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 😉

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

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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

All The Things!!! or I am a Collector of Crafts.

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I obsess. It is something I do unwillingly. I obsess over my family. I obsess over my thoughts. I obsess over actors and movies. I obsess over crafts. I think even my anxiety could be deemed obsessing in some ways.

It happens when I am mentally well. Sometimes it causes the lows. Sometimes I can exert some sensibility over my behaviour and thoughts. Other times I have to ride it out.

For example, I will watch a movie I like until I never even what to look at some of the actors again (or friends and family want to choke me with the dvd). After the 3 months in hospital last year, I obsess over what certain pain means. When I take up a new craft I must have ALL THE THINGS!!!!!

You saw the spinning fibre, the pencils, the colouring books. You haven’t seen the yarn stash yet. When it comes to crafts, I am a collector.

Though I didn’t need the additions, I got three new colouring books this week and they’re lovely but I am trying to finish some incomplete pages before I start on anything new but I have collected a lot of downloaded pages and will be printing them out soon so really, it’s moot.

The thing is, I do eventually get through these obsessions. The heat of obsession will cool off and the new crafting collection will slot itself into the ever expanding rotation – beading, cross-stitch, knitting, crochet, loom bands, colouring, bobbin lace, spinning, sewing, etc. (You’d be surprised how often the materials for these crafts cross boundaries.)

The downside to this personality trait is that I go through extended periods of not wanting to do any of them, which is accompanied by a weighty feeling of dissatisfaction because I have all these things, and I’m good at them, and I don’t want any of them but I don’t know what I want. I just know that I don’t want to do the things I’ve done before and I don’t want to seek out something new.

It’s a whirlpool of irritation. I don’t like these feelings. I don’t like being unhappy and I don’t understand why it happens.

Maybe it’s a control thing. I don’t know.

Right now, I have some knitting and crochet need to finish and I don’t even want to look at my yarn; my electric spinner is finished and I’d rather use my handmade (chopstick and bathroom sink stopper) handspindle; I want to colour but there are too many lines on the page to make sense them.

I’m planning to go into town tomorrow (for heavier printer paper), maybe that will help get this under control a little. Sometimes it’s just restlessness.

I don’t really know where I was going with this. Sorry.

For the betterment of my mind

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Three months is a long time to spend in hospital and it messes with your head. Since coming home in January, I have faced a deeper type of depression than ever before as I try to reestablish myself. I will likely always be susceptible to pain in my abdomen from the damage my pancreas took. I will likely always live with the fear of the return of the indescribable pain that sent me back to the hospital. But in the more immediate future I am dealing with the frustration of waiting for my gall bladder to be removed. I have heard nothing from the doctors since February, despite my efforts to the contrary and this is amping up the fear that I will end up in hospital again with the same problem. It also means that despite increasing discomfort in my back, I won’t be going to the osteopath to get it sorted (it was immediately after my last appointment that this all started and though I’m not saying the treatment was the cause, I do worry that it shifted something that acted as a catalyst).

Logically, I know that I’m giving this all too much space in my head but emotionally… well, it’s not great. I find myself staring for hours at blank walls on bad days and there are more of those than ever. I find that often, any positive event is followed by a disproportionately low period. My ability to focus and concentrate is sporadic and very short. And worst of all, I find it difficult to enjoy my crafting in the same way which takes away most of my personal productivity.

I’m working with a therapist on CBT but I’m not sure, in fact I’m fairly certain that now is not the best time for this. I am already vulnerable and unsettled, and the trigger is something that I cannot resolve on my own.

I don’t know where I’m going with all of this, or even what it all means but I’m hoping that venting here will help me some.

I have a new long-term project. A friend in my knitting group showed us a crocheted blanket she was working on and my friend G and I decided to get the kit and make our own. She’ll need some crochet lessons but it’s a simple pattern repeated several times on every row so the paper pattern is really only needed for the colour order. It’s this pattern/kit by Attic24 (I have no affiliation with Wool Warehouse but can tell you that my order with them was a smooth transaction and arrived quickly).

I’m 2 rows in but have crocheted as much as three – I missed a stitch at the beginning of the first row but didn’t notice until I’d reached the end and I’m enjoying it a lot more than I expected to. 200 stitches is a lot more than I usually work with.

Things I’m trying to do to regain some control over my scatter brain :

* daily journal/planner that allows me to record mood, craft/education, tasks, cleaning and eating/medication.

* limiting the number of projects I work on for any given craft. For example, in my work bag I have 1 knitted shawl (Solar Flare), 1 knitting design (a headband and it’s variations), 1 art therapy colouring page, 1 large crochet project (ripple blanket). This is enough to keep me entertained and give me some choices but doesn’t overwhelm me (and some days, just choosing which coloured pencil to use is too much).

* going to therapy

* going to my knitting groups

* spending time with my friends outside those groups.

