All Posts By

discostitches

Running

AFGO

21st August 2017

I was walking the dog the other day and bumped into one of the regular walkers I’ve seen intermittently over the last three years.

Picture of my feet on my run

 

She asked me what exactly I was doing the other day running up the road with a rucksack. I was running up the road with a rucksack because I was on a LONG ONE. I told her I’d been on a 20 mile run that day, up to Stanmer round the woods, then down to Rottingdean to the sea and across to Brighton pier. I finished up with a beer and a packet of crisps in a bar with a quiet sense of satisfaction that I can’t quantify entirely. She looked at me like I’m mad. Running, as I’ve written before, gives me a release, an out from the chaos, a pause. I am going through what Glennon Doyle Melton dubs an ‘AFGO’ – another fucking growth opportunity and running is one of an arsenal of tools I am using to get through it.

I’m not like Glennon, I’m not sure how much I want to share out here, online, in this space. I don’t want to spill all my thoughts when I feel like I’ve been cracked open. But what I can do is share some things about my life and the latest news on the running front is that at the start of the summer I signed up for another ultra, a 50 miler in November. This, is reaching to be honest for my little body but it builds on the the 30 miler which I ran in May when I was at my physical and spiritual lowest. If I can do that, in that state I feel I can do 50. That run was weeks after life as I knew it and understood it collapsed. I don’t really understand how I managed it, but I think I found a part of myself training for that run that I needed to, otherwise I don’t think I would have been able to continue. It gave me healthy goals, to stay hydrated and nourished and steer me from that which does neither of those things and it helped with much needed endorphins. I prayed it would help me with sleeping but weirdly, despite being exhausted by training that never worked. I ran a marathon distance one Sunday and was still wracked with insomnia, running only temporarily stops thought when you run. After that you’re on your own!

Anyway I went one step further on Saturday, I signed up for something else. When I finish Wendover 50 in November I’m going to have qualified for what I call a ‘proper ultra’ (an ultra being any run over marathon distance) and I also have a place lined up on the South Downs 100 for next June. Yep, 100 miles… in one go. Me, the stay at home mum that makes the blankets. This period of time in my life is for redefinition and I feel like this is a suitably extreme move for an extreme time. I’ve got a challenging training schedule and timings are not ideal, I’m soon to throw a job into the mix but I’m determined to achieve what I want in the bits in between. The bits in between, that’s all we have. I made a new friend that day when I explained about the running on my dog walk, she got it, she understood where I’m coming from with it and as her text afterward said “BOOM. LET’S GO”

 

 

Crochet

The blanket of redemption

2nd August 2017

I stopped crocheting for a bit.

For me that’s a sign that something, in this case my all, is extremely awry. This craft has become for me as natural as breathing. I notice the days I don’t pick up the hook at least once in the day. Throughout my dad’s illness, I still picked up the hook and managed to add mindless lines to an every growing granny square. This time in my life is different though. This time I wasn’t able to contemplate carving out a half hour pocket in the day, every day was a vacuum. Days slipped into weeks and all the things I enjoyed: reading, coding, crocheting, blogging and writing took a backseat to what we can fairly refer to as ‘the trauma’. I just concentrated on the essentials, eating, walking the dog, bathing and not much else.

But a few weeks ago, I started a square. I took a basket of colours and I felt for each new round, for a colour that would sit right. It got bigger and bigger and it felt better and better to focus on each next colour, each next join. Before I knew it, as one square slotted into the next I had a blanket to border.

It’s sitting on the side in my bedroom at the moment, waiting to be sent. Another task on the seemingly endless to do, but I started and I finished something, stitch by stitch. I felt me when I was doing it, I make a good blanket and I love this one. This one makes my heart sing. I’m relieved that I’ve come back to it. It’s a part of me, I love the process of creation and I wouldn’t want to lose something else I love right now.

I’ve a busy week planned, two rooms to get ready for air bnb, rainy days in which to entertain the children, job applications to tailor, miles to run. I’ve signed up for another ultra, almost double the distance of the first. Today’s training run was just bleak, I endured torrential rain and wind on the cliffs of Rottingdean as I closed in on 18 miles.

Anyway, enough on that, I’m exhausted, here are some more captures of Verity’s blanket. I WILL send it this week!


 

Crochet Life

The #instasabbatical

21st July 2017

 

Instagram logo with the words Dopamine posted behind it.

