Thursday, 31 March 2011

Knitting my way through depression

There comes a time in your life where you have to seriously think about the direction you are going in. As you get older, life changes you and the things that were once important no longer matter to the person you have become.
When I started my blog, it had a specific purpose. I wanted to focus on something each day that made me happy. I wanted to ensure that I saw the wonderful world around me and did not forget the beauty of small things. The reason was that in November 2009, I lost my baby Jack and my life changed forever. I have his footprints around my neck, a picture carefully hidden in my wardrobe and a tiny grave.

I never wanted my blog to be about depression, I wanted it to be a reflection of what I could achieve despite the darkness that rest heavy in my heart. However as time has gone by, I have not recovered and life has got harder for me to manage. On Monday of this week, I was signed off work again for anxiety with depression and I cried for everything that I had lost, everything that I could loose and for my inability to cope without professional help. As I reflected on my life, it became only too clear to me that I have probably suffered from mental health problems for as long as I can remember.

I went to visit a wonderful friend, who has recently turned her life around and she was inspirational. Throughout the difficult times I have had since loosing Jack she has been there and her advice has been invaluable. If ever you are in doubt and lost in life, find yourself a good hairdresser, they know everything!!

So I am now on a new journey to turn my life around, get the professional help I need and finally become a happy person. Over the past 10 days it has been difficult for me to get out of bed, but my creative mind never stops and I have been knitting. Knitting is known to reduce the heart rate focus, the mind and help with depression. I am knitting a blanket as I am unable to focus on knitting patterns.

It will probably take a life time but it is the process that counts not the finished product. Perhaps that is something I need to learn. However as a complete contradiction to all the sole searching I have done, I am still suggesting that material things might help. My turquoise gloss hunter wellies do make me happy and I love them today just as much as I did when I was wishing for them. The new object of my desire is Limited Edition Fyberspates Royal Wedding Yarn.

Royal wedding Lace yarn comes giftboxed and certificated

Royal wedding
This is an opportunity to own a hank of a unique Limited Edition lace yarn to commemorate the marriage of Prince William and Kate Middleton.
The yarn is a 100g hank with 1000 meters Sparkle Lace 65% Extra fine merino , 10% Royal Baby Alpaca 20% Silk 5% Sparkle (stellina a non metal fibre).
In sapphire colour way to match the engagement ring.
The cost is £ 25 per 100g hank
The yarn comes in a special presentation box with a certificate of the limited edition number of your yarn.
There will be a pattern available for this yarn in the coming few weeks.

Price £25.00

 Can I really afford it? Can I survive without? Would it look beautiful in the blanket? Please vote on the side panel?

Dedicated once again to Lisa, the pyjama box fairy x

Sunday, 20 March 2011

How do you measure success?

Last Sunday, in fact it was the last time I wrote my blog, I was filled with ideas and inspiration. This was going to be a highly successful week for me. I had made my plans, set myself targets and had everything I needed to fly through the week, with the wings of a reading angel, ready to read six books in public in a week and raise a large amount of money for Comic Relief.

If success is measured by my money, then my week was highly successful. My fund raising team made over £500 for Comic Relief, which exceeds my expectations and makes me deeply proud of my students. My daughter was inspired by our efforts and made her own contributions and my son came into college to meet my students and donate money on Friday.

In terms of learning outcomes and working together as part of a group, everyone now has a wealth of experience to draw upon. The despondency is being replaced with an amount of infectious enthusiasm and love of what we do. Nothing is more true now than do what you love and love what you do.

I did however not manage to read six books in public in a week. I read one complete book, some chapters of another and a got lots of people involved in Wreck this Journal  by Keri Smith. That in itself could be consider a failure or a success.

For me though, every success and step forward is constantly under threat by the crash and burn I experience every day. Each time I smile, from somewhere a cloud blocks my sun, but there are hours of blue sky and optimism triumphs over negativity at the start of another week.

For all those wonderful people who helped me this week, especially Mr Jon Chater.

Sunday, 13 March 2011

The age of austerity

Mostly I do not like to watch the news, it really is just too depressing for me. I am sensitive to the plight and pain of the rest of the world; the images haunt me and events that change people' lives for ever can't ever be expressed in words.

It does upset me that I hear this time in our lives as being the age of austerity, as it is just not true. People will loose their jobs, many will cut back on luxuries, people will have to spend money in this country on holiday instead of flying abroad, but few people who talk of this age of austerity will never know the hardship that it originally described. Between 1945 - 1951 many people had to try and rebuild lives that had been irreversibly destroyed.

Each day I struggle with my own demons, tragedies that have altered my smile and the very core of my soul, but I am luckier than most. I have more than a huge proportion of the world could ever dream of and I have the ability to recognise my good fortune. I can express myself through words, art, dance, my actions and my enthusiasm to share with those who don't have.

Every year people do remarkable things for Comic Relief and I watch in awe with admiration for the sacrifices that they make. How I should love to be able to swim the channel, climb Kilimanjaro or trek across the desert!

My students, who have kindly agreed that I can call them misfits, however do not see the series of unfortunate events that have prevented them from achieving the qualifications as limiting and are so enthusiastic about doing something for Red Nose Day that I felt I really must set a good example and try to do something inspiring.

