Wednesday, 15 January 2020

Create Space....

Happy New Year! 

I know it's a bit later than usual, but that's deliberate... It's part of a new regime...

Just recently everything I've picked up to read seems to say that the way to go is to have 'a word' that will sum up, point forward, provide focus, whatever, for the year ahead. Well I've got two words, not one -  'Create Space'.

It's been something lurking at the back of my brain for a while. Whether it was while I was Marie Kondo-ing stuff or just generally wondering why I don't seem to be able to sit myself down at the laptop since retirement; creating space for a number of things keeps nagging at me.

I've a lot of ideas for projects floating around, but in the (almost) three years since I finished work they have just been that - floating ideas. Then just before Christmas I thought it's time to sort out my thoughts, but what with one thing and another there wasn't any - time that is not thoughts!

Time ran out before Christmas for a number of reasons - one was a craft fair that I said 'yes' to. It wasn't so much the craft fair, it was the fact that I needed to produce some extra items for it that ate into my 'making time'. That had the knock on effect of pushing the Christmas knitting and gift making dangerously close to the 'big day'. Then there was my husband's 70th which we celebrated with a short trip to Cardiff. 

Everything taken individually was great. I enjoyed it all, but I truly ran out of time and space to get everything done. Hence the decision to Create Space and get some of the 'stuff' that I really want to do underway. 

A digression now (but relevant).

This is a picture by a local-ish artist that we've got hanging in our dining room. It's huge and it's got a proper title (Waterfall in Dialogue) and a back story (about pollution and the environment). But in our house it's called Sue's Brain. Graeham had his eye on it for a long time before he bought it. Unbeknown to me he'd already told Steve (the artist) that it looked just like my brain.  Then it so happened that I was in Steve's shop when Graeham asked me what I thought it looked like - 'it's the inside of my head' I said and Steve nearly fell off his chair knowing that I wasn't told in advance what Grae had said!

Well, it truly does look like my brain feels. Lots of interlocking stuff going on with only a few bits joined up. Depending on the way the light falls, sometimes it looks more disjointed and at other times the golden hues stand out - yep - still my brain...

The picture's been there a few years now, but it and my brain still resemble each other, so it seems about time to focus on those golden thought bits and do something useful with them, but needs space for me to do so! 

First step then is - no more craft fairs. A number of items - hats and scarves mainly - are now in a local library on their donations rail for anyone who needs them. Some stuff went straight to the charity shop and other items are waiting to be unpicked and re-made into things that have a pre-decided purpose. I have got about a suitcase full of items that I'll try and sell elsewhere - Facebook groups maybe or perhaps in an Etsy shop, but no more making without purpose!!!

Then there's a new financial planning project that I've been musing over since some conversations with my niece. More of this next time, but it's the sort of thing that lots of platforms come out with on 1st January and that everyone thinks is a good idea and forgets by the end of the month. So I'm not starting it till next blog post.

Finally I'm taking on board the ideas of Sara Tasker of me_and_orla fame with her 15 Minute Magic prompt cards. Even I must be able to organise myself for 15 minutes each day to do something productive and useful surely? If only to make sure that these posts happen more frequently and regularly.

Anyway, enough of my ramblings. I'll be back with the first part of the Wento Project or the Eating a Money Elephant or the 366 Ideas Book or whatever it ends up being called very soon, spurred on by my prompt cards - now if only I could find the safe place I put them in...

Friday, 13 September 2019

Finishing off

Do you get those traffic jams of projects? You know, when you’ve got a growing queue of things that just need finishing off. Of course, there’s always a good reason - I need better light/sunlight to sew it up, some more yarn ( that always seems to be in the loft), to work on larger needles for a while, to get a present finished....

I've been trying to catch up - especially as I want to try something a bit different with this blog in the coming weeks...

I've been doing a bit of small scale weaving and have taken plenty of photos of the process so that I can start putting some step by step guides up here too..

The Donkey Sanctuary near us is a favourite outing with my nieces' children. So I had a go at making a donkey - albeit a rather wonky one. Every time I make a stuffed toy I promise myself it'll be the last time as the combination of my sewing on of limbs and consistent stuffing skills are at a minus level. Then I spot a great pattern and think 'oh I've got the yarn for that in the loft' and behold another wobbly headed, floppy footed character.

We did have  trip earlier this year to Devon World of Country life - got to love an alpaca - even if it reminds you of the fleece from Widdecombe Fair that you bought three years ago and haven't finished spinning .. yet.


