Some Things

Yesterday, I was in a bit of a rut, my mind was all of a jumble and I felt like I couldn’t get my words in the right order. So, I opened up Evernote and just started typing. I used Evernote for two reasons: 1. I didn’t have my usual black notebook with me and 2. I needed to type quickly to keep up with my thoughts.

I firmly believe that it is beneficial to hand write these kinds of notes but hand writing would have led me to think too much about each thing and not getting what I wanted out of my head. Once I’d finished writing, I read it back and felt like a crazy person. How is all this stuff going on in my mind? The mind is a wonderful, powerful thing and I’m always so amazed about what it can do.

Writing it all down helped so much, I’ve never written in this way before, it’s really refreshing and I’ve now been able to put all of these words next to each other. I really hope that I’m now out of the rut and that I can go on creating. Here is a picture of penguin, jumping around and dancing. He was trying to help me out of my kerfuffle!

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And to prove that I’m in fact a crazy person, here’s the long list of things I wrote, no editing involved:

I want to blog more
I love blogging
I’m still not sure why
I like having stuff there
and like the thought of creating things to share
I like the thought of inspiring people to create
creating is my therapy
writing is my therapy
To share it feels like it means something
Like I’m doing it for a purpose
But I’ve been stuck recently
I feel like I’m in limbo
I’m in the process of moving house (again)
and so my desk isn’t tidy
I have a hoover box in the way of the chair
I want to practice yoga more often
But I struggle to find the time/space/privacy
I feel like once we’ve moved house I can settle into a routine again
I never got into the routine in the first place
Am I just making excuses?
It feels like I’m just waiting
It feels like my health is confusing too
I wanted to know what was causing one thing,
I found that
And another thing came up
Do I not look after myself well enough?
Should I be doing better?
It’s annoying having to take time out of work for appointments
People at work must think there’s something seriously wrong with all these blood tests/appointments
There isn’t anything seriously wrong
Just constant discomfort and anxiousness
I guess that’s more than some
but much less than others deal with
One thing I have been able to continue is to write most days
And I like that
I’m sure it will help me become unstuck
I also compare myself far too often
Why am I not like her?
But that assumes everything else is the same
which it’s not

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Orange Book

Just a quick note about my 25 at 25 project, a lot happened last year which meant that I completed a lot of the projects in my list but didn’t quite document them in time for when I turned 26. So I’m going to be playing catch up, you will see projects documented here and I will link them on the original 25 at 25 list.

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One of my 25 at 25 projects was to create an art journal. I think this was the project that I was most excited about and so I set to with thinking about what I’d make a book about. I narrowed it down to either choosing a specific word, or a specific object or a colour. I chose the colour orange.

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I chose orange because it’s a colour that I wouldn’t necessarily say is my favourite, it doesn’t suit me as a colour that I’d wear and I wouldn’t necessarily choose to use orange when designing. But yet it is a bright, happy colour and so as soon as I thought about it, it was the perfect colour to create an artist book around.

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I started by grabbing two pieces of board, hole punching them and took great pleasure in painting them solidly in orange with acrylic paint. I then spent the next 12 months roughly, creating pages for my book.

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I printed a couple of pages of photos which were orange themed. This was a collection of photos I’d taken myself and images from the internet. I also created pages of orange stripes and spots on illustrator which I printed. I didn’t want to print too much for this book though, most of the time, I wanted to use paint and collage.

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Throughout the project, I noticed orange in everyday situations more than before and I really enjoyed working with it. It still doesn’t suit me as a colour I’d wear but I grew to love it.

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The part that I found most challenging was calling this project finished. I had originally given myself the deadline of completing this before I was 26 but with an art journal, it can so easily be on-going. I hadn’t fully explored the colour orange, I could do so much more but would I ever move on to something different?

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I’m definitely hooked now, I want to create another book that is similar. Maybe with a colour combination rather than just one? What do you think? Have you ever created something like this or had your opinions changed about a colour because of a certain project?

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Rest up and look after yourself

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Today I wore “normal clothes” for the first time in a while, two weeks to be exact. Well, I wore trousers* as opposed to PJs, leggings or tracksuit bottoms. Yesterday was my first, and very exhausting, day back at work after almost two weeks off, recovering from surgery.

