Thursday, 30 July 2009

You win some....

Stash 002

New stash - hmmmmmmmm....

Last week I said to Dom that walking away from your business is very much like leaving a long term relationship. That mixture of feeling guilty, anxious, bereft, excited for the future, selfish and sad is all too familiar. It's weird because I didn't expect to feel so emotional about it at all. A lot of people have said that I had good business reasons to close the business (which I did, and it's comforting that other people respect and understand the decision I have made) but even so, they don't seem to understand the process of grief that I feel. Even things like having to re-dream your future, because your plans have now been changed enormously, feel the same.

What I hadn't prepared for is how much losing your business allows you to see who your real friends are. Like leaving a relationship people have to choose. My real friends have responded with love, reassurance and generosity of spirit. Without exception I have cried whenever they have sent me their heart felt messages, and they have meant so much on a very, very fundamental level. However there have been a couple of surprises. One person whom I expected to be there for me has been conspicuous by her absence. And another, someone I considered a close friend, has really shown her true colours and is currently and unashamedly trying to profit from the situation. It feels as though I have been slapped in the face. I had a good cry this morning (and shouted at Charlie, which I regretted instantly, but he caught me at a bad moment - I must make it up to him later). I actually feel really hurt, and rather silly that I ever considered the "friendship" to be more than a business relationship. And upset that I'm allowing it to effect me and my family thus.

The weather today has been sunshine and showers, some of them thundery with hailstones, and that's kind of an appropriate metaphor for how I have been feeling. On the whole, I feel much more postive than the last couple of days. However, there have been some quite dark moments. I keep trying to put a positive spin on things - the best I can come up with at the moment is that it's a healthy process to weed out the bad things, a sort of cleansing. A spring clean. And that feels good.

On the other hand, my lovely, lovely husband has taken me out for the day to get some jobs done and to cheer me up. He's brilliant and gently but firmly getting me to do the necessary things, help me prioritise and get me out of the house. We did some chores, like paying in cheques, taking the dry cleaning in and collecting my prescription, then he took me to a local cafe for lunch (which was a bit grim - frozen omlette) and cooed with me over the three newborn babies at the table next door. Then he took me to Dunelm Mill for a browse, to two local wool shops for a restash (yay!) and bought me the new edition of House Beautiful.

Speaking of which, I have only had a quick flick through but I was inspired by this gorgeous kitchen that I thought I would share with you:

Stash 005

Finally, he also treated me to some hand made chocolates and local cheese for dinner from a new deli in town. Despite some of the nasty shocks of the day, I have to say that I really, really am blessed.

Wednesday, 29 July 2009

Mental Wallpaper


Some lovely roses Aunty Pauline bought for me after their stay at the weekend, and something that's making me smile.  Note to self - buy flowers more often.

For me, one of the tough things about depression is that recovery is not a straight line upwards. It would make sense to me that, if I carry on taking the medication properly, today I should feel a little bit better than I did yesterday, and the day after even better still. Frustratingly, it really does feel like a case of two steps forward and one step back.

It's two weeks and one day since ground zero - the day that I completely broke down. I had been really struggling with the depression since Christmas, but I knew that I was feeling worse and worse. The only relief I had were what I called "cocoon days." On cocoon days, I would disppear. I would tell everyone that I was working with the other (bearing in mind that I was working 2 jobs and running a business). I would then spend blissful time doing only what I wanted - which was usually knitting, crocheting or pottery painting.

Ironically, the more under pressure I felt, the more I needed cocoon days. And the more I needed them, the less I should have taken them, given that the work and pressure were ramping up. It was ever decreasing circles. In the end I let lots of things slide and people started to get frustrated and cross with me - which made me start to avoid them, and phone calls, letters and emails. Which made them more cross. And me more determined to take my time where I could. I became a muddled, defensive mess.

Ground Zero came about when I made a mistake at work. In some ways it was very silly and minor - I hadn't confirmed a booking. I'll be honest - I lied and said I had. Bullshitting is the easiest way out of these situations sometimes. It's not like me - I usually am very conscientious. Anyway, lots of people had started work on something based on this little white lie I told. And I started to panic. The pressure I felt under was indescribable, and I hated myself. I was literally heaving.

