Monday, 30 March 2015

Weekender Blanket Along with Cherry Heart

Happy weekend folks,

Hope you are all fine and dandy this Sunday.  It is a wet and windy afternoon in my part of the world - a day for hunkering down - perfect for cosy crafting.  I thought that I would share progress on my Target Square blanket which I've been crocheting this month.  I thought it would be fun to join in the 'Weekender Blanket along' that Sandra was hosting on her lovely blog and had great plans for progress over the month.

I've enjoyed the simple rhythm of making these squares - they don't require a great deal of thought or concentration and you can feel quite productive working away in a quiet fashion.  I've now crocheted 78 squares (although no ends are sewn in).  The colours are reminiscent of the sea and contain some of my favourite hues and of course many of you will recognise them from Lucy's lovely Coastal blanket pack.  

While I was playing around with placing the squares I decided to omit a couple of the colours - just for my personal taste.  I'm really happy with how these colours work together and hope to complete the blanket by the end of April.

I had made a start on this blanket before Sandra announced the "Blanket Along" but had only completed 21 squares and so have made progress in those interim weeks - which was all that was required to join in!!!  I had set myself the target of 8 squares each week of March.

Excellent.  I've managed to achieve one of my many goals on the crafting front this month!

There are some gorgeous blanket creations being shared at the blanket along on Cherry Hearts Ravelry group so if you haven't looked yet I'm sure you'll see some inspirational crochet when you have a spare moment.  There is also a voting system as Sandra is so kindly giving a prize to one lucky winner!  I feel lucky to have been involved, even in a small way with such an inspirational, creative community.  A big thank you to Sandra for providing the motivation!

I will need to order another pack of coastal colours to complete my blanket - it's going to be a big one and can't wait to share more progress with you over the coming weeks.

J9 x

Monday, 23 March 2015

Tough Times & a Promise

I am increasingly aware that across the world many people are faced with challenges which may seem insurmountable.  Many people struggle daily behind closed doors with issues far worse than mine and I wish everyone the strength and fortitude to manage and overcome such trials.  In writing this post I am in no way seeking sympathy but purely documenting elements of my Every Day.

It is true however, that the month of March has been an immense struggle for me both physically and emotionally.  Scheduled hospital visits, weekly blood tests, a visit to A & E combined with brain fog, uncontrollable pain and real incapacity have left me exhausted and ready for a week of rest.  I am recovered enough to enjoy such a week.  A week to hide away from pretending to the outside world that I am OK.  Where I can curl up and allow myself to rest completely.  Sometimes I know I need to force myself to go out and push through.  On occasions I know that it is my own four walls called HoME that will help my mind and soul most of all.

Next week the school breaks up for the Easter holidays and so I have given myself permission to have a completely indulgently restful week starting today.

I don't plan to go anywhere - except seeing a friend on Wednesday for a birthday lunch.  I have the normal school drops and pick ups to do, plus after school clubs but I have nothing beyond that.  I need a week where I can retreat to the sanctuary of my home during those 6 hours of school each day.  In order to rest and recuperate without self inflicted feelings of guilt I am declaring it as a "Plan".

In the spirit of maximising this rest I thought that I would fully commit to my week of leisure through a series of promises.  Accordingly, this week I promise to...

::  indulge in some leisurely crochet... ...ideally in PJ's

::  practice meditation techniques to help with my fatigue and calm my mind...

::  enjoy spring flowers in my home...

::  enjoy quiet times with my family...

::  to refocus on gratitude for the Simple Things that bring happiness to my life.

I hope you all have a positive week and that you are able to embrace the things that will bring balance and health to you in the week ahead.

J9 x

Wednesday, 4 March 2015

A Big Adventure

Little Lady returned home to me today after her first independent intrepid adventure.  She had been on school camp - leaving on Monday morning and returning home at 3pm today.  We had no contact other than a general text from school each day to confirm all was well.

It was the first time she has stayed away from me overnight excepting when I've been in hospital so it was a big step for us all.  An opportunity to grow and learn.

Of course she absolutely bloomed.  We prepared, packed, planned... all to ease this transition.

Little Man has really missed his sis.  They have a very lovely relationship of which I am really proud.  It is helped by the fact that she is not a girly girl.  By far she prefers to run, climb trees and be outdoors and so they have played together from the start with only 21 months between them.

She is home now and tucked up in bed.  Happy and exhausted.  Feeling all grown up yet grateful to be home.  I feel enormously happy to have my family back together under the same roof again.  I shall kiss her forehead before I sleep and revel in the fact that she is safely back with us.

For her a big step forward in emotional growth; embraced wholeheartedly and stored as a treasured memory of her childhood.

Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Pretty Me & Make Me Challenge ~ February

Regular readers of this blog will know that I have committed to stop my procrastination and commit to a 'Pretty Me' project and a 'Make Me' challenge each month.

I am still working on my Pretty Me project for January (doh) and my first Make Me project had overrun slightly so I need to select a relatively quick project from my long list to complete within the rest of the month and thereby catch up.  Sooo...

Pretty Me ~ February

I had a quick win recently - a neighbour was skipping this trunk.

As you can see it's a little battered - the lid is split and the clasps are rusting but there is still function in this trunk. I asked the neighbour if I could rescue it and he looked at me as if I was mad!!  I could see some use in it so thanked him profusely and the trunk came home with me.

I have a purpose for this in mind - to house board games in our lounge so they are easily accessible by all but not stacked on tables in full view all the time.  I think a bit of paint and wall paper will soon pretty this old trunk up!

Make Me ~ February

I purchased Lucy's Coastal Colours pack from the Wool Warehouse online.  These colours are all my favourite tones - I do really like the look of them all together and they are so reminiscent of the sea.  My hands are a real problem at present and I have been long wanting to make some of Sandra's gorgeous mitts.  They should be a quickish and purposeful make.

Obviously it's now early March so I hope to finish this quickly for a crafty win and to get me back on track for some of my larger projects! In the short term though these should be two very enjoyable and rewarding projects. I look forward to the creative process and sharing the results with you soon.

J9 x

If you would like to look at my previous Ta Dah posts on the Make Me and Pretty Me challenges just click on the link below:

Friday, 27 February 2015

Five on Friday

Happy Friday Folks!  Firstly, thank you for your kind thoughts and support on my recent posts.  I really appreciate each and every one of them and they have given me a lift when I needed it most.

Due to my health, I've had a lot more time online this week (as I've not been able to do a lot else).  I've enjoyed blogging a bit more regularly although I've not enjoyed not being able to craft - especially crochet.  The steroids are doing their thing though and I've improved so much since Wednesday.  I'm really positive about this new phase of managing my chronic conditions over time.

Today, I was catching up on some of your lovely blogs and realised that Amy is holding a Five on Friday linky party.  I know for a while that she has been working on doing this type of theme with a range of bloggers but somehow missed her first party last week.  Amy is such a genuine, friendly and supportive blogger I simply had to join in!

As you may have realised, I'm not up to much presently but thought you may like to see my Matryoshka Doll collection - my Five on Friday.  My little dolls I'm sharing here are a mixture of carefully crafted traditional sets and modern takes on the theme.  There is just something about them which I completely love.

Wikipedia  explains a bit of the history - A matryoshka doll also known as Russian nesting doll, refers to a set of wooden dolls of decreasing size placed one inside the other. The first Russian nested doll set was made in 1890. 

::  #1

This is probably my favourite set gifted to me by my lovely Mum as she knows I have a weakness for them!

They are much more rotund in shape - wider at the base and smaller at the head than my other sets.  These are painted beautifully; their faces are super pretty and the scene on the middle is wonderfully detailed with highlights in gold.  

There are 8 dolls in the set and the smallest is as small as my finger nail.  

They are currently housed on my dresser in the kitchen and bring me a little pleasure each day. 

::  #2

This set is really colourful - an unusual shade of dark blue as the main colour.  My Mum gave these to me one Christmas - as I love blue, flowers and Russian dolls!!  These are the shapes that are more widely available although I have never seen another mainly blue set.  The smallest doll is tiny and doesn't stand on its own.  I usually keep it inside the larger doll so it doesn't get lost. I especially like their cheerfulness, rosy cheeks and jolly colours.  These also form part of my current display on my kitchen dresser.

::  #3

These were a gift from my sister and actually started life as bottle stoppers!  I knew that I would never use them for that purpose but really liked them.  To make an effective use of them I chopped off the cork stopper bits and simply use the doll parts for display.  These are resin and don't nest but I love the pastel colours and their size is super cute.  The largest one is not even 2 inches tall!!

::  #4

This set I picked up at a charity shop for pennies - mainly because at the time my Littlie's were obsessed with putting my other sets of the dolls in and out of their nesting sets.  I hadn't wanted my favourite set (which is a little more delicate) to get damaged and so picked this up as it was more robust.

I later found that each of the nesting dolls were painted differently - initially I was attracted to the strategically placed strawberries!  I love how the smaller dolls have flowers painted on the top of their heads - so cute.  I adore their simplicity and natural charm.

::  #5

These are my most modern type of Matyroska themed decoration.  I really like them - they are functional and pretty.  The blue and green shades in the background of the two larger tins are my two most favourite colours.  I bought them for myself in a little shop in Wadebridge in Cornwall probably 10 years ago and they are still one of my favourite purchases.

