What the Heck is going on with Oxford Kitchen Yarns? (part 1)

What do you do?

I get asked this pretty regularly, and I find I’m still answering the same way I did two or three years ago – “I naturally dye yarn, and I build and manage websites.”

I have to say this answer doesn’t feel totally true, or genuine these day, even with the ‘oh and I’m a mother’ tacked on the end. Or rather because ‘oh and I’m a mother’ is tacked on the end, when – in reality – mothering is what I spend the vast amount of my time doing.

At a time when most of my other parent friends have long gone back to work, I’m still here, living a day to day life with FB beside me, and managing websites during naptime, as well as working towards us moving house (soon *fingers crossed*) so that I can start dyeing again.

Aside from a very hands on husband, I’ve don’t have any other external support, so if one of us is sick, or (like last night) up half the night with a little boy who is too awake and probably teething, then some of my plans have to shift a bit. Which means if I don’t want to be chronically short on time, a have to limit how many plans are made in the first place.

I don’t know when I started feeling like explaining my life was some how wrong… except that staying at home to look after your children seems pretty alien to most people.

Or maybe I just assume that they’ll find it strange. And suddenly feel the need to justify myself – ‘well I do work too – I’m self employed! We don’t have lots of money but we get by and live without a car, etc etc’ (See how I’m sneakily justifying myself to you there? Clever huh?)

Oxford Kitchen Yarns is still really important to me, and I’m still really committed to it. But I’ve also made my peace with the idea that I can’t do shows right now, and that it’s going to stay a tiny little company while other bits of my life settle themselves down.

And that right now, the truth is that I’m a mother. Who also dyes yarn and builds websites (sometimes.)

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6 thoughts on “What the Heck is going on with Oxford Kitchen Yarns? (part 1)

  1. You can’t give your children anything more valuable than your time.

    I was able to stay at home to look after all my four children and even back then more and more young mums were going back to work when their children were still babies so that I was often made to feel on the defensive. But I still feel really priveliged to have been able to spend that time with them. And you never stop being a mother.

    • You can’t give your children anything more valuable than your time.

      I really love that. I think I need to write it somewhere obvious so that I see it alot. πŸ™‚

      I do feel priveliged in all sorts of way, getting to spend so much time with FB. I get to see him grow and learn and experience life, and it’s really, really wonderful (even when it’s exhausting, and hard, and confusing, and overwhelming.)

      Thank you. I really needed those words. x

  2. That is motherhood all over, having to re-define yourself and realise that for this moment in time, mothering is what you do – I don’t have the excuse of managing websites or naturally dying yarn! I always find that I keep my expectations low and allow time for whatever crops up – but it does mean that when asked what I’ve done today I find it difficult to answer!

    • Well I guess the point is that the websites and the yarn are currently a TINY proportion of the things that I do. Where as mothering is probably bigger than anything else.

      Low expectations – especially for myself (in a good way!) is definately the key for me. Being able to let things go, which I find means not having many commitments. Mind you, at least when you make commitments with other mothers in a similar position, and least they understand if you have to bail/be late etc because something has come up at home.

      There is a great book called what mothers do especially when it looks like nothing which is basically about the blank stare you give when someone asks what you’ve done today. It’s very comforting.

      (THANK YOU for you comment btw! x)

  3. hi katie, i don’t think i’ve commented here before, but i’ve been reading your blog for a while since i spotted some of your yarn in a friend’s project on ravelry.
    i have stayed at home with my son too. it’s a choice i would make again and again as i feel so privileged to watch him grow and develop. we too have compromised on all sorts to make it financially viable and i too do some part time self employment work related to my ‘old job’. i think i’m realising that life is always changing and there’s never a moment of ‘getting there’ where everything is sorted out and perfect balance is achieved. i’m learning to be happy in the muddling through of everyday life. i find it hard to be mother, wife, person who works, creative person and find time for myself, but all those pieces are always there. they just have to take turns at being on show sometimes i think!
    i also think your customers will always be there. if people like what you do, they’ll always be happy to come back when you’re ready.
    many congratulations about your pregnancy! i hope the tiredness is passing and i send all best wishes for the house move; we’re just at the start of a similar process… i have excitement and dread in equal measure πŸ˜‰
    take care
    anna
    p.s. will you be using anna maria horner fabrics? and if so where will you buy them from? i’m so keen to have some to work with i’m actually contemplating ordering from the US as i can’t find a good selection here.

  4. Hi Anna,

    I’m sorry it’s taken me a few days (weeks?) to reply – especially to such a thoughtful and kind message – BUT given I have some new, good UK links the anna maria horner fabric hopefully it was worth the wait. πŸ™‚

    I think that accepting the muddling through is a big part of things – sometime I can get a lot more done than I was expecting, and other times I have to accept that it’s a wash out. I guess it’s an exercise in patience as much as anything.

    Thank you for what you said about my customers waiting for me – it’s scary, but the truth is that I have to believe that, since I can’t really dedicate huge chunks of time to OKY and be the parent i want to be. (It’s the reason I don’t read business books – they would just look at what i’m trying to do, and say ‘well it’s not possible’…)

    moving house really *is* one of the most stressful things you can do. Be very kind to yourself (and both of 4you as a couple), and block out all the ‘blah blah blah’ you are likely from people around you. mind you it’s going to be great when you move – that’s what i keep telling myself.

    I’ve never used Anna Maria Horner fabrics before, but I’m hoping to get some soon. The best selection I’ve found is through http://www.eternalmaker.com/ – who i have bought things from at the festival of quilts over the last few years. They are very lovely people (and they run The Button Company too.) Unfortunately the website is a bit of a pain to slog through but here are the good links to her fabric http://www.eternalmaker.com/index.php?cPath=63_68_228&sort=2a&page=7 and http://www.eternalmaker.com/index.php?cPath=63_68_228&sort=2a&page=8.

    Backstitch have some of her fabric too (though i’ve not bought anything from them yet) http://www.backstitch.co.uk/index.asp?role=product1&c1=Anna%20Maria%20Horner&type=all

    As for ordering from the US – http://www.fabricworm.com/ (also on etsy as Fabricworm) are very good, and very prompt. As long as the actual fabric order doesn’t go over Β£20 (i think – though you’d need to check) then you shouldn’t have to pay duty on it. Sometimes I do group orders with other local crafty friends/my sister so that we can split the post office admin cost, which is Β£8-9 now, and the duty. It’s the only cost effective way of putting in bigger orders to be honest.

    anyway i hope that helps. πŸ™‚

    katie x

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