Friday, 24 April 2020

Spring 2020......

Well......who'd have thought 2020 would turn out to be like this? A year not easily to be forgotten that's for sure.

I walked into 2020 with such a heavy heart. Trying to deal with the grief of the loss of my brother has weighed so heavy on my soul. My new companion, Minnie, and my crafty love managed to drag me into 2020 with a little more lightness. Getting out for walks with her everyday lifted my mood......and of course, making accessories to cope with the outdoor winter weather helped no end. I did make rather a lot of hats! Worth their weight in gold I can tell you.

I used this pattern here if you are interested

As I write, we are still in the midst of lockdown of sorts. Four weeks now of utter anxiety, uncertainty and weirdness.

Whilst all in my little bubble are at home and some working from home, I am classed as a key worker my days are still the same, but not the same. Just add a big dollop of stress and that's about it.

On my days off, I have been trying to just be calm and focus on all the things that make me happy. Crochet of course! I made a start on a blanket.....obviously a blanket....what else could I possibly think of doing?!

A picture on Pinterest caught my eye. I wished it hadn't........but you know......once you see something and it embeds in your memory, it's a hard thing to ignore. Ignore it I tried, because it was VERY similar to a blanket that almost killed me to make. It just wouldn't go from my head. It was an Irish Chain Quilt pattern. I made a crochet version of an Irish Chain Quilt that I had seen Alicia Paulson make on her blog. I can't sew. I loved the pattern, and I loved the colours and it was basically squares joined together. Easy peasy crochet then. The problem was the vast amount of squares. If you have read this blog for a while, you know that me and small blankets just aren't a thing. I kid myself it's because I want them big enough for all the family to snuggle under. Whilst the family have had MANY a snuggle together under my blankets, the real answer is that I'm utterly pants at planning, and the blankets just always end up huge because I have no size awareness.

The first blanket took forever, and I DID NOT enjoy it's process......HOWEVER, I utterly loved the result. You can be reminded of it with the snippets from this post . 

I don't think I ever managed to photograph this blanket in all it's glory. It does deserve a post all of its own really. I should do that. The blanket still has a thread hanging from it as I couldn't decide whether to make a border for it. I still can't! It was a bit like having a baby. The birthing process is incredibly unpleasant, but you soon forget about all the pain when you stare at something so beautiful. 

Well, I must have forgotten about all the pain, because sure enough, I wanted to make another one. The new blanket was slightly easier. Less squares in the pattern, bigger squares. This time also.......

I had wanted a very soft and pastel blanket. I was loving the colours on the ZARA HOME website.....mainly in their kids section. I'm still very much needing the calm of pastels and soft hues. That sealed it for me. I worked up several sized squares, planned how many squares I would need, and what the sizes would be with each square to get the right size blanket. I then weighed the yarn amounts for each square to get an idea of the yarn quantities I would need to order. That way I wouldn't do my usual of not enough yarn and dye lot issues. Chart mapped out. Yarn ordered. A VERY excited me.

I felt so smug I can tell you. After years of never planning any blankets, this was my first. I was actually doing everything right.

Except I wasn't

It was pretty clear after the first two rows that my blanket was going to be another HUGE one. I hadn't planned on a really small one, but I hadn't planned on a huge one either. Seriously, even when I plan, I can't do it right! Just goes to show! Not sure how on earth I managed to get it so wrong.

It wasn't total chaos. I just made the width into the length (as the pattern allowed me to work it like that) and then cut off quite a few planned rows. It's fine. The pattern still works. I just worked it that I'd lose a couple of repeat rows. I just had a fair bit of leftover yarn now!!!!!!!

So....on the lockdown days, I had been calming my anxiety with this blanket. I was loving making it. No stress. Really enjoying it. Then I suddenly decided that Minnie, my sweet puppy, needed her own blanket ASAP. It was always my plan to make her a blanket of her own, but for some reason, it needed to be now.....and I had plenty of leftover yarn!

I think she gave me her seal of approval. At every opportunity when I had it on my lap, she was on me....on it.

The beautiful weather on the lockdown has helped enormously. The puppy has really blossomed and has loved just being with me sitting in the garden whilst I work away on her blanket. I have soaked up her comfort. She has been such a tonic over these last few months helping with my grief.

