Wednesday, 17 February 2010

Project 4 Taa-Daa: Crochet Bunting

 I love, love, love this!

It was dead quick and easy too. I made up the pattern myself!

Crochet bunting 1

I apologise for the fuzzyness of the photos, I could not seem to focus that day at all!

Crochet bunting 2

I was inspired by the Crochet and Knit Flowers book I got for Christmas.

Crochet bunting 3

Do you like them?

I wanted something summery to cheer up my hallway. We use the side door here, rather than the front door, and it doesn't get much sunlight.

Can you spot my naughty boy, TC? He has a thing for boxes. Dom had a box full of beekeeping equipment in the hall that was too heavy for me to move, and I couldn't get TC out of the picture.

Project 3 Taa-daa : Pottery Class

Pottery class 2
Pottery bowl

You know what? I don't enjoy my pottery class on a Friday morning anywhere near as much as I thought I would. I had dreamed of pottery for ages, but I haaate the tutor, he's really crap. He expects you to get on with your own thing, and will then come over (sometimes weeks after you started, having watched you get on week after week) and say "you've done that wrong."

It's no surprise I don't enjoy it really, is it?

Anyway, here is my offering. The idea of the roses was to put them on wire in the kitchen window, like a cross between a net curtain and a mobile. I will take a photo if I ever get this done.

I like the glaze on the bowl; it was the best of a bad bunch. Unless it's pottery with those 1970s brown spots then, frankly, Mr Teacher 1) thinks you are an arse and 2) won't allow you to do it.

Satisfaction Rating: 1/10. Crafting should not be combative.

Project 2 Taa-Daa: Felted Bowl

I have been wanting to have a go at felting for some time but, for some unknown reason, had been putting it off. I think fear of the unknown sometimes makes me retreat from doing the things that interest me the most - weird, huh?

My first go at felting was unsuccessful - it was a stripy bowl, but some yarn didn't felt whilst others did. It became a small, floppy -in-places-but-stiff-in-others, tiny beret. Which gave me an idea!

I really enjoyed knitting the Pat and Julia Beret for my Mother-in-Law for Christmas (which became affectionately known as the Bumhole Beret. Rather embarrassing as the pattern author favourite-d it on Ravelry...) Anyway, I decided to have a go again, and felt the resulting beret.

I stuck it in a 60 degree wash with a few pairs of jeans. The anticipation was immense. This time I used 100% wool (like, durr, but I had read things on the internet where pepole claimed yarn of up to 50% wool content could be felted - THEY WERE WRONG!)

Anyway, here 'tis. I am pleased. I have some lovely mother of pearl buttons with which to embellish it too, soon.

Felted bowl 1

Felted bowl 2

Satisfaction Rating: Knitting the hat - 5/10, been there, done that. Felting - 10/10. You do nothing except wait with baited breath for the wash cycle to finish. Perfect!

Cost: one skein of 100% wool yarn - £4.00 (ish)

First Taa-Daa of 2010 : Hand Knit Socks!

Well, I am very proud of myself for this one, because this time last year knitting socks felt like the very pinnacle of knitting - and something I would never achieve. However, I have, and here they are!




These socks were knit using Colinette Jitterbug 4 ply yarn - not cheap at £9.95 per skein, but amazing to work with. I bought the yarn back in September and was saving it for a special occasion.

The one thing that drives me mad about "posh" yarns are having to change it from a skein to a ball. I know it's suposed to show off the colours better but, frankly, it's a pain in the arse. You don't buy cotton in a skein to put onto a bobbin before using on a machine do you? Hmm? Hmm?? Also, I am not a huge fan of variegated yarns. They always look great on the skein, but go a sort of grey colour when knitted up. I like my colours pure and strong. Except in this case, where the colours are strong enough to speak for themselves.

I got second sock syndrome, so I waited about a fortnight between sock one and sock two - the novelty of wearing one sock wore off after ... umm ... about 24 hours. I am such a child.

Anyway, this was a good one to start the year with - and was #54 from the 101 in 1001 list!
The pattern is here, if you want the link: 

Satisfaction Rating: 8/10. They're a bit baggy around my heels and were quite fiddly to do. But I am very pleased I completed them.

The Mojo Returneth!



