Thursday, 28 August 2014

Totally Useless!!

I have enjoyed getting my craft on over the past month, both with the #30for30crafting challenge (I'm just about still keeping up to it now I'm back at work) and generally enjoying what others get up to and where they squeeze it into their lives. What's lovely is that there are a lot of different communities: 'stitch alongs' where everyone follows the same pattern at a similar pace, and 'swaps' where people from across the world make things for each other (usually along a theme) and send them. It sounds like such fun!

I've not been brave enough to join in something where I could possibly let another person down: I'm not quite confident in my own abilities yet. But I have come across the "Totally Useless Stitch-Along" which I feel I'm more than qualified for!

It's dead simple: collect up all the scraggly ends of thread as you've been stitching, and store them in a glass jar. The colours are pretty and there's less mess in the house. The jars are called ORTs for Old Ratty Threads. Then take a picture and share!

I think you're probably meant to add a bit more detail as well, about what you've been making. Most of my threads came from my lightning-speed birthday card production, and some crochet-ing (which is nearly finished and I'll broadcast it then). I'm writing as I wait FOREVER for my MND/ALS Ice Bucket Challenge video to upload, so I'm reluctant to use up much more bandwidth just now!

All the other TUSALs this month are here...

Saturday, 23 August 2014

How Beautiful

As kids, my brother and I used to love watching a VHS of "Handel's Messiah" being performed. Looking back, that's actually quite odd, but we liked it all the same. My Dad listened to classical music a lot so I guess it came from there. We used to love the affectionately nick-named 'teddy bear man' who played the jubilacious trumpet at the the end.

It makes sense then, that as I have been thinking about the content of this post, a passage from the Messiah has been floating around in my head:

How beautiful upon the mountains
     are the feet of him who brings good news
who publishes peace, who brings good news of happiness,
     who publishes salvation,
     who says to Zion, "Your God reigns."
          Isaiah 52:7

For me, bringing good news and glad tidings have been increasingly wrapped up with another verse over the past few years:

He has told you, O man, what is good;
     and what does The Lord require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness,
     and to walk humbly with your God?
          Micah 6:8

My grown-up theology has come from The Message trust and Eden projects in Manchester, from 24-7 Prayer and Shane Claiborne. People who have given up everything to live in community with the broken. That verse from Micah, that is the trendy mandate in those circles.

Bringing good news has meant doing justice and loving kindness. In turn, doing justice and loving kindness has meant going out onto the streets and meeting those whom Jesus came to save; visiting them in their homes; building relationships with families; giving children and young people an opportunity to encounter God and develop a relationship with him for themselves. You should go and explore the work that Kidz Klub and Space do: they have had a massive impact in my city and continue to bring the love of Jesus to many difficult situations.

This year has been tough. That version of bringing good news doesn't pay the bills so add in a full time job, a new marriage and a small social life, and you get one exhausted Becca. After much soul-searching I have taken the decision to step back from Kidz Klub for a while. It's for the sake of my own health, and to enable me to do the things that remain, well. In the crafting world I'm happy to be 'Jack of all trades, master of none' but where I have responsibility for people's lives I don't think that's acceptable.

This summer has been long and beautiful. I've rediscovered my creative side, bought a basket for my bike, had coffee with friends, done babysitting. It's been lovely. I've joined an orchestra. And I've felt terribly middle-class. Baskets and crochet and summer play-days: they aren't the kind of thing I encounter on the estates. The questions have kept me up at night: What if that means my feet aren't beautiful any more? If I'm not living immersed in a council estate, can I really be following God?

Of course I can. I can do justice with my whole life. I can love kindness in everything I do. And I must walk humbly with my God, constantly handing my life over to him and following His agenda; not mine or anyone else's.

Sarah over at SheLoves wrote this month about how she and her sisters are learning to treat 'Lazy' as a four-letter word. That article spoke straight into my soul, as I learn to rest in God and seek him above all else. One more scripture:

For I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice,
     the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings.
          Hosea 6:6

This verse is not an answer. It doesn't tell us to rest; nor does it tell us to do. It tells us to know God, and follow his lead. It is not easy, and there are no one-size-fits-all answers. Here I was facing up to it a couple of weeks ago:

So today I bring you good news: Jesus loves you, and he went to the ends of the earth to save your Spirit and restore friendship between you and God. He has a good and perfect plan for your life, and that does NOT include burning out.

