Tag Archives: crochet

Doctor’s advice

I have been stopped in my tracks this week. The details of how and why aren’t important (because they involve someone else’s story) but the impact has been a bit devastating. (Not complete and total devastation obviously because I am still here writing, so you can all breathe out!)

The impact has surprised me. I have had what can only be described as a rough couple of years with work and home, but have managed to remain strong and resilient and to keep putting one foot in front of the other. I have looked after my chicks, focussed on things to provide time for myself (well – that is my excuse for my fabric addiction and I am sticking to it!) and kept it together mentally, more or less! (Some may argue less, but that is the story of my life, not these last couple of years!). I have been conscious that it has been getting harder and harder to bounce back, but I was still bouncing back. Finding new strategies, putting yet another plan into place. Not this time. Something unpredictable happened (that normally I would have taken in my stride) and my bounce went on holiday. Boy – talk about your body telling you that it is time to stop. A sign of how bad things have been? No sewing! And I watched a DVD yesterday. Oh my goodness – things must be bad! (I normally don’t sit still long enough to watch anything on TV, let alone a whole movie!)

Of course, things aren’t really that bad. I have spoken to the experts and know that all will return to normal quite soon, blah, blah, blah. I am just quite amazed at how my mind and body decided to tell me that I had to stop. I didn’t get a choice – I just slept for the best part of 24 hours. Now I am on a strict diet of exercise, rest, healthy food, and – praise be – instructions to cruise craft forums and sites. (I love a bit of sensible advice!) Because – focussing on things that I love and that make me happy, is the best medicine! (And the chicks have gone away to attend the celebration of their great-grandmother’s 100th birthday so those things that I love and that make me happy are out of town!).

Now I already follow a lovely range of crafting, sewing, creative blogs and sites – but who am I to argue with doctor’s orders? I am off to find some more – after a walk with the dog and my mum of course! So if you have any suggestions of sites that you want to share – please do!!

In the meantime I share with you my one piece of crafting for the week. Three granny squares made as my contribution to the charity blanket I posted about last week. (Well – even with the wind knocked out of my sails I couldn’t just sit and watch a movie – I had to do something!) I might even manage a few more before popping them in the mail to Sweden!

So – share your ideas for great craft sites – purely for medicinal purposes of course!!

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Friday finds – a list of 21 links to free patterns for crochet market bags

I think that Fridays are my favourite day of the week. Work is over, the weekend is stretching out in front of me, full of possibility, and there is nothing that ‘has’ to be done other than self imposed things like posting a blog post! When looking through my collection of ideas that I go to when I need inspiration I realised that I have collected a large number of links to crochet market bags. I have yet to make one, but love the concept, and, once I have finished the ripple afghan (soon, I promise, soon!) I intend to make a couple. I have made a crochet beach bag as a gift for my sister, and loved the process, so think that market bags would be similarly delightful.

On a cold and blustery day, curling up on the couch and crocheting away is so appealing… To assist, here is my list!

Crochet Grocery Bag – Fat Cat Crochet, RavelryCrochet Grocery Bag - free pattern - http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/crochet-grocery-bag

l20065a-187x300Hobo Market Bag – Daisydozit

Rainbow Market Bag – allfreecrochet

Beginner Market BagCrochet Market Bag – Dearest Debi

Cotton Shopping Bag – Posh Pooch Designs

Market Bag – Hippy Hooker

Simple Market Bag – All Free CrochetSimple Market Bag

Dynamite Market Bag – Crochet Dynamite

Market Bag – Ravelry.com

Crocheted Market Bag – Ravelry

Hexagonal Net Crochet Bag – Ravelry.comRavelry: Hexagonal Net Crochet Bag pattern

Crochet bag – Fine Craft Guild

Colourful Cotton Bag – Knitting and some more

Crochet mesh bags.  Free pattern from Michaels.Sugar and Cream Crochet Market Bag – Micheals.com

Go Lightly Tote – Ravelry.comRavelry: Golightly Tote pattern by Lion Brand Yarn

Pattern for simple crochet bucket bagCrochet Bucket Bag – Joann.com

Lacy Crochet Market Bag – Red Heart.com

pattern imageProvence Crochet Bag – Classic Lite Yarns

Crochet Market Bag – Hip 2 Thrift

free crochet market bag patternMarket Bag with Floral Accent – Bobbles and Baubles

Go Green Market Bag – Suzie’s Yarnie Stuff

Being busy

This has been a busy week, with the return to school and all the extra-curricular activies (although I did discover that the middle chick’s pottery class doesn’t start until next week when I rushed to drop her off on time on Thursday! For once I was too organised!)

