Challenge over?

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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

From would be butcher to knitter

31 Day Challenge Day 26

fullsizeoutput_354There was a time, way back in my childhood, when I thought I wanted to be a butcher – yes I think I know what you’re thinking. But back in those days there was no such thing  as vegetarianism in our Bajan household and my parents found that if they wanted to feed a family of six the cheapest way to buy meat was to get it  wholesale from London’s Smithfield meat market. I think I was about 11 years old when was I first woken at 5 am and dragged along to help Mum carry bags but I became fascinated with the sights, sounds and (disgusting) smells that surrounded me. Obviously I didn’t become a butcher but I’m telling you this because it’s meant I’m not squeamish and don’t scare easily when it comes to blood and gore.

I’ve been through a lot of over the years and really believe that visualising any illness helps me to focus on the recovery. Back in Edinburgh I asked a registrar  if I could see my breast tumour after my first mastectomy. He quite didn’t understand and offered to show me the actual removed breast. I replied “if I want to see my tits I can look down now”. Needless to say he exited the ward quickly.

Anyway I would have really loved to have observed my brain operation (a bilateral craniotomy) as the process truly fascinates me.  Last night as part of their Hospital series BBC2 aired Episode 3 which focuses on the work of the neurosurgery team at (I think) London’s Charing Cross Hospital. You can watch it on the iplayer here.(Obviously expect some blood and gore).  Although it doesn’t show exactly the same procedure as mine it does show how brutal yet sensitive brain surgery is and how, despite the immense pressures of an underfunded, over subscribed system the unique and brilliant NHS and it’s incredible staff continue to save and improve lives for all of us.

And I am very grateful that it does

J x

 

 

Knitting mojo

31 Day Challenge Day 25

I’m really enjoying this blog challenge but have to admit that some days are a more of a challenge than others when it comes to writing a post. It’s been a bit of a strange week for me, one moment I’m mentally focussed and the next my brain ‘flatlines’ when it feels overloaded (I’ve been working with a tech editor on some designs completed before my operation – now there’s a strange headspace to try and get back to). The one thing that is giving me more enjoyment than ever is the actual process of knitting. The click of the needles, the snaking of the yarn through my fingers and the wonderfully repetitive process of in, over, round and out as stitch after stitch is created. There have been a few periods over the last couple of years when I really thought I’d lost my passion for a craft I’ve loved for so many years and as a designer I felt unfulfilled, unsuccessful and uninspired. It’s probably quite common for people whose living depends on their creativity but it’s also very unsettling not knowing when (and if) your mojo will make it’s return.

Well in my new mindful habit of living in the moment I am embracing my newly returned mojo and following wherever it leads me. Let’s hope it sticks around for a while

J x

Joy

31 Day Challenge Day 21 & 22

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Yes, I know I’m cheating. It’s Day 22 of the #31dayblogchallenge and I’m merging both yesterday and today’s posts but I’m sure you’ll forgive me. Sometimes the lure of the virtual, digital world of social media, great as it may be, can’t beat the actual, tangible world where there is real, physical interaction with other people. People who fill you with joy just to be in their presence.

This weekend I’ve been catching up with a couple of close friends who I’ve known since the late 80’s when we were  all textile design students at Amersham College. Throughout our time at college we formed a tight bond of four mates one of us – Natascha- studied printed textiles design (or as we put it, turned to the ‘dark side’) whilst myself, Angela and Wendy followed the true path and became knitters. I absolutely loved those days, getting to grips with the perils of machine knitting  and combining those newly acquired skills with hand knitting and embroidery to explore my creative style. Fast forward many, many years from 1990 when we graduated to present day.  Our paths may have taken us in different directions and geographically we’re very spread out with Nat living in South Africa, Wendy in Berkshire, Angie in Kent and I’m in East Sussex whilst professionally I’m the only one still knitting.