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Two weeks ago today, I had minor diagnostic surgery, where I was diagnosed and treated for endometriosis. They call it minor surgery but to me it was major, because I’ve never had anything like that before. I fell off my bike when I was five and had to have 2 stitches in my lip, but that was the extent of my hospital visits before this.

I was so scared but it all went well and I’m well on the way to a full recovery now. I still have a few follow-up appointments with my doctor and the hospital to find out what it all means and get some results. To be honest, I’m glad to now have a diagnosis for all the pain and discomfort I’ve felt for the last 15 years. So, I’m feeling fairly positive, it feels like this is the push that I needed to really work on eating healthier, taking regular exercise and really looking after myself.

I was describing what endometriosis was to a friend and she said “so it’s basically really over enthusiastic womb cells who like to chill in other places and cause trouble” – she hit the nail right on the head with that and it made me laugh so much!

*to be clear, I wore a dress and leggings to work yesterday, to wear trousers again was the big achievement. The next big achievement is to wear jeans!

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Knitted Hearts – A Tutorial

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I found a really cute knitting pattern, saved it to pinterest and then forgot about it for a while until I had a bit of time on my hands and felt motivated to try something new.

I had never followed a knitting pattern before and when I saw the instructions, I had to look up a couple of videos on how to do certain things. It turned out that I found this little project is really simple and so addictive that I made two little hearts. I have absolutely no use for little stuffed hearts other than to look pretty on my shelf, and as a fun project for a Saturday afternoon.

What you will need:
I used size 4mm knitting needles – they are the only size I have
Wool – I used similar to the wool here (same brand, similar colour)
Tapestry needle
Polyester filling – I bought a big bag from Hobbycraft years ago (similar here)

Abbreviations:
CO = cast on
BO = bind off
st = stitch
k = knit
p = purl
kfb = knit into front and back of stitch (to make 2 stitches where there was 1)
k2tog = knit 2 stitches together
p2tog = purl 2 stitches together
rep = repeat

Pattern starts here:
CO 2 st
row 1: kfb, k to last st, kfb
row 2: p 1 row
rep these 2 rows 6 times total (14 st)
row 3: k2 tog, k5 and turn, leaving remaining 7 st on the needle

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row 4: p2tog, p2, p2tog
BO 4 st, cut a long piece of wool (about 10″) and weave through back of piece to reattach to other side (where you left off when turning)*

* I found it easier not to cut the 10″ piece of wool but to sew the end of the ball of wool along one of the edges and acted as though the wool was always connected. (see below, bottom right and then top left of next image)

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row 5: k5, k2tog
row 6: p2tog, p2, p2tog
BO 4 st

Repeat the above pattern for opposite side of heart.

With right sides facing each other, sew up the two heart pieces using mattress stitch, leaving a small gap.

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Turn the two pieces so that the right sides are facing out. I had quite a few loose ends hanging out of the gap that I left, I just poked them back in.

Stuff with polyester filling, use a knitting needle or your little finger to make sure the filling gets into all the edges and corners. Sew up the small gap and ta-da, you have a little stuffed heart!

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I hope this little tutorial has been simple to follow, if you use this pattern, I’d love to see your creations! Please post a link to you photo in the comments.

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Little Snippets

I’ve been toying with this idea for a while and thought, why not just go ahead and do it.

My schedule doesn’t really allow for a lot of time spent writing huge blog posts in my free time. When I’m home from work, I really love having a conversation with my boyfriend, eating dinner, sitting down with a pen, or a paintbrush and not in front of my computer screen. I have many many blog post ideas whirling around in my mind and in my notebook but you don’t see any of them because I like to live life and take some time to relax rather than get square eyes in front of a screen.

So, this is where little snippets come in, they are…
…little snapshots of life
…small thoughts
…quick ideas
…longer than a tweet
…smaller than full blog posts but equally thought out
…not necessarily including an image

That last one is the biggie, I’m an extremely visual person and I read a while ago that to have a successful blog, one has to make sure to have images with every post, but well, I’m not one to live by the rules and does it matter if a few posts do not include images? I don’t think so. I do love it when there is a lovely image to look at at the top of the post so I’m going to see how that goes. Sometimes I just want to write something, to share an idea and to start a conversation but am held back by this need for images. However, some posts may be just an image with a caption, that is the nature of this series, it will be whatever I fancy sharing at the time.

