Mountain Walks and Handmade Clothes

The Dolomites were exceptional.  We stayed in a beautiful town called Selva Val Gardena, or Wolkenstein if you’re a German speaker.  Writing every day, I’ve managed to collect snapshots of the holiday. I’m hoping to get that all written up  by the end of the week on my other blog, but for now, I thought I’d share some of my homemade outfits.

One of the great things about this holiday, besides the mountain walks,  was the routine. Even though I was away from the comfort and safety of home I still felt as though I was in control of my own environment. there were definitely times when I wobbled, mostly when trying to explain what vegetarian meant, whilst only remembering the german word for meat (Fleisch, by the way). For any vegetarians out there it’s Ich esse kein Fleisch.

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Anyway back to the point. The hotel we stayed in was fantastic. At around eight I meandered down for a breakfast buffet and cup of tea. After that, it was time to change into walking clothes and off for a walk around the mountains.  Then it was back to the hotel in time for tea and cake at three o’clock. The Spa was open from four til seven. Dinner was then served at quarter past seven. This routine gave  the delightful experience of being able  to dress for breakfast and dinner.

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This was the very first day, I changed out of my yucky travelling clothes and into my handmade circle skirt. The was a thunderstorm which was a blessing after the long journey.

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My circle skirt to the rescue again. Walking, the day before, left me with sunburn. I borrowed my husbands cotton shirt to keep my tomato red arms protected.   Despite the bulky shoulders I actually really like the style.

 

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Sorry for the bad lighting here, it was so bright!

 

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These were really useful dresses to slip on of an evening, particularly on the hotter nights, It’s lovely being able to throw on a loose fitting dress after an afternoon in the spa. You can see in the second photo I am somewhat floppy from the spa.

 

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My final piece of home made clothing is the Coco jumper. I only wore it on the final day of the holiday, it was great when the air-conditioning on the couch and aeroplane kicked in.

If I were to pack again (and there’s already talk of going back) I would make another skirt and bring another dress with long sleeves to protect my delicate delicate skin.  I have this gorgeous dress which I wore a couple of evenings. However, it’s too nice for an everyday wear.

 

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This is an old photo, I think  it was taken about  two years ago. It’s uncomfortable to look at. The smile is strained. I fill the dress very differently now I’m at a healthy weight.

 

I love the sleeves on the Sewaholic pattern, but I think the overall pattern on the grainline (left) will suit me most. Also, the collar would be useful to protect my neck from the sun. I’ll have to figure out how to make those long sleeves.

Thanks for reading

x

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So Many Unfinished Things

I’ve fallen out with my jersey tank top. it’s a very fiddly material. I was full of confidence after my first attempt and then flippantly began the next one. So flippant was I, that I didn’t think I needed jersey needles for this new tricky material.  I then, in my impatience, began sewing the neckline with brown thread because I ran out of black. It doesn’t look great.

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I have now brought some jersey needles and black thread.  However I  feel somewhat soured toward the project. I want to have the top but am not inspired to unpick the neckline.  There is another top of the same pattern that I need to make as a sample for the shop, but as that is a beautiful satin material, it is going to be more difficult than the jersey one.

My next unfinished object, I don’t feel too bad about, as it’s not been too long since I started. I booked a workshop for me and my mum at Crafty Sew & So to make an adorable hand stitched doll.

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Out of habit, I ended up using back stitching. I also chose the doll with fantastic hair, which meant it had the largest outline. I  took forever stitching around the doll. She is waiting to be finished in a bag full of wadding.   I’ll pop a photo of my doll on here when I’m done. 

The final thing I have yet to make is probably the  main reason I haven’t finished any of the previous projects. I recently ordered the Dottie Angel Dress pattern as I saw it advertised in Mollie Makes. I wanted to get started on it straight away. dottie-angel-dress-patter

 

I couldn’t decide what fabric I wanted to make it out of so I picked up a lot of lovely fabrics from Crafty.

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Lanni was very helpful up until she started chewing on the pattern. 

 I used the two spotty cottons, green for the main part and navy for the base. I was going to use a white cotton with deer print for the pockets, but on a whim, I decided to do some satin top stitching along the join.  I didn’t want to hide the embroidery  so I am not going to add pockets for this dress. I’ve already cut the pockets out so will make another dress or tunic for them to go on.

