Craft

More sewing.

I’ve been sewing again today. I currently have Wednesdays completely to myself so I took the opportunity to set my sewing machine / craft area up knowing I could sew a little, return to my laptop and work a little, and keep repeating without getting in anyone’s way.

I’d chosen a zipped, lined pouch as my next project. When I went to print the pattern for the first one I’d chosen to make I discovered that the pattern itself was no longer available so I went back to my Pinterest board and chose a different one. I was glad I did actually as the instructions and photos were clearer and more helpful.

I cut and ironed my pieces and got ready to sew.

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Mistakes were made. Seams were sewn, and ripped out, and resewn, but I worked out what needed to be changed and fixed it. I learned from them (mainly that my poor sense of direction applies to sewing as well as any sort of movement) and hopefully I won’t make them again.

I’m happy with the end result.

I learned new things again making this; changing the feet on my sewing machine, how to use a zipper foot and making sure patterned fabric is the right way round (this wasn’t the mistake I made, I stopped and thought about this part before I did it). I also had the opportunity to practice my slip stitching again.

This is the right sort of size for throwing essentials in when I’m using a little bag and don’t want to carry my whole purse, or when I’m using my camera bag rather than a handbag. I’ve got a couple of ideas that involve this sort of pouch and some of my other crafts so watch this space for some other projects.

 

Photography

Flowers in the sun.

It was a pretty strange day today weather wise. It was odd to wake up to glorious blue skies and at the same time hear the weather forecaster on the radio talk about how we’d got as good a chance of having snow today as anywhere. It may have been sunny but it was bitterly cold, I had to pop into our garden very briefly and was shocked by how cold it was. The sun was making some of the flowers look beautiful though so I grabbed my phone and snapped a few pictures before the sun could disappear (which it did, and then the hail and sleet followed).

Flowers have always been one of my favourite things to take photos of. I’m so lucky that all the hard work my parents have been doing over the last few years in their garden means that there are now lots of beautiful flowers for me to use as subjects!

Writing

Keeping on keeping on.

I blogged a couple of weeks back about starting to write creatively again, and about how it was all feeling very positive. Since then I’ve continued on a really positive streak with it, I passed the ten thousand word mark by the end of my second week of writing and it’s still feeling like lots of fun.

I’ve set myself a daily writing goal of 1,000 words but I’ve not set myself a goal for how many days I should be writing. The more writing advice I’ve read the more I’ve realised finding your own way is the best thing you can do. There are still so many who say you absolutely have to write each and every day, but this doesn’t sit well with me and so I’m not pushing myself to do it any more. I’ve actually found that I’ve exceeded my daily goal each and every day, even on the days when I’ve found it hard to get going I’ve ended up finding my rhythm and going at least a little past it.

One thing I have done is to establish an Excel spreadsheet for this project (it’s truly amazing that there are still people in my life who don’t realise I’m a huge geek, after all I hide it so well). It’s got all sorts of tabs, from a character list tab to a tab where I record my daily words, and best of all a tab that contains a giant graph that automatically updates with my day’s writing and shows me how much ahead of my 1,000 words a day goal I am. I am hugely motivated by visual representations of progress (I write all my words on a website that displays a star for every 100 words you write and a gold star for every 1,000) so I’m finding this graph is making a big difference to me.

Most of all I’m having fun. I already know that when I reach the end of this draft there is going to be so much work to do in order to edit it into something I’m willing to let anyone else see. I’m not getting bothered by that though, I’m remembering the Terry Pratchett quote that “the first draft is just you telling yourself the story” and enjoying the experience.

Craft

So far sew good.

I’m one of those crafters who loves everything to do with threads and fibres and fabrics but is actually pretty rubbish when it comes to making things using a sewing machine. For a whole multitude of reasons I haven’t had much experience using one, I’ve always felt pretty nervous about using one and it’s become a bit of a vicious circle.

I’m blessed though to have at hand a hugely experienced seamstress in my mom. She made her own wedding dress and her bridesmaid dresses and has made some lovely things for me over the years. I used to love sitting and watching the Great British Sewing Bee with her, she’d be very patient as I paused it to ask yet another basic question, desperate to learn and understand more.

