Dipping my toes in again

Milky coffee and a good autumnal day by the fire
Hello my friends, it's been a while, hasn't it?  I dare not even think how long.  How have you been? Well, I hope and sorry for not being around to check in on you, read your blogs or pop in to say hello.  I've been hibernating, taking stock, trying to rest my short stumpy legs from all the running around that this crazy wonderful world we live in demands and try to walk at a slower pace.

Grab a coffee or maybe something stronger, I confess to sitting here with a milky coffee today and a slab of chocolate to keep me company.  I've been crying on and off for the past hour pondering, wondering if I dare dip my toes back into blogging.  I've missed you and all that you bring but am not sure how ready I am to be back.

However, we are fast approaching one of my favourite times of year and the reason that this blog began (Why I blog) and so I have this uncontrollable urge to come back but I am not sure that as in previous years I would be able to do the blog justice and blog every day in December.  I do not promise but if I can and it feels right then I will.  Can you forgive me my indecisiveness?

Taking a selfie is really not natural, is it?
2017 has been a mixture of just being, observing, happiness and successes, sadness, illness and even several funerals have taken place.

An odd year; one that saw my daughter turn into an adult and revisit Kenya, having raised yet another astonishing amount of money with her peers and tried to give back to those that are not as fortunate as she. (Ella's Kenyan thank you)  Only days later, on returning home, she left home, albeit in a gentle controlled manner, to that of university.  I am so immensely proud of her but grateful that I do not suffer the feeling of empty nest syndrome; my mother always taught me, that we only 'borrow' our children and if we have been lucky they will return of their own accord.  So I wait and see, but I think we'll be ok.

This year too saw the passing of close friends and family and made me take stock of how we live our lives.  The celebration of life and memories are so very important.

This year too saw me stop crafting for several months, something that I do not think has ever happened and I am still not back to being the avid photographer and record keeper of images.  Again though, all these things are creeping slowly back into my life like a breath of fresh air and I think I will be the better and stronger designer for it, or so I hope!

And lastly this year has seen a reoccurring knock to my health which now in reflection has had a detrimental effect on my feeling of self-worth and self-esteem, but being able to commit this now to paper, or should I say the world wide web, I feel as if I am coming out of this forced break and better for it.  I do believe I have always been a glass half full gal and these past months I think I could have slipped into the depths of something deep, but I did not, I just needed good old fashioned rest from the demands, albeit self-inflicted of
the social media world we now live in.

Christmas cookies are a
huge tradition in Norway
Phew... are you still here... if you are then take a big sip of something and congratulate yourself on making it here.  Let's be more cheery, shall we?


I have begun to dip my toes back into crafting and I hope to share with you some of my successes in the coming days and now that I am finally sitting here at the keyboard, I'm excited to share with you my passion for the Christmas season, will you pop along and join me?  there will be recipes for sure, what Norwegian home would not have freshly made cookies to share, so I promise you that if nothing else, images from past years may give you an idea of what to expect...









The most popular cookie at Christmas in Norway are 'pepperkake'


Pepperkake are the Scandinavian's version of ginger cookies


Melt in the mouth cookies are a big hit at Christmas


Some cookies work well with a smear of butter too!


Revisiting these photographs has definitely spurred me on!  Bring on December 1st, I say, not that I am wishing my life away you understand...




Until next time my friends, I have an inkling it may only

be a day or two away, yes, I think I am BACK!       ♥








Honesty

May 8th


Grab a coffee or perhaps something much stronger, maybe bring some nibbles, this could take a while, I have seven weeks worth to get off my chest!  Stay with me if you please, I've missed you.  Right I've cracked open the wine,  cheers to us!

For as long as I can remember I have taken photographs.  I was fascinated by the cine camera pappa had when I was a child and as soon as I was able I looked from behind a lens.  Do you remember the days when we had to either use a dark room or send the film off in a canister to the Kodak factory and wait patiently for a week or so for the photographs to come back?  In my case so many, the majority I suspect were terrible; heads cut off and the perfect view that was sought was blurred on film.  We did not have the technology to see the result there and then nor in my case the finances to snap away happily photo after photo.  I dread to think how much it would cost today if I had to print every photo I took.

