::Being mindful::

So it’s the end of February and I’m remarkably well. Not wanting to tempt fate and all that but feeling quite good. I am being more mindful…. For me that means saying no, understanding I am one person and only can do so much, being able to recognise what I have achieved and the biggest challenge for me, accepting myself. Yes I would love to be a stone lighter, yes I would very much like to be awake at 10pm instead of falling asleep half way (if I’m lucky) through a movie and I would very much like to enjoy chocolate, bread, cheese and wine without feeling ill the next day. But these things are minor.

teaI have a lot to be mindful and thankful for. I’m loving my new job; yes there are challenges, 4 maternity leaves to cover with half of my senior leadership team having babies. My to do list increase daily without ever hoping to reduce. I am eating, sleeping and dreaming about school and all the possibilities, plans and the differences we can make to the children. The children are fantastic, they make the long hours worthwhile. I’m constantly mindful of what I can do to improve their life experiences. I’m also busy busy making the first of those four baby blankets- this particular one is for a nursery being decorated in chevrons, stars and using a colour scheme of white, grey, lime and purple. She doesn’t know what she is having, so I think she has covered all bases there!

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Then there is my wonderful family, two gorgeous sons (l can’t call them boys now at 17 and 20) and their fantastic dad, my Hubby. They keep me safe from myself, anchor me when I wobble and are always there to prop me up when I need a boost. They are mindful, as am I, that the times we have together now as a family are precious. They will be off into the world to explore and their own lives, hopefully as equipped for adventure as possible. Well at least E has his new blanket, a man-ghan I believe they are called! I have loved making this C2C stitch blanket using a colour recipe from The Patchwork Heart and the stitch instructions from the Felted Button.

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Being mindful, enjoying the moment, connecting to the world around us. I did this at an exhibition this week at Rheged a local venue which hosts many beautiful textile works and events. If you are up north this way in the next few weeks I thoroughly recommend a trip to see it. It is stunning; the colours and the way the Harris Tweed is born from the land and the environment. I sat and immersed myself in the beauty of the images by Ian Lawson.

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There are walks and journeys around his beautiful area that I live in- The Lake District National Park. Simply stunning and just on my doorstep.

viewSo as I look out at the dreary, Cumbria rain which we get a lot of, I am happy to be making baby blankets and playing with designs and colours. I’m happy to be travelling through the beautiful western Lake District every day on my way to and from work, especially now the mornings and nights are getting lighter. I’m happy to be going away to Kendal with my lovely hubby to recharge my batteries and enjoy some pampering together before the craziness of school returns on Monday. I’m happy to be mindful. Xx

Heellloooo, I’m still here!

Hellooooooooo…… (taps on glass)….. anyone there?blanketsIt has been an awfully long time since I said hello and put fingers to the WordPress keyboard! A lot has happened.

And it has all changed…

So what have I been up to? I returned to school fit and healthy in September in my role as Deputy Head teacher and had a wonderful few weeks where I remained healthy. I saw my Endocrinologist… she was lovely and put me on the right track with my Addison’s disease medication. She also reassured me that I was ok to feel the way I did – annoyed, frustrated and limited some days. But continued to remind me that being mindful and kinder to myself was the way to go. I knew she was right!lifeI was then ummming and ahhhing about whether to go for the Headship I really wanted – lots of questions in my mind about whether I would cope physically, mentally, emotionally and the stress of the post, moving from my familiar and supportive environment. I decided, with the support of my wonderful family, friends and colleagues, that I would give it a go and wouldn’t let my health hold me back if I could.

Guess what? I got the job!! So In January I started my new role and I am loving it! I have more me time, I’m still healthy (fingers crossed) and this is the first January/February in three years where I haven’t been super-poorly, hospital bound and off work. I’ve even managed to keep going with my crochet projects as you can see (the baby isn’t mine as beautiful and adorable as she is, but the blanket is!).projects

It was lovely to get to the end of the year after a frantic Autumn term and evaluate, as you do, the year as it is ready to pass by. Projects, decisions, events and reflecting on what is manageable, important and necessary. I know that this illness has had a huge affect on me, my family and the way I now look at life. I’m still making my crochet blankets, which I love. I’m still pottering on with my gifts and presents – I love a baby blanket; I love a poncho.

