Thursday, 30 August 2012

camped and bestowed

Frosty sunrise @lancefield

You know there are times when I wonder if getting to craft camp is really so vital. I mean regular life is not without its joys and fulfilments. And sometimes the packing and sorting and arranging for wonderful giving relatives to care for your children and the making lists and being prepared, and the tearful phone calls from home takes so much out of me it does flash through my mind that perhaps one of these days I will skip a camp here or there.

Pears at dawn

The laughing alone makes it worthwhile to crawl through broken glass to get there, but add to that the incredible generosity of people and the effect is a medicinal strength restorative. I struggle to convey (even to myself when I am not there) just how deep and wide the effect is of being with a group of people in an environment so devoid of judgement, inhibitions, responsibilities and worry. I hate sounding so much like a self help book but its totally the deal. It's everything that's good for you plus loads of dairy produce in one weekend.

Craft camped!

And you get to take home all this great stuff! I made Colette's gorgeous dress (the subzero temperatures made it a little hard to appreciate actually wearing it but when the temps go up I am sure it will be in high rotation) along with Alison and Lisa and when we all posed with Colette there was some talk asylum escapees.
august craft camp

And I was absolutely delighted to make up another of Jodie's robot patterns. The messagebot I made years back is still a favourite at home and now he's got a friend. The queen of toys specialises in robots of all kinds and this newest design is no exception - a joy to make and Wil loves him. I cut out a second whilst at camp that I will be making up for the very jealous girl child. Thanks Jodie for sharing your design and materials with me.
Craft camped!

There was a festival of bag making too, starting with Amy's eagerly anticipated Arrietty bag.
Craft camped!

She wove the cloth the weekend before I went away on Amanda's loom - a wonderful experience for Amy that has added a whole lot of depth the the bag's meaningfulness and a very generous birthday gift from Amanda.

I made myself a new handbag - considerably smaller than my regular to acknowledge and deal with the lack of the usually ever present knitting. It felt silly having a big and empty bag each day on the tram and while going small feels kind of weird it's kind of nice and light too. Many thanks to Maria for the some lining action, every time I open it I hear a little woof! and smile. As always, a leather bag is a delight to have though less delightful to make.
Craft camped!

I also used some of Leslie's stunning new tearoses fabric with a super cute red toothed zip Colette very generously gave me from her trip to Japan (thanks ladies!)
Craft camped!

Lastly another of my sling/beach bags. I haven't made one of these for a while and I was taken all over again by what a nice thing it is to sew, simple but clever and gives a really lovely finish. It also allowed me to use a very precious piece of hand printed vegetable dyed fabric I bought in Bali. It's been sitting around waiting for an ideal project and this really suited it. I lost my original version to D on his recent Japanese trip (always a joy to lose a handmade product to the man who (a) never wants new stuff and (b) has the highest possible design specifications) and this project allowed me to use the panel of fabric I had bought right to all 4 selvage edges. Almost zero waste after I used 1 handle cut out for a pocket, and I'm keeping the other for a wee pouch at a later date. I even had a piece of perfectly shaded blue black linen for lining - left overs from the ink dress.
Craft camped!

Wil was thrilled with his new shorts. He has design specifications to rival his father's and declared these ones perfect which made me very happy. There will be more.
Craft camped!

And lastly a new Tshirt for me - this one good enough to wear to work on a hot day. A lovely heavy drapey printed cotton and viscose from memory, picked up as a remnant from Tessuti.
Craft camped!

I'm also supercharged with creative energy, and plan on finishing a couple more projects I brought home half done.

The day after I got back D made it home from Japan. We all missed him as usual - the kids especially seemed aware that he was further away than usual. But we managed a skype session that was lots of fun and allowed us to explore the wonderful wooden house he was staying in. He had a very interesting time and more importantly outdid himself with STUNNING gifts for me. He doesn't usually bring gifts home from travel but said he was so hyper aware of how much I would have loved everything that he kept seeing things he knew I would love.

I was overwhelmed! So much lovely stuff! He has excellent taste - EXCELLENT - and everything is just full of possibility.

There was fabric
Japan booty 1 - wool knit from linnet
Spotty wool jersey (LOVE this!)
Japan booty 7 - cotton spots
Japan booty 8 - cottons
Japan booty 9 - cats and owls cottons
And some lovely cottons.

And yarn from Avril
Japan booty 2 - silk from avril
Japan booty 6 - cotton twist from avril
Japan booty 5 - red from avril
Japan booty 3 - wrapped silk from avril
Japan booty 4 - linen paper from avril

I feel full to the brim with happiness and good fortune.

