Craft and the world

In Brittany’s most magical corners there’s a surge of new lichen growing. Lichen is very slow-growing, and only survives where the air is very clean. Evidence of the positive impact of lockdown on the environment.

I’ve been away from my workshop on what I hope will be my last househunt for a long time, and if things go to plan, These Isles will have a serious branding problem! I’ll explain anon. Meantime, I did actually take my smallest loom with me and am weaving warms for next winter.

Anyway, I return to my workshop still wondering how to get scarves to Ukrainians – though cold may not be a problem for them by now. I’ve organised an end-of-season sale in my shop, where the warmest snugs are now half price. If you happen to be in contact with any group of people in a chillier part of the world who might benefit from warm woollen donations, then I invite you or your organisation to buy up all my sale items and I will split this reduced price with you by a further 50%. (This is something I may also be able to offer in cooler seasons, if I’ve got older stock, so do please approach me another time too.) Get in touch if you can arrange that – or otherwise just browse for a treat for yourself, because you and I are also worth supporting.

Selling my work at reduced prices is difficult since I barely scratch a van-dwelling living at full prices. ‘Reduced-price sales are the logic of capitalism’, says my French craftswoman friend, ‘and capitalism is the economics of the patriarchy.’ (Happily married with a husband and family, she was put off a druidic path by the chauvinism of the scene in her area of Brittany). She doesn’t sell her work at reduced prices. But she does sell her work with ‘normal’, debt-based money, and by my reckoning, as long as we all rely upon ‘normal’, debt-based money, we are all complicit.

So in the capitalist logic we proceed for surviving the present: after a small upturn last year, the first quarter of this year has been extraordinarily slow for me – so I’m running an end of season sale, and warmly invite you to take full advantage.

Things will change as and when we build this neo-peasant, self-sufficient village

Some Ukrainian makers have pivoted to selling digital downloads of art and patterns and the like. Etsy has waived fees for them to the tune of $4m. You can support their shops here.

I’m glad to report that my leatherworking contact in Nikolaev is ok. Though he has certainly had a tough time through the Russian invasion, his southwestern city is not a key target, and his morale still sounds intact. His daughter and grandchildren fled from their Ukrainian basement to Poland some weeks ago. Yesterday he wrote:

‘Our guys are fighting bravely and pushing the Russians back. What the Russians are doing on our land and with our people is a crime that cannot be forgiven. The Russians are brutally bombing our cities and villages. Our city of Nikolaev is also being shelled with rockets. Our guys shoot down part of the missiles, but people still die and houses are destroyed. But we believe in our army and our Victory. Thank you for the offer of help. But now we need so little: tap water or a quiet evening. We are optimists and hope that the work of the mail will soon improve and we, maybe in a month, will start working again. The post office is already accepting parcels. But the delivery time is not possible to specify exactly. I already miss my job. It’s hard to believe, but our farmers are already planting wheat, sunflower, corn. The crime of Russia can neither be understood nor forgiven. They must answer for the insanity and genocide of the 21st century.’

Don’t we wish we could send them tap water and a quiet evening – and be part of a West that listened to the concerns of the East. Though I fear that rifts are inevitable in this terminal divide-and-conquer economics of woefully unfree markets.

I may not often sound it, but I am truly grateful for what I have – even while I can envision so much better for us all.

Wishing you a Happy Easter and a hopeful spring.