I’m going on an intentional instagram sabbatical from now through to the end of the summer holidays. That means I’m deleting the app, not posting and not checking in. I’ve been putting up posts on instagram for 5 years!!! FIVE. That’s a LONG TIME. I know this because I check my time hop and my little people really were actually really little when I started uploading snapshots, it’s become a bit of a way of life.

My post count to date now comes in at 3500, which is a bit staggering but does in actual fact mean I’ve only averaged a couple of posts a day. For anyone that follows me, you know that I do have an bit of a binge when I finish a crochet project, so most of it is crochet. The rest of what’s up there are photos of the family, friends, Brighton, books and the dog. Really, it’s like a visual diary, something that replaced blogging for me, tiny little filtered and edited highlights in my life.

Anyway time out and here’s why, I had to start to ‘manage’ my time on the app at the start of the year, it started to fall under the same umbrella of Facebook (which I left) and that umbrella name is basically TIMESUCK, so I stopped checking instagram as much. First up I started checking how long I was spending with the app open (settings > battery) and I was horrified by the amount of time it took up in the day. Hours. Something had to change. I didn’t think I had hours. I am a busy person! But the reality was, I was spending hours on there and not reading or coding, or making, the things I really enjoy. Presumably also it’s been thieving time away from my family. On top of that I clearly wasn’t doing all the other boring necessary stuff of life when I was on there so I needed to reclaim my time. Every week I deleted it from my phone and resumed a life for 7 days where I have no social media interaction AT. ALL. And unsurprisingly I got more done.

Those weeks though I noticed, as the week was beginning just how often I had been checking it reflexively, how I’d be standing in a queue and pressing the home button then thoughtlessly reaching for the app. (The solution I have found to this is to move the apps I don’t want to use like this to my last screen so there’s more time for me to realise I’m swiping mindlessly – I recommend it)

I have realised that I’ve recently become too distracted instagram and in turn was seduced by all sorts of irrelevancy as a consequence, I’d ricochet from account to account and then click through links and surf the web. Whilst I love the banter and the dopamine hit from all the liking I can also get swept down the rabbit hole of scrolling. I’ve even started buying stuff from the adverts, so that marketing clearly works! Overall I genuinely feel like it makes me less able to focus on one thing at a time in general. The weeks it is off the table I am able to move from one task to the next in a much more fluid and deliberate way.

It can be a bit of a weird space anyway, throwing up an awful lot of interesting observations too. I’m guilty of it, but it can be such an earnest space. I’ll write an earnest post, similar in scope to a blog post and then I’ll internally cringe wondering why I’m posting something like that. I can’t decide if it’s just self doubt or because I suspect sharing too much is inappropriate, but it can feel so false if you’re not real. Then in turn it can also feel too much when someone’s trying to be intentionally inspirational. There’s a balance somewhere.  I also know people that follow me in real life but don’t ever like my posts and then will refer to things I’ve done and posted about in conversation, I think that’s odd. Stories is a strange one too, I think I might post them purely because there’s the option of posting them, none of mine have ever been that interesting and yet HUNDREDS of people look a them. To be honest I feel I am stealing people’s time, so I might opt out of them in the future. I’ve also not been convinced of my motivation for putting stuff up at this current point in my life. I feel like I might be posting for a bit of self-validation from outside now I’m on my own rather than posting purely to share.

However I will get back into it after I’ve had a break, but I’ll be sharing the snapshots with intention not just share for the sake of it. Then there’s also a community online, the ‘people in my phone’, instagram is definitely self selecting and has in some ways enabled me to ‘find my people’, the people that enjoy doing the same things. I don’t want to say it, but it’s a bit tribal in that respect. There are artists and makers and individuals around the world I never would have connected with in real life if it were not for instagram. I also find other people’s feeds inspirational and it influences things I do and make.

Not posting or interacting does have consequences. It’s an absolutely certainty that an algorithm coded deep in the structure of the app means if you don’t engage you will get less traffic so I might not get seen for a while when I get back to it. What will happen though is I will be more in the present. I’m looking forward to engaging with the kids all over the summer holidays. I’m looking forward to experiences that won’t be observed but treasured. I’m looking forward to focus, I’m looking forward to feeling more in control of my life and less scattered. I’m looking forward to not feeling like I’m putting a front on my life. I’m looking forward to it all.

Thanks to @jamesllewis for letting me use the above image. Another person I wouldn’t have come across were it not for the insta platform.

