Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Just for Fun - Collage

One of the things that I was most surprised to discover about myself last week is that I'm really bad at having fun.

Even things that are fun must serve some other purpose and can bring out the inner critic. Like say, knitting? Or most recently and very clearly sewing? Why yes indeed! Sometimes it seems crazy how many times it takes to learn a simple lesson. Enjoy the path, who knows what, where or when the end is.

So this lunchtime I took advantage of the fact of working from home today and did something I love to do so much, but never do because I never have anything to do with the final object. Messy, happy, cut and stick of pretty pictures. I'm off to do some more, just for fun.

Monday, February 22, 2010

A Report of a Different Kind

It's been quite a revolutionary week in my world. On Wednesday I went to London to attend the start of a programme of treatment for ME at the Optimum Health Clinic. It's just over five years since I was diagnosed this time around and lots of things slotted in to place to make this the time for this action for me.

It was a totally amazing and inspiring experience and I am feeling confident that they have the answers to what has been happening for me - if this is something that affects you or anyone you know I'd really recommend you have a read of their materials. Of course everyone is different and needs to find the right path to recovery for them but they recognise this and are successfully treating a lot of people diagnosed with ME/CFS/Fibromyalgia through their holistic, integrated approach and I am so pleased that I am now amongst the patients on their books. Briefly, as I understand it, what it seems is going on for me is an initial multi-system burnout caused by multiple factors with recovery being hampered by a maladaptive stress response preventing my body spending enough time in the healing state. It's early days but I have already learnt some wonderful lessons about coping with the stresses of this illness or process and modern life. We are designed to deal with acute stress but the overload and ME has created a chronic stress state for me to live in, the opposite of where I need to be The core things for me - be present in the moment, take it easy on myself and let my body do its stuff. I'm looking forward to the next months as I learn more about loving myself and try new ways of healing including meditation, some consistent yoga practice and above all - HAVING FUN :o)

If I need any inspiration I'll be sure to have a look at the Panda: living in the moment, resting and having fun is just her bag. She even seems to be going in for the yoga.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Hankie Report

The news is good - I sewed without swearing! I tried to have fun and it worked for about 95% of the time. I spent a lot of time just sewing lines on the scraps of the shirt and that was great fun. Only a few moments of angst once I was on to the official item and it was a cruel choice of dark blue thread to really see what my seams were made of. Slugs and snails apparently! I find hard to believe my foot is dictating the speed, I'm sure the machine chooses but after Saturday's session I have hopes that one day it might give me some say in it - until then I think my next task will be something with seams on the safely on the inside out of sight.

Oh and no-one tell Bingo that it's a hankie and not a little mat made just big enough for all four paws to fit on. Okay?

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Finding the 'right' pattern

I started a new scarf on Thursday. I really wanted to start on Levens designed by the very creative Lily Kate France. I've been wanting to make it since I first saw Amanda post about it. However Mother's Day is approaching and as much as I wanted to knit Levens for my Mum I couldn't see her wearing it very much. So when I found myself adding 'buy a Mother's Day present from Etsy' to my to do list I took the inner knitter in hand and gave her a little pep talk. There had to be a pattern out there I really wanted to knit that would fit with the yarn I had on hand here and my Mum's style. A quick browse through my favourites on Ravelry and enter Feather - I'm knitting it with sock yarn to get a skinnier scarf of the type I'm sure the recipient will love and I'm loving knitting it - definitely the right pattern for now and it means I can make a Levens all for myself one day soon. Yay!

I'm off to sew a hankie after lunch - thank you everyone for the helpful comments, support, tips, empathy and sympathy after my last post. I'll let you know how the re-match goes ;o)

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Oh Bobbins!

Believe me the air was blue with language a tad worse than bobbins as I did battle on Sunday with the sewing machine. It was not meant to be a battle. It was meant to be a simple, pleasant exercise with a useful item to show for my efforts at the end of it.

My sewing is not getting any better by looking at the machine and willing it so, practice is required. When I saw the beautiful simple handkerchiefs that clever Kate (who needs our positive vibes at the moment as she recovers from a stroke) created from an old shirt it seemed like the perfect project. A few straight seams did not sound too daunting, it seemed like it would be a good confidence booster, a little bit of fun.Two and half hours later not so much really. Oh there's a hankie but it's got half the sewing it was supposed to have and what sewing there is, is really not up to scratch. I even managed to scorch the fabric with the iron. Worst of all the experience was not enjoyable.
It started out so well, a lovely shirt needing retiring that actually had stripes on, praise be, the seams might even be straight! I was excited to make this project and to really start to make friends with my machine. And then... and then what really went wrong?

It's hard to put my finger on it but most of it is in my head. The bobbin was tricky, getting it threaded, tension etc and once I started finding it fiddly it was as if I was transported back to some kind of horrible reconstruction of the sewing classes at school. It doesn't feel fun. I'm scared and I'm not even really sure what of. Scared of spoiling the fabric I've thought with the other more precious things I've tried but really with a hankie made from a shirt that's had its day, that doesn't ring true. I guess I'm scared of the power of the machine a little but more I'm just worried that I can't do something and it won't go right. Cross that I can't do something 'simple'. I get very stressy which just compounds whatever is going wrong. I feel out of my depth and I don't like it.