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I love these tucks

I am working on trying to get back into a routine. I can feel that I am throwing myself into  this project. Last night, after getting back from crafty, I worked until half ten making the dress. By the time I got to bed I was exhausted and found my head spinning. This morning I have spent   a long time resting and writing. This is not my routine. By now I should be up dressed and feeling ready to face the world. Instead I am hiding in my room, not wanting to start the day again. I wrote a post yesterday on disrupted routines, after going to Wales last weekend it’s been really difficult getting back into my routine.

Routine is a tricky thing. I know it helps, but at the same time putting pressure to keep to a routine is counter intuitive. essentially I just need to give myself a break. It is difficult doing new things. The trip to Wales was incredibly tiring. I deal far better with small groups. As it was Easter there were a lot of family gatherings and meals out.

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Easter Sunday Lunch
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Big Family Meet-up
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Tom and Me at the Rabbit Hole with Tom’s Cousins, Leanne and Charlotte. Small gatherings are just better.

 

Asthma, Bunnies and Pie Charts

This week I’ve been struggling somewhat with the precarious balancing act of recovery. I am slowly becoming an active and autonomous person in this world. That fact is absolutely terrifying. I am attempting to be part of the world but not letting it overwhelm me.

I now exercise…yes it’s true. I have been to two whole pilates classes and am attempting to start kick-boxing. though I pushed myself too hard on the cardio at the kick-boxing on Thursday and my chest is still aching from my asthma attack. Attack sounds dramatic but I’m not sure what to call it. Incident? Episode?

Either way it was rotten.

I’m pretty keen to keep this exercise routine put. The problem is exercise was one of my negative coping mechanisms when I was suffering severely from my eating disorder. My therapist says that classes are good because there is a set end time so I cannot exercise to excess.  I was thrown entirely at pilates last week when Courage by Superchic came on the playlist, a song about living with an eating disorder.

The Internet is a major issue here. If we ignore all the horrible and depressing articles about  we are still left with disgusting adverts encouraging to ‘loose weight with this one simple trick’.

Ok thats is my rant over with…for the time being anyway here are the things I;ve been up to this week

Monday

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Scribbling though the first part of my novel and having lots of fun with pie charts . I’m ensuring I have all the elements of my novel stuck in my head before I go on to write the next part.

 

Tuesday

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More pie charts! It only took two days of writing every minute detail of each page to make me feel a little bit like I might be loosing perspective. to see more strange ramblings check out my other blog Today I Wrote…

Wednesday

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I left the house, read stories to the little ones at the library then went into Crafty Sew & So. It felt good to get out of my head for a day. Freya and I came up with a wonderful story all about two women who  become superheroes after training in the art of kick-boxing. I had so much fun sketching a comic of the story when I got home. At some point I aim to refine the it and find someone who can actually draw to complete the work.

Thursday

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I created a great little Bunny tutorial for Crafty Sew & So. It was a lovely day so I decided to take the pictures outside.

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My cat, Theo, was delighted I’d gone outside with him and wasn’t ashamed to show it

I went over to see Freya in the evening for the aforementioned kick-boxing class. On the way I couldn’t resist taking a photo across from the old liberty building.

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Despite the horrid asthma affair I did have lots of fun at Kick-boxing and will hopefully be back on Thursday, though I’ll probably be a little more cautious with the cardio.

 

Friday

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I was feel  exhausted still from asthma, but determined to have a good day. I got myself all prettied up in the morning, and googled how to wear a head scarf. At the shop I got started on gorgeous kit that has just come into Crafty from The New Craft House. The fabric is so easy to work with. I like sitting in front of the tv with  a good cup of tea and hand sewing the hexies together. Hopefully it will be done soonish and I can show you all how it turns out.

English Paper Piecing Cushion Kit

 

Saturday

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Manically crazy busy day at Crafty Sew & So, It seemed everybody wanted fabric, I tried to do a bit more of the cushion but I just ended up stopping and starting because of all the lovely customers. In the evening, however, when my husband was busy playing destiny I started trying to edit my novel. It didn’t particularly work as I ended up drawing a scene from  one of the pages.

And finally…Sunday

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Today I have been once again going through my novel, I managed to get through two chapters so far and hope to get at least another one done today. It was my plan to have finished by the end of the week. Above is the pie chart for characters mentioned and present in the first nine chapters.

