Monday, 30 June 2014

Around the World Blog Hop

Good morning!

I was so so pleased to be asked by Gilly of gilly makes to take part in this blog-hop. I've never done one like this before and it has really made me think! Go visit Gilly - her blog is full of lovely makes and finds. 

Next up for taking part are:

Nickie from Meadow Orchard who despite a high pressure job and city centre apartment in Brussels, is exploring how she can live slowly and mindfully. Her journey is fascinating: join her to explore yogurt making, decluttering to an eye-watering degree, and finding the joy in washing up.

Jo from The Good Life and Through the Key Hole - yes, that would be two great blogs that she finds time for. One is a diary of her family life, finds, makes and bakes. The other is all about her successes (and a few failures) in her garden and allotment, and includes a monthly visit to another garden. 

Jacqui from Living with Ethel  takes commissions for knits, makes lovely fabric art and is experimenting with deliberately visible mending. 

All three will be posting their Around the World Blog Hop post in the next week or so.

So the idea is that I answer some questions about my 'creative process' and makes. It all sounds very grand, but when I started thinking about it I realised that I do have a creative process! 

What am I working on?

Well along side lots of little and not so little projects I have been working on my Persian Sweetie Shop Blanket for the last 18 months. I do a bit, then I do something else, then I do a bit...

The something elses are often presents for other people so I either blog about them after they have been given, or I forget. Since our departure from St Helena is looming, I have been working on quite a few Goodbye and Thank you presents which I am still keeping under my hat for the moment...

How does my writing/creating process work ?

I usually start with an idea. I rarely follow patterns to the letter but I often lift techniques or small pieces of a pattern and combine them with my own ideas. This blanket started with a visit to a carpet shop. There was a shop in our town in England that we drove past every day. It advertised itself as stocking carpets and rugs but it had no windows being a sort of dilapidated warehouse in a car park that also was home to a diy car wash. One day we went in and there were loads of rugs of every sort you could imagine. We weren't in a position to buy - we were really preparing to come here, but I was mulling over the kind of project that I could bring to St Helena in case crafty supplies were hard to come by and crafty people were thin on the ground, and the shapes and details in those rugs stuck in my thoughts.

Next usually comes a drawing of some sort. My artistic skills are minimal but I use a drawing to plan. To do the maths on sizes and shapes and quantities.

In this case I also roughly planned out the colours I would use. I bought the yarn before we came but I needed to know where I was going to use each colour.

I swatched a few ideas too, although, lots of the finished elements of the blanket came about by trial and error. Lots of ripping back!

In parts I have followed the 'design' quite closely, but else where I have altered it to suit my whim, or as a result of seeing how things worked out.

I have tried to keep notes of what I did as I went along, but I am a bit rubbish at this and there are so many crossings out and alterations in the scrawl that I am hard pressed to make sense of what I have written.

You see, in my head I see my making like this: well ordered, nicely presented, photogenic and blog-worthy.

In reality, it is more like this: jumbled up, shoved in a plastic bag and stored in a corner under the bookcase.

So, here is where I have got to so far: it is a little smaller at this stage than I had planned, measuring 58 inches along one side when the plans say it should be 64 inches by now. I need to decide whether to add some stripes to make it bigger, or crack on with the plan for what to do next (132 two inch squares - eek!). If it is to be the planned 72 inches squared then I am a paltry 56% of the way there...

I have to say that I am loving it! Loving the thinking and the planning and the doing and the way it is coming together.

For once I have been organised to keep a record of the yarn I used and where I bought it.

Looking at my other simpler makes I have realised that the idea - drawing - maths - making process seems to run through many of them.

How does my work differ from others of its genre ?

Well, my inability to follow a pattern, and my determination to know better, means that my makes are certainly unique! I think my making is characterised by a certain fearlessness. My mantra seems to be 'how hard can it be?'. If I get an idea I consult a few books/blogs/websites, work out where to start and from there it it trial and error all the way. 

Because many of my makes are for other people, I don't tend to stick exclusively to one style, instead I try to make things to their tastes. Whether I succeed or not I can't say! Having said that, my lack of planning means that I mostly make from my stash rather than buying fabric or yarn specially. My stash is made up of things I have picked up because they appeal to me or that people have given to me because they think I might find them useful so the resulting makes are influenced by what is available.

Makes for myself tend to include my favorite colour combination of pink and green. I just can't get away from it - it is what I gravitate to first!

Why do I create what I do ?

Because I have to. It is my sanity, my fulfillment, my ability to do the dull and the mundane. I am somewhere between and 'ideas man' and a 'completer-finisher', neither of which suit the role I have taken on as home maker and mother. The home is never made and the Smalls are never grown. Washing/shopping/cleaning/cooking are all cyclical and never completed or finished. Making gives me that. Making gives me things that are ticked off a list. Achievements that let me say to myself: look, I did that today.