The biggest event of the week was the eldest chick having a gastroscopy and biopsies under a general anaesthetic on Friday. She has had this procedure before, as part of the diagnosis for coeliac disease. Last time was in the public hospital under the only surgeon in town who performs this procedure on children. She had to fast overnight for a 6.30am admission, but did not go into theatre until 2.30pm so was quite distressed. She also didn’t recover well from the anaesthetic and was very ill for some hours afterwards. This time round we had the same surgeon but as he now takes private patients, we booked into the private hospital in order to have her seen this year. Once again she fasted for a lunchtime admission….. only to arrive at the hospital and be told by the nurses that they run a book on this surgeon because he always runs a minimum of 2 hours late in arriving for his surgical lists. So instead of going into theatre at 1pm as planned she went in at 4.30. Another long day for a hungry child. To keep busy I took my crocheted afghan to work on. The upside of the delay? Quite a few more rows on it! Having busy hands really helped to keep my mind busy. I understand why knitting and crochet are so often seen in waiting rooms!

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Luckily the procedure went well, the surgeon sees no signs of the condition that was being investigated, and she recovered really well from the anaesthetic with no vomiting and lots of icy poles, ice-cream and lemonade. Her mother did need to retire to the lounge with a glass or two of wine once all the chicks were in bed after such a long day! The afghan started with only the request of the middle chick to make a colourful wool blanket. I think, after 6 months of crochet at martial arts classes and in waiting rooms, that I might be ready to finish it now! Which is great as it is still freezing here, so the blanket should get lots of use on the couch keeping chicks warm for a few months!

It was good that I had those hours to crochet, as, apart from repairs to the school production costumes, little sewing happened this week! I did, however, have time to play with pictures and colours suggested by the middle chick (and originally drawn by her) which have resulted in the new banner for this page, and the facebook page and Etsy shop. I am thinking of using the little birds to make some fabric, so stand by for a splash of little bird colour in the near future!

The week of watching the boy on his new medication has been interesting. His teacher reports that she can see a difference in him at school. I have still seen no difference at home, including over the weekend when he has been as full of energy and life as usual. The up side of this is that all my fears about him losing his spirit on medication have proven to be baseless. He is still full of affection, energy, talk, and enthusiasm. He scored two tries in his Rugby game yesterday, and encouraged his team on to score quite a few more. So the world has not ended and he is behaving well at school.

This week holds the excitement of the school production at the big theatre. The eldest chick and I have purchase the required makeup (!!!) and the middle chick and I have our tickets to attend and watch. (The boy is having a ‘date’ with his favourite babysitter!) I also need to find my balance, or rhythm, again to get the crafting groove back on after all the disruption of the last few weeks. Some of the disruption is self inflicted, as I have (gulp) started dating over the last few weeks.  It feels so strange to say that at my age, with three children, some grey hairs, and a few decades under my belt,  but there you have it.  It is early days in a new relationship so anything could happen, but when there are children involved you have to confront a whole lot of issues much earlier in a relationship than would normally occur!  Taking that step out into the unknown is so much more daunting when there are three little lives connected to yours, so at the moment I am flying blind and just keeping my fingers crossed that I am doing the right thing as I take each new step.  Talk about new adventures in life!!  A new relationship also brings up issues from the past that I hadn’t realised were not neatly labelled, sorted, and packed away.  And reminders about not repeating previous mistakes.  Not getting so caught up in the excitement that important parts of life get lost, bits of self are neglected and pieces of passion are misdirected.    As a result one of the aims of this week is to spend some time on the business plan, and taking some important steps to put the plan into action.  Because when all is said and done, if I am not exercising my creative self, the rest of my self is so much lesser.

