Monday, 2 May 2016

Proactive Crafting

I've been much better recently at seeing my crochet/knitting projects through, finishing them within days/weeks of starting them (as opposed to months/years!). Here I will share what has helped me (FYI, it's not about willpower)...

It's all about your thoughts before you start the project:

1. Will you enjoy the process?
Ok, so something has inspired you to make something. Do you enjoy making such items? Eg, "these colours would make a gorgeous Queen size ripple afghan"... While this may be true, are you willing to spend many hours of repeated rows? From your previous experience, have you enjoyed and completed similar projects?

2. Do you have a good reason for making it?
Amber from the Yarn junkie podcast once mentioned the feeling of being overwhelmed by yarn stores. Tell me about it! What happens when I see random yarn: "Oh this yarn would make a gorgeous cardigan". Think about it Lorraine: Do you or someone else actually need a cardigan? Is the yarn in a colour that will actually suit the recipient of said cardigan? Yes? Go for it. Line it up for a birthday. No? Step away from the yarn.
Also, I'm terrible for seeing an array of toys, eg, safari animals, and immediately wanting to see them on my own little boy's toy shelf. Knowing myself, what I really want is the finished product of a line of toys, without the repetitive work of sewing up. I remember once dreaming up a whole series of Mermaids, each having different coloured hair, different accessories. I got bored. I made 1. Now, if I want to make my son something to enjoy, it won't be a collection that just sits on the shelf to look pretty, it'll be 1 unique creature of a decent size, that he'll actually love.
Other good reasons include upcoming babies, generally wanting to give out of love, a lack of blankets when winter's coming, re-stocking your etsy shop, and among other things, as I mentioned above, birthdays.

3. Have you got (what I call) a '3-Way Compatibility' of yarn texture, yarn colour and item pattern?
This is so important, and one reason why ravelry's search options are an excellent tool. It's all very nice to see a nice pattern of a pretty pink cardigan that drapes nicely on a model too. Ok so you might make it in a different colour for yourself, but what I've found is that it's often the perfect combination of 3 things that make me fall in love with an item. So just bear in mind that it might be the shade of pink in the pattern's picture that MAKES the cardigan stand out. Would another colour, eg grey, actually suit it? Also notice the drape. Heavier yarns; those with less meterage per 100grams tend to drape nicely. A matching shade of pink in a matching yarn weight won't achieve the same effect if it is a fuzzy acrylic yarn, for example.

So, if you can say 'yes!' to all of the above, you know you will enjoy making a beautiful item that has a perfect home once finished. This is sure to bring about pro-active crafting. It's lovely to dream, and to just not care and stitch away just 'because', but if you're feeling overwhelmed with your countless WIPs, then it doesn't do any harm to be realistic too.

Sunday, 1 May 2016

Raspberry Motif with the crochet 'bobble' stitch

After playing with the bobble stitch, I created this cute Raspberry Motif! Perfect for sewing onto a baby blanket, or hat, etc. Please note that this pattern is written in UK terminology.

Free pattern as follows:

Special Stitches
First Bobble: Ch3 (counts as a treble), [yarn over, insert hook into first stitch, yarn over and pull up a loop, yarn over & pull through 2 loops] x 4. Yarn over and pull through all 5 loops on the hook.

Bobble: [Yarn over, insert hook into stitch, yarn over and pull up a loop, yarn over & pull through 2 loops] x 5. Yarn over and pull through all 6 loops on hook.

Raspberry Motif
Starting in a raspberry shade of yarn:
Foundation Ch: Ch4
Row 1: Dc1 in 2nd Ch from the hook and in each Ch along each (3 Dc total). Turn
Row 2: Make 'First Bobble Stitch'. You should now have 2 stitches remaining. Dc1 into the next stitch, Bobble in the next. Ch1 Turn
Row 3: Dc2 in first stitch, Dc1 in next stitch, Dc2 in last stitch (5 Dc total). Turn
Row 4: Make 'First Bobble', [Dc1 in next stitch, Bobble in next stitch] x 2. Ch1 Turn
Row 5: Dc2 in first stitch, Dc1 in each of next 3 stitches, Dc2 in last stitch (7 Dc total).
Row 6: Make 'First Bobble', [Dc1 in next stitch, Bobble in next stitch] x 3. Ch1 Turn
Row 7: Dc2tog, Dc1 in each of next 3 stitches, Dc2tog.
Row 8: Make 'First Bobble', [Dc1 in next stitch, Bobble in next stitch] x 2. Fasten Off.
You should have 5 stitches across top. Join with green yarn in second stitch.
Row 1: Ch3, Dc1 in 2nd chain from hook and Dc1 in the next Ch, Dc1 into same stitch as you joined yarn, Dc1 in the middle (raspberry-colored) stitch, and Dc1 in next stitch. Ch3 Turn.
Row 2: Dc1 in 2nd chain from hook and Dc1 in next Ch. Dc1 in last Dc of previous row. Ch4, Dc1 in 2nd Ch from hook and Dc1 in each of next 2 Ch. Dc1 into next Dc (this is the middle stitch of the top of the raspberry), Dc1 into each of the next 3 Dc, Dc1 into top of first Ch3 and Dc1 back down the other side of Ch3 and finish with a slip stitch into the same stitch as where you joined the green yarn.
Fasten Off!

