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Archive for the ‘Yarn & Knitting’ Category

Welcome Back

Continuing the theme of Mental Health Awareness week, there used to be a site called Elefriends. Elefriends was the online community for peer support for mental health issues, run by the charity Mind. Its had a rebrand to Side By Side now. I missed the old elephant logo, and there are a few other features I miss on the new site but they are working on them. My new writing companion Ethan the elephant, is a reminder to do things that take care of my mental health and the creative writing journal is one of them.

Here is todays poem.

Stationary Island A5 journal and Ethan Elephant from Rues Bears
Here is Ethan the Elephant from Rue’s Bears on Etsy next to my A5 Stationary Island journal, where my stories and poems live.

Ethan the elefriend

.

Ethan is my elefriend

He helps me feel alright

I like to hold him close

When I worry or at night.

.

He listens to my worries,

He listens to my woes.

And I know he wouldn’t share them,

With anyone we know.

.

So if your’re feeling worried,

If you’re feeling scared,

Go and look for Ethan

And know he’s always there.

by @billiescraftroom.wordpress.com

Links

If you are struggling with your mental health here is a link to a page of support sites; https://aspacetoheal.wordpress.com/healing/mental-health/

Being honest I’m regretting the titling of that blog, as I’ve since learnt that for me its more about learing to live WITH stuff rather than the constant search for a ‘fix’. But there is a lot on there that could offer support and options for mental health and grief support links to https://aspacetoheal.wordpress.com/healing/peaceful-place/ It was a place to gather information from around the web, so it was in one place. As when you are feeling most unwell, is when you can be least able to search and scroll for assistance.

If you are looking for the new peer support site Side by Side, formally know as Elefriends and run by the Charity Mind, here it is https://sidebyside.mind.org.uk/ For anyone wondering why I’m showing the whole link, rather than making it pretty by hiding it under just the names, its because not everyone feels safe clicking links and this way you can type it into your browswer yourself.

If you can’t do phones, the Samaritans does offer email option and there is another place called Shout who offer text support via mobiles. Text SHOUT to 85258 https://giveusashout.org

Blurt https://www.blurtitout.org/ have wonderful newsletters of support, they sell a Buddy Box which is a monthly subscription box full of a range of items to excite your senses, great for TLC. If you are not into surprises and perfer to choose your own content you can buy many of the items individually to to make your own box, you can also buy them as a one off thing. Or if you are feeling flush and want to do a random act of kindness, how about sending them a donation to help their work or to gift one of their boxes to someone who may not otherwise be able to afford it.

If you are wondering about Ethan the elephant, check out my previous posts and if you would like one for yourself please visit Rues Bears on Etsy. https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/RuesBears

For clarity this crochet elephant Ethan, is nothing to do with the charity Find or the previous elefriends brand. He is adorable I love him and I made that association in the poem so he reminds me to take care of my mental health.

Please share this page with anyone you know who may be struggling. If you are wondering what to say if someone opens up to you about their mental health, please know the best thing you can do is LISTEN, to BE THERE and although its ok to offer suggestions. PLEASE please ask them first if that is what they want. When you are feeling most unwell, the last thing you have is the energy to fend of suggestions, that may have come from the best of places but you just don’t have the energy to process that. If you find yourself starting a sentance with ‘you should, you must, why don’t you’. JUST STOP. Your opinion is YOURS just like mine is mine and they are based on our OWN experiences and not always helpful to others.

Just saying.

Best wishes and thanks for reading, see you soon

Billie x

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Welcome Back

Grab a cuppa and settle in, this week is Mental Health Awareness Week, so as someone who struggles with a number of mental health issues, I’m gonna share some things that have helped me. Most important of all, is to remember, what helps or doesn’t help us, is a very unique thing.

If you are someone who struggles but keeps quiet coz you don’t have the capacity to fend off all the ‘ideas and suggestions’ when you have either tried them all or can’t access them, then I am totally with you. Often if you find the courage to speak your truth, it goes one of two ways; they look at you as if you have a lurgy and they are afraid they will catch it OR you are bombarded with a list of sentances that start with ‘You should… You must.. Why don’t you…’

My post it not trying to fix anyone, coz not all of us can be fixed or are on a page where advice feels right and I totally resepct that. My post is simply sharing something that is helping me at the moment. What feels possible and impossible is variable moment by moment, no such thing as a straight line for chronic pain n health here.

I live with anxiety depression and chronic pain, and ‘Keep calm carry on’ isn’t helping!

I feel a lot of my anxiety and depression come from chronic pain, which impacts my life greatly and not in good ways. I’m not gonna bore you with the details but its about trying to live WITH stuff, as the condition I have isn’t fixable. Which is a tough one to live with. Its one of those that won’t kill ya just makes your life hell.

Gee this is a cheery post isn’t it! Anyone still reading? Please do, I’ll share happier stuff too but I’m not gonna fake like everything is fine, dandy and sorted coz its not. #justsaying

Stationary Island A5 journal and Ethan Elephant from Rues Bears
Here is Ethan the Elephant from Rue’s Bears on Etsy next to my A5 Stationary Island journal, where my stories and poems live.

Creativity is the nemisis of Depression

Now a long time ago, when I was in primary school, I used to love to write stories and poems, and in recent times I have got back to that. I used to love, when you could go choose a picture and then just write a story based on it. I could write pages and pages from that.

As my physical health has suffered, I find it too much to get a load of supplies out to paint or rubber stamp, though high five to Tim Holtz for the stamping platform or I wouldn’t be able to do it at all. But these days its all about minimal, coz if it takes all my energy to get all that out, then I don’t have energy to create.

Art

I got back into drawing thanks to Suzi blu (she’s back on You Tube and is putting up her old videos and ones that used to be her classes so I’ll put a link in if you haven’t seen them yet. Totally awesome) I bought some Jane Davenport online classes some years ago and they really have made the world of difference to my art.

My dream of it being just me and a sketchbook has happend. I got a bit stuck tho and wanted simpler figures too, and found Kawaii (Japanese for cute) like clouds with smiliy faces on, omg so cute! Kawaii is simple to draw and then I found Chibi, its part of the manga style of drawing. I love books that show me the building blocks of how to draw. and these got me doodling away happily in my various journals.

Creative Writing; the poems and stories just flow

Have you found Etsy? Its kinda like Ebay but full of wonderful handmade things by artists of all kinds of genre. I wanted a figure, I could have next to me to draw. To help me with perspective, and found Amigurami.

Amigurumi is cute crochet so I found both Chibi styles and Kawaii within it and was delighted when I found some cute cute mice. The crochet mice came home and from there I got a journal and started writing stories and poems about their adventures.

Here is a picture of the current crew

Crochet animals
Some of my crochet companions for creative writing.

The cute crochet creatures, that inspire my writing and drawing

This is what happens when u can’t sleep and are up late scrolling on Etsy, you find wonderful things. I’ve named each of them and for some reason when inspirations strikes it comes in verse. I have an idea, maybe a line or two then I have to get a pencil quick and start writing before I loose the words.

This was so much fun, I could do this with just a journal and a pen/pencil. Then I started drawing the figures in the book too and another time colouring them in and on days when I can’t hold a pen to write or pencil to colour I can read through the journal and enjoy the stories.

Then I found Rue’s Bears who I was talking about yesterday and that’s where Ethan the elephant came from, he was so wonderful when he arrived that I’ve ordered some more characters from her. (see links at the end of this post).

Next came something I didn’t expect. Sylvanian Families! Now as someone with a collectors kind of nature, I can see this could get addictive so I’m gonna have to sit on my hands. The characters are more affordable than some of the artisan hand made charcters and my reason for getting The Elephant Family, was because they are posable and I’ve been enjoying drawing and want to get the hang of a range of angles for the characters so the Sylvanian fam’s will help me do that.

Confession ‘the milk rabbits also came home, sorry not sorry’ shh I am repeating the mantra ‘Not gonna get lots, not gonna get lots, not gonna get lots!’ But they are SOOO cute!

How is this helping my mental health?

How is all this helping my mental health and not just the fix of ‘buy stuff to feel better’ which only helps short term as today’s happy post is tomorrows, there is nowhere to put this, I should get rid of it but I don’t want to’.

Well, when I look at these characters, all these stories and poems fill my head and it helps me forget the pain in my body. It helps take my mind away from the fears and worries that keep me up all night. It takes me to a softer, kinder gentler place where I can imagine what they are all doing. Its very calming, one day I might write, another draw in the margins, another colour the pictures I drew in. It really is a dream come true.

For me the bottom line is, its not what you choose but how it makes you feel. If its not hurting anyone (including yourself!) and your bills are paid first so you don’t get into debt, then go for it.

FUN matters, play matters, no matter your age. Not all of us can get out and about, and for us life is really small and so the little things become the big things.

Start where you are, use what you have.

If you want to try this, you don’t need a fancy journal, or fancy pens, use what you have to hand. Images are everywhere, just pick one that calls to you and then pick up your pen and write. You don’t have to tell anyone, you don’t have to show anyone. Just see where it takes your mind.

Maybe its a seasonal image, perhaps you enjoy a certain time of the year, see if you have a photo at home or in a book or online, perhaps from a magazine. Stuff rules, just start to write and see where the words take you. I fyou like it keep it, if you don’t, you can shred it, rip it up whatever feels right for you.

This was a way of meeting myself on the page that I’m on, and just trying to make it feel a bit softer, safer and more possible.

Links

Where the characters you see above came from, I didn’t make them, I don’t have the fine motor skills for that.

Etsy shops

  • The mice and bear in this photo were from Eliza Like (check back for when more stock is available)
  • The elephant is from Rues Bears

If you want to know more about Ethan the Elephant, see my previous post Meet Ethan the Elephant

Come back soon and I’ll share the books that have been companioning me on the dark days too.

Best wishes and thanks for reading, see you soon

Billie x

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Welcome Back

Sad to say hands still not back after crocheting this over 3 weeks ago now! Here it is tho, my second granny square. Make the most of it, there won’t be more!

Blue Granny Square

Blue Granny Square

Have had a little go with sewing, and this adventure is at least less painful. More about that in a new post.

I want to get back to painting but at the mo haven’t the dexterity.

Best wishes and thanks for reading, see you soon

Billie πŸ™‚

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Welcome Back

In today’s post I will be reviewing; Learn to Crochet with Wendy Poole; The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide to Crochet.

Learn To Crochet with Wendy Poole DVD

Learn To Crochet with Wendy Poole DVD

Product Details

  • Manufacturer/Brand; Wendy Poole
  • RRPΒ at time of writing: Β£15 directly from Wendy Poole including P&P
  • Run Time: 1 hr 47 minutes
  • Picture 16:9
  • Format: DVD – 5
  • Standard PAL
  • Region: All

Reason For Buying

This year I set myself the crafty new Years resolution to learn to crochet. I bought a book, and I couldn’t follow it. Being dyslexic I am a visual learner and although there are lots of tutorials on You Tube everyone has different styles and you get confused. Heard about Wendy’s DVD on Create and Craft back in January but didn’t buy it at the time as I had just got a DVD with Knit and Stitch magazine and didn’t think I needed it. After months of still not progressing I bought the DVD and here’s how I got on.

Contains

Quote from the back of the DVD

‘Learn to Crochet with Wendy Poole’ will take you step by step through everything you need to know from the very beginning.

We start with basic introduction to the art of Crochet. You then follow the 3 basic lessons based on Wendy’s own classes.

Thee is also a BAsic Stitch directory, with UK stitch terms and USA equivilents.

The Tips and Techniques section teaches you everything you need to make your projects, including increasing and decreasing, crocheting pieces together and joining colours.

Finally there are 5 different project ideas to follow that can be made without using a pattern.

Pros/Cons

  • Well described techniques
  • Learn by making things
  • Stitch directory in UK and USA terms
  • Lots of techniques for finishing and joining up crochet pieces
  • Selection of nice projects

Cons

Just one

  • Choosing a hook. I was hoping for more info in this section. This was little more than; here are the types of hook available, rather than which was better for which type of yarn etc. Also at this point the camera was looking more at Wendy than the hooks, so you didn’t get the best view of the hooks either.

It was the only downside, the rest of the DVD more than made up for this.

Build Quality

Excellent. A few places editing cut off words, a little over bright in places but well focused and good sound levels. Although there is some music in the background which I usually hate, it was VERY low and not obtrusive.

Excellent menu system to quickly get to the section you are after.

Value for Money

Excellent.

Would I buy it Again?

Totally and recommend it to anyone who wants to crochet but is a visual learner.