In the end, someone else had made a worse mistake than me and so the whole thing was abandonded. I was out of the shit. But when I got home, there was a letter for the business about a bill I didn't even know we'd run up. I just dissolved. I never cry, never. Except when I am watching something sad on the television, and even then it's embarrassing and Dom takes the mickey. But that evening I just sobbed and sobbed all night long. To the extent that Charlie, my 4 year old, was afraid I was going to die, and it was clear from their faces that Dominic and Jonathan were seriously worried about me too.

I literally spent the next 5 days on the sofa. I did bits and bobs of work from home, but I had five cocoon days in a row. I spent most of that time asleep - it was like my body just went into shutdown. I did some knitting, but very little really, and only really managed stocking stitch - I literally could not concentrate on anything for more than 10 minutes or so. I largely slept all morning and watched Diagnosis Murder and Murder She Wrote in the afternoon.

Since those five days, I have started to feel much better. Dom has been at home, it's the school summer holidays, and his gentle, positive influence has been really helpful. He really understands, having been through something similar himself a couple of years ago. He just listens and encourages me to do things as I need to. There is something about his quiet, positive strength that just allows me to hand all my trust over to him as I know he's always got my best interests at heart.

Despite feeling generally more upbeat, the last two days have been tough. The anxiety has returned and I have stopped sleeping. Last night Jonny had a sleepover in a friend's tent, and I spent most of the night worrying he was OK - which is mad, he's 12 FFS and it was a few minutes away from home. I left the back light on should he come home, and he had his keys. Nothing bad really could happen. But somehow that didn't stop the depressive Gremlins whittering in my ear all night. True to form he came home this morning having had a wonderful time. And I am just tired out.

The upside of feeling down is that I have allowed myself to spend lots of time crocheting. I am making a new Afghan for the dining room. I started to make the Pieced Throw from the Erika Knight Book but it was too modern for the room, as I wanted a vintage look, so I frogged it and started again. It also didn't look right in sage green and purple. So I started making a lovely, flowery granny square blanket, having been inspired by the brilliant Attic 24 blog.

The centre of each square is a new stitch for me - bobble stitch (click link for instructional video). I do 8 bobble stitches and it really looks like the centre of a flower as it's more pointy that the Granny trebles. Each batch of four squares are joined, with edging of four rounds of Granny trebles in different colours. I am currently thinking that I will join all those bigger squares - possibly 9 or 12 - and then edge with a wide border of white and lilac. This will balance the bright colours of the centre squares, and will make sure it stands out on my aubergine sofas.

I am looove-ing it. There is something so soothing about the mindless trebles, which I can now do with my eyes shut, and I love the different textures of the different yarns. I really do like using a mixture of odds and ends, in the recycle and make-do-and-mend tradition of afghans. It is a soothing, repetitive mental wallpaper and helps me pass these dark, depressive days.

Anyway, what do you think?

Crochet 001

Crochet 003

And, as a contrast to this lovely colour, I decided to have a bash at the round cushion in Erika Knight's book. I am crocheting in a cream, cotton DK and I love the texture. It worked up really quickly to start with, although now the rounds are over 120 stitches it's taking much longer! I have run out of yarn for this, and for the edges of the afghan, so I will have to pop out to my LYS when the car comes back from the garage and it stops raining.

Here you go. And here's hoping for a bit more sunshine (literal and metaphorical) tomorrow.... x

Crochet 005  

Monday, 27 July 2009

Project 18: Purple Lace Scarf

Did I tell you that we were renovating our kitchen and dining room? Yes? Well, given that I was juggling 2 jobs, a business, a family and depression it was, in hindsight, a marvellous decision to add a little more stress and aggrevation to the mix - not. I am thrilled with progress, although we've still a long way to go and we've been working on it since February.

Anyway, I wanted to challenge myself to have a go at a knitted lace pattern, and it was a welcome distraction from the decorating. It was dead simple - knit one, yarn over, knit two together. I love scarves, they're just like a secret hug during the day, aren't they?

Cost: 1 skein of Rowan DK Cotton £1.39from

Time taken: 2 days

Satisfaction Rating: 7/10. It was nice to learn a new skill, but the simplicity of the pattern eventually became a little tedious.

Purple lace scarf

Purple lace scarf 2

Project 17: Hot Water Bottle

When I was a child, I have fond memories of our "poorly blanket." It was a crochet blanket, dominantly black, that got brought out every time my brother or I were ill. We were allowed to sleep on the sofa underneath it - the only time this was allowed - with the pillows from our bed and usually a glass of Ribena.

We also had a hot water bottle with a pink crochet cover - and a rather tatty, fuzzy well loved thing it was too. But it had a sort of dignity, it felt as though it had been there forever, waiting to dispense comfort when we were feeling under the weather.

