KCBWDAY1 The House Cup

I took part in Knitting and Crochet Blog Week for the first time last year, simply because I’d got myself into a bit of a rut and lost my way with blogging. There was as per usual lots was happening in my personal life, I was putting loads of pressure on myself to make the teaching succeed and I’d stopped loving what I do.

This year has been a real journey of discovery for me and I’ve definitely changed my outlook on crafting alot  – I’ve got a better business head, thanks to the help from the Mum’s and Business Team at The Lounge amongst others.  And I’ve also journied further and  discovered the creative me, developed a passion for free form work and found out that things I believed I couldn’t do, I could. Writing last years posts  started the journey as they challenged me to view knitting and crochet differently, rediscover my crafting roots and also tap into my latent passion for creative writing – which is still to be explored when I commit the time to completing my Creative Journalling Course.

So… you may be wondering what on earth a Monkey is doing sitting top left looking cute, when I’m rambling on about journeys of self discovery! Well she – I’ll call her Marge –  is there because for this year’s Blog week, our first challenge is to   choose a House – without the help of the Hogwarts Sorting Hat I might add!!! Each house relates to the type of crafter you think you are…..

I had a choice between being a Bee and a Monkey. I know I have bee like tendencies of flitting between projects, liking to have a few on the go and also needing an afternoon a week where I am allowed to play with yarn, wire, beads, needles and hooks…. and I can get distracted by bright shiny things. But I also recognised that I meet the “Monkey Brief” too:

Intelligent and with a fun loving side, Monkeys like to be challenged with every project presenting them with something new and interesting.

I love a challenge and that is why I get a bit bee like if that makes sense…… because I need things to keep my brain ticking over. In the non-crafty part of my life…. yep it exists, I love documentaries, historical novels, archaeology, science  – you get the picture. Oh and I’m well known as a bit of a wind-up merchant according to some of my friends….. I love to think! I love to be challenged and I love to discuss and debate ideas and extend or even change my attitudes and opinions as I understand more….. and I like to use that approach to my crafts. I also like to work to deadlines and see projects through the end, but when they are long and repetitive, then I need something else along side.

For example I am currently working on a men’s military style jumper – I took a basic pattern, adapted it, learned how to insert a v-neck and have just finished knitting it up – just the neck back, blocking and sewing up left…..

Some sample Motifs for “Beyond the Granny Square

But…… knitting continuous 3 x1 ribs in black is a “TV knitting” job and tedious, especially as the man concerned is over 6ft tall with long arms….. so I need relief! So in between times I’ve been working on some designs: creating  crochet, beaded, motifs for a free form piece; working up more crochet motifs for an intermediate workshop; and making butterfly brooches for a Together for Short Lives, a charity that Hobby Craft are supporting. I’ve also been teaching children and adults, passing on my skills and hopefully my passions for crafting….. hence I think I am more a monkey – needing the “mental challenge” than a bee, in that my distraction projects have purpose…….. do you agree?

I’m also going to include this post as my Handmade Monday for this week –  so don’t forget to head over to Handmade Harbour and join us.

And if you want to learn to knit or crochet, pop across to the LEARN! or Events pages and book yourself onto a workshop – then you can join next year’s Knitting and Crochet Blog Week and share your talent with the world!

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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