How beautiful...

(PS I still totally love The Message and 24-7 and Shane Claiborne. I have nothing against them, and take full responsibility for my own interpretation of their writing and teachings)

SheLoves Magazine: a global community of women who love

I'm linking up this post with the SheLoves community who are sharing posts on the theme of 'Beautiful' this month. Click here for other takes on the subject

Friday, 15 August 2014

A Week of Creativity

Well, who knew quite what I was letting myself into with the #30for30crafting challenge this month! Week One was in the build-up to Pete's birthday so I couldn't share many of my projects as I went (couldn't ruin the surprise!) so here's a quick summary:

Day 1 was to finish off a point on my spikey spikey crochet (see previous photo). Crochet doesn't quite agree with me and this project is becoming a bit of a drag to finish, but I will get there, eventually.

Day 2 was the day that I discovered the challenge, and the oh-so-inspiring blog of The Crafting Geek. A recent post gave a cute little pattern for an old NES controller. Pete quite likes retro games so I thought this would be a lovely 'little project' to get me started, and I could make it into a birthday card for him. I popped into town for some bits including the black thread I would need, so was quite restricted to just 30 minutes to get started before the Mr got home from work. I nearly completed the box outline. You can see where this is going...

Day 3 and it turned out we had slightly different definitions of a 'little project'! It was the day before Pete's birthday so I had little choice but to spend most of the day sitting and stitching, painfully slowly filling in the colours. A lot of hours (including some overnight after he'd fallen asleep...) this emerged:

Quite pleased overall, despite the lack of sleep! The squareness of the design also gives a very satisfying back:

I downloaded a 'NES' font and printed the 'Happy Birthday' as a template, then used the schoolgirl technique of colouring underneath with a pencil to make my own template. I originally planned to go over this in red but liked the effect of the pencil so left it be.

Day 4: I was shattered after the previous day's stitching exertions, but it was the birthday boy's day and there was baking to be done! I had let slip that I wanted to bake a cake, and pecan pie had been requested. There's a bit of a back-story with that and it's become a traditional Christmas gift(!) but I'm a big softie so it was to be made again. We had a barbeque planned for Friday evening so a more sociable cake would be required for that. So cue another day full of creating, first a very exciting blueberry ring cake, then lots of little pecan pies:

Day 5: You can guess what today required, cake decoration! Here is the finished product, and I am very pleased with it. The greatest praise was that those who tasted it on Friday night came back for seconds.

Day 6 I spent with a group of friends re-painting the set for a children's club I am involved with during term times. I believe some photos were taken, but not by me. It's a bit of a tenuous link to 'craft' as there was very little creative involvement beyond white- and blue-washing some big boards, but it's all preparation for this Saturday which will see the creativity re-injected!

...And since then I've returned to my crocheting. It's painstaking and slow and I have to re-start every point 3 times before I really get going but hopefully I'll have something to show for it by the end of the month. Today is my Day 12 so there is still plenty of time for me!

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Now for something completely different...

It's been quite intense over here lately, but as the summer holidays wear on there is very little intense going on in these parts. There should maybe be a bit more intensive house-cleaning... but never mind. I've discovered the world of craft blogs, and it is maybe even more dangerous than community link-ups!

I'm not sure how well I'll fare all through the year, but have decided to join in a project called #30for30crafting, where you simply do something crafty for 30 minutes a day, for 30 days! The idea is to run through August so I'm a little late starting, but did spend a good hour doing some crochet yesterday so I reckon that puts me on Day 2.

I'm quite an ambitious person, and tend to dive straight into a massive project, rather than starting small. The real challenge is to finish. So I think I'll be taking this opportunity to finish some of the big projects I've started, but also try and limit myself to some smaller ones that can be completed in just a couple of days.

It's fun, creating.