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  • Writer's pictureAdventures in Yarncraft

Valuing the Journey

Imagine if you could live in a house filled with the most beautiful yarn you’ve ever seen! Your eyes would be drawn to incredible colours hung stylishly from drying racks, imaginative patterns peeking out of cupboards, and unbelievably soft skeins snuggled up peacefully in little brown packages when their time has come to fly the nest. Well, as I’m married to Laura (a.k.a. Mrs Yarncraft) that’s what our house is like, and I love it! I may not be a crafter, knitter, or yarn-dyer myself, but I still appreciate the beauty, and I’m still a part of the Adventures In Yarncraft team, albeit a very small part: encourager, washer-upper, and now, blogger! I also have the unique position of getting to watch the yarn-dyeing process unfold before my eyes from start to finish. Would you like a glimpse too?

It starts with a little red tin of watercolour paints, a thin paintbrush, and a sketchbook. The new ideas in Laura’s head are tested out for the first time: colours dancing tentatively together on the white paper, gently feeling the way forward, blending and merging to form the basis of new colourways. Then, it’s downstairs to the dye studio in the garage where the creativity really flows! Lab coat on; buckets filled; hobs turned up to six; chemicals mixed. Sometimes you might see Laura sitting deep in thought with a furrowed brow, doing complicated calculations to work out the ratios and percentages of different dyes or solutions and scribbling frantically in her dye-stained notepad; other times it might be a more spontaneous creation and so there’s even more excitement sizzling in the air with the added unpredictability. And as the yarn leaves the pans to be hung up to dry, you’re still not quite sure what it will end up looking like. Will it be too dark? Was it too much ‘peacock blue’? What will it look like when it’s skeined? You’re excited to see what’s been created, but you’re still apprehensive for those final unanswered questions. (Thankfully there’s a tonne of washing up next to take your mind off it - hooray!) And finally, after an age has passed and it’s all dry, you can sit back, relax, stroke the softness, and enjoy the awesome sight before you.

As I reflected on the highs and lows of this process, even from my position as a observer, I realised that there’s a wider principle here that we all need reminding of from time to time: life isn’t just about the end product, it’s valuing the journey that takes you there. For Laura, there’s perhaps even more joy in the process of dyeing the yarn than from the finished creations. For us both as parents, it’s remembering to appreciate the small moments in our children’s journey growing up, not just focusing on who they will become. And for my commute home after a working day, it’s observing and reflecting on the interesting things I pass every day and the beauty they contain, rather than seeing the journey just as a means to an end. It’s also important to consider the impact your journey has on others, and whether, as Laura often puts it, you’re treading lightly on the earth; whether, to the best of your ability, you're being ethical and environmentally friendly in your purchasing choices.

It’s worth acknowledging too that the journey is sometimes really hard; I’m not talking specifically about yarncraft here, although of course Laura has her own mental and physical obstacles to overcome when dyeing yarn, and when you’re knitting or crocheting something yourself there will probably be moments where you make a mistake or don’t understand the pattern. When we’re journeying through tough seasons in our lives and we can’t always see the light at the end of the tunnel, we have an opportunity to learn and to grow stronger, and sometimes it’s those seasons that shape most of all the people we’re developing into. There’s value even in the bleak realities of life, then, and the end result after difficult times have ended is worth so much more knowing the obstacles that had to be overcome to get there.

Ultimately, the end product has value in and of itself, but it also has added value because of the process of how it was formed. The calculations, creativity, artistic flair, struggles, and risk-taking that have gone into the yarn-dyeing are embodied in the skein you hold in your hand. Yes it’s beautiful, yes it’s super-soft, but it’s even more than that: it’s infinitely richer because of everything that went into it.

-- James

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