Tuesday, 4 October 2016

Rainbow Blanket

Funny how as soon as you find a solution to a problem, the problem changes! Feeds are not so long any more (thank goodness) but I rarely get through reading all of the blogs I follow now and certainly don't get into writing!

I have however finished and sent the blanket I've been working on so I thought I would share it with you. It all began when I came across this picture:


I loved the stitch and decided to make it into a blanket. I chose a dark blue for the background as the baby hadn't been born yet so it needed to be gender neutral. I started on my first day of maternity leave but didn't get as far as I'd hoped when certain someone turned up early! There followed some creative crafting time (basically whenever / wherever little one slept):

  

And it was finally finished last month:


I'm pretty pleased with it as I didn't follow a pattern, and I finished it within 3 months of newborn-raising(!) I would have liked it to be a bit wider: I used the same number of stitches as my fantasy blanket but didn't think about how the structure of the pattern would affect the amount of horizontal stretch. It's acceptable though, and I think the border helps.

Here it is all packed up and ready to send!


It is now in transit, I hope the recipient will enjoy it, just in time for the start of Autumn.

Wednesday, 27 July 2016

Book Review: I Am Malala


I read this book as it was in the book club on the SheLoves Magazine website. I want to write my review before I read the discussion post today but I'm not sure how quickly I'll get this up.

I'm not sure what I was expecting in this book, but I got something completely different. The book begins with a potted history of the nation of Pakistan, then provides some context in the form of Malala's Father's story. It slipped seamlessly into Malala's story without my really noticing. The story itself is a fascinating insight into everyday life in an area ruled by the taliban. If you've ever wondered how cities can be "Taken by the Taliban" or "reclaimed by the army"; or how people live when there is daily fighting in the streets, this book will provide you with at least one perspective.

This book struck me as I started reading it in the week that the Chilcott enquiry was published. This was an enquiry into the UK's role in the Iraq war, and was not complimentary about the decisions made or the processes by which they were reached! To read about the direct impact this had on a rural valley in Pakistan was eye-opening, and the impact that continues is alarming.

I enjoyed that Malala's portrayal of herself is so much more human than those in the media. She was a normal teenage girl, who fought with her best friend and wouldn't share with her brothers. She is so outspoken because she follows the footsteps of her father. She came from the back of beyond but almost without realising became a person of such significance that the foreign hospital she was taken to and the people who took her there were of diplomatic significance. In fact, her survival was of diplomatic significance. It's a real example of how small steps, decisions made every day, can snowball into something that effects a real change in the world.

It's a raw book. I don't think it can have been written very long after the family resettled in Birmingham.  My copy is a newer edition and there is a new interview with Malala at the back. There is a clear contrast between Malala's description of life in the UK in the final chapter of the book vs the interview, and I'm pleased the family seem to be slowly settling though their hearts are clearly still back home.

In summary I would whole-heartedly recommend this book if you have an interest in political history;  an interest in women's rights; or you just like a good autobiography. It may not be the greatest literary classic but if you try you can hear Malala's Pakistani accent in the turns of phrase.

Right, let's see what everyone else thought. The discussion page is here.

Tuesday, 26 July 2016

Not a "mummy blog"

I can understand why when ladies become mums, everything quickly becomes all about motherhood and children. It's totally overwhelming and you learn so much so quickly and there's nobody there to share your newfound wisdom with. I am sure there will be plenty of "mummy posts" in the coming months, but I really enjoy being part of the crafting community (before I disappeared so unceremoniously) so I hope you'll let me stay. Even if my crafting achievements are few and far between!

I have stitched on a gift this month which is remarkable as I hadn't previously done any cross-stitching since last November. We drove down to visit the grandparents at the weekend so while baby was contained in his car seat I had a couple of hours either way with my hands free!


