I finally unravelled my crocheting. Is it just me, but I have to leave a few days between deciding to unravel and actually pulling the yarn? The wool was in the odd balls basket at our local wool shop. Turns out, it wasn’t quite enough to make my yoke, but with a few alterations to the pattern, it will.
I love this stitch. It has the quick and ease of a granny square, but is less clunky to look at. Perfect for my needs. It’s called a shell pattern – split double. I might make a video showing how to do it, if only so I don’t forget.
Altering the design of the yoke should make it more interesting to look at too, so another silver lining.
Reading wise, I’ve not been able to settle into a book. Pick up a book, read a few pages and then abandon it in a pile of sewing. I was quite relieved when I found a copy of When God was a Rabbit in a local charity shop. It is quirky and, far more importantly, has kept me reading. Only a few chapters in, but at least it hasn’t ended up languishing in the sewing pile. (Not sure why it’s always the sewing pile. Maybe “not great” books inspire me to sew.)
While we’re on the subject of stitching, I have almost finished my latest sewing project. It’s squeezing into the back of the photo. Just too soon for a ta-dah moment. Gardening has definitely delayed this project. I find that if the weather is nice, I can’t waste time inside. No knowing how long it will last, and seeds wait for no-one.
(Technically not true, of course. Poppy seeds, for a start, have been known to lie dormant for 50 years, waiting for the right conditions to germinate and grow. That’s why a slight change in the farmer’s methods can result in an unplanned dash of red in fields, after years of none. They are there, waiting for their chance.)
(ladybird poppy from 2010. Current poppies are just leaves at the moment.)
The point is that, I need to get cucumber seedings potted up and sweetcorn planted out, otherwise I’m losing growing time. I fool myself that I’ll sew later in the day, but then I’m too tired/needed for homework/taxi duties. Sigh. So the sewing has waited. Hopefully I’ll be able to take photos soon and share here.
That’s me. How about you? What have you been making? Have you read a book recently that you couldn’t put down? I’d love to know.
I’ve made another patchwork square for your Dear Daughter quilt. This one is called Farmer’s Daughter. I fussy cut the bees for some pieces, but left others so they look like they are scurring under the centre pieces. It would have worked more effective if the red fabric had less white. I’m hoping it shows from a distance.
With every finished square, I include a letter to you. Often I think about my words as I add little stitches to pull the bits of fabric together. The repeating action of sewing concentrates my mind and I can focus on what I want to say. Other thoughts can wait, which fits nicely with the topic I’ve chosen this time. Time to launch in to my letter….
There are no two ways about it. Life can serve up some real humdingers of moments, that we’d prefer to write out of our day. We all have them. We really do. Easy to dwell. Easy to let them pull us down. Easy to let five minutes of something not going our way, to make the whole day feel like a write-off.
So often we forget, dismiss or simply don’t register the simple joys in life, instead focusing on the bad. It’s the way we’re wired. A survival trait.
In basic terms, since time beyond, we are set up to pass on warnings and danger messages so we, and the rest of our community or tribe, survive. There is an immediate benefit from hearing about a wolf seen attacking local sheep. Less true of learning that the lilac down by the river smells particularly good this year. Especially if you depend on your sheep, rather than lilacs, for survival. In this case, focusing on the bad saves lives.
In modern terms, the gossip might fly about the cafe in town that’s linked to a possible food poisoning outbreak, or the road works that add time to your journey and cause major inconvenience. All will be discussed in detail and at length, while a rainbow overhead fades unnoticed.
With the focus on danger and disruptions, it does mean that we need to work a little harder at seeing life’s joy and making it part of us. Hang on. Wait a minute. Why does it matter, you may ask? Good question. I should cover that first.
I think it matters because each of those moments of joy lift our spirits and strengthens us. In contrast, being under a cloud of stress and anxiety leaves us depleted. Try tackling a day in that state and I think you’ll see the advantage of experiencing an uplift instead. Even if it is only fleeting.
By focusing on the small, or seemingly less critical (think lilac), we also glimpse the bigger picture. We gain perspective. It takes us out of ourselves and that is a good thing. A moment to step back, regroup, and then on to tackle at least some of what life can throw at us, slightly stronger than we were before.
Let me give you an example. It’s spring at the moment. We’ve spotted the first swifts of the year, flying over the house. What a sight for winter weary eyes. Often they are flying as pairs, but soon they’ll be more than we can count as they weave and streak through the sky above our heads, outmaneuvering flies to munch on.
