Coloring nearly done …

©Angela Porter 2019 - Artwyrd.com
©Angela Porter 2019 – Artwyrd.com

I’ve had a quiet morning at home today and have taken the opportunity to have some self-care time, which for me means adding more colour to this design.

I’ve had three emotionally tiring days in a row; EMDR on Monday and anti-stigma talks on Tuesday and Wednesday. I also had two longish trips on Tuesday to Swansea and then Hereford in absolutely horrid weather.

I had a good sleep last night, but I still feel exhausted and I have one more anti-stigma talk to do in Cwmbran this afternoon. All done in my role as a champion for Time to Change Wales.

I could just curl up in bed and sleep again now, but the shower is calling me and I need to sort myself out for that trip to Cwmbran.

Some might say I’m doing too much. Possibly. But it’s important stuff talking about mental health in the aim of raising awareness, understanding and reducing the stigma and discrimination that exists around mental illness.

Yes, I may be exhausted afterwards. Yes, I may need self-care time for a day or so. But it’s important to do this. It’s important to me.

If I’d known more about what a healthy mind and healthy emotions are when I was younger maybe, just maybe I could’ve sought out help and it may have been easier to achieve recovery.

Maybe I would’ve been more self-aware and able to make better life choices so I didn’t add to the trauma I already carried within me. Maybe I would’ve been wiser and cared a little more about myself and not given so much of myself.

If I can help people to recognise that their mental or emotional health isn’t as it could be and to find a way to change that without fear of stigma or discrimination then I think it’s worth it.

That’s why I do it. Even when I myself am emotionally drained from it. I know I’ll recover. I know that on my way home today I’m likely to get some nice food to cook this evening, maybe even some Ben and Jerry’s Karamel Sutra, and I would like to settle down and watch some Star Wars.

I also want to get some cotton yarn. I had a book in the post at the weekend that has crochet patterns in it for what the American’s call ‘market bags’ and we in the UK call ‘shopping bags’. Crocheted, netting, pretty, reusable, personalised in terms of colour and embellishments.

I shall look forward to an evening of such self care tonight. A chance to properly stop, breathe and relax.

Planting seeds of love work in progress and a new little pretty…

Planting Seeds of Love – Work in Progress

Planting seeds of love WIP 8Apr12 © Angela Porter 2012

This is a work in progress, and I’m not at all sure about it.  I had the title first (I’m working on loving and accepting myself), then a mental image of what I wanted to do, but I’m not at all sure about what has resulted from it.  Usually by this stage in a piece of art I know if it’s working or not, and this one … well I’m not at all sure.  I have to complete the outlines, add textures/patterns and metallic/iridescent accents, but I’m not entirely sure I actually want to finish this one.  I’m wondering how much the resistance to this piece of art comes from my lack of satisfaction with the art itself and how much comes from what it is representing – my inner work at this time… An interesting point to muse, eh?

I’ve had a lot of emotional turmoil in the past few weeks while I’ve been off work with laryngitis, much of it to do with allowing myself to love, respect and care for myself and to let go of various negative belief systems from the past.  It’s also involved a change in my value system, and something that hasn’t been easy to do. The words/mental idea sprung up from this work, as I’ve already mentioned.  It’s been a bit of a tough time, and sometimes it’s hard to find balance.

It’s also had an effect on my creativity.  Instead of painting/drawing/sewing I’ve been lost in either reading or knitting and watching DVD after DVD.  A positive from this is that I have created, after 30 years or so, a knitted throw/blanket – which has amazed me as I’ve always got bored with the process after a little while, but not this time.  It isn’t a pretty thing, it’s very random in terms of colours and knitted patterns and crocheted squares, but it’s mine and I love it very much, mainly because it’s proven to me that I can persevere with a project such as this, and there is benefit for me in doing something that is simple, creative in a crafty way, and also rather meditative in nature.

I now have another blanket/throw on the go – and it’s certainly going to be ‘different’, but very much ‘me’.

