Category: mel

Sock Darning and the Bigger Picture

What?! I hear you cry. You are darning socks? As in mending something?

Yes. I have started to darn some of my socks. But read on because I decided it wasn’t simply about darning…..

Way back in my memory I remember seeing a little wooden mushroom, just like the one in the photo, at my Grandmas house. It was what they did. They mended things.

We don’t do that anymore do we? Well the majority of the UK does not I can guarantee that! I had accumulated a pile of beloved socks, not very old that all had holes in the soles or heels and I could not bring myself to throw them away. I did three things. I vowed never to buy these socks again as clearly they are not meant to last, I watched a you tube tutorial on darning and I bought the mushroom. It’s a work in progress but I am rather pleased with myself. And if I get another winter out of them then so much the better.

It is a small thing to undertake, but the idea of cherishing our clothes enough to mend them? Well if only we all did that it could be the gateway to realising how damaging consumerism is.

We try to do our bit in this house. We grow our own veg and flowers. We have a hybrid car. We compost. We walk places. We buy veg from an organic box scheme. We recycle. We have a Sodastream! (the most fun thing ever!) to cut down on plastic bottles. We have water bottles. I don’t buy clothes much at all and I do go to charity shops.

We are not perfect and I know all our holidays have an impact. But as I keep seeing on instagram ‘We don’t need a few people do it perfectly, we need millions doing it imperfectly’.

And with that in mind I’m going to download the Refill app that tells you where you can refill your water bottle for free when you’re out and about. And then take Buddy for a walk.

And when I get back I might just darn another sock!

The 100 Day Project 2019 – 100 Experiments in Art

Here we are again. My third year embarking on this project and I am just as excited to get going as in previous years, although I’ll say it right here, right now I don’t think I can ever top last years 100 hearts on fabric for sheer joy and fun every day. (And yes, one day I will finish the quilt).

But onward.

For 2019 I’m going to make 100 pieces of artwork. Here are three reasons I felt pulled towards this idea.

  • I follow lots of artists and makers over on Instagram and feel inspired by them.
  • I have tried my hand at many different arty crafts over the years but flit on to something else.
  • I constantly find myself uttering the words I could do that!

I know I already have a challenge of making going on (my plan to open an etsy shop for macrame and weaving!) but this is different. This is going to be paint, pens, pencils, collage on paper.

My overall aim is to focus my arty voice. I want to experiment with different techniques and I’ve been pinning ideas over here for reference.

I hope that by giving myself 100 days to play I will be able to hone in on what I most like to make. You can see from the Pinterest board that it’s mainly abstract with some graphic line art thrown in.

After pondering how to approach this I eventually decided that I’m going to start with a pile of 100 pieces of mixed media paper cut to A5 size. I may go smaller depending on the idea that day. When I was discussing this idea with Gav he asked me how I intend finish a piece of art every day. It is a concern but I’ve made a deal with myself.  I’m going to be okay not completing every piece. My intention is to finish each day but if I don’t as long as I have something to share over on Instagram that will be fine. I can go back and finish off later, or not!

I know that the idea of a stack of blank paper may scare some but I’m looking forward to seeing that pile of potential, what will I try today? Oh yes I’m ready to go!

Not Another Hobby……

Actually it’s two more! Eeek.

Macrame.

And weaving.

Here is the story…….

First the Macrame. Last summer I watched a video through Creative Bug showing how to make a macrame wall hanging. I’d see them pop up on Instagram and was intrigued. So much so that I convinced H we should make one as part of her summer list. That plan didn’t work out but it did get me hooked on this craft.

The photo above shows my first attempts at knot tying. The rope is 5mm, 4 strand twisted cotton. See I even talk the macrame talk now!

Same piece as that first shot but I changed the pattern. It ended up looking like this –

Square and half hitch knots. I absolutely loved making this. There was something therapeutic in repeating the same thing over and over and seeing it grow.

I also saw that weaving was being incorporated into macrame so I had a go at the too….

