I've always been a crafty person. Even as a child I loved making things, from a dolls' house made of cardboard boxes, to tray organisers made of old packaging and Lego bricks, it's been part of me from the very beginning.
Over the years I've made dioramas (I was very proud of a model of Yoda's house on Dagobah, sadly long gone and I never took pictures!), model kits and all sorts of things, but my favourite medium for creation is yarn.
About 20 years ago I stumbled upon cross stitch and taught myself from magazines (no You Tube back then!). I got pretty good, and really enjoyed creating images based upon charts. But cross stitch is *very* time-consuming - one small image could take weeks, and a larger image could take months - and I noticed I was starting to get back pain from hunching over to do it, and headaches from concentrating on such fine work. Looking back, these may have been the very first symptoms of chronic health issues, but I'll probably never be sure.
I'm very proud of the pieces I made. I gave a lot away as gifts but many of the pictures I made still decorate our house. Here are some examples:
As you can see, a lot of images are of Asian designs - I've been lucky enough to travel in Asia a few times and fell in love with Chinese and Japanese cultures. I also adore Pacific Island culture and the 'Tiki' aesthetic - I've got some more craft projects based around this, but they'll have to wait for a future post!
I had to stop cross-stitching completely about 5 years ago, although I still have a stash of patterns and floss. I don't know if I'll ever be able to get back to it, but for now the materials aren't taking up very much room, and I can't bear to let them go.
Every Christmas for the last few years I've set myself a project: one year it was to read the Lord of the Rings trilogy, one year it was to learn to crochet. Crochet had intrigued me for a while, and even though my Gran tried to teach me knitting when I was a kid I found it hard and frustrating - one little mistake of a dropped stitch and you can have a disaster, plus it takes *forever* to create something of any size! Crochet is different: you just use one needle, so there's fewer issues with coordination; if you make a mistake you can just unravel it and have another go and you can create items in all sorts of shapes and sizes very quickly.
I discovered a wonderful online teacher called Mikey, who runs a website called The Crochet Crowd. He's created hundreds of crochet tutorials and here's the playlist I taught myself to crochet with about 5 years ago. If you click through from this video to You Tube you'll find a playlist that takes you from the very basics of sitting correctly, holding a crochet hook, how to make various stitches and all the way through to some beautiful projects:
Crochet has proven to be wonderful for me! As my health has become more challenging crochet has helped enormously. It's releaxing, creative and I can do it anywhere! I've crocheted countless projects while waiting for hospital appointments, on buses, trains.... I don't have to bend over to see my work (so no back or eye strain) and I can use easy-grip crochet hooks which take the strain off my finger joints which have become progressively more tender due to my health conditions. It gives me a chance to be endlessly creative and thanks to the Crochet Crowd videos I've created blankets, mats, scarves and recently more challenging pieces like jumpers, cardigans and complex chair throws. It's fantastic being able to make my own clothes - I can make stuff that fits me and is really comfortable as I've made it just for me!
What's even nicer is that I've been able to start making not just gifts, but also items like scarves and blankets that are going to refugees. We have a family friend who works with people coming from Syria and other countries, and I'm really happy that I can make them things to keep them warm, and that are also bright and cheerful - something homemade that has been made with love and that I hope will brighten up their new homes.
So that's my yarn-y journey, from cross stitch to crochet! I have lots more stories to share and I'm enjoying putting down all my thoughts in this blog. More soon!