craft

Reflection, Learning, Thankful, Still Crafting

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It’s almost a year since England entered it’s first Covid19 lockdown, a year since most of us really became aware of this dreadful virus, a year since our own little worlds were disturbed and life as we knew it changed. I think back to the beginning when I felt so scared, when daily news reports made me cry easily, so many people started catching Covid19, hundreds, thousands being hospitalised or sadly passed away, the number of predicted sufferers perhaps wasn’t a mistake after all. The medical staff and hospitals struggled to cope. The government seemed unprepared. So much despair. There seemed no light at the end of the tunnel. I gathered close those important to me. I nurtured friendships by phone, briefly meeting but outside only. We became kinder to one another. I washed my hands excessively, I cleaned more than usual, when anything arrived in the mail I worried it would bring unwelcome germs.

Now the threat is still there but with the vaccines offered it is in decline, not gone away, just in decline. I still watch the news. I am still shocked. I am still worried about the future but there is lot less panic. It is a matter of time to see and experience the next step. I yearn to travel further than my own doorstep.

Personally, there are various things I have learned during the last year and some of these I am so grateful for. Family I gathered close have remained close. Most friendships nurtured remain steadfast or stronger (who could ever have predicted our increased use of social media and video conferencing?). We are all much kinder to each other. I didn’t realise we took each other for granted so often. Saying ‘I love you’ is more important than ever. Saying ‘how are you?’ and listening is equally imperative. Some relationships fell apart but maybe they did so for real reasons. Perhaps they would have naturally fallen away by now. I hope those people found solace and companionship elsewhere.

I used escapism as a way of coping. I read a lot more. I watched an awful lot of mindless tv (and lots of not so mindless too). For some time I crafted a lot more. I started projects, I planned more projects and I finished more projects. I am still reading, tv-watching and crafting although the urge to craft and the ability to finish is diminishing. If anything gets a little awry then it is put to one side to tackle another time. I am not beating myself up if something doesn’t quite go to plan on the craft table. I do not worry that there might not be time to ever finish it. I hadn’t clocked that perhaps I was worried I’d run out of time.

For example, this green sparkly top started in January doesn’t seem so urgent right now. It sits here with a lifeline stitched through each arm ready to be cut and the cuffs reknit. A new pile of yarn calls to me, a new project to plan, something easy to start not something difficult to work out. However, I did finish this hot water bottle cover. During one very cold night recently my existing hot water bottle split, soaked my feet and the bed (luckily the water was tepid by then). I had to replace it and gave the new bottle a new cover with some leftover fleece fabric. Since then it’s not actually been cold enough to need a hot water bottle at night!

Ending this post with a cow hottie bottle. I named her Daisy and she makes me smile!

Not much show and tell ’til after Christmas

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It’s not that I haven’t been making. It’s just if I ‘show’ this time of year then someone may see something here before they are gifted it. Thus my absence from blogging for a while. I have had a busy season present making and fiddling about with existing craft materials. I have loved most of it and have often been happy filling long, sometimes tedious, days trying to stay safe. It hasn’t been plain sailing every day of the pandemic, ups and downs, but crafting is something that keeps me sane(ish, some might say) and encouragement and enthusiasm from my crafty friends and family has been fantastic, albeit at a distance. There has been a lot of Zooming – thank goodness for the internet and thank you to those who haven’t already been thanked.

So a snippet of what’s been going on chez moi. The box at the top of this page was a little decoupage project using some beautiful handmade papers in my stash. I used to enjoy papercraft but I hadn’t dived in for a while. No plan, it just evolved, very therapeutic tearing up paper and sticking it randomly on something – including my fingers. Hubby remarked it looked kind of Christmassy so it has been on the dresser in the dining room ever since. The candy cane was an origami project. It wasn’t difficult but the paper was too stiff really – my plan to make several finished after making one!

Then there’s been a fair amount of cooking and baking (and eating and overeating). I don’t post food pics often but I was rather proud of last weekend’s yorkshire puddings – these were leftovers – in our house they go quickly.

