Friday, 30 October 2009

A Cosy Autumn Afternoon

Home Grown Squash and Pumpkins on our Nature Table

Hello, my lovelies. Is all good where you are? Are you dodging those shadows? There seem to be a lot around at the moment, don't there? These dark nights and mornings, and dull days are enough to make anyone lose their sparkle. Grab a cup of tea and we'll share a stolen 5 minutes.

I haven't been online for a few days because we've had problems with our broadband connection, again. It's so frustrating. Dom tells me patiently that it's because we live rurally AND we're the very last house on the village connection, but that's just not the point. I don't have tantrums about many things, but the internet is one of those things that I make an exception for. Friends are important, aren't they?

It's lovely here at the moment. It's half term and Dom is pottering about in the kitchen melting down honeycomb to try to extract the wax. He can swap the wax for bee supplies at Thornes, but I have a secret penchant for making them into candles. Maybe I will someday. I am wrapped in a couple of blankets on the sofa knitting and blogging. Jonny has gone to an indoor play centre with his mates and Charlie is using one of my handcrafted blankets to make a den under the desk. The whole house smells of honey, and we're listening to the Wiggly Wigglers podcast, which this week happens to be about composting.

I finally got my appointment with the Mental Health Services assessor yesterday and, I am sorry to say, it wasn't all that positive. I left feeling as though I hadn't been listened to again. I duly filled in the questionnaire, was patronised a little (yes, I know that lack of sleep means I'll be tired during the day and is likely to contribute to low mood). I her I was feeling suicidal and that I found talking to someone about it humiliating. Still no reaction.

The  upshot is that she referred me back to the GP to review my medication as she was concerned that my side effects were unacceptable and I should have my dose lowered - I am not up for that, especially as I got no sense that she tried to get to know me at all.  She recommended counselling - but there is a 12 month waiting list. That'll be 16 months since the day my world imploded. I have been invited back for 8 x 30 minute sessions for target setting, but I am not feeling very positive. I have to set some targets for what I want to achieve in these sessions. I am guessing that "to get well" will be seen as facetious. I explained that I don't feel as though my medication is working at the moment, and was told that I need to change my attitude toward it, as it's likely to be my negative thinking that's preventing the medication from working....

So now I don't know what to do. Short of slashing your wrists, how do you see a medical professional that understands AND has the expertise to prescribe effective treatment? It seems that this option is available if you are able to pay for it (we aren't). So now I am left, with no further medical treatment booked, in this horrible wilderness with no hope.

I'll post about this again. Each time I think about it, my mind stops working. It is so depressing. I feel as though I can touch death through a gossamer curtain and each time I seem to be poking it a little harder, just to see whether I can, hoping that the veil will not break. I frighten myself.

So, onto lighter things. I have started my Christmas crafting - do you want to see? Really? Ok then....

Mums dishcloths 1

Mums throw 2

all these knitted squares are dishcloths and will be stitched together to go into my Mum's throw. This spring she redecorated her lounge with beiges / creams / golds / duckegg blue and the odd bit of coral. I wanted to mix up those colours and use texture to create something unique. I had been playing around with this idea for some time, but couldn't get it right in my head. Eventually I realised that if all my squares were DK weight on size 4 needles, and all dishcloth patterns, then they should be about the same size. The best thing is, they are pretty much. Any differences will hopefully be sorted out when they are blocked.

I bought some vintage cream yarn yesterday from Hobbycraft. I will crochet 2 round squares to make strips of cream that run between the strips of big, coloured blocks. Then I will trim the whole throw with a scalloped crocheted edge.

I'm having a little rest from the throw for now, yesterday I made another Seafoam scarf for Aunty Pauline in coral for Christmas, and I have cast on an alien scarf today for my father in law, Baz. He likes things quirky. He's a school caretaker and will love anything that appeals to the children. I have been itching to cast it on for weeks, and couldn't resist a moment longer. Besides which, it does you good to have a bit of variety, doesn't it?!

Right-o, I had better go and get on with some more work. I promised myself I would sort out the play room today and sort out any toys the boys can donate to charity. It'll create some extra space for the knitted goodies Santa will bring...

Lots of love and  big hugs

Claire x

Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Home Comforts


Hello my lovelies. Have you had a good weekend? How are you feeling? I hope you are staying on top of things.

I had a visit to the doctors at the end of last week. It was rather depressing in some ways as she said that I really needed to have counselling and there was only so much that the medication can do. Yes, I know, and it's not my fault the mental health services have taken 3 months to offer me an appointment! However, there's no point in vexing my frustration, I know that there is much demand for their services and there are people far, far worse than me. I left feeling as though I shouldn't have gone and guilty that I was making a fuss about nothing. However, I am trying to keep in mind that this is a symptom of the depression.