Why am I writing about this now?  And how does this relate to the title, Honesty?

It has been 7 weeks since I looked at this blog or the associated emails and it got me thinking, why do I blog?  I have asked this question to myself before and more to the point why do I occasionally step back, all be it unintentionally? Being grateful

So my train of thought went something like this...

I've been busy... I've been tired...I couldn't summon up the energy...I lost my making mojo...I did not know what to blog...I have too many WIPs and don't know which to pick up first...Maybe I'll just start something new... perhaps I should do something completely different... spent time looking at other's creations and sighing at how great they were and why was I bothering when there is so much talent out there...blogging is hard work...I couldn't fit it in with everything else...something had to give...

                   ...you get my drift...

I am not here asking for sympathy I just want to be honest.  When I look back at the month of April, my photograph folder for that month is totally empty.  This has NEVER happened to me before and to be honest (well, this is a post about honesty after all) I was quite shocked about it.  My husband would not believe it if I told him.  Years ago, we were lucky to take a sabbatical for a year where I documented everything by photographs, so much so that the family at first became annoyed and irritated by being followed by a camera to in the end not really noticing it.  On return home, my photographs (thousands! of them) proved useful in memory jogging and have been used for many presentations, John became reluctantly grateful for my photography and said as much.  Photos and images are important to me, perhaps that is why for a long time now Instagram is my favourite social media.

So back to being honest.  We live in a fast-paced 24-hour society which whether we like it or not is here to stay.  We share our lives online from what we eat for breakfast to our pets favourite sleeping positions, I mean who really wants to know?  Looking at my IG account in the last 3 years I have posted 1400 images of which 22% were of food that I was about to consume, I mean really?!?!?

This constant feed of images and people's opinions, and for me as I love crafting, the constant reminder of fabulous makes and inspiration have taken its toll and I am or should I say was, as I think I am coming out of it, totally bombarded and overwhelmed by information.  My brain was fogged up and I could not take any excess information in that if it did not feed into my immediate day to day life it had to go.

I looked at all these inspirational makers out on the www of whom I respect and wonder how do they fit it all in?  Photos are styled to perfection, people are trend setters or quick to be on trend that I couldn't keep up after all my short stumpy legs were never designed for running and yet that was what I seemed to be doing.  I do remember one comment on this blog, someone told me I lived the perfect life.  I replied that I only showed the good bits and why would I want to photograph the house when it looked like a hurricane had passed through or indeed about mundane things.  I continued that I only showed what I felt comfortable showing and that invariably it was the 'nice' aspects of life.  I am totally sure this is true for all the people I admire and respect but it is so easy to loose sight of it. It makes me realise how impressionable we all are even when we think we are strong.  So what chance do the younger generation have being born into this 24 hour instant 'selfie' society that we have become?

Not wanting to drop any important balls in my life of the constant juggling or make any disastrous mistakes I think blogging and making took an unconscious side step to enable me to breathe and continue life at a fast walk rather than a sprint.

Often people tell me I am busy, but I look around and think they are just as busy as I.  But then my sister said earlier this year when she feels stressed she just thinks about my life and realises she's not stressed.

Ouch, that hurt.

I don't/didn't feel stressed but perhaps life was all too consuming.  I'm a pleaser, can you tell, I don't want to let anyone down... and yet perhaps I was letting myself down.  As my husband reminded me this weekend, my strength lies in working and not necessarily in thinking, so this hiatus of not creating and blogging has invariably been immediately filled with other things (boat choring for the past 8 weekends springs to mind) so I still have not had the time to think and sort out where everything fits in  my life and how to better manage it all and achieve at the same time.  Maybe I shouldn't think and just plod along as fast as my stumpy legs will carry me.

