Thursday, December 31, 2015

Goodbye 2015...

2015 has been a hard one for me in so many ways, predominantly battling my Black Dog and dealing with emotional fallout.

But I have had so many people in my corner, and I am so grateful for that.

Don't think I could have done it without the selfless, unwavering support from my wonderful Husbeast. He's been there right by my side, even when I have been in truly impossible places... he really is a wonderful man, who I could never be without.



Those of you who suffer with depression and anxiety know how irrational our feelings can be, and no matter how hard we try to understand it, sometimes working through it is the only way to beat it. 

A good friend taught me that :)

Anyway, I am done with looking back. If I carry my past, I'll be too tired to embrace my future...




2015 also brought a lot of very good things...

My eldest son Daniel, took, and passed his GCSEs... both myself and Beast are so proud of him. He's got self discipline, something I never had, and a will to succeed. That makes me happy!




Joel is, and always will be my little ray of sunshine, He is his own person, and has little fear (to a point) of what people think of him. I also love his view of life, he's always lived for the moment... I hope this stays with him forever.




My creative mojo came back after an excruciatingly long hiatus in the latter part of this year, and you have no idea how thankful I am for that. That signalled to me that maybe this enormous cloud of shit I've been carrying around was finally starting to dissipate... 

I think Spinzilla 2015 was the pinnacle of this, I was on the only UK team, and I spun as hard as I have ever done, amongst others spinning miles and miles and making it look effortless.

Those who know me well, will understand how difficult it was to be a part of something like this and not knock it out of the park, as I am so competitive. But, the amount of encouragement from my other team members to just 'enjoy' showed me that everyone was valued, regardless of yardage.

I also got a loom, something I have been resisting for years. I can see 2016 being filled with weaving and spinning and maybe some dyeing :P

Creativity FTW, right?

To thank the very best friends in my life for their love and support over the last year, I made them woven scarves... 



They are both very different people, so I used the same 'ingredients' to cook up something unique to them both. I am very much a newbie weaver, but I pick things up very quickly, due to my inner child wanting to be the best, hahaha, damn her! 

Love you both so much, wear your scarves as a big hug from me whenever you need it :)

Thankyou for sticking with me, when I literally didn't want to stick with myself. I am hoping 2016 will bring good stuff for us all.

Babylonglegs will be changing a little, I have to do that to make it work for me. I am going to dye stuff I want to dye, because when I am happy my work shines brightly... of course, if there's something specific you want, I'll always be down with that.

That will never change.

Happy New Year :)






Tuesday, December 22, 2015

My Friend

Here's me thinking I was being *clever* by taking the last spot on Woolly's 10th Anniversary Blog Tour... I didn't anticipate sitting here feeling a little speechless, because everyone has covered a lot of the things that I was going to say :P

But , you know me right? 
Never short of a few choice words :)

Woolly and I have been friends for around 7 years, but I know I bumped into her quite early on in our *online* lives, as we both started blogging in 2005. 
I followed a lot of blogs around that time, being a stay at home Mum to two beautiful boys, and knitting woolly trousers and shorts to be used over cloth nappies to keep me creative.

I remember sending her these yarn oddments... and how completely *fangirl* I felt being mentioned on her blog... hahaha :P



Woolly's adventures with her dyeing and spinning inspired me to follow my own woolly dreams... and a few years later she was including my hand dyed and hand spun yarns in her patterns !


I loved reading about her life... feeling so closely connected to her through her words, as I struggled with my own darkness... 
Her frankness about her feelings and how she made sense (or not) of it all always comforted me... and still does :)

We met 'for realz' in 2007, at Skipnorth, an annual get together of knitterly folk at Hawarth in Yorkshire and then again later in that year at Woolfest, where I got a sneak peak at the samples for her first book, 'Going Straight' ...



Rainbow Warrior and me :)

The move to 'Mutonia' in 2008 saw her really begin to blossom as a designer, and having such a beautiful son to inspire her has opened up a whole new world of playful constructions.  Being a mother unlocks a whole new level of emotion (both good and bad) and these feelings are expressed by us sensitive, creative types in the only way we know. Living in such an artistic community has also encouraged so much wonderful work to emerge, and also allowed for a much simpler way of life for her and her Boys...  something that wouldn't be possible to achieve within the stifling constraints of bricks and mortar.



On her returns to the UK, we always try to meet up at least once, if not a few times (Wool Shows, Teaching and Hat Clinic schedules permitting) and Summer family get togethers at my houze are fast becoming a tradition... 

There's always a lot of laughter, always alcohol (in varying quantities) and ALWAYS some time to go clothes shopping :P



Over the last 4 or so years, we've been growing increasingly closer to each other in the dark times, the friendship becoming stronger because of it. 
She's gently schooled me on ways to cope with the darkness, to embrace it and work through it. 
You have to understand how it works to ever think of overcoming it, and that knowledge is a real gift, one that I am thankful for every day. 
Without her unwavering guidance I would still be drowning, especially with the mess that is my head over losing my Mother so unexpectedly.