Sunday, 19 August 2012

getting my yarn on

Actual evidence of craft - and with yarn no less! Not withstanding the Arrietty dress, I feel like this is the first real thing I've made just to be doing the making.

Grellow cowl 3 get it on
It's knit on the machine (Singer 360) because hand knitting is still beyond my capabilities right now. It's a plated (one colour in front, another behind) and tucked using card 1, knit in a long length (about 1.5m) and then double twisted before being joined with a 3 needle bind off (badly I might add since really that's beyond my capabilities too). The double twist means you can loop in round your neck twice and still have the outer layer showing all round (there's a good explanation of what I mean in Kirsten's pattern over here). All up it weighs a delightfully little 132gms.

Grellow cowl 2 inside
I dyed the greeny yellow lace weight wool (Roma by Yarn Workshop) months ago, long before making was so comprehensively derailed. I dyed two slightly different shades and had originally planned to knit it with one shade front and one shade back but after knitting a sample it was obvious the two shades just weren't sufficiently different from each other for the plating effect to be seen. So I switched the back layer to some cashmere oddments I had from colourmart. They are a heavier laceweight than the Roma which I think is why you can see them popping through a bit to the front.

Grellow cowl 1
As a general rule I absolutely cannot wear yellows with my skin tone but, well, fuck it. I love this particular colour.

I got the machine out to make a gift for a friend and was greatly boosted out of my fug doing it. Even D commented, on spying the machine in the living room, how happy it made him. (Understand that the machine in the living room is something usually greeted with some disdain given the space it takes up and noise it makes and something I generally only do when D is away.) He knew he was heading off the next day so wouldn't have to put up with it for long, but nonetheless his feelings were not dissimilar to mine - I'm coming back to life!

But I'm also trying to be careful because in truth I am having more pain in my wrist now than I have since immediately after surgery. I had a long talk to my (totally awesome) hand therapist about it. We were talking about the ups and downs of the healing process and how after good progress and feeling very positive I had started to get down by the dragging on of immobility and pain. She was wonderfully reassuring about me being exactly where I should be and her confidence that I will regain full mobility. So. Good. To. Hear.

She said the patients who had trouble progressing were the ones who found it hard to resume use of their hands after injury - who feared pain and trauma enough to back away from challenging their limits. I found this kind of interesting because in many ways I am a fearful person - physically very risk averse in particular, but I don't feel like pushing my use has ever been a conscious thing. In fact quite the opposite. At every step of the way I have found my brain rather than my consciousness pushing my hand out, like when I started typing, or to open a door or pick up a bag. Like something deeper inside me decided to take the lead for my collective benefit. In this way she said I was an 'ideal' patient. *beam*

But she also warned me about the wearing aspects of continuous pain. Pain gets you physically, but also psychologically and she said that while my surgeon would advise me to go for it!! on any physical activity I can manage, she would be more mindful of my mental health. Of course almost immediately the benefits to my mental health of making stuff happen were introduced to the conversation and she revised her view to accord with the surgeon's.

And making the cowl has most definitely been worth the pain, but it has indeed given me pain. Right now I'm looking on it as just a part of the pain of being alive, and being very grateful for it, but keeping an eye out for the creep of pain too.

I'm preparing for craft camp this week and doing my best to remember I'll have to keep myself in check - not least so I don't blow my whole weekend's worth of strength just packing the car. I am very excited to be making this dress, another inspired design by Colette from Tessuti, as well as a smaller handbag (now that I am not carrying knitting around my usual one is silly big), some things for the kids and maybe a spring top or two. If I can. Otherwise I might just eat, laugh, talk and sleep a lot while doing some pain recuperation, and try to be OK with that.

Sunday, 12 August 2012

double digits

10A decade

10is nowhere near enough time

to even begin to explain

10why I love you so much.

And how much I am looking forward to the next 10 years together.
Happy birthday Amy. You are epic.

Friday, 10 August 2012


I haven't really emerged from this inward looking time. The bits of me that are fully functional are devoted to the maintenance of life, work and ongoing recovery - which sounds kind of dire but it isn't. Really, it just means I haven't gotten myself lost in creative work - intellectually, socially or materially - or future plans. Daydreams are noticeably absent.

Family life continues in a fairly unexciting and straightforward manner, and we've absorbed the ongoing sicknesses with mostly good grace (though poor Amy is on her (I shit you not) fifth full course of antibiotics for a strain of tonsillitis that just won't die and resurfaces in 24 hours when she stops taking the drugs. We are resolutely avoiding discussions of surgery for fear she might run away from home).

