Sharing the crochet love. And some robots.

Monday Measure

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Woop de doo, see (some of!) those numbers coming down. And brace yourselves, I have found a “before” picture…

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Actually, it’s not the worst photo I have ever seen. I’m not straining to breathe or sweating with the effort of being upright.. But when I look at this photo I feel very sad about that time in my life. I would have sworn to you, if you had asked me, that I was happy and content, but maybe some things can only be seen clearly when looking back from a better place.

I firmly believe that someone’s weight gain is only a symptom of a problem that needs to be treated, rather than being the problem itself. At that point in my life there were a number of things causing me to make the wrong food choices. My boy was still waking, every two hours, every night, for the first two years of his life – looking for a hug, most nights! – and the tiredness made me crave junk food. I was also feeling very lonely and more than a little shaken from my experiences of domestic abuse. Nobody talks about that, so I felt as though I were the only person ever to go through it. Also, when someone comes through an illness or a trauma, people will come and visit, bring flowers, make tea. There is none of that for escaping domestic violence, and I felt a little “forgotten.” Not that I wanted to parade through the streets being cheered by the town, but it almost feels as though your suffering needs to be recognised, before you can leave it behind and heal.

Woah, there is a whole load of stuff that just came flooding out, when all I meant to do was put up this week’s measurements! I guess sharing our stories is part of the healing process too, and one step closer to moving on.

Anyway, I am feeling very happy with my progress so far. I think my measurements might be a little slower to change now that the initial “shock” of the new diet has worn off, so I will probably leave it for at least a fortnight before I update again.

Last week’s mini-goal was to purchase the yarn for my new top; and I have achieved that, and am waiting for it to be delivered from ebayland. Very exciting!

Last week’s treat was; herbal teas, lots of them. No, really! I was trying to re-train my horribly sweet tooth, and although most of the fruit teas I have tried have tasted a lot like hot water, I loved the aniseedy taste of fennel tea. The big winner was liquorice tea, definitely an acquired taste, but it’s syrupy sweetness killed all of my sweet cravings stone dead. I am craving that now instead! Try it!

This week’s mini-goal is to go through my wardrobe and get rid of anything that doesn’t make me feel fabulous. If it is baggy, saggy or drab looking, it is going to the charity shop. I want to hop out of the shower in the morning excited about getting dressed. It might take a little work, but I deserve to be happy in my clothes every day, so it will be worth it.

Good luck to everyone in pursuing their goals, I hope your voyage of self discovery is as enlightening as mine has been this week. Keep it up, we can do this. xxx

Digital drawbacks

Image   I am having a very nostalgic evening, flicking through old photographs of the kids and enjoying the memories of all of the happy moments that were captured. Was my boy ever so small? Was his hair ever that long? He is only 6 months old in this photograph, and he was born with that mop of hair, although it was jet black at first. I knitted that striped jumper for him because his hair reminded me of Dennis the Menace! My girl won’t let me plait her hair anymore, and she rarely lets me take her photo either, even from the back! They grow up so quickly, blink and you really do miss it. 

I have photo albums from when I was a baby, faded pictures of bowl haircuts and hand-me-down dungarees, with dreadful carpets and wallpaper in every shot. I can turn the pages and move from birthday party to Christmas morning, Holy Communion to summers on the beach. When someone picks up the big photo albums for a look, people gather round and share stories, giggle at bad hair days and long-forgotten moustaches on various male relatives. 

I don’t have that for my children, and it is my own fault. It has often been said; people don’t print their photographs anymore, and it is a terrible shame. It is great to have a digital camera and know that the images have been captured and safely stored, but I want my children to have what I had – a big book. Just a simple scrapbook with big thick pages where I can stick their photos, an album that they can lift down off the shelf and enjoy every now and then. I imagine them sharing stories of their own in a few years, laughing at my haircuts and clothes, remembering scrapes on knees and knitted stripey jumpers. I think it is time to get these beautiful memories off the hard drive and into a big book. 

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I have often come across patterns for crocheted dishcloths and washcloths, and in the past have never quite understood why anyone would want to put so much work into something just to have it wiped across a greasy plate or covered in ketchup. 

However, I did have a few cotton tension squares lying around about a year ago, and they somehow found their way into the kids’ bath. They made lovely soft washcloths, much nicer than the shop-bought flannels we had at the time. The kids used to fight over them – I was so surprised!

I think, out of all the things I have made for my children over the years, and all the hours of work I put into everything, those scrappy tension squares were their favourites, by far! 

I’m not sure where they all went, but we have one left now, and I caught my wee boy using it to wash the bathroom walls for me – so helpful! So tonight I decided to hook up a few replacements for their next bath. 

My girl has a butterfly in lovely buttery yellow, while my boy gets a smiley face in a blue/green shade that he will love. I have even started on one for myself, to be kept safe from any future “cleaning” the kids might choose to assist me with.  

