Monday, December 30, 2013

Just doing it...

Sewing from my studio. I practically had to beat a path through all the things piled up in my space but a power tidy of ten minutes last night and I sat down at my machine this morning to start work on some stitched postcards.

So much time thinking about making is just no replacement for actually making. Especially when in the thinking I create such a definite vision of what the finished thing should be that it starts to become something almost unachievable by normal levels of effort.

It was talking about the thinking that then jumpstarted the making. I guess because the ways out of your head and in to your life are by recognising your limiting behaviours for what they are. Talking, journalling, blogging. Just taking a step back in some way is so helpful. I reframe this version of what 'perfect enough to get started' is so many times that I trick myself I've given up on 'perfect' and yet still I circle around things instead of getting on with them. Afraid that what I make and even where I make it from won't live up to my expectations.

Thank goodness for these quiet days when there is plenty of time to get going through it all to the simple joys on the other side. Thank goodness for great friends and inspiring people that share.

Ira Glass on Storytelling from David Shiyang Liu on Vimeo.

Thank goodness for this amazing year.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

A fairytale Christmas

Stockings sewn from
Once upon a time there was a lady who remembered that Christmas for her is about sparkles of light in dark days. Slow, gentle, magical time with herself and a few of her loved ones enjoying and being thankful for all our blessings and she lived a very happy Christmas 2013 indeed.

Sometimes I think crafty types turn into some kind of crazed fairy godmothers at Christmas, determined not just to have the 'perfect' Christmas as pumped in to our heads by the marketing machines of just about every company out there but to MAKE the whole damn schnazzle from scratch as well. Of course this year with less working hours to excuse me I wanted to make more gifts, more food and participate in the creation of more new traditions than ever whilst remaining serene and shiny throughout. I thought I'd refined the lists, sprinkled a little fairy dust and was going to shimmy on through. Then my back said no and I lay down for a week. Lists are shorter, there are small touches of handmade rather than swathes and the house is beyond messy to make time for the fun stuff. Happy compromises so that I don't have to compromise on the fairytale. I'm already inspired by one of the treats I have lined up for 2014 (Elizabeth's Squam Magic of Myth online course) to write this my way.

Off to Cornwall this week for cosy time with my parents and brother, I know it will be merry and bright if I go slowly and in love. Whatever your fairytale for the next couple of weeks I wish you much light.

Thursday, December 05, 2013

A Magic Jacket

Twist & Shout cardigan jacket modelled open
Non-knitters might think this was just a cosy jacket. Perfect for the final layer of a jumper cocoon to snuggle in to and keep chill winds at bay. It is that it is true, but of course, so much more.
Twist & Shout cardigan jacket modelled closed
This is a magic jacket not just for the reasons the designer Robynn calls it so, its ability to fit and flatter many women, even naughty knitters who go down a size and still make it too big cos their gauge was off and there was no way they were doing the maths to sort it out! Hmm they're probably the kind of slap dash Sal that would fail after hours of work creating the garment to get proper photos taken before blogging about it!! Lawks they are lucky they have a magic jacket to protect them from the knitting police!!!

This is a magic jacket for me for the memories it contains. Started just a few days in to September a treat to mark the start of the new phase of work designed to allow more hours of craft to come in to my life. I bought the yarn from our lovely, local, East Oxford yarn shop The Fibreworks Oxford which is just a three minute walk from my new office. I felt so good to be supporting a local business that is enriching our community. I knit the beginnings in part in a deck chair, under the trees in my garden in the soft September weather letting sun sink in that I'm drawing on the stores of today. I knit fast and long those first few weeks and these soft grey fibres provided untold comfort when we suddenly lost the furry heart of our home when the softest and greyest of them all Panda passed on to her next assignment.  I wanted it finished within a month and so soon I was cabling while talking, not a skill I possess but the errant twist that appeared is a memonto of my Mum and I endlessly chattering on. I knit with the intention of finishing the cardigan to wear at my retreat thinking the great country house we were in might be a little chill. So wrong I was and when I snuggle now in to its warm embrace I feel the warmth of that house where I had to ditch the duvet at night! Not having finished it in time I remember bringing it downstairs to seam and my new friend Kelly drawing me in to the library to work on it there with others. I remember that space, the feel of the seats beneath me, how glad I was to have that knitting connection with my new friends. I remember with delight showing she of the lilting tones, Fiona, that the wool was Donegal Tweed, while simultaneously ogling her deep red Solstice and adding that to the must knit list. It has memories of all of the lovely ladies of our circle in it from its time there with me. It came home with me with still more finishing required and it came with me to my new craft circle at my local community centre and provided something to discuss with new crafty acquaintances. Finally finished with buttons from my hoard sitting quietly at home alone in my living room it is a portable version of this dear home space for me.

We talked about totems, tokens and talismans at the retreat and I remembered that this is something that handmade clothing always is for me. The pride of wearing something sculpted by my hands reminds me of the skills I possess and gathers in often many months of my life to be carried more consciously with me. Magic of the softest and snuggliest kind.
Twist & Shout Jacket designed by Robynn Weldon
Ravelled here where one day I may manage to add better photos :)
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