Of course there has been knitting – there’s always something on my sticks. A dear friend had sent me a lovely bundle of yarn a while ago which I recently turned into a poncho. These are not flattering pictures of me, but you can see the yarn and it is lovely and warm. Funny enough it started as a poncho for a four year old and as it grew I realised she’d have to grow an awful lot to fit it. I liked the yarn so much I wanted to keep it so knitted it longer and added a rolled neck to fit me! Lucky little four year old will get her own poncho in little girl colours next year. She is already getting a different hand knit this Christmas.

One of my resolutions for this year was to use up more of my yarn and crafting stash. Here’s the start of a new little knit project. It will be a cowl. I’ve made this one before in a plain beige years ago – never wear beige now – so it’s a dinky pink and purple this time. Hopefully to be finished over Christmas/New Year and I can ‘show it off’ in a January blog post.

Last but not least I am sharing a lovely handmade Christmas card from my talented sister in law. The fabric is stitched into the aperture. I sometimes think the more simple the project the more effective it is. She is a clever woman.

So for now, all that’s left to say is to wish others A VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS. I sincerely hope you can all celebrate, be with loved ones in person or via a phone call or video link. This year will be very different to others for many. Stay safe. Be kind to one another.

Fruitless or Fruitful?

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Readers of my most recent post may have wondered if my last few weeks have been fruitless, craftwise. I am happy to say not completely. There has been a large smattering of thinking about doing stuff. There have been some unsuccessful moments. There hasn’t been much completion but however, there has been some tinkering.

I first mentioned this quilting project in summer 2018. Since then it has hardly been touched, till last week. So a little accurate cutting out, a little dismay at previous patches, some stitching together, a day or so with a dining room floor covered with design plans. I am a little further along. It has grown. It has far to go. However, there IS progress. When it ‘grows up’ it will be a quilt for a single sized bed.

There has also been a little knitting, a Christmas gift, a shawl for MIL. I actually enjoyed making this, and it is finished, the threads have been tidied up. An aran weight cotton mix yarn with sequins. Sadly, the photo doesn’t show it off as well as in reality.

There is also WIPs on other knitting pins to be shown another time. I hope others are out their crafting too.

Walking and crafting in blue

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Out walking in a local country park last week was a very pretty experience. I was surrounded by swathes of chicory. I’ve never seen it before and it was a different vista to the one other time I’d been to the park only two weeks before when there were only pretty green fields and trees.

Then back at home I finished knitting another baby knit, coincidentally in blue. Although this was very sweet to knit, I’d procrastinated over the sewing up (not my favourite part of making garments). Luckily I persevered though as the family baby arrived on Saturday, a month early! This little boy could be in blue for a while. I’d already made a preemie size waistcoat for him (in case he came before time) and then this was a 0-3 month size knit. For once, gambling on making a preemie garment worked out. In the past I’ve made preemie size items and then babies have been born already too big for them, but the right size for newborns.

I have been taking advantage of some great summer yarn sales and now have a new pile of projects to add to the pile I had in progress! I keep telling myself crafting is therapeutic . I’ll be in ‘therapy’ a long time then. Back again soon …

Whilst waiting for the world to end, another yarn

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At the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic it helped to be actually doing something rather than just waiting for the world to expire. The immediate shut down of the country and the curtailment of life as we knew it was a shock and amidst feeling scared and nervous creating things became urgent and necessary. I churned out one craft project after another. I finished knits, made new ones, crocheted, cut and stitched fabrics, made presents and created things to use myself right then. I indulged in my love of making things but it was also a lot about tidying up in the home, validating items, it even crossed my mind about what loved ones might have to sort out if I didn’t make it through Covid 19. I wanted to enjoy what I had whilst I was able to. I wanted others not to have to sort through half done projects and wonder what on earth I had ever planned with the bags and boxes of (in their eyes) ‘stuff’. I am not sure I even voiced this, except to myself. Days merged into one another.

