Monday, 31 January 2022

...January

I've been driving my husband to work this month - he started a new job at the beginning of January, and hasn't quite figured out the logistics for his cycling commute yet. Just under three weeks ago I made him take a photo of the sunrise through the (moving) car window, because it was so spectacular - glowing peachy/golden and turquoise through the trees. This morning I realised that while there was still a faint tinge of pink in the sky, the sun had risen before we'd even set off. It's official - our daylight ration is increasing. Hooray!
I finished crocheting the little rainbow coloured baby blanket, which just needs a baby lap to snuggle onto... 
...and straight away launched into another (full-sized) blanket for my daughter. She is in the process of buying her first house - a little two-up, two-down terraced house not far from us, which I have taken to calling Rose Cottage, because her middle name is Rose, and the house is so small and pretty. The blanket pattern is 'Flowers in the Snow' but she chose a soft pink background rather than white, so it's been christened 'The Rose Cottage Blanket' instead. It's going to be 16 squares long by 12 squares wide (192 in total) and I'm 74 squares in already. I decided I wanted to make each square unique (I reckon there are over 4000 possible permutations as I'm working with 17 different colours) but have had to devise a spreadsheet to avoid repetitions, and taken to lining the 'flowers' up on the carpet before joining them, to make sure that neighbouring squares aren't too similar! It's driving me ever so slightly insane, but the granny square addiction is too powerful to resist. "Just one more round!" I'm not sure what I will do when it's finished - I'm already pondering who my next victim enabler grateful recipient could be, so that I can feed my habit justify another project.
Last week I re-stocked my Upcycled-Soft-Furnishings wardrobe, by making myself another Wiksten top from an old brushed cotton duvet cover. It's quite a statement piece (Oversized Lumberjack Chic anyone?) but I'm embracing the eccentricity and really love it teamed with this old favourite scarf.
I also made another Ann Wood Pin Girl pincushion as a birthday present for my friend. Ann has recently added another wonderful (free!) pattern to her blog - check out these beautiful Dancing Hares! I can see one sashaying onto my sewing table in the very near future...

Friday, 7 January 2022

...focussing in

Too much dwelling on The Big Picture sent my inner Eeyore into overdrive in December, making me feel very gloomy and grey - in a standing alone in a thistly corner of the Forest, thinking, "I shouldn't be surprised if it hailed a good deal tomorrow" kind of way. I'm not a big fan of Christmas. I don't mean the religious festival (although marking the Winter Solstice and the gradual return of the light holds more significance for me). I mean the commercialisation and the relentless social pressure to consume - eat, drink, spend, be merry, etc. - because "it's the most wonderful time of the year", even though for many (most?) it's patently not.

Realising that my Grinch-like chuntering was starting to wear a little thin with my nearest and dearest, and in an attempt to sustain my inner Pollyanna, I decided to start paying attention to the little things/achievements that made me feel happy or 'glad' in the moment - to focus in on the tiny details in my bit of The Big Picture and let the rest recede into a distant blur. So these are some of the things that happened in those "sparkly moments".
  •  At the start of the month (as mentioned in my last post) I came across the #carvedecember2021 Instagram challenge to carve a stamp, using a one word prompt, each day throughout December. This is where my hoarding of artistic tools and materials becomes a strength, rather than a weakness - lino cutters, scalpel, lino blocks and even ink (last used at least twenty years ago) were unearthed from a drawer, and away I went, keeping things very simple and (mostly) just going with the first idea that popped into my head. 2021 has definitely been the year of moving away from perfectionism and "just doing it". It started with the #100daychallenge2021 and ended with this. I don't think it's the best work I've ever done, but I'm still pleased I did it!
  • A Miss Marple scarf I knitted for my Mum. I wasn't sure I'd got quite the right colour until I saw her wearing it - she looks so pretty in pink!
  • One day I took a whole load of photos of sunlight shining through fallen leaves at the park. The low winter sun was at just the right angle to make them glow like fiery butterfly wings.
  • I didn't complete the #carvedecember2021 challenge. First I missed one day, then the next, and then I gave myself permission to stop. Once upon a time the incompleteness would have felt like failure, but I'm choosing to focus on what I achieved instead - I love the tiny tree stamp that happened on Day 14. It's about 1 cm wide and took about 10 minutes to carve, but it's the one that pleased me the most. 
  • I was invited to go to a Christmas meal out with my former work-mates in mid December, but decided I couldn't risk it with Omicron on the rise. So I made a "lucky dip" bag of festive pebbles for everyone instead.
  • I finished my Harmony granny square blanket whilst binge-watching 'The Good Wife'. The photo shows a section of the rainbow border, which turned out to be my favourite part of the blanket. This was such a satisfying, joyful project, and I'm so pleased that I actually got round to making it after nearly five years with the kit just sitting in a bag on the shelf, making me feel guilty every time I saw it! 
  • More focussing in - this time a raindrop-bejewelled spider's web in the privet hedge. So delicate and beautiful.
  • A spectacular sunrise through the back bedroom window. I love this old factory building, even though it's ugly-beautiful in a L.S. Lowry kind of way. 
  • Just before Christmas my husband had his annual 'Inadequate Presents Anxiety Meltdown' about his parents, who are notoriously difficult to please. There is nothing they really want or need, and gift-buying for them is always a struggle. Did I mention I'm not a fan of Christmas? So I offered to make some additional last-minute presents to add to the bits and pieces we'd already bought. I adapted the Miss Marple Scarf pattern to create a less bow-like, more 'masculine' shape, and knitted a 'Mr Marple Muffler' in my father-in-law's favourite Rugby League team colours - green and orange 'Myrtle and Flame' ...
  • ...and painted a little pebble portrait of our XXSCat dog for my mother-in-law. The XXSCat dog is absolutely adored by both of them, so this was a definite crowd-pleaser on the day. Mission 'Save My Husband's Sanity' accomplished.
  • A tree within a tree...I'm like the boy in 'The Sixth Sense', except I see trees, not dead people. Infinitely preferable, I imagine!
  • Leftover Harmony blanket yarn plus assorted scraps from the stash - a solid granny square baby blanket is forming. No specific baby in mind, but there's bound to be one sooner or later. N.b. The colours are much nicer in real life.
2022 has begun, the light is increasing every day, and equilibrium has been restored to the Eeyore/Pollyanna continuum. Happy New Year!