Fire can not kill a dragon but the cold just might

I woke up on Friday to a freezing cold house. My heating died. Kaput. It was so cold. But mum had already called The Gas Man and he was on his way (Perks of having an OAP in the house is they don’t make you wait a week).

He came, he saw, he failed.

Apparently the third part in the process of heating was broken and he was going to get the part and come back first thing on Saturday.

I woke up on Saturday to a freezing cold house. (I would like to add I don’t get up till lunch time, what happened to first thing?!?) Anyway, he turned up in the afternoon with the part, proceeded to fix said part. Only to find out that part four in the process was now broken. The very nice Gas Man said he would order part four and part five this time just incase. But, he wouldn’t be back till Monday.

Oh no.

IMe looking very cold and fed up donned my fluffy socks, woolly arm warmers, and my Targaryen hoodie. Hid under my heavy duvet, pulled the hood around me and buried myself in pillows. Then spent the weekend physically shivering. It sucks so much having rubbish temperature control and inability to produce heat.

I woke up on Sunday to a freezing cold house. And refused to leave my covers apart from very quick and infrequent trips to the loo. But its okay, by the time I wake up tomorrow, I thought, it will be warm.

I woke up on Monday to a freezing cold house. Ready to cry.

But, finally, The Gas Man arrived at about 4pm and fixed it. You go Gas Man! A couple hours later and I was warm for the first time in three days.

Then I crashed. Badly.

I was in so much pain from the cold and absolutely exhausted from the shivering/trying to heat myself. I dozed in and out, partially incoherent for a few hours til dinner arrived. (I may have stared at my dad for a bit too long trying to figure out why he was standing in my room with a bowl of food. Oh right, dinner!).

targ

What I have learnt this week is that fire might not be able to kill a dragon but the cold certainly can.

All is back to normal now, i’m still wishing it was summer though. I hope you all had a better (read: warmer) week than I had!

 

 

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Craft Rating: Needle Felting

 

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Energy:

This is a very high score at four out of five, I refrained from giving it five as I took things like the fact you can do this from a bed/sofa, and you can get multiple needle tools to help out a bit. But the repetitive nature of the stabbing to felt your work, though cathartic, is quite tiring.

Dexterity:

I’ve given this a three out of five as it can be very difficult to hold the needle felting tools but you can get larger multi needle tools which would help, but again the repetitive nature of the felting can be painful for joints/muscles.

Difficulty Starting:

I’ve given this just one out of five as it really is quite easy to get started. All you need to do is lay out the roving in the shape you want and start stabbing. (Okay so maybe a bit more technical but this is the general gist.) There are lots of videos on YouTube explaining the basics and showing you how to make simple projects. The above image is from a tutorial over at The Magic Onions for felting hearts just in time for valentines day.

Difficulty Continuing:

This is also just one out of five. I’m not saying that you can pick the most complicated idea possible and just do it, but there are lots of easy projects at each stage of learning to keep you moving forward, once you’ve got the general idea down you don’t really have much more to learn. Just practice.

Cost:

I’ve only given this a two out of five here as you can get everything you need to start a project for less than £25. In fact, you could give this a go for even less by improvising some elements; you can use a washing up sponge to begin with rather than buying a needle felting mat for example. But assuming you want to buy the necessary tools to start with you would want a needle felting tool (You can get ones with multiple needles to fasten the process/save energy for £10), a needle felting mat (again about £10, you can use other things such as sponges or foam but these will wear out quickly) and the actual wool roving you will be using to create (Hobbycraft do small packs for £4 which might be a good place to start).

My Favourites: Knitting

I’m going to be doing a few of these small posts every now and then. Simply about my favourite techniques, equipment or patterns in crafts I do.

Today: Knitting 

My favourite needles to use when knitting are a pair of 7mm wooden knitting needles (I may have accidently snapped one of them in half but sellotape is a godsend). And as for yarn, a soft chunky machine washable yarn like sirdar folksong is lovely. (I have recently found out they have discontinued this, I’m so sad). I found that I needed between 3 or 4 balls of this yarn to make a scarf depending on how long/wide you want it.

I’ve worked these up in to a 1×1 rib scarf, but also in a plain garter stitch scarf. To me, I think both give the right thickness and springyness I want in a scarf but also the larger needle and yarn size means it doesn’t take forever to knit up. Which is important when you don’t have much energy to spare.  And they are ridiculously soft which is always a bonus.

Why no Reading challenge?

The last couple of years I have set myself a reading challenge on Goodreads. I set my challenge to 40 last year, I did this quite easily in the end (finishing with 43 new and 6 re-reads). But I feel as if I have reached a saturation point. These last few months i’ve had real trouble with actually wanting to read anything. A rather major reading rut.

Reading is one of my loves, there’s nothing quite like falling into a new book and being transported to some other world. Especially with my world being so small right now, its become a bit of a crutch for me. So not wanting to do this is quite troubling. Therefore, I will not be setting a number on how many books I will read this year so expect it to be much less (Can you hear my father cheering? Books take up space apparently!)