I decided I was going to stop being so nervous about sewing and just get on with it. The more experience I get sewing the more comfortable with it and skilled I will become. I made a bag last year with plenty of assistance and guidance, and then did nothing more. I kept pinning things to my sewing board on Pinterest and then on Friday decided it was time to choose something and make it.

This was the end result. It was listed as a coin purse, apparently inspired by a Japanese design, but I wanted it as part of my cross stitching set up. Rather than pile up scrappy ends of threads once they’ve been cut, and to reduce the amount of time I spend searching for my embroidery scissors (seriously, I put them down and lose them multiple times every time I stitch) I can now use this as both a scissors holder and a temporary ends bin.

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I could write paragraphs on everything that isn’t quite right about it. There are mistakes I made, things I didn’t do very well, and there was a minor disaster when the iron stuck briefly to the lining fabric and distorted the end shape. I’m not going to get any more hung on the negatives though, instead I’m going to focus on the positives:

  • I felt far more confident approaching this and dealing with any problems
  • I used iron on interfacing for the first time (so easy, but it was yet another thing I’d never tried and so felt a little daunted by)
  • Sewing the side seams was a great opportunity to practice slip stitching, by the fourth I’d virtually mastered making the stitches invisible
  • My machine sewing was so much better than it’s been before, much more even and controlled
  • I didn’t have the right sort of snap fastener so I substituted velcro which brought it’s own sewing challenges which I conquered.

I’ve ordered a kit for fixing snap fasteners and am planning on making more of these plus some other small projects that will allow me to carry on increasing both my confidence and my skill level. I’ve got much bigger ideas for things I want to make but I’m going to go steadily and sensibly first.

Life

Back to the books?

I’m job hunting at the moment. I have been for quite a while, but part of the reason I moved home from London was to make the job hunt easier. Since moving and settling back into country life my job hunt has stepped up. It’s going slowly, I think it’s a process that invariably does. One thing I’ve noticed however is that no matter how qualified you might be, there are always going to be plenty of roles out there that want you to have more or different qualifications.

I like studying and learning. I’ve been reminded lately how much I enjoy them thanks to my daily Timehop being filled with comments about my past studies. I’ve always intended to continue studying at some point. There are so many things that I haven’t had the opportunity to learn, mainly because of the way you have to narrow your academic interests at every stage through the education process first making GCSE option choices before narrowing down to only 3 or 4  A Levels and then potentially one single subject degree. At the very least there are a couple of A Levels I would love to go back and complete, subject areas that were high interest to me but of low desirability for my already chosen higher education direction.

Now though I’m wondering whether further vocational type study might be my next step (those A Levels will be mine one day). There are a couple of sideways moves I could make from my existing work type that would require some further study and then open up all sorts of new opportunities. They’d be the sort of thing I could pursue independently alongside working (I can’t currently imagine stepping back out of the world of work for full time study) and could be a really interesting move long term.

There’s lots of thinking to be done first. Just because they seem like they’d be positive moves now doesn’t mean that by the time I was done they still would be (starting a Library focused degree just before spending cuts started closing libraries and removing qualified librarian posts has taught me a lot about being cautious about the future). I know I have a great talent for enthusiasm, but I also have a generally cautious streak so I’m happy to do yet more research and make sure I’m sure about whatever conclusion I come to. If nothing more thinking about this before I sleep certainly beats counting sheep!

Music

Friday Favourites.

Some more favourite things from this week (or rather that I’ve seen or thought about this week) to end Friday with.

First of all this combines one of my all time favourite musicals, Les Miserable, with one of my favourite performance type things, flash mobs. They’ve disabled the embed ability so you’ll have to click to go and watch it on YouTube but it’s very good, and worth it I’d say {LINK}

Secondly, the always excellent Jeremy Jordan’s Disney princess power ballad performance came back across my radar this week.

And finally I’ve talked about, and heard others talk about Matilda this week. I’ve shared this one before but I love it too much to not include it again. One of my favourite songs from the musical, with some of the lyrics I love best of all.