Thursday, 7 January 2016

Laundry Procrastination? You can still look pretty decent.

The morning rush meant your outfit options left a lot to be desired? The instant fix for this is to not care. Failing that, find your color-based 'season and type' via this site:
Then adjust your wardrobe to suit.
Eg, I am Deep Autumn. My 'basics' wardrobe is all of a warm autumnal colour palette now, so I can basically mix 'n' match it all and look like I had time to think about it when I woke up. Then I've got my music/geeky tees which all go with jeans. Happy Days. 

This proved to serve me well when traveling recently, a capsule closet, so to speak.

Also, it prevents me from buying clothes just because I like them. They have to suit me and fit in with what I know I already have. When I do need to go clothes shopping, I have 2 or 3 specific items. This saves time and money. My last list:
1: Navy or Camel Trench-style woolen/tweed coat
2: Nude Pumps
3: Black or Brown tights

Still looking for those Nude Pumps. I'll wait until Spring.

Wednesday, 6 January 2016

Sharing tips for an easy, happy, healthy life


A brief intro (not an eloquent, engrossing blog write-up) of the theme of some of my future posts. I've recently had a string of epiphanies; due to inspiration gained over the holidays and from new books, as well as my own peculiar brain. I'm improving stuff. So I'll be randomly sharing my ideas/tips/tricks that are working so well for me, just in case they help someone else or more specifically (selfishly), so I can remind myself if I slip up or forget.

If we're not friends, FYI, I'm mum to a toddler (at time of writing), housekeeper (apartment-keeper is more accurate), I work 4 days a week, have a medium-sized dog & my husband works abroad. 

I aim for a simple, healthy, happy life.
I'm in no hurry, although opt for easy, time-saving solutions. I'm inspired by nature and I tend to agree with many Bhuddist teaching quotes.

My goal is ultimately to maintain a happy home, but in more detail, I would like:
- To keep my family members as happy as possible
- A stress-free life (this covers many topics)
- To eat a healthy diet, as nature intended
- My body to be supple & strong
- To grow my own vegetables & herbs
(fruit & nuts too if we ever have a garden of our own)
- To compost more
- To recycle
- To help others lead a happy life
- To get more organized (remember birthdays)
- To know my financial flow to the cent & not to spend unnecessarily.

Aaaand that's about it

Sunday, 11 January 2015

Thank you Mum, Thank you Dad, xxx

Where to start?

Total change of plan tonight. I was going to do the usual clear down of the apartment, followed by some time-wasting social media-surfing, followed by crocheting... All of course after bathing the baby, some story-telling and singing him to sleep. Total change of plan tonight...

My mum. My mum! My dad too of course... My dad! Wow.

I've been crying this evening. I can't tell you exactly why, because I don't know why, but what I can tell you is that they are tears of happiness, or perhaps, more to the point 'thankfulness'.

When I was expecting my baby boy, I didn't want to read any books. I wanted to go by my gut instinct and by the advice from my loved ones. But I've learned there are some things people simply can not prepare you for. I mean, I feel like I'm only just getting started on getting a hold of my own life; understanding it's true potential, learning new skills, evolving. That, I hope, will never stop. Yet, I'm one of the people that are supposed to be responsible for raising a whole new person?! To teach them how to live in the happiest way possible? I'm just getting started myself!

Now, I know none of us are perfect... In fact, I realise now I am drawn to those who also understand this point, so I am thankful that I am surrounded by friends who are in a process of trying to better themselves too and who help me along my way. They may not tell me what I want to hear, but they tell me the truth, from their perspective, for me to take along with me, if I wish. But it does seems astonishing that many of us are still so mentally young when we find ourselves getting prepared to care for and bring up a human being of our own.

