Crafter Interview: Karin

I’ve got another interview with an awesome chronically ill crafter to share with you. This time it’s with Karin from Another Piece of Me. You should head over there and check out her blog she also does a load of guests posts that are really interesting but for now I’ll let Karin take over.


Who are you and what crafts do you do?guest1

Hi, I’m Karin (in fanfic circles and on most social media I’m known as naelany). I run two blogs. My writing one and one that focuses more on other things I enjoy doing, and where I feature guests (one of which was Jess). I mainly knit, crochet, and cross stitch, though I’ve been known to try my hand at various other crafts from time to time.

What illness/es do you have?

I have fibromyalgia, asthma, and have suffered from herniated discs (well, technically the same disc herniated 5 times through the years). Those are the biggies, but there’s other stuff as well. Fibro’s been… an interesting development, I have to admit. Looking back, I can see that I’ve had symptoms for far longer than I’ve been officially diagnosed for. For a while, I was on Lyrica which helped in that my pain levels evened out to an extent, and my energy levels did as well. For a while. Of course, like with any such medication, your body grows used to it and you have to keep upping the dosage or, like in my case, your pain and energy levels start to really fluctuate again. I opted to go off the medication and finding alternative ways of dealing with it. I’ve never been more glad of that choice than now. I’d gained a lot of weight while on Lyrica and it mostly melted off on its own, the stuff I use now has my pain levels down to less than even on good days on medication was and my flares are less and fewer as well. Energy… well, that still fluctuates by a lot and is very much affected by things like weather and stress.

What are your favourite pieces of craft equipment?

My favorite tools… I would have to say for my knitting, I love my lightweight circular needles – most of them are wood of some sort, which feels much better to use both for my fingers and my wrists. I can’t use straights anymore at all, and DPNs are… a pain. Literally. For crochet, I love my birch hooks. Very lightweight and smooth, making it much easier on my wrists to keep on hookin’. For cross stitch, I have to say my magnifying glass. I have poor eyesight and while I do wear glasses, having the magnifying glass enhance the stitches really helps a lot. For most of my crafts, if I’m using patterns I prefer having them be digital so I can enlarge as needed, and highlight where I’m at.

Also, not for crafting, but for reading, I love my Kindle. I can’t really read regular books anymore for some reason. Aside from physically holding a book that can be cumbersome and painful on the hands, I tend to, well… fall asleep with regular books. Not so with digital versions. Not sure why, but there you have it.

Oh! Another favorite tool that I use a lot is my KitchenAid mixer. I bake my own bread and I like to bake goodies well. That has gotten harder and harder to do myself over the years and about two years ago I was gifted a standmixer by a good friend and it’s enjoyed much use since then. I couldn’t imagine my kitchen without one anymore.guest2

Why did you start crafting?

Crafting is… well, it’s an integral part of me (as is writing). If I don’t have anything to do with my hands, I tend to get rather… cranky. And bored. Being bored is, in my experience, a dangerous thing to be. Ask my husband, I’m sure he’d agree 😉

For the longest time, I didn’t consider myself to be crafty. Despite pestering my mother to teach me to knit at age 6, I never felt I was good at it. I couldn’t (and still can’t) draw, couldn’t sew, and the projects I made tended to be… less than stellar. Should note that while I learned to knit and purl, I was not taught how to read patterns – something I only learned to do over the past decade or so (needless to say, my knitting skills have vastly improved since then). Nowadays, I do identify as a crafter because I’ve realized that it is about creating, and doing something you enjoy doing.

What adaptations or changes have you had to make to craft because of your illness(es)?

Well, as I said earlier, I no longer use straight needles for knitting. I stick to circular whenever possible because it not only hurts much less in the long run, but also allows me to knit  in various positions.

I’m slowly trying to do away with my old metal hooks and substituting them with birch hooks instead, again because they’re less painful for me to use.