It's a design by stitchrovia. I don't want to give too much away because it is for a surprise gift... though may be the Christmas after next before it is finished! I did enjoy doing it again though, cross stitch is a slow but satisfying craft and once I've finished my current project (more on that soon) I might try to move more quickly with it.

Monday, 18 July 2016

On the missing year... and my biggest creative achievement yet!

So it's been a year. I'm not sure it's really worth summarising all that has passed as it would take far too long, I'm bound to miss out a key event and there's a distinct possibility that my only remaining reader is my mum and she already knows!

The main event though, beyond which all others pale into insignificance; my greatest creative achievement of all; is that I have become a mum! Little S is 8 weeks old and amazing. I would love to show you ALL of the photos and videos because he is so cute but I'm mindful of internet security so I'll keep it to just one:

Perfecting his model pose

As you can imagine, life's a bit different now. He is breastfeeding (which, by the way, is HARD. Harder than anything else I've ever tried to do) and feeds a lot, so I've watched a lot of daytime TV. I'm trying to do some reading when he's settled enough for me to free one hand, and I've recently regained a tablet so thought I might have another go at blogging again. Anything to make me feel just a little bit productive beyond being the milk machine!

I'm looking forward to going back through other blogs I haven't read in ages too. Is anyone still out there? What have I missed?!

Saturday, 20 June 2015

Catching up

I'm not very consistent at the moment- neither is life. It's busy and occasionally threatens to engulf me entirely. But I am learning to recognise the anxiety  as it comes, to rationalise it and lean into peace. I'm getting there, slowly. This is a 'new' that is above and beyond all the changes in physical situations, but within. Maybe I'll talk about that next week (although I am going to the real life sea next week so you may be kept in suspense...)

On with the Stitch-alongs. I'm late for TUSAL and Gifted Gorgeousness but I'm here! I've actually missed the TUSAL for the past few months. TUSAL stands for "Totally Useless Stitch-along" and it's an opportunity for people to show off all of the scraps they've created by stitching over the month. We moved house in April and as a consequence my TUSAL jar was packed away, and I had to move on to a smaller, travel-sized version. I still haven't gone back!

 
Isn't it cute?

You can see the layers much more clearly from the different projects I was working on: lots of blackwork back in April, then some bold colours from my applique in May, and finally all the pastels from the 'Storytime Classics' sampler I've finally got stuck into this month!

It is also handy to carry around with me- I like to squeeze some stitching into my lunch break when I can, or just pass the time if I have to wait a while somewhere. I made a little drawstring bag way back when I bought that baby sewing machine, and it still gets plenty of use:


Just the right size to squeeze into a handbag! You can also see the progress I've made on the aforementioned sampler from the Frosted Pumpkin Stitchery; I got off to a very bad start at the beginning of the year but have completed 2 month's worth this month already, so I'm optimistic it might still be finished by January 2016.

Unfortunately it has been my main project this month, and is the only one that doesn't qualify for "Gifted Gorgeousness" (see what I did there?!)


Gifted Gorgeousness is run by Jo at Serendipitous Stitching and it's an opportunity to share any crafting that has been done as a gift, or received. Last month I could only share a teaser with you but this month I can share what I sent to Canada in the Disney Craft Swap I joined in:


My swap partner liked 101 Dalmations and mentioned that Cruella DeVille was her favourite character, so I stitched some blackwork Dalmatians and an applique Cruella for a tote bag. The dalmatians were also supposed to end up on the bag but that didn't work out, I'm pretty please with the notebook cover as well though! I really enjoyed making for somebody else- it gave me to opportunity to try things that I wouldn't have done otherwise, and I made things in a style that I wouldn't necessarily want to keep. This post is a bit photo heavy already so I won't post close-ups now, but I was REALLY PLEASED with how it all turned out.

I also included some Cadbury's Marvellous Creations chocolate (the one with popping candy because it's my favourite), some hand-dyed threads from riotous colours, and a card with an illustration of Leeds on the front.

