Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The Christmas spirit is in here somewhere...

getting ready for christmas
What happened to November? It seems to have flown by and now all of a sudden it's December. Which means Christmas, and this class happens all over again.

My first attempt at Journal Your Christmas was 2007, when I filled an album with fun and happiness. JYC was a celebration of life, love and family. 2008's journal has just six pages in it as I struggled with a broken heart and losing my grandad. And 2009 didn't even happen, because I was in hospital all over Christmas as I fought a life-threatening illness.

I am due some joy, don't you think?

This year, JYC is very much about taking back Christmas. Celebrating the people and things that are important to me. Celebrating the happy times in the past, acknowledging the bad, and preparing myself to move on. Not just for a new year, but a whole new life.

I've done enough long-term scrapbook projects to know how I like to work. My album is covered, my pages are cut, my patterned paper is trimmed to size (although it will get chopped again as I design each page) and the picture above shows the date tags I've already made. But as ever - no promises, no pressure!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Crocheting quickly to keep my head warm

nuance hat

When I was told I was going to need chemotherapy, my first thought was "but I'll lose my hair".

Mindy is the knitter in the family and she immediately started making me some great hats. I have a slouchy hat, a beanie hat, and the cutest multicoloured hat with ear flaps.

As it turned out, the chemotherapy didn't make me lose my hair. But I have discovered that I love hats and it is super-thrilling to be able to make my own now that I know how to crochet.

This one nearly wasn't such a happy ending. I started it about four times and kept going wrong. In the end I adapted the pattern, changed my hook size, persevered and managed to finish it. Then I hated it. It didn't look like the original pattern and I was so disappointed. I nearly undid the whole thing, but fortunately realised that this was probably because it was late at night and I had crochet fatigue. I decided to leave it until the morning, and I'm so glad I did - now I love it! It's warm and snuggly and I love the colour. I've been wearing it almost constantly and have had loads of compliments.

Mindy is also responsible for introducing me to ravelry. Another brilliant internet resource, another great way to waste time. I especially love their projects feature which lets me show off all the details of this hat.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Home's best

It's taken nearly a year but I am back in my own home.

I am endlessly, eternally grateful to my family: for letting me stay with them, for looking after me, for making me cups of tea, for putting up with my stuff all over the place, for coming back to my house to feed my cat when I couldn't.

But it is such a wonderful feeling to be back in my own home.

I have always liked this house, but lately it has been making me smile every time I come through the door. I walk into my craft room (studio, I mean) and my heart lifts a little bit. I sit at my desk surrounded by paper, paint and glue, and I get a warm fuzzy feeling that makes me giggle. I work at the computer and I am joined by my boy who is so pleased to have me back.

I am living my life again. And it is so very good to be home.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Full disclosure

Don't you just hate those blogs where people talk about how perfect their lives are? And everything they make turns out just *so*.

My blog was never going to be one of those. I know I share lots of things I've made that I'm really pleased with, but in the interest of full disclosure may I present:

This is the first hat I've ever crocheted. And it may well be the last. 200+ people on Ravelry have made it and I am apparently the first to turn it into this:

I can't even bear to post the full photo. I don't want my face associated with this. It balances on the top of my head like a varigated fungus, lumpy and misshapen and totally the wrong size.
In the original post it looks adorable. Even allowing for a few variations, I am not sure how I got this result. The worst thing is that each stitch is a puff stitch, which requires seven loops around the hook which you then pull the yarn through. So it's a fair few hours of work here. The only saving grace is that I haven't fastened off, so I am just about to pull the end and undo the whole damn thing...

Monday, November 08, 2010


i see you

Thankful for a cat who still loves me (even after I've left him alone so much this year).
Thankful for friends who make me smile.
Thankful for a warm house and waterproof wellies.
Thankful for creativity and time to use it.
Thankful for the Willow Foundation.
Thankful for good health. More than ever.

Saturday, November 06, 2010


funny girls

I have four or five crafty projects in progress right now, and several more sitting in my head. I need to crack on with them but they're all waiting for something right now - the right paper, the right photo, the right spark of inspiration. The page above uses photos from my birthday last year, but I only made the page a few weeks ago. Yes, I am officially behind with my scrapbooks. Good job no-one is keeping score.

It's been a funny few days, and I've been in a funny mood. That's funny-peculiar, not funny-hah-hah. I had a hospital appointment on Friday that in the scheme of things was no big deal, but for some reason it became a massive emotional obstacle. I got through it in the end by the best tactic possible: new shoes. I bribed myself with a lovely pair of burgundy stilettos. I remember when I was a kid I used to get a toy when I had to go to the dentist - this was just the grownup version of that.

The rest of my life feels much like my craft desk - lots of things in various stages of completion. Moving back to my own house, but I'm not quite there yet. Starting to think about returning to work, but I'm not sure when. Preparing for a bit more surgery, but I haven't had an appointment with the surgeon yet. The mental fug that has been around me since chemo isn't helping, I feel like I'm trying to think through a cloud a lot of the time. For goodness' sake, if you need me to do something, you'll have to keep reminding me. I keep forgetting things, losing things and generally being dopey. It's all very funny. That's funny-peculiar, not funny-hah-hah.

P.S. 'Funny' is one of those words that gets weirder to look at the more you type it. I don't think I can ever use it again!

Tuesday, November 02, 2010


beautiful gloucestershire

I love autumn. The colours are beautiful, the air feels fresh, and it's the season of my birthday. What more could I ask for?

I've spent the last four days in beautiful Gloucestershire with Mindy. Nothing fancy or complicated, just four days away from all the stress and worries of home. Some shopping, some sightseeing. Lots of coffee and cake. Some humour (no, vegetarians don't eat bacon), some assertiveness (if I say this meal is too spicy, then it is, ok?) and some terrifying moments (did you know you can fit a car through the gap in the pedestrian barrier in the Ikea car park? Well you can.)

One of the best things about the weekend was the number of independent shops, artists and craftspeople that we found. Cheltenham was hosting By Local, a brilliant collection of art and craft from local people, occupying a shop that would otherwise be empty. We spent ages in there admiring the work, and couldn't leave without a souvenir or two. In Cirencester we found M.A.D.E., which I think might just be the prettiest shop in the world. It's thrilling to see somewhere so packed with handmade goodies. In fact, Cirencester was a lovely town altogether. Beautiful old buildings, some lovely cafes, independent retailers...and not a Primark in sight.

I took my sketchbook away with me and I didn't draw a thing. Instead of working on completing projects I have come back feeling inspired with new ideas, colours and textures. The previously mentioned trip to Ikea has brought me some new storage and I finally feel totally comfortable in my craft room. Maybe I should start calling it a studio now? I have so many ideas flying around now that I can't wait to get started on making some of them a reality. Autumn might be a season of endings, as the year draws to a close and nature packs itself away, but I feel like it's the start of something big.