Category: Knitting

Reading Jean (by )

Jean Reading The Shepherds Crown

I took Jean to a midnight book launch - I debated weather it was appropriate as she is still 9 though will be ten by the weekend.

But it was the last discworld novel and I phoned Waterstones to check and she was desperate to be a feegle - Tiffany Aching was introduced to her last year by me. She was desperate for people like herself in books - she fell in love with the discworld.

Terry Pratchett got given a place next to Neil Gaiman and RL Stien as favourite authors. Then he died.

Jean went as Tiffany to World Book Day. Jean loves books, Jean often stays up far later than she should reading and gets twitchy if she doesn't have a book to hand.

She announced the Waterstones smelt of new books and though tired did say today she wished we'd stayed longer at the launch, last night we left when she said she wanted to go - she thought they should have read more of the book out.

As we queued she read the last book of Tiffany, The Shepherds Crown, it is also the last book of Terry. She would like it known that she is not reading the book in the above photo but was just looking through it at this point.

The beehives made bee noises - she was impressed and someone gave her a crotchet feegle - she loves it and fell asleep with it last night. We were in the newspaper and there will be more write ups on this 🙂

We don't have the sparkly book as Mummy was a cheap skate and got the £10 tickets. I made the right decision in taking her.

Her feegle outfit was cobbled together from a spock outfit and Rincewind had a tricorder. Don't cross the fandoms!

When asked why she was there she replied with "I like books", she is supposed to be asleep now but is reading.

Crochet Feegle

Finishing Projects (by )

Ok so sometimes we have problems finishing projects, sometimes we have problems starting the projects we've got the bits for/need to be done. This has been a combo of things including house moves, sickness, changes of work or work regimes and of course the dreaded ADHD.

So to combat this I used to set myself weekly and mounthly goals but it had kind of stopped working so it was time to find a new way. And that way was a Finish Projects Month - I had done these before for writing and drawings but normally they focus on one or two main projects and what we wanted was something to get our A into G on all the small almost finished stuff.

Well my aim was to end up with one finished project a day, Al's was to mainly get the niggling DIY stuff sorted.

We failed but as always with these challenges it is not really a fail. So Alaric has done much metal work and drilling. Preparing our house for structured cabling and server housing in the workshop. These count as two projects that are now much much further a head than they would have been and they need doing URGENTLY. To make our lives easier with DIY he made a contraption so that he could carry part of the compressor into the house but leave the noisy bit in the workshop. That is one FINISHED PROJECT.

So:

1) Compressor mount and pipe carrier = FINISHED

2) Server case = getting there

3) Structured cabling = getting there

Jean now has a bit of trunking for her room and is very excited about the whole process. We also had to sort out craft areas and workshop etc... to make this work well.

4) Attic organised and craft's sorted = FINISHED (though still boxes of paper work to go through)

5) Workshop = one end SORTED

Then there was some paper work/bank bits which we will count as

6)

7)

On top of that we now have a nice rodent proof feed storage box for the chickens which needs to be put in place but is in the garden. This will allow me to sort out the shed and to shore it up a bit more so we can get a bit more life out of it :/ We also dealt with the flooring in the chicken run, which is now all nice though next time I need to dig down further and put gravel in but we are getting there with it!

8) Fed Bin = GOT

9) Chicken Run Flooring = SORTED

We also uped the exercise stuff, so Alaric is doing his runs and though I am not running I will be as soon as we can get me some shoes and me and Jeany are going climbing together once a week.

10) Climbing and running = OWNED!

Writing wise I've been being a bit lame and only managed to finish one flash fiction - which I remember coming up with the concept for in 2007 in Costa's in Cheltenham during the whole flood debacle. I'd typed the intro of it onto Magenta Monster in 2010 combining it with a story starter I'd picked up off of twitter - which had sparked the idea back to life :/ It is at least now finished!

11) Story The Tragedy of Love = FINISHED!!!

Oh and this prompted a bit of a blog clean up/updating session.

12) Blog sorting = SORTED

I made the girls dig out all their library books and we took them back and did all the niggly bits of shopping for the house (ie not just food).

13) Household admin/maintain = GOOD (never ever gets completely sorted EVER)

This then leads on to crafts and the like - so basically I was like arg!!! I have a crate of half finished kids craft project and like 3 of me craft project - this needs to be sorted NOW!!!

