Fancy seeing you here!

Can you believe it, it’s nearly a year since I started my 100 Day Project (and this blog!) ?!

I’m sad that I haven’t written in so long. I’ll blame work, and family, and y’know… life… it intervenes sometimes, but I’m super glad to be back.

The year has been a rollercoaster so far, and I don’t believe it’s quite done yet, but more about that later.

How have you been, internet? Still making your things? Still being creative?

Show me your newest makes, I’d love to see them.

 

Vacation!

After a full one hundred days of creativity, I decided to take the last week off completely.

It was very strange actually, partly *wonderful* and partly made up of a persistent nagging feeling that I’d forgotten something.

The wonderful part was having a little more free time each and every day. An extra 15 minutes in the morning for a leisurely breakfast; an extra hour/90 minutes every single evening.

Our home has righted itself into its pre-challenge state of neatness, and I managed to do our seasonal furniture switch-around. I’ve had more time for my extensive hobby collection too; I’ve read 3 books, devoted some time to playing video games with J, and generally taken it easy.

Like any break from routine, the first few days were lovely. I basked in the glow of extra free time, but after that my mind started to wander towards new ideas and new projects. Part of taking a complete cold-turkey break was for me to see how I would feel; and I can honestly say that I really missed the thrill of a finished project.

Getting back to Photography Class after the school holiday was great; not only to swap stories with everyone about what they’d been taking pictures of, but also to re-cap on the first half of the theory. We finally got to repeat our long-exposure night shots, and I was pleasantly surprised how much had stuck in my mind. I’m looking forward to seeing the prints!

This lesson marked our first lesson over the halfway point on the course, and so we began to shape up the final sessions and what we each wanted to get out of the time now that we’ve got a good grip on the basics. I’m not sure that I’ll sign up for the advanced course in this rotation, as it flows straight on after mine ends in January. Whilst I’m thoroughly enjoying the ‘net’ that a tutor provides, where I can just ask questions whenever and get critique and feedback when I ask; I’m not sure that I’ll absorb any more information right now. I need a few months to practice, and experiment with my current knowledge to really cement it in, before tackling any more.

Are you thinking of learning anything new in the New Year? Let me know, leave me a comment below!

Day 99… Day 100!

An adorable way to finish my challenge, a couple more of Julies bunnies for my collection! Knitted in 100% british wool, and dressed in Liberty Lawn, these are a luxurious take on one of my favourite patterns. I may decide to give them as gifts, but I think they’re too cute.

Thank you, thank you, thank you for sticking with me over the last 100 days. I’ve enjoyed every labour, and every challenge, and all the success I’ve had.

(I shall be taking a few days off now, I think! Back in a week 😉 )

(95-98) Reflections, and Refractions.

Day 98, you say? Pish. It can’t be, it was only day 5 yesterday, I swear!

I wanted to write a little bit tonight about my 100 Day Project. Before I began it, I was creatively blocked almost all of the time. Most things I attempted were abandoned (unfinished) before being secretly and shamefully binned. I was both frustrated, bored and scared all at the same time, the same negative thoughts wearing a familiar tread around my head again and again.

A couple of years ago, I was diagnosed with an anxiety problem. This wasn’t really news to me, as feeling anxious even in risk-free situations is something that has been with me for longer than I can remember. After finishing the questionnaire, my kindly old doctor sat back in his chair, and gave a low whistle. “And you feel like this all the time?” he asked me, eyebrows raised, looking for all the world like a startled owl. It sticks with me because this was the first time it dawned on me that how I was feeling wasn’t right. I won’t say it wasn’t ‘normal’ because all emotions are normal in their time and place, but that it wasn’t right to feel that way all the time. His kindness, and willingness to listen put my feet on the path that day, the path that led to this challenge.

To begin with, overcoming the irrational palpitations that accompanied creating was my focus. To start, create, and finish – irrespective of outcome – was my goal. And once I began to do this, it was like knocking down a dam. All these ideas, and wants started to flood out.

I will admit that in the latter part of my challenge, it’s not been one-project-one-day like it was to begin with, but this has been for a number of reasons. Not least of all that the latter half of the year for me is always busy, but also that I’ve grown beyond the 1 hour sews, or casual knits. I’ve begun to tackle more advanced, time-consuming projects that I never would have attempted before.

