Time is a strange thing, isn’t it? Somehow it feels as if I’ve lived and aged two full years in the short months since November, when I decided to put ELK market metal on hold. As changes and decisions often work out for me, the choice to press pause wasn’t an option until it was the only option. And I have learned, re-learned and un-learned a few things since I took a step back and allowed myself to catch my breath and look at my business and my life from a little distance.
The first is, and I know I’ve said this before so it falls under the category re-learning, that nothing good gets away. What surfaced when I let the hammers and burner and metal rest was my life long love for threads. I started knitting. It became my shelter, my meditation and creative outlet. I knitted four sweaters and a few hats and mittens in a couple of months and it felt like returning to a home I didn’t know I had missed dearly. I learned to knit as a child and worked on and off for almost a decade in a yarn shop. I know yarn. I know knitting. I know the craft better than I know myself and I trust my own ability completely in a way I don’t do in many other parts of life.
The second learning circled (circles I should say - these questions don’t remain answered for long) around what I am to do with the time that has been given me, and the fact that I don’t know how long that time is. My husband is almost 20 years older than me and that gives ut quite a different take on… time. Age. Death. Part of me shudders about the thought of death being present in this enormous whirlwind of love we have, but part of me knows that it’s the way it goes. Big feelings beget big feelings. And growing into middle age, death makes itself known in other ways. Friends get cancer. Friends divorce. Friends are struggling to remember what their dreams were, or to find new ones. When friends my age a few years back became parents, or got the careers they’d been working towards going, our conversations were about hope and future and bringing new life (be it through a baby or in a more metaphysical sense) into this beautiful and crooked world. Now it’s about nourishing that life. And that’s hard. We struggle with disappointment, unmet needs, unfulfilled expectations, insufficiency. What does it mean to have a life, knowing it will end, and how can we do as little harm and as much good with the time we have? How can we be true to ourselves in a world that is constantly telling us that we are flawed? This might sound grim or depressed for some of you I guess, but these questions are always right at the back of my head, on good days and bad days. It’s not something I’d wish away but it is indeed something I have to make sense of and, on some days, find ways to cope with.
The third thing was the much needed discussion on racism, representation and white supremacy that has been raging in the knitting, sewing and slow fashion community - just as it did in the babywearing community a year or two back. It is painful to see white people not only being too busy protecting their own egos to listen to the experiences of BIPOC and HBTQ+ community, but to also dismiss, gaslight and ignore them/us. Being confronted with your own part, however unintentional, in upholding an oppressive system, is uncomfortable - but nothing is going to change before things get uncomfortable for those in power. There is so much work to be done.
The last and most important thing I’ve learned is raw, intimate and vulnerable. I learned that the light in me is easily obscured and that I need to be very careful to keep my eye on it. It’s a whisper where the world is roaring around me. Last week my family and I took the train and drove a car deep into the northernmost parts of Sweden; into Sápmi, a land that was stolen from the Sámi people and claimed as Sweden, Norway, Finland and Russia. I had to acknowledge my own foreignness, that I come from the people who oppressed, stole, killed, destroyed and silenced. We visited Anna, a Sámi woman, who invited us all into the herd of reindeer she and her family lives with and into her lavvu, and it was a humbling and beautiful thing that I will carry with me. She told my children that her people have made a pact with the reindeer, to always protect them and provide for them; a sound voice to hear where they are otherwise fed with the expectations, values and demands of the western world, however much we as parents try to show them different by doing different. We also drove for hours along the Lule river, the sun setting in the west and the full moon rising in the east. We were silent as the light of the sun made way for the moon to reflect it back over us, allowing the trees to cast long shadows on the snow. There was space above my head - space around my body. It was silent and wild and it teared at the things that drown that beautiful little voice deep inside. The expectations of others, the sound of traffic and voices, of commercials and messages urging us to consume, to change, to get more money so we can spend more money, to never ever feel enough.
We are enough. I have said this to you over and over again; if there has been one single thing I wanted you to feel through my words, pictures and designs, it is this. But I think this journey made me realise even more how very, very hard it is. How very quiet I have to be to hear myself.
Finally, to those of you who are wondering when the web shop will restock, when new designs will come, when I’ll be active on social media again - I don’t know. It’s the only thing I can give you right now, the somewhat painful truth that is that I really do not know. I have a lot of things to figure out. I have ideas and dreams and thoughts and wishes, but I’m not in a place where I can decide on how to proceed. There are decisions to be made, and as I said in the beginning of this post, I’m still at a place where no way forward feels like an option - but soon enough I hope one way will feel like the only option. Then I’ll start moving again. Mindfully, slower than before, with greater integrity and grace. Listening.
Thank you for still being here.