A welcome to you all again

It’s been a while since I started, and I know thanks to a wonderful recent Facebook mention by the even more wonderfuler I Know I Need To Stop Talking (who cracks me up laughing at least once a day, and more if I see anything tea tree related), there have been many new views. So here’s a little hello especially for you!

Hi, I’m CCC – the Caffeinated Crafting Cripple. This little bit of the internet is somewhere I imagine filled with cushions and cozy booknooks and piles of yarn taller than me. Which is admittedly not very tall when I stand, let alone in my chair. Whilst drinking bloody good coffee, I post about my current projects, my life with my physical health and mental health conditions, and the combination of all of those things that got me to here today. I try to be witty but more than likely come across as just deeply sarcastic, which is also a fair reading. I love comments and sharing and feedback so please say hi! Swearing is encouraged. As is coffee. And yarn! And crippledom. 

Looking forward to getting to know you all! 

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Caffeinated cripple, crafting on the road

Not literally on the road. That would be foolish. 

The advantage of being visually impaired is that Other Half has to do all the driving. Knackering for him, and I am ever grateful, but this also means road time is craft time. Little Crafter is occupied, currently, in Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince, so minimal parenting required. Aside from traffic, travel sickness, pain, map reading (okay sat nav duty) and general stress that travelling (with children…. ) involves, being in the car is almost therapeutic. 

I’ll do another post about today in itself, but right now I’m working on a new shawl / wrap, testing out new Stylecraft Candy Swirl in colourway ‘Apple Sours’. I’ve been craving this since the first picture was released, so when my local craft shop happened to have one remaining ball of it, and I in need of a travel project, love was born. 

LOOK AT IT. 

I’m only a few inches in to the new pattern – “Lizard Shawl”, free pattern on Ravelry that I’ve been meaning to try for ages – but it’s working up beautifully. The yarn is even smoother and softer than Stylecraft Special DK, which is one of my all time go-to yarns. I can’t wait to see how it works up. I might need an IV of Red Bull to get to the first colour change. 

Coming in the next blog post – ridiculous things people said to me today, including “you’re lucky your husband didn’t just leave you there [in your wheelchair], mine would have!”. 

Mental response: well madam, your husband sounds like an arse. 

Actual response: polite smile.

Being A Disabled Parent

Parenting, regardless of your health, is always a challenge. Throw some disability in there, however, and it comes almost essential to be at least 25% gin.

When Little Crafter was little enough to be in a buggy, I perfected the art of using a crutch in one hand and steering with the other. As you can imagine, this put a lot of strain on my wrist, but also meant the muscles in my arm were quite impressive. When I was in a wheelchair, I would use a sling. When he was old enough for me to decide to get an electric wheelchair, we both had to learn how to make this work full time, as my health had declined so that I didn’t have a choice. Little Crafter perfected this wonderful ‘tantrum’ where he would just lay on the floor, looking at me, silent, knowing I could do sod all about the fact he was on the floor.

We learned how to walk together with my chair, Little Crafter learned not to walk directly in front of the wheels – and still teaches this lesson to any friends that might be coming over to play. There were a lot of squashed feet in the early days, I don’t feel ashamed of admitting. None deliberate, obviously, but if you stop in front of an electric wheelchair without calculating for stopping room, you get a bit squished. This was one of the most frustrating periods for us both, but within a few weeks we found our rhythm, and we were working seamlessly. We perfected getting on and off buses, and Little Crafter found the advantage of being able to curl up on my knee for cuddles during the bus journey.

I can type all of this with a smile because I’m still proud of the fact we managed to make it work. However it doesn’t distract from the fact that being a disabled parent is hard as hell.

There’s timing medical appointments. Perfecting your “I’m fine sweetheart” smile even when your body and mind are screaming. Having to let down your children time and again by not being well enough. Trying to make sure they have a normal childhood whilst balancing your own health. Finding places to keep medications where they are out of reach but don’t break you by getting them. Working out how much you tell your child so they understand and how little so you don’t terrify them.

But all of this is doable. You learn little tricks and tips, you have to give yourself a bit of a break. As you learn about the new you as a parent, and this new little person you will be ticking along with, you work out how to make things work for you both. Gadgets and gizmos a plenty come in to play. Doing things in a less conventional manner that become your own normal. And that’s just it, it’s finding your own new normal, and making it work.

It’s possible. It’s hard. But it’s possible.

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!