I haven’t been able to do as much making as normal since I hurt my thumb at quidditch practice a couple of weeks ago.
I actually think I was rather lucky. The injury was absolute agony at the time. I was convinced my thumb was broken. On the way to get it x-rayed, I felt like I was cursed. Images of hand surgery, weeks of recovery and permanent damage to my dominant hand filled my mind. What if my fine motor skills were affected? What if I no longer hand the ability to take a project from idea to reality?
The x-ray revealed no fractures, for which I was incredibly grateful. But that was where the diagnosis ended. My thumb was either sprained or strained, I was told not to play contact sport for at least two weeks, given a splint and sent on my way. I was so worried that I went to my GP on the Monday, but they weren’t able to give me any clearer information, apart from telling me again that soft tissue damage takes 2-6 weeks to heal.
I spent the next few days pretty depressed. You don’t realise how much you use your right thumb until it’s hurt. Everything was an inconvenience, I couldn’t craft or exercise and the splint hurt my wrist. In addition to all of this, our regional quidditch tournament was taking place the week after the injury. How could I lead my team and feel I’d made a contribution if I couldn’t play?
I went to therapy and my analyst asked if I’d seen a physio. I laughed- I’ve never been to a physiotherapist in my life. We spoke about how she kept coming up with solutions and advice for me. Was this a response to my feeling powerless in getting better?
Even though it was expensive, going to see the physio was a massive relief. She carefully assessed my hand and told me what she thought was wrong with it- a strained muscle. The power and movement in the thumb was normal. I was unlikely to do more serious damage if I played at the weekend.
Psychologically, I think that having the input from the physio allowed me to switch from feeling like a victim to feeling resilient. Perhaps I was recovering more quickly than expected because I am strong. I also think it was important that I took action and helped myself.
I rested the thumb for the rest of the week and then tried some gentle throwing and catching on Friday. My hand was okay! Amazingly, I was able to play in the tournament with very little pain or loss of function.
Photo credit: More Quidditch Photos on Facebook
Knitting isn’t too painful, so I’ve been making some slow progress on the last long rows of my Wonder Woman shawl. I think it’s looking great! I’m going to Bristol for a conference this week, so hoping I’ll get to finish it up.
Here we have yet another instance of craft reflecting life. Being able to bounce back from an injury and lead my team in the tournament has helped me to feel like a strong and capable woman. A bit like a certain superhero.
I froze some grated courgette because I wanted to have another go at making the chocolate courgette cake that I baked a few years ago. It’s based on a BBC Good Food recipe. I think I made a few errors when I was plagiarising it (slap on the wrist to past me), so maybe go from the original! Here’s a picture of the second attempt.
Something that’s really nice about having this blog is the ability to look back on my previous makes, and my thoughts about them. So interesting to see me describing myself as a ‘lifelong loather of the courgette’ when just over three years later, I am eating it on a daily basis.
I felt that the cake turned out a little bit dry this time- I think I shouldn’t have squeezed the courgette. I also think I over-baked the cake slightly. However, my colleagues seemed to enjoy it and one even asked for the recipe, so it can’t have been that bad.
Dabbling in indoor gardening during the winter whetted my appetite for a larger project. I soon found myself asking my landlady if I could tear up her garden, hoarding compost and ordering seeds online. I even bought a gardening-themed necklace.
Here are a few of the seedlings taking over my house.
- Various seedlings in my mini greenhouse
- Tomatoes and Brussels sprouts
A mistake I made when I tried to grow pumpkins was not preparing the soil. To be fair to the me of two years ago, the only tool I had was a hand trowel. However, it was ludicrously optimistic to think that I could just chuck the plants into the ground and be rewarded with an abundance of fruit.
This time, I spent a lot of time digging out my vegetable patch. I picked stones and I yanked roots. I dug in organic matter and two types of compost.
I realised the other day that I have only become interested in gardening since beginning intensive psychoanalysis. Something that I especially like about psychodynamic theory is its links to literature, and use of association and metaphor. I could hardly think of a more apt metaphor for analysis than taking the time to transform rough earth into something that can bear fruit.
I’ve written before about how my psychological state can be seen in my creative pursuits, a very obvious example of art imitating life. When I tried gardening before, I was unsuccessful due to a lack of preparation. I didn’t have all of the tools and equipment that I needed to turn my sandy London dirt into a garden that allowed my seedlings to thrive.
Two years on, I find myself researching and making plans to give myself the best chance at success. I took the time to observe my garden to put the vegetables in the best spot. Could this represent..growth?
As I’ve mentioned numerous times, my obsessive passion for knitting has taken a nosedive over the past few months. I think that this is partly due to becoming a highly competent knitter. I don’t feel particularly challenged by prospective knitting projects. Another part is dissatisfaction with some of the garments I have created. Since you are creating shaped fabric as you knit, once an item is finished, it’s finished. If there’s something you don’t like about it, often that’s a case of tough luck.
There’s also a limit to the number of knitted garments that a wardrobe can take. Realistically, I don’t wear knitted jumpers that often. They are a bit casual for workwear, and if I’m looking for comfort, I usually reach for a RTW sweatshirt or hoodie rather than one of my creations.
I think this is why sewing has started to interest me so much more. You can create a much wider variety of clothing, and home-sewn items are less radically different to shop-bought than handknit to machine knit.
However, the experiences of knitting and sewing are vastly different. For me, sewing is highly immersive and addictive. I fly through the steps, desperate to discover the result of my fevered work in front of the machine. I scarcely breathe. This is partly my personality- being outcome- rather than process-oriented (something I try to work on). It’s also a side-effect of my being a relative novice. When I first started knitting, I would occasionally stay up all night working on a project. However, I also think it’s partly due to inherent differences in the two activities.