Ye-haaw! The mojo seemed to come back overnight, thanks to my lovely husband, some chair painting, some hookey loveliness and a couple of good episodes of Hustle. Oh, and an Indian Takeaway. Sometimes the only way to get back on track is to spoil yourself.

I won't focus on this long, but I do think it gives some sort of context. In the last few weeks, a friend has had his home repossessed, another been taken to court along to same route and I am worrying about them both. In addition to this, another friend has been feeling suicidal, another has had a miscarriage and - on top of this - the baby of someone I 'know' on a forum I visit has died. It's hard to feel positive when you're heart is breaking for someone else, isn't it? Even if it's someone you know at arms length then it's perfectly possible to feel for them, quite deeply. I wish I had a fixing wand but, sadly, I don't. However, I think it's natural to feel upset and vulnerable when you hear of other people's bad news. I really hope this run of bad luck is over now.

Anyway, to more positive things. If bad news teaches us one thing, it must be to enjoy and appreciate what is good in the world while we can.

I am having an arse of a job uploading and editing all 135 photos I have collected, but I am itching to take some more, which is a good sign I think. I will keep this post at the top, but will post retrospectively as though I have been posting at the right time all along ;o) Please read through - and please accept my apologies for shoddy blogging.

<biiig group hug to you all. You keep me sane, you really do>

Claire x

* The picture is of my chicken, Ginger. She keeps escaping her run, naughty thing. She has lots of mojo, and I suspect nicked mine. Look at her standing there with a blade of grass in her beak, looking like some French model smoking a cigarette.


Hi gang

Sorry I haven't been in touch for ages (again), it's been a weird few days and I am feeling... well... as though I am drifting along, and not really in a good way.

I've not been near my camera for ages, and I can't make up my mind which project to start next, so I'm feeling a bit frustrated with myself. And I have no inspiration at the moment either. I finished Dom's Dashing Gloves at the weekend, but can't get into any other project at the moment.

Dom and the boys are at home this week, so we're about to start decorating the kitchen (again). We started last February half term - whoops - but life has overtaken us since then. I can't <wait> for it to be done!

On the positive side, I went to visit my new therapist last week and she was excellent, I really liked her. She spent a long time talking through my situation with me, and I left feeling quite elated. I see her again next week, which I am really looking forward to.

The laptop is about to run out of power, so I must dash. Sorry this isn't the most upbeat of posts; I didn't want you to think I had abandoned you. I will be back with more cheer and more projects soon!

Lots of love

C x

Thursday, 4 February 2010

Review: Shoot the Damn Dog by Sally Brampton

Shoot the damn dog

'Love' is an odd word to describe a book that is as utterly heart-wrenching as 'Shoot the Damn Dog.' Sally Brampton's experience of severe depression is raw, agonising and, in parts, pessimistic. It's not an easy read, but I did love it. Her experiences are refreshingly honest and, in the pits of depression, honesty is not only something you need, but it is something rarely given.

Since venturing on this road of Major Depressive Disorder, I have asked questions many times, and have been given vague, well intentioned answers. 'How long does a breakdown last?', 'how do I know it's actually a breakdown and not just me being a drama queen', 'is it normal to feel rage?', 'how will I know I am getting better' - and so on - none of them are met with real answers; a patronising smile and, a 'how long is a piece of string?' type answer is the best I seem to get. Sally's portrayal of her own breakdown was a reference point and that, in itself, is helpful. I am the first to admit a sample of two people is hardly conclusive proof of the norm, but to know that someone else spends whole weeks avoiding the phone, for example, or they "cannot write" (like me) is helpful.

Like 'The Bell Jar', there is no easy conclusion to the depression. I like that. It's good to know that there's no happy ever after I am passively waiting for. Ironically, Sally's path to recovery started with a failed suicide - the second failed suicide. She gave up hope that death was a solution to the pain, and that's when things started to get better. That was a lightbulb moment for me. For some reason, I assumed death came quickly, tempted by the merest hint of chancing fate - in much the same way that until I was 30 I assumed I would get pregnant the first time I had unprotected sex. Discovering one's chances of conception each month was around 25% was quite a shock. Likewise, realising death wouldn't necessarily come when I called was also a shock. And a good shock.