I can kind of see now why people like to make these, although I still haven’t used one as a dishcloth yet! I know people like to give handmade dishcloths as gifts, so I guess that would be a nice way to perk someone up while they are doing their housework.Perhaps I will give it a try, if I can bring myself to dunk my lovely yarn into the kitchen sink! 

A little bonus is, of course, another few balls of random cotton left over from earlier projects have now been put to use, and I intend to do the same with any more cotton I find lurking in there. Yessss! Take that, stash!

 

 

 

 

“Dwindling” Giant Stash

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I have been on a stash-busting mission for many, many months now. Like many crafters, I found that my collection of gorgeous yarns was taking up more and more room, and seemed to be growing faster than I could use it up. Even after I stopped buying more yarn, the collection grew and grew. 

That is partly down to circumstances beyond my control; this stash is a combined effort, as my mum is a keen knitter and has been adding her own purchases to the pile every so often. Also, we were honoured to be the recipient of not one, but two deceased ladys’ unused yarns over the last year. Yarn purchases are so personal, and I was touched by the kindness of the grieving relatives in thinking of us, so it would have been incredibly insensitive to decline the gifts. My mum took a ball of wool from one of the bags and knitted a scarf for one of the daughters of the woman who had died – so she was receiving a gift from her mum, in a way. I thought that was a really nice thing for mum to do. 

The problem I now face is that the yarns I mostly use are almost gone now; I use a lot of DK, and 4ply for the baby shoes and neo-natal items that I make. I have used up some chunky wool in making my adult sized bunny slippers and a lot of DK odds and ends in my blankets. 

So the stash is shrinking, slowly, but still takes up almost 5 full bin-liner sized bags, stuffed in under my stairs, in shame. It is not an ideal storage solution, as somehow tangles manage to develop, all by themselves, while the bags of wool sit in the dark, obviously bored and unfulfilled. 

I do want to use the remaining yarn, but it is so different to what I normally go for; there is some of that ruffly scarf yarn in there, knobbly bobbly stuff similar to the teddy shoes in the photo, super chunky that is like rope, and quite a few fuzzy, hairy type yarns that I hate the feeling of around my fingers.(I did try to take a photo, but the camera is not cooperating. Possibly another day, if I can bring myself to look at it again!)

Does anyone happen to know of a charity that accepts balls of yarn, or anyone looking for yarn donations? Or is anyone out there in bloggyland desperately seeking several balls of randomness that they would be willing to give a loving home to? 

Failing that, I will have to scour the internet – again!- looking for some projects that inspire me enough to drag out the big bags from their hiding place. One ball at a time, I can do this – and my reward when it is gone? A yarn shopping spree, yippee! 

 

 

No-Weigh Monday

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Ergh, if I had realised I would be sharing this, I would have written a little more neatly! 

Time to be brave – if I haven’t the guts (or an excess of guts) to put up a “before” pic, the measurements will have to do instead. I have decided, you see, that this will be a “No Weigh” diet, at least for now. Not because I don’t want to know how much I currently weigh – although, if I am honest, it isn’t breaking my heart not to know! – but because weighing in would require the purchase of some weighing scales. Which would lead to the obsessive weighing and numbers-fixation of the past. I need to protect my children from that, and also, if it hasn’t worked too well for me in the past, then it is time to find a better way. 

Instead of focusing on weight, I will be taking measurements to track my progress, and I have chosen Mondays as my measure-day. If it doesn’t become too boring, I will also share my progress here on a Monday, or possibly fortnightly if it gets a little repetitive. 

What is to stop me from becoming measuring-tape obsessed instead? Well, the fact the tape is permanently icy-cold makes the measuring a less addictive process, for starters! 

I am also hoping that not looking at the scales for reassurance all the time will help me to focus on how I feel; in my clothes, in my body, in my emotions. There is more to weight gain than just eating too much, so if I want to break the cycle I need to know what else has to change, apart from just the food I eat and the exercise I take. 

Anyway; I am still very much at the beginning of this journey, to use a very tired weight loss cliche. But I am delighted with how I have done so far – some of my measurements have already changed for the better, and I do feel very positive. 

My treat for last week has been bubble baths – quite a few of them, actually. It would probably be quite wasteful if it weren’t for the fact that I take up most of the room in the bath at the minute, leaving only a little room for the water. Hopefully I will be seeing that change before too long!

My mini-goal for this week is to decide on a yarn for the top I hope to wear when I get to a healthier size. That top is still in the design stages at the minute, but I feel there is plenty of time to get it finished! Here is just one of the ideas I have been doodling..

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I am not an artist! But, as long as I know in my head how it is supposed to look, that doesn’t matter. These little doodles are another way to keep me motivated, so there will be plenty more of them too! 

I hope anyone else embarking on a new plan or setting a new goal is also feeling the positive buzz this morning. We can do this! 

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It’s the old…

                                    “How do you eat an elephant?”

                                           “One bite at a time,”          ….line.  