Little Pretty 7April2012

Little Pretty 7 Apr 12 © Angela Porter 2012

This is a teenytiny piece of textile art, approx. 4.5cm x 4.5cm (1.75″x1.75″) that I completed yesterday. The silver japan threads were added during a sewing/craft afternoon at O’Callaghan’s Coffee House yesterday.  The other stitches and beads were added later.

It will eventually be for sale on Etsy, when I work out what price to put on it, and whether to offer it framed or ready to frame … I dislike trying to put prices on my creations.

Why is that, I wonder?  I think it’s linked to me still not quite believing my artwork has value, or that my ‘doodles’ are truly art.  I have made the leap to the recognition that what I think of doodling is really my version of intuitive art, art that expresses who I really am, what I am inside, and the richness of that inner self and my love of colour and flow and swirl and abstract pattern.

I really do need to work on a statement of me as an artist that fully expresses who I am in terms of art and what my kind of art represents.  Now that’s a scary thing to do as it will lay part of me bare -though those who read my art aright will already have sussed that part of me out!

Sixteen squares

 

My first sixteen squares for KAS
Sixteen squares.

Sixteen squares done!

These have been knitted or crocheted in either double knitting, aran or chunky yarns for Knit-A-Square.  Some are kitting in stocking stitch with moss stitch or garter stitch borders.  Others have been knitted with a textured design on them, again with the borders.  One even has a flower on it – stocking stitch and reverse stocking stitch are the contrasting stitches – a pattern adapted from “Blankets and Throws to Knit” by Debbie Abrahams.  A couple have been knitted diagonally in garter stitch.  And there’s even a couple of crocheted ‘granny squares’!  I have spent time keeping notes of what sized needles I’ve used, the number of stitches in a square, the patterns used, in a little notebook.

Crocheting is not a skill I’ve been able to come anywhere near perfecting.  I can just about manage granny squares.  Simple edgings too.  But that’s it.  Knitting is more my thing.  I must admit it was fun to knit the flower from the book as a textured pattern rather than in colours – I need to seriously practice my intarsia knitting!  I did try to make it in colours, but I got holes and uneven areas; it’s been a very long time since I did any such knitting.

I’ve found a lot of fun and joy and pleasure in knitting these little squares.  They let me practice different techniques, play with different yarns, and learn new tricks.  They’re small enough that they’re finished quite quickly and the materials/tools are easy to carry around so that knitting can be done on trains and so on; to take the blazer I’m knitting with me would need a large bag and plenty of room to accomplish job – not always available on a train, for instance, and not always sensible to take a huge bag of stuff with me anywhere.  I’m hoping that their small size will allow me to become more creative with the designs as time goes on…with the limited number of stitches to make a square it’s a challenge!

The other good thing about this for me is that the size of the project is not overwhelming for me.  I’m not making a huge number of squares of a certain size in order to create a blanket/throw/shawl.  Each square is a complete item in its own right, and will become part of something much larger.  I do have a problem with projects that overwhelm me with their enormity, such as knitting a large number of squares to make a blanket/throw, or writing a story (let alone a book), or a large and complex piece of art or jewellery or clearing the garden.  Something I need to work on turning around … and until then, I’ll work on projects that either don’t overwhelm me, or I can push myself a little bit into something bigger than I would usually do, or sneak up on ones that would ordinarily overwhelm me and surprise myself!

Once I shake this cold/flu/pharyngitis off then I’ll no doubt start to practice contemplative knitting as a way of developing mindfulness, with the aid of tips from the book “Mindful Knitting” by Tara Jon Manning.  But that is for another day.  At the moment I’m still coughing, sniffing, blowing my nose and generally feeling off-colour still.

 

Sicky, poorly, baaaaad.

Yeuch!  I’m ill!

I’ve been off work for the last week.  It started with a cough and a sore throat and has turned into tonsilitis, a very sore throat and a wracking cough.  I’m on antibiotics and on the mend, but feel as if I’ve been through the wringer.

To cap it all I lost a filling Friday night, so that involves waiting to be seen by my dentist as I’m not in pain and it’s not an emergency.  My DVD player broke on me yesterday which wouldn’t normally be an issue, but when I’m like I am now all I want to do is to cwtch up under my ‘noo noo’ (a thick and cuddly fleecy blanket) and watch nice films/programmes and sip warm drinks and nibble nice foods.