Creating, making, and doing, has become part of the furniture of my life again. It’s second-nature now to come home and get stuck in, no more pontificating and procrastinating. I don’t hide behind excuses of “not good enough” because the moment I walk in my front door, I’m surrounded by completed makes. And they ARE good enough. Good enough for vistors to compliment me on, good enough to take commissions, good enough to generate wide smiles from everyone I show.

It’s been a journey, and I refuse to be one of those bloggers who only shows you the prettiest side of things, I’ll freely admit there are days where I just don’t *want* to make things. The graphic quoted by the 100 Day Project at the start has really proven itself true for me.

Just show up. Keep showing up, good day or bad day, and eventually the muse will show up too.

I do also want to say thank you to you, reader, too. To begin with, this was just a record, a way to keep myself honest while climbing my personal everest. I didn’t expect to find such a community, with warm and welcoming people, who were supportive, funny, witty and far more than I could ever have hoped for. That’s you, and I think you’re awesome. Thanks for reading, it means a lot to me.

~~~

It’s been covered, and discussed, and decried by people better equipped than I, but I didn’t feel like I could write this post tonight without mentioning the events in Paris. Firstly, the acts themselves roused a hot, coppery-tasting anger in me, and then I was filled with broken-hearted sadness at the ignorance, racism and selfishness that the news coverage exposed in people I knew. I’m not religious. I won’t just pray for Paris, I’ll pray for the world. For Baghdad, for Beirut, for Cameroon, and everywhere where there are innocents suffering for the selfish few. I’ll pray for the whole of humanity. Paris will always be the City of Light for me, a place of life, and love, and champagne. Vive La France.

(94)

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J is away for the weekend, and although I love him to bits, I’m enjoying some sweet, sweet solitude.

Just me, my tea, and my projects. Heaven! ❤

What are you up to tonight? Let me know, leave me a comment below.

(84-93)… aaand back in the room!

I’m sorry I’ve been away for so long, internet! But I’m back this evening, with a whole bunch of projects from the last week. Yep, you heard me right, I might not have been blogging, but I’ve still been making my little socks off.

I don’t know if I’ve mentioned it before, but I work for a small business. In some ways, this has been a real asset to my challenge, as my boss is super-supportive of my creative work, and very encouraging. In other ways, it can be restrictive – the fewer staff you have, the more ‘hats’ you have to wear, and the more things that each person has to be responsible for.

Last Monday, I got into the office at my usual time, to find just over 300 emails in my inbox, mostly related to a work blog event that I’ve been doing over the past few weeks. Writing the blogs for the event, as well as helping out the participants, *as well as* my normal duties, *and* blogging about my challenge was just too much, even for me. I tried to keep it up, but by Tuesday night I was feeling burned out, and decided to cut things down a bit. By cutting the blogging time out, it meant I had more time and energy to stay on the wagon with my making.

I don’t think it helped that my major project from last week, my crochet fireplace, was laborious and on the painful side for me though.

It’s a great pattern for commuters, or if you’ve only got small amounts of time, as each piece of the thing is created individually, and then stuffed and whip-stitched together at the end. Success! I now have a pile of grey rectangles!

The bad news for me, is that the stitch needed to create that stiff dense material that is great for 3D creations, is also a very tight repetitive motion. I clearly don’t crochet enough anymore, as I seem to have lost all my stamina.

My RSI is back, giving me burning forearms after 10 minutes or so. (this makes me feel like such a first-world problem-er) Does anyone have any tips to help relieve the aching?!

My other projects for the week were another of Julies Little Cotton Rabbits (this time in 100% wool to be paired with a few others as holiday gifts for our couple friends) more tiny clothes for said rabbits, I finally hemmed and finished my wool Tunic and lots of photography.

On the advice of the lovely ladies that are in my Sewing group on facebook, I’m making a little indulgence and having my tunic professionally cleaned and pressed by the dry-cleaners. According to those veteran sewists, it stops you nitpicking so much, as it gives it a slick, professional finish. I guess you could do the same thing at home, but for a first go, a bit of a luxury, I can’t wait to see how posh it’ll look.

I was super pleased with how my prints from my last session came out, here are some of the highlights:

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He sat still long enough for a picture, can you believe it?!

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I love this last shot, are you feeling the holiday spirit yet? I’m starting to, thanks to the wafts of mint and toffee coming from Starbucks as I walk past on my way to the station each morning!