It is in my nature, that if I am given a job, that I do the best I can at it. However, I definitely fail sometimes, I can get myself onto a slippery slope of idleness and things fall by the wayside. This happened with my college exam results. Appalling compared to what I should have been able to achieve, but if my heart is not in it, then it just won't happen with me.

'Exam results' is also something my mother cannot be proud of. But not out of her not trying her best. I know with all of my heart she tried her best, during her years when her fellow students would have been at college. But she wasn't sitting in a classroom. She was more likely helping out her own mother, to raise her five siblings, whom she was the oldest of. She would also have been found at a local factory, working to earn money to keep the family's head above water. To keep them safe, fed and warm.

Safe, fed and warm. Probably 3 of the most basic needs a parent must provide for their children, yet my mother was doing this at a very young age. She obviously took after my grandmother, who was such a loving lady. Seeing how she was with children made me wonder if I was cut out for the job. I didn't think I could be that nurturing.

I've just spent the day with my parents. My dad cooked a lovely Sunday roast meal while my mum had been cleaning and we all spent some quality time together. I was lucky enough to see grandparents and grandson (my son) make memories. There were at least two moments, where I felt my capabilities of keeping my own son happy, were deteriorating. Then, my mother would throw me a curveball. This is where, with her experience, she comes into her own... she has a simple solution. "Grandson... Would you like a Yorkshire pudding?".

It makes me cry when I think of the job I have ahead of me;
To make sure I raise a healthy person, to make sure that person is well-fed, and to make sure that person is safe, while in my care. It makes me cry because that person is so so special to me, it is unreal. What if I slip? What if I fail? My heart is in this, 100%, but to raise them mentally strong, well, that would be a bonus compared to the challenges that face me now. Then I stop crying. I think about the job my mother had. Wait a minute, my mother didn't need to have children. My father wasn't really bothered about having children but my mother pushed for it. They had four, in the end. After all the care my mother gave to her siblings, while she grew up, putting them before herself, but still choosing to have children of her own? Never choosing to pursue her own ambitions first, but putting me and my siblings first? Then I cry again.

I cry with thankfulness because I was safe, fed and warm. I cry when I think of my little boy's face, because I'm still so mentally young, yet trying to raise him with the greatest support. Getting him ready to have a life of his own. In a scary world, where one day, he'll maybe meet someone he chooses to raise a family of his own with.

Thank you mum, thank you dad, I well and truly, officially, thank you both, because, well, I'm still here. Still here and lucky enough to attempt to raise children of my own. Thank you for preparing me for this big world. If I can do for my little one what you have done for me, I will die a very happy person indeed. Thanks mum and dad xxx I love you

Thursday, 18 September 2014

Stockpiling for Dreams

As I walk with baby in the pram, dog by my side, I take in the scenery; sights, smells and sounds of nature and pretty stone cottages and pergolas covered in bougainvillea. There is so much to take in and it sends my imagination into overdrive. I get excited at the simplest of thoughts. Little ideas of how I could recreate something I've just seen. Noticing a trio of colours in the trees and saving it as a colour palette to apply to a crochet project in future. My mind is buzzing.

I wouldn't be surprised if passers by see huge grins make their way across my face, or looks of "Ah ha!" when I realise how I could make that dog house out of pallets. Crazy lady.

I'm definitely a dreamer. I dream big, and to the point where they actually become a reality to me. It's amazing how positive thinking like this can make your day brighter, and other people's too. The key is, as long as you are content with where you are in life and appreciate what you have, there is nothing wrong with dreaming big.

"I want to build a little stone house on a nice plot of land."

 It sounds materialistic, I know. It's the "I want.." that can make people cringe. However, there is a difference between "I want" and "I need" and I don't see anything wrong with wanting the outdoor space for my children and pets to play and run free, without the fear of them being poisoned (it happens here in Cyprus - some don't like dogs.. they love children though, I must add!). No, I don't need it. I am happily making wonderful memories where I am.

