Reading together
News & Updates, Tatting

Hello 2015

Reading together
Katja and Elisa Reading together

Welcome to 2015! Yes, here I am again trying to get this blog thing going properly. Last year was a bit of a fizzer in blog terms. I couldn’t even reliably post a single monthly post of pics so how on earth I figured I’d handle a 10 week long project is totally beyond me! Needless to say, one kid got sick. Then the other got sick and then I got sick (nothing big, just colds) and then Christmas happened and projects just fell off the truck.

Anyway, no apologies – no point really in apologising for putting family and life before blogging! Today I am full of motivation. I’ve cleaned the kitchen and done all of my other online chores. I’ve one child currently asleep and the other is drawing pictures for me. I’ve had one grocery shop arrive and another is due this afternoon – found out that one of the supermarkets has a very very good special on at the moment for stuff that we can buy in bulk so placed a special order. Oh and half of our regular nappy order has just been delivered as well. Love online shopping! So much done and I haven’t had to bundle kids into prams, negotiate buses and deal with tantrums.

Do you do your grocery shopping online or do you still physically go to the store?

This morning I’ve also rejoined the Ring of Tatters. This is a kind of last ditch thing for me. I’ve been a member for many many years but I’ve been increasingly unhappy with them. I have many gripes which I won’t go into as that would be unfair just now but my main issue is that I don’t seem able to get an email answered. I’ve sent quite a few over a couple of years – mostly in response to things in the newsletter along the lines of “for more information email…” and I’ve never once received a response. The Ring of Tatters has a library of physical books which, now that I’m living in the UK, I should have access to and yet for 2 years of trying I was never able to borrow anything using the process that they give of emailing the librarian. I’ve been feeling very ripped off as a result. But new year and we’ll see how they go this time.

Have you ever ben disappointed by a group that you’ve joined? Did you persevere and if so what was the result? or did you just walk away?

Challenges, Stuff

The Xmas Xclutter Challenge

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I have bad news if you’re a crafter, and good news if you’re a kid. Christmas is coming up, in fact it’s 80 days until the big day.

As I look around me I can see an awful lot of stuff. Kids stuff, my stuff, his stuff. Stuff everywhere. And to think that it was less than 10 years ago that I arrived in Dublin with 2 suitcases and 2 packing boxes. Somehow since then I have managed to aquire stuff at a frightening rate.

I was chatting to my lovely friend KT about this state of affairs and we decided that now would be a good time to do a purge.

But the trouble with purges is that they’re hard work. Too often you get started with gusto and then get interrupted by having to go to work, or by the children deciding that the clothes horse would make a great actual horse and then before you know it, the stuff is restashed and you’ve not moved on.

So, we have decided to embark on a 10 week declutter challenge and if you like you are quite welcome to join us. We’re going to be gentle about this because, well, we have lives. So here are the rules.

  • Take a box or bag of arbitrary but slightly greater than is totally easy to fill size – I’m using the one above (book included to give vague non-helpful idea of scale)
  • On Monday I’ll post the theme for the week.
  • You have until the following Sunday night to fill your container with stuff to get rid of, but it MUST include at least one item that fulfills the theme.
  • Post a photo on your favourite social site and tag it #xmasxclutter. In the interests of privacy and all that you can post a photo of just an item that fulfills the theme, all of your stuff that you’re getting rid of, or even just your filled and closed container.

Stuff for our purposes is defined as things that can be given away. The idea is to get rid of all the stuff you’re hoarding in time for someone else to benefit before Christmas. No point dumping a load of trash, although that may help you to clean it’s not really in the spirit of this.

How do you get rid of your stuff? However you like. The challenge is to be rid of it by Sunday night. You can go for a quick sale on an online auction site, give it to charity, hand it to a friend or whatever you like.

OK, so them’s the rules – now to get started!

Today’s challenge theme is Smalls

By Smalls we could mean clearing out your smalls drawers – those knickers with the broken elastic might be able to go to a rag company (do check and do make sure everything is clean because ewww) and that grogeous bra, well let’s be honest here. Even if you DO manage to put the weight back on, chances are your shape will change, so make some room for more pretties.

Smalls might also mean small things. Jewellery, buttons etc the collection of spare screws from the flatpack company which you could not for the life of you remember which goes with which. The spare keys for the windows that got replaced years ago. The copper coin collection that takes up space.

I’m so looking forward to seeing your pictures and to having less stuff myself!

Craft, Katja, My Week in Pictures, Stuff, Tatting

Christmas Failures

First decoration on our real tree #tattinglace

It’s been a crazy few weeks here, but I guess that’s the same for everyone in the Christmas countries. As a result I have totally failed to send cards to anyone, presents have made it only by the skin of their teeth and because I bypassed the wrapping and went straight from store to Mum (thanks Mum!). I also failed to procure baubles for the Christmas tree – shops are out of red ones, I don’t understand!

However, we did survive gastrogeddon which Katja generously brought home from nursery to share. Speaking of nursery, she is loving it now. Gets excited when we arrive and tries to beat the door down while I get her pram sorted. Last Monday was the nursery Christmas party, she was delighted when we went in on an off day and thought Santa was the bees’ knees 🙂

Bump is doing well – very very active which is lovely. We’re booked in for an additional 3 ultrasounds before we meet her – huge bonus! Pelvic pain is getting a bit out of hand at the moment which is the only downer on the pregnancy front.

And the win? I procured some metallic thread and yesterday churned out the snowflake above. It’s needle tatted and took 4 hrs to finish. About the size of a saucer, looks great on the tree.

PS. I was meant to post this on Thursday and failed to do that too! Christian managed to find baubles and I made another snowflake.