(87) Thursday night Photography…

Thursday Night Photography didn’t go to plan as we’d have liked. It was supposed to be a revisit of the Park, Bridge and Colonnades from our very first location shoot way back in September, to apply what we’ve learned and take better pictures. But instead, we were cooped in by the stormy, rainy weather that lashed the south of England this week, which also meant that the class was smaller than usual as a few people weren’t able to travel, or had gotten sick.

It wasn’t a loss though, as we looked at working with a studio lighting setup, as well as showing off our prints. This was good for me, as the studio setup will be what I use for work in the future. As our Tutors kit is much newer than the equipment I’ve worked with before, it was really interesting to compare the set up, and capabilities. Needless to say, the thought of working with a hot-shoe transmitter and more efficient lighting was quite attractive. On shoots in the past, our studio has been stiflingly hot from the over-spill of the older lights, as well as every inch of the floor being covered in cables and wires. Wireless would be a dream!

I also got some good feedback on my shots from our Village Location shoot back on day 75! It really buoyed me up as I hadn’t been very happy with my shots from the following session. Keith had some helpful feedback on composition to give me, which did make me feel like I’d progressed. Internet, I finally feel like I’m getting somewhere!

I hope you’ve had a great week. Let me know what you’ve been working, I love to see your progress 🙂 leave me a comment below!

(I’ll post a round of my other projects from this week at the weekend!)

(79-83) Weekly Round Up!

This week has been a busy one, plenty of time spent creating but not a lot of time free to blog as well…

It’s been a good one, having some more inspiration back, and I’ve finished a number of my projects.

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  • I finally finished my beret! Knitted in the round, in a lush roving-style Hunter Green yarn, it’s turned into a lovely hat. This was a fun knit to start, but not a hugely entertaining knit to tackle and finish, if you know what I mean. I *love* the finished article, but knitting it required more concentration as I had to keep track of even increases and decreases that give it the classic flat beret shaping.
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  • Thursday Night Photography Class had a treat in store for me – we got to sit in on a Fright Night Belly Dancing show in the Museum that neighbours our AEC. These ladies were so awesome, and an absolute lesson in confidence! Dressed as zombie and vampire Marie-Antoinettes, they put on a brilliant show. It was a challenge to capture the vivid details and atmosphere, without getting too distracted by the movement, and music. We were experimenting with high ISO’s, which does lead to grainy, grim images, but this did work with the mood of the shoot. I’m not sure that my pictures were as dark as I’d have liked, as the high ISO means the camera is very light sensitive, but we’ll see when the prints come back this week…
  • Since I’ve now got a burgeoning collection of Interchangeable Knitting needles, I made myself a Storage roll to store them. Without a pattern to work from, I used my knowledge from making my MakeAmyMake Knitting Shears Pouch, and my Notebook cover from earlier in the challenge to draft my own pattern. I was pretty impressed with how it came out, and I get the feeling that it’s going to be well loved. Here’s the finished article:
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  • After stumbling across this pattern on Pinterest, I did a test knit of one of these adorable little Christmas Stockings. I came across the pattern completely by accident, but when I saw that it was by Julie from Little Cotton Rabbits I knew it would be a good one. Here’s how my first one came out:
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    I definitely will be making more of these. I’m either going to turn them into a garland for the holidays, or I’m going to hang them on my Christmas Tree – I can’t decide which will be nicer?!

  • Today I worked some more on my Woolen Tunic – almost *almost* finished, but chores about the house pulled me away from my sewing machine this afternoon. I’ve got the neat finishing bits to do: hems, finishing the facing edges, and I think I’m going to use bias binding to finish the inside seams. Normally I’d just zigzag them, but I found pretty early on that the knit just continues to ‘fluff’ even when zigzagged, so binding seems the best option – All I need to decide is shall I go for a matching monochrome one, or shall I jazz it up with some of my Liberty bias…?
  • FINALLY! I made a start on this Christmas Scene crochet pattern…

    I’ve got a few Little Cotton Rabbits from Julie that I’ve made over the last few years, and I fancied making a little Christmas diorama for them, as well as Christmas Jumpers ;-). I’m about 4 pieces into the fireplace, which is quite a bit tougher than it looks! Lots of HDC’s, with internal supports, it all looks a bit flat at the moment, but I can tell that it’s all going to come together right at the end. Hopefully I’ll have something to show you that looks like a fireplace this week!