Right –  now that the pep talk has been delivered to my self it is time to start the prep for the week ahead, to consider some order in the household chaos, and to contemplate time for dreaming.   Have a great week, wherever you are, and enjoy your creative groove, however it plays out!

Its the little things

Half way through the week already? The long weekend means that while the week feels like it is just starting, it is half way over. Which, on a cold, wet day, when staying in bed with a good book, or curling up on the couch with a dvd and some crochet is more appealing than venturing out to school and work, is a good thing!

Tonight I am pondering the little things that can happen in a day to turn a frown into a smile. While my day was not a bad day (I didn’t have to leave work to address issues with any children – yay!) by the time I got home I was feeling a bit flat. Contemplating the ongoing juggle of trying to be a competent employee and leader while also being a supportive parent to a child with ‘issues,’ and the way this is perceived by my colleagues, had me overthinking my work-life balance once again. This is not a struggle special to me – so many parents face it on a day to day basis. Trying to be a good employee, and a good parent, when the two don’t always sit well together. Combine it with a healthy dose of judgement from the media, other parents, extended family, and so many of us feel that we can’t win, no matter which way we turn.

Of course, my life is actually quite good. I have a supportive work environment, where I can have flexible working arrangements, where my staff understand that sometimes when my phone rings I need to run out the door, where I am paid very well to do a job that I like. The ‘issues’ that my family face are not insurmountable. No one is terminally ill. My children are healthy, intelligent and loving. We have a warm home, good food, warm clothes and the ability to be safe. I have found a creative outlet that keeps me sane when the walls seem to be closing in. The fact that some of my colleagues don’t see it that way is really about them, not about me.

But my mind was working through all of this, and I was wondering whether I was kidding myself that I can keep making things, be respected professionally, keep my kids safe and supported, when one little thing came along to make me stop, celebrate a success and remember that, in fact, I don’t really care about my ‘image’, but I do care that I am succeeding in many ways in my life.

The little thing? I opened up the Etsy website, and there, on the front page, in a handpicked treasury of bright and lovely things, was one of my bags. Yes. One of MINE!! The kids were thrilled, I was excited, and the world stopped spinning out of control and returned to it’s normal axis.  (It was featured as part of a treasury that you can see here.)

I let go of all the overthinking, all the teasing the problem until a new angle could be found, and just smiled and got happy. Perspective is a wonderful thing!

And having a clear head means that I can celebrate my other small successes of the last few days, and that we had a lovely family evening because I was no longer flat.  At dinner we have a tradition of each of us reporting our ‘best thing’.  The artist-in-residence had us enthralled with the report of her drama class, the boy had a list of 16 ‘best things’ that had us all smiling, and the eldest chick waited patiently to tell us the news of her class’ work in preparing for their theatrical performance.  So lovely to just sit and enjoy our time together – no TV, no fighting, and no stress.

On a personal level, I  had my first appointment with a personal trainer yesterday in a new bid to start improving my fitness.  I was very upfront about the need for the children to attend the sessions with me, and I think (hope) it is going to work.  The amusing part was watching the boy, at 6, spending most of his time wanting to lift weights in front of the mirror.  It starts early!

My recent efforts in getting more organised about this blog have paid off too, with a few new followers (hi and welcome!) and realising that sometime this week I passed the 200 follower mark (combining facebook and the blog). Another sign that I am doing okay in my own small way!

On the crafting front I am making up a custom order for a colleague who wants a bag for weekend wear, and wanted a zip up pouch to go in it (at my suggestion). So, here is the pouch I made – without a pattern. Something small – but I am proud of it!

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And finally – I offered to crochet a beret beanie for a friend who dropped in the other day and was admiring the black one I made for the artist-in-residence. While the children were training at martial arts last night I sat and started a new hat. And, in a first, did not have to unpick it once! I have about three rows to go to finish it, but for now – looking a little like a purple sea creature – here is the beret.

