UPDATE…

I have a lovely update to one of my previous posts.

Some of you may well remember that I mentioned in this post about my great, great grandad, George Woolley. Well following that post I have received lots of interesting messages from distant and lost relatives and most recently my mother’s cousin Trevor.

Following a little chat Trevor has emailed me these lovely photographs of George, one as a young man and one as an older man. Trevor believes that the plates he is holding were a gift from Mr. Dickens himself!

I am so thrilled to receive them. I love the picture of him as a young man…his coat appears to be somewhat too big for him.

Jx

 

 

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A Latino Adventure.

Without going into long, boring explanations as to what he does (it is boring, trust me!) my husband, Gavin, works primarily with companies and people in South America and has done so for 30 years. Many of his clients and colleagues have obviously become good friends with both of us, although I have met a limited number due to travel etc. When I first met Gavin his main country of work was Colombia. At that time, the 90’s, Colombia was a very dangerous place to be and not a place to visit. There was a high risk of kidnapping etc due to the political and social unrest. Colombia is a beautiful country but I was never able to visit it with him due to, not only the situation at that time, but also the fact that I had 2 young daughters.

Later in his career Gavin spent less and less time in Colombia and more time in other countries like Chile, Brazil, Argentina and Peru but I was raising my girls then and holidays like that were out of the question.

In the last couple of years as my children have grown and become increasingly independent I have had the growing urge to travel more and be more adventurous and so I started to make noises to Gavin that I would like to go to South America. There are 4 places that I am particularly interested in: Argentina (thanks to Evita!); Peru (textiles and Alpacas!); Bolivia (again, the textile history and those fabulous hats the traditional ladies wear!) and lastly Colombia because it is now so much safer to travel to, it is a beautiful country to see and I haven’t seen one of our dearest friends, Pedro, since he moved back there from his work experience in London…which must be going on 20 years now!

So, I kept casually mentioning my desires to Mr. G (no, not harping on and nagging!) and also mentioning that December 2016 was his 50th birthday and we ought to do something special. He did once mention that he loved the idea of climbing Machu Picchu for his 50th!

Well, at the beginning of 2016 we had started to seriously discuss the possibilities of going to Peru in December when a long-standing friend and colleague in Argentina, Nestor, told us that his son, Alejandro, who worked with Gavin in London in 2015 for 6 months, was getting married in Buenos Aires, in December and we were invited! It was meant to be wasn’t it?

Suffice it to say, that was it. Plans were made, flights and hotels and travel guides were booked and we were all set for a luxurious 2 week holiday in Argentina and Peru which covered a wedding, Christmas and Gavin’s 50th birthday! WOOHOO!!

Because Gavin knows the countries and travels there often I very much left the planning to him. We decided together when we would be in Buenos Aires and when we would be in Peru etc but as to hotels and flights I very much left it to him and was I in for many magnificent surprises or what!? Gavin was determined that this experience was going to be a once in a lifetime one and went all out to make it special for both of us!

I can’t wait to tell you all about it!

Jx

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A New Record!

I have set a new record!

How exciting!

I am writing a blog only 6 months after my last one!!!

Hoorah for me!

Seriously though…we all know that this is nothing short of a miracle. There have been so many changes in my life since I last wrote…yes, more changes…and I felt ready to embrace my little blog again and look after her. I love the connection I make with people through here, only yesterday I received a message from a relative I never knew because of the blog I wrote about my great great grandfather. (It is here if you haven’t read it yet.) I love it!

I am not going to try to catch you up with the past couple of years of my life but will explain things as they crop up in conversation, however, I have to tell you all about my amazing trip to South America last December because it was just too wonderful for words and I know that many of you will love the pictures and the textile tales too!

So, watch this space for adventures galore!

Jx

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Cake topping!

Back in Spring I was contacted by a lovely lady called Tara who I was friends with through WI. Tara makes and decorates cakes and had been asked to make a cake for a lovely couple’s wedding. Their day was quite rustic and decorated with clean lines and prettiness. The cake they wanted from Tara was a naked cake, that is that it has no icing or fondant on it and they chose to have crystallised rose petals cascading down the side of it. Through talking with Tara they also decided that they wanted a topper but something a bit different and Tara did a little research and came up with an idea which she thought I could do for her.

The plan was 2 needle felted birds. Initially they were thinking maybe realistic birds which isn’t really my forte but I was thrilled to discover that they decided in the end for something cute and pink!