One thing I am having more and more issue with the older I get: distractions. Once upon a time, I could have anything on the TV at all and craft along. Now, I can’t always have anything visual on at all, which is where audiobooks have been a blessing. For some projects, I can handle watching something if it’s a rewatch (Stargate SG-1 and Charmed are some of my go-to’s, for example). When I’m knitting plain blankets (I love log cabin ones for this very purpose) I can still watch pretty much anything, new or old.

I used to do paperclipping (papirklip, since I learned it in Denmark) but can’t really do that anymore.

For my baking, I sometimes have to have hubby help with the more hands-on stuff (some recipes are simply too large for the KitchenAid to handle).

The few times I have attempted to sew, hubby usually has to set everything up for me (meaning, put up the table, drag out the machine, etc.).

My favourite projectguest3

I think this blanket is one of my favorites. Mostly because while I was making it, I wasn’t at all sure how it would end up, considering that I only used leftovers from other projects. So there were a lot of different kinds of yarn used, in a lot of different colors – including colors I personally am not a fan of. I didn’t make it with any particular recipient in mind. The intent was solely to use up scrap yarn so there was room in my yarn box again. When I finally cast off, however, I’d fallen in love with it and so had hubby. There may or may not be friendly arguments between us as to whose blanket it is and who can use it at any given time 😉

How expensive is your craft/ how much do you spend on crafting?

Yarn…. It gets expensive. It’s totally worth buying the good stuff, though, because well… it just is. It feels much nicer to work with, say, merino/silk blend than the cheapest acrylic out there.

Advice for someone with a chronic illness starting off in your craft(/s)?

If you’re new to a craft, I suggest trying to find someone who already does said craft and borrowing supplies. Use free patterns, at least to start with. Take breaks (it’s easy to get lost in crafting sometimes and inadvertently blow right past your limits and end up hurting for it). Remember to drink plenty of water (again, easy to just get lost in the work. Yes, I’m totally speaking from experience here).

Most importantly: give yourself a break. Meaning, allow yourself to not be able to do something without feeling bad about it, or guilty. Learn when to say ‘no’ (that doesn’t just go with crafting, but life in general). Learn your limits and listen to your body.


Big thank you to Karin for taking part, it was a great post and some really good advice. As always if you’d like to do a crafter interview please get in contact with me. I’m always happy to feature other spoonie crafters.

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Q&A Answers

A couple of weeks ago I did a Q&A and a giveaway to celebrate 200 followers. Well here’s the other half of that post. I’ve gone through all of the questions you guys left me but before we get to the answers lets talk about the giveaway.

I can officially announce the winner* is: Debbierose!

Congratulations! 

If you could email me (everthecrafter@gmail.com) or use the contact form on my blog we can have a chat about what you would like from my etsy shop.

*Randomly picked using an online randomiser

 

And now onto the awesome questions you asked, they were all great and I really enjoyed answering them.

I have a question regarding your cross stitch designing: do you do little sketches first, or do you dive straight into your xstitch software and play around until you find inspiration? – Claire93

Generally speaking what happens is I think of a quote I want to make into a cross stitch and design it roughly in my head. And what I mean by that is just kind of line spacing and the general idea. And then I go into word and put each word of the quote into a text box and play with fonts and positions until everything is how I want it (for the one below I also spaced out the measurements for the pitch markings too). And then I put the design into my cross stitch software and make it into a cross stitch.

 

My question is how long do you spend, about, on blogging each day? – Kerrycan

That depends completely on how I feel. And also what you mean by blogging, I guess? I only do a post every five days (ish) so actually writing posts I only spend a couple hours a week on. But reading blogs and commenting and such takes a lot longer. I spend at least half an hour a day (first thing when I wake up) looking through blogs I follow. And then probably another half an hour before I go to bed as well. How much more than that I’ll do, depends on how I feel and how busy I am and so on.