 

 

 

 

Life

Headspace Meditation

7th April 2017

Image of the headspace app logoAt the start of 2017 I wrote a couple of things on the blog that I was going to try to do with my year. The aim of those things are to put me in a better place by the end of 2017. It’s April and I’ve kept them in mind almost everyday and because of that, everyday try my best to set out to do them. I wanted to set aside time to write code, I know that if I do some everyday I’ll steadily get used to the new syntax. I realise it’s not going to be a skill learned overnight, it needs me to show up for deliberate and regular practice. I have pretty much coded at least 80% of the days in 2017. I haven’t kept proper track but most mornings I am settled in the kitchen at 6 and coding until 7.30 and then I do some later in the day. The other thing I wanted to incorporate into the fabric of my day was meditation. After courses and an intermittent personal practice over the last 5 years I know that when I do manage to ‘sit’ I have a better day. How many times have I meditated this year? Maybe 10 times??? I just wasn’t getting it done. I had it as the practice I was supposed to do after I walked Rocco but there pretty much always seemed like there was something more pressing or attractive to get on with when I got in the door. Part of what I learnt every time I’ve had a meditation ‘binge’ though is that the more consistent you are, the more benefit you get.

The days I meditate I focus better. ALOT better. I’m generally more patient, more productive and much calmer, less anxious and less distracted. I feel like I am a better version of me afterward. Why I don’t then end up doing it everyday just doesn’t make sense. I guess I’m resisting it because I don’t want to be dependent on that one thing. Except that one thing ends up creating more space in my day. It also gives me more ability to do one thing at a time without letting my mind buzz noisily like background static or my thoughts jump chaotically from the past to the future, place to place, never settling on the task at hand.

A few weeks ago over drinks, (I had my first beer of the year – I know – I was supposed to be avoiding drinking, whole other story) headspace came up, the conversation being whether to sign up after the trial or not. It’s been on my radar for ages because it’s constantly referred to on Tim Ferris’ podcast. I’m also wading through Tools of Titans at the moment and I am always reading about another successful person and their meditation practice. So I downloaded it as a way of prompting myself to actually take the time to pause and over the last 9 days I’ve ‘taken 10’ everyday. That’s a record as far as 2017 goes and it feels like a relief for me to have managed to work out a way to practice, this time I’m doing it as soon as I wake up. I also nominated a friend, without his consent (my cousin Tom) to be my accountability. When I’ve sat for a session I drop him a text and for some reason I felt more obligated to do it once I set that up. As it turns out he’s been taking ten too and I get a text back so it’s worked out. I’ve signed up for the year. I know I need this in my life, I like Andy Puddicombe’s voice, I like the vibe and the intention and I see this as a really worthwhile investment in myself. Of course I will let you know if I keep it up.

As for whether I am significantly better as a person, I’ll be honest I did actually explode with fury when I realised I was locked out the house the other day and I’ve just snapped at Ruby for repeating a line from Pokemon for about the twentieth time. I’m not walking round calm and zen, I’m still as highly strung and irritable as before. 9 days have just made me think at least 9 times about what I think about, observe them and let them be with no judgement. I really recommend giving it a try.

Crochet

Making a crochet blanket

21st March 2017

Crochet blanket making

This was my kitchen table this afternoon. I went on a brisk bright walk with the dog and then got my hair cut this morning. I planned on having the rest of the day as a bit of reset time and by that I meant catching up on chores with the hope of being more on top of things. I ended up subbing that for doing something creative. I feel better for it as well. The weekend was just busy and too full and yesterday I was in town for a big chunk of time running chores. I’m done basically. I feel behind on EVERYTHING in my life. I have blog pieces queued up, other writing, a big list of ideas for patterns to write up, challenges to work through with coding, the home stuff to do from the laundry and cleaning, to the admin and then the life stuff, sorting the imminent birthday of the first born, planning things with friends and family. Everything has that unfinished and overwhelming edge to it. I’m basically underperforming against my own standards ACROSS THE BOARD. I feel like that is life all the time but sometimes it feels much more manageable and I feel much more in control. I currently feel like I’m spinning plates. Badly.

I get more energised when I’ve made progress in something though and I can feel it coming together in my hands, I am so far from the end on this project though. 36 squares is far too many for a four colour square.

I didn’t get a run in which was on the list today after what feels like a long hiatus, but is in fact only a few weeks. I woke up with a crick in my neck and it’s been painful all day but I’m pretty set to pick it up tomorrow. I’m a bit nervous that my knee might start niggling again, but I guess I just have to take that first step again. Anyway, that time again, time for pick up….