I also hope that the people who receive my makes find pleasure in them and understand that my gift is one of time and thought as well as an object.

The Persian Sweetie shop Blanket is all for me though! And I love it.


Tuesday, 24 June 2014

The Long Goodbye

Today was a tough day. Not because I had seven Smalls in my care. Not because we had home made pizza for lunch. Not because we got the paddling pool out for splashy fun. 

Today was a tough day because Tall Girl, Little Man and Big Trouble had to say the first of their St Helena Goodbyes. 

I said the first of mine a few weeks ago when some lovely friends went on leave, but I have done it before. I know that if it is important enough, we will make time to see each other, to keep in touch. It maybe in a year or two but it will happen. 

Tomorrow some more friends go on leave: classmates of Tall Girl. So today they, and other Smalls that they play with, all gathered here and had enormous fun racing around in the sunshine, playing with playmobil, making friendship bracelets and all sharing one DS (don't get it myself but they seem to love it). 

Then time came to say Goodbye. Big Trouble didn't really get it and dealt with it by goofing around. The other two said the briefest of goodbyes then broke down as their pals drove away. We had lots of cuddles and made plans to write, to email, to exchange photos. 

The next few weeks are going to involve a lot of this. A lot of tears and cuddles and promises and goodbyes. 

It is tough, but it means that we have had the most wonderful adventure and have made some special friends.  

Here's some snaps of a walk with some special friends we took a couple of weeks ago...



Friday, 20 June 2014

Here and Now

Loving that Tall Girl wants to make Granny Squares.

Eating something yummy for lunch in town later with some lovely pals.

Drinking a wee glass or two courtesy of His Excellency at a reception at the Governor's residence this evening.

Wearing a hand-me-down top, a charity shop cardy, my fav denim skirt and woolly tights and feeling great.

Feeling calm for a change.

Wanting to find lots of fresh goodies in town today - the ship has been and fruit for the next three weeks must be purchased.

Thinking about all the things I want and need to do before we leave our crazy rock forever.

Dreaming about all the opportunities the future holds.

What is happening in your Here and Now?

Off to hunt me some fruit.


Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Mud mud, glorious mud

My poor little abandoned blog. I haven't meant to be away so long, it just all got a bit mad round here.

Amongst other things it was Tiny Boy's sixth birthday. Now, your young man who is six cannot be known any longer as Tiny Boy - it is just not fitting. So from now on we will call him Little Man, for that is what he has morphed into in the blink of an eye. 

I have lots of other things I want to tell you about but but but I keep getting distracted. Anyway, I am here now and I am going to tell you about mud.

At the weekend we went for a walk down in Fishers Valley. It was a walk that we have attempted before and the two experiences nicely bookend our St Helena Adventure with their similarities. 

The first attempt was just after we arrived, back in the days when we were naïve enough to assume that the map and the ground might bear some resemblance to each other, and when we were worried about trespassing and being where we shouldn't.

Big trouble was still a Giant Baby, and we wrapped him up in full waterproofs against the drizzle. After failing to find the path we gave up and ended up having to reverse the hire-car back up to the main road because the slope was too steep for it's paltry 2-wheel drive.

Not so this time! Big Trouble strode off into the wilderness with Little Man and Tall girl.

There was much taming of undergrowth,

clambering over obstacles

and reclaiming of the path. 

At the end of a most successful walk we headed back to the car and Little Man innocently asked "Can we go and see where that other track leads, the one we didn't take?" What a good idea we thought, so we headed back down the track in the 4 x 4 and promptly got stuck in the mud.

In trying to unstick ourselves we also got wedged against the fence.

Properly stuck and undeniably wedged, J headed back up the track to look for help.

Mean while, Big Trouble assessed the situation,

while the others danced about in the mud, delighted by the new predicament.

Help came in the form of Clint and his Dad who had seen it all before. No problem, they would pull us out with their pick up. Now, seeing as how we were wedged by the fence post, they would have to drive past our car and pull us out forwards. Within minutes they were stuck too.

And wedged. Wedged as it is possible to be, up against our car.

Clint's Dad paused for 'breath' while Clint headed back up the track to fetch another 4 x 4.

In no time he was back and he had A PLAN. He would pull us out backwards but seeing as how we were wedged against the fence post...

he had brought along his trusty chain saw. After some comedy 'failing to start the chainsaw while everyone was watching', he cut clean through the fence post.

The latest addition to the 4 x 4 collection then un-wedged the pick up.

The un-wedged pick up was then able to unstick itself and make room for us to be unstuck in turn. 

We were no longer wedged because the newly freed fence post could be pulled aside

and we could be pulled out of the mud, backwards in a most undignified fashion.

Clint's Dad now had the pick up on the wrong side of the mud. After turning around further up, he joyfully bounced straight back through the mud at surprisingly high speed, showing us how it should be done.

The whole event made the Smalls' weekend. There were some minor casualties,

but nothing that couldn't be washed off.