Sunday, 24 November 2013

Sometimes you need a little perspective...

I admit it, I'm a moaner.  A complainer, a whiner, a negative nellie.  It's easier for me to see the bad than look for the good.  Not an attractive quality, I know, but I feel like I can be honest with all of you out in Blogland.  That's not to say I don't try to be better.  As I've got older, I've become mindful of the time wasted bothering myself about what other people are up to,  especially as I never feel like I quite have enough time in the day.   And Coop is a good, calming influence on me in this regard.  Eternally optimistic, almost always positive we balance each other out perfectly.  Still, life at times catches up with you and it's easy to get ground down by mundanity until a bit of perspective is thrown your way.

This week, we had a family bereavement of someone not much older than me.  It's not often that I think anyone is all-round good; (there I go again) in my opinion everyone has a little quirk in their personality that you see every now and then which is not quite so shiny and nice.  But not in this case.  She was one of the truly good people, ever positive despite a life of real hardship at times.  Although we were much closer when we were little and time and life had come between us, I was more upset than I expected to be when I heard the news.  Upset for her, for her family, for the years that will never come to be.  And it gave me that little shake needed every so often to make you step back and gain a little perspective on how lucky you really are.   

I started to think about documenting the small but important things that happen every day in my life that make me feel happy and loved so that I don't wait for something so dramatic to happen before I appreciate them in the future.  And I thought that maybe you would like to see some of the things that have inspired me so far.

Jen is a fellow East-Anglian crafter who was inspired by this Pinterest post to keep a record of life each day on an index card in just a sentence or two.  Each year, you reuse the same card for that date so you can track your life from one year to the next.  I think this is such an excellent idea; it's so easy to be swept from one week to the next without realising that it's even passing you by let alone year to year.  It would be nice to be able to look back through the years and trace your life back every now and then.  

I stumbled across this video from Hailey Bartholomew on the Mollie Makes Inspiration blog page and found myself blubbing for ages afterwards.  Hailey embarked upon the task of photographing each day something that made her feel grateful so that she learnt to recognise the good things she has in her life.  She's collated these now into a video, narrating what she learnt along the way.  N.B.  Don't watch this if you're feeling emotional, it's a tear-fest!

3) One Sheepish Girl 52 Weeks of Instax
I know you know how much I love Meredith's One Sheepish Girl blog.  And this is one of the things I have found particularly inspiring.  Using an instant camera, (you know, the kind that prints out the photo straight from the camera, not high quality but quite fun) Meredith photographed something that happened each week of the year and displayed it in a picture frame.  

I tried to do this earlier this year after crazing Coop to buy me a Polaroid camera for my birthday.  Although I kept it up initially, I soon forgot to take my camera out and about with me (it's a bit of a chunky monkey) and the weeks soon whittled away.  

So what's my plan?   Well, I'm not quite sure yet.  I think whatever project I decide upon, I won't start until the new year, as I want to make sure I set aside the time to make a proper job of it.  I'm thinking of perhaps using my Polaroid camera to try a month of gratitude, finding a small thing each day that makes me happy and capturing it in a photo to display in my frame to remind me.  And if I can keep it up for a month, who knows?  Perhaps I can keep it going for 2014...

Sunday, 10 November 2013

Free Hanging Christmas Tree Decorations!

A while back I asked you to keep your fingers crossed for me as I'd had some exciting news and was waiting for it all to be finalised.  Well now is the time when I can finally share it all with you!

I'm so happy that the British company Black Sheep Wool asked me to design some free christmas tree decorations for their christmas campaign.  I was a little hesitant at first; I'd only ever designed Sheldon before and that was completely on a whim, what if I couldn't come up with anything this time?  I decided it was a huge opportunity I could't turn down, and set about coming up with some designs.  

And here they are:

Pretty cute right?!  

The patterns are available on the Black Sheep Wools website here along with christmas patterns from popular bloggers Annaboos House and Little Things Blogged.  

And there's something even more exciting.  Black Sheep Wools are launching the Creative Christmas Competition and they need your help.  The christmas tree at Black Sheep Wools' headquarters is looking bare and waiting for you to send in your decorations to make it festive!  There are fabulous prizes for the five best decorations selected the week before christmas so start crafting!  I can't wait to see what fantastic decorations you come up with, so remember to use the tag #bswcreativechristmas on FacebookTwitter or Pinterest so we can see your awesome work :)

Sunday, 3 November 2013

Shhhhhh! It's my yarn winder!

