Wednesday 2 June 2021

June - Cross-Stitch Again!

May has not been a particularly productive or creative month for me. This was partly because I wasn't well prepared and needed to buy a hoop to do my cross-stitch and also this month has been busy with work and travelling and house- hunting. We had a holiday with family when UK restrictions lifted which was really lovely and I managed to read quite a bit while we had help with the boys which really helped me relax. All this to say that I have not done the cross- stitching I had planned to do. 

When we got back from our holiday and the hoop finally arrived I became daunted at the scale of the piece - it seems to be for an A3 design which seems very ambitious for a first attempt! So I decided to do some practice stitching and work out how you are meant to do it.  

This turned out to be useful because there were a few presumptions I made that would have made the process even harder. For example, the thread (floss) that you use for cross- stitch is made up of six threads but only one or two threads should be used at a time. I spent an evening trying to keep the threads together and thinking my practice stitches looked very bulky until I googled and realised what I was doing wrong. I then spent the following evening unpicking it and starting again! I did some random stitching including some which wasn't cross-stitching just to see what it looked like, I really love the colours of the pattern.

So June will also be cross-stitch but this time properly. I hope to speak to you in a month with a completed octopus, wish me luck! 

Tuesday 4 May 2021

May - Cross-Stitch

I am so happy that I have made it to the fifth month of this challenge but also terrified that it is now May and this year is speeding by.

Last year for my birthday my husband bought me a lampshade making workshop which sounded really fun. After a number of postponements, it was finally cancelled with no future date booked. As a replacement he bought me some lovely gifts including this gorgeous cross-stitch kit. 

I have been wanting to try one for a while and have been loving all the modern brightly coloured ones I have seen on Etsy and Instagram. My parents-in-law are expert cross-stitchers and have all sorts of patterns framed in their house. I am sure mine won't be up to their standard but I'm excited to give it a go. 

April Recap - Writing

April has been a month of ups and downs. Early on, it seemed like we might be moving house within 2 weeks and now at the end of the month we have no idea when we will be moving. I have enjoyed writing and it has been a very easy thing to pick up and put down whenever I could find time but even when I have found the time I haven't always had anything to write. My mind has often been elsewhere; making a mental list of removals companies to ring, the companies we need to change addresses with and the leaving presents we need to buy to thank the boys' nursery staff. And then later in the month, a gloomy, distracted mood settled on me, I am impatient person at the best of times and the last year has not been the best of times!

All this to say that my aim of writing for 30 minutes every day has not been achieved. I wrote (or attempted to write) for 21 out of 30 days. For some of those I wrote for longer than 30 minutes but there were also days where I would only write for 10 minutes and some where I stared at a blank page or screen for half an hour and wrote nothing at all. Some days I found words and sentences in previous days' writing that I decided to delete, days with minus figures are never good! I was aiming for 3000 words but only ended up on 2377. 

I have definitely written more than I would normally and I have found times in the day to write, such as when my boys were playing in the sandpit, that I have not used before. The things I have written whilst in the midst of a dinosaur sand battle, were not necessarily always that good, but it has made me think more creatively about when I can write.

I am also pleased with the progress I have made with the plot I had. I have more of a structure and a clearer plan for what happens to the characters than at the beginning of the month. I have also identified a new character which has really helped to tie some ideas together. I have a much clearer idea of what I am writing about, whereas at the end of March I only had some characters and a vague idea or theme that I wanted to explore. 

It is not going to be a quick or easy process but this month has confirmed for me that I really love writing and so should keep going. Even if no-one ever ends up reading it, I enjoy it and find it worthwhile. 

Friday 2 April 2021

April - Writing

Three months down and still going! Although I know very few people are reading this, I am really pleased that I started this challenge this year. Making a commitment to do a new craft/art/hobby each month is really motivating me to keep going and because it's only a month, if I don't really like it the next month soon rolls around. It has provided something to focus on and given me variety when at the moment every day feels like groundhog day. Restrictions are slowly being lifted here in the U.K. and we are now allowed to see one other household outside in a public space or private garden. It feels like bliss given the past few months and the limitations of the last year but it still a long way from the freedom we once enjoyed. Having something other than work and parenting to focus on has been really helpful. 