I feel like I am coming out of the other end and so hopefully I will be blogging all the more frequently in the near future. I am no closer to knowing how best to continue but this 'rest' seems to have worked and my tired mind and body are slowly recovering and ready to crack on.   But here is a question for you... how do you fit everything in?

I seem to have finished my glass of red, you were great company and I thank you, hope you had an interesting time too. Until next time...



“We may encounter many defeats but we must not be defeated.” – Maya Angelou







Teaching ha!

March 23rd 

After trying to get together with the talented Helen from The Colour House for over a year we finally managed to pinpoint a date and despite potential illnesses afoot we did get it together.  Was the wait worth it, well yes and no!

We had decided to share our passions and talents, first up would be me, teaching Helen to crochet and later on, we hope that she will help me to continue my journey with felt.  In prepping for our meeting I stalked her Instagram ~  Helen on IG and decided that as she had informed me she was not interested in making blankets and cushions, that amigurumi would be the way forward. Seeing how cacti featured numerous times on her IG account, I decided that would be what she would learn to make first.  Ambitious, no of course not, she says in hindsight through gritted teeth and after several glasses of vodka to calm the nerves so to speak.  Are you beginning to realise where this post is going...

The below photos are pinched from Helen's IG to give you an idea why I chose cacti...

Helen is a whizz on the sewing machine, here she is
making a lampshade cover with applique cacti

Both glass and felted cacti made by Helen

They multiplied on her craft room window

Her goodies from a craft swap from the crochet guru Flo and Dot

So I set to not having much experience myself with amigurumi and came up with these little cacti and hot-footed it over to the local indie garden centre to purchase some mini terracotta pots...

A simple rectangle made into a cactus
and the obligatory single large flower


True amigurumi crochet works in the round


A trio of cacti

This saw me driving on a beautiful spring morning the hour and a half drive towards Helen and me in search of her purple door.  A great indication of the explosion of colour and treats on which to feast my eyes on within her home.

Having never met or even spoken on the phone before we had so much to chat about that crochet was put to one side for the first hour.  I do believe we could have chatted all day.  And my goodness I could have strolled around her house for much longer.  She has so much colour and beauty in her home, she knows how to put things together, but I should not have been surprised she is one of my favourites to follow on IG.

Not being able to put it off any longer and after several hot beverages it was time for me to teach Helen to crochet, something she has wanted to do for many years, her mother spins, weaves, knits and crochets.  Hang on, why did her mother not then teach her...

"Oh, did I not say, I am left handed.."

"Ah, no, you did not," I replied sweetly,  thinking frantically,  'oh my gosh how is this going to work out, I have absolutely no idea about teaching a leftie.'  As my helpful husband mentioned late that same night, "Rookie mistake Selma, you should always check..."  Yes thank you, John, I realise that, but I hadn't.  And there I was standing in Helen's kitchen thinking, 'how hard can this be?'  Turns out, pretty dam hard actually.

Taking a deep breath and not trying to think that I was ambitious already in the make I had chosen to undertake with Helen, I was teaching her the magic circle for goodness sake on her first foray into the world of crochet, so I tried hard not to worry that she was, as she called it, cack-handed and with trembling hands I began to show her and to explain.  It was totally hopeless, Helen now tells me my face was a picture and she read it as 'Selma wants to be anywhere but here right now,'  she wasn't far wrong I have to say.

We tried everything, mirroring each other, sitting opposite, sitting side by side, taking it slowly, me repeating it many times, it was just not that simple.  But somehow through Helen's sheer determination and a lot of sweat glow dripping down my back and under my arms, Helen grasped the magic circle and the beginning of some stitches.  It took a long time, due in most part to my inability to work out how a left handed person works, the next time I will really research it because believe me, it is not straightforward mirroring or exactly the opposite of how a right handed person works. If I could have backed out of Helen's kitchen without being missed I would have run for the hills.  I would have given up and said it was hopeless, but Helen was determined and she cracked it.