Same square and half hitch knots but this time I added black wool and some roving to the piece.

That one is much smaller and actually used up some of the left over rope from the bigger one. I hung it on a piece of driftwood found when we were at the cottage in November. Loved the chunkier wood for a chunkier wall hanging.

And now the weaving. I have actually weaved before. I made a couple of wall hangings and a little necklace in 2015. I remember enjoying making them but moved on to other things…… Such is my crafty life!

Enter Instagram again. Added to a request from my sister for gift ideas last Christmas. She fulfilled my wish and bought me a loom.

I raided my box of wool, my Mums supply of wool and bought a few balls too.

I’m keen to use recycled/upcycled materials and after I made the blue and mustard weaving I began to experiment and made one that had our old denim jeans in it. I can’t bear to throw jeams away when only the knees or hems are worn so I have been collecting cut off legs for many years knowing that one day I’ll find a use for them.

The fringe and the two strips were once jeans. I cut narrow lengths from the legs, frayed the edges and wove them in.

I also found a great shop on Etsy that sold organic roving and another that sold recycled cotton cord that is perfect for macrame.

And very bizarrely I saved that horrid nylon netting they wrap Christmas Trees in and I plan to weave that into a large macrame too. I’m quite excited about this as you can tell. I just hope my momentum carries on for a while as I made a very rash claim to H and Gav the other day.

I said that when I’d made ten wall hanging I was going to open an Etsy shop! Oh bother what did I have to say that for?? I have no idea how to open an Etsy shop…….. Anyway we will see where this new creative adventure takes me!

One Little Word® 2019 – Heart

I mentioned the other day that I was joining in on this year long project again. This will be my sixth year.

Previous words were –

  • Practice
  • Light
  • Whole
  • Align
  • Listen

This I wanted to write down that ‘success’ doesn’t come into my journey. In my head I always consider that I have failed with this concept because 1) I don’t complete all the prompts from the class and 2) I don’t really change. I’m sure I written about this before but wanted to state is here again.

It is not a case of success or failure. I shall try to do every prompt this year but want to give myself some grace and not put too many ‘things’ into the equation.

Ali had the same thoughts. Her word is habit and she wants to cultivate a yoga practice more days than not this year. She wrote that if she did that ‘it would be enough’.

My word is Heart. It popped into my head last October and hung around. It came from thoughts about looking after my heart in a literal sense. Living well to keep a healthy heart. All too often in my journey with words I have listed so many things I want to work on. This year while I know other things will come up I want to primarily focus on my health.

I want to get back to walking 10k steps a day (except Wednesday when I’m at work for 10 hours….). I want to practice yoga three or four times a week. I want to loose a little weight. This is such a huge ‘thing’ in my life and I don’t often discuss it here. It’s a battle I’ve had all my adult life. Part of me feels that I should accept what I am and get on with it but that is a very hard thing to do. So this year I’ll try to get to a certain weight which will help my health and stay at that weight. When I began walking 10k steps a couple of years ago I held a steady weight for months. So a little cutting back and more steps should help this plan.

And that is all I’m thinking about right now. Steps, Yoga, less unhealthy food.

What’s your word this year?

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One Little Word® is a project developed by Ali Edwards. Read all about it over https://aliedwards.com/one-little-word

Hello 2019

It seemed fitting to include the photo of a bright white newly opened Helleborus niger as the start of this post.

A new beginning, a fresh start. That is what a new year is supposed to be isn’t it. Yet every year I have mixed feelings. On the one hand I get it and on the other I’m clinging onto the festive season, the indulgence, the extra ‘doing nothing’ time.

Instead of rambling on about that I’m going to share some of the things I’m hoping to do this year!

