Thursday, 23 May 2013

Creativity and Wellbeing

I was recently reading a post on Tilly and the Buttons that mentioned Stitchlinks. I'd never heard about it and my curiosity was piqued. 

It is a movement that promotes wellbeing through creativity.  Now I've always felt that making something makes me feel better about all sorts of stuff, and since we've had a garden, DH and I also find that an hour pottering in the garden has a brilliantly relaxing affect on you.  It doesn't matter what cr@p you've had to deal with during the day/week, concentrating on weeding, mowing the lawn, sowing (or indeed sewing!) seeds etc is great at making you forget about it all and your mind is free to wander and relax.  Sewing, embroidery, crafts have the same affect on me, so I was thrilled to hear about Stitchlinks and their work.

I've mentioned it here a few times and people who have known me long will know that I regularly travel with my handiwork (eg see Madame Defarge strikes again), which is also advocated by Stitchlinks.  I stitched most of my first commission of 2013 during my daily commute.  And I remember knitting a jade green sweater for myself when I was travelling on the school bus (I had a 'thing' for jade back then and even had a jade coloured camera (which was no good when trying to take discreet photos of someone I fancied!)).  Having taken textiles at GCSE and A-level too, I was often seen carrying odd-shaped parcels to and from school (the classic must have been my soft-sculpture microwave which is still in my parents' attic!).  And in the days before 9/11 I'd even take my needle, thread and Swiss army knife on board planes and stitch my way on holiday - oh how I miss those days!  At least they're not banned from trains and buses :-)

So, if Stitchlinks can help people who feel isolated, suffer from depression etc cope better with day to day life by knitting, stitching, crocheting their way to a happier life - good for them!  I'm all for it and will certainly try to advocate creative activity as a way to 'put life into perspective' again, when things seem to be getting out of hand.

Sunday, 19 May 2013

Commission update 4 - a hard life

With one thing and another, I hadn't managed to finish DN's bus, nor started on the stitiching part of my next commission - the snowdrop sampler.  April and early May was all go with family visits, marathon running (not me!), family birthdays, a wedding, new kitchen windows, a garden to tidy (at last), curtains to finish, leaks to get repaired...  Not to mention the regular things like work and choir rehearsals - zumba has gone out of the window a bit too and I must try to fit that or some other exercise back into my schedule.

However, we have just had a holiday (yay!) and it was the perfect opportunity to have some peace and quiet to get on with things.  Scanning my draft posts before going away, there were a couple of possibilities.  I could have made some key rings - small, quick projects that are portable - but that would have meant taking a number of options for threads and patterns as well.  Although it was quite tempting.

But the really sensible option was to finish DN's bus (at long last) and to get going on this snowdrop sampler.  The design has been ready for a while and it only needs four colours of threads and the linen has arrived.

I duly packed it all into my case and set off for the airport.  I felt  a little frustrated on the way out as I didn't want to risk anything being confiscated by airport security, as I knew that they wouldn't let me take scissors on board.  I presumed that needles would be the same, so ended up sleeping and reading on the way out, only to realise after arriving that somehow a needle had fallen to the bottom of my hand luggage (from when I'd been using it for my commute and cross-stitiching on the train).

We had such a busy, packed time sunbathing by a beautiful lagoon or visiting pretty little islands on boat trips that I didn't do quite as much stitching as I thought I would.  BUT despite this hardship, I did manage to finish DN's bus (fanfare & fireworks!).

Now, the pattern stated that the 'shadows' should be stitched in french knots.
But, I had been putting off doing all the french knots as I really didn't fancy it on aida fabric.  Then,  having started DH and I both thought they looked awful (could be my bad french knots of course).  So I changed plan and stitched half cross-stitches instead.

Maybe, not as interesting, but certainly tidier and more even, and it still gives the 'shadow' effect.

Sunday, 12 May 2013

Completion weekend

Before you all panic, no, we haven't decided to move house or anything.  This is more exciting, by far (imho at least!) and certainly cheaper and less stressful!  I was determined last week to stick at it over the weekend and finish some long-overdue projects, if for no other reason than to have something to tell you all about!

So, Friday I added to my list of (finally) finished UFOs by sewing the binding to edge the Breton napkins I started last century.
Breton napkins to match DM's tablecloth - started c.1999, completed May 2013
I also finished a gift for MIL (a 'commission' from FIL) - a (very) small keyring of the Canterbury cross.

But the major achievement was to finish (and hang) the dining room curtains.  I didn't make quite as much progress on them on Friday as I'd hoped, but at least each layer was cut out and ready to put together.  Most of Saturday was spent doing that and getting the header buckram into place (with a few gardening sojourns when DH needed a second pair of hands), but was cut short when I ran out of said buckram (pants!).  Thankfully a quick trip to John Lewis curtain department was possible on Sunday after chapel and so, while DH demolished a shrub tree in the garden, I got on with pleating the curtains so we could hang them before the day was over.

It was much easier making these.  The main thing was that there wasn't quite (understatement of the millennium) as much bulk in them as there was in the living room curtains.  But obviously, I'd made one pair already, so I had a much better idea of what I was doing and what worked well etc from my previous experience.  Another 'improvement' I made with making these was to cut the interlining to the hanging length (plus top seam allowance) so that the final stretch of finishing the hems off should be slightly easier.  That is the plan at least.  I'm still waiting for the weight tape for both pairs, so I won't finish them completely until that arrives.  However, in the meantime I'm hoping the pleats will set reasonably with their ribbons holding them in place and shall look forward to drawing curtains in both rooms and sitting back to admire my hard work.

Saturday, 11 May 2013

Key to it all

Now, how many of you realised that cross stitch was hi-tech?!

Well, believe it or not, I've been stitching these keyrings/magnets with the help of my DH's i-Pod!!!
Thanks to the 'newstand' app, I can now get my favourite cross stitch magazine on my i-Pod and take my patterns with me whereever I go!  How fab is that?!

But returning to lo-tech, here's another keyring I stitched on another train journey as a gift for MIL.  I did cheat by copying a photo of a larger cross stitch, but 'downsized' it to fit the keyring by stitching over one thread of evenweave.  I initially intended to use Aida, but I just couldn't get all the detail in.  Surprisingly, it was less of a fiddle stitching such tiny stitches than I expected and I think it is rather sweet.