For a start there was the sock I had attempted for Al - it has it's problems but it is a nice sock, but fits Jean, has wholes in it and more importantly there is just one of it as I started in in what 2013? And did most of it and it had just been sitting there almost finished for the whole of last year - attic became a no go zone with building works a happening. Basically I've forgotten what I did so there is little hope of knitting another. But it is finished and now a base for something else - Jeany wants to turn it into a new purse/wallet for Alaric.

14) Al's Sock = Done by awaiting full incarnation

Having taken up crotchet and attempting to desperately learn the different stitches at the beginning of the year, I had ended up with lots of half finished squares - I now have 15 finished squares (still need to thread the ends away). They will either be flannels or squares for blankets depending on how square and what size they have come up!).

15) 15 crotchet squares = almost done

I'd sorted out all the knitting and sewing into project bundles and found I had some random pieces that I had no clue about. Fortunately whilst I was finishing off something else I remembered what one of them was, found the pattern, found my place in the pattern once more and finished it off - sadly it is only one side of a duck but I will be knitting the other half shortly - I needed the white wool to finish knitting Mary's Elsa dolly. This was supposed to be her main Christmas present :/ I still need to make some shoes and she needs sewing up and stuffing but I think she is getting there!

16) Duck toy = so not done yet but progress made!

17) Elsa Dolly = all knitted but sewing up, stuffing, hair and face needed

Alaric managed to finish two creeper faces on stuff I'd knitted ages ago.

18) Creeper faces = half done

However I have been creating more work for him in this area - I finally sewed together and stuffed the baby creeper plushy that I knitted for Jean ages ago - it was another stuck due to roof fix project! I should have gone with instinct and used foam except I hate foam so it has wadding in.

19) Baby Creeper sans face = OWNED!!!!

I wanted to finish Mary's fairy outfit that I have crotchet in giant chunky wool but it took me all month to get to the shop to pick up the last ball I need to finish the second shoe!

20) Fairy outfit = not done but materials got

And though I started them during the month there are also crotchet Easter Eggs - six of them 2 giants and 4 little ones. Jean wants more but as that is for the weekend I think she maybe whistling!

21) Giant Crotchet Easter Eggs = DONE

22) Mini Crotchet Easter Eggs = Done

There are also the epic Easter Egg Spoons we made at the weekend and the planter/seed markers.

23) Ester Egg Garden Ornament Spoons = FINISHED

24) Painted knife seed markers = FINISHED

And one dug over bed and allotment tidying (I have many other beds to dig), I also potted up half the seeds I want to grow in pots and fixed the sumps on the wormeries which I'd needed to do for a while.

25) Wormery sorting = DONE

26) Allotment = BEGUN!!!

27) Seeds = STARTED

Within this there was stuff like plant pots that had been painted by me as a teen and never used and grass heads that had been made and never used etc... so it was a job well done I think.

We also had Mother's Day Cake making with the girls which I'm counting as a finished project 🙂

28) Mushroom butterfly cake = BAKED and EATEN

And that leads on nicely to the girls... Jean has made bead eggs, finished off lots of the exercise books she has and been colouring in the felt pictures she had. Mary has been painting plant pots and making books, bits that had been pulled down/never gone up yet in their room have been sorted and THE GREAT CLOTHS SORT and some buying of the new happened. They finished Easter mobiles and we've put up the chinese lanterns that Jean had half made before the flood and have been sitting at the bottom of a crate ever since. We also did crayon rubbings and eater cards for their egg hunt.

29) Bead Eggs = FINISHED

30) Mary's Easter book about Elsa a.k.a birthday pressy for Al = ALmost there

31) Easter Mobiles = FINISHED (except that there is a chick missing but hopefully it will turn up at some point!)

There is still plenty left for them to do as there are half coloured in Easter bags and papier mache eggs and so on and obviously some of this is new kits they got for the Easter Hols. Of course Jean did the huge candle make which over lapped the beginning of this month and was quiet frankly EPIC!!!

32) Easter kids projects = in progress

33) Candle Making = DONE, FINISHED, EPIC NOOODLES!!!!

Alaric also set up opportunistic SMTP encryption for the server cluster, and renewed our self-signed SSL certs - which is for email stuff so I am hoping my email will once again be usable which it hasn't been :/

34) Emails = sorted (hopefully)

I also finished sewing together 2 bags knitted out of fluffy and in one case sparkly wool. One of these I started BEFORE I started going out with Alaric and it was supposed to be a shoulder wrap but I couldn't knit so it was lumpy and bumpy and I ran out of wool and tried to use the same type but different colours and... it works much better as a bag and can now (finally) be sent to the person it is for!