I wouldn't part with any of these Matryoska sets.  Not for their financial worth but for their sentimental value and their suitability to my taste in decor.  I hope too that they will prompt memories of happy play times for my children in the future.

Hopefully next Friday I'll be able to share with you my latest Works In Progress - yes there are currently five of them.  Naughty me!!!  I'm hopeful that my hands will be able to crochet tomorrow given the present level of improvement.  Each project is at a different stage of development but I hope to make some progress in the days ahead!

I do hope you have a wonderful weekend.  Take care, 
J9 x

Joining in with Amy and her Five on Friday Linky Party

Thursday, 26 February 2015

LUPUS - Onwards and Upwards

This year has had a challenging start for me health wise.  Over the last six months I've been having lots of tests, MRI scans, steroid injections into joints and various treatments in order to manage my condition and to establish exactly what is going on with my fluctuating health.

The additional diagnosis of Lupus SLE and Sjrogrens Syndrome recently provided hope in that additional medication may help with managing my symptoms.  Various things have been ongoing since September 2014 which led to this diagnosis.  It is likely that I have had these conditions for well over two years as it seems my initial diagnosis of Rheumatoid Arthritis was incorrect and in fact those symptoms were due to the former conditions.

My health had been going into flare for the past few weeks and the week after the half term holidays (during which I couldn't pace effectively) has left me largely bed bound.  I had another hospital appointment yesterday and am back on a course of steroids and also starting another medicine which hopefully will manage more of the conditions of my Lupus and my current flare.  I'm positive about the potential of this medication.  All of these conditions are thought to have been caused by the trauma of my accident and there is still so much to learn about the connections of our central nervous system / brain and physical conditions.  These are always complicated by my other orthopaedic health issues but an accurate diagnosis and medication targeted to help that should be a positive addition to my medication regime!!!  This new medication will take 12 weeks to take effect during which time the additional slow release steroid injection I was given into my muscles should help ease my symptoms until these new meds can do their work.  

I'm so fortunate to have a wonderfully understanding husband and two children to get up for each day.  It forces me to focus on pushing through many of my symptoms and I rest when they are at school/ work etc yet stops me from giving in.  Pain, mobility of my limbs and clawing of my hands and feet have been a real issue and seeming to increase in severity over recent years and it was the Hubby that pushed me for referrals to more Consultants.  I'm glad he did as it has led to these additional diagnosis which I feel positive about and the opportunity to medicate some debilitating symptoms is fantastic.

A 20 question depression test. Stay Positive #quotes:
Things can always be worse and I know many people have health issues far more challenging than mine but I felt that my health is interwoven into the make up of this blog and is a factor in my everyday and hence, a post documenting these challenges may help someone else suffering feel less isolated.  Remember to be kind to yourselves.  Take care,

J9 x

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Make Me January ~ Ta Dah!!!!

Way back in November, the wonderful Sandra of Cherry Heart posted about her newest pattern the "Painted Roses Blanket".  Right then I knew that I had to make it!  I had been wanting to crochet something for my mum and this was exactly what I had been looking for!

I've shared the process of this creative journey here and here and finally the blanket is complete.  I am so very pleased with it - and my mum was delighted when it was presented to her during the half term holidays.

So... shall I show you?!

Ta Dah!!!

The weight of it is so comforting - with the teddy throw sewn to the crochet blanket.  It provides substantial warmth and is pretty and functional!!

I added buttons to the centres of some of the painted roses - partly because they look pretty and partly because it helped to attach the fleece backing to the crochet front.

This combined with the edging teeny weeny flowers around the whole painted roses squares means the fleece blanket is attached thoroughly.  I sewed the fleece to the red single crochet stitches using red embroidery thread. This meant that the fluted edging is not backed but it frames the blanket well giving a little more drape.

I added a very homemade label to the back - embroidered with 'Made with Love' and Nov - Feb 2015.  I haven't hand sewn in a while and it certainly showed but it held a simple charm - especially with it being a vintage, embroidered coaster originally.

I love it.  And have loved making it.  I've enjoyed every step actually.  I'm hooked again and really want to start my next crochet project imminently!!!

As you can see with the number of photos!!  Before I gave it away I had a real play with photographing it.  The trouble being that there has been very little sunshine here so they were all taken indoors...

Sandra also shared her painted roses cushion made in more muted tones which I really love and is a less time consuming project.  I definitely think I'll make one soon - although I have two other crochet projects already on the hook!  I can't recommend this pattern enough and I hope you have enjoyed seeing my finished blanket.  Take care lovely people, 

J9 x