Just wanted to say…It’s good to be back in Blogland. I’m still here! xxxxxxxxx

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:: Catching up – A trip to Iceland ::

Yes, I’m on catch up, getting back into the swing of regular blogging, checking messages and seeing what my blogland friends are up to. I’m catching up. Not only with what you’ve all been busy doing, but letting you know what I’ve been doing to. So here we go with the trip to Iceland!

Now, you are warned, this is a biggy! Get yourself a cuppa and settle down for a read and a ponder over my snaps.

Back in October Mr. Mixture43 was the BIG 5 0, and to celebrate we went to Iceland. Now it wasn’t as simple as that… we were scheduled to go in February but of course my health took a turn for the worst and we rescheduled. We went at Easter, over Easter weekend  in fact.

Oh we were so excited!20150402_123224

We flew from Glasgow to Reykjavik, didn’t take long, and as I hate flying (I really do)  I took my Diazepam!! It was relatively painless.

The scenery was stunning – still in the depths of their Winter, with the snow just starting to melt away.20150402_16215320150402_180353

Finally we arrived in Reykjavik at our hotel, the view was fantastic! There was a lot of low cloud, and we resigned ourselves early on that we probably wouldn’t see the Northern Lights, but there was much more to do.20150403_080717

I can see why the Icelandic landscape is used for movie sets etc, particularly space scenes, it was like landing on another planet, another world.20150403_132843

The contrast between black lava volcanic rock and the pure untouched snow and ice was stunning.  20150403_154141

On our first venture out of the main city, on a tour of the local area, we were able to see just how isolated the out lying villages are. It was bitterly cold, -10c and we were suitably wrapped up against the wind. 20150403_095726

At Thingvellir National Park the blizzard didn’t stop us from exploring the Tectonic plates, the site of an Ancient Viking Parliament (I’ll let you read about it here if you want to) – The European and American plates here are moving apart all the time – I’m sure you know Iceland is highly volcanic and every home is built to Earthquake standards!_DSC0174

The Rift Valley was spectacular; visibility was actually quite good!_DSC0177

One of the most spectacular places we visited was Gullfoss Waterfall – the largest in Europe. It was immense in it’s power, force and with all of the winter snow starting to melt, it was phenomenal to hear.20150403_161002   20150403_160932 20150403_160918

The colour contrasts were breathtaking. 20150403_160904 20150403_160342

The shop also does a warming cuppa and cake – well it was bitterly cold and blizzarding out there!20150403_162232

Geysir next and the power of the underground geothermal hot springs. Yes it did smell a bit of rotten eggs, all that sulphur you see, but the ground was warm to the touch and the steam itself was hot.20150403_172059 20150403_170652

Now, I’m not a very brave person when it comes to water. I love walking, relaxing and spending time near water; rivers, lakes and the seaside. However I’ve never been a strong swimmer, or enjoyed being on a boat. I’ve always been sea sick. So going Whale Watching on a large fishing vessel, rolling in the sea, in a super large padded waterproof onsey with buoyancy aid – really? Yes, really! Well it’s a look

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But I wasn’t the only one looking stupid… so that was ok._DSC0231

Got a great view looking back at Reykjavik and the harbour.20150405_132015

_DSC0285_DSC0283Out to the ocean and glaciers.20150405_132220

We did see some dolphins, whales and porpoise, but they are too small to see on the photos, so the memory card in my brain will just have to store them!

A must do, when in Iceland is the Blue Lagoon, the geothermal spa hot springs. They are wonderful! The water is soft, smooth and almost silky as it is rich in the minerals from the volcanic rock it seeps from. Just bathing and relaxing in them was bliss, and they weren’t smelly at all. They were the most wonderful duck egg blue colour, and they come out of the ground at 38c

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You may be thinking well all of these wonderful tourist attractions are great but what are the town and the people like? Well they were friendly and relaxed. However after the economic crisis that hit Iceland, and then the rest of the world a few years ago, things are quite expensive. Coffee, tea and food in particular, however eat locally (this means fish) and you’re fine. I did enjoy my freshly caught lobster tails and mushroom risotto.20150403_201935

But there were many other sights that really showed the character and humour of the Icelanders. Here are my snappy snaps around town gallery!20150403_21401920150405_105513

So many wonderful window displays.20150405_105122 20150405_10513920150405_113340 20150405_11332120150405_110239 20150405_110245

In a town where they build homes from tin and the earth is black or grey, these flashes of colour really shout out in a busy side street!