The vast majority of the book is about the illness rather than the solution. Some may find this disheartening. However, I felt such empathy for Sally I was quite happy to hear about her daily struggles, and especially the way she balanced her depression with her parental responsibilities. I am not sure there were any answers, but it was helpful to understand that there are others in the same situation as me.

'Shoot The Damn Dog' is pretty brutal; I would advise some introspection before you read it if you are suffering from depression. There were times when it made me feel far worse normal - but there were also things that I found deeply thought provoking. I often think about her argument that people feel depression has a "moral tone." She argues it is an illness, like all other physical illnesses. Of course we all subscribe to that, on paper at least, but it's a viewpoint I try to bear in mind when I feel guilty that things are piling up around me.

I think the thing I appreciate most of all is that Sally Brampton really helps you to understand how depression actually feels. Amongst many other things, she talks of her throat monster. I don't have that, but I do often feel as though I have been slapped around the face. I found a sense of the depressive experience that has been lacking elsewhere. I had in mind something similar when I started this blog. Sometimes you just need to 'sit next to' someone who has experienced the same as you, whether in a physical sense or metaphorical. If that's what you're looking for, then I would certainly recommend that you give 'Shoot The Damn Dog' a go.

Amazon link

Wednesday, 3 February 2010

Me (not dead!)

Well, hello there lovely bloggers, how goes it? I hope you are all well, and you remember who I am. It's been an absolute age, hasn't it?

The last couple of weeks have been a bit odd, and, for that reason, I haven't really felt up to blogging. Firstly, I was really collared by the black dog. Properly and truly can't-get-off-the-sofa-sit-on-your-hands-suicidal sort of depression. That said, as awful and as bleak as it was, it lasted about 4 days after my last post. I don't think I have felt that bad before, but that's possibly because I had started to feel better, so I was more aware of the difference.

The weather hasn't helped much - it's been freeeezing cold, dark, icy and snowy. It's been the coldest December and January for over 20 years. So, I have rather sensibly stayed indoors, apart from the school runs and a few trips into the garden to take photographs. I'll share those with you later.

After that I was clobbered by - and I kid you not - the desire to clean. No, I am not pregnant. However, I am the proud owner of one spotless and shiny house! Again, this has pulled me away from blogging duties (booo!)

And THEN, I went into creative overdrive. I've put the Bonkers blanket on one side for a little while, it was becoming a little repetitive. I like to have a couple of projects on the go at once. I decided to have a go at the February Lady Sweater by Flint Knits.

Feb lady sweater flint knits

I've never really made myself anything to wear before. Actually, that's a bit of a lie, I tried last summer, to  make a long, pink cabled cardi. However, I didn't check my gauge and figured using a slightly larger needle wouldn't matter all that much. How wrong I was! after a very complicated yoke that took forever (especially for someone at the crisis stage of a breakdown) I started sewing it together to realise that yes, ladies and gentlemen, it made me look like Barbapapa. And, in case you're not as old as I, this is Barbapapa was a children's character from the 70s:


 Funnily enough, these days he just looks like a giant condom, huh? How innocent we were back then...

Anyway, you get the picture. Pink and blobby is not a good look.

So, I have been manically getting on with the Lady Sweater. And, aside from 3 buttons it's finished. I am blooming delighted. I have ordered the most adorable vintage buttons from Folksy, I'll show you a picture as soon as it's ready.

I have just started working on a Fair Isle hat for Charlie as he's managed to lose two - yes, two - hats at school since Christmas. I have no idea where they go! You would think someone else's Mum would realise they'd brought another child's handknitted hat home wouldn't you? Apparently not. Anyway, one of my 101 in 1001 was to learn interstarsia, so I'm onto it and lovin' in. In my tidy home. Get me.

Two other good things have happened recently. Firstly, I have take a leap into the unknown and booked a new therapist. She sounds fabulous - she's a humanist in approach (I am not yet sure what this means) and a trained hypnotherapist, and she uses art therapy to help with depression and anxiety. My first appointment is next Tuesday.

And finally, I have a new haircut! It's perked me up no end. Here you go:


Catch you soon - I promise I'll be back more quickly next time!

Lots of love

Claire x