Handmade Monday 107 – From Water to Crosses

This week’s post is going to be a bit on the eclectic side… but before I get side tracked please remember to pop over to Handmade Harbour and visit all the lovely crafty blogs that join this event.

Water Water Everywhere….

I think the mixture started with this week’s #Creative Beings Challenge – Water. I have been a water baby all my life – I love water, its journey, its energy, its peace and stillness, its moodiness And when I’m in water many of the constraints of my disability disappear – I can walk further without falling and if I do fall I don’t hurt myself. Swimming and water physio played a huge role in getting me back on my feet a little bit, so I think I love it even more now!

Freeform and Flowing

Water  Water centreOceanI started a Freeform piece for the challenge celebrating the journey from raindrop to the Ocean. However once I’d made and joined up the crochet scrumbles for the river and estuary I wasn’t sure what to do about the sea. A chat with my lovely friend Elaine helped as we discussed whether knitting could also be freeform. The yarn I wanted to use for sea was really unusual, very thin and thready with chunky slubs. I spent most of the week pondering – well avoiding and procrastinating –  and finally picked a pair of needles at random last night and started knitting a sea. I used a variety of  ripple and wave form patterns , chopping and changing and interspersing them with blocks of garter stitch and stocking stitch. Working odd rows withleft over bits of dk acrylic yarn helped create the varying moods of the sea. I discovered doubling the number of stitches and working a random row of spider stitch – anything up to 4 wraps, then switching back to an acrylic and halving the stitch count created a lovely row of “breakers” forming.  I finished off with a bit more pattern and then a final “row” of knitting lengths and loops at randon using a mixture of short row shaping and I cords. Once I got adventurous there was no stopping me! I now want to gather up a selection of random sea coloured yarns and take the adventure further and make a scarf using random waveform patterns – so watch this space!

Hope, Crosses and Water

As reguRainbow edged heartlar readers know I’ also creating a range of gifts that bring hope – this week I’ve been looking into symbolism (please visit the post and vote in the poll!) and using my creative journal to explore the links between faith, hope and water. I’ve been designing and making some little crosses for book marks for a while and got to thinking about the relationship between water, baptism and the cross – washing away sins and came up with the little blue cross  in denim shades of embroidery threads, accented with crocheted in pearl beads. Its a sort of contained free form! I’ve also made other crosses to practice techniques and work out patterns for larger pieces – hence the centres of the white and the rainbow cross, where I was practising bullion stitches and trying out different ways to make hearts.

Hewlett-PackardDenim Patchwork bullion flower

Finally Fish!

Fishers of Men pendant for blogOf course my mind didn’t stop wandering there and whilst doodling in church and listening to the sermon – I do listen honest – the doodling often becomes inspiration for my makes – I started drawing fish- not sure what that had to do with Moses in the Bullrushes but never mind! And then an old Sunday school song started looping in the back of my mind about Fishers of Men……… so a pendant design was born. Its still a wip and is  being written up as a pattern with photo tutorial. I’ve experimented with  DMC light effects thread and like the effect, even if the sewing in is a bit of a challenge. I’m also thinking of making some fish earrings too! The net is made from gold Gutterman sewing thread which is very fine.

The photography was challenging for this piece – but in the end, just like shoe shopping I chose the first one I took….. but in honour of creativity and crafting as you can see Bagpuss made a sacrifice………. “and twas all for nowt” as they say

humour for blog

Handmade Monday 100 – Experimentally Cross

Welcome to Handmade Monday 100 –  Wendy has some special treats over at Handmade Harbour, so please feel free to take a look and maybe even join us!

I’ve mentioned before that I’m embarking on a design series based around the theme of hope, which will run alongside a series of blog posts that will detail my journey  – the first one was posted on Thursday and I’m looking for guest bloggers and people who want to share experiences of hope who might be interested in contributing.

I’m starting to research symbols that signify hope for a later post and also to help me with the design process and the most obvious to me and it seems many others, even those without a faith, is a cross. I want to make portable gifts that symbolise hope and the cross suggested itself as a good place to start.

I also feel really drawn to experimenting with wire and beads when crocheting small symbolic items – things that will make pendants, charms and key rings for example. So yesterday morning I duly dug out my reel of silver beading wire – previously rewound and detangled  – and my pot of random beads – mostly picked up from the floor when my crafting table collapsed!

