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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.

 

 

 

 

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.

Crochet

Block Stitch Baby Blanket

11th February 2017

Rainbow coloured block stitch baby blanket

 

This week had an unusual rhythm. I’ve not run since last Friday (over a week ago) when I finished up in the first third of my long run wincing in pain on the bus home. I’d had track on the Wednesday, feeling lighter and easier than I have since I ever started the punishing weekly session that is running round at capacity. Then I woke up on Thursday morning and definitely felt something was up. Taking the kids to school and walking down the 60 or so steps sealed it. My left knee was excruciating, overnight I’d seized up and felt like my knee had twisted. I limped about all day ‘resting’ – but Friday, mentally I was ready to go again, however the legs were not, hence the bus ride home.

I wrote on an instagram I felt crushed. I did. Genuinely. Last week I registered for another half marathon and my first ultra. I can’t describe the combination of that anticipation of those events with the twisted pain of my knee using another word. It was a ugh crushed…. or rather an ‘uuuuuuggggggghhhhhhh ****s sake’ kind of crushed, not crushed in a broken hearted way but in an irritated ‘why can’t this just be the thing that works PLEASE’ kind of way. As I set one foot after the other slowly across Hove Park in agony I realised I had to give up any possibility of going any further. I felt cheated, of the exhilaration of a long run which I’ve come to rely on and incredibly nervous I wouldn’t get the chance to train properly for everything I’ve got coming up. Not only that but I was going to inevitably fall really behind in my virtual Lands End to John O’Groats challenge. When the bus took a left and my knee sent out shocks of nervous pain while I was just sitting there completely stationary the flatness descended and it’s not really left me all week.

Nothing works for me in the same way when I’m not running. It’s hard to explain. I lack a degree of focus I can only get if I’ve been working this body and these legs in that way. I had to accept I was going to stop for a bit though and there it was, time to get over it.

This was helped in part by the fact my friend from playgroup was coming to stay. By that I mean a friend I’ve had since I was three. Three! She came to stay with her baby on the Sunday and from there I was able to slip firmly into baby time. We slowed when her daughter needed feeding, we slowed when she was asleep. It threw me back to another time, not long since past. and I remembered those languid, slow and exhausting days I had with Ruby and George all over again.

After they left, I got started on this. Another friend, Laura, emailed me on Monday about getting a blanket made up for a friend’s baby shower. This saw me hooking like a maniac from Wednesday morning through to Friday.

It’s in block stitch, there are plenty of tutorials on pinterest, once I get my own tutorials photographed and written up I’ll link on here. It’s all done in various colours of style craft special dk. I think it’s turned out brilliantly, I love it.

Block stitch blanket

 

Here’s the corner and the border in more detail: Corner of the block stitch blanket

 

I worked back to front on the first round of the border which I did in a hdc stitch and then I turned the yarn on the second round so I was working from the front which I did in a dc stitch. I really like the ridged effect this gave.

Detail of the border for the block stitch blanket

Just a couple more pictures before I sign off.

Border of the block stitch blanket

 

Block stitch close up

Crochet Life Running This week

:: This week ::

29th January 2017

Photograph of a graphic style piece of street art

 

:: Making ::

Still just adding to the babette this week. No further progress to report on that. I’m hooking up a hat, continuing on with my scrap project —

Crochet circle

 

It’s growing slowly, am hoping to find a circular cushion to fit this too… on the list.

Ruby and I also spent Saturday morning knotting up friendship bracelets. I made a couple with 8 strands but they aren’t finished yet and I’ve not got any pictures at the moment. Ruby mastered the chevron and has made a few now, she found the printed patterns for bracelets using any more than 4 strands difficult to understand (as did I, it took me a few hours and some youtube videos to decipher them!) That’s it for makes.

:: Reading ::

I finished Shonda Rime’s “Year of Yes” (3/5) and I’m stuck into “The Essex Serpent” by Sarah Perry now. I’ve also started reading a design book on design systems and user interfaces, largely out of my depth on that, but immersing myself in all things web design and development at the moment. It’s good to read something different.

:: Listening to ::

ABRA

I’ve watched nothing on TV except Homeland, we’re a season behind. Drinking? None. I know you can’t believe it either. I’ve run 17.6 miles this week, including one very muddy trail run with Rocco. I had 4 days off after catching a nasty cold last weekend, I just had to get behind early nights and lots of rest at the start of the week. Really not a huge amount going on, am still enjoying hibernating this winter. The daily coding is happening, I should have hit 100 hours in a couple of weeks, I say this tentatively as there is so much to learn and I am only at the beginning, but I’m finally starting to feel that it’s not so alien to me any more. I’m looking forward to being able to do it with my ‘morning head’ on this week. At the weekends I’m attempting an hour after the kids go to bed and my evening head is dull and sluggish and finds everything hard to grasp. On that, it’s grinding as I type, time to hit the hay.

Crochet

Birthday doily

3rd December 2016

Unclose stitch detail photo of the birthday doily

In a week where I seem to have a lot of makes on the go, I started, and finished this doily. I use the word doily for want of a better word, mat is better perhaps. The idea is it will sit on my friend’s kitchen table, but I’m not sure if doily’s/mat’s are really her thing.

Overview photo of the doily

The pattern was from a chart on pinterest (there’s heaps of inspiration on there, but of course, having printed this out I’ve lost the link) and I used a 3mm hook with DMC Petra cotton. The colour itself is actually a bright orange but the camera failed to pick it up and editing it still doesn’t quite capture its vibrancy. It measures about 13″ in diameter. I have a bit of a love of the way the petals (?) flow and think it’s turned out nicely. I might make a few more as Christmas gifts,  It’s also motivated me to finish another mat I started months ago which will hopefully come together this weekend.