Thing a Day February

Several years ago – searching on my blog suggests longer ago than I thought – there was a non-defunct website that ran a “Thing a day” challenge in February.

The idea was to make something – from scratch – every day in the month of February. I tried it in two years at least. And I didn’t manage to do everyday either year. But I remember enjoying it. Then the website changed and it got harder to participate and eventually it disappeared.

As all things do it slipped my mind. Then for some reason as I wandered the scenic route home from podiatry this lunchtime, trying to avoid the dug up path, muddy mess of roadwork hell, it popped back into it.

I googled it and there is a facebook group devoted to the challenge. I’ve requested to join and think I might attempt the challenge again this year. The group description suggests “Aim low. Fold your napkin into a shape, draw a face on your thumb, doodle on a post it note. Or aim high: make time to decorate a household object, pursue your art, cook a masterpiece, do an art journal page. Just do it! “

I doubt I’ll manage to make 28 separate things but it’s not impossible. Certainly the smaller, simpler crochet squares I sometimes make for charity are usually a one day project for me. And I was thinking of widening it out/changing it to “do something creative” so writing counts. I always thought it did but reading the facebook description, maybe not. Still sometimes it’s worth being a rebel.

I mean I would like to end the month with something more than a pile of granny squares and a folder full of new flash fiction. But if that’s all I came up with it would still be a useful experience.

Random Bullet Points of Quarantine-ish Life

I have been meaning to write a blog post for ages. And as always I’ve started writing a couple and not posted them. So here is a post of Random Bullet Points of Life, written whilst waiting for a carer.

  • I’ve been advised that it’s worth me started to look into a new powerchair. I’ve trialled the one they recommended three times (I trialled, then when the tech came back to work on my Jive and brought it a second time as the weather was better and I could have a longer go, then it turned out I’d have to have a different seating type if I got a seat riser so they brought one with that seating – but no seat riser – for me to try). It’s not a terrible chair but it’s different. And right now I’m not loving it. So that’s on hold but at least I have an idea what I might get and if I get to a point where I need a new one suddenly we aren’t starting from scratch. We’ve also been able to 100% rule out my getting powered elevating leg rests (something which has been being debated whether I needed since my lymph treatment started) which is very helpful.
  • I went to lymph clinic three and a bit weeks ago. It went ok, not exactly what I would like to have heard but nothing to worry about. And probably now I think of it, not entirely unexpected.
  • The new taxi/support company I mentioned in an entry a while ago took me to clinic and then dropped me in the centre of Oxford for two hours before bringing me home. I zipped through the shopping bits just to see (but didn’t go in any shops) and then went for a long walk through Christchurch Meadow. It was so nice to be somewhere different and walk in different surroundings
  • Just over a week later they took me back into Oxford to University Parks for a long walk. Again it was nice to get out of Didcot and see some different things. I haven’t been to University Parks since I did Race for Life there in (I think) 2008 and I didn’t remember much of it.
  • I took a lot of photos on those two walks which I think will be source/prompt material for my probable NaNoWriMo project this year. I’m feeling very inspired.
  • Last week I went to Millets with the same people and this time they supported me to do my shopping. I bought a few plants, some bits in the farm shop and because it was too wet to go see the animals, we had a jacket potato in the restaurant. It was lovely and it was nice to eat out for the first time in so long although really I’d have rather gone somewhere for a more interesting meal. I think that will be the last time they take me out for a while although I had hoped to do a couple more. Certainly the weather forecast for this week puts paid to all the places I’d thought of going, even if I wasn’t concerned about the increased risk with rising cases of Covid-19.
  • This last week the carers have started coming every evening again. I’m not sure if this is temporary or if I’ll cut it down a bit again – I have some new stockings (and am getting a different wrap for one of my feet) and there was concern if I’d still manage independently with those so we put the calls back in.
  • About five weeks ago the carers also started coming an extra time on a Tuesday to do my cleaning. It’s working very well and although more expensive than my last cleaner (she had only just started when lockdown happened and wasn’t really working out), it was much less than the agency cleaners I had. The really good thing about is that if we lockdown again they can still come.
  • I’ve seen friends (the same ones) a few times and family once or twice (my parents more often). My mum came round to watch Fame on YouTube and work on our crafts this morning. So I am getting some socialising in.
  • I’ve done some CAB stuff – R&C, not advising – from home in the last week or two. I am not good at working from home!

Two rarely seen finished objects

A couple of weeks ago I blogged about how I have the curse of the unfinished object.