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What’s in my bag?

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I’ve been a little quiet around these parts just lately. I was in hospital at the beginning of the week for a small operation (I’m ok!) and I’ve just been taking it very easy for the last few days. My days have included plenty of naps, far too many episodes of Gossip Girl, falling asleep whilst watching Downton Abbey and reading a lot of blog posts on my iPad.

It was only yesterday that I had enough energy to grab my sketchbook and do a little doodling. I’ve been meaning to draw something like this for a while and what better time than the present?

So what is in my bag? This is the bag that I use for work and I pretty much carry my whole life in there. The bag is from ebay and is pink with navy polka dots, it’s a canvas satchel style bag with a brown faux leather strap. Then inside, in a somewhat logical order, there is:

  • iPhone 5s
  • a pink purse with a blue zip (again from ebay)
  • a black and white polka dotted pencil (from paperchase)
  • black uni-ball pen (also from paperchase)
  • London Midland train timetable (I almost know the times off by heart but sometimes I get caught out)
  • a small Cath Kidston mirror that came with my make-up bag (a very similar one here)
  • Nivea lip balm
  • that blue circular thing is an eraser (from paperchase)
  • a little folder of sticky notes (from paperchase)
  • a Swift pocket Filofax (which I’d be SO lost without! Bought a few years ago, I don’t think it’s available any more)
  • a small Cath Kidston wash bag with essential make-up and toiletries (not sure why I still carry my make-up around with me, I never wear it unless I go out somewhere after work – bought a few years ago, a similar one can be found here)
  • Hand gel
  • My keys (which have various loyalty cards attached and also a small USB stick just in case)
  • a comb for hair emergencies
  • a small pack of tissues
  • it doesn’t matter how many times I tidy my hand bag, I always find many many bobby pins, hair ties and varying amounts of change
  • I also carry a moleskine notebook in my bag but as I was drawing in said notebook at the time, I forgot to draw it
  • I also forgot to draw my umbrella but we’ve had such nice weather today that I must have done that on purpose, honest! 
  • and last but not least, my iPod nano and headphones. I carry both iPod and iPhone because the iPod has a pedometer on it and I like to know how far I’ve walked each day, I keep it in my pocket most of the day to count my steps. Also, I only have a 16GB iPhone (yes, only) and found that by keeping my music on it, I was using up a lot of the memory so decided to just keep my music on my iPod.

So, that is that. I’m going to work on cutting down the amount of things I carry in my bag over the next few days, as I won’t be able to carry as much when I go back to work. I’ll definitely start by taking that make-up bag out. Do you have a problem with over-packing like me? I like to prepare for every eventuality.

From an illustration point of view, I loved drawing again. I tried to draw to some sort of scale but I’m not really sure that worked. I didn’t want to get too hung up on drawing this to scale and end up getting frustrated with it, I’m supposed to be resting after all. I then struggled to transfer the drawing onto my computer, do I photograph or do I scan? In the end, I scanned it in and did quite a lot of editing in photoshop to get the colours looking almost right. I will one day get the hang of all this! Do you have any advice or tips for scanning artwork?

 

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On looking down – A Photo Walk

Shines_PhotoWalk1At uni, we were told that if we wanted to find inspiration, one of the things that we should try is to go for a walk, get outside and look up, look around you, open your eyes. A lot of us would be sat at a computer screen or sat with our heads in a sketchbook trying so desperately to have an idea, to desperately get that glimpse of inspiration which would help us in the right direction and very often, sitting at a computer screen or with a head in a sketchbook all day wasn’t always the solution, in fact, it very rarely was the solution.

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So, whilst the weather was nice (read: amazing) last summer in the UK I tried to get outside a bit, to get some fresh air in my lungs instead of sitting in an air conditioned office all day. I was looking back at my photos from last year longing for the warm weather to come back and realised that I hadn’t shared these on the blog due to one reason or another.

We’ve had a lot of rain and wind here and I’m definitely ready for Spring! I’m so thankful for the slightly lighter early evenings though, it’s a sure sign that spring is on it’s way. I very much look forward to wearing these shoes again and skirts and dresses instead of jeans and boots!

