Breathe more deeply

Aren't they pretty. So many times I've thought about these colours and what they mean.

Aren’t they pretty? So many times I’ve thought about the significance of these colours and what they mean.

For a very long time (years now) I have been taking one shiny little green and yellow capsule before bed every night. A simple act designed to help me not-want-to-throw-stuff-at-other-stuff so much. Depression – though I am not sure I really want to call it that, because that word just doesn’t feel real to me for some reason – has bothered me from time to time ever since I was a kid, but back then it was just called ‘moodiness’.

On a good day I am a perfectly balanced and normal human being. I can laugh and dance and feel joy as keenly as the next person. I have lots of good days. But on a bad day I am disorientated, confused, lost, tearful, sad, irritable, angry.

A handful of times it’s been more or less impossible to function. I’ve stood rooted to a single spot in a busy supermarket completely paralyzed and unable to speak, because I didn’t understand what was going on in my head and felt scared to move in case I was forced to interact with another human being. That day I almost walked out into traffic. That was the worst day. Most bad days don’t get anywhere near that bad because I keep my family close and they give me all the love and support I need to stay on the pavement.

I haven’t had a bad day in ages. The pills have worked. They’ve worked well, but sometimes I have felt a bit… numb. The lower register of emotions hasn’t been as apparent, but neither have the upper ones. I haven’t cried at a wedding, or a birth, or at Eastenders, or cried at all, it seems, for an eternity. Recently my lovely Gramps died and I knew I felt very sad, but it was a bit like straining to listen to someone speaking from inside a soundproof booth. You know someone is saying something, you can see their lips moving, you just can’t quite make out the words. It’s like that dream you have sometimes when you go to run or punch someone but your limbs won’t move and when they do finally stir it’s like you’re dragging them through quicksand. Solid air.

Don’t misunderstand me. I’m not coming out against Antidepressants – I believe they’re useful and necessary in a lot of cases, but there is a price to be paid for pharmaceutically-imposed tranquility and I was no longer sure I wanted to pay it.

So last week, at the advice of a doctor, I started phasing out the drugs. Quite suddenly things began to feel more raw, more alive again. I shifted gears. I’ve found myself saying things and posting things on social media that, in retrospect, sound like the ramblings of a frazzled and cranky old cat lady. It’s quite possible that this post is one of those things. This is NOT ideal because I rely on my ability to communicate for my living. But, and this is a big but, I figure I’d rather live as a flawed and slightly damaged human being than as a fabulous and shiny, wipe-clean robot. I need to find a way to embrace this weird and inconvenient element of my identity and learn to work with it rather than drug it into submission. Maybe it’s all about yoga and meditation, perhaps it’s about CBT and crochet (which, by the way, I’ve always found extremely helpful), perhaps I just need to breath more deeply. I’ll let you know how it goes. xx

Look at this awesome Matilda hat!

How I wish I'd thought of this first.

Oh how I wish I’d thought of this first.

See. This is what’s so brilliant and inspiring about the online craft community. It’s so easy for someone you’ve never met to stumble across your idea and do something clever and different with it.  This hat is by MellowMeCreations and combines two Ravelry patterns; my Matilda pattern and this granny square hat pattern. It’s like a big woolly cut ‘n’ shut, but in a good way. If you’re a member of Ravelry (and if you aren’t, then why the hell not?) click on the image and it’ll take you straight to the page in question. I am definitely going to have a go at this. GENIUS.

Have you done something innovative with one of my patterns? If you have pleeeeeease get in touch. I’d love to have a look, and share.

