Bilingual crochet

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**Written 2 days ago but I forgot to hit ‘publish’. *facepalm* I have now finished all 10 of the pink hexagons! Yay!**

Oops. Didn’t realise how long it was since I wrote. Kept meaning too but the days have all sort of blurred together.

The second hexagon in my Quarantine project blanket has been something of an adventure. Adventure? Maybe circus would be better. The sort of circus where the monkeys are loose, the elephant is juggling the clowns and the ring master is drunk in a corner muttering about wanting to be an accountant. Nobody gets hurt, we’re all very confused and it is implicitly agreed that we will all pretend it didn’t happen.

I finished the 10 required red hexagons from the last post in 3 days, gave myself a couple of days break and started on the next one – ‘Chrysanthemum’ in pink. Finished one but it was all wavy which means that the ratio between stitch height and stitch width is too big for the shape you are trying to create (too many stitches for the space you’re filling). Checked the pattern and tried again the next day (count with me – attempt #2). Same result.

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Attempts 1 & 2 looked like this… Pretty but not quite right.

I got distracted by World of Warcraft, Easter, and trying to get my 3D printer to behave, before coming back to the yarn today. I checked a couple of websites and decided to try again with a larger hook in the middle where everything was lying flat before changing back to the original hook size (#3). Better but still wavy.

Then I realised that while I had recognised the pattern used American terms, I had been using the wrong stitch after all! So. The pattern wanted ‘dc’ – double crochet in the US is called a ‘treble’ in the UK. But I was doing neither. For some reason I was doing a half double crochet/half treble stitch (which is shorter and thus causing the wavy problem!) Sorted.

Ripped back one of the earlier efforts and made it properly with my 3.5mm hook. It laid flat and looked lovely…. and was too big compared to the red hexagons I’d already made (attempt #4).

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Yay for straight edges! Boo for the wrong size! Attempt #4.

So I ripped it back again and made it with a 3mm…. and only 5 sides (attempt #5). *sigh*

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Spot the error… attempt #5 (somewhat ironically)

Ripped back, started again, triple counted the first round to make sure I had the right number of corners – Success!!!

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The sixth times the charm. That’s how that saying goes, isn’t it? ūüėČ

Six. I tried 6 times before I got this embarrassingly straightforward pattern right. Not entirely sure what message to take from all of this because there are several to be had but I think the first thing to address is how flighty my thoughts still are. I’m not feeling particularly negative about being stuck indoors at home all the time, or sleeping any differently to normal (though that’s not particularly great anyway) – it’s not that different to how things are without the lockdown. I think I’m eating better. I’m interacting with real persons – albeit virtually but given the circumstances, it counts. I don’t know what’s going on but it’s all a bit odd at the moment, isn’t it?

New (Quarantine) Project

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Dahlia Cactus hexagon in Scheepjes 'Spirit', colour way 311 - Butterfly. The first of 10.

Dahlia Cactus hexagon in Scheepjes ‘Spirit’, colour way 311 – Butterfly. 1 of 10.

No, I’m not actually sick and a lockdown is not the same as a quarantine but as the first 2 weeks of the lockdown came to an end I was starting to feel a little frustrated. I don’t go out much anyway but I’ve never done well with being told I can’t do something. Plus, my dogs are loud and sometimes I just want to get drive-thru to get out of the house. Can’t do that when everything is closed. (I have absolutely no issues with the lockdown itself. Public safety and well-being is so important and COVID-19 is largely avoidable. Though the response was a little later than it could have been in some ways, I think the UK government has and continues to do a good job. Also, with high blood pressure, I am in a higher risk group so, yeah. I’m staying in, thanks.)

Anyway, 2 weeks in and I was starting to feel the effects of cabin fever so I went to the Deramores website to look at all the pretty yarn. I wasn’t actually sure they were still trading but was also looking at yarns for a shawl for my mother (more about that in a later post). Whether they were still selling or not, it’s eye-candy and it pleases me. But they are still selling (though their usual 2-3 day delivery is slowed to 7-10 days), which means yarn was bought. The yarn pack I bought was for a ‘Tiny Garden‘ blanket (designed by Rachele Carmona – find it on Ravelry) made using crochet hexagons in Scheepjes ‘Spirit’ yarn (cotton/acrylic so no allergic reactions for me!)