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Whilst I was out and about, I tried to take some photos of my surroundings. And it just so happens that one of my 25 at 25 projects was to go on a photo walk and while this hasn’t quite been the photo walk I planned, (ie. one walk on one day with one theme and lots of photos) this has been a photo walk of sorts. It was different in the way that it was a collection of walks over the space of about 2 months, all about 5-10 minutes each and ranging from 1-3 photos each time. My theme was “look down” because although my tutors at uni (and any other creative for that matter) would tell me to go outside and look up to find inspiration, you can find a world of things at your feet if you just look for them. This is very cliche blogger of me but I’ve left my feet in the photos, this is so that you don’t think I’m lying when I say these are all photos of the ground, it’s not just a pretty wall or ceiling that I’m photographing, it’s definitely the ground because my feet are there. Also, I enjoy including my feet in the photos. It shows where I was standing, what I was wearing, what the weather was like (due to what shoes I’m wearing) and the bonus is: I don’t have to worrying about what expression my face is pulling or what my hair looks like because my feet in my shoes are quite photogenic, they don’t mind being photographed!

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I really enjoyed this photo walk and looking at all the patterns I found by just looking down. The original photo walk idea was found on Elise Blaha Cripe’s blog and I enjoyed her series so much I wanted to play along. If you want to play along make sure you link back to her.

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If I do this again, what theme do you think I should do next time? I’d also love to see your version if you’ve tried this idea.

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On documenting memories

I have loved creating a scrapbook for the last 2 years. It’s lovely to look back on and remember what I did, document the photos, write down the little thoughts and memories. It’s priceless and I’m so glad that I put so much time into documenting my memories.

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The truth is, I lost interest in doing it about half way through 2013. Using the project life system is great and has made documenting my memories really simple, easy and it looks great but there were a few things that bothered me. Firstly, printing my own photos is expensive, photo paper is expensive and ink cartridges is extortionately priced! Then there are the pretty cards, paper and embellishments to punctuate the photos and write some journaling, I didn’t buy any cards that were already printed, instead used free card downloads and some that I had to pay for, then had to print those too. There is a lot of printing, then cutting out involved, which takes a lot of time. I also got a little carried away with buying really pretty papers, in the hope that I’d use them in my scrapbook or on other projects. I have been using these papers but I need to stop looking online at the new ranges that get released as they’re all so pretty and I could find a use for them but I now have more paper than I have time and space for!

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I found myself doing all of this in stages and cutting out, for example, 2 months of photos in one sitting then going back to it on the next weekend to put them in the pockets and then to write the journaling. I make it sound like a really long process but in all I probably spend 2 hours to complete a month. (Which is a hugely vague estimate as I’ve never timed it at all!)

Doing all of this doesn’t bother me, when I have the time, it’s not a chore but more of a relaxing time. I love it. But when things get a little busier and I’m working longer hours or have been busy with family, sitting down for a couple of hours at the weekend just hasn’t been possible.

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So, for 2014 I want to do something a bit different, my old process wasn’t working for me anymore. I’ve thought about it for a long time and to’d and fro’d a lot about it. I considered just creating a simple photo album, I considered just writing about my year (would I be able to blog about it then just put those blog posts into a book?) I considered cutting back on the amount of things I document in my scrapbook, maybe just one photo a week then writing about the week. I would hate to take loads of photos and just keep them on my laptop for ever more, I like making something out of them.

The only problem I have with my current process is the time that it takes and the cost of so much printing. So I decided to let someone else do the printing for me. I’ve decided to make a photobook of my year, one that I’ll design myself and document my year digitally, then get it printed at the end of the year by an online company like blurb.

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Creating this scrapbook has helped me so much. It has helped me creatively and with some personal issues. I will definitely continue to do all the artwork and writing that I’ve started doing over the last 2 years. It just won’t be shut away in a book, some of it will be but I’m getting a lot braver with painting on canvases, creating pieces to frame, creating art journals etc. I’ve still got quite a few paper supplies that I’m sure I’ll use when I create some other projects, so I’m not saying goodbye to paper.

Do you document your life? Do you prefer to document your memories digitally or with paper? I’d love to hear your ideas.

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