Woolfest 2007

I know, I know, I’ve been back over a week and I haven’t told you all about it. Truth be told, I’m utterly buggered, and now I’m home and don’t have that Iminent Goal I’ve sort of pooped out.
The thing I want to say the most is that you can’t put a price on good friends. These are people who look out for you without you even noticing it, who give you space without leaving you alone, and who really show they care. Thank you, Becky, Kath, Carrie and Andrea. I love you guys, seriously.
Becky and I set off on Thursday evening, our destination a beautiful campsite just outside Cockermouth (they do B&B too, Mr D and I are definitely going back someday). We got there around 8pm, and it was gloomy, windy and raining. Out of all the things I’d packed, stupidly I forgot a coat. For the most part, I was okay, and borrowed Kath’s afghan blanket and fleece jacket when I needed to.
Kath had arrived the day before with her husband, who’d left her there with the caravan all nicely set up for us. The weather was so atrocious that night, I think if we’d had to rely on the tent, I’d have gone to ask if there were any B&B rooms spare. The caravan was lovely, though, and we cozied up with our knitting, a bottle of wine and chinese food. Heaven.
Woolfest itself was the same as I’d remembered from last year, but a few people have said in hindsight that it was better this year – and I agree. I can’t put my finger on it. Maybe it was because I was with other fibre addicts rather than a bemused spouse, maybe it was the fact that (in Kath’s words) I was “seeing it with new eyes” because of everything I’ve learned about spinning etc since last year, and I knew what I was looking for. Maybe there was some other mojo at work. At first, I stuck with the girls, my anxiety okay, but I didn’t want to push it yet. We headed over to the raw fleece sale – Becky and Kath both wanted to check them out. I wasn’t so bothered – I had two raw fleeces at home that I needed to work on, and knew another wasn’t going to help. Carrie and I wandered off, and I slowly built up my confidence and wandered off a bit too.

I spent a small fortune, of course. My goal had been to get as many different fibres for spinning as possible, and (off the top of my head) I got small bags of cashmere, milk protein, bamboo, linen, ramie, cotton, tencel and Crokeback angora. I also got a larger bag of baby alpaca, something that I do intend to spin, but for now I’m just going to stroke it every now and again… I also got some yarn – some handpainted hemp in a gorgeous green colourway. I also got some handpainted kid mohair/silk, but only got 50g of it, so might have to mix it with something else to make a shawl or something. To be honest, it’s very much like Rowan’s kidsilk haze, only varigated.
Two days was wonderful, and flew over. Although three of us took our spinning wheels, only Becky did any spinning – the rest of us were too tired! It was lovely on Friday night just watching Becky spin – there’s something very soothing about the rhythm of a spinning wheel. Aside from anything, the baby camel/silk she was spinning was incredible! You can see the finished result here – I’ve seen it “in the flesh” and believe me, it’s utterly gorgeous.
It was also really cool to meet a few knitting bloggers I’d heard of, especially Artis-Anne and her daughter Kath, who are both really lovely.
So, what about the anxiety? Well, I only got properly anxious once. ONCE! Becky had gone to a lecture, and Carrie and Kath had gone to a workshop. Andrea was around somewhere, but as she only came for the day on Saturday, she was off on a shopping mission. I had her phone number, but wasn’t sure where she was. Rather than instinctively trying to find a familiar face, I decided to stay where I was. My anxiety grew as I realised for the first time I was actually on my own. However, I managed it, telling myself that Andrea was only a phonecall away, and it wasn’t long before we met up anyway.
In all, the whole thing was a resounding success, and now I just have to find another goal. I guess my maxim from now on will be “I managed Woolfest, I can do anything
More photos on my flickr set.