 

My question is what craft would you like to learn to do most if you had no limits physically or monetarily? – Kathyreeves

Oooh. Difficult one. Honestly for a long time my answer to this would be quilting. I’ve wanted to give it a go for as long as I can remember but just felt it was impossible. I’ve recently swallowed that bullet. This next year will be the year of quilting lol. I’m slowly collecting the supplies and my first quilt is being planned. But other than that, hmmm. So many. Wire working, fused glass, mosaics, weaving. ALL OF THEM! haha.

 

You seem to be developing your own style with the one-colour cross-stitch patterns. How did you get there? From the card-making … or was it something else that inspired you? – Textiledreamer

Hmm, cause or effect here. I’m not sure. Yes, some of the designs directly come from card designs (lets eat cake for example) but I’ve honestly always really loved negative space. Going back to the last question about quilting, I’ve noticed a lot of people spend most of their time on piecing the top part of the quilt and give over the actual quilting to a shop to do. But the part I’m most interested in is the quilting, how you fill the negative space. I think I design cards like that because I enjoy playing with negative space so I think that tends to be my style regardless of craft rather than because of a particular craft. Side note: My favourite parts of art were always printing (cutting out negative space) and resists (again, laying down negative space). That was a really good question. If I was in London I could show you a procession of art work down the years where you could see my obvious like for negative space but I’m not and they’re all in boxes and on computers elsewhere so here’s just a couple.

 

What is the most important thing you’ve learned from having a chronic illness?

I’m pretty amazing? Haha. No um, let me think. I really like the quote “comparison is the thief of joy” and I think before it was just maybe an annoying thing that people said but I’ve learnt that it really is true. And this applies to being creative too I guess. No matter what you do someone else will do it better, no matter how hard you try someone else will have it better. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be proud or happy about what you’ve done. Enjoy what you can do, don’t compare it to what you used to be able to do or what someone else is able to do.

 ….And if you could meet any author who would it be? – Bluchickenninja

I’m always stumped by these kind of questions and maybe that’s the social anxiety or borderline autistic part of me but I honestly have never wanted to talk to any author. I don’t want to have dinner with a bunch of famous people either. I’d rather talk to you or have dinner with a bunch of friends. Now, if I had friends who were authors then that’d be different.

 

What is your favourite piece you’ve made so far, and which did you enjoy making the most? – 100steps

What a question! Umm, I think maybe my blanket is the favourite thing I’ve made so far, purely because it took me the longest and I never thought I would stick with something that long. As for enjoyed the most, most things? Lol. I enjoy crafting. Maybe the Hogwarts crest that I cross stitched last year. (that’s a real answer by the way, I’m not just saying that because it was for you!)

 

At what age did you start crafting? – Debbierose

I don’t remember a time I wasn’t. Here, have this adorable picture of me as a kid with my brother. We’re doing one of those mould things where you carve your design and then pour the stuff over it (I think?). I was about 5 years old in this picture. 47631_10151373997836023_1758171646_nAnd have this other one of me MUCH younger. Okay so I’m the kid in the black dress with the red bow and I’m not actually crafting in this picture but you get a feel for how surrounded by crafts I was growing up.pd_0036We always used to have crafts at home. My mum was always devising crafts me and my brother could do. It’s always been a part of my life. From the time I could hold a paintbrush (if we’re being honest here I probably had paintbrushes before I knew how to hold them). When I went on holiday to France as a 7 year old the thing I wanted in the souvenir shop was a pack of oil paints.

 

What is your favorite thing to make? What’s your favorite handmade gift to receive? –Samantha

My favourite things to make are things that have an intended recipient. I don’t really do anything with things I make so knowing that all the work is going to someone who will appreciate it rather than just ending up in my drawer never to be seen again is good. (even if it ends up in someone else’s drawer). As for receiving, handmade cards are probably my favourite. I tend to be really picky about most things, I don’t wear jewelry, I don’t use bookmarks, I don’t wear knitted scarfs and such so although I’ll appreciate anything anyone makes me, I’d say my favourite is just getting a card someone made for me. They go up on my pin board and I get to look at them everyday.