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The centre of Reykjavik was unlike anywhere else I have been; buildings built to withstand earthquakes, using what appear to be the simplest of materials, concrete, tin and wood..20150405_122825_DSC0247_DSC0246

The spectacular church.

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But of course my creative crafty mind just had to seek out all things woolly! With such a unique yarn – the fibres behave differently and are strong because of the climate in Iceland – there were many woollen products, but these were my favourites.

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This was hanging on display in the bus station! Along with fabric bunting, cultural artwork and poetry. Amazing!bus crochet

Traditional knits – all handmade and very expensive. I know there is a lot of work in them, there were so many varieties but I liked the monochrome ones with undyed yarn. So beautiful.4752944-Wollen_Icelandic_sweaters_the_original_pattern_Reykjavik

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I absolutely love this from Carregyarns, the tonal colours remind me of the green lychee and moss on the volcanic rock across the landscapes.

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Yes, I did come home with yarn….Lettlopi

And ordered some to arrive after we got home from the Alafoss shop. They have online sales too, but beware of the shipping costs!

So there you go, I hope you have enjoyed catching up with my trip to Iceland. We want to go again, unusual as we don’t often revisit, but we loved it so very much. In fact, as different as it is to my home life and environment, it is the kind of place I could live. A trip next summer, during Icelandic spring will be fantastic.  In the meantime I have many projects to consider with Icelandic inspiration. Hmmmm…. where to start? Happy hooking. :O)xxxxx

::Ta-Dah! Beautiful Retro Baby Blanket ::

I was totally delighted to hear that my friend and work colleague was expecting her first child this Autumn. YAY!! Baby blanket crochet. I started looking for lovely patterns and quickly came across the delightful Amy Astle’s lovely Etsy shop Little Doolally. Oh what wonderful patterns and just the right sizes. I settled on the Beautiful Retro Baby Blanket.

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I considered my colours carefully knowing that my friend is a Cath Kidson fan, and that she would like something more vibrant than pastel. I also wanted it to be a surprise so couldn’t quiz her too much! I decided on Drops Muskat yarn which I got from Wool Warehouse. I used these colours:

Light blue purpleLilacOff whiteRedPurpleBlueLight GreyOld pinkVanilla yellowTurquoiseDenim blueDark PurpleHeatherDark Olive • Warm yellowApple greenPetrolSky blue

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It really is a simple pattern, single crochet and spike stitch rows and produces a beautiful firm fabric that is quite retro and reminiscent of pram baby blankets back in the day – when I was a little one maybe!

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It grew very, very quickly, and I used a pattern repeat after 18 colour stripes.

My stripes were:

Denim • Light blue • Light Olive • Off white • Light grey • Purple • Dark purple • Lilac • Old pink • Heather • Red • Sky Blue • Dark Olive • Turquoise • Blue • Petrol • Warm yellow • Vanilla yellow

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Amy’s pattern is so comprehensive and easy to follow.

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In no time at all it was nearing the end of the repeats to make the perfect pram size retro baby blanket.

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It has turned into quite the heirloom baby blanket that I’d hoped it would be – I loved making it, so satisfying!

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I then decided on Petrol, Light grey and Apple green for the border.

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So there it is Ta-DAh! A lovely snuggly baby blanket that I have to tell you my friend and her partner were thrilled with, it made her cry! Just waiting to find out who the lovely lucky little snuggle is – arriving early September if it behaves itself!  Happy hooking :O)xxxxxxx

:: Ta-dah – Cosy Stripe Blanket ::

cosy stripe bI do love crocheting blankets of all shapes and sizes. My first crochet adventure aged 10 was a blanket, and it’s just kind of stuck. Since I returned to crochet a few years ago, with a desire to help me relax, produce something beautiful and help my Creative Mind fulfil it’s need to make, I have made baby blankets as gifts and commissions including five large bed blankets. This last one, the Cosy Stripe Blanket is one of Lucy’s at Attic24 and I actually went for the colour pack. Why? She is so talented at closing her colour combinations, I decided (with my tired and newly diagnosed Addison’s brain) that I – 1. didn’t need the hassle of fiddling with colours and 2. was extremely happy with Lucy’s selection.