I have been overwhelmed by a desire to create something similar for my little family - a few items that give comfort when we are at our most vulnerable. We had a hot water bottle with no cover that was transparent with plastic fishes that floated inside when it was filled with water. It was cute but impractical - who looks at a hot water bottle when it's empty and not needed? And when it was filled with hot water, it was too hot to hold. So I took pity on it.

The crocheted body started off life as a tea cosy - it's just strips of double crochet. However I just made it far too large, so needed to frog it. In the end I decided to join it together at the side and bottom and make this cover. The polo neck was knitted from a rib pattern adapted from a polo neck jumper, but with a few yarn overs to allow space for the pom pom tie.

It's not been used yet, but just knowing it's there in the cupboard, just in case, is comfort enough for me at the moment.

Cost: about £10 in various yarns

Time taken: 4 days approx

Satisfaction rating: 8/10. Quick and relatively easy. If i did it again, I would shape the sides so there's not so much bulk.

Hot water bottle

Project 16

Project 16: crochet cosmetic bag

It was Aunty Pauline's birthday and I wanted to make her a present as she was the person who helped teach me to crochet. I have had these greens and browns in my stash since starting the Seaside Blanket, and I was really tempted to put them together in a mint choc-chip colour scheme. I love the results.

I am also giddy with delight at the cabbage rose. It started life as a frill, but it was too... errrm... frilly for me. I rolled it up in disappointment, and then realised with some wangling it would make a good flower. And it's perfect as some of the holes reduce the general bulk, and the scalloped edge make lovely petal shapes.

Now I realise that this cabbage rose might not be to Aunty Pauline's taste as she's rather more traditional in her taste than me. So, following Betz White's excellent felted broach tutorial I made the rose and attached it to a badge pin, so it can be taken off it preferred (or indeed used as a corsage if it's loved)

The bag itself is just some double crochet in different stripes

Cost: £9 if yarn bought from scratch, although this didn't cost me anything as it was purchased for another project.

Time taken: one evening

Satisfaction rating: it's up there. 9/10 as I love the end result and it was quick and easy.

Aunty Paulines make up bag

Flower close up   

Project 14 Taa-Daa

God how I love this blanket. Inspired by the seaside, I tried really hard to get lots of different textures in as well as colours of the sea. I designed it to go on our bed, but it's a bit too small! I *may* have to invest in a chair to go in our bedroom, ideally a Lloyd Loom one. Which (oh bum!) means I will also have to crochet a cushion to go with it.

I have learned several things: weaving in the ends is a complete pain the arse. Next time I will weave as I go. I still haven't weaved them all in, I aim to do a few every now and then to spread the pain. Blocking really helped. As I used several different type of yarn (merino wool, acrylic, bamboo, cotton and mixes of various sorts) the tension was not the same in all the squares. However, I wet blocked the blanket and it really, really helped. I do love the fact that I used different textures though, it really works. I think I am motivated by texture more than by colour.

Cost: blimey, I didn't keep track. Approximately £50 I think.

Time: 16 weeks approximately

Satisfaction rating: 8/10 - those ends downmarked it.

Seaside afghan1

Seaside afghan2

Seaside afghan3

Sunday, 26 July 2009

About Me

Small claire

Hello and welcome to my little corner of the internet. I am Claire, Mum to two sons, aged 12 and 4, and wife to Dominic. We live in a cottage in East Yorkshire surrounded by farms and agricultural land and I absolutely love the changing colour and texture of the landscape.

I have always classed myself as a happy-go-lucky sort of person. However, four years ago after the birth of Charlie, my world was seriously rocked by Post Natal Depression which suprised me by its randomness, as I had the most lovely life. I didn't cope very well and didn't get the treatment I should have done. We moved house, and I started a business which I loved and took every second of my time. 2 years later I was working 60 hours a week and fighting against a global recession and, not surprisingly, the depression returned. This week I reluctantly took the decision to close my business because my sanity had to come first.

So, thing thing is now I don't really know who I am. I am in my 30s (eep!) I love my family to bits, I love where I live and I love crafting. I could happily spend my life hidden away from the world doing my own crafting thang. And, for now, that is what I intend to do. I will literally knit (crochet, paint, stitch and sew) myself back together.

I would love to see your crafting work for inspiration and hear your stories of how you got over the dreaded depression. Please do email me, I'd love to hear your stories.