35) Fluffy rainbow record bag = COMPLETED

36) Purple fluffy purse/bag = COMPLETED

Oh and I finished Alaric's new scarf which I did on day one and Alaric has proudly been wearing it for most of the month 🙂

37) Accidental West Ham Scarf = HAMMERED

Ok so maybe that isn't so much of a fail as I had thought! And I now know exactly how many project there are which always helps 🙂

I also drew a portrait of Sir Terry Pratchett and think I now have most of my note books sorted.

38) Drawing of Terry Pratchett = sadly done

Within March I also organised and ran workshops on: mothers day card making, kids comedy night including slapstick and improv, Easter egg hunts including life sized Alaric Bunny - for which I had to make a tail!

Plus a writing meet.

39) Giant Bunny Tail = OWNED

And I almost forgot that Jeany made soaps! And asked for and earnt herself £10 worth of more soap making supplies (the original kit being from a couple of birthdays ago).

40) Jean's Soaps = LOVELY

Eeep! There's more! At the beginning of March it was Downes Syndrome Awareness Day and Mary's pre-school had an event celebrating one of the little ones with them and requested an odd sock day. So I made a mooky - a sock monster like I used to make with nan and uncle (for those of you who met me after I was married Benny was Downes and died a couple of months after our wedding), it seemed appropriate to me, though I've had to explain to several people who were concerned that I was making an "odd monster" for the awareness day. Basically I made a cuddle toy for Mary out of odd socks.

41) Mooky for Moo the Mooky = DONEDID

Ooo also we settled in the new chickens 🙂

42) Chickens!!!! = settled and laying

So what of this coming month April?

I'm doing two writing challenges - one is Camp Nanowrimo which is linked to the novel writing madness I do in November. Script Frenzy is no more so I am doing it for Camp but always I am working on my comic books which are based in my Punk Universe. But also in general I will be catching up on all things comic related stuff including the pending blog posts and stuff about the Wiggly Pets, but obviously main focus is getting the 100 page script written.

The second is NaPoWriMo which is a Poem a Day writing challenge and will be the thrid one for this year - I tend to go with the "I am going to spend 30 hrs on poetry this month" approach which as I am running workshops at the wonderful Poetry Festival as well, should not be a hard one to complete 🙂

Better get one with some of the work I suppose!

Cheese and Soap and Skillz (by )

At the beginning of the year when we were setting down our New Year Resolutions, me and Alaric realised that we were still stuck with exactly the same stitches for kniting and crochet that we started with three years ago. All our projects have been variants on a theme.

We also wanted to move forward with the home stedding stuff, having added chickens and allotment since moving house. So here is my first cheese - it is a soft spreadable thing but I am very proud of it - I might also have accidently made a butter but that's cool too and is being used 🙂

Our first yogurt cheese formed into a pyramid

The other skill we've been meaning to try has been soap making and we thought this would tie in really well with the yarn craft side of things. So the easiest way of learning the stitches is to knit or crochet squares but I have to be making something or else it wont happen - I've never been good at practice - learning yes but practice no!

Anyway we are basically knitting and crocheting flannels or face/wash cloths to go with the soaps. Here is my first crochet attempt - I think it is double with single as the edging - it is lumpy and bumpy and miss shappen but I am so happy - of course it took me like a month to create.

double crochet flannel

This is the current one - a single crochet - lets hope I can remember how to carry on with it now Mum's gone home - I really struggled with the double when she wasn't about.

The beginnings of a single crochet flannel

I have also added on four different rag rug making techniques to the skillz I haz, recently, plus improvisational comedy and sketch writing so I am feeling quiet chuffed. I am also nerviously awaiting proof copies of a book which is more painful than I would have thought!

Day 16 (by )

Winter Tower

Painting 16 is a mythical type castle tower - I am looking forward to discovering the story behind the tower 🙂

Also on the 12th we had the Posada family - a little wooden nativity set that makes the rounds round the village and appears in the church (even though we don't live in the village anymore we still get a turn), Mary was most concerned that the baby Jesus did not have a blanket even though I explained what the swaddling was. So I ended up knitting a little sleeping bag - I think Al packed it away with the figures though as I haven't seen it since!

(photos)

Sometimes I hate being a Jack (by )

Jack of all trades... master of none.

