Eye of the Storm

Boy, have we had a hectic few months! And things are going to get pretty crazy soon. And yet, we seem to have hit the eye of the storm. Paul is on mid-term holidays, the bathroom reno company is booked in, we’ve had a rough quote on the new garage but can’t do anything more until we have a building permit and settlement happens on the new house.

The head cold I’ve had is past the worst, but the worst was quite incapacitating for a week or so and my deadline is looking even less achievable. I missed two art classes, so no progress on the portraits.

I did get some weaving done on the baby blankets, but only managed that because it’s mentally unchallenging. In the evenings I’ve mostly collapsed in front of the tv, browsing Pinterest and reading blogs, or books. The reading has been an unexpected up side, actually.

July is looking uneventful. Just a few social gatherings. Other than me knuckling down and finally getting some writing done, we’re enjoying the quiet before the post-settlement storm.

Preparations

I went into list-making, schedule-creating, organising mode a few weeks ago. This involved lots of post-it notes, different coloured pens and a whole lot of optimism. I wound up with these:

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Three lists of tasks: pre-settlement, post-settlement and pre-sale. The idea was to see what we make a start on, work out what order to do things in, and decide what we could safely put off until next year.

The challenge is to stop items in the first list slipping into the second or third one. We have to do as much information gathering and ordering as we can pre-settlement so the post-settlement projects start as soon as possible.

I’m also trying to use the spare time I have now to tidy up, cull or pack. I’d like to take some nice photos of the house, too. Progress has been slow thanks to Paul needing to prepare his mid-year folio, and me catching a cold. Blaarrrgh!

But I’ve make a start, decluttering, cleaning, and fixing a few things in the ensuite, like stripping off the black silicone the carpenter inexplicably left slathered on the rear sides of the bath (it was impossible to remove before, but time has made it dry out enough to scrape off). And we polished up the brass house number so you can see it against the brickwork now – one of those jobs you put off for ages but only takes half an hour.

I’m hoping to get the two portraits I’m doing finished and delivered to the subjects. I’ve finished Rachel’s, and Jason’s should be done in a few weeks. Though by the time I move I should have at least one new one underway, so it may not make much difference to how much I have to move.

When it comes to craft, however, finishing WIPs takes priority over starting new projects. I also need to make sure everything in the workroom can be packed away in easily transported containers. There’s bound to be some culling, too.

In the garden we’ve been spraying the weeds in the driveway – with the warmer weather it’s looking more like grass than gravel – and I’ve started taking cuttings.

And in the evenings I daydream about the new house, and pin a billion things to Pinterest boards.

Extra Post

I’ve not posted many FOs lately, because I’ve not finished anything in a long while. And that’s because I’ve been too busy or tired for crafting for several weeks.

April was a month of highs and lows. Supanova was great but I picked up a cold with a cough that lingered for weeks and weeks – I still get that catch in the lungs now and then – on top of the shingles that hit me the week before. Then the plans I’d made for the weeks after Supanova started to backfire, and I wasted a lot of time on ideas that weren’t as successful as I hoped or took longer than estimated, and wound up putting aside other good ones. I went through a two week period around the start of May feeling stressed, dejected and lacking in energy and enthusiasm.

Things perked up in mid May, though. And at the same time, in one of those ‘did this have to happen right NOW’ moments, we went to a house inspection mostly to divert ourselves and keep learning more about our area and really, really liked the place.

Four weeks later, we bid for it and won. So now we have moving house, fixing up a few things in the ‘new’ house, fixing up a few things in our ‘old’ house and selling it to add to a book deadline I probably can’t make thanks to the stuff mentioned at the beginning of this post, and Paul completing the rather full final year of his photography course.

We joked the other day that we have a knack for putting ourselves in stressful situations.

But… the new house is lovely. Not much bigger than this one, but better laid out, single level, bigger windows yet on an orientation that should be cooler in summer. I’m giving up my big workroom for two bedrooms, but I think that might suit me better, as it means craft won’t distract from work and visa versa. We lose a wonderful view, but gain a nice front yard with big trees. And it’s a much, much quieter area of this suburb, especially now that so many units have been built around the ‘old’ house.

Craft WIPs

Tapestry Bracelet – Abandoned
I went off the boil with this project. The trouble is, though I’ve sewed in the ends, the flower yarn is slippery enough that they worked their way out again. And it’s was such slow work. This is about five or more hour’s worth. Zzzznore!