 

Crochet

Another crochet blanket

11th March 2017

As usual – pretty shocking at updating the blog that’s supposed to chart my creative pursuits.

However – here’s some pictures of the new crochet blanket I hooked up after the Brighton Half. It’s made with the Henry pattern in style craft special dk. I cast on… (do you cast on in crochet? Doesn’t sound quite right…) just after I ran, hoping to be at least slightly productive in my race convalescence. Here’s the thing, post run I felt deflated, run down, flat, unhappy, sore, done in <insert any other potential negativity here> I sat on the sofa for two days swapping an ice pack with a hot water bottle interchangeably on my knee. I was bloody grumpy, tired and really fed off I felt so sub but I stitched this super dense make EVERY day. I’d never even stitched herringbone before in crochet although I’m completely converted now…look at that dark grey up there! but I will say it takes ALOT of time. I caught up and watched Tom Hardy in Taboo, which disappointingly I thought was completely terrible (please remember I was very grumpy, maybe it really did in fact earn its IMDB credentials… I doubt it, but should I in future cross paths with TH [God willing] I want it also on record I wasn’t in the best frame of mind throughout viewing). I also finally paid out and got physio on the knee. I will confirm it hurt.

Anyway, the blanket is done. And I’m also potentially out of a bad mood I’ve felt for two weeks. Probably helped by the fact the knee isn’t hurting so much anymore, I’ve been weighing up my total lack of good attitude with some real life awful new stories. It’s actually made me feel worse that I feel so flat when I’m aware enough to understand and appreciate there is so much MORE going on at this particular moment in history. I’ve ripped out the stories that highlighted my inability to find proper perspective and folded them in a pile to keep and bear witness to, but be that as it may, I still wasn’t feeling it yesterday, not enough to stick these photos up. I think it’s all tied up with not having been out for a run since the half, my energy has sunk big time. On the up, I walked the dog today and didn’t come back with a weird gait, so game on, it feels like the tide’s changing.

 

I’m hitting the gym this week to get started on making my knee and my apparently very weak glutes strong enough to hold my body up running. I’m absolutely determined to run the ‘ultra’ in May – while I can make stuff sitting on the sofa whilst feeling this flat, I feel like parts of my life, namely my interior self, fall apart without the running. Of course I could have yoga’d and I’ve walked through the discomfort but they don’t compare with running. Running is the thing for me. Even if it’s relatively unimpressive ‘mum’ running. I’m missing it. It’s underpinned so many of the good systems I’ve put in place this year and got me out, when I would otherwise stay in. And a disclaimer so we’re all in the loop :: the return to drinking. It’s been a necessary evil. That 20.17 intention has been sent flying.

Crochet

Babette blanket update

1st March 2017

Photograph of the babette crochet blanket I made

When I began this blanket at the end of November I was hoping to add one square per evening. This was my background daily project that would grow slowly and on days where it was difficult to fit in crochet be the thing I would at least be getting further with.

As it turned out, with December being as busy as it usually is, this didn’t quite happen. The larger squares can take around half an hour to finish and that sometimes just doesn’t fit at the end of the day. At least two out of seven evenings in the week I generally don’t get anywhere near any kind of evening routine. However I have been plugging away at this. I can usually find at least ten minutes to work on a piece of the puzzle, even if it doesn’t get completed and attached. I love the way that it has come together and the way it lies and gets slowly more substantial.

Image of unfinished afghan babette crochet blanket

There are still around 50 individual squares to work up to get it complete, currently I lay it out on my bed in my room every morning when I make the bed and then pick a colour to add and work up a square in the evening but it won’t be long before I’m picking up the whole piece and taking it down to the sofa to work on a mismatched finishing border to bring it all together.

It’s made me want to work on another for all my scraps where every round is at least one colour. That would take a phenomenal amount of time and the idea of all the ends to weave in is slightly daunting but I’ve added it to the potential project list. For now, this looks like it will be the first big project of 2017 to get finished, a really fantastic way to work through ALOT of yarn.

Crochet

New blanket!

28th February 2017

Photo of a new grey and cream blanket

 

Here’s the progress on the new blanket I started yesterday. I’ve had a good nights sleep and I’m not feeling as flat out as yesterday, the stitching has made me feel better! I’ve never begun a blanket with a rib, now that I’ve done one I think I’ve got the building blocks for crocheting a jumper. They’ll be no jumper for a fair while mind, this is going to take far longer than I thought – I’d forgotten, while easier, stripes have more stitches than granny squares.