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I decided to use, as my core, the mini needle felting fleece batt I was sent by Blooming Felt which I mentioned in last month’s blog post. WOW! It sure does needle felt up quickly! It is a very coarse fleece and so ideal for speedy felting although it does mean that the finished texture would not be fine so it is ideal for core work and also if you were felting something that needed that rough texture on the outside, but for this project I wanted a lovely smooth finish so once the core work was done I was able to start covering the birds with the coloured merino.

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I was thrilled with the finished birds but oh my! How scary is a commission? Especially for a wedding! The day came to take the little lovebirds to Tara and she was very pleased with them and was certain that the brides would love them. I was very nervous!

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Well, 2 weeks later Leanne and Tracey’s wedding day arrived and a couple of days later I received the photo’s of the cake and the toppers and heard from Tara that they were thrilled with them! Such a relief!

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A few weeks later I got to meet Leanne and she gave me a lovely thank you card and told me that the lovebirds are now nested happily on their mantelpiece.

I really enjoyed doing these and hope to do something like it again in the future. Being just a little part in someone’s special day is such a lovely feeling.

lovebird

Jx

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Blooming Felt.

Hello lovely friends.

I decided after writing my last post that I would get on with catching you all up with the little bit of creativity I have been indulging in whilst I have been unwell. Yes, I have managed a little!

I made friends with a lovely lady, Sarah Tremelling, on social media and through some chats discovered that she owns the company Blooming Felt. I had previously heard of them but was yet to visit the website and investigate further. Following my chat with Sarah I decided to have a look. Wow! What a delightful company!

Blooming Felt is a Chelmsford based family company that sells wool felt supplies. The website is bright and colourful and very enticing. Not only do they sell handmade felt ‘blanks’, like purses, stars, balls, hearts etc but also felt sheets and felting supplies like wool tops, felting needles and wet felting starter kits. Obviously I started at the felt supplies and decided to place myself a lovely little order…well, when I say little!!

I have had an idea to make a little something recently and was debating the most cost and time effective way to do so when Blooming Felt presented me with the solution! Pre made felt shapes. I eagerly placed bags of felt hearts, stars and balls in my virtual basket! As I did so my mind began to race with the possibilities and so I placed hair slide and ring blanks in there too! (Watch this space!)

felt balls

Obviously, my addiction to coloured wool tops could not be ignored and so I ordered the most beautiful Merino wool top blends which I could not resist. The colourways they sell are just so scrummy! I was also very pleased to know that not only is the Merino they supply ethically sourced from non mulesed* sheep but they are a fair-trade company too. The website has lots of information on the company they deal with as well as the fleeces they sell, what each fleece is best suited too, tips on wet and needle felting and lots of ideas.

blended wool top

Obviously my little creative mind was on a roll so off I went to explore the button page and the ribbon page…oooh, they have the most adorable bias binding that will look lovely on the dress I just made!

Well, I decided that whilst I am on here I may as well look at the books page too, you know, you can never have too many craft books and I did earmark a couple for future purchases! All in all I found many things on the website that I would like but was ever so good and didn’t get too carried away! What I was most impressed with was the facility to make a wish list on the page! I often visit websites and find things I would like to order but not necessarily straight away and the chance to be able to keep a wish list is so useful.

wish list

So finally I placed my order. The process was very efficient and straightforward and I didn’t encounter any hiccups while checking out.

The day after placing my order I received a private message from Sarah thanking me for the order and asking if I would like to test some products for her and write a review. Of course, I was more than happy to! Sarah said she’d pop a couple of things in the parcel for me to try.  A couple of days later my parcel arrived. How exciting!

blooming felt parcel

In my next blog I will be reviewing the first item that Sarah sent me to review, the mini needle felting wool batts. Meanwhile I can highly recommend Blooming Felt as a company overall and their website. I also noted, by the way, that you can visit their premises on certain dates and it is definitely something I am planning to do!

Hope to see you soon Sarah!

