Friday, 1 August 2014

One Month On (Bullet Journaling Update)

At the beginning of July I wrote about Bullet Journaling and my plans to try it. From various comments, emails and tweets, I know I'm not the only one who did so (thanks for contacting/tagging me with your updates!). For those who missed the previous post, bullet journaling is essentially an analogue note-taking method which combines to-do lists, reminders and any other notes in one single place, entered daily and referenced in an index. You can read more about it on the official website. I've been using my Midori Traveler's Notebooks (or handmade variants known as 'fauxdoris') for some time to plan my blog posts and make pattern / design notes, so it wasn't a massive leap but there are a few things I've noted this month.
Bullet Journal update
- Having all tasks and lists in one place (personal, household, school, blog, design ideas etc) simply means there is less chance to forget to check - my phone/diary/calendar/list - and miss something. I've been known to make lists and forget to take them out/ look at them (in fact I'm a repeat-offender) so this method works really well for me.
- A blank notebook can be quite intimidating when you like things to be just so, and with a Midori notebook you can't really pull out the pages that didn't turn out as nice/neat as you might like. I had to let go of this idea pretty early on in the month. As a reminder, my front page reads "a done something is better than a perfect nothing"- in other words, just get on with it!
- I've learned that there aren't many 'mistakes' that can't be hidden by some stickers, washi tape or glue. In fact the spontaneously messy entries, complete with inconsistent penmanship, add to the journal. My new charm (from Baum Kuchen) reads "it is what it is". This relates as much to the book as to the life it is organising and documenting.
- I've started doodling with watercolours - mostly little design ideas, so they are not yet ready to share but I'm really enjoying it - I haven't used paints since my Art A-level. Plus the more ideas are noted, the more I seem to have.
- As well as the lists and reminders, some pages act as a scrapbook. When we go out we're keeping tickets and interesting things to stick in, and after getting some Instagram photos printed onto sticker paper (via I've added images too. I'm expecting a pocket photo printer to arrive from Korea in the next week or so, then it will be possible to print out the photos and journal immediately. It's great having a phone that can take loads of digital pics on the go, but even nicer "release" the moments into print. 
- Typically I write the list for the following day before going to sleep. It's a nice way of finishing the day and clearing my mind. After one month it's already become something of a habit, and it feels like a good one.- The children have started journalling. We're keeping their finished books in a special box to look back on.
Bullet Journaling update!
With the benefit of hindsight, there are a few things that I'll do differently in August. For starters, after using a whole refill in July, I've added another insert to act as a Commonplace Book - this will outlive the bullet journal and mean I don't have to carry any completed bullet journal inserts for reference, which I'm having to do now. Which brings me on to the contents of my Midori. 

The rest of this post is really aimed at those I fondly think of as the 'Detail Junkies' amongst you, because I often get emails asking for more information: 
Here's what I'm using - pictured from top to bottom:
- Midori Traveler's Notebook (MTN) - regular sized in brown. Mine is from UK stockist TJS but Baum Kuchen (USA) and Amazon also stock them. 
- MTN zip wallet  insert  No. 008 (not clearly visible from pic)
- No 002 (this is the completed book from July, for reference, and is stuffed full!) 
- Lightweight paper refill - No 013 (new Bullet Journal for August) 
- Blank notebook refill - No 003 (new Commonplace Insert)
- Monthly planner refill - No 017 (blog planner) 
- Waterproof UniPen size 03

There are various handmade versions of the notebook cover and inserts available, and I'm collating some of my favourite Etsy finds on this page - which includes washi tape, stickers, charms and all sorts. 