I’m following this pattern – I absolutely love the stitch definition that’s working up. I’ve never used herringbone stitch (the dark grey) before but it looks great and the texture of the row in light grey is really effective. I’m just 26 rows into a 126 row blanket though so I better keep at it if I want to get this done by the end of the week. I’ll hopefully make far more progress tomorrow and will be posting on here instead of instagram while I have my week off social. Honestly, I love sharing photos and looking at everyone else’s but it’s so much less ‘noisy’ the weeks that I don’t engage on there and I get so much more done.

 

Crochet Running

Monday

27th February 2017

Picture of Brighton marathon and crochet

 

I ran Brighton Half yesterday. My first event of 2017! I should be basking in glory or something or at least feeling slightly brilliant about it, but in truth I’m on the sofa with a hot water bottle next to the dog watching TV after almost 36 hours of nothing. And I’m pissed off I ran it in the same time to what I did 4 months ago. No real tangible improvement whatsoever –  that stings. Apart from making some soup earlier today I’ve done no cooking, no laundry, no housework, no dog walking…. it’s like I’ve had to check out entirely. It’s happened before, I finish something and feel beaten completely flat. If you’re looking for something inspirational here move right along. Today is not the day… this could potentially put you off trying for anything! Sometimes I finish something and feel that rising sense of achievement and happiness, but this time, I’ll be honest, I didn’t enjoy it and I’m pretty relieved I just did it and got it out the way. I’ve done something to my knee and I’m really worried it’s a bit of a problem for everything else I have planned and it pulled down the whole experience.

 

Picture of me after the Brighton half 2017

 

I wrote a longer detailed piece about it all, the race, those couple of hours, but I read it back and it sounded very much like very self indulgent whinging, which of course it is so I deleted it. Anyway it hurts quite a bit and has made for a very flat couple of days.

However, when you can’t read very much or concentrate on anything you can make something, so I’ve started a new baby blanket today. At least Monday has felt in some way productive.

Running

Misty

20th February 2017

A picture of mist at Stanmer

I usually feel quite flat when the kids go back to school, the house feels empty and still and it takes me a while to re-adjust. None of that today, I was too busy playing catch up: catch-up running wise, trying to claw back miles after my 10 day stint of no running over the last couple of weeks and then catch up life stuff. I visited my nana for the first time in weeks and stocked up at the supermarket. Then it was suddenly 2.30 and the late afternoon rhythm of after school activities and dinner and clearing and reading of stories happened and here I am pretty much ready to hit the hay. I’ve not fitted in any coding, I’ve not dented my to do list whatsoever. I am still behind, but slightly more sorted for the week.

Still, I got in some miles yesterday and today and for that I feel sated. I’ve covered 143 miles since January and I’m only 8 miles behind now on my virtual challenge. Have I written about that? I’m running the distance from Lands End to John O’Groats during 2017, it’s a good focus to get me out there. This morning’s run, though slightly eerie because of the mist was pretty thrilling to be honest. I pretty much spend the whole run beaming (almost certainly completely internally, most running photos confirm that I adopt a definite running grimace.) Rocco and I get a good pace on now, he’s absolutely flat out this evening. Though I feel he’d take issue with running more than once or twice a week we run really well together now, I love watching him rush through the trees to my side and we’ve even got to the stage where I can stop him running into the dew pond every time. No doubt when the summer comes he’ll insist but then at least he’ll have an opportunity to dry off! When we run in the woods I feel happier than I can describe adequately, it’s fills me up. I have never had a dog before and there is something about running with him that seems to heighten our connection, we keep pace, I don’t lose him, it’s shared time and I sense we both genuinely enjoy it as much as the other. I guess if you run with your dog you will understand what I mean otherwise put me down as one of those dog people. I’m down with that.

So, no creating today really aside from a half hour whilst Ruby had her class and of course I’ll get a babette square in. I’ve counted I have around 50 squares left of that and once I’m finished up with that I’ve lined up another incremental daily project for a friend, another blanket but in a completely different style. My head is, as always spinning with ‘next ups’. Another day in and out the house tomorrow but looking forward to making headway on some new projects this week. I’ve got to stop thinking I can get all the things done in one day. One thing at a time. PATIENCE AMY!