As you all know, I have an incurable Hat addiction... and for my 40th Birthday, she designed 'Sarahs Slouch' for me ... my very own WoollyWormhead design, from one of my very best friends in the world.


And that's it for me, plain and simple.
She is my friend, and I love her with all of my heart :)

I feel unfaithful if I contemplate knitting any hat other than one of Woolly's *GRiNS*
The way I see it though, I have no need to look any further than Woolly's comprehensive inventory of 8 Books and over 150 single patterns to find something amazing to knit. Her written instructions are so simple to understand (that's perfect for me!) teaches me new techniques, and new ways of looking at construction.
A lot of the other Guest Bloggers have chosen their favourites, but I am afraid I cannot, because they are all awesome!


Now, you guys know how important Music is to me, I live for it and the way it wrenches feelings out of me ... 
Woolly and I have shared a memorable kareoke moment or two, hehe, but over on the Instagram recently, she shared a fantastic song, 'Vagabonds' by the New Model Army.
I dunno if any of you have been to a NMA gig ? I have, and it was one of the most amazing experiences of my University years. The passion and absolute surrender to the music of the fans was astonishing to me at the time, being a newbie gig goer at the time... and it coloured my Live music appreciation forever. 

So, Woolly, this one is for you, my soul sister. 
Thankyou for being in my life, and for helping me to attend to my head, in more ways than one!

Sing it LOUD !

'We are old, we are young, we are in this together
Vagabonds and children, prisoners forever
With pulses a-raging and eyes full of wonder
Kicking out behind us again'



As per previous blog posts, you guys have the opportunity to win a totally, one of a kind, reversible project bag, sewn with love by Woolly.... 



..of course, being a Yarnie, you will also get a skein of yarn from me. 
Because I love ya :P
....just leave me and Woolly a comment here, telling us what you'd say to us, if you met us in the street... away from all the bluster the industry creates... and also what hat patten you'd like to receive!

... because at the end of the day, we both are just, as my youngest son says, Hoomans :) 

Be excellent to each other... !


Thursday, December 17, 2015

#MakeGoodFeelGood

Kate at APlayfulday recently blogged about #makegoodfeelgood ... and this week I have been in dire need of a creative distraction, to help me run away from my Black Dog.
Insomnia-fuelled anxiety is a big downside of my depression, mix this with bad dreams and a large side of seasonal pressure, and you have an unpredictable and very highly strung Sarah.
The only way for me to channel this negative energy is to create, whether it be dyeing (not possible at the moment with it being so cold), spinning or weaving... 
My medium of choice at the moment is weaving. 
I needed a bright and quick-to-complete project for an instant hit of happiness, and this pattern (along with a green/teal heavy palette) is a real winner :)


Some of these yarns I hand-dyed specifically for a 'quick hit' project, and some are from stash


..this is the warp plan, 3 repeats were used

When my little warping helper (aka Joel) got in from school yesterday, he helped me wind the warp, and I had it all threaded and tied off very quickly... am getting faster and faster at it.


...and had it all woven and off the loom within 5 hours... 


The felting side of it doesn't take any time at all either :)

This pattern is right up my street when the angst sets in, but I think I might be ready to move onto a plain weave now, as my edges and tension are getting better. 
I am sure I will return to it though, in times of need... the effect this pattern produces is really beautiful, and is a perfect way for me express the colours in my heart.

Wednesday, December 02, 2015

Did someone say Rabbit Hole?




I finished weaving this scarf last night, it was super quick to do actually... which helped in my yearning for gratification :P
It's a pattern from 'The Weavers Idea Book' :)
Pre-felted it and trimmed it straight away, and the wool softened up brilliantly through that process which I am really pleased about, nothing worse than a scratchy scarf right?



Dip dyed black to grey, then over-dyed again with Teal and then Turquoise...




The difference between to two is astonishing, isn't it? You can see the pattern so much better when it's a semi-solid colour, and the fronds dreadlocked up too!

 *GRiNS* 

I can see quite a few more of these in my future, as I have a sizeable amount of vintage pure wool in 25g balls that I can use, plus, practicing warp winding is important, so I have learned the hard way :P 
It's also the perfect pattern for me to explore textures and colours. 
I love constructed holes, and also the fact you don't have to be so precise in your work because you're going to felt it after you are done.
And then adding an over-dye into the mix just gives it another point of interest for me!




What is not to love?



Tuesday, December 01, 2015

If at first you don't succeed ...


I came across this meme over on the Facebook yesterday, and it set a lightbulb off somewhere in my scattered brain. Every single one of those 12 points refers to me, and point 9 reminded me of a funny situation I had on a crafting weekend away with my friends ... it wasn't funny at the time, well not for me anyway :P
Trying to teach me new skills always requires a lot of patience and a very good sense of humour. There was a workshop on Bullion crochet, and for the life of me, I couldn't do it. Cue much foot stamping and sulking and anxiety... which lead me into point 2 !!