Scheepjes yarn is quickly becoming a new favourite of mine. I’ve used several of their yarns now and they are always lovely. I am finding the slight halo on this particular yarn a bit frustrating though because as I pull yarn to work with from the centre, it catches against itself and the fluffy bits sort of felt together. They pull apart fairly easily but it’s a bit of a nuisance. As I use the yarn, this seems to be less of an issue. I guess that with the lower density in the middle of the ball there is less friction on the strands.

I’m calling this a Quarantine Project instead of a Lockdown Project because I’m going to attempt to finish it in forty days. 82 full hexagons, 12 half-hexagons, 16 small triangles and fitting it all together. The biggest distraction I face is World of Warcraft but given that the hexagons take about 30-60 minutes to complete (depending on stitch complexity and my general attention span), getting a few done every day won’t be a strain.

(I’ve read through this twice now and I *think* it’s coherent. The fact that I’m not entirely sure of that shows just how short my attention span is and how poorly my brain is doing with being forced to stay home. Please let me know if it’s nonsensical so I can fix it :))

NB: I am not affiliated with the pattern designers, yarn company or Deramores. I earn no money or payment of any kind for this post.

Like a circle in a spiral…

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“90% of the public I think now understands depression. But anxiety disorders are never just cottoned on to. Anxiety still has the hangover of ‘pull yourself together’.” – Gary McDonald

I don’t know that they understand depression so much as an acceptance that it is more than just feeling a bit sad all the time. I certainly wouldn’t wish the gaping maw of smothering emptiness on anyone. It’s not just sadness. It’s melancholy deep into your bones like coming in from the cold and feeling like you’ll never bee warm again. It’s hopelessness. It’s a lack of joy or interest in your most favourite things in the world. It’s not caring that your hair is plastered to your head with natural oils, or that you stink from not washing yourself or your clothes in weeks. It’s looking at the dishes in the sink and thinking that eating is too much effort anyway.
You’ve got a good life – happy marriage and family, your own home, a good income, cuddly pets, plenty of food – so you’re left wondering ‘why do I feel like this?’

Trust me, it is far more frustrating for the person with depression than it is to know someone with it. You might look at them and think ‘you’re *still* sad? Why?!’. But they’re thinking the same thing with the added bonus of blaming themselves and knowing they’re making everyone else sad/worried/angry/annoyed and that some people will just walk away from them because they’ve had enough (‘why can’t you just cheer up?!’) and just get over it all ready.

Cause no one with depression has ever thought of that before. We enjoy wallowing in a pit of despair.

That last paragraph was sarcasm by the way. Of course we’ve thought of it. No one with depression wants to feel that way. Well, maybe some do but I’ve never met anyone who enjoys staring unfocused at the wall for hours. I most certainly don’t.

But the general population is starting to understand this. We don’t want it. We aren’t just ‘sad’. We can’t just ‘get over it’.

Anxiety is the real bitch. It’s random. It’s pointless. It’s sudden but sometimes it creeps and you don’t know you’re feeling it until it’s too late to do anything but wait it out.

It’s like that buzz you get before performing on stage but it’s the bad sort of buzz – when you’re going out there unexpectedly and unprepared, and you’re pretty sure they aren’t going to ask you to do something you’re good at, like singing, and you know there will be unkind laughter and taunting from the audience and you‘re blindfolded so you don’t know what you’re wearing but it’s uncomfortable and noisy so you’re pretty sure it’s unflattering and cringeworthy and meant to make you look ridiculous.

The worst part though is that what you are actually doing is sitting on the sofa at home eating breakfast and watching silly cartoons with your kids on a beautiful, sunny day with nothing in your schedule but to enjoy it, so you’re left wondering what’s triggered these feelings and when you can’t think of anything from today, yesterday or tomorrow, you begin to wonder what the hell is wrong with you and then you start feeling anxious with a side order of mild panic because you can’t work out how it started or how to stop it, and maybe a bit sick because your gut is starting to respond to all of this so you can’t eat anymore but you still have to think about your family and looking after¬†them and it all just winds tighter and tighter no matter how many breathing exercises or meditation techniques you try.