Ahh well - that's the first batch of pictures I meant to pop up … I'll get the rest of the makes and memories from this summer up and posted soon so I can get on with that next project

Sunday, 7 April 2019

Celebrations and Occasions

We love a party in our family! I enjoy planning for presents and surprises while others get the food and games sorted....

Just recently we've had my niece and her husband visiting along with my great-niece, and had her Peppa Pig party (hence the picture of her Peppa Pig jumper in a previous post).

Last week it was the turn of the youngest member of our clan (at the moment). She's mad on Paw Patrol, but could I find a Paw Patrol pattern anywhere? Mulling it over with my spinning group they told me how to transfer a picture using special graph paper with the suggestion of copying it onto acetate first so that the graph lines appear on top of the picture. So here it is!!!

Then there was the small matter of a birthday card. There are plenty of 'Happy 2nd Birthday' ones and some Paw Patrol ones for 3 year olds, but not for a two year old. So what could I do - well let's raise a glass to the good old laptop and some photographic paper!!

That just left Mothering Sunday. All buoyed up with my knitting achievements I attempted to knit a picture 'M', but somehow whatever I did the tension came out all wrong so I was in my sister's local craft shop when I spied a wooden letter that I could cover with fabric - day saved - Ta-dah!


A couple of years ago it was my elder niece's 30th. I was able to collect pound coins from almost all the years since her birth, but none from the year of her 30th. So I made her a purse and filled it with a selection of coins from all the years that she's been around making up £30 and mounted a pound coin from her birth year and a different coin from her 30th year for her. This year it's the younger one's turn. It's even more tricky as the pound coins from her birth year have now been withdrawn so I'll have to think of something else.... Watch this space!

Thursday, 4 April 2019

Doing Two Things at Once

Now I know that when I finished work I promised myself that I’d not rush around anymore trying to juggle multiple tasks, but...... well I must admit this time it was pretty pleasing to realise that I’d ticked two items off my list without realising it!

I got a Kindle as a present the Christmas before last and I’m converted totally. I always thought that I’d never take technology over handling a book, but I’m truly sold on my new-ish toy. I’ll never be able to turn my back on my love of physically turning a page or retreating to the bath with a paperback, however the sheer joy of having virtually any title I want in my hand immediately is both addictive and mesmerising.

I've indulged my butterfly brain over and over by flitting from one book to another, having multiple pages open, never losing my place and all without driving himself mad by leaving two or three (sometimes more) lying around part read. He’s more of a ‘one thing at a time till it’s finished’ kind of guy - suffice to say it’s just not in my nature. Now I can have as many books on the go at a time sometimes reading parts of two at the same sitting without annoying anyone - well with my reading habits anyway.

I'd downloaded Marie Kondo's 'Spark Joy' a while ago, but only dipped into it so decided to read it properly along with Cait Flanders' 'The Year of Less' and came to the conclusion that it was time to tackle my excess 'stuff'.  I won't bore you with the list of tired t-shirts or solo socks that now no longer fight for space in the bedroom or the books liberated from dusty shelves to gladden new hearts.

It was time to tackle the loft.... The loft contains all my craft resources. Having started with plenty of kits from magazines that I will never start (let alone finish) - boot fair - and two smelly fleeces that I will never spin (there are still four left, but let's not talk about those) I was feeling like I was getting somewhere.

Then my sister needed some new cushions so I stopped and made some covers for some old cushions I 'just happened' to have up in that loft... Then my niece rather liked an applique one I gave to my sister so I did a couple for her. What a result - I now have no cushions in the loft AND I got to do some sewing just like I promised myself I would earlier in the year. Two for the price of one without even trying - Howzat!!

Sunday, 3 March 2019

March 2019 - Where did that come from?

One moment you are working away, travelling lots, taking train rides to visit family, spending hours writing at the computer and then.... Well then - it seems that almost three years slip by and I neglect to record anything...

Each time I've intended to start, something (as ever) crops up. Even as recently as January I wanted to begin the New Year with a post about packing up the Christmas decorations. I was going to wax lyrical about repairing some of the old baubles by covering them with fabric complete with lovely photos, although I did manage to take one of all the Christmas cards I made from odds and ends and photos of the decorations before they were packed away (I find it easier to do these while Christmas is still hovering in the air rather than before it all gets started).

I was also quite impressed at beginning the search for next Christmas' lucky dip, but that doesn't seem to be all that relevant now we're in March! (We have a family lucky dip on Christmas Eve with lots of little bits and pieces we've gathered during the year - colouring books, free perfume samples, sale items from Christmas stock, odds and ends I've sewn or knitted and so on - it takes ages and is great fun and means we all get some small presents without spending loads on the occasion.)

