soon (whatever soon means nowadays). 

After all this blubbering, I only want to tell you that I feel better now. I am confident that I am at a safe distance from the Great Abyss and I have plans in place that keep me there (at a distance, that is!). I look forward to sharing all of them with you bit by bit and as I have time between all the designing, pattern make- overs, recording, editing and testing that thankfully fill my days again. 

I feel cleansed and even reborn (there’s another birth for you!) and energised. I am so glad to be back with you. Thank you for sticking with me. I appreciate you.