Challenge over?

Version 2

Back at the beginning of the month I threw myself into this blog challenge having been inspired by accounts I follow over on Instagram. My main motive was to help me focus mentally  as part of my recovery and although I’ve struggled on some days to write a post ( in person I never seem to stop talking even if it is gibberish) I’ve discovered that I’ve really enjoyed sharing a little bit of me with you. It’s been great to connect with old friends from the Edinburgh days when I ran a yarn shop as well as making new friends and finding new blogs to follow. We all know how dark and turbulent the world is at the moment and I figured that with so many voices shouting in anger I prefer to keep my home here more of a positive space. My headspace is very different now compared to 12 months ago and it doesn’t mean that I’m unaware or uncaring it’s just that reducing stress is much healthier for me.

So what are my plans now that the 31 day challenge is over? Well thanks to some very lovely comments telling me how much they’ve enjoyed my ramblings I plan to keep writing regularly (the plan is twice a week) to let you know what I am or have  been up to. Who knows I may even be able to do it within 15 mins  but like a kitten with a torchlight I’m still easily distracted so who knows.

Before I sign off for today I hope you’ll pop over and have a look at the blogs and or Instagram feeds of the people who have helped to make this challenge such a pleasure to undertake.

Louise Tillbrook 

Lynne Rowe 

Beauty Beyond Bones

Deniz Yakim

Nothing But Knit 2 

The Ramblings Of A Rose

Astrid Ann Larsen

Unravel Knits

Smart Veg Recipes

Funky Air Bear

The OM Project 

Cooking Without Limits

Dawn’s Chronicles

Anja Ge 

The Shameful Sheep 

Iesha Parker

BirLinn Yarn

Kyle Bean

There are some truly beautiful souls in the world, don’t let those with dark intentions and dubious hairstyles make you believe otherwise.

J x

The magic of Twitter

31 Day Challenge Day 13

DCIM100GOPRO
Meg with a batch of her Hebridean sheep

I joined Twitter (as @jeanettesloan) way back in 2010 and somehow have gathered a following of 665 lovely souls who seem happy to read my sometimes random tweets. (And given the way my rambling brain now works I’m glad there’s a limit of 140 characters ). There’s been a lot of negative things said about social media platforms like Twitter with people often tweeting before thinking about how their harsh words and opinions can sometimes be hurtful to others. That said there’s also a lot of good to be found there and I’ve had lots of lovely interactions with other users whether it was discussing the disappointing lack of sloes pre Christmas or finding out about a new yarn. Well earlier this week I was really happy to find that I had a new follower and, as is my habit, I clicked the link in their profile to find out more about them. I’m so glad I did because I’ve discovered a new yarn company.

The Birlinn Yarn company is based on the Isle of Berneray in the Outer Hebrides. It was started in 2015 by Meg Rodger who felt there was real value in the wool produced by the herd of Hebridean sheep she rears on the family run croft, Sunhill. With an emphasis on sustainability and small batch production the product range features natural coloured yarns and specially selected sheepskins but there are also exciting new products currently being developed. I was really interested in the back story to this new yarnie discovery and having had a few email conversations with Meg I found out that she is also a practising artist. Along with another artist Peter Ferguson she’s showing her work as part of Elemental, an exhibition exploring each of their relationships with the wind and weather of the Outer Hebrides.

Having made contact with Meg I look forward to reviewing her yarns more formally in a future issue of Knitting Magazine. In the meantime I hope she’s wrapped up warm as it’s bound to be freezing up there at the moment. If you’d like to find out more about her yarns visit Birlin Yarns’ website  and for more info on the exhibition visit Taigh Chearsabhagh website here 

J x

 

Knitting IOUs

31 Day Challenge Day 12

fullsizeoutput_324

Some knitters are super organised and work away all year lovingly and patiently creating every stitch and row until the cast off is complete and the last end sewn in. I, however, am not that knitter. So having promised Sam a hat to match a pair of cabled mittens made for a previous Christmas present I’ve settled down in front of the woodburner to honour that IOU.