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Art Necklace – in hiatus
I was going to fill the frames with little paintings of eyes and ears and mouths, then after I started embroidering I got the itch to stitch something instead. But I couldn’t think of a subject. Lately I’m thinking photos of my ancestors might be better – and much faster.

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Double Trouble Baby Blankets – picking up again
Inspired by a weaving group meeting on multiple projects on one warp at the Guild, I cut a warp for two baby blankets late March. I lost momentum for this project for a little while, but resumed warping a few weeks ago. Last weekend I finally finished and started weaving. I’d really like to give one of the blankets to a friend who had a baby in April.

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Two Heddle Leno Scarf – established
Another project inspired by the weaving group, after a meeting in which we explored bead leno. I got to thinking that bead leno should be possible on the rigid heddle loom if it had two heddles. Well, I didn’t manage to do bead leno, but worked out a way to do doup leno with tabby between.

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Gift Yarn Jacket Modification – current tv project
Adding another band of ribbing to this:

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Eye Embroidery – poised to begin
The skull was a great ongoing brainless portable project that I could pick up while watching tv or work on while travelling. Now that it’s done I’ve got this eye ready to go.

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Anti-social Media?

A month or so ago I was finally persuaded to join Facebook by a friend, who lured me in with talk about a ’99 projects’ group where everyone’s aim was to get 99 projects done in the year. I joined with a made-up name and only followed the closest and craftiest friends.

Yesterday I concluded that there was too little crafty inspiration and/or social interaction with those friends to justify the stuffing around you have to do to interact on Facebook. Pinterest provides far more inspiration and Twitter is much easier and quicker to interact within (though some recent changes have made it less intuitive).

That got me wondering… what happened to the ‘social’ in ‘social media’?

The answer is pretty obvious. There’s no profit in hosting a site that only lets people interact socially. These sites are about connecting people with people only so far as that helps connect them with products and services. Or rather, seeing how much advertising people will put up with, whether from companies or from friends ‘liking’ products and services, in order to keep up with their friends. For those who signed up early maybe it was good to begin with, then got worse slowly. Like raising the temperature of the water the frog is in, so to speak, without going too far and cooking the frog. You have to be in it early or it’s like jumping into boiling water.

Are there any social media sites where socialising is still the main function?

Ah. It all makes me miss the days when blogs were The Thing, before everyone started putting ads on their sites.

Moongazing

So it’s over a week ago now, but…

With the iPhone:
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With the point-and-shoot:
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With the SLR and a zoom lens:
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I couldn’t be bothered getting out the tripod. Besides, last time I photographed a lunar eclipse I found that the moon moved too quickly to get a sharp picture anyway. So I just took a dozen or so shots and hoped one would look okay.

Ups & Downs

Down: I got shingles three weeks ago.
Up: I’m the luckiest person to get shingles, because the rash was on my back, not my face, and the pain was never enough to warrant more than the occasional pain killer.
Down: It did tire me out, though, and when I flew up to the Gold Coast for Supanova I caught a cold.
Up: But Supanova went well. Lots of books signed. Met some interesting people. Bought stuff.
Down: There was a bit of a mess up thanks to my publisher not keeping me informed on publicity matters.
Up: Being sick meant I had to rest up in the week between Supanovas, giving me time to do the 20s dress refashion.
Down: However, I didn’t recover enough to regain my voice, and by the time I spend all weekend talking over the ambient noise I had lost my voice completely. Just a pathetic wheeze.
Up: I also embroidered a brooch for the lovely guest manager and was chuffed at how it came out
Down: And forgot to photograph it.
Up: We got solar panels installed two weeks ago.
Down: They look terrible and we’re going to have them moved.
Up: I have a job where it didn’t matter if I was a zombie all of last Monday. And Tuesday. And Wednesday.
Down: Except I haven’t written a word in three weeks and I have stacks of publicity stuff to do for a book coming out less than a month. The publicity girl at the local office of my publisher has gone on holidays without letting me know what she has arranged. Which was stressing me out until last night…
Up: … when I had a bit of a tipple and vented to Paul, and he to me, and we realised that, ultimately, none of these downs matter as much as they seem to. Life is mostly good, most of the time.

Back to the Beginning

I had some big plans at the start of the year. Photo albums and refashioning lists were going to be tackled. So what happened?

1) I could only work on the albums on my computer, which is in the workroom, which is impossibly hot in summer.

Actually, we finally finished the Japan album and sent it off to an album printing company last weekend. Pics to come.