Not only did Helen crack it but she has been watching online videos finding more cacti patterns and reading patterns all on her own after only limited amount of teaching from me.   She really is one clever crafty cookie and someone I am delighted to now call a friend.  Here's to a long and fun filled crafty relationship, Helen.


Helen's first crochet cactus

A great first crochet project, well done Helen

In case you fancy crocheting some cacti, here are a few patterns I found online whilst researching...

Magic circle right handed

Magic circle left handed

Cacti page there is a translate button on the page!




I was totally out of my comfort zone 
and learnt a lot teaching Helen  

Embellishments

February 28th

Crocheted gift ribbon and embellishments
I am rubbish at wrapping gifts, years ago before children I spent ages making my gifts look beautiful but over the years that has fallen by the wayside until recently.  I am a yarn addict and am happy with either a crochet hook or knitting needles in my hand, so along came the idea to embellish my gift in yarn adorned mini makes.

It began with making the gift ribbon and then having fun with the little motives.  This can be personalised to the recipient, from bottles of wine to work tools, cars, diggers and more girlie items such as flowers and hearts.  Your imagination is your only limit when it comes to this. Below are some of mine that I have made recently.





Puff flower - crochet embellsiment

With Easter just around the corner, make some
cute bunnies to add to the crochet gift ribbon

This month's Little Box of Crochet, I could not
resist embellishing this rainbow addition too!


To make the gift ribbon I ensure I have the box or wrapped package to hand and then chain enough to cover once around with maybe 3 chains spare as the overlap and for connecting.  Depending on the size of the gift determines for me the stitch used, the smaller the gift the smaller the stitch, this is so it does not overpower.  I then crochet whichever stitch I have decided upon into each chain.  Once that is complete I take a contrasting colour and dc (UK) sc (US) on each side so that the ribbon effectively has 3 stripes.  Sometimes as with the Little Box of Crochet I actually slip stitched along either edge, just depends on the look you want.   To complete the ribbon itself I either sew the ends together or crochet them with slip stitches.  I tend to then place the ribbon on the package and then sew the motives onto the ribbon in situ making sure I have them placed on the gift exactly where I want.

Choosing the motives is fun and there are so many to be found on the internet, I will let you find your own.  Hope I have given you an idea or a spark, let me know if you give this a try.


 How do you gift wrap your presents?


Amigurumi

February 24th

I was asked..."Can you make this, please?"
Amiigaarami, no amicurami, no that's not right it's ami something, ah amigurumi!  It took me months to get this word right, spell check had not heard of it and so my initial efforts back in 2014 of trying to find out what this form of crochet was all about was impeded by my lack of spelling ability.

I was asked by a large company if I could make a mascot for their environmental week to raise awareness of recycling and could I please make it so he looked like the orange and green drawing you see here on this blog post.  My first commission and I immediately screeched yes me, me, me replied calmly, of course, I could before they realised their mad fool mistake of asking a complete amigurumi novice.

So what is amigurumi?  It's a form of crochet believed to have originated in Japan and is hugely popular.  Think cute little-stuffed toys, often with large eyes and you get the picture.  Obviously, over the years it has developed and now is seen all over the internet, (on Instagram alone there are almost 1.5 million hashtags devoted to amigurami, you just cannot get away from it.  So what is it?  Amigurumi is a mash of two Japanese words ami meaning crocheted or knitted and gurimi meaning stuffed doll or toy.  This encompasses people and even inanimate objects now.

My first amigurumi, meet Eric the Hero

Amigurumi is mostly crocheted as knitted items can stretch whereas crochet tends to have a denser thicker consistency.  As long as you can do the basic crochet stitches and the all important magic circle, no it's not from Harry Potter, and can stuff things evenly, you laugh but a lumpy stuffed toy is no joke and it happens.  If you can sew in loose threads then you can crochet in the amigurumi style. Oh and it helps if you can master the invisible decrease too, really no, this is not something from the school of Hogwarts.