The upshot is that she's increased my beta blockers and I have had a positive few days! It would be a lie to say the days are without challenge, but I am feeling quite a lot better. I am really hoping that this positivity sticks. I have managed to open the curtains every day, clear up a bit, smile and start to tackle the current big fear that is Christmas.

I've had tonsillitis for almost 2 weeks now. In one tonsil. It just won't clear up, frustratingly. Also, on Saturday, I got mauled by a very cute little kitty that came to our catflap. I tried to befriend him and he went for me - he was hanging off my arm by his teeth, with all four sets of claws stuck into me! I have a sore arm now, at one point it was quite sore and infected, but it's seeming to clear up now.

Would you like to see my Christmas making list? Would you? Honestly? It's quite a corker! However, putting it together has cheered me right up, ironically. I love making things and having a big list to choose from - and the excuse to sit down and make due to excess of said list - is making me warm and fuzzy.

OK - here goes:

Mum throw
Mother in Law throw
Washcloths x 3
Drawstring bags x 3
Bottle home made beer
Home made bramble jam
Baz's willy warmer
Baz's alien scarf
Pauline bag / scarf
Phoebe beret
Little Red Riding Hood dressing up bag
Cookie in Jar
Ripple blanket
Charlie's gloves
Fishing game
Hobby horse
Babette blanket
Prince Charming dressing up bag
Felt food
Dom scarf
Dom work cushion
The Cottage applique
Charlie knitted teddy
Dad socks

Grandad socks


I am on the last square of my Mum's throw, which is made up of dishcloths. It looks much better than it sounds! They are made with soft yarn, with different textures. It's the first time I have made a granny square blanket from knitted panels rather than crochet, but I thought Mum would prefer this slightly more refined art. I am planning to join the strips with 2 round crochet squares in a beige / stone colour, and then give it a scalloped crocheted edge. I hope to block it today, so should come up with some pictures tomorrow.

I have made a lot of progress with Christmas, which is one huge weight off my mind as I was starting to feel quite panicky. With me not working money is really very tight around here. We really are going to have to do things quite cheaply, although I really do love the make do and mend spirit, so that's OK by me.

I have made a spreadsheet (Dom approved!) of all the presents we need to buy. This year I bought several as I saw them cheaply, which is saving us a fortune! I will certainly do that again. Also, making your own presents is a good way of shaving off a few £££ from the bill. Anyway, everyone has a budget, and now a list of every gift they will have. I must, must, MUST stick to this list and not pick up bits and pieces as I go along. I am terrible at this. Anyway, for everyone, including Dom and the boys, we're looking at ust shy of £300. Still a fortune, huh?

My secret plan is to make £300 from selling things on Ebay, thus making it a money neutral Christmas. We really could do with the space too. So we win on both counts. I am so determined to make it work this year.

Righto, Charlie wants his breakfast so I had better go. Lots of love to you all. Big hugs.

Claire x

Thursday, 22 October 2009

You Gotta Be Strong Enough To Walk On Through The Night...

Fab afghan 30 skeins of Noro

Isn't this afghan amazing? It's not mine! I discovered it on Ravelry and can't stop looking at it. What inspiration!

Well, hello my lovelies. I am sending you big, woolly hugs, I've poured myself a coffee and suggest you do the same too. Shall we take 5 minutes to put our feet up together and catch up? Good-oh.

It's been a very dark couple of weeks here in East Yorkshire literally and metaphorically. I have been really, really struggling. There have been lots of days when I have double locked all the doors and refused to open the blinds and curtains. Jonny has a secret knock and Dom has to send me a text message just before he gets home. I know this isn't right, and I feel dreadfully sad for my family, but I just can't help it. I need to feel safe.

There has been a lot going on, relating to the closure of the business, that I can't really talk about on here. But it has made me feel very frightened and panicky. I can really relate to the 'fight or flight' feelings that books on depression always mention. My self esteem has really taken a knock and there are days when I wonder whether everyone would be better off without me.

Having said that, today I am feeling an eensy bit more positive, so I don't want to dwell too much on the darkness. Suffice to say, I have been / am there, if you are in the black pit at the moment.

On a positive note, I have reached out for help and got some amazing responses. Weird as it may seem, I emailed Dom and told him how suicidal I was feeling; I hadn't wanted to trouble him before as he has a lot on his place. He has been marvellous. I emailed The Samaritans one especially bleak afternoon and they responded, saying they were glad I felt I could talk to them. I don't know why, but that sentence made me feel warm inside and has been very helpful. Perhaps because it didn;t make me feel like a burden. Also, I posted on a forum I visit regularly and got some lovely responses from friends old and new. Many had experienced the same thing and, in a funny way, it's reassuring to hear that it's part of a process. I have also had some wonderful, wonderful comments from Postcrossers - welcome, if you're visiting! Even though I feel in a dark place personally, I feel blessed to have some wonderful, loving people around me. I can feel you, even if I can't always respond.

