Thursday, 30 October 2014

Plans Plans Plans

So I hinted that I've got a few projects I'd like to get going in the next couple of weeks... I honestly don't know where to start! The Doctor Who sampler is all but finished (will be done by Friday), Noah's ark is on its way and I've got some variety to get stuck into.

First up, I want to enter the "Old Stitches, New Tricks" competition over at &Stitches. I have a bike basket see, and I'm keen to jazz it up a little.

My inspiration has come from Greedy For Colour's incredible bike, and a simple little tutorial I found on cross-stitching onto a letter rack. The original plan was to keep with the monochrome colour scheme of the bike and use some silver wire but that has proved less than successful, so I'm hunting for some cheap tiny balls of wool that might be more effective. Watch this space!

In the light of my recent thoughts about snowflakes, I'd like to crochet some for a group of friends, each one unique. At last count I had 10 different snowflake patterns, and here is my practice run:
 (I've since located some sparkly yarn which will definitely be required for the gifts!)

I also went a bit crazy and bought some clock parts the other day, so I'm considering trying to get some button clocks made up before Christmas in case people wanted to buy them as gifts. They will be much more simple than the one I made for my  mum, but hopefully still as pretty.

Then I have a two more gift ideas to make in the next couple of weeks, more on those when they have been gifted! November will be busy...

Does anyone else have more ideas than time?

Saturday, 25 October 2014

What a difference a month makes!

A month seems to go by so fast these days, and it's time for that slightly-odd blog game where I show you how many loose ends I've cut off this month:

I'm getting there! There is LOTS of black from my Dr Who stitching this month, a bit of gold from the Dalek and some grey from the elephants in Noah's Ark. So fairly monochromatic.

BUT... *drum roll* ... I have finished the design on the Dr Who sampler! Just the words and framing to go, it is VERY exciting. Here's where I was up to by last night:

I am really quite proud of myself, to be on track for finishing an entire project within 2 months. We are house-watching for Josh and his parents this week so I'm considering whether I can get it done and framed before they get back, as a welcome home gift. Anybody got any advice on framing? This is what size the aida was that I bought so there's not much space all the way around, I think I might have to take it to a professional for it to look acceptable.

You'll also notice I've bought a needle minder- it's amazing what it turns out you can't manage without when you get into a hobby! This beautiful wooden button came from planetvonnychops on etsy. So cute!

Once the Dr Who Sampler is done I'll have time to start some new projects. Maybe I'll blog some of my ideas in the next week, now I'm off to get buying materials!

Have a look at other people's TUSAL odds and ends over here.

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Unique {We are the Other}

I’m going to step into slightly unknown territory today and talk a little bit about my work. I’m linking up with the SheLoves Magazine Synchroblog on the theme “We are the other”: raising the profile of the people who are marginalised in the world. There are a lot of themes I could have picked up but I think many of them will be more than fairly represented amongst the other blog posts so the “other” people group I’m championing today is those with Learning Disabilities (that’s British terminology; I believe the accepted term stateside is Intellectual Disabilities).

I’m so aware that in writing about a group of people to which I don’t belong, I run the risk of setting them apart as “Others” even in my good intentions. So there will be as many links as possible scattered throughout, and I really encourage you to read them. Start with this lady. She speaks much more eloquently and with more authority than I ever could. Seriously, read it before going any further here. 

“He’s Unique.” I need say no more. (But I will, else there’s not much point in this post)

I listened to this discussion with Jean Vanier yesterday. Jean set up L’Arche, French for ‘The Ark’, when he invited two men with learning disabilities who had been living in an asylum, to come and live with him and share his life. There are now communities in more than 40 countries sharing that same vision of sharing life between people with and without learning disabilities.

One of the key things he talks about in the interview is the difference between admiring people and loving them. Admiring people sets them on a pedestal (He’s so brave); loving people stands alongside them. It allows them to get under your skin. One of the most empowering acts we can give to any person we normally keep behind the “Other” barrier is to let them drive you mad, make you angry.

I work in a school and residential setting for children and adults with profound and multiple learning disabilities. Many of those people also have very complex health needs. They need a lot of help with a lot of aspects of life; but they are always to be the ones in control. Sometimes that’s really inconvenient if I need to look in a person’s bag for their equipment and they say ‘no’, or I’ve asked for advice about what I should buy from the tuck shop and they recommend my least favourite item. But that in a small way is redressing the power balance that this world thrives on.

During the Summer I went to meet the leader of the L’Arche community in Manchester. I had gone because I wanted to find ways of making Christianity more accessible to people with learning disabilities; I wanted them to have the same opportunities to meet God as the rest of us. My vision was for special meetings, designed with various needs in mind, to welcome those with all kinds of additional needs.

But Kevin’s vision was something completely different. His vision is to see that people with learning disabilities are seen as no different from those without. His team’s proudest venture is the disco night they run once a month for local families, where people of all walks and ages come and some of them have learning disabilities. Nobody comes out of pity, they come because they have a good time, every one of them.


