This morning, as we are in the midst of starting new routines of getting kids up and out to the begin the school year, I took a quick glance at my sourdough starter, percolating happily on the kitchen counter. It just looked so bubbly and ready that I couldn’t help myself. I cracked open a new bag of Flourist Red Spring flour and started mixing up some dough for a single loaf of sourdough. It’s 8:30 am and I’m busy stretching a pile of dough while I assume the children are finding their socks. After all these years, apparently I still have little self-control when it comes to the creative itch to make something.
You might know that this blog originally started out in 2004 as a venue for me to write about bread baking as well as knitting, sewing, food, and photography. In fact, it was right there in the tagline.
Like many home-bound people during the pandemic, my interest in bread was reignited and I’ve been learning a lot about sourdough bread baking this past summer. I was recently reading about how higher hydration doughs make for lighter and airier loaves of bread but it means the messy handling of uncomfortably wet and sticky dough at the start.
So this morning, as I repeatedly stretched and folded the wet and gummy dough, over and over, it began to take shape. It transformed from a shaggy, unruly, and unpredictable glob of flour, yeast, salt, and water and (eventually, hours later) became a smooth, shiny, and compact ball of lively and springy bread dough. I enjoy a good food metaphor (as you probably know, if you’ve been reading this blog since 2004), and I can’t think of a better metaphor about starting and growing a creative business.
Fifteen years ago today, I posted a couple of skeins of hand-dyed yarn onto Etsy and waited to see what would happen. The skeins sold out within a couple of hours and I began an intense journey of hand-dyeing and growing a brand new business. SweetGeorgia has had its share of highs and lows, moved studio spaces six times, grown to a team of more than a dozen amazing humans, and still evolving and trying to improve every day.
When I see new indie dyers launching thumb-stopping Instagram accounts, setting up shops, and starting their businesses, I am so excited for them. It’s a distinctly magical moment when the creativity and passion can no longer be contained and it bubbles over. Launching anything is an explosion of energy and I wonder if they feel what I felt when I began too. The days leading up to my “launch” day were speckled with long conversations, sleepless nights, and endless ruminating thoughts as I wrestled with the idea of starting this “sweetgeorgia” project. “What am I doing?” It’s one thing to love crafts, love knitting, and love playing with colour, but it’s a whole other thing to put it out into the world as the thing that you do. The dreamy state of creative bliss and excitement that I imagined was also studded with moments of trepidation and uncertainty. I felt like I simultaneously didn’t know enough and wasn’t ready but I couldn’t wait any longer. Again, little self-control. I wanted to know what it meant to be a professional in arts and crafts, what my work meant, and if my work had value or purpose. What was it all for?
After all these years, I think we are transformed like bread dough. From a confused tangle of primary ingredients, we have been stretched and folded, kneaded and worked over. Each time we are stretched to the breaking point we are given a moment to rest and relax, then stretched again, over and over, building strength and resilience into our very being. The strength gives us shape and form. The resilience allows us to rise and bloom. We have to go through the messy and uncomfortable phase in order to get to the smooth and shiny phase, and we are stretched and stretched, again and again.
Thank you to our community and fellow fibre friends who have supported our hand-dyed yarn journey from the very beginning. And thank you to our team of creative and steadfast individuals who have helped stretch and shape SweetGeorgia. It is with your energy and enthusiasm that we continue to work towards spreading joy through colour and craft.
We wanted so very much to celebrate with our community this year. We wanted to host a party and invite you all to see our new space, share some cake, and be together. But that kind of celebration will need to wait. Instead, I think it’s fitting this year that we have a quiet moment of reflection to celebrate our resilience as a team and as a community. If you stretch us, we will get stronger. And if you poke us, we will spring back. Here’s to 2020 and 15 years of food and fibre arts metaphors. May there be many, many more.