Knitting

All this quiet time has given me the chance to just knit while I watch DVDs.  I did buy a set of circular knitting needles and a set of brightly coloured aluminium crochet hooks from Knitterknacks on eBay.co.uk, and I was amazed when the items were delivered this morning!  Now, there’s service for you!  I have a good range of sizes now to keep me busy.

I have made a few tiny baby gowns and blankets for Cuddles and I will be seeing to finishing the last couple off and getting them in the post soon.  I also have some 8″ squares to send to Knit-A-Sqaure so they may be made into blankets for needy children in South Africa.  I’m also knitting a moss-stitch blazer for myself in purple aran yarn.  I try to split my time evenly between the various projects, which is fun for me as I don’t get bored doing the same thing!  The squares and baby clothes are fun to do as they are much quicker to complete than my large blazer (I’m not a tiny nor thin lady …).  I have forgotten the pleasure I get from creating this way.  In time, I’ll find the confidence to create my own patterns … more so as I shrink in size when the time is right for my protective layer of fat to be lost.

Wittering

Faff

Well, it’s the very last day of September, another month of the year all but gone.  Time seems to be flying by.  Grey, gloomy starts to the mornings of late, and not just weather wise either.  It’s been a fraught week at work.  I’ve been left feeling exhausted by the constant treadmill of behaviour management, which I don’t think I’m managing at all well, yet others think I’m doing fine.  I’m still putting too much pressure on myself to be perfect…

I went to buy some new skirts yesterday.  I do like the current fashion of long lengths – that’s always been my kind of style!  Drifty, floaty, off with the fairies.  And I do wish they wouldn’t put huge mirrors in changing rooms … but I did stop myself descending into a dark gloom about my size, and I did avoid comfort eating too.  Which is a little success for me.  But if I think about it … I’m in danger of seriously beating myself up about it.  It will sort itself out as counselling untangles the old learned attitudes towards myself and replaces them with better ones, bit by bit.

Knitting

I’ve been crocheting over the past couple of days.  I have one teeny wrap for a premature baby done, and am working on a blanket.  Crochet is a challenge for me, more than knitting, as I’ve rarely made anything by crochet!

I’m also enjoying the relatively fast gratification of completing a project.  It’s also nice to see the project grow so quickly.  It’s not that I’m sort on patience, its that I can be short on time, as well as having a lot of other interests.  But crafts such as crochet and knitting I can take on my travels with me, though I did chicken out of crocheting on a train last night as I travelled to and from a talk I was giving.  I’ll get over that as I got over my extreme shyness at drawing/painting in public.

The current wraps and blankets will be going to Cuddles and are based on their patterns.  I’ll just get a few more done before I pack ’em up and send ’em off.

Knitting for charity

A quick google found this site – Knit a Square.  I think I’ll have to see about getting something like this into school …

And another one Loving Hands Charity Knitters even seems to knit coats for chickens!

Cuddles provides clothes and blankets for premature, stillborn and miscarried babies.

Bonnie Babies, again for little ones and keepsakes for parents who lose a baby.

Handmade gifts for vulnerable children – does what it says on the label.

And these are just a few in the UK …. where to start?

Labels, work, stress and knits.

Jam Jar Labels.

I got some labels done for a friend for their home made jams and chutneys.  They are chuffed with them, and I’m pleased that they like.  They liked my illustration for my Harvest Moon blog entry, and wanted their labels in a similar style.   The first one below is for the larger jars, the second for he smaller jars.  It took a while to get the first one ‘fit for purpose’, but I’m really pleased with it.  It gives visual hints as to where the produce was grown and collected for the preserves.  I also am pleased that my rather simplified style of art has found a ‘niche’.  The smaller label works just fine too, similar design, but the landscape faded out so the information about the contents can be typed over it.

A friend at work asked if I’d design some for a relative of hers as a Christmas present, as they are always making jams and preserves too.  So of course I’ll do that.

Work, stress and knitting.