You might also like:
- Ray Blake's blog 'My life all in one place' which has loads of print outs, tips and a great video on how to make your own 'fauxdori'. He also makes them for others -  I have a Raydori which is the lovely green one in the pompom bookmark pic above. 
- *enabling alert* The MTN Resources facebook group has EVERYTHING you might ever want to know, but may be extremely bad for your wallet - it's where I found out about the pocket printer and lots of other things I didn't know I 'needed'! 
Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Over to You: Claire Torbett

A little while ago I invited readers who did not already have a blog to submit a crafty 'Show & Tell' they would like to share. I was delighted when the following post arrived in my inbox from Claire, because I too wasted spent many hours on Sudoku in the years BC (Before Crafting)! Here's what Claire had to say:

Why Crochet is Better than Sudoku...
I’ve never been very good at sitting still. Once the children are in bed, dinner’s been had and tidied up after and the TV is on, I get twitchy hands. I’ve surfed the internet, completed jigsaws and solved a serious quantity of Sudoku puzzles in a bid to keep my hands and mind busy. In May 2011, I decided I need something new. I like learning but what to choose? Going out in the evenings is difficult due to my husband’s long hours and two small children (one only three months old at the time) so it need to be something to do at home. A few friends on an internet forum crocheted.Young people. People like me. I liked what they produced but have never considered myself a “crafty” person and didn’t think I’d be much good at it. Nonetheless, I decided to give it a whirl.

I reserved a book at the library, bought a 3.5mm hook and some double knitting yarn and set to it with my book, advice from crocheting friends and some YouTube tutorials. It was hard to get started: the yarn needed holding a certain way; the hook had to go in this gap, not that one and the finished swatch was, well, wonky. But soon I got the hang of it and I was hooked (pun intended!).

What have I got to show for my new crochet habit? Blankets (many), hats (lots), toddler jumpers and cardigans, scarves, bowls, snowmen, snowflakes, apples, pears, a pumpkin, a mug cosy, crab and octopus finger puppets, cakes and a fried egg. Oh, and a cupboard full of yarn and some pretty, shiny hooks! What have I got to show for my old Sudoku habit? Completed grids of numbers and an average time of just over 7 minutes on the expert level of my phone app. 

People are nice about my crochet. They show an interest in what I’m doing and what I’ve done. They touch and examine what I’ve made and say nice things about it. They’ve asked me to make things for them. I can give original gifts. It makes me smile. People care and it’s great. I’ve met lots of people through my new hobby which helped a lot when we moved to Belgium two years ago. 
I still do Sudoku from time to time but no one’s bothered when you’ve completed a Sudoku puzzle – not even the REALLY hard one on the very back page!

All images are (c) Claire Torbett, used with permission. If you'd like to submit a 'Show & Tell' of your own for consideration there are a few more slots available, so please email me
Monday, 28 July 2014

The Creative Blog Hop

Last Monday, Wink from A Creative Being tagged me in a new blog hop. Today I'm delighted to welcome any new readers who may be here as a result, and to tell you more about my current projects and creative process. (The blog hop involves answering questions about my creations, but I've written it as a piece of prose rather than using the typical Q&A format.)

It's the school holidays for the next six weeks. This equates not only to very little time alone but also constant interruptions and plenty of noise! My expectations have been managed accordingly and I'm planning only a few little things for the next month and a half:
- Compiling project ideas/patterns for the school knitting club, which starts again in September
- Some quick and easy projects for the blog
- Developing an idea into a new knitting pattern. This is what I'd like to tell you about today.
As a teen my creative heart was sidelined by those who purported to know better (my teachers, careers advisors etc) so that my academic brain could secure me a 'good career'. I ended up spending three years of my life on a law degree which I did not enjoy at all. During that time there wasn't much opportunity to do anything creative, and when I emerged with a degree I'd never use and the huge amount of student debt that financed it, I had to get straight to work. It wasn't until my second child came along at the age of 35 that I finally had the perfect coincidence (planetary-alignment, call it what you will) of opportunity and desire - maybe it was desperation - to do something creative. I picked up the knitting needles and registered a domain name.

Learning to knit (and blog) satisfied the creative urge for some time, but all addicts eventually need a new 'fix'. For some knitters that's making more complicated things - intarsia, difficult cables, big things on tiny needles.... but for me, for the moment at least, it's learning to translate my ideas into written form in a way that is easily accessible to all knitters. If I could go back in time, knowing what I know now, I'd have studied design of some sort. As it is, I'm finding my way as I go.