It has also been my birthday since this time last month and I have been treated to some beautiful Gifted Gorgeousness! I was given this cross stitch kit by some good friends:

I've wanted a Bothy Threads pattern for ages but have never quite been brave enough to buy one so this really was a treat! I'm looking forward to having a go with metallic threads and a bit of beading too so that will be fun.

Finally, my wonderful husband MADE my birthday present this year. It has been very mysterious as lots of small envelopes kept arriving in the post, and then he borrowed my spray glue and got all a bit stressed out while I was not allowed upstairs, but look at this:


Isn't it gorgeous?! The postcards are all from places we've been abroad together. This photo doesn't show off quite how well it goes in the room as well. To be honest I would have been over the moon with anything he'd gone to the trouble of making for me but this is perfect. I am a very lucky lady.

Saturday, 30 May 2015

Busy as a bee

Another month gone by in a whirl! It's been a busy one, but good. I've enjoyed having my feet on the ground a little more than April which was all just silly. It's that time where I review how I'm coping with all of the 'new' in my life in 2015.


There is (shock horror) not actually a massive and life-changing new aspect to my life this month! Instead we've been trying to create some degree of normality around here. We are all but unpacked, and hosted a lovely housewarming 'do' last Saturday which was a low-key affair but actually perfect for it. The sun was shining so we sat in the back yard becoming slightly pink, then retired inside and saw in the early hours watching the craziness that is Eurovision.

Oh, did I tell you I've taken up baking bread? That's new. I'm getting to be quite pleased with the product and looking forward to the weekly kneading sessions!

Also, our church congregation has moved house (just round the corner from us!) That's new too, and exciting because it means we will get much more involved in the community, and I can invite people that I already know to a church in the vicinity. So there are some new things.

The 'new card' at work is wearing off; and actually it's lovely. I had a few weeks where I started dreading Mondays and having to go back, but I found that all that needed to change was my own attitude, and I am enjoying it again! It just has been (and continues to be) such a steep learning curve: as long as I keep on learning things keep on improving!


This is a picture of the swap gift I gave you a sneak peek of last week all wrapped up and ready to post... it is now sat in Heathrow airport waiting for it's flight so I am excited that I will be able to share the contents soon!

Friday, 15 May 2015

Gifted Gorgeousness in May

Well Hello.

"Gifted Gorgeousness" is a link-up that Jo over at Serendipitous Stitching runs, for people to share the beautiful gifts they have been creating during the month. And for once, I'm posting on the actual day we're supposed to!

Unfortunately I can't share very much of what I've been making over the last couple of months as it's for an online swap. You can have a couple of peeks...

... but that's it. I have to say I am enjoying making this soo much! I've tried out lots of new skills and made something that I love, but I definitely wouldn't want to own. That's the joy of a swap or gift; it caters to someone else's tastes so you get to stretch just a bit further.

Have a look over here to see more gifted gorgeousness this month!



I've also been thinking about my efforts for "take a talent" and Nepal over the past couple of weeks. Here is my collection of creative Nepal memorabilia:


There are some beautiful cushion covers, a plain blue sari with bangles, a hand-made card and a calendar I had printed after I got back, with pictures I had taken.

As I was photographing these I was thinking about how little I had taken away from the country because the real gifts were the people, and the friends I made. I went there to work not play, and souvenirs seemed gimmicky in the light of that.

I've also been torn between making something pretty that people will buy 'just because'- or sticking with my initial intentions to make something along the lines of my work, that people would buy in spite of the charity aspect rather than because of it.

And (just 10 minutes ago) it came to me- if people are the treasure that I've taken with me from Nepal, people is what I could make! I'd like to make a variation on paper dolls, maybe with different sets of clothes from different cultures, and I'm not sure whether they'd be made from laminated card or cloth. I know I'd find that useful, even in the setting I'm in now.

I'm still open to ideas or offers of support (my illustration skills leave plenty to be desired) but feel much better now I've got the beginnings of an idea :-)