I know what my dream family home looks like. I have drawn up the plans. I have researched building materials. In the corner of the kitchen, I'd like a little wooden trough, lined with a burlap sack, to store my freshly-picked, home-grown produce in. This is the detail that my imagination takes me to. Because of these little things that make up a bigger dream, I have kept an eye out, every morning when I pass the rubbish bins, for other people's unwanted items, eg furniture. Yes, they could do with a hose down, dry out, sanding and a good waxing, but for the cost of a piece of sandpaper and wax, I could have the perfect table for my little boy to create his wax-crayon masterpieces on. If I put the elbow grease into these projects and someone were to see the beautiful finished article, they might say: "and to think you saw this by a bin, how lucky!" or "What a blessing!" but if I didn't believe my dreams were possible, I wouldn't have collected that grubby wooden room divider a few years ago. Or the pretty wooden blinds, hiding under a layer of dirt, so this is where it isn't luck, or a 'blessing' it is our choice of positive thoughts of making our dreams a reality. (Note: an interesting read here, regarding material possessions and blessings for my Christian friends)

I have recently started calling this 'Stockpiling for Dreams'. It's wonderful to have faith in what might seem impossible. I absolutely love my life, the people in it and I appreciate everything I have. I am content. That is where true happiness lies. So if your mind runs into overdrive like mine, don't feel guilty for your 'materialistic' dreams, as long as you are grateful and know you don't need such things, keep making amazing memories with what you have, while you stockpile for bigger dreams.

Anything is possible.

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Raccoon Scarf/Stole By A Sewing-Competent Mum

I've been a busy(ish) girl. I can now announce that I am competent on my (what was intimidating,) sewing machine!

I should have overcome this fear many years ago. It's my mother's trade, after all; dressmaking, craft, embroidery... but I always avoided the loud stuff and opted for peaceful creativity instead.

As my profile says, I love to crochet, especially now that I have a little one to give my creations to. 'Friendly Floppy Fox', my own design, accompanies little man's various trips in the pram, and occasionally takes a trip to the woods. Here he is slumped nonchalantly, at his favorite spot:

Living in Cyprus, the weather reaches some crazy-hot highs. I love it, always have. However, this creates a teeny tiny problem when it comes to baby-wearing, which I also love... a lot. Obscure items are not readily available in this country, such as baby slings made from swim wear material, so I knew it was time for me to grow a pair and run to Mum for some sewing lessons. An easy mini-cushion, with plenty of help. Then a baby bib, a bit of advice along the way. Then I felt overwhelmed, so I took a break and went back to crochet... until a couple of weeks ago, while organizing my craft project folders, something jumped out at me...

This fox scarf by Prudent Baby

 It was a project I fell in love with many months ago, at the time just a wishful dream; "I can't really sew, but I'll print it out anyway". I didn't want to forget it, but I also must have had some belief in myself, somewhere, that I'd one day be capable of creating such a cute creature (although in my mind I saw him as a raccoon).

It's funny how things work out. Before becoming a mum, I'd always imagined myself as a mature, sensible parent, a true nurturing type. An earth mother, in natural, bohemian clothing. One who perhaps used organic, cloth nappies. A woman who tended to her vegetable plot but who also pruned her roses, complete with sage green gardening gloves protecting her clean soft hands. In the oven, a hearty casserole, the smell of 'home' radiating from the kitchen. The cook wearing a floral apron with a lace trim. As I write this, I realise I'm mostly describing my Grandma and my Mum. It's what I recognize as home. Although when I became pregnant, I didn't really feel like I was any of these things. Definitely not maternal. I also strongly believed that I wasn't going to try and change, it had to come naturally (I didn't think it would at all). But slowly, beyond my control, things ARE changing.

So there it was, now with a baby boy by my side, this strong urge to create a friendly animal to cuddle his delicate little neck in the winter months. The times when we'll take trips to the forest in our wellies.

Out came the material I had set aside, including the faux fur from a gorgeous coat. A coat too hot for Cyprus, but too sentimental for a second-hand shop. The coat that got me the nickname 'Eskimo' at school, as I paired it with a pair of black Dr.Martins (I was more influenced by styles from 8 years before, than I was by the modern time's fashion - my older siblings are to blame - I idolised them all). And I just dived into the deep end and got on with it!

Tracing patterns, adapting from a fox to a raccoon, cutting out, forgetting to account for seam allowance, trying to sew too many layers of thick fabric together, googling 'sewing machine tension problems', fixing problem by re-threading machine too many times to count, sewing the tail on backwards, unpicking, re-sewing...

... This, in my opinion is the best way to learn, getting lost in unknown territory and finding your way out, so to speak. I believe I'll never forget how to thread a sewing machine again. The below phrase comes to mind (it adorns my positivity board):

So, here he is, in all his imperfect glory (he is yet to be named), adorning my wall of stuff!:

Sleeping on the bed head:

Hangin' around:

Showing off his lighter underside:

I have Prudent Baby to thank for this, although I've made some changes. I suggest you head over to her, then if you like the raccoon look, let me know and I'll upload the additional pieces. What now? Now I'm in the mood to make a floral apron with a lace trim. Hmmm...