With both Wendy and Angela having kids too it’s not always easy to find time to get together but no matter how short the time those precious hours are always fun (actually they’re hilarious)  and worth every effort. So this afternoon as the last few hours of the Sunday slip past and the sun is going down I’m going to sit with a cuppa, a movie and some relaxing knitting and chuckle to myself as I think back on my weekend with my daft, beautiful, crazy friends.

I really hope your Sunday is full of joy for the weekend you’ve had not full of dread for the week to come

J x

Knitting IOU – paid

31 Day Challenge Day 20

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Back on Day 12 of this 31 day blog challenge I mentioned an IOU given to Sam for a hat to match a pair of fingerless gloves I’d made for him previously. Well, I’ve actually managed to finish the hat despite my brain’s best (or should that be worst) efforts. It was challenging, not because the pattern was particularly complex but mainly because it’s the first thing I’ve designed since my craniotomy. My tumours were in each of the frontal lobes of my brain and since that can affect, amongst other things, problem solving and memory it means that I have spectacular blank moments whilst I’m slap, bang in the middle of working something out.

There was a little bit of ‘ripe’ language when I had to rip back the crown shaping not once, but three times but frogging and the odd pattern glitch aside I’m pleased with the way it’s turned out. And better still so is Sam.

What project have you finished this week? And what’s next on your needles…

J x

Medicine

31 day Challenge Day 19

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This morning I bypassed the usual onslaught of depressing morning news and took time to sit in silence for 10 precious, peaceful, mindful minutes. I then went for a 60 minute power walk along the seafront bathed in the morning sunshine with my fingers tingling from the cold, icy air. I now feel I’m truly ready for another beautiful day doing what I love.

It’s said that laughter is the best medicine. Well for me this view comes a close second.

I hope you had as good a start to your Thursday

J x

Goals and milestones

31 Day Challenge Day 16

Back in the first of my 31 day challenge blog posts I talked about how my work planning now needs to be more detailed in order not to overly stress my wobbly brain. I remember at the time thinking I needed to make some new years resolutions but given that mentally I can only cope with one thing at a time, it all became a bit too much to process and so none were made.

I recently started following Kristine Ofstad (@blogitbetter on Instagram) who offered some encouraging and inspiring thoughts on setting yourself goals. Based on studies done by the Dominican University the thinking is that we’re more likely to achieve our goals if we actually write them down. More than that (apparently) we’re even more likely to achieve them if we write a progress plan and share it with others. Gulp. To be honest that seems more than a little scary to me, I suppose like a lot of us, fear of failure and disappointment is holding me back. With this in mind she suggests setting short and long term milestones to chart progress (such as what do you want to achieve and by when) and share it on your blog to make yourself accountable. What? That’s even more scary!

So, as I said to myself before I went for my recent level 1 cycle training session ‘it can’t be more scary than having your head sliced open’ so I made a list of goals and milestones for 2017 and here they are. (Some are work related goals, some projects I’d like to make from my Ravelry Favourites and others are personal fitness goals).

Read 6 books in 2017. This may not seem much but I still have problems with concentration.

Start driving again before the end of February. I had to stop driving when my tumours were diagnosed and haven’t driven for 7 months and the longer I leave it the more nervous I’m getting.

Walk from Hove to Rottingdean by 1st April 2017. 7 months off work has meant I’ve put on a lot of weight. I’m horribly unfit and need to shift my bum.

Cycle from Hove to Kemp Town by 1st May 2017. I never cycled as a child but learned as an adult and am hilariously wobbly on two wheels.

Knit a top down garment. I’ve been in love with Bristol Ivy’s Svalbard for a long time now so this will probably be the design for tackling this technique

Design a stranded colourwork garment using some of my Jamieson & Smith 2ply Jumperweight stash.

Design using the double knitting technique. I recently learnt to do this intriguing technique and loved the results

Complete the 31 day challenge then commit to blogging regularly twice a week

Publish 12 new designs by the end of 2017 whether independently, collaboratively or in a magazine

De clutter my office of excess knitting books and my loft of excess yarn by the end of 2017. Contrary to popular belief you can have too much.

All I can say is watch this space

J x