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My friend Lynne at Lusciously Loopy has an online wool shop, so put the pack selection colours together for me. Seventeen colours of Stylecraft Special DK. Then I was off!

I didn’t join the CAL that Lucy held over the Autumn/Winter of 2014/2015 – although some of the results from this were beautiful. So many people adapted it and tweaked it to suit their purposes and desires. Have a look here at some of them Lucy has shared. The pattern is such a simple and effective combination of trebles both single and triple clusters, in a glorious stripe combination. They ramble along, effortlessly, and are so soothing and melodic. It really was a joy. I was quite literally hooked on this pattern from the off. I started it on 29th May 2015.cosy b 29

Lucy’s combinations and careful planning mean that no two sequences are the same – despite using similar combinations of colours.cosy b 10

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You can see how in the sunshine the colours really sing.

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Work and crochet??!!cosy b 5

cosy b 4It went on holibobs with me to Somersault Festival, where there was some Elsie-van crochet action. Then to Dorset where there was going to be some beach crochet action but this happened…

potIn car crochet…car crochet

Crabbies and Crochet at Cambridge Folk Festival…crabbies and crochet

Snoozing and crochet at Cambridge Folk Festival…cosy b

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I really cannot stress enough how much easier it is to deal with those pesky ends as you go…cosy b 3

Love the colours. Ahhh

Starting the border. Lucy does say that there may not be enough for the border, and as my tension is probably a little more loose than hers, I didn’t have enough. I had a spare bit of raspberry in my stash that got me through the first round.Then I was planning on using gold, claret and meadow.cosy stripe blanketI ordered another ball of gold and petrol, I didn’t have enough claret but had lots of spare meadow from another project. I finalised the border with gold, meadow the petrol. I love the petrol as my last edge, but it is a thirsty round. Make sure you have enough!

cosy stripe border

So here it is. TA-Dah!!!! I love it. It’s a substantial size and weight – more than big enough for a single bed and super-cosy as the name suggests.

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Isn’t it beautiful? So well balanced.

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I love the way the border has definition and picks up the blue tones from the blanket. 20150818_152321

It will now have a place in my blanket pile, the ones I haven’t given away. I’m not good at giving them away as they take up so much time and effort. This blanket has been so therapeutic, helping me to recover, redress the stress balance and refocus my energies since my diagnosis.

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I hope you enjoyed the colourfest that is Cosy Stripe Blanket. I’m going to use the pattern again I loved it so much. New colour combinations are waiting to be discovered. Will you do a cosy stripe blanket? You won’t regret it. :O)xxxxx

 

 

:: Making progress – in more ways than one ::

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Ooooh it’s been a while hasn’t it? After my last post about my Addison’s Diagnosis, I’ve been concentrating on getting well, making progress with the new ‘normal’ that my life has developed and began understanding how my body is now feeling. I’m being kinder to myself, and I think it’s working!

So there are many things that have made progress in the past few months – I haven’t stopped crocheting! Oh no, I’ve made progress with a number of projects. As you can see I finished most recently my Cosy Stripe Blanket, one of Lucy Attic24′s lovely packs and patterns. I got my pack from my friend Lynne at Lusciously Loopy wool shop, and here is her blog. I loved this project – Ta-Dah coming very sooooon.

lusciously loopy

cosy stripe

However you may remember I was working on a present for a colleague/friend – a beautiful baby blanket. This is one of Amy Astle’s patterns over at Little Doolally, the Retro baby blanket. You can buy the pattern from her Etsy shop by clicking here. I made it with Drops Muskat cotton which I got from Wool Warehouse (love Wool Warehouse for their super delivery and gorgeous project bags). The colours are my own choice and I’m really pleased with how it’s turned out. I’ll make a ta-dah post for this later. My friend loved it.

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Then I’ve been making progress with this…

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Yes I broke my wrist on holiday. That was a shock to the system, literally. As an Addisonian, I needed to give myself Cortisol, to act on my body to cope with the stress of both the fall which was quite a bump and jolt, and the pain of the break. I don’t make adrenaline ( the stress hormone) so I have to self medicate now. I dealt with it well, didn’t pass out, crisis averted! But a funky pot was needed and three weeks on, I’m making progress in both crochet technique which has had to be adapted, and also in flexibility. That crochet hook might come in handy for a few itches under that pot soon!