 

 

All of the lovely things

Fifi Top

I’ve made a lot of things this week. I’m really rather proud of the Fifi top I made out of this lovely swallow cotton.

It’s was new in at Crafty Sew & So and will be adoring the window for a few months before a squirrelling it away for my wardrobe.  I made the Fifi Pj set from Tilly and the Buttons, a few months ago. It was a bit of a trauma because I got a bit muddled about which way round the panels went, and ended up doing  and undoing French seams  twice!

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They turned out great in the end, I’m looking forward to the warmer months so I can actually wear them for bed.  This time I didn’t bother with the French seams.

Novel

I’m also really proud of the fact I finished a revised edition of the first part of my novel. It’s printed out and I’ve managed to scribble my way through the first three chapters without too many embarrassing errors.

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Cakes

Lovely lovely cakes, It’s been a little while since I’d baked and I really enjoyed making this lot for Crafty Sew & So.

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Lemon Cupcakes with Butter Icing
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Chocolate Traybake

As you can see I’ve been very busy, too busy in fact. My husband has started back writing thesis and some of my old anxieties have reared their nervous heads. I’ve been  throwing myself into  various activities and unable to relax when I do stop working. Isolation is one of my key warning signs of falling back into depressive behaviours. And if that wasn’t a big enough warning, on Friday morning I had a hideous migraine. I arrived at the shop and promptly threw up. After spending too much time in the comforting dark of the bathroom I called my husband to come and rescue me. When my head had recovered enough we had a chat and worked out a routine for days when he is working. I love lists and timetables, I feel way less anxious when I am organised and feel like I have a modicum of control over my life.

 

Because apparently I have the bug now, today I started working on another Grainline studio top, I’ve made one before and fancied one in a different pattern. It’s useful to give me a fair bit of practice on jersey materials. I actually made sure I stopped at five o’clock despite the fact I still needed to add the binding to the neck and arms. For a while I will have to stick rigidly to this routine. I can’t trust myself to know when I need to rest.

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I went to Norwich and did all sorts of things a normal person might do

One of the many many ways in which my eating disorder and depression has impacted upon my life is a certain reluctance to travel. I become unsettled out of my house and when my routine is disrupted. over the past few years the way I’ve coped with this has been to plan the pants out of each little trip.

However, last weekend, Tom and I took a trip to Norwich to see our university friends. We did not plan meals or write out a routine. Upon arriving we met up with a couple of friends and had a meal out. I didn’t eat much, but I did manage to have a bit. We settled into the hotel room, crashed out a little then had a big meal out at The Belgium Monk for my friends birthday. I did not know the majority of people there.

My anxiety peaked a little when I realised the meal I’d planned on having was not available. I adjusted and everything was just fine. I ate my food, I was nervous and a little on edge. I chatted to strangers and ended up having a lot of fun.

 

The next day we ate out for breakfast at Harriet’s Tea Room. I had a delicious hot chocolate and pancakes.

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I am sleepy but happy

After that we went to see another couple of friends who have two adorable twin girls. They are 18 months old and full of energy. They are learning all sorts of words, not only in english but portugese (there mum is from portugal) thier favourite seemed to be luz (light). We had a brilliant time being clambered over and reading stories. I picked them up a couple of books from Waterstones in the morning.

 

Animal Hide and Seek - Farmyard Tales Touchy-feely (Hardback)

It was then that I learned that animal noises are different in Portugal and England. the dog goes bow wow and the sheep goes maaaa.

It was a really good trip, we stayed two nights and managed to catch up with friends. We came home on Monday so that is my perfectly valid excuse as to why I didn’t blog last week.

It was a weekend of scary but good things.

I’m So Deflated

This week, in fact these past few of weeks, I’ve been absolutely exhausted. It’s been tricky to muster motivation. I’ve been feeling like I’m going through the motions. I have two moods, forced cheer or  quiet exhaustion. It feels like I’m avoiding something; keeping busy with work or making things. the only problem is I’m not sure what it is I’m avoiding. I have a few notions but the issue with avoidance is when the issue becomes unavoidable there are no coping methods in place. That often leads to unhealthy coping strategies and reinforces the fear of whatever it is I’m avoiding.

I am in recovery. I think I will spend my whole life coping with relapses and recovery.

I watched Inside Out last night, it was homework from my therapist. I cried at the end. I cried for more than the bitter sweet sorrow of the story. My throat felt raw and my contact lens came loose from the tears.