Well, since then I finished two of the unfinished projects I mentioned (and attempted a new project but it didn’t work)

20160115_181402.jpgHere is the hat I made with my knitting loom.  This picture shows the colours best I think – it’s a chunky colour changing yarn in shades of pinks and purples with a little black.  Because the loom knitting is done working in the round it’s done solely in knit stitch but comes out in stockinette. I finished this a few days after I wrote the above linked blog post.

20160131_180349.jpgThis is the finished scarf.  I started this a few days before my sister’s wedding back in September, finished the knitting yesterday and sorted out the ends this afternoon. It’s made with the same chunky yarn and is knitted in garter stitch on 12mm knitting needles. It’s quite wide!

20160131_180427.jpgClose up on the stithces of the scarf.

20160131_180934.jpgA matching set! Me wearing both the hat and scarf together.

Loom Knitting

I got a set of knitting looms for Christmas and since New Year’s Day I’ve been doing a little everyday.  I seem to be getting the hang of it and so far I like it.

Here’s a picture of my first project on 2nd January 20160102_104200.jpg

I’d show you a picture of it today (much bigger and with added green yarn) but I reached a point where I needed to stop or turn it into something other than a mindless learning piece with no purpose.  I showed Mum when she came round earlier and I was thinking do a bit more and turn it into either a snood or a bag.

But then disaster struck and I made my second big mistake (my first big mistake was on my third ever round so it didn’t really matter). And I couldn’t fix it.  And it was just becoming more and more unravelled as I tried.

So I can’t show you a picture and it’s not going to be a snood or a bag. It’s going to be a pile of frogged yarn waiting to be made into something else. Which might then turn out to be a snood or a bag or maybe even a hat.

I’ve been researching and watched a few YouTube videos and although at first I thought you couldn’t do a lot with these beyond round items in stockinette stitch it seems the possibilities are basically endless.  So I’m keen to do more.

I don’t think it will ever replace regular knitting or crochet (which I seem to be enjoying the most at the moment) in my heart but it’s fun, easy and so far doesn’t require a lot of brain power which makes it the perfect thing to do while listening to audiobooks or watching TV.

My biggest complaint is I don’t know what to call it “I think I’ll go do some looming” makes little sense and although I think people refer to it as knitting that doesn’t feel right to me.  Because if I say I’ve been knitting there should be a pair of needles involved. Watch this space.

You Know You’re a Knitter When…

…you spend a long time being ranty about the difference between knitting and crochet.

I was sent a review copy of The A to Z of You and Me by James Hannah.  It’s being released today (12th March) and it was a good read with an interesting style that felt different and refreshing.  I don’t want to say I enjoyed it because it was a tricky subject matter and whilst not upsetting it wasn’t particularly comfortable.  It did make me think and was skillfully done which avoided it being an upsetting book.  Plus it managed to surprise me unexpectedly at the end.  I have seen other reviews saying it made people cry but frankly I’m not a big crier at books.

When I was sent the book I was told that a key part of the plot involves a blanket that’s been made for the main character.  And as a part of the publicity for this I was sent a learn to knit kit (I knew how to knit already though) to make a square and send it back.  The idea being that people would read the book, review it and knit a square then send them back to the publishers.  The squares would be made into a blanket and the blanket would go on the book tour.  Or something. I made a square and sent it off but I’m not sure what’s happening with that.

So anyway I was on the train yesterday on the way to go collect my new glasses.  And I’m reading the A to Z of You and Me.  I’m liking it but I’m very aware that having just reading the amazing Letters to the Lost as good as The A to Z of You and Me is (and it is) it’s a pale comparison.  If I’d read it first I may well have been a bit more wow about it.

Then I got to a bit where someone is crocheting and I’m thinking “hmm crochet?” and a bit confused because knitting had been mentioned to me. But I figured well, maybe she does both (I do after all).

Then a bit later the blanket is introduced.  And it sounds like an absolutely amazing blanket.  The sort of thing that (if it were real) I’d not have the patience to make, let alone the skill.  Although to be completely honest my lack of patience is a big part of why I lack skills.

But this amazing blanket is actually crocheted. And I swear at that point I had to stop reading for a few minutes and be ranty in my head about knitting versus crochet.  I thought it several other times too.  I found The A to Z of You and Me to be quite a fast read because of it’s style which broke it down into small (letter based) chunks.  It probably would have been a quicker read if I’d not for my knitting versus crochet rantiness.

That’s not to say that it ruined the book because it didn’t.  Or that it’s not worth reading because it is.

My point basically is it’s a good book but in a unrelated tangent that; seems unexpectedly to be very important to the crafter to me, crochet and knitting are different things.  And after seeing yarn bombing moments in the book I’m sort of tempted to do some of that but I don’t think I have the nerve.