And still you spiral more tightly but now you’re getting angry with yourself on top of the anxiety and fear and helplessness because this is ridiculous! You’re an intelligent being, capable of logic and reasoning but this defies all of that and that leaves you clenching your teeth in irritation. And you’re starting to get a tension headache and your jaw is aching along with your tightened gut which is now starting to hurt because you’re taxing the muscles and you’ve put your breakfast aside but now just seeing the bowl is making you feel ill.

And¬†the worry sets in – what are my kids seeing? How are they experiencing this? Am I hurting them in someway? What about my husband? My family? My friends? My pets? So many people you’re dragging along with you and you don’t want this for them because you like them, you love them and you want them to be happy and comfortable and you want to be a positive influence in their lives…

And on and on and on until you can’t tell up from down any more and your vision is starting to tunnel into nothing but you aren’t hyperventilating and it’s all trapped in your head, trapping you in your head and you *still* don’t know why it’s happening and that’s the thing that gets you more than anything else.

How do you stop the cycle¬†when you can’t identify the beginning?

“Like a circle in a spiral, like a wheel within a wheel
Never ending or beginning on an ever spinning reel
As the images unwind, like the circles that you find in
The windmills of your mind!”

Songwriters: BERGMAN, MARILYN / LEGRAND, MICHEL / BERGMAN, ALAN
The Windmills Of Your Mind lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

Switching gears….

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My focus lately has been more on colouring than wool but with winter here, my feet are cold! I made house socks.

housesocks1

I based them on a pattern by DROPS (with edits on the ankle and toes) and will likely make more edits on the next pair. I might even change the cable pattern. The yarn is Magic+ by Bergere de France – 50% wool, 50% acrylic, aran weight and very warm. I think I would also like them to be a little longer. The warmer my feet are the colder my ankles and lower legs get. The human body is weird. Or, at least, mine is.

This doesn’t mean I haven’t been colouring.

My husband spoils me. I can’t remember if I asked for a surprise or for something specific from CassArt but he came home with a set of Chameleon markers. I have been wanting a set of these markers since I first saw them and had them on my Christmas list so I was delighted to get them.

The Chameleon Color Tone markers are an alcohol-based, twin-tip marker with a bullet nib at one end and a brush nib at the other. Each of the 20 colours comes with a mixing chamber that feeds a colourless toner into the coloured nib so that you can use one pen to colour from the palest hint of colour to the original colour of the marker. The longer you have the nib in contact with the mixing chamber, the larger the area you can shade in.

writhing chameleon
Today I finally did a full design test page. I missed out using a couple of the palest colours in the set of 20 and didn’t use the black but I like how it’s all come together. Well, I say ‘come together’. I wasn’t as careful with colour placement as I would usually be because it is just a practice piece.

The markers take a little getting used to because markers don’t normally change colours like these do. They’re fun though and the colours are good.

 

The Trouble With Scribbles

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I’ve been very busily not colouring lately because I’ve been very busily drawing. I’m still tweaking most of these but this is what I’ve ‘finished’ so far –

book beginnings

I’m trying to decide if I should continue and perhaps self-publish an eBook. I’ll need at least 20 for that I think so I’m doing well in that regard.

The first one I finished was the paisley one on the top row, second from the right and you can print your own copy to colour. Please share photos if you do.

They are all hand drawn and without any computer editting and the last time I had any tuition in drawing was back in high school so I’m feeling pretty pleased with my efforts so far.

Conversations with my husband….. (#1)

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wax dinosaur

Me – Russell, why is there a wax dinosaur on our (bedroom) light switch?
Russell – ‘Cause I couldn’t leave it on the ladder.
Me – Why was it on the ladder?
Russell – ‘Cause I couldn’t leave it on the floor.
Me – Why was it on the floor?
Russell – I don’t think it was. Ever. Cause I wouldn’t do that.
Me –¬†…..