This is the penultimate scene, please don’t watch it if you worried about spoilers

 

It was a good cry. I think I’d been holding it in for sometime. I have to remind myself at times that it is okay to be sad. being sad is different to falling back into the darkest days of my depression.

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30 minute doughnut holes…and difficult choices

I was pretty sceptical about this recipe as the doughnuts I’ve made before I’ve left to prove for a good while.  Never the less I decided to give it a go.

I used Kelly Senyei’s recipe from Just a Taste  

For the doughnuts:
5 cups vegetable oil, for frying
1 cup milk
1 large egg
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 Tablespoons sugar
4 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted

Equipment: Deep-fry thermometer; Small ice cream scoop (I didn’t have one so I used spoons, they weren’t particularly neat but worked fine.)

Add the vegetable oil to a large, heavy-bottomed pot. (There should be at least 2 inches of oil in the pot and at least 2 inches between the top of the oil and the top of the pot.) Attach the deep-fry thermometer to the pot and begin heating the oil over medium heat to 350 ºF / 180ºC. Line a baking sheet with paper towels.

In a small bowl, whisk together the milk and the egg.

In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Stir the milk-egg mixture into the dry ingredients, then stir in the melted butter, mixing until a soft dough forms.

The dough is pretty springy  and easy to scoop. I used the whisk instead of the dough hook on my mixer.
The dough is pretty springy and easy to scoop. I used the whisk instead of the dough hook on my mixer.

Once the oil has reached 350ºF / 180ºC use a small ice cream scoop to drop about 1 tablespoon scoops of dough into the oil, careful not to overcrowd the pan (they will puff up). Fry the doughnut holes, flipping them in the oil, for about 2 minutes or until they’re golden brown.

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Using a slotted spoon, transfer the doughnut holes to the paper towel-lined baking sheet. 

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Kelly uses a glaze but I just rolled them in caster sugar. I found it’s difficult to know when they are cooked all the way through. I’d probably say make the doughnut holes pretty small to avoid doughy centres.

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Lovely misshapen doughnut holes
Lovely misshapen doughnut holes

They smelled delicious, however I struggled to eat them. My last few blogs I’ve been doing a very good job of ignoring my mental illness. Avoidance is all very well until it’s comes back to bite me. It’s with more than a little trepidation i mention it now. (At the bottom of the blog where none but the most dedicated will do more than skim read). That’s enough procrastination…

My anxiety around food has risen a little recently, I’ve taken a few more scary steps, such as restarting driving lessons meeting a friend in town and ordering a toasted tea cake, and attending my sisters baby shower and nibbling at the afternoon tea (awkwardly scraping butter from my scone). Theses activities have pushed me out of my comfort zone and challenged what I can and cannot do.

Although it’s been rather liberating and fun it does leave me feeling more vulnerable and anxious. Adding to this anxiety is the fact that for the last couple of months my weight has been steadily rising. I’m weighed every week so my therapist can keep track and check if I’m staying healthy. She assures I am still within the lower bracket for my BMI  but that does little to ease the worry of those rising numbers and the slow change of my body shape. She often describes it as a wack-a-mole scenario. when one thing in my life improves another issue pops it’s ugly face up.  In fact two have popped up recently the first is massive anxiety over talking on the phone and the other is to do with food.

To cut a long, and complicated, story short;  One thing I did when I was suffering severely with my eating disorder was bake for other people and not eat the results myself. This is a unhealthy coping strategy and allowed me to not eat whilst having the satisfaction of providing for others. this almost happened when I made these doughnuts. I displayed them beautifully made a cup of tea and watched them cool without the slightest desire to eat them.

I had a friend round at the time, she ate them happily. I took a deep breath and tried to let the pressure fall away. After managing to relax and reminding myself it was my choice whether I ate or not I was able to enjoy the sugary treats.

They tasted lovely but I think I prefer the traditional method of leaving the dough to prove as the texture is nicer. As a quick treat they work perfectly.

Today I made a Fox

My lovely friend came over t’other day with all sorts of wonderful fabrics and patterns to play with. I set about trying to make a pair of pj bottoms, after realising I had nowhere near enough baking parchment to make a copy of a pattern. I thought I’d go a few steps easier and make a lovely, lovely fox stuffed toy from this fantastic selection of Simplicity patterns.