It may be the diet, but my inner head voice always follows up with an “mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm…………..elephant.” 

(I have never, and will never, eat an elephant, but the hungry brain sees food everywhere.)

When I look at my life, there are so many elephants in it that need to be tackled in little nibbles. My weight loss, my financial rebuilding, my part time college course, all long term projects that can be broken into smaller, manageable steps. Even working on a large blanket or trying to bust the yarn stash is made much easier when taking one granny square or one ball of yarn at a time. 

Is this why crochet is such a satisfying hobby? This pair of bootees, for instance, they…

  • Have taken a ball of yarn out of the yarn stash
  • Have created a pair of bootees to be sold in a gift shop, to help chip away at the debt, and
  • Kept my hands busy so that I won’t be able to snack.

 

The only way I could add another elephant to the menu tonight would be to do a little studying while crocheting…but Sherlock is on tonight, so I guess the education will do another time! 🙂

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Something a little different today. I was copying various dates and info from last years calendar so that I can recycle it, and this little scribble made me pause for thought. It shows the final payment dates on my three debts – although once I have paid the first one, I can increase payments to the others and pay them off a little quicker. The end is in sight. If you cannot see any light at the end of the debt tunnel, I hope this post might help you.

My ex partner ran up a credit card bill of thousands of pounds, in my name, before I finally got him to leave. Once he left, he refused to pay any child maintenance or offer any financial support of any kind. Our bills became my bills, our mortgage became mine – in spite of his name being on the deeds of the house. I had to return to work to pay the bills, but incurred massive childcare costs, which meant I was working for nothing, and getting nowhere. When I saw sense and moved back home, he swooped in and took back “his” house, comfortably paying the mortgage from his salary.

Devastating, depressing, and at times utterly infuriating – but none of that matters. What matters is the here and now, the reality of my situation. I had two children, squashed into my parents home, living off their goodwill and feeling like a huge burden. My ex partner very sweetly passed on my forwarding address to the collection agency so that they could find me and continue to ask for money. The worst thing, the very worst thing about living under the shadow of debt, was the fear of the postman every morning, and the sickening dread every time the phone rang. That feeling of being hounded, chased, threatened, it was worse than trying to feed the children on a budget, worse than having wet feet every time it rained because of last years shoes having holes in them, it was worse even than the feeling of having lost so much to someone else’s lies and deceit.

I took great comfort in my beautiful children, and my parents were incredibly welcoming and kind, but I wish I had had the strength to find better ways to cope with my debt problem than simply trying to hide for so long. It is a natural response, apparently, when faced with what looks like insurmountable debt, to run away, but it doesn’t help. At best you get a few years before you have to face it, at worst you end up in court, or feel so overwhelmed that you lose your ability to think rationally and do something terrible.

If I could pass on just three things, and if even one person sees this and finds a glimmer of hope, then all of my stress was not wasted.

If you are living in fear of the mail every morning, if you are feeling crushed by the never-ending dread of people demanding money from you, if you can’t face your debts because you think you owe more than you could ever pay;

  • Firstly, stop running. Those people on the other end of the phone, they are only people. They get up in the morning and go to work, they have a list of people to call, and you are just a name on that list. They will keep calling until they reach you, so just answer the phone. Better still, call them. Explain. It is hard, you might cry, don’t be ashamed. Make them an offer. Figure out what you can manage to pay them, and explain why. They would rather take your money at £5 a month for 20 years than get nothing from you at all.
  • Secondly, ask for help. Find your local money advice centre – many charities have one – and call in to see them. Again, don’t be ashamed if you cry. (When I met someone at one of those centres, they had a box of tissues in a drawer. Money problems are very upsetting, and are rarely without some life trauma to go with it.) Sometimes just talking to someone can help you to find your way out of what you thought was a tangled mess. Sometimes they can arrange to contact the collection agencies on your behalf, if you really can’t face them. It is definitely worth going to see these people, they are doing amazing work.
  • Thirdly, pin a calendar to your wall, and put in every “income” and every “outlay” that you know of for each month. I found it amazingly helpful to be able to see in advance the weeks when I needed to put something aside for the bigger bills that were ahead. It sounds a bit too simple to really help, but I know a few people who have a similar “budget plan” calendar on their wall, and they all agree it is a powerful planning tool. This will also help you when you are dealing with the collection agencies; you can talk them through your monthly outgoings so that they can plan your repayments to suit. They want to make things easy for you, after all; a payment plan that you can’t stick to is useless to them.

I know this might seem like a very personal thing to be blogging about. I guess it is, but I found when I was suffering in silence that nobody talks about debt, ever – even though many of us have, at some point, found ourselves juggling bills and wondering which ones to pay, and which to leave until next month. Any of us can end up in trouble; it is not a sign of stupidity, or recklessness, or greed. So, if any of this strikes a chord with you, I hope you get back on your feet very soon – and if you get an “end date,” like I have, then I hope you can look forward to freedom from your debts too. You can get through this.

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