New project! 

The logical thing to do when you have things you’ve been commissioned to make is, of course, to find a pattern you love and have to start IMMEDIATELY.

I’m working in Caron Simply Soft again in Ocean, which is a beautiful shade, and, like all Simply Soft, has a lovely sheen to it. This time I’m following a pattern from “Modern Crochet Shawls and Wraps” by Laura Strutt. It’s a fabulous book with endless patterns I want to make, using a selection of yarns, including acrylics which always makes  me happy, as I feel it’s a good thing to put across patterns as accessible to all people. 

I’m working with a Drops Circus crochet hook and considering they’re under £2 per hook, they’re really lovely to work with. There are several ways of holding crochet hooks – and the working yarn, and personally I find mine most comfortable as below. 

Finding which way is most comfortable to hold your hook is really worth experimenting with, as it puts a lot of people off at the beginning being unsure about if they’re doing it “right”. Thing is, as long as you get the crochet to work for you, and you’re comfortable, that’s what matters. 

That might sound like really preaching basics but sometimes it’s worth going back to those basics to make sure crochet is working for you as best it can. 

Anyway, a happy yarny post. 

For The Love Of Carers

In the UK alone, 1 in 8 people are carers for family and friends. This is backbreaking, heartbreaking, unpaid work, stretching people to the limit. On top of the stress of everyday life, these people do something extraordinary, with little praise, acknowledgement or support.

Carers Allowance provides another challenge in itself, and something that should be helpful to carers causes almost more issues than being without it, putting people off applying for it, either because of the possible reduction of finances rather than balancing them, or because of the sheer confusion surrounding it. Getting exactly numbers, and information on what, where, how and who is sometimes just more stress to process. The system shouldn’t be this way, and thankfully there are several organizations out there working to help change it, and to guide people through the confusion.

I blog mainly about my health conditions and my non too shabby yarn collection, but the well being of carers is something very dear to my heart. My husband is my carer, and I have friends who are carers. Along with the struggles of being someone who needs caring for, we can’t lose sight of the amazing carers who give so much of themselves to keep us afloat. Without them life would be hard, and impossible, for so many people. And to make sure that life continues to function, they are often forced to sacrifice their own well being, risking physical and mental pain.

Whilst this may just be a little post on a little blog, thank you to all the carers out there. I love you, and you are all incredible.

Two finished projects!

I’m either on a roll or ill, but either way I’ve finished two projects in twenty four fours. 

The first was this gorgeous (I’m biased but it’s true!) baby blanket a friend commissioned that was an absolute joy to make. It took exactly a week, is made out of Caron Simply Soft and is so cheerful I almost wanted to put it on my wall instead. Am happy to type up the colour combo and the pattern if anyone would like them. 

The second item I’ve completed… This has been a labour of love. I’ve been working on it for longer than I care to admit, in drips and drabs, loving the yarn and knowing the finished item will be worth it, but also wishing it would magically complete itself! It still needs blocking to show off each of the many points (the curled side shown) but that will have to wait as it’s SW Merino and I need some wool soak. However it still shows off the yarn so beautifully I’m thrilled with it even now. This is approximately 160g of two skeins dyed by one of my favourite independent dyers in a colourway themed on one of my favourite things. I wonder if anyone can guess. <strokes owl>

Now I just need to wait for cooler weather to enjoy it. That’s the only downside to being a crafter – you make so many things you love, most of which can only be used for half the year!

Chronic Migraine

One of the most debilitating conditions I suffer from in my ever increasing list is chronic migraine. And by chronic, I mean constant. Constant. It never goes away. Some medications help muffle it a bit, but it is always there.

I’ve suffered with migraines since I was a child, although they weren’t recognized as such until I was in my teens. To complicate the matter I have several strands of different migraines, all of which function in different ways, and are triggered by different things. Sounds fun, right?

Let’s clear something up. Migraines and headaches are not the same thing, and it drives me absolutely potty when the words are used interchangeably. Headaches – somewhat annoying, a bit painful, can range up to needing to lie down. Headaches are frustrating for sure, and certainly not something I’d wish on anyone, as there’s nothing worse than head pain, seeing as there is not real way to rest your head.

