Saturday, August 31, 2013


Images from Instagram in blog mosaic
One of my new found pleasures this summer has been Instagram, I'm late to the party but enjoying it very much. Three months in to using the app I am a BIG fan. Here is a mosaic of a few of my favourite shots from August. Happy summery month, with work trips curtailed it was all spent in the UK for the first time in I don't know how long.

I love capturing ordinary little moments from the days. Something pretty, something funny, anything that makes me pause. I love the immediacy of the capture and share with Instagram. Since I began knitting and blogging I'm always reaching for the camera or the phone to help hold on to a little fragment of a memory, I talked about the window these creative hobbies give me on to my own life earlier in the year. I find though when I upload photos and think about blogging I'm picky about the subject matter, the quality of the shot and am of course reflecting back on the moment rather than being there in it. Good to be able to be more in it sometimes.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Day one

Bramley apples on the tree against the blue sky

Deck chair on my lawn in dappled sunlight

Bowl of home grown plums

Hand knitted sock in progress

Blue skies above trees
Excuse me if I am a little melodramatic. After finishing up nearly eleven years in the same company doing the full time plus routine yesterday there is something 'first day of the rest of my life' about today! So I felt it only fitting to start as I mean to go on: no unachievable to do lists, no rushing from here to there, no busy busy. Plenty of whimsy, catching up with some mundane house matters and a date with a deck chair. A quiet day at home alone - letting things settle. A simple sock started on Monday to hand to help with the flow. Feeling good, feeling right.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Pricks and wisdom

 Early sunlight slanting across the lawn

Plums hiding amongst the leaves of the plum tree

Dappled shadow shapes cast by the plum tree in the early sunlight

Dapples shadows casting shapes in early sunlight

Dappled shadows on Howard dreams of custard creams printMaking a poster for new craft circle at Florence Park Community Centre
Slipper pattern pieces
Learning that muslin is too fine for free motion machine embroidery

S shape found on my messy doormatSilk, wool, linen fabrics bought from Masons, AbingdonSketchbook by Anna Maria Horner tapestry in progress

Oh many pricks have burst my bubble this week but memories made this weekend are keeping me going. There was so much time then! Time for lovely meals, to enjoy the garden, to watch the sunlight. Crafting done, including a poster made for a new craft circle I am trying to start up in our local community centre. A lesson learnt about the unsuitability of muslin for free motion embroidery on the sewing machine. Seems so obvious now! A start of a pair of slippers. New fabrics bought, silk checked pyjamas dreamt of.. Gentle, rhythmic tapestry and a flower more done than not. Just happy at home days, with little forays out in to the world for socialising and supplies. More of these to come and meanwhile trying to smile, breathe and go slowly through the week.

When I harrumphed a rhetorical question from a very grumpy corner of the sofa on Monday evening - "Why is it so hard to be Zen at work?" I got a very wise answer back from the Mr - "Because you aren't practiced at it." So there we are then, apparently I have been living with a Zen master all along, no wonder home is so happy!

Sunday, August 18, 2013

On t h a t theme

Embroidery of smile, breathe, go slowly on calico

The first thing I did after writing here was of course none of the things I was contemplating. Love that. After futzing around on the interwebs a little longer I had a thought to make a little embroidery. So I scared up a scrap of calico and spent some time with some words that are of great importance to me. I think I first found this quote from Thich Nhat Hanh via this post from a favourite blog Zen Habits and it's been living over in my sidebar ever since. Just because it is there though doesn't mean I remember this wisdom when I need it most, it's so easy to stop seeing what is in front of us regularly. I chose a favourite thread, sat quietly on the sofa and enjoyed stitching these words mindfully so very much. I felt like I did the first time I read them. Starting that evening with a deep, slow, breath and holding these words at the forefront of my mind this weekend is really helping me to dig in to each moment just as I wished when I wrote the post on Friday. I'll be trying to remember these words when I step out from my happy, homely, bubble of zen this week.

Friday, August 16, 2013

S L O W. . .

is my word for the weekend. After the swirl of excitement of the last one I'm delighted that the days ahead have little shape or schedule to it, a dinner out on Sunday evening is the only fixture. No plans but plenty of ideas of how to slowly enjoy it, savour it, steep in it. Sewing perhaps? This piece of muslin has been making suggestions of what it would like to be, the fabric shop is calling for materials for a whole wardrobe suitable for a focus on lounging and my tapestry is a happy way to occupy hands and let thoughts drift. My garden would like a little attention I am sure. Maybe I'll make good on a throw away promise of making August the month to learn how to make macaroons. I'll bet on dreaming some more and following up trails from the Folksy inspiration blast. I'd love to dig in to the films online from one of the speakers, Nick Hand.  I pinned a peachy cocktail that would tantalise my tastebuds. Greenery Street is a gentle stop in my soft summer book collection. No shortage of delicious things to contemplate, s l o w l y, from this happy vantage point of the whole weekend stretched out ahead.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Folksy Summer School

