I woke up this morning on New Year’s Eve to a white 31st of December. It is presenting a very cold and somewhat snowy end to 2020. It is very quiet here, and nothing is stirring. It is so magical to be here all cosy at home, looking out on a white scenery. I guess living in the countryside, up a very narrow and somewhat steep lane has its advantages or disadvantages, depending on what way you look at it. It means that we are snowed in and unable to leave the house as the lane is too dangerous to drive on. So, the prospect of being inside is actually a nice way to see 2020 end, especially when we have no need to be out and it is all cosy inside, and I have enough food, drink and crafts to keep me busy.
With the prospect of being unable to go anywhere due to the snow on the lane, it seemed appropriate for me to sit at the computer to write my last blog post for 2020 and reflect back on how this year has been and look forward to a hopefully better 2021.
I am sure that no one will forget 2020. It is a year that will be placed in future history books for all of the wrong reasons. The year when the world was struck by a deadly virus and how everyone was affected in one way or another. The year when our normal every day activities stopped and we were presented with new everyday restrictions and guidelines. The year when small businesses were closed down. The year we were stopped from gathering together for weddings, funerals, family celebrations and entertainment. I know that many thought that we would be back to ‘normal’ by September and the virus would be gone, however, here I am, on New Year’s Eve and we are again facing a national lockdown in the hope that the numbers of those that have contacted COVID will decrease. Local businesses are again forced to closed their doors and lose much needed income and we wonder if it will never end.
I know that as a small business myself, 2020 has been hard. I reflect back to this time last year when everyone was looking forward to a bright 2020. For me, the business was getting stronger and I was enjoying hosting workshops, classes and retreats, but also getting asked more increasingly to facilitate workshops for community and craft groups around Northern Ireland. My diary for 2020 was getting full with workshops for outside groups, some new ones and some of my regular groups. I could definitely say, 2020 was looking good and I was looking forward to planning and designing products for these community workshops. So it is hard to think that just in a flash, all my planned workshops throughout 2020 was postponed or cancelled.
Reflecting back over the past 9 months, it has been hard to stay positive all the times, especially when you need to keep positive for your children and help them understand exactly what is happening in the world. Alyssa and I coped, we learnt to talk to each other, let each other know how we are feeling and do things together. Those that know Alyssa will know that she is quiet and doesn’t talk much at all. Thinking on it as I write, I can look back on the past 9 months with such positive thoughts. It has been a period of strong bonding between the two of us. 2020 has been the year that Alyssa has opened up to me, actually hugs me, holds a conversation and we have grown together. So, that is one major positive that I am taking from 2020, forward into 2021. It has been a time to strengthen family bonds and relationships.
If someone asked me, what did you achieve in 2020 during lockdown and your business not being able to function normally? How would I respond? Truthfully, at the start of the first lockdown in March, I thought, ‘I can finally spend the time doing all my own personal unfinished and yet to be started personal projects. Did that happen? No! I started to think out of the box and thought this was a great time to clear out the log cabin, and actually sell the yarn that was just being stored up there. Our initial thought was to clear out the cabin and turn it into a personal craft retreat, somewhere that Alyssa and I could go to relax, craft and enjoy some time out. So, that is what we did, sorted through the yarn and sold it off through Facebook, which was a great success. When that was gone, I got thinking on other ideas. And I was asked about doing Learn to crochet kits and tutorials. It was a challenge and I loved doing it. I guess that was the start of the kits. We all needed something to do and we had the time to learn new crafts or continue with our favourite crafts.
Still looking back I think that was the birth of so many designs and creating kits. I started to look at past workshops I had held and how those projects could be put together as kits. It was a fun challenge and something that Alyssa and I could do together as she was off tech with no coursework, and in helping me she was able to keep some sort of order and routine in what was a strange year. Once we had kitted up existing projects, we got to thinking on new ones. Looking back on what I designed during 2020, is wonderful. There was the sewing trio set – Floral Garland, Redwork and whitework designs. I also compiled up a couple more ‘Learn to’ kits – Tunisian crochet and top-down knitting. The months of lockdown flew by and I did not get to work on any of my personal projects.
2020 presented some unknown challenges for Nifty Needles. With no workshops, classes or retreats being allowed, it meant that I was unable to fulfil the role that made Nifty Needles. I had an online website selling my PDF patterns and designs, but it really wasn’t doing anything positive for Nifty Needles. I have to be thankful for the virus and government restrictions, as I may not have achieved what I have done in 2020 if the world had not dramatically changed. Without the Saturday zoom sessions with my ‘crafting’ buddies and spending a relaxed afternoon crafting, chatting, laughing, drinking and putting the world to rights, the new online shop and website may never have been created. From those zoom sessions, came the idea and birth of an online shop and a new improved website. Months of hard work followed by everyone in the new ‘Nifty Needles technical and management team. Research, compiling a list of stock, patterns, deciding on categories and what goes where, taking photos, inputting the products onto the website and writing up descriptions for everything to get the online website that we now have. Sometimes, sharing your dreams and aspirations out loud to friends, and with support, you can achieve your dreams.
Reflecting back now, I know that this would not have been possible if we did not have COVID or restrictions. So I am thankful for 2020 and how it made this possible. It has been a strange journey this year and it has been one of personal and professional changes, reflection on what is really important and how the life and world can change in an instance. I have learnt new computer skills, the value of true friendship and family bonds, and how precious friendship and family is. I am grateful for the things I have and it does not need to be a lot, just enough to keep you safe, warm, healthy and happy with what you have.
So, with the dawn of a new year upon us, for me, it is a time to reflect on the positive things that 2020 brought us, take on board the negative things and learn from them on how we can move on from 2020 and look forward to a brighter and more positive 2021. We are moving into the new year with a lockdown and still not able to socialise, gather with friends and family but those bonds will not weaken and together, socially distanced, we can see in the new year with a positive outlook for a better future.
Hopefully it will not be too long before we can gather together for workshops and retreats so we can craft together, socialise, share laughter, skills and good food. This is what I have missed in 2020 and it is hard not to be able to organise something where we can come together. However, I am remaining positive and hope that we can do what we most like to do in the not too distant future.
Finally, I want to thank every one of you for being here with me (virtually) throughout 2020, supporting and encouraging me. Hopefully, I have helped in some way to keep you all sane in 2020 with crafting and my designs and kits. We have all been together, sharing our thoughts, our creative projects and positivity throughout 2020.