Ahhhhhhh just look at those colours. that just brings me so much happiness. My last few blankets have been in these shades. I feel like I really need them at the moment. They are soothing, and calming, and they scream comfort and big enveloping hugs.

Easter came and went. A strange one. I have (like us all) struggled with not seeing my outer family. However, technology is a wonderful thing. My mum and I have been replacing our coffee mornings with virtual Facetime coffee mornings. We grab a coffee and then have a Facetime chat catching up with the news and showing each other our latest projects. It makes all this bearable.

It has been hard having everyone on top of each other at home all the time. Our tiny little home is bursting to the brim. Finding somewhere to have a quiet few minutes is nigh on impossible. Trying to homeschool is a challenge. The lovely weather has meant at least I can sit outside and work a few rows of crochet. I am thankful for our tiny little garden space. It is really just the size of a postage stamp, but I have never been more grateful for it.

Whilst being drawn to the soothing and the pastels, I started playing around with my beads again. I haven't dipped into them for such a long time, but I wanted had a real urge to have Rose Quartz and Amazonite around my neck and wrists again. Those have always been my favourites to work with. I don't know if it's the placebo effect, but I find them so calming. When I wear anything that has the stones in, I feel very calm. When I am anxious or stressed I like to have something around my neck that I can just stroke with my hands. The colours of Amazonite and Rose Quartz have always featured heavily in my home colours and in my crafting. Can you tell?!!!!

Actually, the necklaces I made in this picture aren't either of those gemstones, but I have loved making and wearing them. I wanted really long necklaces and didn't have enough of either beads to create something so long so these made do. I have more beads on order and I'm super excited to get them and get beady creative.

I have a couple of knitting projects that I would like to start after I finish the two blankets. I realise that I need more stitch my plan is to make myself some gemstone stitch markers. I would like to carry the calmness over into my knitting. Heaven knows I think I'm going to need all the calm I can get. Knitting just doesn't come easily to me. Maybe if I actually spent a good portion of my time knitting and trying to get better at it, that might help me!

I have baked a fair bit. 

I have also put on a fair bit of weight that has come with aforementioned baking. 

It's actually annoying that it's turning out so well. I would have given up if my fist attempt would have been awful. Bread is my complete downfall. Warm, crusty bread with melted butter. Hummmmmmm bliss. Not bliss for the old waistline. Need to do something about that soon. The Bears are very happy with my daily bread making arrangement, but they are just not quick enough to beat me to the first few (or ten) slices each day!

So.....that is my Spring. Two blankets in the making. Weird days. and other bits and pieces planned for the summer. If lockdown continues for a much greater length of time, I may be even more productive than I could have ever imagined.

Lets see what Summer 2020 holds........

Take care and stay safe everyone.


Wednesday, 29 January 2020

2019 - A Year To Forget.......

Goodness me. 

Best intentions and all.

My plan was to blog more. My plan was to blog every season from 2019. My plan was to be creative in 2019. My plan was for it to be the year of the garment, not the year of the blanket. My plan was to try the new. 

I failed. 

I failed in it all.

I had many plans. I had wanted to push myself with my crafting. I wanted to make garments. That meant reading tricky patterns. I usually am a cop out and just do the easy.....but I wanted to stretch myself in 2019.

It never really took off.

I constantly found myself low on time. Working part time, left the days off being for the mundane and playing catch up with the never ending household lists and chores. I became resentful that I never achieved anything or got anywhere. I did the same old things everyday.....stuff I needed to get done before I could even contemplate starting on anything creative. And then I had no time.

I went on a family Holiday in the Easter. A much needed break away with the family, but I just found that I was really anxious before it. Anxious because I was so looking forward to it and so needing it, that I was sure something was going to happen to take away that happiness and pleasure. Glass half empty girl here.

Nothing happened and I had a lovely break away.......but I felt odd. I felt dissatisfied still with my lack of achievement in the year. I felt like I was wading through VERY thick treacle. I felt disorganised in my life and in my head.

No garments were made. I had stalled creatively. I had patterns and yarn, but absolutely no enthusiasm.

So I did what I always do.......made another blanket.