This is a very long-winded way of saying that I miss knitting. As an attentionally impoverished millennial, I am basically incapable of sitting still. I’ve noticed that I’ve started playing stupid games on my phone while I’m watching TV. This used to be knitting time.
I haven’t forced myself to do any knitting during my fallow period. But recently my interest in yarn has started to pick up. After reading a very interesting blog post by Tom of Holland, I picked up a copy of Indigo Knits, a wonderful book about working with denim yarn.
I also bought Inspired by Islay, Kate Davies’ most recent publication.
This jumper is everything to me. I’m holding off on starting because I need to consider whether there is a gap in my wardrobe for her. I would like a cropped sweater to wear over skirts and dresses, but I’m not sure whether this is the right candidate.
I also bought some of Kate’s Buachaille wool. I’ve been wanting to try it ever since it was released. So far I’ve just made a swatch.
So, some stirrings of wanting to knit, and a small project to work on are positive signs. I think that even holding off on starting Port Charlotte represents progress. A mistake I’ve made over and over is starting projects without sufficient thought and research. Knitting a garment is slow, labour-intensive and expensive. I owe it to myself as a craftsperson to put in the legwork to have the best chance of ending up with something I love.
I’ve had quite a tough start to 2017, so I didn’t have much time to think about my goals for the year. Here are some thoughts, that I think will be more of a jumping-off point than a static list of things I want to achieve.
2017 craft goals
- Sew nine beautiful garments in 2017 (#2017makenine)
- Wear handmade as much as possible in May
- Make a terrarium that I’m proud of
- Plant a bee-friendly garden
I feel like my goals are somewhat lacking in ambition. I think part of the issue is the ongoing crushing sense of ambivalence in my life. I’m really struggling to find a good balance between my job and my passions in life.
2017 make nine
Some people seem to have planned all nine of their makes in January, but that doesn’t fit with the way I make. I like to be inspired by fabric or patterns and make up a garment quite quickly, rather than planning too much in advance. This is something I’ve learnt over time. When I first started sewing, I had a bad habit of cutting out patterns, then leaving the pieces lying around for ages, unsewn. Example. To be fair, this was partly because I hadn’t yet bought a sewing machine, so cutting out was one of the few sewing-related activities I could do at home.
Anyway, my point is that I will update this post as I go on, and decide what my makes will actually be.
- Mushroom print Cleo
- Liberty print Ultimate Shirt
- Liberty print Southport dress
- Raindrop print Bettine
- Space oddity Southport dress
- Turquoise striped top/dress
- Floral Macaron
- Pineapple Tulip Skirt
- Hidden panda Lark tee
I think it’s promising that I feel like I’m challenging myself on this Make Nine. I have made some tentative steps away from working with basic cottons and I will learn a lot by starting to sew with more challenging fabrics.
I switched apps for making collages.
I finished sewing my fairytale Cleo dress just in time for my thirtieth birthday, which was yesterday. Hence a finished object being presented on a day other than a Friday. Gasp! Behold my now-haggard form.
There’s so much discussion when you’re a woman turning 30, and plenty to think about. When is it time to worry about settling down and having kids? Do I want to settle down and have kids? Am I happy in the life I have created for myself over the past three decades? Am I too old to wear a mini-dress with little mushrooms on it?
I have few comments on the Cleo dress pattern. Overall, I think it’s cute though I’m still not sure whether the style actually suits me. The dress was a quick make- two evenings in total, including plenty of mistakes and unpicking. I think the most time-consuming part was sewing all the patch pockets. I found Tilly’s tips on working with corduroy very helpful.
I made the size 2, but I probably should have just gone for the 3. I let the side seams out a bit as the dress looks nicer on me with a bit more room around the hip area. I made the dress quite short, the hem was over two inches.
I can see no reason not to add in-seam pockets to this dress. I may add afterthought pockets to this mushroom dress if I feel it’s going to get a lot of wear.
Pattern: Cleo by Tilly and the Buttons
Fabric: 2m needlecord in print, plus 0.5m in plain. I had leftovers of both
I don’t think I need to comment on what a strange year 2016 was. There were also many ups and downs for me personally. I’m not really in the mood for lots of reflections, so let’s get to the meat- reviewing the goals I set in January.
Win Olympic Gold medal for knitting.
Last year I completed ten knitting and crochet projects, which is a drastic reduction on the previous year (twenty). As I noted in last year’s round-up post, I think I developed so much in 2015 as a knitter that I feel I’m lacking in places to go.
This year was a mix of projects I’m happy with, and disappointing results.
Continue to improve my sewing, and make some garments that I am happy to wear
I’m very happy with the progress I have made as a sewist last year. I went to a couple more workshops to develop my skills, but importantly also bought a sewing machine so that I can make things independently.
When I went away over the Xmas period, two garments stood out as super useful and wearable.
My zebra shorts
I’m ashamed to say that I only finished three books in 2016. What was that about? They were all by women, though.
Work on finding balance
No idea whether I achieved this.
Focus on health. Eat well and be active in ways I enjoy
Last year, to my own surprise, I took up running, and managed to run 5k, which was a massive personal achievement.
Take more and better photographs
I think I achieved this.
Specific project goals
Finish Princess of Power hat
Finish crocheted baskets
Add belt loops to Cigarette Pants
Make something out of my beautiful Indonesian silk
Overall, I would say a moderately successful year. Next year, I want to work more on making things that truly fill gaps in my wardrobe, rather than buying fabric/patterns on a whim. I’m hoping to feel that more of my projects are successes rather than learning opportunities.