Here comes the part that always catches my breath and makes me smile: they’ve flown all the way back from Africa to our patch of the world. Reportedly, without stopping. Just take a moment to think about it. Those little birds have covered thousands of miles, and they do it every year of their lives. Awesome. We witness only the end and the start of their epic journey.
I’m not sure why I was so worried about the traffic jam now. I’ll leave earlier. Although, I might loiter a little longer to watch the swifts dart above my head. ‘Tis a joy.
So how do we see life’s joy in our daily lives? Like gold dust it can be spread thin and difficult to grasp, but with practise it becomes easier. Look around. Stand still and look up. Stop, listen and notice. Take a moment and experience it. For one moment, give yourself permission to not think about the past or overthink the future. Be.
Here are some ideas on how to lose yourself and see the joy:
1. Go outside and take a camera. There is nothing like spotting something new – be it flower, insect or street art – to make you look. I mean really look. Frame it in the camera lens. Take the photo. (this is one of my favourite ways – just look at my instagram feed) Alternatively draw it.
2. Do something you really enjoy doing to the best of your abilities. Entirely for you. Baking, playing the harp, drawing, plant a seed. Concentrating. Getting lost in the process. If you make something, feel free to throw it away at the end, if you want. It’s all about the journey. (Although cake is nice. Just saying.)
3. Spend time with someone you like/love and enjoy their company. Fly a kite. Laughter is compulsory with this one, of course.
4. Find music that really resonates with you. Play it. Dance. Sing. Tap your toes. Lose yourself in it.
5. Meditate. Cloud watch. Stand out in the summer rain.
You will find your own method. Lose yourself in the process. Take no baggage with you. Tomorrow can wait. It will take practise, but the good news is that what ever method you choose, it will make you happy. In a better place to deal with whatever comes next. I know you can do it.
Wishing joy to all.
your loving mother
Picture the scene. It’s about 9 o’clock in the morning and I’m sorting the recycling into the right bins. It’s usually easy. There’s glass, paper, textiles, plastic, etc in one bin, food waste in another and cardboard goes in the blue sack. We also have the compost bin. The very last resort, of course, is the black bin, which goes to the landfill. Best avoided. Sorting on the whole, is straightforward, except this time I’m pausing. Unsure and frozen by indecision. Which bin am I expected to put this plastic pouch into?
It’s my own fault. I usually avoid buying unnecessary packaging. Especially the sort that is packaging with more packaging inside. The individually wrapped little bags inside a big bag. Bah!
The big bag is thick plastic. Quite substantial and, as I stand there, I’m half pondering why it needed to be so robust when it’s only job was to hold other little, light weight, plastic bags. Had the manufacturers imagined a whole list of amazing possible accidents that might befall the contents before it reached us the consumers, that needed such a bag?
The other part of me is wondering why I can’t put it in the recycling bin. I don’t want to throw it away. Not in the black bin, which is looking like the only option.
So I bring it back into the house. There is another option. I could recycle it myself. I have a couple of ideas. What’s more, both options are something that I need.
The bag sat on the kitchen table for the rest of the day. Various members of the family tried to throw it away. Oh no. Each time, I rescued it. This bag was getting a second life.
I was kicking myself that I hadn’t originally opened it neatly at the top. Eventually I cut the top off and gave it a straight line. Then I cut it in half. I’d go for the pencil case option. I had a few old zips that were rescued too and looking for second lives.
First challenge was to find a way to pin the zip to the plastic, without using pins. They left holes in the plastic. I used post it notes first. They worked well. Next I tried blue tack, which was even better. It held, was easy to remove and was more flexible.Sewing the sides was problem free. I used my old hand cranked Singer sewing machine. Seeing as it was Earth Day, it only seemed right to take the non-electric option.
Second challenge I found was turning it neatly the right way round, after sewing the sides together. Next time, (if there is a next time) I’ll sew it the right way round, with wrong sides together. I can avoid turning the pencil case inside out. Not an easy manoeuvre. It left marks in the plastic and I gave up trying to wrestle the corners into position.
Apart from those two issues, I’m really pleased with the pencil case. It works. I’ve saved throwing it into the landfill and given it a second useful purpose. Every little action helps.
It does a great job of holding my pencils too. The children love it and have dropped hints. Hmm. I hope to avoid buying similar packaging, but if something else comes my way, then maybe I could make one for each of them.
They had a good day too. They’ve taken to joining me for dog walks, on their bikes. (Sometimes with their hands in the air, attempting a Dr Who dance* – if you look carefully) I’m going to miss them so much when school starts next week. Can you tell they are a fun lot?