Actually, it was born out of seeing a lovely knitted patchwork blanket on a cottage bed on a pinterest picture. It looked homely and cosy and I was sold on making one for myself.

Using up old oddments of yarn, and in my predictable palette of I went. I think I just needed to feel like I was actually making something. I didn't want complicated. I just wanted to craft and watch something be born from nothing.

I loved making it. I joined as I went. It meant that for a few moments a day I could be transported into creative happiness.

Spring, turned into Summer and I pootled along. Semi happy that I had at least started on something creative....even if it was not what I had had in mind at the beginning of the year.

Then, my world was turned upside down.

I lost my big brother.




That was 6 months ago now. I still can't believe it. I can't come to terms with it. It feels surreal. 

I've mentioned many a time on this blog, how Christmas is a time that, as much as I want to enjoy it, I can never seem to. Family Birthday's take over the last three months of the year. As well as my little family bubble, my outer family also. Painfully hard when still so raw and distressed over my brother's death. The onset of Christmas cheer everywhere just made it that much harder. I felt no desire whatsoever to indulge in anything of a Christmas nature. It was made very easy by the fact that we were not having a tree this year........

A puppy made sure of that........

Meet Minnie, our Wire Haired Fox Terrier.

It just seemed easier not to even think of decorations to go alongside it. The Bear's weren't too bothered. To be honest, I think it's only me that enjoys the ritual of Christmas decorations. So that was that. No festive feeling entered the house, and I found it hard to look at everyone's Christmas joys and happiness when I was feeling so rubbish inside. I just wanted to blink really and it all disappear.

So.........we got through Christmas. A milestone. Next year might be a little easier mentally.

We saw in the New Year. Other happenings beyond my control, lead me into an uncertain 2020. 

All in all, 2019 was a year I'd like to forget, although one that I'm sure that I won't.


Hindsight is a funny old thing. As I came rushing towards the end of 2019, I looked back and realised I had started the year with a feeling of foreboding. I couldn't put my finger on it. I realised I had been waiting for life to be turned on its head. I knew it was coming in some way shape or form. Really quite weird.

Goodness knows how I'm going to feel by the end of 2020. Probably quite exhausted.

I wake up and quietly repeat to myself 'choose your mood'.

It's quite a hard thing, to summon up enthusiasm and energy when you feel quite numb and raw. 

Ah well, we soldier on. We get through it. We come out the other side, and hopefully, all the stronger for it.

I seek out the light, the softness, the gentle, and the reassuring at the moment. 

I know it will take time.  I just have to gentle on myself. 

My plan to blog more was sadly interrupted by life.......and sadness.

Hopefully, I can get myself back on track. Not that this is a particularly happy post with lots of creative joy to share, I guess I felt the need to jot things down......if just for myself.

“Life is amazing. And then it's awful. And then it's amazing again. And in between the amazing and awful it's ordinary and mundane and routine. Breathe in the amazing, hold on through the awful, and relax and exhale during the ordinary. That's just living heartbreaking, soul-healing, amazing, awful, ordinary life. And it's breathtakingly beautiful.”

L.R Knost


Friday, 21 June 2019

Spring 2019........

Dear Vanessa,

You have zoomed into 2019 at such a pace. It amazes you how fast time flies. Does it get even quicker than this, the older you get?

So.....what did you get up to in the Spring of 2019?

Turns out.....not a lot. Spring seemed to pass by in a daze. You found it hard to get motivated. The mundane everyday took up, what seemed like, EVERY moment of your time. The same cycle of things OVER AND OVER again. It pains you that you don't enjoy the mundane. You just feel it gets in the way of all the stuff you have in your head you'd like to do. Have you got any better?

Your enthusiasm for crafting went down the pan. It really came with the realisation that you just didn't have ANY MORE space to store your makes. You found that putting your heart and soul into creating something, weaving memories into something, made it hard to just give away and discard. You knew you'd never be a maker to sell that was for sure.

At the beginning of the year you decided that it would be the year of the garment.

Victoria Shawl By Sandra Cherry Heart

However, even the reality of storing said garments was an issue. This just put you off being creative in any way shape or form. So the mundane took over and you felt like you were dying a slow death of lack of creativity. It was quite depressing truth be told.