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Miniature Knitting

Especially for CraftyDramaQueen 🙂
A couple of weeks ago, I found an amazing set on Flickr, a lady who knits the most incredible miniature stuff – well, see for yourself. I remember thinking “I really need to have a go at this” because that’s what I do – I see a seemingly impossible craft and I have to try it.
My first attempt was just plain stocking stitch, which I started at the knitting group. Kath joked with me about making full size things like socks, and stuff with cables in, so of course I decided to try cabling. The result was pretty cool, even if I say so myself (yes, you did hear me right, I’m actually proud of something I’ve done!) but I didn’t know what to do with it. Then it dawned on me – it had been Kath’s birthday the week before, so I mounted it onto a card, and gave it to her. Of course, she blogged about it, and reading the comments it’s fair to say that my head has swollen so much that I’ll NEVER get out of the door again!
Miniature knitting is actually quite addictive – I have a magnifying craft light which I use, otherwise it would probably be too fiddly. I also only do a few rows at a time, but even so, it’s still helping me with my concentration!
I shall probably sell the cards on Etsy, and Becky is trying a couple on her stall to see what happens. She suggested mounting them in little frames, which is something else I’m looking at.
As an aside, I’m changing webhosts again, and there may be outages, depending on how clever I am at transferring things over. If everything goes tits up, you know why.

stampstampstamp

Because I don’t have enough stuff going round in my head, and enough stuff to do, I learned a new craft – the art of hand cutting stamps.
I blame the lovely Carrie-Anne, who makes it all look so easy and has done some incredible pieces. If you thought stamping was all about making twee cards or just kids stuff, think again. I bought a kit from her that contains various cutting tools and a piece of acrylic that’s big enough to carve several stamps. Once you get going, it’s rather addictive, like popping bubble wrap or something.
I promised her I’d post photos of what I’d done so far:



ta da!

Knitting Saved my Life!

I know, it sounds like something that should be in my email spam folder – “Learn to kn1t! Results Gu@ranteed!”, but this morning as I was starting to write a post about going to B’s other knitting group last week, it occurred to me just how much knitting has been a part of my ‘therapy’. There are so many ways in which balls of yarn and pointy sticks have helped me.
Firstly, knitting gives me things to think about. I am an obsessive thinker, and while I have nothing constructive to think about, stuff goes round in my head that is both toxic and futile. Problems that are years old and have already been labelled as ‘unsolvable’ go round and round, rehashing the same old crap, getting upset by things in the past. I’m not saying I should “get over it” but frankly I’m not helping myself by obsessing. This is where knitting comes in. Obsessive bad thoughts come into my head, and I try and concentrate on learning a new technique. Look at a pattern that I thought was a bit too advanced for me, and work out in my head how to do it. Hash out a knitting problem, or work on an item while listening to something on my mp3 player. I had tried music on its own. U2 yelling at me that it was a “beautiful day” or something, yet still the bad thoughts seeped in. I’d turn up the volume to drown them out, but succeeded only in giving myself a headache. Sprinkling a liberal amount of yarn and bamboo into the mixture seems to help.
The self critical aspect of me has been kicked into touch by knitting too. As I finish something, I invariably put photos on flickr, and it’s so nice to get comments from complete strangers complementing my work. My self confidence is rubbish, and it’s lovely to get that little boost. This is something that shows a lot at the knitting group, too.
When B said she was starting an evening knitting group, I rejoiced knowing that I could get there. I knew about the monthly Friday morning one, but with Mr D working during the day, it would be virtually impossible to attend. Every journey at that point relied on him, I needed him to not only take me, but to stay with me and then bring me home again. When I asked if he’d take me to the Monday group, he was happy to – it meant that I was getting out and meeting people. He’d take whatever book he happened to be reading, and fight off the ladies er, attempts to get him knitting, and he was fine. At first, only B knew about my panic and anxiety, and I was happy with that. To be honest, I didn’t want anyone else to know. There was still that worry that I would be treated differently, or people would ‘back away slowly from the crazy lady’. As it turns out, I couldn’t have been more wrong – these are some of the lovliest people I’ve met.
A couple of months ago, the conversation drifted on to pets, and I realised that I had some photos of the cats – on the moo cards that I’d had printed, with my website and email address on the back. Before I could think, people were cooing over my kitties, and enthusing about how cool the cards were. I mumbled something about it being “just my blog” and suddenly I was giving them away. Maybe I subconsciously wanted people to know – maybe I felt comfortable enough for them to know, in a Haley Joel Osment “Sixth Sense” kind of way – “I’m ready to tell you my secrets now.” Still, I worried for a while about what they would think, and berated myself for opening up.
One thing that’s very apparent when this kind of mental fart happens is that people who knew you before behave very differently. I guess a lot of it is lack of understanding and lack of communication (which is difficult on both sides) but it still makes me nervous when I tell anybody. The only change I noticed once the knitters knew was a sense of understanding and compassion, but other than that, nothing changed. This means a hell of a lot to someone who can get incredibly paranoid…
Last week, B picked me up and took me to the Friday group. I was a little bit anxious, but it was nothing out of the ordinary, and once I got there it was just like the evening group – only with more daylight. I had a great time, chattered non stop (K and CA, next time tell me to shut up if I go on!) and was able to show off my first complete Jelly-Tots sock, complete with groovy heel.
Maybe I would have found other things if I didn’t knit, but right now, knitting is an integral part of my recovery.