In April I am going to be focusing on writing, which is a little different from the last three months. There won't be a physical tangible item for me to share at the end of it, but I will hopefully have a word count to share and an update on the process and how I've found it.

In 2019 during my maternity leave with my second son, I took part in a creative writing course led by author Emylia Hall called Mothership Writers. It was a course for mothers of babies under one based in Bristol. It was a year long course and we met every two weeks. The course culminated in many of the participants writing a short piece for an anthology.  I loved the course and ever since have taken to having a notebook and pen nearby to scribble in when I get a free minute. They used to be in the changing bag I take everywhere for my sons but as so much of this year has been spent at home, I now have about 3 or 4 notebooks dotted around the house in various rooms. Much to the delight of my husband! 

Last summer, when I was feeling particularly down and anxious after being made redundant, I set myself the challenge of writing a short story for a competition held by Myslexia, a creative writing magazine. Although nothing came of it, I was proud to have completed and entered a short story and found the process cathartic and fulfilling in what was a difficult and emotionally turbulent time. Since then I have been writing when I have the time and have drafted a plot and characters for a novel. Writing that down sounds a bit ridiculous but it is something I would like to work towards. I'm not expecting that anything will come of it but I would like to challenge myself to finish the piece of work which I have been thinking about for a while, just to see how it ends up!

At first I was thinking of setting myself a word count for each day of April but instead I am going to say I will write for at least 30 mins. This might sometimes be in the mornings before work, in the very early mornings when the boys are up and watching cartoons or after they are in bed and the house is quiet. I will fit it in whenever I can but hopefully I can find 30 mins everyday and sometimes more. By the end of the month I hope to have written at least 5000 words but more importantly I want to have expanded the idea and characters I have so far and be able to decide whether to continue or start again with a new idea. 

See you at the end of April for an update!

Thursday 1 April 2021

March Recap - Weaving

This month's focus was weaving, which was completely new to me. I really loved learning and found it such a fun craft. It helped that it was a starter kit that my mother-in-law kindly sent me, so it came with all the instructions and resources needed to make a number of small weavings. 

The instructions were very clear and it didn't take long at all to get the hang of it. I loved that the basic technique is super easy so that once you know what you're doing, you can focus on adding colours and different textures to make it personalised and to your taste. I do like following patterns and working to make a particular item, such as a piece of clothing from a pattern but for this year I don't really have the time, energy or patience for that much focus! So something which is easy to learn but that you can then develop and be creative with is perfect for me right now. 

The first weaving I made was blue, grey and white. I just used yarn at first so that I could get used to how to make it even and swap between different colours. It looks a little uneven at the top so I am going to work on that in my next one, to try to get it to look as symmetrical as possible. 

In my second weaving I have used some roving, which is the much thicker material. You have to weave this over a number of strands of warp (the thin threads which run vertically down the piece) as it is so thick and it creates lovely texture and contrast. I still need to add some other colours but I am looking forward to creating a little collection of weavings. 

I am really pleased with what I have created and although my first piece wasn't perfect, I am very pleased to hang it on the wall. I think in the future I might invest in a bigger kit to make a larger piece, I think a large wall hanging somewhere in our next house would be fun. Just need to find the house first.!...

Friday 5 March 2021

March - Weaving

In March I am going to try weaving. My mother-in-law very kindly sent me this weaving kit which looks so beautiful. It is something I have been wanting to try for a long time. 

I have seen a number of beautiful wall hangings on Instagram and fancy having one in our home, so I am excited to give it a go!

February Recap

I have loved sewing this month. I have not been quite as productive as I had hoped but I have made two hair scrunchies and the beginnings of a top which I'm pleased with. The top I made by using a current vest as a template and with a bit of adjustment it's looking good. I still need to tidy it up and sort out the bottom hem but I am excited to wear it soon. Probably just on a zoom call but still!

I had been hoping to make some cushions from some beautiful material I had left over but it is lost somewhere in the loft. We will have to bring all our things down at some point hopefully in the next few months when we move house and so this will be a project for another month. 

Sewing is definitely something that I enjoy and that holds my attention. I am already excited about about continuing it and am planning to find some material to make a summer dress soon.