Currently the weather is foul with icy showers forecast across the UK both tonight and into tomorrow morning and that gives me the perfect excuse to stay inside and cosy up. Thankfully the yarn I’m using – *Lang’s Merino 50 – is a dream to knit. Not only does it have a lovely fat, rounded handle but it’s also got a wonderful bouncy construction that makes for soft but perfectly formed cables and I’m working them in a panel contrasted on either side by beautifully even stocking stitch. I’m not exactly sure how the two balls I’ve got found their way into my stash but I’m really happy they did. Another huge bonus is that it knits up quickly (the ball band recommends 9mm needles but I’m using 6.5mm) and that’s just as well because given how cold it’s going to get tomorrow I’m sure Sam will be wearing it as soon as the last end’s been sewn in.

Wherever you are I hope you’re keeping warm.

J x

*This is not a paid review but is entirely based on my personal experience of working with this yarn

Put simply..thank you

31 Day Challenge Day 11

IMG_3097.JPG

First I must apologise for this post being a day late and once you’ve read this post I hope you’ll understand why.

Having used a PC for more years than I care to remember, after a LOT of nagging from Sam I eventually made the move to Apple last year and treated myself to a MacBook. Fast forward 14 months and I still haven’t really got to grips with how the damn thing works and yes, ok so there’s been a very good reason why. Whilst the day to day stuff is very straightforward my brain just ‘flatlines’ when it comes to loading new programs as this works very differently on a Mac compared to the Windows platform. So with some design work to complete I needed to invest in some new charting software and thought, having heard lots of good things about it, that I’d give Stitchmastery a try. Well TRY I did….and try…and try…then I gave up because my brain had had enough….then I tried again (and just to clarify the fault lies with me not the program). Throughout this process I emailed Cathy at Stitchmastery for technical help and though I must have driven her to absolute distraction she was prompt in replying, patient, polite and incredibly helpful.

So Cathy whilst this isn’t the most innovative use of your genius charting software (I hope you’ll excuse my first attempt at using it) I just wanted to say a huge thank you

Following the Ear worm

31 Day Challenge Day 10

This morning I awoke to the sounds of McFadden & Whitehead’s ‘Ain’t No Stopping Us Now’ bouncing around my head. Now for those of you who don’t know an ear worm according to Wikipedia is;

‘sometimes known as a brainworm, sticky music, or stuck song syndrome, is a catchy piece of music that continually repeats through a person’s mind after it is no longer playing. Phrases used to describe an earworm include “musical imagery repetition”, “involuntary musical imagery”, and “stuck song syndrome”.

I’m not sure how my newly challenged brain managed to plucked this particular piece of music from my childhood memories after all I haven’t heard it in ages. But I remember it had anthemic status in our house and we used to dance around the front room as the 12 inch version played endlessly on the record player. My big brother Wayne was an avid clubber back in the late 70’s and early 80’s and although I was far too young and annoying a little sister for him to hang out with I loved seeing and listening to his most recent record purchases. Among them was Space Invaders by the Yellow Magic Orchestra (which I think appropriately was on yellow vinyl https://youtu.be/OkkFST5qrLg), Can You Feel The Force by The Real Thing (which I thought was red vinyl https://youtu.be/MYMMfaxruGA) and Stomp by The Brothers Johnson (can’t remember the colour but who cares https://youtu.be/Ug4bV013KEk).

When checking the realease date of ‘Ain’t No Stopping..’ I was really sad to read that one half of the partenership John Whitehead died in 2011 after being fatally shot in Phillidelphia, USA. He and Gene McFadden were more than just one hit wonders and in fact wrote several hit songs for other artists including ‘Back Stabbers’, ‘For The Love Of Money’ and ‘Wake Up Everybody’ to name just a few. So today, in tribute, I’m going to follow the ear worm and listen to a few of John McFadden’s best tunes whilst I work on some charts, starting with this

See you tomorrow

J x

 

More stitch than bitch

31 Day Challenge Day 9

I have a confession to make. I’m a very late comer to the ‘Stitch & Bitch’ scene. It may well be the actual name ‘Stitch & Bitch’ as it can have really negative connotations and although it may not literally be the case the idea of sitting around in groups ‘bitching’ about ANYTHING does not, for me, sound appealing or positive. Or at least it didn’t…

Finally feeling settled in Brighton & Hove I now find myself part of what we call a stitch & bitch group but is actually a group of six really close friends. I have to admit though that we have a slight problem. We don’t actually stitch that much. It may be that only two of us knit (although we did help Lucy H complete her first small quilt last year) and whilst we don’t bitch (that much) we spend a lot of time eating, chatting, laughing & drinking wine. Now that’s all fine you may think but it’s the drinking of wine that presents the problem for as a wise head once said “stitches made when taking wine will be ripped out the following morn”. (Ok so no-one wise said it I just found out the hard way).