Three weeks back at the chalkface (though no one uses chalk in the classroom anymore!) and the stresses of dealing with uncooperative, disrespectful teens and managing a workday that is like climbing on a treadmill that has been set by someone else who is calling the tune, and running to keep up with the changes in pace until eventually you are thrown off as your feet get in a tangle.  Well, that’s how it feels once more at the moment…despite the help I have once a week, I’m not yet able to break the cycle I’ve managed to get myself caught up in over a lifetime, and of course when things go wrong, or at least aren’t perfect, then I blame myself and beat myself up with it once again.  But it’s not as bad as it used to be, it just seems a long journey to get to where I’d like to be.  And one straw was added to the burden that’s built up since the return to work on Thursday that caused me to lose my temper briefly.  That led to me having a very upset digestive system for the rest of the day night, and a thumping headache that was with me most of Friday, Ibuprofen only just taking the edge off it.

This lead me to feeling I needed to find an activity in the evenings that relaxed me, didn’t require a lot of concentration and that I could just pick up and put down at will.  I love art, but when I start on an art project I can get consumed by it, stay up later than is wise for me as I totally lose track of the time.  I wanted something that wouldn’t need my eyes to work in sharp focus (note to self – opticians!). Something that didn’t need a lot of concentration.  Something that kept my hands and eyes busy but left my mind free to think or to follow a film.  And that reminded me of why I used to love to knit and crochet so much.  I was doing something, something creative, but something that let me be still and calm, to just ‘be’.  I knew I needed projects that could be either finished quickly or were made up of smaller individual pieces which could be finished quickly.  Projects where I could utilise my own creativity, perhaps even learn about free-form work, and maybe even combine all of this with other forms of art that I love to do to create mixed media works or jewellery.   I wanted things I could do while too tired, too stressed out to settle to anything else.  Something that would help me settle when like this, and perhaps small enough that I could carry it with me.

Well, in quite a synchronistic manner, one of those emails containing recommendations of books from Amazon appeared in my in-box, and on it were books of knitting and crochet.  I followed them, and added a large number of books to my large-ish Amazon wishlist, and I ordered two books that really caught my eye.

One was the ‘Prayer Shawl Companion’ by Janet Bristow, which caught my attention because of the contemplative, spiritual aspect of knitting, and gathering together with other like minded souls to create to gift to others in need, to send out thoughts for healing, love, peace and help to where it is most needed.

The other was ‘Mindful Knitting by Tara Jon Manning’ which appealed because it talks of the contemplative, meditative aspects of knitting.

Both of these books are on their way to me, and I hope that they are what I hope them to be.  I may post pictures of the projects here.  And it may be that like-minded people may gather together with me to create to help others.  I don’t know…yet.

I do know a friend at work has asked me to teach them to crochet.  So, after work on Thursday, I wandered through my local town to the only shop that now sells yarns, knitting needles and crochet hooks, to get some light coloured chunky wool, a large hook so she can see easily what to do, and can hold it more easily in her hands – she has rheumatoid arthritis, but she thinks this will help to exercise her hands and give her something creative to do.

Of course, I have been knitting squares of various stitch patterns and using coloured yarns, all of a similar size, just to keep me occupied while I await the arrival of the books.  And hopefully the books will also inspire me to be confident in creating my own things.  I’m particularly intrigued by ‘free-form’ crochet, as I am with ‘free-form’ beading.  But, we shall see what comes of this.

I do create textile jewellery from time to time – many examples can be seen at Artwyrd.deviantart.com, though I’ve not created any for a long while now, having a stock of them and nothing to do with them!  Finding the right market for them is a problem as they are so unique I suppose.  Maybe I can make use of my knitting/crochet skills to create different ways of wearing my beaded/wire/textile art … that’s something to think about at least!

I did have an interesting time trawling through eBay looking at the knitting yarns available and seeing some rather exquisite, and expensive, examples.  And with some of them my mind went to making small, heartfelt gifts not to wear but to keep.  Something to do for Yuletide/Christmas gifts p’raps.  Now that’s a thought.  And it’s more or less time for me to start thinking about creating my Yule cards.  For a good few years now I’ve made my own cards for that time of year, and it does take quite a bit of time to create them!