I haven't blogged for ages because I couldn't motivate myself to take some pictures. That would have meant getting the camera out, charging it, finding something to photograph, finding some good light, arranging the pieces, uploading the images, editing them etc etc - it was just too many decisions. I missed you though. I love blogland, it gives me the opportunity to engage with the world in a voyeuristic way, but engage with it nevertheless. And it's warm, personable, friendly and inspiring.

I have always considered myself to be something of a bloke's girl and, having a brother, husband and two sons, that has always been useful. However, at the moment, I find I am craving female company (I hope that doesn't sound rude?!) I have been thinking about it a lot, and I realise that it's a need to feel mothered. I have spent the last 13 years of my life mothering, and now I feel as though I need something back. I don't mean this to be a criticism of my own mother at all, because this is quite an abstract feeling.

Let me sum it up:

I want to be somewhere safe, where I don't have to make any decisions. Somewhere where I feel loved and cherished. Somewhere clean and warm and comfortable, with clean, nice smelling bed linen. Somewhere I can relax completely and not feel guilty, or as though I am not pulling my weight. Someone who will hug me, and laugh with me and leave me alone if I need it. Someone who will understand me without needing to say a word. Somewhere I can undo myself and be properly vulnerable for the first time in my life, so that I can put myself back together properly and face the world again.

My husband really can't provide this for me, it's the mothering of an older woman I need. Someone warm and wise and who really, really wants the best for me.

Imagine you have clenched your fist for a long time, really, really tightly. It would hurt, wouldn't it? In order to recover from the pain you would have to gradually relax each of your fingers until they were straight and then massage them until the pain had left. And wait for a good long time until you had forgotten they had ever been clenched in the first place before you used that hand again.

That is where I am at the moment. My fist has been clenched for as long as I can remember. I guess I am in the process of relaxing, and I know it's going to take a long time.

Today I opened the curtains and blinds for the first time in a week and let the weak afternoon sunshine in. It's a start. Now I am going to wrap myself up in the afghan I made, and have a snooze on the sofa. Dom is home late this evening, so I have lots of time to get the chores done. I will iron his shirts, I think, and make a cake. A couple of little ways I can let my family know that I love them.

I have started Christmas gift knitting and it's really helping me through the tough times. Did I say I have had tonsillitis for a week now? Just in one tonsil, it's driving me mad. Anyway, tomorrow I will share some knitting pictures with you. At least I have written about the darkness, and now I can draw a line under it.

I hope all is well with you. I think about you often.

Chin up

Claire x

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

Project 22: Baby Feet


My friend from Ravelry, Julie has just given birth to twin girls. I wanted to make something she'd love (and I would secretly covet) so I had a go at these lovelies. Aren't they adorable? I love making baby girl things, having had two boys. And these were a cinch.

I first had a go earlier in the year when I was trying to learn how to 'make one' in knitting. This was a perfect pattern. However, I ended up somehow with three left feet! This time, at least, I got it right.

Cost: one ball of Wendy Supreme Luxury Cotton DK (£3.50)

Time taken: one day

Lessons Learned: make-ones. Also the importance of reading the pattern accurately and not just assuming you know what to do. Perserverence and self discipline is important when learning a new skill.

Satisfaction Rating: Challenging, cute and quick to make so it's a high one - 9/10

We had a lovely weekend, I hope you did too. Hull fair was great fun - the boys really enjoyed good, old fashioned rides like the helter skelter and children's roundabouts with cars on, and the ghost train. Charlie won a toy that flashes in the dark on the 'hook a duck' stall and it hasn't left his side since. We pigged out on roast pork and apple sauce sandwiches, and came home with a bag full of brandy snaps, cinder toffee and nougat. YUMMM....

See you tomorrow, I hope you keep the ghosts at bay. I'm struggling with mine a lot at the moment and suspect a change of medication may be in order, but I'm giving them as little head space as possible. The equivalent of sticking my fingers in my ears and saying 'lalalala, I can't hear you.' So, up yours, gremlins!

Love and hugs, Claire xxx

Friday, 9 October 2009

Project 21 Taa-Daa: Hand Made Postcards


I have recently come across a fantastic little project that's really caught my imagination. It's called Postcrossing. Essentially, you register and get given up to 5 addresses around the world to send a postcard to. When your 5 have been sent, you are then nominated to people wanting new addresses, and receive 5 postcards yourself, through the post, from anywhere in the world.