I started off with a centre circle with a bead inside and built the cross up around it. I’d been doodling crosses before, and having recently read a novel about anglo saxon life which included the early church, noticed there were some celtic and early Christian influences creeping in. I placed one seed bead per stitch and basically let the cross form itself and this is the result:

Hewlett-Packard

I need to do a bit of work on trying to get the stitches more even and the beads to sit better. Once I’ve solved that then the big challenge will be photography! I got some great advice from lots of facebook friends which meant I ended up with an image that I could show, so am very grateful to them 🙂

What I’ve Learned Wednesday – The Importance of Setting Goals

I’ve always thought I was pretty focused on what I need to do, until I woke up in  total panic last week and felt totally overwhelmed. I grabbed some time out, sat down with pen and paper and made a rough list of what I needed to do in the next 7 – 10 days and realised I’d completely lost the plot with making goal and to do lists.

Whilst goals are not to do lists, they are the essential thing that makes a to do list functional. So after a couple of peaceful hours at the Lounge on Thursday afternoon I managed to come up with something that helped me plan my diary…. and yes whilst I’m in confessions mode, I’ve not been doing that either, which is probably another reason for feeling overwhelmed. My relapse recovery is also at the yoyo stage where I have good days and bad, and that further complicates life as I have to reign myself in on good days and rest more on bad days, so feel I’m not achieving as much as I should! I’ve also noticed the urge to be distracted by “shiny new things” creeping in – any idea I can grab at that seems good, despite the fact that it might be contributing to the “overwhelm factor” and distracting me from my real goals!

I used to teach goal setting in a previous job, alongside action planning or sub goals and the main thing we used to emphasise was realism! I can almost chant the rules we encouraged our classes to take on board like a mantra:

1. Don’t set a goal that you need to work on 7 days a week – why? Because if you have a “lift gets in the way” moment and don’t complete it, them you say to yourself “I’ve failed”, hit the “To hell with it” button and give up trying

2. Be kind to yourself – if you think you can do something for an hour at a time, half it! Why? again its about not setting yourself up to fail – us human beans tend to over-estimate what we can achieve, and as a result set the bar too high. There’s nothing wrong with aiming for the moon, over shooting and hitting a star, but if we aim for the stars and hit the moon – a massive achievement none the less, we see ourselves as having failed.

3. Make sure its something you won’t see as a chore – if you resent your goal, you don’t put half as much effort in and try very hard to procrastinate and avoid.

4. Use problem solving techniques if you hit a barrier – these include asking for help ( am now hiding under desk in shame at my refusals to do so) and delegation……. least said etc!

So having realised I was disappearing up my own bottom in a state of confusion, was resenting and hating the very things I love about what I do, making and teaching and feeling lost in a stormy sea of paperwork and feeling life was generally chaotic, I set to and….

1. Wrote it all down on paper – things on paper seem smaller and more tangible, you can get hold of them and look for areas of overlap – or discover the art of killing 2 birds with one stone

2. Once I had a key list of targets, I then got a second sheet of paper and produced a task list and soon identified some ways I could combine my efforts.

3. Prioritised – worked out which things were a must do!

4. Grabbed the diary and wrote in jobs for each day

5. Got another pen and blocked out time off! That wasn’t comfortable but it meant I could see making as a leisure activity again and I’ve now got my “mojo” back

6. Went to a “Kick Start Monday” workshop at the Lounge – Theresa and Terry ran a great session for around 8 ladies. We all set our business goals for July and gave each other lots of ideas and support in refining them and making them tangible and measurable.

7. Have committed to asking a couple of friends to come round whilst my daughter is on holiday and help me get my workspaces organised – trying to find the things I need is a real source of stress at times, so having the ability to put my hands on things will help immensly and I know that I cannot do it all on my own as I’ll physically crash again!

So if you are feeling like me, then all I can say is that avoiding the overwhelm is just a recipie for it all feeling worse. Once its out of your head and on the page, you can see the stuff that’s driving you mad – and once you can see all the issues, you can grab them, give them a good shake up and sort out a prioritised to do list. And trust me the sense of joy that comes from ticking each item off is fantastic!!

I’ve also decided to work on small items until the list is complete – crafting small items is a fantastic way to feel you’re winning as you can produce lots in an evening, adding to that glowing sense of achievement! As you can see they are all based around bracelets and cuff. I’ve been toying with the idea of ways to cover thing silver bangles in crochet for a while – I want them to look woven – the silver weaving through the yarn and think I’ve achieved it. The pictures don’t do the final products justice as they all need finishing and joining, but I’m really pleased with them as I’ve managed to make them up in 2 evenings!:

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