I hope you’ve had a good week, and restful weekend, Internet! Giving the Birthday Baton to MakeAmyMake this week, I hope you had a great day. I’m very envious as her lovely partner bought her an overlocker (that’s a serger, if you’re in the US!) which was quite funny when I saw her picture on Instagram, as J has bought me one for my birthday too! The downside for me is that my birthday is not for another whole month, and so I have to be good and wait…

I guess I’ll just have to have some patience… but it’s hard!

(77,78) Wool tunic

Back on Day 33, I showed off my toile…

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It was for a simple, simple Tunic pattern, and if I’d thought about it real hard, I could have probably made the pattern adjustments without the aid of a muslin. But, it had been literal years since I’d made any clothing, or followed a conventional pattern. I kind of wanted to make a draft to get myself back in the zone, you know?

Like many women at (or under!) 5ft, I do find that I have to make adjustments to compensate for my smaller height. Add to that not-petite-length limbs, an hourglass shape, and short waist and I’m taking a longggg tea break…

So many little changes, but all worth it, as I’d had a plan for a winter tunic in a thick, lush wool knit that had been hiding in my stash for a while. My favourite kind of thing to wear in the cold weather, with tights and boots and a turtleneck!

So having lovingly made the pattern up on a sad old bedsheet, and scribbled all over it in biro. Yesterday, I finally transferred my adjustments to my new pattern sheets.

Tonight has been pins and cutting…

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I can’t wait to get my needles into this, because I can’t wait to wear it already.

My immune system is struggling with the changing seasons, hot lemon and an early night is in order.

Do you have a project that you’re too impatient to make, because you just want the finished thing? Leave me a comment below…

(74/75/76) Brain-melting photography practice…

So this weekend has been aaaaall about the camera practice. I’ve been cramming so much practice in that I’m beginning to feel as if my little nikon is permanently attached to my body…

At work, we’d ordered in some professional studio-lighting kit. Friday was a quiet enough day for me to get this out and have a practice with it. It makes me feel like a total dork, but I was so excited about this! I managed to sink a few hours into it, getting used to the harshness of the light, and playing with shadow and highlight. I definitely felt more at home with my settings by the end, and I’m pretty confident that I’ll be able to take decent product-photos soon. It was definitely more technical than it looked, but like most things, practice is a good teacher.

Saturday was another Class session, this time on location in a local village. Our brief was to style our shots as if we were ‘marketing’ the village as a destination. Think, travel brochure, showing the village in it’s best light, while carefully shooting around the negatives.

And, by negatives, Keith meant anything too modern. We call these ‘gremlins’, but they can be anything from cars, to street markings, unwanted people, or other distractions. It was a challenge to take picture-esque shots, on a bustling village high street on a saturday morning, I can tell you that…

All that said, it was a shoot after my own heart. Keith was specifically looking for close in, tight shots, and macro work, both of which have emerged to be passions and strengths of mine. I know we’re all still rookies in my class, we’re all fairly close in terms of ability, but we are starting to see individual talents making themselves known – some have excellent technical knowledge, some have a true gift for crystal-clear shots, and so on. Mine are on the small, detailed scale, I find larger compositions difficult I think because there is so much going on. It distracts me! Macro work however, comes more naturally. Perhaps being particularly short-sighted helps? I’m used to seeing the world this way, so it comes easier? who knows!

Today, I took the opportunity to cement in the key-lessons from our shoot. I practiced relentlessly comparing single shots using different shooting techniques – slow shutter speeds & small apertures, vs very quick shutters speeds with wide apertures. The resulting pictures aren’t dissimilar in terms of light-levels alone, but the focus, colour, and ‘feel’ of the shot varies so much. My head is positively whirring! I’m still not yet at the stage where I can decide ‘in the moment’ what is the better setting, but I do feel like I’m making progress in the fact that I know there *is* a difference.

This afternoon was spent trying to relax my tired brain. I love learning new things, but it is exhausting. You know that feeling after you’d been swimming when you were a kid? Ravenously hungry, and to-the-bone tired, enough to nap on a saturday afternoon? After 3 days of pretty intense practice, I felt a lot like that again!

So some mindless knitting, a book, a long bath and the sunday night movie on the tv was on the cards. And much enjoyed they were. Tomorrow, I’ll be picking my best shots and sending them off to the printers…

What have you been up to this weekend, internet? Let me know, leave me a comment below…