Friday, 28 November 2014

On being scared of what you know

Well, hasn’t it been a busy couple of weeks?! The Christmas rush has started early it seems and it’s a long time since my last evening in. I have a TUSAL to catch up with and feedback from the &Stitches competition, but I’ve been itching to get this post out all week so I better do some reflective writing while I feel inspired. Hopefully will get another chance this weekend!

I am an optimist. I love that old non-statistic: “most people spend most of their time worrying about things that will never happen.” I’m also guilty of falling into the ‘most people’ category occasionally.

Sometimes though, I worry about things that I’m certain are just about to happen. What if you know the situation is about to turn bad? What if you’ve been there before? At church this Sunday we were looking at the story where Jesus walks on the water. He’d sent his followers across a lake and said he’d meet them on the other side. His followers were fishermen and knew that lake like the back of their hand. They were used to sailing in the dark. So you better be sure that when they were scared, it wasn’t without good reason!

As I prepare to leave a job I love for another I can only hope to be such a blessing; as I look to the first Christmas I will ever spend away from my parents’ home; I feel like I’m sliding down an old precipice to a dark valley path. It's a path I've walked many times before. My capacity shrinks to that of a tiny Lego man, and the smallest task becomes a mountain. Sometimes it turns to a stream under the volume of tears. 

This week I’ve been following along with the SheReadsTruth ladies as they look at Thankfulness in the Bible (happy Thanksgiving for yesterday!) On Monday we looked at “giving thanks in sorrow”. I can only advise you to read it whether you have a faith or not; the whole thing is so beautiful no snippet can do it justice. This stopped me in my tracks:
You’ve sized up your grief of what was lost, what should be, or what will never be, and felt the sharp pangs of this fallen world. You’ve avoided playing a thanksgiving song because it won’t sound the same as before. But by doing so, you’re withholding one of the most precious tunes the world has ever heard—the tune of Glory.
The first time I walked that path I thought my world would end. Now I sit it out, knowing that eventually it will pass. The fight is shorter, the nights just as long and the morning a welcome relief when it finally comes.

 My challenge is to keep on identifying those amazing things I have to be thankful for. It is to acknowledge the battles I've been through and sing because of it (not in spite of it). My challenge is to step out of the safety of everything I’ve tried before (that failed) onto the choppy seas of fear, keeping my eyes on Jesus and trusting that he has power to calm the storms.

What do you do when the walls fall in?

Saturday, 15 November 2014

Old Stitches, New Tricks

Well… Here it is: My &Stitches “Old Stitches, New Tricks” entry!

I’ve really enjoyed doing it and actually the possibility of a prize has spurred me on to complete a project I intended to do in the summer. 

It all started with this AMAZING bike:

My bike is a multi-purpose tool; as well as transporting me to work and back, and beating the traffic jams into town, it has also taken me on some epic rides down the length of the country and around Stage One of this year's Tour de France. I wanted a basket that would let me take a handbag when meeting friends, but that could be completely removed to lessen the weight for endurance rides up big hills.

I thought something like this might work: 

So I duly bought the appropriate basket. As my bike has a bit of a monochrome theme, I thought I would be clever and use some wire for the thread. But that didn't work out so well, it didn't loop nicely and couldn't really be seen. It would have to be yarn. 

I also struggled to decide on a pattern. I wanted something more meaningful than triangles but struggled to work out how to design onto diamond shapes. I printed some template paper from the web and tried drawing out a round design then simlpifying it into stitches, but that didn't work. I tried copying some tiny embroidered flowers from a bag I own, but that didn't work. I tried translating standard cross stitch patterns into diamond shapes but they were far too intricate.

Finally, I stumbled upon some beading patterns. "Brick stitch" became my saviour!

This is the image that opened up to me google page after page of designs that would work within the mesh, and look pretty to boot. I had initially wanted some flowers, but in the end it was the butterfly that won me over. The pattern I used can be found here; it's the "Purple Butterfly".

And that was that! I used the yarns I had available to me, and the colour scheme was mostly decided by which I had the most of. To thread the yarn through the holes I used a tiny safety pin as a needle:

And then I basically back-stitched the pattern, tying knots at the beginning and end. I experimented with turning them into cross-stitches as in the letter sorter above, but that looked quite messy on this scale (unfortunately my camera couldn't cope with focusing on a mesh at that range, but trust me it wasn't good).

I am so pleased with how the stitching came out:

And a close up of the finished item:

So there we are! I hope you like it as much as me. I've used a whole combination of crafts: yarn, cross-stitch / embroidery and beading (might have to try the real thing soon!) All of the links to the different sites I've gathered inspiration from are on this Pinterest board; that seemed more manageable (and pretty) than a long list here.

Thanks &stitches for inspiring me with such a creative competition!