It wasn't such a good day to look into ones personality traits, but hey Ho! 

Yesterday was one of those days where the Black Dog had pretty much full on control of my head, as hard as I tried I couldn't focus on anything. Cue me trying to spin, weave etc with no luck... all enthusiasm sucked right away *sigh*

I did dye some yarn though... the day I get Green wrong, is the day I hang up my arm length heat resistant gloves...



This is a new yarn base I am trialling, a HT 75/25 Merino Silk sock yarn, and i love it so much, just need to test knit it now...

My lovely friend Laura gave me a tip on using bamboo placemats on the warping beam of my loom... 
So, I ordered some bamboo table runners and they arrived yesterday. Stupidly, I thought it would be a good idea to unroll what was already on the loom and put them in... BIG MISTAKE... it made the existing warp tension even worse than it was!
I wasn't that happy with what I was doing anyway, to be perfectly honest... so I did what I usually do... and feeling utterly stupid and disheartened, in a Sarah tantrum, I cut was what was on the loom off and threw it in the bin *shakes head*
In the past, the loom would probably have followed it, but I had a harsh word with myself... 
'No, have a go at rewarping it and do the project you originally wanted to do'



So I did, it took me a good couple of hours to get it all right, but thanks to the bamboo mats (♥ Thankyou Laura ♥ )  and my sheer determination to beat the hell out of myself, I did it. And the difference in the weaving experience is amazing.
I have lots of this yarn, and it is perfect for felting, then overdyeing, so I envisage cranking out a few versions of this project, just to practice warping.

When will I learn I have to take baby steps, and stop trying to run before I can walk??


Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Another slippery slope...

Well, today was the day... you gotta love the Skully Gaffa tape !!!


... took me about 1/2 an hour to unpack it all and reassemble it. 
The previous owner had left it all warped up for me, which was very kind!


It didn't look quite right though, so I unwound and undid things. 
Seemed like a very good idea at the time :P


By the time I got to this point, my manshapes were home from school, so Thing 1 helped me tension it all up. 

(I knew the thick brown paper that wrapped Beasts new cymbal would come in useful :p)

I'd also found a *brilliant* video on warping so I undid the 4 knots that were attatched to the cloth beam and retied the warp directly onto the front beam :) 


I was rather pleased with my progress, and so watched another fab video ... 
At this point, I thought that the heddle was too fine for the chunky yarn, as when I was trying to weave, the warp threads were sticking together and I was unable to put the shuttle through without a lot of grrrrr-ing :P
I thought I was going to have to rewarp the whole thing (insert more grrrrr-ing) which I didn't want to do, I wanted to reuse the warp already in place.

But, thanks to a lot of wonderful advice from my friends, I had a break, cooked some tea and went back to it after.

Cranked up the tension a lot more, with the heddle in the *up* position (thanks Laura) and voila....


...and an hour and a few more stripes later...


There is no way in the world it is a perfect piece of fabric, but it's a start, and I am so happy that I understand the process. I knew it would be a steep learning curve, but it wasn't so steep I felt out of my depth at all.

And I wouldn't have got this far without the help of all my friends, as always :)

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

BLooming Marvellous!

So...... *blushes*

I have been jonesin' for a Loom for quite a while now, but also heavily resisting the urge to just go and buy one from new, because I am a firm believer in the fact that things happen when they are meant to.

For example, a month or so ago, I found a buyer for my Louet S51, and the buyer was someone I have known online for years, so I was able to catch up with her through it. At pretty much the same time, a Kromski Sonata (folding travelling wheel) came up for sale, and I was looking to replace my Louet with a travelling wheel anyway, so I could take her to Spinning meetings. 

So you see, things happen when they are meant to.

I have been half-heartedly searching for a loom for sale of late, but they always seem to sell fast, or they're not the right kind for me.
I wanted a foldable/portable one, so it will travel, and also pack away when I am not using it.
I put 'weaving loom for sale' into a popular search engine the other night, and found this lovely loom, about 5 pages in, over on Gumtree, in St Helens, for an insanely good price.

I messaged the seller about it, and then messaged a good friend on the FaceBook, who lives in St.Helens, as the seller was not able to post.


She is a 16" Kromski Harp Folding loom and she's hardly been used and comes with a stand and quite a few books. 
So, perfect for learning on :)

But the BEST part about it, is that I have reconnected with a good friend that I haven't spoken to for a few years, and it was like I only spoke to her yesterday.

So yeah, this is why I always try to wait for the 'right' time.
Just having something you want is all well and good, but when it comes alongside other more awesome things, it's like it was meant to happen, and this feels infinitely more fulfilling :)