Then.....there was a glimmer of hope. Just as it started to get decided to make something really thick and chunky. You decided to re-visit the Bella Wrap you made by Belinda Harris-Reid. Having loved making it the first time round, but in yarn you weren't keen on, you had always had it in the back of your head to have another go at it.

The above wrap was the first one you ever made but you dyed it and were so pleased you did!

Getting back into the knitting habit after 4 years of not knitting anything was a little daunting. Dropped stitches still scare the bejesus out of you and you pull the most horrendous faces whilst you clap the needles together. Heaven help ANYONE if they dare try and talk to you.....your stitch counting just gets louder to drown them out. You wonder if there will EVER be a time when you look back and read this with a smile because you have finally managed to master knitting.

You persevered with your wrap and didn't make a bad attempt. You made your second wrap in Drops Andes yarn in off white and you loved the colour choice and yarn so much better. In fact, you were so pleased with it that immediately you cast off, you cast on again to make another. This time a pea green coloured one. This one took even less time with you feeling more sure of what you were doing. Your strange faces became a little less, and you actually ENJOYED knitting rows! You had visions of a myriad of colours. You wanted a duck egg and a pink at some stage. You wondered what to do with the first one you knitted as you loved it, just not the shade. You decided to dye it dark blue. Not really taking into consideration that the yarn was acrylic, the dark blue came out the most perfect shade of duck egg/silver blue. It couldn't have been more perfect if you'd have tried. Happy with the fact that you didn't need to cast on a duck egg blue wrap, you immediately found the most perfect pink and cast on for that. That one came out beautifully, however, the yarn being 20% Alpaca loved you more than you'd like. You felt like you were eating it as you knitted, and you are not sure what you can wear that it won't shed dreadfully on. But the colour.........swoon.

You are like that Vanessa. You find something that you like then you do overkill. You know it's the fear of never being able to do it again. Like buses. I'm sure you've had a blog post with that title?

At this precise moment in time, you are completely forgetting the fact that these big bulky wraps will have to go somewhere to be stored. You are just happy creating. It's your happy place. Remember that you bought the Marie Kondo book this Spring to try and help in your quest to change your rubbish habits. I wonder if by the end of the year it would have had any effect or been a complete waste of a read? I fear I know what my money is on. Was I right?


You are still finding it hard to stop procrastinating and just get on with things. You have reached the conclusion though that you will never really change. It's in your make up to be this way. You are a 50% person. You waste 50% of your day daydreaming. You also realise though, that daydreaming is fundamental to your overall well being. Music too. A life without music would be torture. Your day begins with a good cup of tea (always tea), followed swiftly by a coffee and a good cinematic radio station.

You have loved this time of year. You truly love the longer light........waking up to the sound of birds way before your alarm goes off.

You love sitting in the garden with your face to the sun, breathing in life and being utterly thankful for it. You feel happier in the 'you' that you are. Has it continued? I do hope so.

You have finally got your eucalyptus tree. You hope you don't kill it. You pretty much kill everything. 'Over Love' you call it!

You think that heading into summer you need to really give yourself a kick up the old posterior. You have told yourself you need a month burst of activity! ha ha!

You have loved that Gin seems to be the 'in' thing at the moment and you can get Gin in every flavour imaginable. It's a treat tipple for you and Rose Gin is your favourite.

You have enjoyed soaking up the moments of happiness and tranquil. Appreciating the quiet, the calm, and the beauty in the everyday.

Maybe it's an age thing, but you are trying so hard to step off of the spinning roundabout to try and stop and remember everything. To really appreciate this stage in your life.

The Bear's continue to grow and become the men that you had always hoped they would. You look at them and wonder how on earth they grew so quick? Your heart bursts for them, and the day they fly the nest your heart will break. However, in the interests of keeping it real, you'll get a dog and you'll soon forget about them!  ha ha! You are also TOTALLY looking forward to only having to do YOUR laundry and not clean a boys bathroom. Did that work out well I wonder? You are also thinking more wardrobe space to store more Bella Wraps!!!!!!! this season comes to an end and another begins, you have a plan of what needs to be done. You also have an idea of what you will probably realistically achieve, but let's hope you surprise yourself.

I hope you are well. I hope you are happy and content. 

Until the end of Summer.............