Craft, Parenthood

Learning to Craft

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When I saw the tweet from one of my friends who owns an LYS here in Edinburgh asking if anyone could teach cross stitch I thought, well why not? Granted it had been years since I last did any cross stitch, but I used to do a fair amount of it – I even found my alternative name spelling via a cross stitch book! (a post about that in the near future)

And so I met the lovely lady in a local quiet pub. She had brought along her project and I had brought some 14 count Aida cloth so that I could demonstrate. At the end of the almost 2 hours she was cross stitching competently, although still unsure of her abilities she can certainly perform the stitches and the back of her work was neat.

But that’s not what this post is actually about. This post is a result of the general conversations that we had in that session, conversations that made me realise just how amazingly lucky I have been.

You see, craft has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. Mum would always include something crafty in our Christmas gifts, never made a fuss about it, just had the stitching kit or model or painting kit there. Part of Christmas was always starting a new project.

My paternal grandmother, was always crafting as well. I have a couple of pieces that she made that were framed by my grandfather and I have some happy memories of her helping me to complete the tapestry kit I had gotten for Christmas one year. I thought it was the most perfect piece of tapestry work ever completed, it was only many years later that I realised just how many mistakes there were!

Grandad made more than just frames, I remember “helping” him to design the brake system for my billy cart. I also remember the day that I decided that all I wanted in the whole world was a circular skirt. Mum helped me find fabric and then she set up the machine and left me to it. I figured the rest out myself with the occasional suggestion for improvement from Mum.

And that I think was a key. I was always encouraged to have a go and to figure things out and then when I needed help it was there for me, but Mum never would have done it for me and I don’t recall anyone ever telling me that I couldn’t do something. The day I came home from school and announced that I wanted to learn to tat, Mum said she’d found it impossible but she never for a moment made me feel that I wouldn’t be able to do it. She handed me her shuttle and thread and then later gave me money to get pattern books and more threads once I’d taught myself the flip.

I was lucky in that by crafting from such a young age I was able to draw on skills learnt whenever I picked up a new craft, which in turn made it easier to learn those. The result of all of this is not only a lifelong love affair with making stuff, but also a good grounding in how to follow instructions, how to pay attention to what I’m doing so that I can undo it, and also an innate belief in my own abilities to pick up anything that I want to and not just craft. If I’ve ever had difficulty with a craft I’ve just put it down and come back to it later, I’ve never ever for a moment considered that I was too stupid to understand, it was always a case of not the right time.

And this belief in my own abilities to do stuff and to figure stuff out is what allowed me to move to the other side of the world before Facebook existed. It also allowed me to have friends and contacts all over the world and gave me an appreciation of cultures that would be hard to get from just reading books. Crafting also gives you an appreciation for the journey, it’s as much about the process as it is about the end result – you learn to stop and smell the roses and to appreciate the details.

Of course I was lucky enough to have patient teachers who allowed me to explore and make mistakes. The worst thing you can do with a student who is having trouble “getting it” is to tell that person that it’s their fault – if you know your stuff you should be able to re-explain from a different perspective and help that person to understand what they need to do. And then there’s YouTube. On one hand it’s brilliant as it gives access to so many instructional videos, but then again there’s so many really bad ones too – another post coming up soon on that topic!

Anyway, I’m looking forward to teaching Katja to do all sorts of crafts, and looking forward to the self confidence that this will give her, not to mention the future filled with beautiful things, self-reliance and amazing friends and maybe even a career if that’s what she wants.

My Week in Pictures

Week 12.52 Christmas

Week 52 runs from December 24 to 30. It’s the last week of 2012, Christmas week and we’re in Germany.

Christmas morning

20121225 – Katja’s first Christmas, wearing the dress that I knit for her.

A new trick for Christmas Day!

20121225 – A new trick for Christmas Day! Katja discovers what I’ve been telling her for months now – her cute little toes are nommy!

Watching a movie with Daddy

20121225 – Watching a movie with Daddy.

There's exactly 2 chances of this face leading to sleep - Buckley's and none!

20121226 – We put the little girl down for a nap and a few minutes later I decided to check on her – this is what I saw! There’s exactly 2 chances of this face leading to sleep – Buckley’s and none!

Aunty Jenna makes awesome presents!

20121228 – Aunty Jenna makes awesome presents!

Choir concert in a baroque church

20121230 – Winfridia choir concert in the baroque Fulda city church.

Memory Monday

Memory Monday – Christmas Magic

Christmases at my Aunty Kath and Uncle Don’s place were always magical. Kath and Don are my godparents, no actual relation. They generally included a birthday celebration for me, heaps of presents (which Marcus and I got to hand out) and a magical gingerbread house. I don’t remember ever eating the gingerbread house, but I do remember being fascinated by it! This particular shot I’m wearing the flower-girl dress from Kath and Don’s daughter Pam’s wedding. This would make me about 5. When Christian and I visited them in February of this year we found that the place hadn’t changed a bit!

Memory Monday

Memory Monday – Christmas Past

I keep a lot of the cards that I receive. They take up a lot of space, but I think it’s space that’s worth it as each is a treasured memory to me. In my Dublin apartment we had wardroes with opening doors – the backs of these were plastered with cards so that every time I opened my wardrobe I would be reminded of happy memories. Unfortunately with my moving some cards have gotten lost along the way.

This particular card was made for me way back in high school by my good friend Richard Morden – who grew up to be a fabulous illustrator. As much as I love the shop bought cards, really it’s the message and thought that counts, there’s something extra special about something handmade.

What do you do with old Christmas and birthday cards? Do you keep them, recycle them or throw them away? If you keep them what do you do with them?