When I was a little girl I used to love having penpals - we used to write off to an organisation in Finland (I believe?) called the IPF and they would send back an address for you to correspond with. I was always very excited about getting new penfriends, but our letters would always dry up pretty quickly once we'd exchanged information about the obvious (usually boyfriends, siblings, pop stars, pets - that's about all we had to talk about.) Well this is kind of the same, except it's more of a penfriend one-night-stand. You put some information about the sort of postcard you'd like, and wait and see what comes through the door - and that's where the commitment ends. Perfect.

Charlie and I wre painting at the weekend and, as usual, I had been instructed to paint and wasn't sure what to do. So, inspired by Vanessa's brilliant blog, Do You Mind If I Knit, I started to have a go at some gift labels. These soon morphed into full on, multi craft, double sided postcards. Which I thought I would share with you.

One side is painted watercolour, either as a wash, or something more detailed. Voila:


The other side is embellished with felt, fabric and buttons:


I have so far sent one to the USA, one to France, and one to the Netherlands, Finland and Germany. I've added the blog address to all my cards, so "hello!" if any of you reading are Postcrossers!

Do you know the best thing? Someone has offered to pay me to make some for them! Pay! Me! I am so pleased about that, it's given me a real lift on an otherwise dark week.

It's cold here, very autumnal, and this week is the famous Hull Fair - the largest funfair in Europe. It comes to Hull for a week at the end of the season (picture below). We're hoping to take the children. I'll send a report next week.

Love to you all, and have a fantastic weekend

Claire x



Wednesday, 7 October 2009

Depression Rides Again

Just a short post today, I have a crafty taa-daa which I might post later, but I really wanted to talk about my depression for a while.

I am on the black slide again at the moment, and I have no idea why. I am worried my medication is no longer as effective - this happened before with fluoxetine. I probably should go back to the doctors, but I am afraid to. Pathetic, no? I don't want to phone, and I don't want to confront the fact that I probably should be on other medication, and go through that awful 2 week adjustment period again.

I have an appointment to be assessed by a counsellor on the 29th October - that's 3 months since the breakdown started. I feel abandoned. I have no idea how to access the services I desperately need. Trying to cope seems to only be masking my real feelings, as everyone around me seems so uncomfortable about acknowledging them.

Mornings are especially hard at the moment. Each day I wonder whether today will be the day I take the overdose. I am afraid of myself.

Nothing much else to add really.

Monday, 5 October 2009

Autumn At The Seaside

Hello lovelies. Sorry I haven't been about much recently. It's been a down-in-the-dumps sort of week, nothing awful really, but I just couldn't face posting. I had to run some errands at the end of last week, which I find very stressful still. However, I have made my own lovely hand knitted, Murder She Wrote, tea and cake coccon, in which I am very happy indeed. So I stayed there for the most part. It passed the time in the least painful way possible.

Yesterday, we had the most wonderful day out as a family to Spurn Point, a local beach. I have not felt so wonderful in weeks. I thought I would share the pictures, and some information about glorious East Yorkshire, the forgotton bit of the UK, with it's huge skies and lost coastline.

Beach collage 1

Don't you think my boys look handsome? That picture of Dom makes my insides go all weak. He really is gorgeous, don't you think? Jonny is in that magical not-a-boy-not-yet-a-man-stage, his bone structure is changing, he's growing like a weed but the hormones haven't seriously kicked in yet so he still has the most lovely skin. Both my sons have the most adorable skin, I can't even begin to describe how velvety soft it is. And it smells divine.

Beach collage 2 

We walked about 5 miles all in, and took a flask of tea and some chocolate to share on our trusty beach blanket. It was a warm autumn day with a light breeze. Spurn is literally a headland and when you walk down the road you have the Humber estuary on your left, and the North Sea beach on your right. We walked on both sides, enjoying the smell of the salty air and the seaweed.

Beach collage 3 

The sea at this part of deserted beach is so sandy, it looks like hot chocolate. Which might sound odd, but it isn't in the least unpleasant. The Holderness coastline is one of the fastest eroding in the UK, so there are all sorts of treasures to be found. The area was used as a military defence in the wars, so great chunks of brick, concrete, wire and rope can be found washed up on the shore, where it's been washed off the cliffs. It is such a private, desolate, dramatic coastline and I love it.

Beach collage 4

We collected treasures and bought them home to go on our impromtu nature table. It's happened quite by accident, but I love it so. Last week Charlie collected leaves, conkers and sticks, quite unprompted by me, and arranged them on the side table Dom made. This morning I arranged our beach treasures (top right, above). I wonder what next week will bring? Each time I see them my heart does a little skippety-skip.

The day ended, cold and red nosed, with home made minestrone soup waiting in the slow cooker, fresh bread and home brewed bitter. Lovely.

Take care, Claire xx