Jx

 

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Reasons to be cheerful, part 3…

I have been humming the Ian Dury and the Blockheads song for a week or so now, the reason being is that I have recently taken a turn for the worse. Sadly this was due to outside factors in my life and lots of crap all happened at once and my mind simply couldn’t cope with it all and decided to shut down. When this happens to me my thoughts turn to not wanting to be alive any more. I don’t have to think of reasons why I shouldn’t be as those are always with me, even when I am relatively well. The true constant I have in my life is a list of reasons why both I and those in my life would be better off if I were not here any more. So instead, when I begin to seriously start contemplating taking my own life and get to even planning the best way to do it and the best time to do it I have to try and come up with a list of reasons not to.My list is entitled “Reasons to be alive, part 1…again.” Hence the humming!

And so, a few nights ago in the midst of another night of no sleep I sat and wrote my list. The list included things like:

  • Gavin has booked and paid for me and him to have an amazing holiday in December in South America. If I die now I will ruin his holiday and his 50th birthday and the money will be lost for good. He won’t like that.
  • My youngest daughter is in love for the first time and I am scared she is going to get hurt and she’ll need me there for her when she does.
  • My eldest daughter is going through a tough time at the moment and I don’t want to be responsible for adding to that.
  • I have paid to go on a sewing course in November and it will be a waste of money if I don’t do it…again, not sure Gavin will be too chuffed!
  • I’ll feel the need to write to people to explain why I have gone, and there are quite a few people and I don’t know what to say without sounding selfish and making them cross.

As I wrote my list I realised that so many of my reasons are about not upsetting other people and just this knowledge alone made me see that I am obviously still a way off ending my life as I still am concerned with other’s feelings.

Just being able to think about writing this list and understanding what I have written is a reminder to me that I am still not at the lowest point yet. This ‘control’ I have of my illness is through having lived with it all my life and learning about it as much as I can. I believe that knowing my illness helps me manage it. Which brings to mind this quote:

“If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.”

― Sun Tzu, The Art of War

Living with bipolar is a battle: a hundred battles; as a sufferer I have to choose to either fight the war or surrender to the enemy. I am still fighting…for now…but each time a new battle starts I do wonder how much longer I will be able to.

So, the very next day I decided that I would learn as much as I could about my illness and I started reading a book called “Bipolar Disorder. The Ultimate Guide”.

I figured that I had just enough fight left in me to try to battle on a little longer and this is my last shot. I am so glad I did. This is an amazing book and I can only ask that anyone who has bipolar or has someone in their life with bipolar please read this book. I really hope that people who know me choose to. Reading this book introduced me to people who feel the same way I do, there are people out there who know, really know, what it is like to have bipolar. Bipolar is not the same as depression, it has many similar elements but it is so much more. I now no longer feel alone.

Unfortunately what it the book has highlighted is the fact that my local health authority is seriously lacking in its care of people with mental illness but now I know what should be happening I can approach my GP with questions and demand the answers. So, although I still feel like I am drowning in my depression I have a grabbed hold of a small buoy and will bob along a little longer with my head above the water and hopefully be rescued before a bigger wave hits.

One thing I do know for sure is that sharing my thoughts and journey with my illness really does help me. It releases things that I have no one to talk to about and helps me organise my mind. I also hope that it might help someone else who maybe is experiencing the same, or similar problems. I debated writing anything about my illness here on this blog as I wondered if I should keep my ‘work’ and my personal life separate. Part of me feels that this blog is not just a textile blog, it is me. My work and my personal life are not exclusive of each other and they both collaborate together to make me who I am, but then of course I could be alienating readers who just want to know about the fluffiness and woolliness of my life. I’m not sure really. Let me know what you think dear readers. Do you want me to keep my personal life in a separate blog?

J.x

 

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Life just keeps on throwing curveballs.

Just when you think that it is all settled and sorted, along comes that curveball and knocks you off your feet. Those of you who know me personally and those that have known me virtually for some time know that I am bi-polar. Generally the medication keeps me fairly well day to day with just minor hiccups now and again. Sadly, this year has not been good. I have become increasingly ill as the months have passed and am now referred back to the mental health support team and have been put onto some extremely strong medication. So, whilst I am once again battling with my illness , sadly this means that so much else in my life has to take a backseat. So I’m giving up my business, before it really ever got started! I will no longer be running regular workshops as the pressure and expectation is too much for me right now. I will still be doing the Autumnal wreath one in October and will still be available to hire for groups. Of course I will be working on producing my own art as that is the best therapy I know. But primarily I just need to concentrate on staying alive right now, for the sake of my children.

Thanks for your support and understanding and hopefully you all stick around to see me when I pop out to say Hi 😊

Jenny.x

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