You cannot see it but Eric the
amigurimi also had a swishing cape
hidden behind his paunch of a belly
Most items in this style are crocheted in the round to allow the 3D shape to magically form in your hands,  It really is quite an exciting process seeing something take shape that is not flat.


An amigurumi doll from the Little Box of crochet, here a
beautifully completed one by the talented Kate of Just Pootling
and mine to the right, these boxes are great for travelling as
everything you need is to hand, here I am at an airport.


Amanda has also included several amigurumi's in her
monthly crochet box sets, including this Baby box


The reason for the post is that today I travel to the South West to teach a beginner crocheter how to construct yarn into a 3D shape. I am both nervous and excited at the same time. I have been teaching crochet for two years so that is nothing new, but I have never taught amigurumi. Eek!

Last minute preparations for teaching amigurumi 

Hoping you have enjoyed my 5 amigurumi photos and I leave you finally with the thought:   here's to continued learning for all of us, tomorrow it will be me in teaching something new and for the student learning something completely different.  




Wish us luck 

Joining in with Amy sharing my five with you.  Have a great week x

Teaching Classes

February 17th

Next week sees me teaching two different crochet classes.  Part of the enjoyment is working out what I'll teach, making a model to show and sometimes the half completed almost here's one I made earlier Blue Peter model.


On the Tuesday cake and crochet night, this course will focus on the ladies completing projects they have already begun as well as each week I will teach them how to make a 'small' item.


We will have the current CAL by Lucy over at Attic 24, the gorgeous Moorland blanket, mine is almost complete, just the border to go.  Look at those colours and the way they migrate from one colour scheme to another...


Moorland crochet blanket modelled by Pip

A couple of ladies are still crocheting the Scheepjes CAL from 2016 and are making an excellent blanket learning many new stitches along the way.  Unfortunately, I no longer have my model blanket to show them, but they have all seen it,  it's now been gifted to my sister.

Some of the crochet squares for the Scheepjes Cal of 2016


The small item for this week will be how to make crochet triangles and make a mini bunting, here is my show and tell piece at the blocking stage.


Mini bunting 

On Friday I travel towards the South West to teach crochet to a beginner who is keen to learn how to crochet in the amigurumi style.  I've prepared some cacti for us to make...


A trio of crocheted cacti


And also classic crocheting in the round, some easy to make balloons, these make great cake toppers by the way


Crochet mini balloons

I still have to decide which cake to bake for the Tuesday class any suggestions?


Joining in with Amy hoping you enjoyed my 5 teaching crochet projects and you all have a great week end ♥  


Galentine Day

February 13th   

supersize crochet
Happy Galentine's Day  Some of you will know to that which I am referring but if like me this is the first you've heard of it, let me explain.

The past few years the day before Valentine's day has become an increasingly popular day to celebrate girl's friendships.  I am ALL for that. For more information see here

Today unwittingly I made myself a deep red handbag, thinking I was gifting a little Valentine present to myself, him in doors and I don't really 'do' the commercial forced lovely dovey thing, I've now come to realise that I have actually on Galantine's day made myself a 'girl' bag.  I'm so in tune with the world, I didn't even know it!

The yarn which is of the t-shirt variety has a lot of 'give' or elastic you may call it and must not be crocheted too tightly, loose hooking is called for.  I was actually making something else this morning with it, but realised that it was becoming a spectacular fail.  Enjoying hooking with this Boodles yarn, I thought to try it out as a bag.  With no pattern and just my imagination an hour later and a rummage through my crafting cupboard to find the acrylic see through handles that I bought years ago but have never had the need for, I had my very own bag and I must say I'm a little bit in love with it.

I used hdc as it's quick to give height and fast to hook up


acrylic handles


Within 15 minutes of completion, it was put in use




Supersize crochet bag


Happy Galentine and Valentine Day wherever you are


PS  Anyone know what has happened to Boodles yarn?  Bought mine a few years ago and today when googling them the site was not available?