 

Is crafting less exhausting for you than talking to/meeting people face2face? If so/not, why? –Caradehuevo

I guess that depends on the craft. The crafts that I do, yes, they’re definitely less exhausting than talking to someone face to face. Why is more complicated. I guess it has to do with maintaining a healthy and polite mask. I don’t have to act when I’m by myself and crafting. But when you’re talking to someone you smile and nod and act attentive. You have to try to follow what’s being said and read the other persons expressions and mood. It becomes very obvious when I’ve reached the point where I can’t pretend in a conversation anymore. I have a resting bitch face (not because I’m being rude but because I don’t have the energy to rearrange my muscles into something polite) I stop looking at people in the face, I start wincing when they speak loudly or laugh. When they leave I’m completely drained. Whereas when I’m crafting all my energy goes on making rather than pretending and I can stop whenever I need a break. I don’t have to spend ten minutes thinking of a polite way to say it.

It’s also difficult too because I want to chat to people so you end up going past where you should have stopped because you know once they leave that’s it instead of being able to pick up and put down crafts whenever your want to.

 

That’s all. I hope I answered all your questions fully but if there’s anything more you would like to ask feel free to leave a comment. Likewise, if my answers have spawned more questions, I’m happy to chat more below.

So, how about you guys? I definitely love to hear if you relate to any of the above or what different answers you would have given, especially if you asked a question. I mean, it’s only fair you give me your answer too, right?

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Guest Posts, Spending Sprees and Chocolate

I want to start by mentioning that I’ve done a guest post over on THIS blog. It was really fun to do and if you wanna know about me, my crafts, my writing, my favourite books then your should check it out. It was really fun to write and while you’re there you should take a gander around the rest of the blog.

Before I go on to tell you about my spending spree (which I guess I’m trying to avoid talking about) I wanted to mention a discovery that I’ve had recently. It involves chocolate bars. More specifically, an amazing one called a Moro bar. Now I was in love with these as a child. My aunt from Ireland always use to send us them because they don’t sell them in the UK. One of the many things I’m annoyed about (ice cream sandwiches anyone?). But the other week (after well over a decade) I found out that apparently there is an equivalent, it’s just branded differently.SONY DSCEnter Boost.

So obviously, I immediately sent out my dad to buy me one. He came back with a pack of mini boosts but these weren’t very good. (Are mini versions ever as nice?) The proportions were all off. I even ate one that had no biscuit in at all! So while it was technically the same thing as a Moro bar I couldn’t tell if it was as good.

I’ve finally had a full sized Boost bar (okay so I had half as I split it with my dad) and I can say it is the same thing. But, my verdict is that it’s not as nice because Irish chocolate is just nicer.

 

Right, enough avoiding.

Do you ever get those weeks where you just want to buy everything? Well I had one of those weeks last week and unfortunately I wasn’t very good. It started by my new foray into using vinyl in card making. I decided to try a new brand of vinyl that was better value than the sample pack that I’d been using till now. wp_20161007_15_24_45_proUnfortunately, after I’d gotten some black vinyl I thought wouldn’t it be great if I could get gold. And oooh, Green and red would be good for Christmas stuff too….

Well it turned out they had 20% off if I bought three rolls so that’s what I did. Whoops. But no, it didn’t stop there. I decided now would be a good time to buy more thick card to make my new Christmas ideas with. So that order went in as well. I’ve spent too much money this month and I’m probably going to need to buy some more cross stitch stuff soon too. Oh and some batting for my quilting…and some more fabric for a christmas present…. eeek.

Hopefully I’ll at least have some lovely new Christmas cards and Christmas tags going up in my shop over the next few days.

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Crafter Interview: Karen

I have another wonderful interview to share with you. This one is from the lovely Karen, she’s the founder of an amazing website called Conscious Crafties which features and sells crafts made by chronically ill people. The site has some lovely stuff which you should check out.