I don’t quite know how to finish today. This is something of a journey that I am still on; this is a people group that is such fun to work with and yet opens up such deep questions about the meaning and value of life. Perhaps I’ll end with this:

L'Arche is based on body and on suffering bodies. And so they are seen as useless, and so we welcome those who apparently are useless. And it's a suffering body which brings us together. And it's attention to the body. You see, when somebody comes to our community and is quite severely handicapped, what is important is to see that the body is well. Bathing, helping people dress, to eat. It's to communicate to them through the body. And then, as the body can become comfortable, then the spirit can rise up. There's a recognition. There's a contact. There's a relationship. 
We see this with some of our people, like Françoise. Françoise came to our community in 1978, very severely handicap. She couldn't speak, she could walk a bit, she couldn't dress herself, she was incontinent, and she couldn't eat by herself. And today, she is nearly 30 years older. She has become blind and a beautiful person. 
There was somebody who came to our community not too long ago who was, saw Françoise and the reaction was, 'Oh, what is the point of keeping Françoise alive?' And the leader of the little house said, 'But madam, I love her." I mean, it's as if you come in to a home and grandma is in the home and she has Alzheimer's and you say, 'What is — but she's my grandmother.' I mean, so it's based on the body, and then from the body, relationship grows. 
                                                              -Jean Vanier,

EVERY life is unique. EVERY life has value.

Sunday, 12 October 2014

Like Snowflakes {Listen}

Today I'm linking up with SheLoves Magazine on their monthly theme which for October is "Listen" (Or I would be, but the link-up page seems to be broken. I thought I'd write anyway). Hop over there to see what some excellent writers have to say on the theme. Here's my take:

The 'Life Group' I'm a part of didn't come together like most of the others at our church. We wanted small groups to meet up with that would focus on reaching the area and neighbourhoods that we lived in. Very few people lived on my side of the city, so we thought outside the box. We invited all the local Christians we knew to join in, and a precious cross-congregational fellowship was formed.

Recently we've gained a few new members so this week we decided to each share a little part of our testimony, one or two events that had been turning points or played a part in shaping who we are.


One by one hearts were opened, and this odd family was welcomed in. As each person shared, others were reminded of events in their own lives that had been further turning points. One shared how they met God all on their own, without another soul talking to them. Another shared how in the vast sea of people at Soul Survivor he had encountered the Holy Spirit for the first time. One shared how faith had just always made sense in life; another shared the long and winding road to discovering who God is. Each story was as valuable as the next; some more familiar than others. But for every one of us, listening to our friends was a reminder of something else God had done, another event that had played a part in moulding us into who we are.

A snowflake is formed by a water particle freezing around a tiny piece of dust, and falling to the earth. The intricate shape of each arm is determined by the atmospheric conditions experienced by the flake as it falls. Every gust of wind; each slight change in temperature or humidity causes the ice crystals to grow in a different way. Because individual snowflakes all follow slightly different paths from the sky to the ground they each encounter different conditions and therefore, each one is unique.

We are like snowflakes, and every experience, every condition, every change of direction determines who we will become. What a privilege to hear those stories and be able to say, 'Thank you for sharing'.

Can you think of events in your life, even seemingly insignificant ones, that have made you who you are today?

Snowflake image credit: Alexey Kljatov

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Hop Along

Today I’m joining in with a Blog Hop from over at Serendipitous Stitching. I’ve been paired up with The Alchemyst’s Study and my brief is to have a snoop around her blog and write a post dedicated to her, with something I’ve made that I thought she might like.

Unfortunately I don’t have a huge backlog of cross-stitched crafts to draw on, but I have tried my hand at a good few techniques in my time and it seems like Christine likes to do the same! She has a lovely little online craft store with a whole section dedicated to ‘buttons and braids’ so I thought I’d share my favourite button craft with you.

Growing up, my mum had a collection of buttons in an old milk formula tin and I used to love getting them out and playing with them, just enjoying looking at all the different designs. I’ve started my own miniature collection but it is growing slowly, mostly made up of the spare buttons that come with various items of clothing!

I got the idea for this project from a lovely tea shop we visited one winter on a Christmas walk around Bakewell. The clock was beautiful and I thought, I could make that for my mum next year!

So I did. I had a fun trip to the market where I got to pull out all those tubes of buttons and pick my favourites, then I chose the best arrangement and got stitching. Sewing the clock face onto the backing fabric was quite a challenge, and I wish I could say each blanket stitch represents a second but alas not so technical! I’m also missing photos of my Dad and I on Christmas eve with a drill trying to make a perfect sized hole for the clock mechanism to fit through the back board I’d bought without wobbling.

But here is the finished item:

I like to think the non-uniformity gives it a rugged charm! My mum likes it anyway, it occupies pride of place on the mantelpiece.

Where have you picked up some crazy craft ideas from?

Do go and visit Christine’s blog at The Alchemyst's Study, and find the rest of the blog-hoppers at Serendipitous Stitching. Nice to meet you!

Friday, 3 October 2014

New Toy

Yesterday I defied the advice of people far wiser than I and bought a new toy:

It's teeny weeny, isn't it cute?

Actually, the advice turned out to be well grounded. It only does a straight backstitch so no zigzagging to avoid frays, and it only goes in one direction. Which means to start and finish you have to stitch two, turn the whole piece around and stitch back on yourself, then turn it round again to carry on. Whilst being quite an inconvenience it also gives me 4 extra opportunities to start stitching with the foot still up each time around, eek!

It's dead easy to set up though, and I've even completed my first project already! I followed this video:

Which was so simple, I think it took me less than an hour all in all to complete! Here's a few photos of my progress:

The finished thing was quite a lot smaller than I had anticipated but just about fit in my Dr Who cross stitching, so I can stitch on the go without keeping everything in a scrappy old plastic wallet.

I hope to add an embellishment or two in time, and replace the hemming tape with ribbon for the drawstrings, but it's not bad for an evening's work and the odds and ends I had in!

What else is easy to make on a sewing machine?