As the weeks have gone by my craft progress has declined. Not gone away totally, just slowed. Making things seems less pressing. I was talking (online) to some crafting friends and most of us agreed we are all in less of a crafting frenzy. For some, trying to get back to anything resembling ‘normality’ is now more urgent. We have mostly settled into some kind of rhythm. We are all still creating – even if something is in a planning stage rather than physical. In my own house I look around the areas where I usually craft and there again are the carefree signs, half used balls of yarn, snippets of fabric, piles of things not being used and not put back in any order (yet).

One little project just finished. A baby blanket for perhaps a crib or travel seat. This became my knit to hand when I watched tv. I am still working on last week’s crochet top which is being redesigned as it progresses. More next time about that.

Please know, I am not undermining the care we all have to continue with in our daily lives, be it in the home or outside, be it no change at all for now. Stay safe.

Yarn and Fabric Stash Shrinking

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I am still using goodies I have at home to make useful (and not so useful but fun) things whilst in lockdown.

I was making a knitted mermaid for a little girl in my extended family but it beat me! The original tail and the reknit of the tail were a disaster. I now have something resembling the beginnings of a 1960’s toilet roll cover (think of a dolly with a skirt, this could be the ‘dolly’ as you don’t need to see legs or tail!).

With the little girl’s birthday now looming, emergency hooking took place. I knocked up a retro crochet cushion in 2 days. Then I made a round fabric cushion pad, crocheted some flowers, appliqued the first letter of her name on a bag and ‘hey presto’ – a pretty gift without leaving the house. Though now I do have to leave the house to go and post it!

The front in more detail
And here’s the back

This week I’ve also made several face masks. Mine are the pretty ones, the men in my house requested ‘plain’. Should we all be called to wear them whilst out in public we are prepared.

My last blog post mentioned a baby hoodie on the knitting needles. I am three quarters the way along. I shall return to that tonight once I’ve had a break.

So I’ll be off for now. Things to do. More stash to attack after a P O trip and a sit in the sunshine. Byee!

Today should have been a different day

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I should have been having surgery today. It was postponed in this current crisis. I totally understand why it’s not going ahead. I am glad not to have to risk being in a hospital perhaps rife with coronavirus and staff over stretched. I am glad not to have to face recovery without visitors coming in to cheer me up. I am glad I don’t have some life threatening condition that has to be ignored.

However, I am also a little sad. I am sad that this week isn’t happening the way I’d planned. I am sad that the recuperation at home with my husband to hand isn’t going to happen, although my husband is actually at home and working. I am sad that the mid term future might mean a holiday cancelled, surgery rebooked, help at hand different than expected. I am sad that my life will not change for several months, my condition won’t be fixed for a while.

I needed to say all this but I am fine. As the day progresses I shall craft a little, spend time with family, thank my lucky stars we are all safe. These few weeks have made me value some things a lot more.

It is perfectly acceptable to admit if you aren’t happy about everything. I am a woman, with many female friends, locked down in a house with a husband and grown up son. I know I, and friends too, use each other for sounding boards, to as I like to say ‘put the world to rights’. We are all in acceptance of what is going on right now and look forward to life after Corona and what it brings us, even if life is a little different from before.

So hopefully over the next few days they’ll be more posts with photos of knits and sewing projects, just maybe not today. Today there’s just a selection of needles ready to be donated to a second hand shop. One tiny part of my sorting out my craft stash!

Are you more proactive whilst we wait this out? Is being creative part of that?

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None of us could have imagined being told, as a nation, to stay home, to stay put, to remain at a social distance, to not see our friends and families. If you think back to January, the promises of a new year, can you remember what you hoped 2020 would bring? For me it certainly wasn’t curtailment. I live with family so I have company. Some of my friends and relatives live alone and they are already feeling low without company, despite social media, despite the telephone calls, despite interaction from a distance.

Today some members of my weekly craft group took part in an online video meeting. It perked many of us up and the opportunity to say hello and to do ‘show and tell’ of latest makes made it feel a little like a ‘normal’ Thursday morning get-together over coffee.