Knitting and Stitching and PEOPLE oh my!

It nearly didn’t happen, and in the end I’m amazed we actually got there.
On Saturday morning, Mr D took the car to the garage for its annual MOT test. I admit I got upset when he phoned me to say that it had failed its emissions test, and needed a new catalytic converter. At a cost of around £160, it would mean that Harrogate was out of the question.
“..but it’s not that long since we had a new one put on!” I whined.
“about two years” he replied, “and they don’t last forever”
I ripped through the house like a mini tornado trying to find the paperwork for the old one – I did, and looked at the warranty. It had a week left to run. Cue massive sighs of relief, and general swearing.
That night, neither of us slept very well, and Mr D wasn’t feeling well. Inwardly my heart sank as I thought “we’re not going to get there”, but thankfully by morning he was feeling okay and the trip was back on again.
The journey there was straightforward and uneventful, and we found the car park easily thanks to a map I printed out from the Harrogate International Centre’s website. Except they hadn’t bothered to mention that it was a ‘coaches only’ park. Thankfully, there was a security guard there who gave us directions to the actual HIC car park underneath the Exhibition halls (which isn’t mentioned on their website at all).
The halls themselves were set out as you would expect, except there were several of them – and they were all laid out the same. Some traders had more than one stall, and unless you paid for an “exhibition guide” you were more or less an explorer. I didn’t mind too much, until the part where I said, “lets go back to so-and-so, they might have it…” and had no idea which direction to go. I guess the biggest obstacle for me was the people. I expected it to be busy, and had been advised to go on Sunday because it was the quieter day, but it was still incredibly busy. My anxiety levels were through the roof, and a few times, I stopped and looked at things I wasn’t remotely interested in just to ‘ground’ myself.
For people interested in any crafting stuff, Harrogate was the place to be this weekend. Obviously, there was more than the knitting and spinning stuff that I was looking for, but it was still interesting to see other things, and most places had demonstrations or stall holders working on their particular craft. I managed to hold a conversation with Debbie Tomkies, and learned to my joy that dyeing wool doesn’t necessarily have to involve nasty chemicals as I thought (you need to ‘fix’ the dye, and this is normally done with alum powder). My first purchase was a kit including 12 different colour dyes and fixatives for both animal and plant fibres. I fear for our kitchen…
I had a chat with a lady from the Spinning and Weaving Guild, and I sat for a rest on the spacious Rowan stand where they had sofas and coffee tables, where you could knit (they even had yarn and needles if you made a donation to some charity or the other). I on the other hand, pulled out the jellytots sock that I’d take with me. Trust me to be different.
I didn’t treat Sunday as ‘therapy’. It wasn’t a structured or meticulously planned thing; I definitely went with a ‘see how it goes’ attitude. However, I managed to put into practice some of the CBT stuff (albeit consciously ‘staying in the situation’ until my anxiety lessened). As with the Teddy Bear’s Picnic, I cheated a bit by distracting myself, but I’d like to think it was just distraction, not avoidance.
One interesting thing I picked up on was something that drove home how negative I am about myself. While we were there, I saw C, a lovely lady who owns a small yarn store in town. I knew she’d be going, so it wasn’t a surprise to see her, and she said she was glad I’d made it, and well done for getting here. I said thank you, I was glad too, but it wasn’t until Mr D and I talked in the car on the way home that it hit me just how profoundly different our attitudes were. While C thought I’d done well to go somewhere so busy, my thoughts were (as usual) something along the lines of “bloody hell, I should be managing this without even thinking about it”.
Maybe I should give myself a bit more credit…

The Last Knit

I meant to post this a while ago, and forgot all about it, so knitters out there have probably seen it already. This is for everyone who has ever had that compulsion to just keep on knitting: