advice · learning · Life

Love it when a plan comes together!

red and geen maxi headbands.JPGSo AGES ago (like nearly a year ago)I bought a DSLR camera. Naively I thought ‘How hard can it be?’ well pretty hard, in fact so hard that I then didn’t touch it for ages! Thanks to my wonderful and supportive husband, I went on a course at the weekend where I learned the basics. I came home brimful of enthusiasm and confidence that I would be able to take some nice pictures and then BOOOOM! Suddenly nothing worked and my confidence was somewhat bashed.

Still not to be deterred I switched the camera from Aperture Priority to Manual and took some photos anyway…. some of them came out ok too.  It’s a steep learning curve but one I am enjoying.  Anyway today I popped into Jessops (other camera shops are available!) and got some help.  They were lovely and sorted me out …. Exposure Compensation thingie had been accidentally altered … well now I know!

So this evening I took a deep breath and shoved the memory card in and managed to get the photo off the card onto my laptop and then here! I love my Levano yoga book more and more! BINGO! check out my GORGEOUS maxi ear warmers. Soon to be on Etsy so watch this space!

Creativity · Designing · Life

Making it

Today while having a tidy up I found the drawing of the Maxi Ear Warmer. I love drawing. And look how it turned out! I reflected, rather smugly, that I am achieving much of what my teen self wanted; although I wondered if my teen self would be particularly overjoyed. True, I am a designer, musician and fitness professional, however my teen self would have wanted ‘famous’ to preface those professions. That fame was as important as the actual thing that earned it. I guess it’s part of being young. Now in my 40’s I’m delighted I can pretty much do what I like. We have enough.

This got me thinking about the idea of ‘making it’, you know when people say they want to ‘make it’ as a singer/designer/artist/whatever. The idea of being a celebrity/household name/whatever for doing something. How hollow, how temporary and how little it has to do with the act of creating something. There are many many artisans /artists etc who pretty much do what they like and have enough to live but whom few people have heard of.

Our little girl has recently started playing ‘pop stars’ with her friends at school. I’m not entirely sure what this entails. And so it starts again. I hope I can help her see that it’s the act of doing that’s the important bit, not the fame that might or might not come as a result. And why is that important? Because when ‘Making It’ is measured by fame and mass recognition by oneself and others it’s too easy to be encouraged to have ‘back up plans’. My back up plans sucked and brought me very little happiness; I wish I’d had the confidence at the time to accept my own judgement as valid enough rather than relying on external recognition.

learning · Life

The eyes have it

I love these little Om charms and, in between booking markets and other admin I’ve been trying to keep up with sewing them on the things I’ve made so far this year (more than I thought!). The sewing on of the charms has been a bit of a challenge; I can no longer thread a regular sewing needle. There, I’ve said it! A definite sign of ageing!

For a while there I was just getting all bad tempered and huffy about not being able to thread the needle and / or find my husband’s reading specs.  Like that was helping any but it’s the sort of stuff we all do I’m sure. And then, like any shoddy workman, I started blaming my tools; the eye was too small. So while searching for a needle with a bigger eye (which by the way wouldn’t go through the little hole in the charm,) I found the ‘pointless needle threader’ that came with the ‘handy’ sewing kit in my Christmas Cracker.

I remember my Great Gran using one of these needle threaders, I remember her saying she couldn’t see the eye of the needle and as a child I didn’t get it; I could see it clear as day so I’d thread it for her. Suddenly that ‘pointless needle threader’ isn’t pointless at all.  So much of life and how we perceive the things we come across and up against is dependant on perception and context and by changing how we look at things we can change how we approach them. Also that so much of the emotion and frustration and effort we put into that emotion and frustration is ultimately pointless.

So after taking a nice big swig of Calm the F**k down tea and taking the time to accept the situation and then find a solution to the problem, I wonder why I so frequently start my ‘problem solving’ in such an unhelpful way.  The answer is easy, change doesn’t happen over night.  In the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, ‘Practice [or change] becomes firmly grounded when well attended to for a long time without break and in all earnestness’.

Just as in anything, we don’t get things ‘right’ straight away. we fail, we struggle, we reflect and attend to that which needs to change.   Slowly but surely with a kind eye the fact that now I know I’m being totally unhelpful in achieving whatever it is that I’m trying to do and then attend to the what it is that needs to be done means that I am on the way.

advice · Creativity · giving · learning · Life

Just say NO!

When I was growing up the cast of Grange Hill released a chart topping song warning about the perils of taking Heroin. ‘ Just say NO!’ They sang while horrible images filled the screen. Like falling into quicksand, I thought avoiding heroin dealers would be a much bigger problem than it turned out to be. I guess I’ve been lucky. Not once however was there mention of the perils of unwanted knitting requests (UKR) during any textile and fashion class.

There are things I really do not enjoy knitting. For example, you will never hear me say “oooh I can’t wait to get started on the floor length lace poncho” not unless I was on some desert island, mysteriously washed up with 101 balls of lace yarn, some needles and a pattern. Actually I’d be more likely to try and fashion some sort of raft with it…

We all have our NO list. Mine includes anything thinner than Aran weight yarn, anything with more than a 6 row repeat, blankets, baby clothes and scarves. The thing is I have quite a strong aversion to knitted them as I discovered when my Mother In Law asked me to knit her a nice long scarf.

My first response was ‘F**k NO! I’d rather poke my eye out with a Sh***y stick’. Luckily I managed to keep this response in my head as, while there are some people would I could say this to, my MIL isn’t one of them. However that fateful pause while I tried to articulate a more appropriate response was taken as tacit agreement.

So that’s why I’m knitting a ‘nice long scarf’ and why? Because never role played what I would say when faced with an UKR. I didn’t have a response ready. If you belong to a knitting group I’d recommend regularly role playing your responses to UKR’s. if you’re a solitary knitter you’ll have to make do with practicing on your own but believe me it’s time well spent.

Even better, let your friends and family know what you ARE willing to knit (and how long it takes) and whether or not you’ll supply the yarn (gift yes, random knitting request, no) which will also avoid the perils of being hoodwinked into knitting with alpaca yarn, spun on Peruvian mountains by elves at £50 a ball ….. this might seem a bit mean spirited but think about it… if your hobby was betting your life savings in online poker games and a friend or family member asked you to bet your house on their behalf, you’d probably say no. This will also avoid those awkward request which will either involve ‘letting someone down’ or staying awake for 3 days straight to knit a bridal shawl for her coming wedding that weekend….

anyway, best crack on… I’m knitting a ‘nice long scarf’…. 🙄🤢

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These boots were made for walking!!!

Last week I was planning… this week I’m catching up with all the stuff that didn’t get done over the busy pre Christmas period.

It’s killing me, returning a big pile of overdue library books, getting my hair cut, taking the cardboard mountain to the recycle centre, dropping off several bags of stuff at the charity shop… blah blah blah…. I just want to be DOING, MAKING…. 😱😱

The saving grace of this ‘admin day’ as I’m calling it is putting my much loved boots in for repair, and the cobbler says they can be fixed AND I get to pick them up on Saturday. YEY!

I know though that all of this is necessary, clearing the decks ready for the work to come. Later today I will be able to look through the quotes for my projects without all those ‘things to do’ distracting me. So however much it feels like I’m ‘not getting anything done’ or that I’m ‘standing still’ which are my 2 main frustrations, I know that I am. I know that progress does not always look like progress and doing doesn’t necessarily mean progress. And above all if there is one thing I need to learn it is patience!!

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Time for reflection and celebration.

This time of year is a time for reflection for many of us, a time for stopping and taking stock. We had a wonderful family celebration in our woods. It was magical and a complete contrast to the run up to Christmas where both my husband and I had been working at such a hectic pace. It’s the nature of our work so the quiet of Christmas is most welcome.

I have such plans for 2018; so many it feels like sometimes my head is spinning. There is so much I want to do and achieve it would be easy to get lost. So it’s a time for planning, reflecting on what is REALLY important, what resonates. To go with the heart. I have never been terribly good at doing things that don’t resonate, and the times I have I’ve just become terribly unhappy and ill.

So before I start, before we step through the door to 2018, I have stopped. I have become my own still point, listening to what calls me, draws me the most and for me it’s important to always be learning.

Top of my list is deepening my Yoga and Qi Gong practice. Somewhere on the list is the rapid induction / street hypnosis course. And of course most important of all, my wonderful family. Which brings this to a close, it’s nearly 6, my husband has built a fire outside, I’m waiting for the chips to par-boil, and we’ve got friends coming over for New Year Celebrations.

So let’s take the learnings from 2017 into 2018 and have a wonderful 2018

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Shhhhhhhh!!!

We all have things we like more than others. I have a secret. I really do not like casting on. It’s all the things I don’t like about knitting. Actually the one thing I don’t like…. counting.

Ask me why I don’t crochet? Why? Because it’s impossible to do without counting. I’m not doing it. Oh and my five year old has a wicked sense of humour and as soon as she hears me counting she starts ‘Mummy…… ”

Me: I’m counting ( oh balls just lost count again) 2,4,6…..68

A: “Mummy……” (I’ve got nothing to say I’m just going to keep repeating your name… failing that I’m going to start whispering in your ear)

Me: ahhh sod it I’ll do it later….

So, I’ve had the day off today because I’m still aching all over and have a headache which might or might not be caffeine related – 3 days without coffee….

Anyway, I’m reworking the floor cushion pattern. It’s beautiful. Very. And the reason it’s taken me so long to return to it is that I have to cast on 189 stitches. 189. Ok so the Aran cape-u-chino beats that at 266 but at least that is broken up into sections…. I suppose I could have done that with the cushion side …. hmmph…. now I think of it. Ok but I still really do not like casting on, or off for that matter. I sound like Lola out of Charlie and Lola!

I’m sure I’m not the only one who loves knitting but has a pet knitting hate!? Tell me I’m not alone!!!! 🙄😱🙏🏼

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Grateful not hateful!

Sometimes its hard to feel grateful, Sometimes it feels like the world is gunning for you and all you want to do is curse and stamp your feet…. or is that just me? Like the days when everything you do goes wrong, things break, take too long, aren’t what you expected…. ahhhh expectations… the constant companion of the let down and disappointed!

Just to be clear here, I’m not some kind of guru of calm. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, anyone who  knows me knows I’m as messed up as the next person, but mostly they like me anyway and for that I am truly grateful.

So when I’m struggling with life, this short meditation is like a semi colon in my internal ranting and raging. Sometimes I listen to it while I knit, other times I just sit. And it never fails. I might not be a pool of calm at the end but I have perspective and I’ve had a few moments to consider what I am grateful for – having my wonderful husband in my life, a wild and spirited daughter, friends I could call on in the middle of the night and find a warm welcome and the opportunity to pursue my talents. I am very lucky. And I am mood lifts from hateful to grateful.

Thank you.

 

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Black Friday – not in this home

I had an appointment first thing and was planning to go busking after. When I drove into town however I could not get a parking space; town was rammed with people probably looking for a bargain.

Good luck to them, but I don’t do Black Friday. I don’t like the rampant consumerism. All the images of people climbing over each other to get a bargain are probable hyped but based somewhere in truth. And because I don’t agree with it as a consumer I cannot in all integrity offer ‘Black Friday Deals’. True enough if you were going to buy it anyway then it’s nice to get a discount I guess, but then that’s not really the rationale behind Black Friday.

I’m happy to offer discounts, for example if I don’t have the yarn you like available on a market day I will happily take off postage when you buy online. If you really love my stuff and make a fair offer at a market, again I’m happy to consider it. Just not some random discount just to satisfy some big business consumerist drive. I’m a small business, I work from home, my home values are in my work.

So today I’m at home, not buying anything and catching up on admin and housework. Oh and making a leek, broccoli and coconut Dahl. I’ve made stacks and I’m going to freeze some of it. YEY!!

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At what price

On Thursday my toes finally poked through my Ugg boots. I’ve had them probably 5 years so not bad going.

I was in the supermarket when I felt the cold air of the chiller cabinet on my tootsies and needed to look respectable later that day so I went and looked at the clothing section and found these. £23. Suede boots, made in China. You couldn’t buy the materials for that let alone get them made. However I bought them, it’s 5 weeks to Christmas I have no boots and I am in no position to be splashing out on myself.

We all love a deal don’t we, especially with Black Friday galloping towards us with the promise of massive bargains.  With the boots in mind, I am under no illusion that they will last well, and I am also aware that there is a there is a hidden cost to these cheap goods. I see it every time I do a market, people (and I mean regular people you and I type people, not hand wringing scrooges) are genuinely surprised at how much something hand made by someone with UK cost of living overheads costs. Deep down we know that cheap goods undermines us all. We can try and buy more ethically but we live in the real world where sometimes money is tight, where sometimes we simply don’t have the money; This guy from the Humans of New York Facebook page sums it up beautifully. Do take time to read it.

But we also need to be honest with ourselves. Many of us think nothing of spending £3 on a coffee everyday but at the same time expect to get a handmade hat for the same price as one in Primark (£2!). At the other end of the scale some think nothing of spending hundreds maybe thousands on goods that cost a fraction of that to make because of the label. It feels like we have lost touch with reality some how. We have lost touch with the truth of things.  Truthfulness is essential to peace and harmony.  Let seek it out.