Russell is my 40 year old husband, not my 13 year old son. You are forgiven for being confused.

A couple of weeks ago, he (my husband) was tinkering with one of his many skateboards. In amongst his equipment for said tinkering are several sticks of wax. I don’t know why he had them and I don’t know what prompted the bout of creativity but he made several figures with the wax, including an Asian style dragon and the above mentioned wax dinosaur.

The Great Cataloguing Adventure 2015 ‚Äď Colouring Pencils Edition

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In case my absence hasn’t made it obvious, I’m struggling at the moment. My head is not a happy place right now and my son has just gone back to his grandmothers after the summer holidays. I miss him. It’s lonely here after 6 weeks with his constant company.

My husband took him on the coash (no car!) yesterday so I decided to finally sort out a final, expandable version of the Big Book Of Colour (BBoC) for my pencils. This is the third version because I keep adding to the collection and the book isn’t big enough to hold everything anymore. Also, I want to record the colours in their brand groups as well as in their colour groups.

There are many swatch books/colour charts available online but they all either have space for colouring but not for colour names or are for ‘grown-up’ pencils and I don’t have any of those so I had to make my own. I used an Open Office document to create a simple table with squares for colour and space for colour names and numbers beneath. As I’ve said before, I flit between crafts which means I have a lot of things that can be repurposed and this time was no different. I knew I had an A5 folder on a shelf and was preparing to cut some printer paper down to size when I found some A5 sized card and A5 plastic sleeves, which was perfect because pens won’t bleed through card and watercolours won’t warp it either.

Print your own blank pencil swatch chart РA5. Check that your printer is set for A5 sized paper (half an A4 page) and that your borders are at 1.50cm for top, left and right and at 1.3cm for the bottom. You can also print this 2 to a page.

It took me about a day to finish but with a total of 492 colours (336 coloured pencils, 83 watercolour pencils and 73 markers & pens), it was a big job (set up the printer, print 50 double sided pages, sort pencils that aren’t already sorted, label and colour as appropriate).

Faber-CastellWant to see more?

This is the third version of the BBoC I have made but because this one is expandable and easily added to, I am unlikely to need to make another version.

I have pages for each of the brands/lines that I have and will be making a section for the coloured pencils that shows the colour groups. When I have more watercolours and more pens/markers, I will do sections for them too.

I’m also going to make laminated, oversized pages as dividers but I want to make them pretty so they won’t be done quickly.

And of course, I hadn’t finished this post before my husband got home so I get to tell you how awesome he is – he brought home a set of 12 Inktense watercolours and 24 Polychromos. So very very delighted! I have a few Inktense already but there are only 2 repeats so I now have 16 individual colours. And Polychromos… sooooo beautiful! They are my first set of proper ‘grown-up’ colouring pencils and they are even more gorgeous to use than I thought they would be.

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There is a lot of hype about Prismacolours and Polychromos, and there are many of each but they are also prohibitively expensive. And you know what? I love my Crayola pencils so as much as I wanted to try the fancy pencils (and they are fancy) I was ok to wait for them. But now I don’t have to!

I am very very spoiled. My husband will say I am very very loved. He’s awesome and I love him regardless of the fancy pencils.

Today is my birthday (Well, Sunday was)…

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Since I last wrote, I have been tweaking the Lilia design so all that typing made me think I’d already blogged this week. Obviously, I hadn’t. Oops.

But I finished version 2 of Lilia today and thought I’d share.

Veronica-Lilia2 - collageI’ve named this particular doll Veronica. No particular reason, she just looks like a Veronica.

I made a couple of minor shaping changes and added ears with this version. I doubt anyone else will notice the changes (except for the ears) and that’s good. I’ll make another doll to check that I’ve recorded everything that is needed in the pattern and that my maths works.

Bad maths in patterns is a pet peeve so I make an extra effort to be sure it’s right, no matter how simple the pattern. Having worked with a friend on a knitting project recently, I realised that not everyone even bothers with the numbers. I don’t get that. I don’t want to rip back so I count to make sure I have the right number of stitches as per the instructions. I am grateful that I have enough experience with patterns to be able to make corrections when things don’t add up.