I will still be on goodreads (feel free to add me), and updating to keep track of the books I do read and finding more, but, I will not be creating a challenge.

I found myself choosing books based on length and how quickly I could get through them, and that is not what reading is about. Though I have read some amazing books this year, and some of them do happen to be quite short (Queens Thief series i’m looking at you!) but I have probably missed quite a few brilliant longer books. After all, I loved the A Song Of Ice And Fire books, and if I had found out about them this past year I never would have read them. That would have been a damn shame. (Prediction: The Winds of Winter will be out in October).

Perhaps I will even go back through some of my favourites from over the years, and revisit some of my favourite places along the way.

Have you set yourself a reading challenge? and do you have any must reads lined up this year that I should check out? I tend to stay away from anything that has too much romance or set in too much of an ordinary world. (You can check out my favourites shelf here) But any suggestions are welcome 🙂

 

Craft Rating: Polymer Clay

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Energy:

I’ve given this a 4 out of 5 as this can be quite a physical craft. You need to be able to condition your clay. It starts off quite hard and stiff and you’ll need to keep manipulating it in your hands to get it soft enough to work with. There are softer clays (such as fimo soft) but even these will need to be conditioned. If you have a family member, friend or carer with you to condition the clay then this can be a way around it and you can save most of your energy for actually making.

Dexterity rating:

I’ve given this a 3 out of 5 for a lot of the same reasons as the high energy rating. If you struggle with pain then the repetitiveness and pressure you need to condition the clay and get it ready for using will be a problem. But, as above, if you have someone to do this for you then there are lots of things you can make that aren’t too fiddly.

Difficulty starting:

Polymer clay is extremely easy to start. You don’t need any experience or know how to be able to make something nice. If you have a shape cutter then you can mass produce charms to use in jewelry, bag charms, phone charms, necklaces, earrings or bookmarks straight away. Just get yourself some clay and start.

Difficulty continuing:

I’ve given this a 3 out of 5, but the difficulty will change in stages depending on what you want to make. If you plan to make 3D models with multiple colours and different parts you will need to practice lots. Don’t expect to be able to make a perfect model at the start. Other things such as canes (see picture) are a great way of making more complicated 2D pieces. There are lots of tutorials online for making different images in canes and once you have made the cane you get lots of use out of them by cutting slices. The image above was my first attempt at making a cane.

Cost:

I’ve given this a 3 out of 5 but this really depends what you want to do with it. The clay itself can be relatively inexpensive to have a go with as you can get a pack for less than £2.50 but then cutters, shappers, rollers and other little bits can add up. To start with you’ll need to get a cutting blade and possibly a roller as well which can be quite expensive for what they are (about £10 each). A pack of cutting shapes would be a good investment for beginners as you can make charms very quickly and easily and it will give you a feel for the clay. You can also get a pasta maker/roller for about £30 to help you condition and flatten out the clay evenly but this is optional.

 

Do you have any questions or tips to share about using polymer clay? I’d love to hear from you.

Tunisian Crochet Squares Blanket

From Jan 2014, I have been spending most of what little crafting energy I have on making squares for a blanket. Now, I’m the kind of crafter that starts something and then thinks ooooh look at that, and puts it away in a draw somewhere. So, i’m honestly not sure what possessed me to think I would have the staying power to make 160 squares for a blanket.

But, officially one year since I made my first square; I only have 20 squares left to do.

That’s a massive achievement for me. This WILL get finished. And then i’m going to go through the aforementioned draw and finish some other things. Off the top of my head there are at least 3 scarfs, a dragon without wings, a half finished shawl, and a knit sweater. (Okay, honesty time here, that sweater is never going to get finished. I don’t even want to finish it anymore).

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I’ll leave you with some details of my almost finished blanket so that when I do finish it I can come back and go Ta Daaa!

My Almost Finished Blanket:

  • 160 Tunisian Crochet Squares of a little under 5 inches each.
  • I used a 5.5mm crochet hook. The normal metal ones you get in a pack for £3. Which affected the size of the squares I was making as I didn’t want to have to buy specialised hooks for this project. (Mainly because I was refusing to think of it as a project until I was over 30 squares in. You can’t fail at making a blanket if you don’t ever actually say its going to be a blanket right?).
  • I used Stylecraft Special DK from the Wool Warehouse. I originally bought 22 different colours but have switched out 5 and added in a different 3 from the ones that I started with.
    • These are the colours that I ended up with: Emperor, Magenta, Wisteria, Clematis, Raspberry, Pomergranet, Lipstick, Burgundy, Copper, Gold, Sunshine, Lemon, Lime,Green, Bottle, Teal, Aspen, Sherbet, Turquoise, Denim.
  • I chained 16, and used the basic tunisian crochet stitch/afghan stitch for 13 rows. This was what it took to make it square for my tension. Then slip stitched across to finish each square.

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