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click here to go to the site

It was beautifully therapeutic to cut out the individual pieces of pattern, though at one point I was staring blankly at the paper unable to see the number I needed. Thankfully my friend helped and I could begin choosing the colours and began making the face:

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I had a wonderful time but my brain did seem to be lost in a haze of cotton wool. It’s been a very long time since I’ve spent any considerable time socialising and to be perfectly honest it wore me out.  I could not stop thinking if I was doing the right thing, saying the right thing, was I doing too much, too little? Every word I spoke came out after consideration or if one comment did escape unchecked my mind would examine and re-examine whether it was Right. 

I am perfectly aware that this is unreasonable. There is no Right way to act.  I try to keep the thought in mind that, even if I happen to say something  Wrong, people are not judged on a solitary word or action.

In the past in order to stop myself feeling negative thoughts about myself I would use unhelpful behaviours. that evening however I sat and thought of all the good that happened that day and tried to dismiss the times I thought I’d acted strangely. It’s a small step forward on the long road of recovery.

Today I finished what  I started and finished this fellow and gave him to my little sister.

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Today I made my vote (and a little felt mouse)

I woke up bright and early ready to vote! It had been planned, I had to arrive after most people have been to work but before the elderly folk and people with kids  had managed to get out and about. It worked, just  about, there where only three people ahead of us in the Parish Hall. I handed my poll card over to a nice middle aged woman and she gave it to a balding man lingering behind her. He ripped it into four rough scraps and threw it away.  I’d been guarding that piece of cardboard obsessively for over a week and took an instant  dislike to the man.

It only took a few minutes to get there and back. I was home with a cup of tea in no time. However my body refused to accept that I had nothing more to do. After trying to relax and becoming irritated I decided to make a little something from Everything Alice : The  Wonderland Book of MakesIt was very difficult to focus, and the method of  measure twice, cut once went out the window.  I did not pick out materials that particularly matched. His ears are too small and inside out, his eyes are weird looking and the tail could be a lot neater. I debated whether or not I should post. I am not proud of my work but I am trying to work on my issues with perfectionism. So here the little mouse is in all its imperfect glory.

A bit of a mess starting off
A bit of a mess starting off
pretty button sewn on the back
Pretty button sewn on the back

 

 

little cow mouse
little cow mouse

Today I made a trip to Buttons Boutique

I decided it was high time to stock up on material and other nice bits. Going into town (or even leaving the house) is something I find difficult. I’ve had panic attacks in the middle of shops and become so overwhelmed I give up on whatever I was there to do. This has resulted in the complete  avoidance of the outside world.

So  this outing required forward planning.

Step One: deciding a town outfit, (pretty Cath Kidston dress, leggings and thick long socks.)

Step Two: Write a very detailed list of things that I need.

Step Three: Plan the trip with contingency plans.

The plan was to leave nice and early  so all was quiet, this plan was somewhat scuppered when my kitten Lannister (named by the RSPCA and kept by us) refused to come indoors. After half an hour of calling we decided to open up the greenhouse and leave with her still outside.  This was the first stumbling block but I think I managed to remain calm. We (my husband and I) got in the car and put on a bit of Florence and the Machine.

We arrive in Leicester and I went to lovely Buttons Boutique and my husband went to Forbidden Planet. I was alone in the store and for a moment it felt like an assault course. I took a deep breath looked at the list written on my phone and wondered about the store. Customers came and went before I managed to focus my mind enough to look for what I needed. I picked up a basket when my arms got too full and had a nice little haul. After I had my bits and pieces I went on to the fabric. Their were lots of bundles and next to them A printed sign read: Fabric may be available by the metre if in stock.

My anxiety peaked. I would have to go to the counter. I waited in a small queue. My heart beat too quickly and my hands felt clammy against the patterned blue material. A young woman stood at the counter, sorting out stock between each customer. I hesitated and then blurted out my request. She smiled and said she’d check if the material was in stock. I breathed again and wandered about the store. She came back down within minutes, two metres of the pretty patterned material in her hands. I bought my wares and met with my husband. I still felt breathless but proud of myself.  Nothing terrible had happened. I didn’t make a fool of myself. The world outside the sanctuary of my house isn’t as scary as it seems.

At home I sat happily in the living room with a lovely cup of tea. 2015-05-06 11.51.03

My haul.