I recently read an article from someone who’d been in lockdown elsewhere for a few weeks. He explained how for the first 2 weeks the situation was choppy to deal with, he couldn’t really settle at much, watched way too many news reports, worried an awful lot. Then he said week 3 kicked in and he began to enjoy being slowed down, became more proactive and productive, albeit inside his home, he even thought positively about days and weeks ahead.

I think in a way, I am entering my ‘week 3 zone’, if I include the week before lockdown in the UK when I was at home supporting my husband getting over an operation. I really thought I’d relax more, sit around sewing or knitting whilst he slept or rested. However, I couldn’t settle to much and crafting took a bit of a back bench, just a few knit rows here and there.

So my ‘week 3’ – there’s progress on the mermaid and the blanket. I am jumping between projects because I need good daylight for the mermaid and have to count more, whereas the blanket needs less concentration and has become my go-to for tv time.

133 rows so far and still not looking like a mermaid yet!
On the home stretch, soon to be cast off and bordered.

I have even sewn a very little – part of an ongoing hexi patchwork project – a very little, mind you! Sometimes I wish the sofa throw I am working on had remained just a cushion project…

So there’s my show and tell. Where’s yours?

Growing stripes and Creative Loops

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January 13th and here’s the back of the new project

I’ve been catching up on tv missed over the Christmas season and getting on with the newest knitting project at the same time. I’ve done more than the back but when I decided to snap a photo this was the best I got in the mid afternoon light. I love there won’t be any sleeve seams to sew up (imagine a tshirt shape) but it’s a cardi so there are two fronts, they’ve each a cable, and then there’s the front edge to pick up and rib so it’s not all so simple.

January seems to be a time to catch up with things and to start anew. I belong to a lovely weekly craft group called In the Loop. Towards the end of last year we talked about a joint project, calling it ‘2020 Vision’. We thought about what that actually meant to each of us and the plan was to each create something for a communal display – few rules, mostly about colours and size but no media rules so your entry could be anything you like with anything that meant something to you – be it perfect vision, plans for the new year, seeing what others see and so on. Many of us knit, crochet or sew, others paint, draw, bead and/or enjoy a combination of all and try new crafts. Hopefully you can see quilting, rug making, painting, felting, dorset buttons, a crochet mandala and glass fusion here. My own part didn’t come to fruition and the communal display is already up in our local Southborough Library. I just wanted to share what friends had made and say how proud I am of them (and not of me!).

It was so difficult to get good photos, the display is in a window glass box, just about big enough for someone to get in and pin things up and from outside it was impossible to take photos without getting my own reflection or that of the buildings opposite!

I hope you like my groups talents.

I look forward whilst I glance back

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The start of a new project, with an unimpressed helper! Using DROPS yarn.

Returning from a New Year break in rural France I feel fired up to get on with new projects, tidy up old ones and reflect back on the successes and failures, craftwise, of 2019. A few days in the countryside with added trips to the coast has fed my imagination!

I am still on a journey to use up my stash of wool. I cast on my latest project 24th December, just after I’d finished my final Christmas gifts. Using Nepal and Alaska by DROPS Design and who doesn’t love a stripe or two?!

I was quite prolific last year, although there were gaps in creativity and not everything was a triumph. Luckily I blogged quite bit so there are truths to be told here and I realise some things didn’t even make it the page. I also learned a few things, one of which was a new crochet stitch. I have now made four things with hooks rather than knitting sticks, adding a different dimension to my crafting bow.

A mini summary of 2019 makes is:

Helping a friend with a baby knit project, knitting hats for the homeless, four baby/toddler cardigans, one set of booties, one scarf, one dreadful lacy top, handsewing a big handful of patchwork hexagons, machine sewing other patchwork (part of a throw and three elephants), bunting and Christmas decorations, two hats for a 3 year old, a baby tunic dress in clashing colours, and two crochet blankets (one a gift for MIL, brownie points here!) , and adding a big applique ‘M’ to a little girls’ book bag.

So onwards into 2020 what plans are afoot for all? Crafting – I intend to learn at least one new thing, not sure what it is yet!

A patchwork pig made for a table sale in 2019