I have notebooks full of ideas. Some are just reminders of a nice stitch pattern I haven't decided what to do with yet, others are more-or-less finished designs. With age I'm learning patience. There is no hurry and they will come to fruition when they are ready. Some ideas develop over time, without ever leaving the page - Seafoam is a perfect example of that. It was inspired by a photograph and started as a 'semi-circular shawl' idea in my notebook...
... but changed shape - for the better - by the time it got to the needles, several months later.
Seafoam Shawlette-to-Shrug
This summer I'm going to start work on a new pattern for a shawl. It's inspired by a photo I took of the children at Goring Beach in the Spring and I suddenly have a strong urge to get it done before the children go back to school. It's time to see it in physical form, not trapped on the page. I'll keep you posted!
It just remains for me to tag a couple of other bloggers I think you'd love - if you haven't already discovered them for yourself - Deb over at A World of Imagination, and Jacqui from Happy Making Designs. Deb is a fabulous blogger whose knitting always looks amazing. She has a great eye for colour and I love her project photographs so much that she's responsible for various things on my Ravelry wishlist. Jacqui is best known as a designer and teacher, but she also has a great blog. It's informative, interesting, and often very funny. She has a great way with words - I think you'll like it. I'll look forward to reading Deb and Jacqui's posts next Monday and hope you'll drop by and say hello to them too. 
Sunday, 27 July 2014

Not the Sunday I'd planned

After a very brief trip to Wales to see my grandparents I came back feeling concerned and a bit sad (both in their eighties, they are looking considerably more frail than the last time I saw them...) but very glad to have seen them. When he asked why I was going, Little Miss had told her brother - in no uncertain terms - that they are both old and I was worried they'd die before our next visit. Those aren't the words I'd have used, but she had certainly grasped the sentiment. Each hour I spend laughing and chatting with them is a blessing, something to be treasured. I hope there will be many more, but am mindful that this may not be the case.

As I left for home I told my grandmother to call if she needs me to come back sooner than my next scheduled visit - her characteristic reply was "Don't you worry about that. When I go, I plan to go quick." She's stubborn as a mule, so I have no doubt it'll be so! She's already given me all of the family birthday cards until the end of the year, as well as a few pounds to get the children something for Christmas, but I'm hoping this is more of a sign of her pragmatism than any impending doom. 

Nevertheless, with all this on my mind, I'd planned to take it easy today. A quiet day in the garden, watching the children play and catching up on some knitting. In fact, it looked a lot like this to begin with: 
The Sunday I planned
As it turned out, I spent most of the day in A&E with mum who experienced chest pain while she was sewing. Of course I insisted on calling 111 who then sent an ambulance that I had to follow to the hospital, 40 minutes away. Many (!) hours and tests later, it seems her heart is fine - she even got a 'high 5' from the doctor for all her (fitalong) walking, but we don't know what caused her pain, and it was scary for a while.

Days like today make me feel immensely grateful for our National Health Service - the ambulance and hospital staff were fantastic and made the waiting around much more bearable. (I really wish I'd grabbed my knitting before we left, it may have been finished!)

As we got home after 23:00, my other craft plans went awry - I'll tell you what else I'm working on tomorrow. All that remains tonight is to announce the winner of the pompom maker giveaway.....

Congratulations Elizabeth - once I have your address, your prize will be on it's way from Black Sheep Wools who have kindly sponsored the giveaway. For those who didn't win, I'd absolutely recommend getting yourself a set as they are so much fun!
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Welcome to CftC! You'll find lots of knitting, spinning, crochet, books and snippets of family life amongst the archives and you may like to start with my most popular tips & tutorials, or the patterns. You can read more about me on the 'Hello' page and if you like it here, you may also like to visit the CftC pages on Ravelry, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and Etsy. I hope you enjoy your visit! Sarah


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