  • Started One Little Word® more on my word to come.
  • Joining in with Adriene and her 30 day Yoga Challenge
  • Finishing December Daily®
  • Cross at least 8 things off my Click Tick List! I think is is possible for me to get all these numbers crossed off –  11, 12, 14, 24, 25, 36, 76, 81, 83, 88, 94, 95, 96, 98 and 99! Wish me luck……
  • Completing 2018 Project Life and start this years album. May change it up a bit but still love this project so want to carry on with it.
  • Go adventuring with family to Portugal.
  • Complete our 2017 scrapbook.
  • Grow flowers and vegetables.
  • Carry on doing all the hobbies! I began three new ones last year and have started weaving again..
  • Read books and try to either read or get rid of that huge pile of ‘to be read’ ones.
  • Go to London with Gav and Han.
  • Arrange flowers.
  • Experience the magic of Disney World and a mini road trip in the USA.
  • Take photographs.
  • Laugh at lot.

Okay enough of the crazy rambling list making! Let’s get on with it.

In the Frame – A Journey into Self Portraiture – Part Two

Over the summer I have been continuing to play and experiment with taking selfies. From the point of view of my phone camera I never really stop taking photos often of my feet and sometimes on the timer but I have been using the big camera more to try and hone my self portrait skills.

You can read the beginning of this story here.

Going back and reading that post has me inspired all over again! Anyway here are a few from this summer, some thoughts and revelations!

I bought one of Vivienne’s online classes and have loved reading her tips and positive messages about this form of photography. I’ve been trying out one of the methods she uses for focussing the camera. Simply put she turns off auto focus and uses the feet/metre guide on the lens to work out where the focus point is then stands there.

I don’t always get it right as you can see in a couple of the photos above but I’m still enjoying it and also now deliberately standing out of focus for a different type of shot.

I’m obsessed with the jumping shots and want to get a good one….. I’ll keep practicing.

Something I have got better at is looking for the light. Photos are just better when there is some light and dark, some sunshine basically. And from a technical point of view the more light the faster you can have the shutter and hopefully capture an in motion type of shot.

And even sometimes when you use that sunshine to take a great all be it a technically bad picture.

The light in Tuscany was just amazing. And I have more evidence that I wear skirts!

I say that a little tongue in cheek but this photo journey has made me realise that I dress in jeans all the time. I like to be comfortable and I guess I have a uniform for day to day living.

However, going back to Vivienne’s original idea about ‘cultivating self love through self portraiture’ I have come to the conclusion that although I like being ‘comfy’ what that actually means is that I choose to wear those jeans over skirts and dresses because of the thoughts I have about my body. I should add, the negative thoughts I have about my body. I hide behind what I feel are neutral clothes, nothing that makes me stand out too much.

Yet by looking at the photos from the post in 2016 and some of these here I love to see myself in something other than jeans. I can honestly say that this has been a revelation, a pause for thought, something that I need to be conscious of and work towards changing. Loving myself in whatever clothes truly want to wear.

This self portraiture journey really is turning into an adventure of discovery on so many levels and I am bravely taking these steps, practicing all the things and embracing what I see through the click of that shutter.

The Click Tick List – See the Leaning Tower of Pisa

You know when you get an idea, maybe it’s something that you have had in your head for ages like seeing one of the amazing sights of the world.

And you get to actually see it one day and it was sort of a disappointment? Well, the day we saw the Leaning Tower of Pisa was not one of those days! HA!

It was just as wonderfully quirky at I’d imagined.

I mean. Look at it. It’s crazy.

And beautiful.

And even better when the sun shines on that marble and limestone.

I could talk about its history, how they tried to correct the lean while still building it and at several times over the next several hundred years but the internet can fill all those details in for you. I simply want to remember how amazing it was.

Such a great day and I’m happy to have crossed it off the list.

The Gelato

Ice-cream is one of my very favourite things. And gelato is even better. So when we went to Italy we ate all the gelato we could.

I know what you’re thinking….. isn’t gelato just Italian for ice-cream? Simple answer no. The main difference is that gelato has more milk than cream so freezes at a lower temperature and is denser in consistency. It does taste smoother somehow too. I don’t know if I could pick gelato out from ice-cream in a taste test but for research purposes I’m happy to give it a whirl……

Before we went on our holiday I did some research and had about five gelateria’s in mind for us to visit during our stay.