It’s been a peculiar week, emotionally. Sunday was my birthday and for the first time I can remember, I spent most of the day asleep. I love my birthday – it’s the one day in the year I can justify insisting everyone pay flattering attention to me. Husband and Son were here and there was yummy breakfast and a roast for dinner and presents (one of which was delayed and only arrived today).

I got a Derwent Carry-All and a pair of extra leaves taking the potential capacity from 132 pencils to 220. Because some of my pencils are extra thick I have fewer than that but all my favourites are in there.

derwentcarryall3Well, they were until my delayed present arrived today.

I lovelovelove Crayola pencils. The colours are vibrant, the coverage is good, they sharpen well, the ‘lead’ can take a lot of abuse before shattering in the pencil, and they aren’t expensive. I already have a set of 36 but several of the colours are¬†more¬†rapidly shrinking than the others (red, green, pine green and black in particular). So today Hubby brings home a set of 50 new Crayola pencils!!! Sooooooo happy!!

crayola50

Of course, now I have to reshuffle the pencils in my case. It’s such a chore to play with¬†organise my colouring pencils.

So, emotionally peculiar week. 6 years ago, our dogs produced a litter of puppies. All but one of them went to friends and family. Late last week I was told that one of them had been taken to a shelter because his family couldn’t keep him anymore. Then on Monday I was told that he had been put down because it had been decided that they wouldn’t be able to rehome him. He was only 6 and there was nothing wrong with him and I’m struggling with irrational guilt. He was one of my fur-babies.

My human son is 13 nearly 14 now. It’s starting to show. I don’t do shouting but trying to get him to wash or eat or go out… well, I’d rather have teeth pulled. It’s emotionally taxing. He’s awesome and the worst I can say about him is that he’s stubborn. It’d be nice if he could be stubborn about things I don’t ask him to do though ūüėČ

It may not seem like much but it’s been an unpleasant rollercoaster. For example, finishing the doll feels awesome, but then I crash hard because it’s done and now I have to choose a new project. Birthday = high, no phone calls = low. This is among the worst I’ve been. The highs are so short, and the lows are so deep. I’m ok and I can get through each ‘episode’ but it wears me out. I’m doing the things that help – colouring, meditation, crocheting – and they do help so I’m doing something right.

On the subject of things that help me feel better, this week I coloured one of my most favourite pages in the ‘One Year Wiser’ book.

the mountains are calling

Green, and blue, and purple too

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So, today has been productive. Actually, the last 48 hours has been productive. I’m feeling really good as this week comes to an end.

Lilia is finished!Lilia

She stands about 20cm tall (just shy of 8″). I’m planning to make her some more clothes, although not all of them will be seperate from her body like this dress and shoes. Trousers would be almost impossible to get on over the feet, the same can be said of sleeves and the hands. That’s not to say I’m not going to try it at some point…

Anyway, I am delighted with how she has turned out. I’m going to try the pattern with larger yarn and needles to see if it scales well then I plan to release this pattern. I think I am going to make some pirates with this basic pattern so feel free¬†to prod me in the comments occasionally.

I have 3 nieces. The eldest is in her 20’s. She is a writer, and a photographer, and an artist. You can find some of her work in the Australian Geographic – photos and articles (the link is to 1 article on the website). ¬†She’s very awesome.

She has begun drawing again and today shared a stylised feather she had done.

I got to colour it! I’m very pleased with this too.

Antipodean Feather2

I limited myself to a red, an orange and all the greens, blues and purples in my pencil box. There were many.

It was really refreshing actually. I haven’t done any colouring for a few days. It was nice to return to it.

Now for the best part!

Charlotte Heilling  Brave the Shave - Google Chrome 14082015 221914.bmp

Do you see that?! It says we’ve raised ¬£500 for Macmillan!!!!! Thank you again to everyone who has donated.

If you can, please share the page address. They fill an ever growing need in our society and need as much help as we can give them.

Now to return to my pencils, but this time to put them away….

antipodean feather pencils