Saturday 28 April 2018

...celebrating the shiny scraps

The big de-clutter at work (in preparation for the move to our new office base) is gathering pace. This week my colleague J and I were sifting through the craft drawers in the storeroom and came across a collection of collage materials she had donated a couple of years ago, after her own children outgrew the 'cutting and sticking' stage. Amongst the assorted bits and pieces were some little squares of delicate hand-made paper and an envelope labelled "shiny scraps" containing brightly coloured foil sweet wrappers and pieces of irridescent / glittery wrapping paper that she had saved from various Easter / Christmas / birthday celebrations over the years.

We paused to reminisce about happy times spent playing with our children when they were little, and debated whether to discard the remnants we had found. I am an absolute sucker for irridescent paper because I have a collection of craft punches that I use for occasional card-making and it is perfect for dragonfly / butterfly wings. After the briefest of hesitations I said I would take it all home with meLater that evening I sat down to sort through the contents of the envelope, and before I knew it Crowded House was on the CD player and I was making a tiny collage with the scraps. So much fun! 
mounted the collage on some black handmade paper from my stash and dug out a little wooden Ikea frame, also from the stash, and 'Hey presto'! A memento for J and a happy evening of making for me. 
The photos were taken hastily, in bad lighting, after 10:30 at night, so aren't very good at all, but I just wanted a 'note-to self' reminder of the fun I'd had.

Sunday 22 April 2018

...turning over a new leaf

I've been feeling increasingly miserable about my physical health in recent months, because I seem to have been stuck in an exhausting downward spiral from which there is no escape. Each morning starts with stiffness and pain in my hips and lower back which gets progressively worse throughout the day until I crawl into bed for yet another night of discomfort and disturbed sleep. My job is mostly sedentary, I'm constantly tired, it hurts to do anything so I've been doing less, and my weight has been gradually creeping up, all of which just compounds the problem. I'm only in my mid-fifties and the thought of feeling like this for the rest of my life is frankly unbearable. 

A friend recommended a physiotherapist who has really helped him with various issues over the years, so I went to see him on Friday and came away feeling a little more optimistic. He thinks I'm a bit like the Tin Man in the Wizard of Oz - my joints have metaphorically rusted and seized up, so I need to 'oil' them by getting them moving again, even if it really hurts to begin with. I've been given some exercises to do over the next couple of weeks - my only other option apparently being to "follow the yellow brick road and look for the Wizard!" Aside from the fact that I liked the literary reference, I also felt reassured to hear there's still a way out of my current predicament, so I'm going to give it my best shot.

Apropos of this, yesterday we had a lovely walk at the park in the bright Spring sunshine. Oh my goodness, such an abundance of unfurling buds and shoots! I think this really is my favourite season of the year - the days are getting longer, everything is renewed, refreshed and reinvigorated. Definitely what I need to help me on the road to recovery.

A selection of spring blossoms we spied along the way: wood anemones, daffodils, primroses and forget-me-nots. Gorgeous!
Most exciting of all, I'm hoping to have some pincushion flowers in the garden this year! I fell in love with them when I saw them at the park last summer (see below) and went back to collect some of the seed heads after the flowers had faded. Last week I reused the little plastic seedling container that came with my tomato plants, popped a couple of pincushion flower seeds into each section and crossed my fingers. It has only been on the kitchen windowsill for a couple of days...

...and now look what is happening! Two lovely little green shoots have appeared as if by magic - which means there should be at least half a dozen more to come. Fingers and toes now crossed for this eventuality.
On the knitting front, I've recently embarked on a bit of a foolhardy project - mainly because I just can't bear to not be knitting - so after the most cursory attempt at swatching, using cheap and cheerful bargain-basement yarn from Aldi I'm having a go at this pattern - Fine Sand by Heidi Kirrmaier. 
It's a lovely pattern, but the project is almost certainly doomed to failure because even though it's quite a nice dusty Red Clover colour the yarn really is more cheap than cheerful - but then again, if it ever actually becomes a finished garment at least it won't shrink!

Monday 16 April 2018

...zig-zag meanderings

  • The mystery shrub is regenerating. New shoots have appeared around the base of last year's hollow, woody, flower stems. At this stage the plant resembles some kind of succulent, with firm, fleshy leaves. I took this photo after it had rained one day and captive water droplets were sparkling in the sunlight. 
After pausing to search Google images for "succulents with long stems" I think the mystery shrub may, in fact, be an 'Autumn Joy' Sedum. Perhaps of little interest to others, but I like to know these things!
  • A collection of lichen photos taken during another weekend walk at the park. I liked the combination of acidic yellow/green and turquoise - vivid splashes of colour glowing strangely bright against the muted backdrop of a cloudy day.
  • An absolutely perfect clump of daffodils creating a natural bouquet.

  • This weekend I did a bit of small scale gardening, tidying and restocking the pots outside the kitchen window and checking on their miscellaneous inhabitants. A couple of bargain packs of delicate cream and lilac violas have helped to replenish the display, nestling sweetly into various nooks and crannies.
  • The muted rainbow zig-zag scarf is complete. I'm really pleased with how it turned out. It was such an enjoyable project with its constantly changing colour combinations making it so addictive to work on. Sadly for me, we're about to have a spell of record-breaking warm weather, so I won't get the chance to wear it for quite some time. It's  hard to photograph, but this gives a rough idea.

Tuesday 3 April 2018

...the Easter weekend

  • A Good Friday walk at the park. Overcast and gloomy sky. The shuttered cafe reflected rather beautifully in the lake, where thick clumps of frog-spawn have appeared along the water's edge. We'll need to look out for tadpoles in the coming weeks.

  • Hyacinths and tulips for the kitchen windowsill. I don't normally buy flowers for myself, but reasoned that the hyacinths can be planted out in the garden once they finish flowering. The tulips were simply too lovely to resist.

  • Cast on for the zigzag scarf project. Not having any knitting on the go is intolerable!  

  • Based on the house-tidying principle of "little and often" I decided to tackle this chaotic corner of the kitchen, which has evolved into a storage point for miscellaneous items such as hand cream, dog food/treats, bananas, chopping boards and paper towels! It's a bit like the high tide line on the beach - lots of random things seem to wash up there! Still no real rhyme or reason to it but organised is much better.

  • Bank Holiday Monday and the hyacinths and tulips were in full bloom. So beautiful.

  • The zigzag scarf is coming along nicely. Some of the more subtle colour combinations flowing randomly from the needles are starting to balance out the initial rather jarring orange/black section.