2) Refashioning Neon Safire is kicking my a**.

I knit a new waist in mistake rib, then added the yarn for the old waistband as plain knit thinking it would curl up a little. But it curls up a lot. Ignoring that, I knit the new neck band… twice because I picked up too many stitches the first time. When I put it on, I found that separating the front to make it a cardy had widened it around the middle, which was good except that the fronts now wouldn’t stay over my ‘assets’. But I ignored that, too, and started knitting new sections on the arms. Arms that are really too tight… WHAT AM I DOING THIS IS A DISASTER?!

I think it’s time to concede defeat, acknowledge that nothing is going to make it fit right, and frog the dratted thing.

3) Lack of sleep from the hot weather meant I couldn’t get my head around the more complicated sewing refashions. And it was too hot to try on stuff.

Fair enough, I suppose. But I did get some refashioning done…

4) … until I got distracted by weaving and that crazy Mystery Box Challenge.

Well, there’s a reason this blog is called Creative Fidget.

Okay, so I’m determined to get stuck into the refashioning pile again, especially as I’ve added more to it since the beginning of the year. There’s a Craft Day coming up, so I’ll be bringing out the sewing machine and dress form and tackling some refashions at that.

That is, unless I hear the siren call of the loom, or the embroidery hoop, or…

Bloggyversary

March the 9th 2006. That’s the day I started this blog. That’s eight years ago. Eight years!

The blog has gone through a few incarnations. First it was called “Knitting & Chocolate” and was only about knitting, with a few other crafts tossed in now and then. Then on November 5th 2009 I changed it to “Creative Fidget” and started blogging about all my creative projects.

That was also when I changed to WordPress. I looked back through my posts recently, gathering information as I added old weaving projects to Ravelry, and boy did I have a lot of grief using Blogger. WordPress isn’t perfect, but it is such an improvement.

I’ve had the same WordPress theme since then. I did try changing it once, but it resulted in a blank white page and I had to restore the old version from the backup. I tried again a few weeks ago and it worked (obviously). A different website host that supports the most recent version of WordPress probably helped.

Though I looked at a pile of other themes, I settled on the one that failed to load last time because I still like it. It’s simple and clean. The only big change is I can put an image up as a header.

And the blog content? No plans to change. Lots of craft, art, DIY, Recycling, home and wardrobe improvement, holidays, and occasional baking and gardening posts.

Heatpocalypse

When the week ahead involves four days over 40 degrees C there’s no point making firm plans about anything. Staying as cool as possible was the priority. Being self employed means I can declare the days a ‘holiday’, though it does make for a pretty unpleasant sort of holiday.

It meant abandoning the upstairs and setting up downstairs. We slept in the guest room and I spent my days crafting, or attempting to, at the dining table under the aircon. I planned to tackle the refashion pile, and even wrote a long post about all the projects on it. But as good as aircon is it’s not good enough for trying on heavier clothing, and after three warm nights not quite cool enough for good sleep, in a less comfortable bed, my brain wasn’t awake enough for challenging refashions.

Pfft to plans, anyway.

On Wednesday I finally got to a Handweavers and Spinners Guild summer school workshop. Since I’ve broken my feet (have I mentioned that I have a pair of strained fascias from all the walking I’ve been doing in order to combat osteoporosis?) I’m not supposed to walk much and pressing the foot pedals in the Mini for long is painful, so Paul drove me there and picked me up later. Thankfully the guild is air-conditioned now. It was a Miniature Tapestry workshop and a great way to make another unbearably hot day pass faster. I’ll write a separate post about it later.

While I was there I succumbed to temptation and picked up one of the guild’s mystery challenge boxes. You grab a little chinese food box full of stuff and have to use at least 50% of it to make something. From the moment I started looking through mine I knew I wanted to make a figurine, and in the evening began sketching ideas.

And I spent half of Thursday staring at the contents in a state of dazed sleep-deprivation, the other half picking up and putting down refashioning projects. I did attempt to felt a figurine body, but that was a complete disaster. At least getting my hands wet did help to cool me down. All I made that day was a very simple leather bracelet.

Friday I was more awake and managed to finish a couple of crafty projects before tackling the mystery box again. This time I managed to make something – mostly by deciding I’d work out how to make a body later and concentrate on the clothes for now.

So I did craft during the heatpocalypse. In a bit of a stupor, and half of it on a completely new project, but at least the days weren’t completely wasted.