You know you’re a knitter (and a crocheter) when…

…you declutter your house and gathering (almost*) all your yarn into one place looks like this

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Image description: Two clear 80 litre (aka absolutely fucking huge) storage boxes side by side on my bed which has a white frame and dark purple duvet. They are full to the brim of yarn of all different colours and textures – mostly DK but some is different weights. My collection of knitting needles of various sizes is sticking out of one of the boxes. The lids aren’t on in this picture and they are so full my mum had real difficulty getting them on when she put the boxes away.

*I thought that the only yarn I’d left out was the stuff I’m using for my current crochet project and the yarn for the knitting project I might do next. But then mum and I kept sorting my bedroom and did find several (maybe 7) more full or part balls.

Fabric Fun

On Saturday I went to a craft taster workshop on fabrics. If I’d been sensible and/or thought about it properly it probably would have occured to me that it wouldn’t be particularly good for my specific  CP. I’ve never been particularly sensible about such things so it never occurred to me. It wasn’t what I expect and I don’t think I’d go again. But I did manage to make something. A crap something, but something.

A big part of that was that a friend of mine had also gone and so was able to do needle threading, pinning of fabrics and little bits like that which I couldn’t. I also deliberate chose to use strips of ribbon because they didn’t require cutting (I don’t find using scissors as difficult as I used to but it’s not an easy thing for me – and cutting in straight lines is something I’ve yet to master on things that are any bigger than basically miniscule.)

Here are the work in progress pictures like I did for both the celtic clay and mosaic taster workshops I did

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A rectangle of black felt with a bright pink ribbon sewed diagonally accross it.  I used a very messy running stitch, made no attempts at doing so equally or neatly and used a “contrasting thread” by which I mean one that was easy to see.

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The same thing with a dark purple ribbon sewed diagonally on top the opposite way.

I really should have sewed along the middle and not around the edges.  That much sewing killed my hands. But rumour has it you’ve got to make things really secure. I don’t plan on a next time but if there were I’d overrule that with CP needs come first.

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Then I added three vertical ribbons, bright purple on each edge and light pink in the middle.  I put a round black and silver patterned bead in the middle of each of the purple ribbons.  I put three sort of diamond shaped beads of the same design on the light pink one.
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The incredibly messy and pretty tangled back of my work.  I carried my thread quite far in a few places to avoid having to tie it off/cut it/restart sewing.  Hence the mess!

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The finished object was then mounted on a bigger piece light pink fabric which had been cut out with pinking shears to give it an interesting look.  The ribbons had also been trimmed to more uniform/sensible lenghts too. The person running the workshop did the cutting and sewing of that for me because my hands were done by the time I got to that.

Here’s (One) Two I made earlier

At the end of January I did a clay sculpture workshop and made a bowl with a lid and a jug. I blogged about it and posted pictures of the work in progress (along with a finished picture of a tea light holder I’d made in the same workshop a couple of months before). That was in my post “absolutely filthy”, the title of which relates to what I said later that day when my mum asked me on the phone how I was (I truly was covered in clay as was my powerchair).

Yesterday I picked up the finished objects after the tutor had fired them in her kiln,

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So I made a jug which is a bit lopsided and has blue bits decorating the top, a blue handle and a blue stripe opposite. It’s also got random blue spots where I dripped some paint on it then put more to try to make it look like it was meant to have those. I very much doubt the jug is water tight even though it has been glazed. I can see a spider web of cracks on it, I’m not sure they show in the photo though. The main body of the jug is a creamy colour which is the natural colour the clay comes out after firing. If I’m honest I don’t like it.

I also made a bowl with a lid (one of the photos shows the bowl with the kid on and the other shows them side by side). The bowl is plain, again just the cream colour the fired clay is. The lid is mostly cream but it decorated by a swirl made out of clay (painted yellow) and lines of clay coming off of it (painted red). I ended up trying to make something vaguely like a sun, I like this much more than the jug but again it’s a bit lopsided,

I think of the three projects I made between the two clay workshops I like the tea light holder I made in the first one the best because it looks better to me. But it was a much easier project to do so it’s probably not a fair comparison.

“Absolutely filthy”

The title of this post is what I said to my mum this afternoon on the phone when she asked how I was. It’s probably not the best title for this post but… I got nothing else.

I went to a clay workshop this morning. It was the second time I’ve done one with this tutor, I did one at the end of November as well. I thought as I keep telling people I blog about crafts I should actually blog about crafts (admittedly the main reason I haven’t blogged about my recent crafts is because they will be gifts so must remain off of my blog until finished and with the recipients) so I took a bunch of photos of my clay work as I went. I had a lot of fun with it but ended up absolutely covered in clay dust and such like – not helped by the fact that at one point I covered my clay in slip (a mixture of clay and water used to stick bits together) and then it fell over against my chest covering my fleece.