Summing up

This is a fantastic DVD. I have been skeptical of books and DVD’s claiming to be ‘The Ultimate.’ anything, as they often disappoint. NOT the case with this DVD, it truly does what it sets out to do. Takes you by the hand and shows you with demos how to create flowers, granny squares, stitches and so on.

When Wendy was on Create and Craft she said of this DVD that after watching it she wanted to leave people not just able to create the one project but have the skills to make whatever they wanted to in crochet. After watching it, I have a lot of practice to do to perfect my new skills but now I can go and find projects I want to make and refer back to this for key elements of the design.

I love the way that rather than starting out with stitch after stitch as other books and so on do (which is a good plan but boring), with this you start by making a little flower, so straight away you have created something lovely. This is a real confidence builder and after watching it through a few times you can crochet along with Wendy and create along with her. This is a great way to bed in new skills as you link them to an actual project, which really helps.

This is an excellent DVD, if you have always wanted to crochet, I highly recommend it. If you have been looking at all the lovely crochet projects in magazines and around the internet thinking ‘I want to do that’, then this is the DVD for you. Now I’ve seen this, I’ve gone back to the ‘how too’ book I bought and can better understand what it means.

Especially delighted as since I was little, I’ve always wanted to make a granny square. I was given a dolly blanket by someone in the family and always wanted to make one for myself. Didn’t have the patience then, not sure I’ve got the dexterity now, but if I only do a little at a time and with plenty of rest in between, perhaps I’ll be able to make a little mat for my laptop to sit on, or a cover for my Kindle.

I am looking at makingΒ  little flowers and snowflakes, just hope my RSI will settle and let me do this at least occasionally, in good weather.

Thank you Wendy for an excellent DVD. Here is my Granny square.

Granny Square created after watching Wendy Poole's DVD

Granny Square created after watching Wendy Poole’s DVD

Links

Best wishes and thanks for reading, see you soon

Billie πŸ™‚

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Welcome Back

In today’s post I will be reviewing; Simply Crochet; Magazine Issue 5

Simply Crochet Hooked on Handmade. Magazine

Simply Crochet Hooked on Handmade. Magazine

  • Title: Simply Crochet; Hooked on Handmade. Magazine Issue 5
  • Publisher: Future Publishing.
  • Issue 5

My Reason for Buying

I bought issue 4 as there was a free shawl pin on the cover (which I needed and liked) and liked the look of the projects. Enjoyed it so much I bought this issue without seeing much about it.

My challenge for this year was to try crochet, I bought a couple of issues of Knit n Stitch early on, but they were weekly and expensive, I bought a book but wasn’t over inspired. I like to see projects that inspire me to learn how to make them to encourage me to learn the techniques needed. I also fancied having a magazine to flick through with a cup of tea πŸ˜‰Β  I tell you this as often a review is based on how well the book lived up to the expectations of its reader, for their purpose πŸ˜‰

Contents

Patterns: Granny Square Ideas, Flower broach, Beret, Floral cushion, Cardigan, Lacy Mug hug, Amigurmi doll, Little mermaid, Mandala, Motif, Hexagons, tea pot cover, Tie, Earrings, Scarf, Dog scarf,

Good Reads: Hooked = ideas, websites. Notebook Jane Crowfoot tips and ideas. Broomstick lace. Profile. Crochet Then and Now. Yarn reviews. Coming Next Month. Vintage Treasure. How too. The Workshop, The Guide Diagrams and charts

Pros/Cons

Pros

  • Wide range of projects for all ages, stuff for beginners, as well as more adventurous crochet artists
  • Little projects as well as garments. LOVE the motif section, LOVE the mandala section
  • The Workshop and The Guide, get you started with basic stitches and techniques
  • Love the quality feel of the magazine
  • A great way to find artists and books to inspire you
  • A great way to find retailers if you are needing supplies

Cons

Bearing in mind I am a total newbie to crochet.

  • It would be handy if they had some information about how to read patterns, in their guides at the back. Its the one thing I haven’t found in there and have got a bit lost.

Value for Money

Excellent

Would I buy it Again?

Yes, haven’t subscribed as funds are tight BUT will keep a close eye on the magazines blog and as soon as new issues come out if there are projects in there I like I would buy again without hesitation.