The first thing I've done is have a bit of a better go at knitting and not only have I managed to knit an item from a pattern, but it is even of a standard to wear. It's a very beautiful and highly stylish Red Nose Corsage by Juliet Bernard.

This is the one I knitted, not Juliet's!

As if that wasn't ambitious enough ( I had to start again several times and continually count stitches), I thought I might do something even more challenging. When life has been harsh to you, it can really wear on your looks and the camera never lies. Some mornings, I don't even want to look in the mirror and see the shadow of the person I once was; my eyes have that permanent sadness of a mother who has lost her son but I really can change people's lives by raising money for Comic Relief. I have faced my fears and been filmed reading a story. I am hoping to read six books altogether, just as I have challenged my students to read six books as part of the Six Book Challenge. I am going to read six books in a week and read them in different places in different formats.

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

To do - Knit a Royal Wedding

I think that a lot of my knitting projects have been beyond my skills but I would love to be able to Knit a Royal Wedding and how sad to think that this is likely to be my only opportunity to undertaked such a fantastical task. Prince William will be the King of my Grandchildren's generation and what greater crazy old lady heirloom could I bequeathe to them, especially as he bears a stricking resemblance to my brother.

This is neither Prince William nor my brother.

Inspiration and ideas completely stolen from the wonderful book 'Knit your own Royal Wedding' by Fiona Goble.

Sunday, 6 March 2011

Bad Knitting

I am immeasurably bad at knitting and it is more of a science than an art in my eyes, with the addition of maths to make it even more complicated, very similar to baking a cake. In order for knitting to be relaxing for me it has to be a rather simple combination of stitches that are the repeat over and over again. So many of my knitting projects are laying unfinished because I have got to the part where you need to look at the pattern and follow the instructions. I am also very bad at following instructions, I would rather just have a go at stuff, try and work it out, see what happens, be creative.

This approach works beautifully with art, I look at an image, become inspired and recreate an interpretation with confidence and panache. This does not work at all with knitting, if you do not follow the pattern to the letter (which are mind blowing codes that you have to flick back to the beginning of the book to decode or watch videos about how to do them on Youtube to decipher) the results are a fiasco. My knitting is very much an irregular pattern, the epitome of chaos in the most beautiful yarns available from the best haberdasheries.

I like to try and see my knitting as an art form rather than a failure which prevents me from becoming too despondent about my lack of talent and ability to follow a pattern. In fact the artist Patrick Hughes has written a fascinating book More on Oxymoron which could quite easily have featured any one of my knitting projects.

In fact Rene Magritte made a career out of similar words and images.

This is a piece of cheese by Rene Magritte

With so many projects unfinished and life becoming increasingly busy, on this occasion, I set myself the target of finishing this project , mostly because the Rowan Kidsilk yarn is irresistible and the results are below.

This is a pair of gloves by Ridgeway Cottage

To the non-knitter it may look as if I have done quite well and I am of course proud to have completed a knitting project that required a pattern. Sadly however, they are about as useful as gloves as Magritte's cheese is for a sandwich. One is too big even for a leg warmer and the other is baby sized.

So what now, I could knit another glove in the smaller size and give them to Josie but seeing as I followed the pattern and these are the results, I'm not convinced of success. Perhaps I could wrap them in tissue paper and store them until a time when I am good at knitting to measure my progress or even unravel them in true 1940s spirit and reuse the yarn.

It is with almost a sense of mamihlapinatapai that I look at these gloves and to be honest I am a little despondent with my knitting but not with life and so onto the next project.

Modelled on 13 Words by Lemony Snicket
Inspired by my wonderful students and their insatiable acceptance and rejection of books
In memory of The Kings English Children's Bookshop which sadly closed this week

Thursday, 3 March 2011

World Book Day

I don't believe that I could live without books. There isn't a day ever where I don't look at one, read one, pick one up from the floor, buy one, order or collect one from the library or write in one. The written word is such an integral part of my life, I could not image how it could ever be any different. I love to write, either my blog, messages to friends, in my diary, the written word is everything to me.

As a literacy teacher I spend a vast amount of my time working with words, trying to inspire the reading and writing of words, often to those who either don't have regular access to books or sincerely do not wish to engage with text (other than on their phones or Facebook). However these young people are my new inspiration. Each of the teenagers in my class know that today is World Book Day and everyone of them took a £1 book token. Quite a few of them have even bought books with them, but as always there are those who surprise me and truly make me feel proud to be a teacher. Each of my students has their own barriers to learning: health, circumstances, environment, ability; life and learning are not necessary as carefree as you would want those teenage years to be. There is however one student who I am incredibly proud of. Don't get me wrong, each and everyone are my favourites but on World Book Day and considering my love of the written word and blogs, I would please ask you to click on the link below. All of the posts on the blog are by the same student and she has also chose the name:

Turning Thoughts Into Written Words

Please find the time to leave a comment on the blog, it is after all World Bood Day and the blog is dedicated to reading.

Note to those who have asked for advice on blogs: If you want to write one, you just should, everyone has to start somewhere and it's about being brave enough to take that step, turn your thoughts into written words.