Welcome to the Universe Alphabetti Crochetti

You know when you’re really into an idea but everyone around you seems to think it’s a bit rubbish, and even if they don’t actually say so out loud, you can see in their eyes that they think you’re on to a losing wicket and that you should really just give up and go back to crocheting hearts and stuff?  I feel that way about my new project (and about most other things, for that matter, but mostly this). For a while now I have been trying to develop a way of writing with granny squares. Mainly so I can combine the two things I love most – crocheting (obvs) and sharing my innermost thoughts in a variety of inappropriate and shouty ways. This project seemed to be something of a natural progression from the heart, skull and Christmas tree squares I’ve designed in the past, allowing me to really personalise the blankets and banners I make for friends. Maybe, just maybe, I might start taking commissions from people who want messages crocheted for people, like – I LOVE YOU IAN FROM WORK, MARRY ME CAROL COLLINGTON or DON’T FORGET TO PUT THE MILK BACK IN THE FRIDGE AFTER YOU’VE USED IT YOU FILTHY ANIMAL – that kind of thing.  Now, my alphabetti crochetti font is far from perfect – and I’m sure some of the letters need a bit more development, but I thought I’d give you a sneak peek to whet your appetite, so here are some pics.

i love gin

This one is autobiographical

Alphabetti Crochetti A

Gimme an ‘A’.

Alphabetti Crochetti R

Gimme an ‘R’

Alphabetti Crochetti S

Gimme an ‘S’

Alphabetti Crochetti G

Gimme a ‘G’

Alphabetti Crochetti H

Gimme an ‘H’

And what does it spell? …. ARSGH. Oh.

Christmas Tree Granny

I just thought I’d drop in to quickly show you what I’ve been working on recently. This is my Pine Fresh Christmas Tree Square worked into a cushion cover. The colour way is… unusual, but I wanted to steer clear of more tradish Christmas combos in favour of something a little more me.  The finished result will be available on my stall at Johnny Loves June’s Christmas Bazaar on 8th December in Shoreham by Sea. Well, it will if I can prise myself away from the computer and get on with backing it!

Oh HI

I’ve often wondered what it would be like to try and teach someone to crochet, like face-to-face. A few things put me off, namely the fact that I thought it would be really really really difficult. Not because crochet is difficult because the basic stitches are not, but because I am self-taught, and I suspect that a lot of my solutions are not The Proper Solutions.  Someone recently asked me whether I do American or UK crochet, and I looked at them as if they’d just asked if I like my monkey brains broiled or braised, because I had no idea there was a difference. I am someone who learns by trying stuff with my own hands, I enjoy riffing with my hook, and for that reason I spend most of my time making things up rather than following other people’s patterns. I didn’t think anyone would really want to learn my cock-eyed techniques, but the more blogging I’ve done the more people have asked.

Recently I decided to give it a go and so I gathered a group of friends in a local pub with some hooks and some cheap double knit yarn. Crafting in public is always such a weird and exhilarating experience. I spend a good deal of time surrounded by people, online  and off, who craft pretty much daily and it’s easy to forget that not everyone does it. I am always surprised by the force of people’s reactions. So many people find the whole idea HILARIOUS and treat it like a kind of performance, standing over me (IN MY LIGHT), hovering there for a minute of two before asking ‘What you knittin’?’ It’s good that people are curious about it. I suppose seeing people out crocheting might encourage others to give it a go and that can only be a good thing but it is an odd feeling, especially when the bloke standing above you is very drunk indeed and, I suspect, using the situation as an excuse to have a good stare down your top.

I decided to try and teach my first group how to make a simple granny square, after all, if you can make a granny square you can make all sorts of things. I brought along some samples, spare hooks, loads of yarn and my favourite craft book, Ye Olde Faithful The Complete Encyclopaedia of Stitchcraft, by Mildred Graves Ryan, because if I am going to use a book, this is the one I usually go for. I had no idea, until I started trying to break it down for someone else, just how much I do without thinking. Explaining was hard, especially in a pub, with bad lighting, but I was not ready for the incredible satisfaction I felt when everybody got 3 rounds finished successfully. They have all done SO WELL, and I am really proud. It was worth all the prep, and the headache, definitely.

 

Since that first lesson it seems everyone has been crocheting at home and thinking about what they might like to make with their squares! I’m thinking we might get together regularly, and I am teaching another workshop again soon, this time for a small, paying crowd. So I was wondering…

How many of you have had crochet lessons of any sort?

Did you enjoy it?

What did you learn, and, ahem, how much did it cost?