Summing up

This is the first magazine (on any topic) that I have really enjoyed for ages. It feels loved, it has thought about what people like and has even had questionnaire’s in the first few issues so people could feed back on what they did and didn’t like about it.

This magazine reminds me of Stampington publications. There is inspiration, a classy, classic feel rather than cheap and nasty look of some magazines which are very actually expensive. I like that the editions are un-sealed so you can see what you are getting for your fiver. Too many other publications are a blind date, you can’t see if there are things in there you would like to make as they are covered by free gifts or sealed so you have no idea what you are getting.

The projects are like the magazine classy, classic and if you are a ‘new age vintage chic’ kinda person you are going to love this. I’d highly recommend getting a how too book to get you started but if like me you are in the early stages of the hobby, there are lots here to get you inspired and want to create. I particularly enjoy the fact that the little projects, like the smaller motifs and mandals and so on are things you would like to make, to have in your home. Other magazines ‘smaller’ projects can seem cheesy or just for the kiddies or the other extreme very large and complex projects.

This looks like a keeper, some things I’ll be able to do now, and come back to the more involved things when my skills improve. Great job Future Publishing and thanks too for the blog which gives a heads up on the projects for the current and upcoming issue.

Links

The Blog also has a preview of the magazine to see if its your kind of thing πŸ˜‰

Best wishes and thanks for reading, see you soon

Billie πŸ™‚

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Welcome Back

Early this year I promised myself I’d give crochet a try. Recently I have been buying Simply crochet magazine, it has some lovely projects for all levels and I adore the mandala’s and granny squares, this month they had flowers.

Sadly though, my poor little brain couldn’t work out the meaning of the patterns, even the ones they said were simple, but I am VERY new to it all. So I headed off to You Tube as I’m a visual learner so I tried there instead. YEY

Here are the flowers I made

Crochet flowers

Crochet flowers

Now you see the one in the middle, it wasn’t meant to be like that it was meant to be the start of a circle but I kept getting those big chains over the top. They were trebles into the center of the ring, {sob} its driving me nuts but I can’t stop the big loops. I think its my tension that is off, but can’t sort it yet. I did so well with double crochet so can’t see why I’m having such problems with these.

I was trying for the pattern by Wink on page 58 of issue 5 of Simply Crochet Hooked on Handmade.

If anyone can shed any light on what I’m doing wrong shout up, I’d love to sort this out.

Links

Here is the video tutorial that I followed to make this flower, thanks to The Making Spot for such a clear easy to understand tutorial πŸ™‚

Best wishes and thanks for reading, see you soon

Billie πŸ™‚

 

***Update***

 

After watching this flower tutorial and another one and having a practice, I realised what I was doing wrong, the chain 3 was only meant to be at the start of the round, not for every repeat. DOH!!! Simple once you know eh!!! I’m now much further into the pattern and have definitely had a light bulb moment with the crochet. Hunting out more flower,motif tutorials on You Tube. Gimme a shout if you know of any πŸ™‚

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Welcome Back

Today I’d like to share a picture of my latest project, this is my third shawl and I just love it.

Healing hugs shawl, my third shawl.

Healing hugs shawl, my third shawl.

The yarn is Sirdar, Connemara and the colour way is Wayfarer. Sadly this colourway has now been discontinued and it was thanks to a friend on Pheonix Knitting forum, who told me about Hejhog that I was able to get some to make this shawl. I fell in love with this colour-way when I saw it on a garment but the shop had already sold out of it.

Sirdar Connemara Chunky Colour way Wayfarer

Sirdar: Connemara; Chunky. Colour way Wayfarer

The pattern was a freebie from Lion Brand Yarns. Its called Simple Triangle shawl. If you haven’t knitted for long its a great step up project. The new techniques I learnt with this pattern were yarn overs, which is what creates the holes. Its everso simple to create and the finished result makes it look so much harder and more complex than it is. There was only one row that was one to keep a very close eye on, the rest were either knit, pearl and a few knit two together’s along the way.

Links

Three separate links to Sirdar there, the first will take you to Sirdar website’s home page, the next to details about the Connemara yarn and the last to the colourways available in the yarn.

I see they have also discontinued Horn Pipe which is the lovely natural tones I made my long slipper socks with 😦

Have my eye on the next project, but more about that another time.

Best wishes and thanks for reading, see you soon

Billie πŸ™‚

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