Folksy Summer School, Woodland Discovery Centre, Ecclesall Woods, Sheffield

Start-up Britain bus at Folksy Summer School

Blackboard timetable at Folksy Summer School

Folksy Summer School classroom

I spent the weekend in a marquee and feel like someone took my brain and gave it a massive jolt of inspiration, squashed in a ton of useful information and left me buzzing with excitement about all the possibilities out there for the future. Not one someone, many someones and all down to the genius idea that was Folksy Summer School, the brilliant speakers they lined up and the lovely crowd that showed up.  They laid on so much for us to enjoy but being a swot, I stuck to the classroom. I knew I wanted to capture all I could from hearing such a range of people speak about so many aspects of setting up, running and growing the kinds of businesses I love to see flourishing all around. Go, go cottage industries! Twitter and Instagram should link to a lot more if you want to see other perspectives about a really special event - the hash tags are #folksyss and #folksysummerschool.

I signed up with limited expectations really, my friend was going, I thought it sounded fun and would be helpful if I ever got around to trying one of my fantasy ideas of selling handmade loveliness but that it maybe wasn't quite the right time for me. I've got a lot whirling around at the moment and I didn't already have a creative business idea fixed in mind. I am so, SO glad I went, it was just the right time for me. I left with a real belief that some of these fantasies could be captured, shown the light of day and with elbow grease and self-belief built in to something worthwhile and fulfilling.

I'm standing at the start of a new path. I don't think we ever have the control we like to believe we do over what our path will be or what will show up on it but I'm more conscious of that mystery than at any time in than ten years. I'm stepping out in to the unknown, excited and scared almost in equal measure. Two and a half months ago I decided to give up my current career in academic publishing. It was an instinctive decision at the end after a long period of uncertainty: part burnout, part a sense that I wasn't doing all I could be doing. I realised that there had to be more than feeling like I was working my heart out for something I wasn't feeling rewarded by anymore. No next step planned, just holding on to the belief that to know what you don't want to do is a good substitute for knowing what you do want to do.

The past months have been challenging, a battle between loving the decision I took and fearing that I failed and walked away from something I should have carried on with. I've worked my way back through that to a place where I know I made the right choice to step out and find what the future will hold for me. Worked back to a place where I can quieten the doubts when they creep in and feel proud that I took this decision for me. Part way through I found one shining beacon of joy to light the way. I applied for and got a wonderful part time job to start at the beginning of September. I'll be doing the office work for a community arts charity and just can't wait to get started.

I wish that was balm enough for my agitated brain but the questions about what else? What Else? are always lurking at the edges. The bunting bedecked classroom certainly made a lot of suggestions. I felt at home with this community of positive people, ideas bubbling over every which way you looked. Folksy Summer School brought many more lights to shine on my dark and mysterious path. I thought one of my many scribbles from the day had been something about "you can't control the path you are on but you can control the way you walk along it" I can't find that at the moment in my copious notes, it might well be something I've read from someone's blog or a famous quote. Whoever's words I am stealing without credit, sorry and thank you! I do it with gratitude for a concept that speaks deeply to me. With twinkly fairy lights and flickering candles I'll keep exploring and endeavour to walk along my path with a more certain step and a happy heart.

Wednesday, August 07, 2013

ALL the crafts

I loved Dr K's comment on the rag rugging post about being busy trying ALL the crafts. So true. I have the biggest urge to flit from one new obsession to another. I'm littering just started projects in my wake as new crafts blow in this summer demanding attention. 

I've wanted this tapestry kit designed by Anna Maria Horner for an age. I literally couldn't imagine how it could be more perfect for me: colours, shape, subject matter. Well possibly she could have thrown a bee in there but I'll call it perfect nonetheless. I was delighted to find my not so subtle hints brought me this birthday gift as these kits are pretty splurgey. The sort of thing you can't quite justify buying for yourself when you already have approximately sixty or seventy thousand hours of craft supplies occupying nooks, crannies and just most of the living space in the house. Though really there's never enough is there? 

I started it the day after my lovely weekend away and it's been my crafty companion ever since. Let's imagine it'll be a cushion soon even though it's really no secret that this is the craft blog where not much finishing ever happens. Until the next butterfly catches my attention though, half cross stitch and the simple pleasure of which bit next will keep my fingers busy.

Friday, August 02, 2013

Show and tell

I've got some lovely new crafty things to show but I haven't got them and the camera to make acquaintance yet. A weekend at home coming up for the first time in a few weeks so perhaps I'll manage to take some snaps as it wouldn't do to blog about them without picchures would it now? In the meantime these are some of my favourite photos from last weekend which was spent on the south coast: Rottingdean, Hastings, Battle and Brighton. Happy memories.

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