Migraines, however, are so much more than a headache.

The first sign of a flare I get is my neck. My neck clicks frequently, but when I’ve got a migraine starting it feels just like it needs to click…. Except no amount of clicking stops it hurting. Then the drilling starts. By drilling, I mean the pain in the center of my head that feels like the vibration and pain of what, after all these years, I’m bloody certain a drill going into the middle of your head would feel like. Then the blur comes across my eyes, like everything is misty. The nausea, so strong I’m sure I’m going to vomit, and have done in the past. The weakness and dizziness to the point of clutching walls and trying not to faint, which again, I have. The light sensitivity, unable to tolerate anything, clutching glasses to your face. Lack of appetite. Irritability. Brain Fog. Confusion. Lights in the sky. The throbbing in your head so hard you’re sure you’re visibly pounding. The electrical currents shooting through. The metal fuzzy feeling on both sides. My eyes so painful I wish I could take them out and put them in ice water. Six ice packs not being enough. The waves of pain. The trembling. Wanting to remove your head to clear out the painful fuzz. Not knowing how much longer you can take.

I could go on. The fact is, migraines impact almost every area of the body. I could cry just describing it. If someone tells you that they suffer with migraines, don’t think they’re making a fuss about a bit of a headache.

Create

Creating  is one of the most wonderful things I know. In a way it doesn’t matter what you’re creating, as long as the creation happens. My number one method of creating is with yarn, and there is something truly magical of watching what is effectively a ball of string turn into something, whether that be a scarf, a hat, a teddy, a blanket square, or one of the other millions of things you can crochet.

When you create something, it is so much more than just being about you. In a philosophical mindset, you are giving back to the world. We live in a very consumerist society, where taking is the default position. To return that, well – it’s quite awesome, to be honest.

There is also something so utterly heart warming about creating something for someone else. When you pick a gift for someone from a shop or store, it comes of course with all the love and effort you have put into it. But when you craft something for someone, or purchase something handcrafted, you are giving something made of magic and love itself. You are putting something, full of your time and energy and passion, out into the world, and passing it on to spread some happiness to other people.

Yes I know all of this sounds very cheesy. I never claimed to be either sane or sensible. But I truly believe that creating things, big or small, cheap or expensive, done in minutes or months; everything that is created is a work of art.

I’m currently working on this rainbow star baby blanket, which is so bright and cheery, the magic of creating something is really lifting me up. Knowing it will be wrapped around another human being (surely the most incredible creation of all) is a happy thought. I am loving these colours, and the yarn, which is Caron Simply Soft, is a yarn I’ve already mentioned loving working with.

In a previous post or several I’ve mentioned how crochet has really helped turn my life around, and it remains as true as ever. Even during periods of severely ill health, even if I can only manage a few stitches at a time, crochet keeps me smiling and letting out my creativity, which really makes the world a brighter place. Knowing I’m producing something tangible with my time is such a positive note for me.

So whether you make things every day, or whether you’ve decided to try something today for the first time – KEEP GOING! Let it move you and inspire you. Test new things! Don’t be afraid. Creativity has no limits.

Shout out to Cherry Plum Tree for the absolute beautiful creations I’m using to help my own creative happiness bloom. This wonderful yarn bag and matching purse to hold all my yarny bits makes me smile almost as much as crochet itself. I get comments on the bag as much as my own makes when I’m out and about, and there’s something wonderful about knowing you’re using someone else’s handmade wonders to hold your own. Stay wonderful Cherry Plum Tree ❤

 

via Daily Prompt: Create

Procraftination

Procraftination: it is a thing. You know how you plan to do all those things, or finish all those already started things that you’ve lost interest in? Or how you’re supposed to be doing something dull and boring and adulty but you end up making a hat instead? Procraftination. 

It’s certainly a phenomenon, but is it an issue, or simply the way the mind of a crafter works? Creative types tend to be a little bit less rigid with their plans (even if the perfectionist balances this out), so maybe it’s just who we are. 