Over the last two weeks I have been booked for four festivals and half a dozen workshops, I have submitted articles about science, created a little hand drawn poetry book, created a new raft of upcycling projects, been asked to perform, knitted a sparkly bag, and have started work on the art for a comic book I wrote about about 4 yrs ago. I have also written poems, flash fictions, posts on gardening and taken photos of things, harvested potatoes and sold a few boxes of hens eggs and so on.

As great and as wonderful as all this is, I ran out of money last Wednesday as I hadn't noticed it was half way through March and I had not checked if invoices had been paid etc.... I was 40p short for my lunch - they were lovely and let me off. It has also resulted in another booking which is always a good thing but...

I do a hell of a lot of stuff but it is so diffused! If I could focus on one of these things, I would get a profile for that thing but I can't - so for the festivals I am being a performer, events manager, photographer, craft and/or writing or science workshop leader and the writing and craft look the same. I have pictures of kidneys next to pastel rabbits upstairs next too abstracts, I have poems about war and politics and kids books and on and on and on and sometimes I can't think for it all.

It is fun and wonderful to be able to do all this stuff and in some cases to be able to mash it all together and come out with something that is amazing but... I am not brilliant at any of it. I am ok or good at it all (except the guitar playing and singing which I am naff at but do anyway). I know I have moaned about this all before but sometimes it feels like I will never achieve anything because I am doing everything.

The solution is obvious and one that just is not viable for me. I can't give up things because they are not just activities that I do but they are aspects of me. I know some people love the fact I do all of this stuff and it appears in blog posts like this one. But most people are interested in only one aspect of what I do and all the other stuff is annoying noise, risking them being turned away or not seeing the stuff they find relevant.

It is one of the reasons I've ended up with so many blogs - trying to split it out for other people. The issue is really that I don't have a brand or thing to be know for other than say - being the person who can pull some solution out of the hat for an event in crisis etc... That isn't actually that useful a trait as obvious the event will not be telling people they where in crisis so it only works if I've saved the bacon for them in the past and they need something again.

These musings coincide with a confidence crash - last week I was all like - hell! I am MASTER of ALL, but this week I am attempting to remember how to draw characters and am struggling. I know I am capable but I'm not happy with the pictures I've been working on for my college project - and I am also working on the comic book and really want both pieces of work to be fantastic. But I can't even stick to one style of drawing :/ I am surrounded by how to draw books which I am flitting through, drawing bits and bobs. I have an idea of what my projects need to look like and no one else seems to draw in that way but I need to see how to shift the bodies I've designed around, how to map the features to different positions and expressions and it is an incredible amount of work

learning to draw heads from the complete book of drawing manga

IF... I had spent all the time since my GCSE's working on my art skills then perhaps I would be of a level I would feel happy about (rather than wondering if I can get the computer to map textures for me and taking swaths of fabric the 'move' in the right way).

I also got the marks back for my science writing and got a good/ok mark and am so angry with myself as there was stupid stuff like - I cut the excess 250 words from a 3000 word assignment and the feed back was that that stuff should have been in there - and then I find out that there is a 10% buffer meaning that I didn't have to cut those words at all and I spent a DAY on that. Missing simple things like that and not having had the time to get it in for a check before submission are stupidnesses and just so typical of me ( *coughs tax returns ).

But at the same time I can see that it is finally all starting to fuse together and be something. All the art, craft, science, environmentalism, music, writing - it is a dirty snow ball that is causing a career avalanche. Part of the issue is I am trying to up my game again - I seem to be doing this every two years at the moment. And the dam goal posts keep shifting - like I thought I would have "made it" poetically when I had performed at the Cheltenham Lit Festival but I've done that and there are other things I have my sights set on now. The fact I once thought there was a "made it" line you could cross makes me laugh now as it just isn't that way - once I thought completing my degree was "making it".

And so the goals keep shifting - I think the main issue for me at the moment is the pain, it is a low level but is niggling away but I can do things so I am trying to ignore it. Muscle fatigue has been interesting this week including not being able to get myself out of bed but again it has been alot worse - however I am avoiding going to the Drs as last 2 times I've been this close to completing post grad stuff, I have gone in with what I thought was minor things, only to end up with stays in hospital and no completion. Also the stronger pain killers stop me thinking and that is the last thing I want at the moment.

I think I just need to remember that ADHD is the Polymath Dream.

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