Next I have a few projects to start making progress with:

A beautiful Four Seasons blanket by Crochetobjet by MoMalron again I am using Drops Muskat which I loved from the Baby blanket. The colours are so crisp and jewel-like. I’m finding it a little awkward getting started with my limited left hand grip, but we’ll see how that goes.

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momalron blanket

Then there is this stunner by Heather at The Patchwork Heart. I love the colour work in this SoOoOo muchly!patchwork heart c2c

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I can’t decide whether to make the corner to corner, the squares blanket, or actually use the cosy stripe pattern from my last Attic24 blanket to make it. Which do you think? I’m hoping my 20 year old Uni son will like it, I think it will make a beautiful Managhan! Pack delivered and at the ready! (See what I mean about the beautiful bags).

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Finally I’m carrying on with my gorgeous Natural Dye Studio Kaleidoscope Blanket by Amanda Perkins. It was a Christmas present from J. I had to pause making this blanket as it is so fine, and I found my eyes getting strained – I later realised this was a symptom of my new health issue.20140823_170757

 With that in mind I’ve been winding the last packs of yarn I have put off. It was a lovely day in the sun.

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So there you go. Making progress. I’m learning to enjoy the slower, smaller details as I adjust and develop my understanding of what my body needs. I’m very lucky; my family are patient, supportive and let me indulge my crochet pastimes. When I finished my Cosy Stripe Blanket, I was met with “What, another blanket Mum?  Where’s this one going?” “An uncontrollable need to hook, son,” was the answer. They know it helps me to destress and stay calm – I’m a blanket and big project kind of girl! Something I think they’re actually quite thankful for as they snuggle under them on the sofa.  Happy hooking. :O)xxxxxxxx

:: A diagnosis ::

Firstly I want to thank everyone who has sent me good wishes as I have been recovering, for supporting my little Facebook page and for helping to cheer me up with pictures, posts and news. So  I felt it only right to make a short but informative post. I have been very ill for over 3 months now, steadily getting better and slowly coming to terms with the diagnosis I have now got. A definite diagnosis. I have Addison’s Disease. addisons It makes sense now; not recovering from coughs, colds, developing Pneumonia with any chest infection, my asthma worsening rapidly and needing steroids in large does to enable my body to begin to climb back up. A diagnosis definitely helps. sea What it really means is that I am not making Cortisol so I have adrenal insufficiency. As well as having acute asthma and being hypothyroid, for which I take daily medication, I’m taking hydrocortisone 4 times a day to replace what my body isn’t making and it’s like being given a shot of energy and enthusiasm that brightens my world around me. I cannot tell you just how much the world comes into focus once the medication is taken. It’s like jump leads that kick me out of bed on a morning, they pull back the fog that takes over my brain, it gives me back the desire to try new things and the hope to see them through. You see, I haven’t even had the energy to crochet; although I finished my poncho (which I will get my blog post completed for), I have begun some projects, my heart blanket, and a hexagon scarf that have stalled a bit whilst I slept between eating and trying to get back to work. weekend hearts

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poncho

But the positive news and outlook is that I am not and will not let this take over my life. I will continue to do the things I love, including my full time job as Deputy Head teacher in a wonderful primary school. Yes it is demanding, and it has been oh so tough these last few months, but now I’m medicated I can get back to normal. A new normal; one with energy and hopefully involves evening s of wonderfully, colourful and creative hooky… not falling asleep at the drop of a hat!

I’m already working on a beautiful blanket, the pattern from Little Doolally, retro baby blanket for a colleague in school who is expecting her first child. I’m loving the crisp cotton, glazed colours and the combinations of the Drops Muscat yarn. It’s so lovely.

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I know I’m now on the road to recovery and it feels great. It will be a long while to get the dosages right, to understand how to self inject, to get to grips with exercising and dosing… It all needs time and thinking through. But I have a way forwards. It is life changing, but being positive, I know that I have wonderful family, friends and support to help me get back on my feet. I have a bright, colourful, crochet future ahead. Who knows what might happen now! :0) xxxxxxxx

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