Sometimes my partner will ask me what I’ve done for the day, and I have to answer that honestly, all I’ve done is search through patterns online for hours. I could win an award for the amount of patterns I see and decide I’m making, then start something else. It is a little ridiculous, but, alas, I am a Ravenclaw, so I can’t help it. 

I do think procractination has its benefits though. Without it, so many patterns wouldn’t exist. Projects wouldn’t be started or completed. Craft spaces would not be sorted. Beauty would not be made. As much as I’d love to claim to be organized (I am in theory, but then in my mind I’m also three dress sizes smaller and four inches taller) my brain simply has too many tangents to follow. All it takes is a word, and my brain locates a book reference, a song lyric, the colour it is and what pattern it reminds me of. Sounds cool – is actually useless. Does however put me firmly in the procraftination box. 

It doesn’t matter whether you have one project on the go or a dozen; roll with whatever the creative juices are flowing your way. What’s the worst that can happen? I still have seven projects on the go, but my mind is planning goodness knows how many more, even as I type. 

Picture is a pile of yarn I’ve been meaning to wind for weeks, but….. Procraftination. 

Caron Cakes – review

Like a large amount of the crafting community, I have been sucked in by the latest yarn craze of cakes. I’m looking forward to testing out a few of the other brands, but for now, I’ve tested out Caron Cakes. 

It’s been great fun. I must say I’m loving every single colourway Caron have currently got, and there’s a fair few! They’re wonderfully soft, with a fantastic balance of acrylic and wool (80% acrylic and 20% wool) which makes perfect for squishing. 

The yarn consistency is great. There are no thick and thin bits, which can sometimes be an issue with varigated and colour changes in yarns. I also haven’t yet come across any knots or breaks in the Cakes I’ve used, and although I admit that may be down to luck, from experience I have always found Caron a great brand for this. 

The only concern I had originally was the blunt colour changes. However in fact I think this has actually worked in its favour, as the blocks of colour it has resulted in have been really plesant, and certainly have encouraged me to want to test out more of the colourways. 

I hesitated to the beginning considering the price point. Again, I have certainly changed my view point as the one Cake has been able to provide a whole item that is not only comfortable to wear but is long enough to be practical.

All in all, I think Caron have done a wonderful job with these, and think they will be fantastic for yarn to make things as gifts and ALL THE THINGS for myself. 

Can’t wait to test out some more brand of cakes!

My first rapist.

From the title, I hope this post is clear to contain discussion of rape, sexual abuse, and an abusive relationship. If you’re not in the head or heart to read such a post please don’t feel guilty and move along happily.

I have been raped twice. I have been sexually abused. Emotionally abused. Physically abused. Financially abused. My life has been, upon much reflection, very traumatic. One of the reasons of keeping this blog is to increase my ability to speak about what I’ve been through, on top of the very important factor of letting people out there know they are not alone.

My first rapist was my first proper boyfriend. And he was abusive, although it took me nearly being killed by a later partner to see that much. He used to hit walls when things didn’t work out. Sometimes very close to my head. Sometimes he’d throw things or hit other things, but usually it was walls. And I’d get scared but then worry about him and try and focus on calming him down. Fucked up when I put it like that, right? Didn’t seem that way when I was that young.

When he raped me, I was asleep. I woke up, he was inside of me and on top of me, thrusting. I asked him to stop. He told me to stay still, and he’d be done in a minute. He put a hand on my chest and I stayed still, like he asked, until he’d finished.

People talk about fight or flight in a traumatic situation. But in reality there is fight, flight or freeze. I froze. And I stayed frozen, mentally, emotionally, for a long time. I didn’t know it at the time but that was when the PTSD really started. My reaction to what happened didn’t come out at him – just at everything else. The self hatred increased ten fold. Sleeping became a task. At one point I slept on the floor for months because being in bed was terrifying – but again, I was too young to understand my reactions myself.

The damage it caused, and that it still causes, is massive. It stops me from functioning normally. Four Little Words covered just some of how my PTSD impacts me. The issue with multiple traumas is that there are multiple triggers. Everywhere I turn there is something that can knock me for six, for days, weeks, sometimes even months. It’s painful just stepping outside. Or staying inside. Being awake, or being asleep.