So this year we’ve pledged to use our time to stitch more, in fact much much more and happily this fits in with my hopes for a more creatively varied life.  Our first get together happens this evening when we will each be setting out our stitching plans for the coming year. There’s been talk of hand knitting blankets and coats for beloved pets (Clare & Wendy) as well as more machine sewn projects for both Lucy H and Katie. Lucy W will no doubt have another stunning piece of colour work on the pins and I will be kicking off my knitting year with a cabled hat promised to Sam in a knitting IOU (hurriedly written on Christmas Eve) to match fingerless gloves I made for him the Christmas before last.  I’m looking forward to this evening when we’ll be dusting off machines, looking for inspiration and getting down to work…..just don’t offer me a glass of wine.

J x

 

Pen to paper

31 Day Challenge Day 7

Can you remember the last time you wrote a letter?

I don’t mean a hastily scribbled shopping list on a Post It note. I mean an actual, thoughtfully hand written letter to someone you care enough about to devote that amount time. However small.

To be honest I can’t think when I last wrote a letter. I began thinking about the practise of letter writing when I was looking through a chest of drawers this morning. I was looking for…well it doesn’t really matter what I was looking for but in the process of searching I came across a number of letters written to me by parents. My parents are old, in fact they are very old. Mum is 87 and Dad is 93 and over the years, wherever I’ve lived, they’ve written to me at some point. It was really touching to re-read their words this morning, sometimes telling me that they were worried about me (obviously sent when I was ill) and at other times just telling me that they missed and loved me. Some letters fill a complete side of A4 paper whilst others are only a few lines long but after my first reading of them I obviously found it difficult to simply throw them away so I’ve kept them, folded and hidden away in a ‘safe’ place. To an outsider they don’t mean a thing but to me they’re an extension of my parents’ love and I’m still touched by them years and years later. Of course I will have replied to them in kind but I can’t remember when I last hand-wrote more than a garbled shopping list. (Actually now I even compose those on my phone).

When I was in secondary school my Deputy Head Teacher Mr Scott used to compliment me on my handwriting. In fact he liked it so me he’d regularly ask me to write the day and date at the top of each page in his official school diary. In those days of course there were no laptops so we wrote everyday and as I recall I loved writing (and drawing) particularly with a fountain pen.

Fast forward a gazillion years and my writing really isn’t what it once was. Nowadays we’ve become accustomed to predictive text and those few occasions when I do write something ‘old school’ the results are…well let’s just say, were he still alive, Mr Scott would not be impressed. So this weekend I’m going to sit right down and write each of my parents a letter. They won’t be expecting them but that element of surprise, and the process of handwriting them, will make it even more enjoyable.

Now where’s that fountain pen?…

 

J x

…and it was going so well

31 Day challenge Day 6

img_1938
This doodle was done just after my craniotomy and tries to describe the sharp stabby pains and the aura experienced during one of my attacks.

Why the title? Well, I was really enjoying my first working week of the year and settling into my daily blogging as part of the #31daychallenge when a familiar ghost reared it’s ugly head. Migraine.

So given that there’s been a lot of ‘screen time’ this week which has no doubt contributed to me having the first attack in months I hope you’ll excuse this short post.

Hoping to catch on with another short post later

 

J x

 

 

Yarn review – findihed

 

img_3046

31 Day Challenge Day 4

Having surgery to most parts of your body means you’ll experience varying degrees of pain and/or stiffness for an expected period of time. It hurt when I broke my left (I was giving a male friend a piggyback, not a good move) but not as much as you’d expect. It was a bad break which required surgery but I knew my leg would be in plaster for 6 weeks and with the help of physio and gentle exercise it’s been pretty trouble free ever since. I’ve had other procedures including two mastectomies and two breast reconstructions but again, the pain wasn’t unbearable and, having been through it once, I knew what to expect from my recovery the second time around. Having brain surgery however has been an entirely different experience and the recovery is like an uncharted path that I’m still feeling my way through.