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So we started off by making a bowl.

Most of us made them with lids. It was tough. You had to cut a circle and then work it round with your fingers to make the bowl shape. I didn’t find that at all easy and sort of wished I had someone with me to help me with that (often my mum or one of my friends want to do the workshop too so they can help out if needed but today I was solo). The tutor helped me and at one point when I said I thought I’d have to abandon that she told me no, it was sort-able. Then I rolled “sausages” which was also harder then it seems because you have to get them dead thin at which point mine kept falling part. Once we had sausages, (several of us cheating and putting clay through a potato ricer to get them) we could decorate our bowls or lids if we wanted to. I did a spiral in the middle and then bits going off round the edges.

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Then we had the opportunity to make a jug or a mug.

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These two pictures are my jug as a work in progress. I had a bit of trouble explaining to my parents that I made a jug. They got that but I don’t think they got just how “oh my god I with my spaz hands and all my issues was actually able to take a lump of clay and turn into into something vaguely resembling a jug this is a huge shocking deal” I felt about it. We got a template cut out from a cereal box and cut two pieces of clay out to that size (reversing one) by this point the amount of effort needed to roll out the clay was proving tough – can’t really put my weight behind it in my chair so the tutor did a bit of rolling out for me. Bizarrely as I was rolling it out I was obviously moving in my chair a bit and it was making the damn thing squeak.

Sticking the two sides of jug together and then keeping it open enough to stick it to the bottom felt like it needed more hands than I’ve got! Or maybe just two hands that work better than mine (my left hand is weaker than my right maybe just because I’m right handed but even then I don’t think I’ve full useage of my right). I got there. It’s maybe a little squished in places but I like it. I strongly suspect it isn’t watertight however so it’ll have to be a decorative jug rather than a mug to drink out of as I’d first hoped! I won’t be the only one in that situation however and one of the ladies there said to me after she’d abandoned her attempts at a jug.

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Standing up on the base and actually looking properly jug like! Stuffed with newspaper to help with the shape. Then it was time to decorate the jug and paint both of our items.

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My painted bowl. Because I wanted it to look like a sun I painted the spiral in the middle yellow and the bits coming off red to make it look a bit like rays (originally I did those first in red and then decided to do the yellow). The rest is just plain grey clay in the photo but when I get it back from being fired in the kiln the clay will have turned creamy colour.

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My jug (laid flat again) after I used extra clay to decorate it and painted it.  I criss crossed a few small “sausages” of clay at the very top and then painted them and the handle blue. I was planning to leave the rest of the clay plain grey (so again it would be cream when fired) but I dripped some of the blue on the main body so I put a load of dots on so it looked more like I’d meant to do that! After I took the photo I also painted a blue line down the opposite side to the handle.

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In true Blue Peter style… Here’s one I made earlier!

This is the tea light holder I made at the end of November. It was made using cutters and a tin to hold it together. It’s a light pink base with stars round it. Two different sizes of stars with the middles cut out (painted a darker pink – the light pink with some red mixed in to achieve that – and a purple) and then smaller solid stars (specifically the ones I cut out of some of the other stars on it) inbetween. Those are painted red.  I quite like it but the paint is quite patchy – I tried to do a more consistent job today.

I had a lot of fun doing this but I was absolutely covered in clay afterwards and sleepy too. 🙂

Random Bullet Points of Life

♥ I got my powerchair back yesterday and I took it out for a very long wander around this afternoon. I came back cold but with the cobwebs well and truly blown away and feeling happier.

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(An Instagram I took as proof I went out and because I thought it looked nice. Road, trees, sky, cars going past and the power station in the distance)

♥ I can’t remember if I posted here that I was going to take the creative writing class again. It was going to be a five week class with the same tutor I had before. The first one was last week but the rest have been cancelled due to low numbers. Which didn’t surprise me. It’s a shame but I’m not as bothered as I was because I wanted to take it to help me find my writing mojo again and I’d already located it.

♥ my GP just called me (at 7:20 PM). My iron levels were back to normal when tested but my stores were still low. I may need to keep taking iron on a very low dose long term however. I feel this is a perfect time to declare “sometimes it’s hard to be a woman…” (Who sang that?) retest in December.

♥ it’s probably over a week and a half since I finished a book.

♥ I actually finished a craft project! Well a couple of weeks ago but the recipient has it now so…

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(Pink crocheted baby blanket, crocheted in the round. Large bright pink stripes interspaced with a few narrower light pink ones)

♥ I have 26,437 words written for NaNo. They are mostly crap.