My rape wasn’t a vicious hideous attack you see portrayed on TV programs, and that confused me. Deep down I knew something wasn’t right, and I actually spoke out about it… but was ‘backstabbed’ for lack of a better term, and was told if I went to the police, the person would support my rapist, and not me. That kept me quiet for almost a decade. Instead of speaking out, I continued the relationship, trying to work out what had happened to me, and what to do, both with the relationship, and with myself.

In the end, the emotional abuse became too much (a dear friend took my phone away at a new years party when my ex kept calling, saying he was going to kill himself unless I came back to him) and I walked away. I tried to stay friendly but in the end the combination of the underlying abuse, and the building PTSD, meant that I walked away. But it consumed over a year of my life, and now that thought alone makes me furious. The damage that man caused is on going.

Today I saw someone connected to that rapist. It has sent me into a spiral of both rage and hysteria, as is common with a PTSD attack. The flip side is that it has led me to – finally – be honest to people about who my rapist was. I’ve kept this card close to my chest, out of shame and fear of judgement. Certainly the fear of being believed. As many rape survivors feel, I’m sure.

Today has been a hideous day, but as I work on my trauma, I work on putting the power it holds behind me.

Triumph

When I was young(er – I refuse to accept my age is creeping upwards), I always had plans for my future. I knew I would have multiple triumphs in my life; it was a knowledge, not a hope. I knew that I would achieve – not in an arrogant way, just that I had to, to get to where I was going.

And then the world flipped upside down and I became ill.

Suddenly the triumphs I ‘knew’ would happen, became impossible.

Instead, my triumphs became the things I never considered things at all. Managing to send a text. Getting to the toilet alone. Waiting until I sat down before falling asleep. Sitting up by myself. Only sleeping for two whole days after doing any of these.

My reality totally changed when my body and mind collapsed. I went from studying, rowing, dancing, singing, reading, socializing and working, to…. nothing. That’s certainly how it felt. And so I had nothing to build on, which, on reflection, became the greatest thing. I had to restart my life. I had to begin again. I had to learn how to walk again properly, and how to walk with a stick and crutches. I had to learn how to talk properly (see Brain Fog) and think again properly, and learn to accept my new brain function. I had to make a tiny little triumphs every single day, doing things people wouldn’t consider to be things at all in order to keep moving forward. I had to grieve my old life and embrace my new one.

Doing that is my greatest triumph of all.

via Daily Prompt: Triumph

General Election Post

The upcoming election has a lot to do with being disabled in numerous ways, but what is with me most tonight is a genuine sense of panic of the hatred of people like me I will feel represented in every right wing vote. 

Under the last years of this government, the discrimination and detestation of the disabled population has increased dramatically, fueled largely due to Tory policies and the right wing press naming us as scroungers who were of course faking everything for the millions of pounds and all those free cars. Today someone – a middle aged man – walked straight into me deliberately, punching his fist into my arm. No apology. He kept on walking. And I was too scared to challenge him. 

Rather than a functioning number of the populous, we have become viewed as an insidious, disgusting entity, sucking money and resources out, without giving anything back, and simply rolling around with happiness. The reality is of course that people have died due to PIP cuts and changes, that social care cuts have left millions without support, and that the NHS is now so crippled it makes me look like an Olympic runner. 

I am genuinely terrified. I cannot see how it is possible to survive under a more brutal atmosphere than already constructed for another five years. The attitude towards disabled people makes me feel unworthy to even be here; it makes me feel paranoid of being spied on, worried my every move might prove me “not disabled enough” to show how ill I am. And gosh I wish those thoughts came from PTSD bit they really don’t. They come from years of an environment rippled with hatred and fear and anger directed in the wrong direction, spiraled cleverly and sprinkled with little words like “strong” and “stable” to make sure none of it could be the governments fault. Just those people in the corner. They’re very expensive those people. 

It’s been hard for all of time to be disabled. But in the UK disabled people are living in worse conditions than ever and things cannot get better without change. 

Please. If you know someone who is disabled, who needs social care, who needs health care, who needs free prescriptions, who needs mental health support, who can’t afford private health insurance, who needs to be respected as a human being by their government – vote Labour tomorrow.