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So, as the mid-week ‘hump’ goes, my week is alright.  As I fall towards the weekend my approach will be to continue putting one foot in front of the other, remembering that my family is more important than anything else in my world, and that I am one of the lucky ones.  I wish you a great second half of the week, and lots of things that you can celebrate as successes.

Getting creative

 

There is something about a long weekend that lets you breathe out and relax a bit more.  We have a three day weekend here in Canberra this weekend and just knowing that there is an extra day up our sleeves has seen the chicks and I enjoying pottering around the nest without rushing off to fit everything in.  (The fact that none of their sports had a scheduled game on today didn’t hurt!)

Between having friends over to play (the boy and his friend spent a few hours rearranging all spare pieces of wood they could find in the backyard as part of their game – and when they couldn’t find anymore they just liberated some fence palings!) and catching up on laundry, it occurred to me that I needed a gift for the children to give their afternoon visitor.  Their father’s partner has been in the country, and in town, for a few days for work, and had arranged to come and spend the afternoon with us (yes it is complicated – but she is lovely.)   She had her birthday last week, so the artist-in-residence got to work on making a card, and I decided that this was a great opportunity to work on a design that I have been mulling over in my head for a few weeks.

The end result?  A new ‘bucket bag’!

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I was keen to play with different fabrics to create different looks.  This was my first one and I like the way the colours and patterns worked together.  We presented it to our visitor this afternoon and she liked it – and promptly put it to use (always a good sign!).  So I decided to make another one and perfect the pattern a bit.  For this one the only real change I made was making the strap a bit wider.

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Hmmm…. the contrast between nighttime and daytime photos is pronounced isn’t it?  Might have to reshoot these tomorrow!

I might try the same shape with a more integrated ‘wrap around’ pocket as the next variation.  I am also toying with the idea of making a tutorial on how to make it.  (I have been spending so much time looking at other people’s tutorials recently I am thinking it is about time I gave something back!)

Tomorrow my plan is to get to the Handmade Markets that are being held in Canberra.  I have wanted to attend for a long time (they are held several times a year) and this weekend there is nothing more pressing to prevent me getting there (so far!).  I hope to walk away even more inspired to create some other designs, or combinations of colour and pattern.  They are also holding an event for “Knit in Public Day” – and I made the mistake of telling the artist-in-residence about it.  So now she wants to learn to crochet (because I can’t knit!) by tomorrow afternoon so that we can go and participate.  Hmmmm……wish me luck.

I hope that your weekend is going well.

 

Getting organised

With winter weather comes winter health, so this week I have had two of my chicks sick for a day each (so far) with throat infections.  I have also been dealing with some behaviour issues with the remaining chick.  All of this means unexpected time at home.  While the downside is knowing that my work is piling up in the office, the silver lining is that I have been using the time to be productive and get a bit more organised about how I want to manage the business side of my crafting.

The first thing I have done is added to my Tutorials page on this blog.  From now on it will have links to any tutorials I produce (quite aspirational as I have only managed one so far), any posts where I list links to other people’s tutorials (also aspirational with only one so far), plus links to any tutorials that I have used myself.

The second thing I have decided is to have a plan for when I blog – a blog timetable if you like.  Sunday nights seem to be when I am able to sit and write about the crafting and family activity of the week.  Friday nights seem to be a good spot to add posts with links to the many tutorials that I have collected from other generous crafters.  So that leaves mid-week.  I have lots of ideas for a regular mid-week post, so might leave that as slightly random initially until I work out what is working best.  (Some ideas include reviews of tutorials I have used, tutorials I produce myself, links to other great blogs etc.)

Then I downloaded an Etsy app so that my Etsy shop now appears on my Facebook page.  I had previously been loading photos into a separate album on Facebook and marking them when they were sold.  This is much more efficient!

I also worked out how to put my photos into collages, so that I can post multiple images within one image.  (Feeling a bit proud of myself at achieving all of these technological things and ignoring the fact that I could have done all of this ages ago as it really wasn’t that hard!)