In Lucca we went to Piniko and Grom. I had such delights as mango, coffee and nocciola (hazelnut).

In Venice we wandered to find Fantasy Gelato and I tried pistachio, stracciatella and peach.

In the little town on the coast, Lido di Camaiore, we visited Modo and at Viareggio,  Kremmy. Gav liked Kremmy best as they were very friendly and helpful. Translating the flavours for us and letting us try before we bought.

I loved our first visit to Modo not only because we’d walked and walked to get there so it was a perfect reward but also that just ahead of us into the shop went a large Italian family.  Each member of the family stepped up to the counter, chose their gelato and headed to the seating area on the promenade to tuck into the yummy dessert. And the best bit of that scene was that the Grandad paid for all the family. It was a lovely sight to witness.

I had more pistachio and I tried out chocolate and fig. And at Kremmy more hazelnut strawberry and nutella.

Finally in Florence we went to Grom again and Vivoli. Not sure which flavours I had but they were very good.

If you’ve ever watched the movie City Slickers then you’ll recall the scene where Billy Crystals character is testing another characters knowledge of what ice cream goes with different foods. Pretty sure those ice-cream making pair in the movie were supposed to be Ben and Jerry! Anyway, I felt a bit like that stood in front of all that gelato. I wanted to get a good combination of flavours in my cup. I can honestly admit that I didn’t achieve that goal. But they were all delicious in their own right so I’m not complaining and I think my favourite was the hazelnut.

Now to hunt up so gelato and keep practicing!

The 100 Day Project 2018 – Thoughts on the Completed Project

It’s over three months since I made my final heart on fabric for this years 100 Day Project! Where does the time go?

I did really well at sewing the squares together and finished that part of the quilt a few weeks after the end of the project. The time lapse is partly to do with me, the well known fact that crafts go in seasons with me, and partly that I have struggled to get a good photo of the quilt top.

I had it in my head that I wanted to hold up the quilt top not lay it down as I had all through the 100 days. After my second ‘photo shoot’ I should have given up and just laid it on the floor but I was stubborn and tried again.

Argh…… still blurry and with shadows but here it is.

Back at day eighty four I promised to return here and share what I learned from doing this project. I’ve just gone back and read my roundup post for last year to see what I thought about that project (I’ve linked all past post’s below).

What I mentioned in that post was that I’d surprised myself by completing the 100 days and that I was happy to have carved 15-30 minutes out of my day to craft.

Both of those thoughts are true this time around. I had set a more challenging project but still completed it and I made the time to do it.

I also simply love what I have made. I love that I tried new techniques, learnt about fabric paint (grr) and stamping with ink on fabric. That I used a well loved blouse, a sheet my sister gave me and mostly materials I had on hand for the squares. That I carved my own heart stamps, used a colour palette and fell in love with applique.

I think my biggest takeaway should be that I can do it. I may tweak and make it work for me but I can do it.

What I would really like to do then is believe this of myself day in and day out. I have a dream to sell things that I make. But I do not believe I can. I don’t really try to do it. There are a dozen reasons why I don’t. Excuses I should say, not reasons. There are too many folk already doing it, it will cost more that it makes, I don’t have people skills to sell things, nothing I make will be good enough………..

Perhaps I need to look long and hard at those 100 quilt squares and realise that I can do it if I want to and stop all the excuses? Maybe I will. We will see.

In the meantime I am already looking forward to 100 days 2019 and planning to finish the quilt obviously!

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Here is my intro post to the 2018 project and my thoughts on 25 days down and at 80 days. And here is the post I wrote at the beginning of the 2017 project with this one summing up my thoughts at the end of those 100 days last year.

Travel Time

Just popping in to say we are in Tuscany enjoying cappuccino and gelato! Be back soon.