For a start it really doesn’t hurt as much as you’d imagine. Until my neurosurgeon told me, I had no idea that there are no pain receptors in the actual brain, it’s the bits around it (scalp, skull, meninges?) that feel pain and thankfully paracetamol can deal with that. Unlike a broken leg however, no one will tell you exactly how long the recovery from brain surgery will be. ‘Up to a year’ I was told but that gives no indication of how it will progress, the what to expect, how bad or good and when. Just as everyone’s tumour size, location and symptoms differ so does the recovery so I’m having to learn to just go along with the flow – not something I’d previously been used to as my husband Sam will agree.

Everyday chores like housework seem to be no problem although I do occasionally still find myself spinning around dervish-style in the kitchen trying to find the teaspoons when I’m making a cup of tea. You’ll also know, if you follow me on Instagram that I have no problem eating or cooking. Yes I’ve posted lots more pictures of food than knitting but I’ve found the process of cooking really therapeutic whilst knitting, although there was some, still had connotations of work and that meant pressure, deadlines and stress.

Yesterday saw me back at my desk writing a yarn review for Knitting Magazine and although it’s pretty much ready to send it’s taken much longer than it used to. Aside from having problems focusing on anything I’m reading and maintaining concentration the message being sent from my brain to my fingers often gets corrupted and can often read like gibberish. Want an exapmple? See if you can read this…

so when I mean to typr one thins I actually end up wrtigin words that abslutly make no sense that the autocorrect in Word won’t pick up.

It can be frustrating aat times (sometimes when I re-read things not even I know hat I was taking about) and it may not b recovery just part of my ‘new normal’ but I’m learning to accept it. After all, my job involves knitting some of the most gorgeous yarns a knitter could wish to drool over, then I get to write about them. April’s yarn review is indeed finished. Just excuse any gibberish that may have slipped through the net…

The 31 Day Challenge

img_3017

The start of a new year is the ideal opportunity to reflect back on the previous 12 months whilst also looking forward to the next twelve. At this point last year I was full of hope and optimism with no idea that I would face yet another life threatening health crisis. Today, just a couple of days into 2017 and 7 months on from the craniotomy to remove both my brain tumours I’m once again hopeful and optimistic but I’m a very different me. Firstly I’m extremely blessed that the tumours were both non cancerous meningiomas and with regular MRI monitoring, and no seizures to date I should be ok. Emotionally though I, and those around me, have noticed some significant changes.

I’ve always been a tactile person telling friends & family, who have been amazing, how much I love them but now I say it more frequently and it’s meant much more deeply. On the other hand I know that I am less patient, get irritated quickly when stressed and am having to learn to live with what I now call my ‘wobbly’ brain. It’s learning to deal with stress and the brain wobbles that now top my list of priorities if I’m to avoid becoming ill again (I hope). I plan to treat my recently de-cluttered brain to even more creativity by reading more instead of idly watching TV, sewing, more cooking for pleasure and knitting, rather selfishly, for myself. Oh and I need to get fit again, yes…that old chestnut.

So now I’m returning to work I’m going to take my sweet time and make a plan for the coming year. As my brain now works best if each element is itemised the plan has to include everything. Whether it’s a regular work deadline, a new design idea, a walk to be taken or a podcast to enjoy they’ll all be mindfully scheduled to allow my new brain to absorb and deal with them one at a time. This may sound clinical but it does seem to work. As part of my back to work plans I thought it would be interesting to join in with the 31 Day Challenge set by Louise Tilbrook (you can find her blog here) although I actually found it through Lynne at TheWoolNests Instagram feed (her blog posts are here).

The aim is to write a blog post every day throughout January – yes I know it’s January 3rd already but I’m not stressing about it (wow I’m learning quick) and as I have a tendency to ramble I’m hoping the rest will be more punchy. I’ve even promised myself a treat if I manage to keep it up, details of that to follow.

Thanks to Lynne for sharing and for Louise for the inspiration.

Happy New Year and hopefully I’ll see you here tomorrow

J x

Oh and if you’re wondering about the brain mug it was a birthday present from my beautiful, funny and talented friend Clare Mackie whose work you can see here