Being home is also a bit dangerous…… too much access to online shopping.  Even though the Australian dollar has dropped a bit, the exchange rate with the US, and the amazing fabric range available there means that online orders are still worthwhile.  I have to praise the postage system used by Fabric. com – I ordered some fabric from them a couple of weeks ago (they are based in the USA) and it arrived at my house (in Australia) within 48 hours!   Given that it can take up to two weeks for a parcel to cross the country domestically I was blown away!!  So I have placed another order….. wonder how long it will take to arrive?

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A couple of dandelion pouches, with pockets inside – playing with fabric and playing with ideas!

Finally, having some extra time at home has provided a bit of extra sewing time (of course) and crochet time.  I had a chance to play at making some pouches as gifts for friends, and also made my first zipped pouch – just a bit bigger than credit card size, as a little gift for a friend who is about to travel.  It matches a bag I made her last year.  I forgot to take photos but can assure you that I found it so straightforward I will be making more!

I also made another bag for the shop – and added two pockets to the outside of it.  I like the extra storage they provide and am thinking of making one with a number of different fabrics to give it a different feel.

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Dealing with the behaviour issues of one of my chicks, and the impact on the school, my work, and the other chicks that flows from the issues can wear me down and take its toll.  I have written before about how crafting helps me to clear my head and maintain some sanity.  This week crochet has been my escape.  The results are a few more rows on the afghan (that should be finished while the weather is still cold!)

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Now that I am feeling a bit more organised it might be time to plan the next thing to make!

I hope that your week is going well, wherever you are.

 

A slow return

Perhaps I wrote too soon last week with my grand announcement that I was back – as I have been remarkably absent ever since!  Nothing drastic – just life getting in the way of my aspirations to create and write.  However I seem to have achieved enough in my non-crafting life to allow me to return to some creativity again, so do have some achievements to report!

The life that got in the way?  My mum went home (after an amazing effort and gift of her time to both me and my children) and the reality of parenting meant birthday parties to deliver children to, groceries to buy, a house to clean and tidy and the ever present Mount Washmore to climb and attempt to defeat (if you can defeat a mountain.) Luckily I also had time to catch up with friends and had several drop in for a cup of tea or glass of wine on Sunday afternoon in rolling succession – a lovely reason to not be crafting!

Then the school week began and with it the new arrangements for childcare.  On the whole they seem to be working well, although I am finding that I don’t have enough time at work to feel that I am on top of my job…..  so some tinkering with the plan might be in order when school resumes in two weeks.  I spent a lot of time at school at the beginning of the week to address issues with the boy, but then he got in the groove and had a good week.  In the meantime discussions with therapists, reports from teachers and a low level feeling of despair about the whole situation meant that crafting wasn’t happening.

But then last night I remembered the therapeutic benefits of crafting and hey presto – I got out some fabric, the ruler and a plan and away we went!  I am feeling much better and I am back to planning my next project!  The timing to get my sewing groove back on is brilliant – the children are going away to visit their father tomorrow, for almost two weeks, and while I will miss them, it means that I have lots of time to do things for me without interruption!  I may even make dinner plans with some friends.  Just the thought of uninterrupted sleep is enough to make me giddy with excitement!

So what did I make? The first part of a set that I am making for a lovely friend and colleague who is a pug breeder and general dog lover. She asked me to make her an ipad over and a bag for her keys and phone for when she is at dog shows. I pointed her to the Spoonflower website and she found some fabric made by a friend’s daughter that depicts two pugs – one that my friend bred and one that she used to own! So that made her choice easy! Last night I made the ipad cover and am happy with it. I padded it with bamboo batting and fusible fleece and lined it with flannel so it is super soft for the screen.

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Next on the list is the pouch for her keys and phone for dog shows – she wants to be able to hang it of her shade shelter so I am working on a wrist strap with Velcro concept….. to be completed on the weekend!

I thought I would also share a photo of the progress on the afghan I am crocheting.  I tend to work on it while at the children’s martial arts class or when watching TV – but as I rarely watch TV it is mainly at classes.  I haven’t been weaving in the ends yet, but am happy with the random colour scheme!

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So, without any big announcements about being back, I am quietly hopeful that I will have more creative endeavours to share with you over the next couple of weeks.  In the meantime I hope that you have all been well!