My family don't quite understand my crochet obsession.  Coop is really good about it all; probably because he has an ulterior motive - the more I crochet, the more uninterrupted time he has with his Playstation!  But the rest of my family find it hard to see the appeal.    They watch with confused glances as I hook away by the fire, and meet my new creations with a mediocre "Oh that's nice".  Luckily for me though, they pretend admirably when it comes to presents.  I saw a brief wrinkle pass across my mum's face when she asked what I would like for Christmas this year as I answered swiftly back "posh yarn, a yarn bowl and a yarn winder", but she nodded in agreement and gave me some pennies so that I could get what I wanted.  

Do you remember this:

Oy, that was a frantic week, made only harder by this tangled mess staring at me every time I walked through the kitchen.  Luckily for me, one of the christmas presents I had procured was a yarn winder.  Once I'd spent quite possibly in the region of 6-8 hours untangling this, there was no way I could leave the winder in the box and risk this happening again.  And anyway, I had to be sure that the yarn winder worked ok before I handed across to mum to be wrapped, right?

So here it is:

It's just a cheapy one, bought on Amazon for around £16, and there are plenty similar ones out there to choose from.  It works ok; the little clamp tightens up nicely onto my dining table, and although it works slightly loose over time, it was fine for what I needed.  The part that didn't work so well and caused a little frustration was the tension arm (the little wire piece on the left hand side).  It tucks away for easy storage, pulling out when in use, and is supposed to click in place so that the yarn is at the appropriate tension to make a nice, tightly wound ball.  However, this one doesn't really click, and so fairly regularly the yarn ends up all over the place as the tension is lost.  This could be overcome by holding the yarn in a certain position that prevented the arm from slipping, but it makes the process a bit slower and fussier.  

Having said that, I'm no major yarn winder, and so it will do just fine for my needs.  The little cakes it produces are neat, centre-pull balls which are easy to work with.  Once I'd wound one, I hunted around for extra yarn so I could wind even more!

For now, the winder is back in it's box and in the safe care of my parents.  I didn't mention that I'd given it a whirl (ha!) and am practicing my surprised face for when I open it on Christmas Day.  I'm also planning all the little yarn cakes I cam make once it's officially mine...

Friday, 1 November 2013

October Round Up

Whoah.  October has been a crazy month for me and Sheldon.  Who would have thought that posting a picture of him on the Yarndale Ravelry group would lead to such exciting things.  Sheldon has gone global!  His popularity has been truly overwhelming, I'm so grateful to everyone who has taken the time to send kind comments about Sheldon and have loved seeing pictures of Sheldon's cropping up on the internet.  

Because of Sheldon, my life of crochet has become even more diverse.  I have been asked to team up with a British wool company to work on some designs, yarn reviews and all that good stuff.  I can't tell you how excited I am at this opportunity.  On one hand, I am a little nervous about being ready for something like this.  Up until now, my crochet has been just for me, occasionally shared with my friends but mostly only to satisfy myself.  What if what I do is not good enough for what they want?  But I've shaken those thoughts off.  When am I ever going to get an opportunity like this again?  So I'm going for it, and plan on doing the best that I can do.  One design is already done, and there are more to come in time for Christmas.  When I can tell you more, I will do, I promise :)

Plans for October - reviewed

  • Making some bunting for a friend that I've already taken shamelessly, embarrassingly long to get around to (ok, I'm going to be realistic, I have every intention of doing this, I'm just not sure exactly when it's likely to be, and probably not before christmas now)
  • Starting my tunisian crochet Craftsy class - still to do, perhaps when I have some holiday from work I'll get to it
  • Learning more about using my DSLR camera - some reading done, more learning to do
  • Starting to think about things I need to make for christmas decorations/presents - I've made a start, but there's so much to do!  Another holiday project I think
  • Making a cowl for myself (well, I deserve a treat too) - stuff for me has taken a bit of back burner for now, this might have to drop off the list for now
  • Trying my hand at a bit of designing (!) - well at least there's one tick this month!
  • Christmas Christmas Christmas really!

Plans for November
Are your plans Christmas focused too or have you got any other things on the go this month?

What are you most pleased to have made this month?  What are your plans for October?

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