It probably looks like a pretty regular sort of plan to most of you. It’s a lot of hard work for me. Trying to rein in my attention is exhausting.

Day 119

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And we’re all caught up. Blanket pieces for day’s 117 (turquoise), 118 (blue) and 119 (striped) have finally been done.

day 117-118-119

Oh, and you might notice that the numbering of posts has been editted – I had two day 116’s…

I’m hoping that the old cleaning rule about things looking worse before you finish holds true. I started sorting through my ‘craft corner’ in our living room today… Despite moving a bunch of stuff back into the loft, the corner looks worse! On the upside, I had a couple of friends giving me a hand/keeping me company and they discovered a whole bunch of my crocheted dolls, some unfinished bobbin lace and several unfinished knit shawls and spent the better part of an hour extolling my crafting excellence. Which was nice but a bit weird. Being complimented on my crafting is like being complimented for breathing. I know that crafts are something not everyone is good at, but then I’m not good at sports, or self-discipline so it evens out.

They took a crocheted kokeshi doll each and gave me ideas for a turtle and a lion, and I was asked for a boy tooth fairy with a bag for teeth after seeing one of my girl tooth fairy dolls. Just need to get the yarn out of the loft so I can start crocheting. I haven’t made a doll in a year or more and I’m excited to do something so different to all the other things I’ve been working on lately (shawls and sweaters and utter disinterest).

Feeling a little bittersweet and nostalgic this evening so here is the Hunters & Collectors from way back when I still lived in Australia, with ‘Throw Your Arms Around Me’.

Hunters & Collectors – Throw Your Arms Around Me (studio version)

Day 84

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I ave lived in the UK for 14 years. I don’t think I’ve had summer weather longer than 2 weeks at a time. We might get 3 of these fortnights throughout the 3 months of ‘summer’ but this year… ugh! June averaged 22 degrees, and so far July has averaged 24 though today was 29 which makes it the hottest day so far and despite the Met Office predicting a wet summer, we’re now getting ready for a heatwave. Now, the heatwaves here tend to level out in the mid 30’s but considering how the temperature is usually below 20 throughout the year (mean temperatures in winter are below 10 degrees, spring might get to 14), and that few places have any sort of air conditioning, there’s not much relief.

The magnificent Ann Miller says it all really.

And yes, this in-depth discussion of the weather may indicate I’ve been here too long….

Back to my yarn now. So the shawl I showed you yesterday – the pattern is ok but without experience I think people might have trouble. I’m having trouble and am very glad for the photos on her website but I will be ripping back several rows because by following the pattern I’m not getting a straight border like the one in her photos.

day 84

 

And from that red yarn to this red and pink yarn which I love.

 

Day 83

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Why, oh why, is the allure of a new project so much stronger than the satisfaction of finishing an existing project? And why is that allure strongest when you are within a handful of rows from finishing something?!

I’m going to blame Ravelry. I have always had many proverbial irons in the fire but they were each from a different craft style. Now, because of the database of patterns and member projects on Ravelry, I have more projects than I care to admit to but I can assure that each will get finished by me…. at some point.

The problem, specifically, is this shawl :

Suvi’s Sunburst Shawl

I adore Art Deco and this is based on an Art Deco stained glass window in a municipal building in New York.

Also, I have appropriate yarn so I can’t even talk myself out of starting the project because I can’t afford the necessary yarn….

I haven’t done any crochet in many moons which was yet another temptation. You can see why I had difficulty not starting this project. I held off for 2 weeks though so I have some self-restraint. Yeah, I know. Pathetic. It’s going to be gorgeous though. See :

sunburst1

The yarn is the same brand and range as many of the yarns in my meditation blanket but not today’s one. I love this shade of green.

day 83

I have forgotten neither mum’s tablecloth nor J’s sweater. Mum’s tablecloth requires limited attention, J’s sweater requires none except to change colour every 4 rounds. Crochet always needs more attention. Knitting has all of your stitches in action and you can feel your way through the workings. Crochet only has one stitch in play at any one time. You need to look to see where the hook goes next and this pattern especially has a lot of counting. Small numbers but small numbers repeated 20+ times. So yeah, crochet isn’t something I can generally do if there are others around or if my attention is especially slippery. This is why knitters/crocheters frequently have so many projects on the go at the same time – each one requires something different from the knitter. There’s tv knitting and, travelling knitting, gift and, lace knitting. Then there’s the ‘it’s a new technique and I am determined to master it’ project that you want to take your scissors to over and over again but every time you stop to look at what you’ve already done you feel a inexplicable pride in your own cleverness. It’s awesome 🙂

More BritPop today. I don’t know their origin but I kinda love these girls. Stooshe has been in my head today. I love the pseudo-’60’s feel of the music. Not all of it is like this but they’re a bit unique and I like their style.