I didn't have this when I started knitting as an adult (something I was also bad at when I was first trying it as a child). I let myself knit a mess of knots and gradually get to grips with what I was doing. I was out of my depth but I had a book and I was learning and in a way that was all that mattered. The first horrible little pieces of knitting still made me proud that I was making stitches. Maybe there's a bit of the special knitting magic at work, you're taking a ball of yarn and creating fabric; with sewing I'm taking good fabric and risking creating less? Anyway the knitting learning curve was good: I started out bad, I was patient and practiced and got better. The same shall apply to sewing!!

I need to focus less on the pretty things I want to make for the home and for myself to wear. I so much want to be able to sew the things I see in my head that aren't out there to buy. That vision, instead of being inspiring, is creating a pressure that either leaves the machine untended on the side or leaves me swearing at it in mounting hysteria! When I started knitting I don't think my ambitions were much higher than a plain scarf. It was more about finding something fun to do with the time I have to spend sitting around at home, about tapping in to the benefits of making something tangible. Since then I've refined my understanding of myself as someone who can work with textiles, a maker, a craftswoman and I love that. I'm rightly proud of what I can create with my hands and brain but it's set the bar a lot higher for this new craft. All that internal expectation is too much for this poor ninny and her little machine! I thought I'd dealt with that by picking a simple project but in its simplicity, and almost because of its simplicity I expected the final item to be perfect. Ah that word, so easy for it to become an enemy.

So, enough! I'm in at the beginning, wading in the shallows and I'll stay there and enjoy this stage for what it is as long as needs be. I look at new knitters with a certain envy, those first moments when the obsession is takes hold when you're surprising yourself with what you can make are so much fun. So I'll have them again but with my new friend sewing.

It's safe to say in the making of this funny little hankie and in thinking about how to write about the experience here it wasn't just a little more sewing skill that was learnt.
I'm going to do it all again this weekend - but hopefully with less swearing and a lot more fun. No expectations about the hankie, maybe it will be good, maybe it won't - it will be whatever I am capable of making at this point in time and precious because of that.

Saturday, February 06, 2010

Little Things...

...are really fun to make. From my three balls of Baby Bamboo came this sweet little set:Pattern: Sirdar Snuggly Baby Bamboo Jacket 1866
Yarn: Sirdar Snuggly Baby Bamboo: 126,127 and 131
Needles: 4mm Knit Pro Interchangeables
Started: 16 January 2010
Finished: 5 February 2010
Plenty of room for some 'design' features even on this simple little pattern, necessity being the mother of invention and all that. Yes I did forget to make a button hole, though I am in love with the spotty ribbon ties so that was clearly meant to be. Whether the little bubs will have long enough arms to cope with my misreading of the pattern remains to be seen, though I like the little fold back cuffs I created.

I skipped the matching beret pattern for the cutest hat in the world which also happens to look a lot more practical. I have no experience of trying to keep a beret on a baby's head but ...
Pattern: Aviatrix
Yarn: Sirdar Snuggly Baby Bamboo: 126,127 and 131
Needles: 3.75mm for rib, 4.5mm for main
Started: 5 February 2010
Finished: 6 February 2010

This is a super fun and quick knit and I am in love with the pictures of the baby aviators on Ravelry, no babies here so kind thanks to Bear for being a great stand-in model.
The beautiful patchwork quilt is made by the very generous Mr Monkey Suit , so many kind thanks to her for her donation and to the amazing Craft Hope team who co-ordinated the Craft Hope for Haiti shop (still open for a couple more days if you haven't had a little peek at the amazing treasures from our lovely crafty community there).

The next pattern up to feed my new addiction to making teeny little things is the Little Sister's Dress. I want one of these for myself but sadly although there is a Big Sister's Dress there doesn't seem to be an Awesome Honourable Auntie's one.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

And across the way...

...Wendy has now received her yarn ball (and I'm glad to say was as impatient as I to get to the gifties but did so much better than me with the photos.) Yay for the pigeon that flapped all that way.Anyone know of any vacancies to become a professional yarn ball swapper? If so I'm there.

One of my favourite things about this all was choosing the yarn, we both agreed on sock weight and gave some hints on colours and then we had to take the plunge. I wanted to get something as uniquely British as I could to make it likely that it would be a different yarn for Wendy. I dithered a bit but then the lovely Clara P came to my rescue.
I got The Knitter's Book of Wool for Christmas and have been dipping in and out of it with glee ever since. When I first heard about it I wasn't sure I really needed it as it's easy to just think 'wool' and I wasn't sure I'd get much chance to buy different types easily. Then I thought about the little experience I have with different wools, how the socks I've knit in Merino or Blue Faced Leicester are a million miles apart in terms of feel and wear and I knew I wanted to know more and try and be a bit more adventurous.

The book is so beautifully written that I swear you'd enjoy it even if you never knit a thing . For me it's so inspiring and it really encouraged me to look around at what types of wool I could find. Enter Blacker Designs. They have the most incredible range of yarns from British fleece: Manx Loaghtan anyone? I went for a natural colour alpaca and Shetland mix in the end as it sounded a wonderful combination and I just hope it's as fun to knit as it was to choose!
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