There are moments where I feel a certain panic that my wrist is still so far from being normal - when I try to use scissors, or push open a door or you know, wipe my arse or some other utterly mundane action I absolutely take for granted that I should be able to do by now. A shot of pain or a stubborn refusal of my hand to be in the place I expect and want it to be is a sharp kick in the ribs that isn't so much debilitating as a constant and unwelcome surprise. It's been 2 full months since the accident for goodness sake.

Time, time.

Yeah, yeah.

Mostly I believe it and wait patiently, but every now and then I am simply too exhausted from the healing to not put full recovery right up there with the tooth fairy and santa claus.

Work has absorbed a lot of my brain space too, maybe because it's one sphere where I don't feel debilitated. The work I have been doing since I returned from sick leave has been incredibly challenging - it's a tough policy area, going through intense and contentious debate, with a very full program of activity to boot. I've been working closely with some great people, and it's such a joy to be really engaged in a hard task with people who are trying to make this stuff work. When it hits the papers and I read how what I do will affect vulnerable and disadvantaged people I feel pretty good.

At the same time, the workplace in which I do this work has been undergoing some major upheaval and that's been very challenging too. Challenging in a way I struggle with. This is one area of my life I really don't talk about here and while there's good reasons for that I am finding it hard to not talk about the elephant in the room. I can't talk in generalities, I can't speak around it or over it or under it, and yet I think I would handle it all so much better if I could think it through with words, in a context away from it. But I guess lucky for you that I can't crap on endlessly about something that no doubt is dead boring and reveals me for the crazy lady I am rapidly becoming.

Despite, or perhaps because of my physical and expressive limitations I have been making an effort to find ways to re-engage my creative brain. It was a big day last weekend when I fired up the sewing machine to do a couple of mending jobs and finish off the top I'd sewn for D at the last craft camp. A very small amount of work but a start after the longest hiatus I've had since Amy was born. [And I can't even bear to talk yarn, that's still a way away.]

Then in anticipation of craft camp I started casting about for a few simple things to put on the to do list and almost immediately got caught up in Amy's grand plan to kit herself up in the image of Arrietty. I think perhaps I was just wanting to get closer to the tangible excitement she had for this, seeing as how I seem to be lacking any of my own.

So I traced off and then altered the Dear Prudence dress pattern (Ottobre 6/2010) making it (as instructed) slimmer, longer and with long sleeves. I was thrilled to pick up a good sized remnant of black ponte knit at Tessuti last week when I was in store teaching, since Amy had decided black was the only choice to go with her new red boots. It did pass through my fogged brain that perhaps I should have strong feelings about my not quite ten year old getting about in a black knee length dress, but in truth I don't. (It's fashion, no one dies.) The ponte is perfect - sturdy enough for her to wear now in the cool weather but not as scratchy or hot as the wool knit I had planned to use.

And because said boots are to be her birthday present and she is terribly excited about the whole look I decided to sew up the dress for her to wear on the day instead of waiting for camp in a few weeks time. It was a wonderfully quick job and required next to no skill or creativity on my part. The aforementioned problem with using scissors meant I had to cut the whole thing out with a fine rotary cutter which was a little nerve wracking but I think I got away with it. Amy is thrilled and doing a grand job of pretending she's not expecting me to bring out a facsimile of Arrietty's sling back at the 11th hour (it will have to wait till craft camp).

Like the boots, the dress is lying in wait until the big day and I plan on dusting down the proper camera and seeing if my wrist is up to holding it's weight. I generally try to do a decent portrait session with each of the kids on their birthdays and given her focus on this image she has of herself, it would be nice to try to capture it for her.

She has become quite interested in playing with her image of late - a process I find much more interesting than alarming to my great surprise. Perhaps mostly because she is very focused on wanting to not look like other people. It's kind of ironic since in most respects she is a conformist - concerned with gaining people's approval and doing the right thing. Perhaps she's trying to counterbalance this, or maybe even challenge it in herself?

Either way she's made something of an impression on her peers by wearing on a near permanent basis the long charcoal wool cape lined in turquoise blue satin that I made as a costume for a Harry Potter party. I confess that it gives me a real boost to see how my sewing allows her to imagine her clothes into being, and how much she loves the things she's had a hand in creating. So great she is neither trapped into mass produced junk fashion, not aspiring to it. I wish I'd been that cool when I was a kid! I really hope this is something that survives her teenage years.