So to now.... Don't worry - this isn't a list of all the happenings since my last blog - tempting though it is to plod through it just to show that I have been productive and busy and all that. Suffice to say that I did lots more writing for work, finishing with a particular product for them that I'd wanted to write for a number of years so that was very satisfying. As part of my leaving present I got a coffee machine and pasta making 'stuff' following trips to Rome and Florence - how was my life complete before them?

It's Lasagne in case you're not sure!

Visiting Rome has meant that I've been able to see my youngest niece who lives there with her husband and daughter (and is about to add to the clan soon). My previous trip to Italy was around 40 years ago on a whistle stop 7 day tour. What a bonus it's been to spend plenty of time going back over the things I studied for A Level and degree courses...…

 Not bad for a view from the kitchen of the apartment we stayed in, eh?

What else - well apart from a wedding (my niece) and a daughter for my other niece, I retired - as you may have worked out from above - hence the time for Italian excursions. I don't seem to have had much other time - it appears to be true what people say about retiring and then not knowing how they found time to go out to work.

The last few months have been exciting times, with my family (apart from the Italian extension) moving around 20 miles away from me after all the years of being 170 miles away, so no more long train journeys and I get to see them every week.

What about the craft? - I'll not go into a great long list, but here's some snaps of one or two items that I've managed to squeeze in ……

 Finished my fish at last!

Next up is a Paw Patrol jumper so fingers crossed for that one!

So that's me back - promise it'll get more interesting from here on in!!!

Saturday, 11 June 2016

Festival and family

It's been another full on couple of weeks, but all great fun. The Exmouth Festival coincided with my family visiting so there's been plenty to do.
I was able to put some of my work on display at the Blackmore Theatre and it was good to get one or two items finished in order to do it!
Here's a picture I finally completed - it's called 'Heartfelt'. I'm rather pleased with it as I hand felted the background and topped it with a ceramic button I made a while ago. I know the photo is on a bit of an angle, but any other shot I tried to take reflected either the rest of the bedroom where it now hangs, or me taking the picture!


I also hung a couple of scarves I made a while ago from bamboo poles as wall hangings. These I spun  from sari silk. It always amazes me how a ball of random fluff can end up looking like this once it's been spun and knitted.

I had some of my hand spun, knitted and felted bags on display too.

As well as this bag made from some thicker sari silk.

Once that was all up and on show other than a spell of stewarding on the Monday I was able to spend time with my sister, mum, niece, her husband and my great nephew. Graeham and I had a full day's digging on the beach on the holiday Tuesday while Finn directed operations and gave out spades. He'll make a great foreman when he grows up. Then the action moved on to Crealy the next day with the weather still with us. Thursday saw mum, Judith and me eating ice cream on Budleigh beach and then on Friday we all met up for scones and tea before they had to get ready to head back to Surrey.

On Sunday it was back to the Festival withthere workshops at Seadog Gallery. I took the wheel along as well as a couple of drop spindles and some chopsticks (yes chopsticks) so that anyone who dropped in could try their hand at spinning some merino and silk (yes with chopsticks) to make simple bracelets. 
The sun shone, sandwiches and scones were plentiful and it was a lovely day in Anna's garden. I had time to watch Hayley teaching others how to craft mosaic panels and even got to try making a felt flower in Natasha's workshop.

So, from then on it's been back to the day job, with plenty of writing to get to grips with! 
Today we've been shopping for fabric. A bit of household sewing to do - I'll show you when it's finished....
Phew.... Time for tea I think - and an evening of football......

Saturday, 28 May 2016

I'm Baaaaack!

It's been a while, but at last I'm back (or baa-ck) with the blog.

So much has happened that if I were to begin filling you in I'd be here till midnight - so I'll just carry on as if I've never been away and try harder to keep up to date. That includes rejoining Handmade Monday and enjoying all the other posts there each week....

I finally gave in to sense and said goodbye to my first wheel... 

I was sad to see it go, but there's not really room to keep everything and I use my travelling wheel more so it's gone off to be used by a really nice guy who farms alpacas.

I've finished one or two patchwork-y pieces.
The first was a recycling project... The front here is made up of old felted jumpers
While the back is old worn out t-shirts...

Finally here's the crocheted mini wall hanging that I started ages ago.
It's now got a starring role on display! It's Exmouth Festival this week, so I've put it in the exhibition at the Blackmore Theatre - part of the Exmouth Art Trail. I've also got some bags, a couple of sari silk wall hangings and a felted picture down there. I'm stewarding at the end of the weekend so I'll try and get some photos to add....

More news soon.... I promise it won't be such a long wait between blogs this time!
Enjoy the Bank Holiday weekend.....