 

What craft(/s) do you do?
I make meditation benches with my partner out of recycled furniture. Jamie carefully sands down the furniture to make into the bench and I upholster the seat or brand the wood with symbols or words. I also love making unique hand crafted silver charms using Silver Art Clay. I paint, sketch, decoupage, make clay sculptures, shabby chic furniture and all sorts of things. I just can’t knit or crochet to save my life!

What illness/es do you have?12509687_754807021320379_1288047450915494781_n
In 2011 I was perfectly healthy going about my workaholic lifestyle when BOOM! – I started fainting up to 10 times a day and my bed became my best friend. A year later I was diagnosed with POTS (Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome) a rare condition affecting the blood vessels and heart rate. There’s no cure, but reaching out to others with the same condition has been a huge help in learning to live with it. 3 years later I was told my POTS was caused by EDS (Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome) a connective tissue disorder affecting the skin, cartilage, ligaments and blood vessels – everything that holds us together! I also have some bonus conditions: Fibromyalgia, Raynaud’s Disease, Chronic Pain Syndrome, Migraines and Asthma. Life has been tough, but I’ve met some wonderfully strong friends who also live with chronic illnesses which gave me the idea to set up ConsciousCrafties – craft selling site and community for people living with Chronic Illness, Disability or Caring for a loved one.

What are your favourite pieces of craft equipment?

Since setting up ConsciousCrafties my craft has been web site building, so all my time is sat in front of my pretty pink laptop!

Why did you start crafting?

I started crafting again after realising that I no longer fitted into the constraints of being a reliable and ambitious employee. Who wants someone that can only be awake and conscious for a few hours?? I was practically bed ridden for about 10 months before I was finally diagnosed and helped with drugs. I then started making my own meditation benches out of old furniture that was lying around my home. I joined lots of support groups for my various illnesses and met other Spoonies who also loved to craft and we became great friends.

What adaptations or changes have you had to make to craft because of your illness(es)?

Certain things aren’t ‘Karen friendly’, I can’t stand for long without passing out so my previous love of shabby chic’ing furniture is off the cards. Instead I up-cycle children’s furniture as I can do this whilst seated because they are so tiny! I’ve always thought there was something magical about old children furniture so I’m not sad about the things I can’t do and instead focus on what I can.

Favourite project:

Making a cushion and upholstering a meditation bench using a customer’s old baby’s blanket. I love creating something beautiful out of old materials!


How expensive is your craft/ how much do you spend on crafting?

I dread to think how much I have spent over the years creating shiny new things!2016-01-09 16.24.53

My silver jewellery has probably cost me the most as the art silver clay is so expensive and can only be bought from Japan.

I’ve not been able to make any lately as I’m struggling to survive on sick pay. I’m hoping in time I can start creating again, but I’m using every last spoon running our Conscious Crafties community – and loving it!

Advice for someone with a chronic illness starting off in your craft(/s)?

Always think about the things you can do, rather than upsetting yourself over the things you can’t. Buy everything second hand! Quite often people take up crafts but find they don’t have time or patience to carry on crafting so will sell all their tools/raw materials as kits on Ebay etc. Or borrow friends equipment first to see if it’s something you want to invest in. YouTube and Pinterest are craft havens and you can teach yourself literally anything! Some of our Crafties are about to start making video tutorials too!

Additional info – where the ConsciousCrafties.com idea cam from….

Conscious_Crafties_Chronically_Creative_Logo-2

After becoming sick in 2011 almost overnight, I found my way to various support networks. I noticed that many of us turn to crafts to help distract from our illnesses and to feel useful again. Seeing so much untapped talent, the idea was born to create a community for everyone to showcase their work, in one place and give people a way of creating their own business. It was also a way for me to feel useful again, by using my skills to help others. ConsciousCrafties is about empowering us all to be successful through our crafts, tell our stories and meet new like minded friends who understand our struggles. I’m also hoping it plays a key part in changing the way disabled/sick people are viewed by the world. We can still contribute and are incredibly talented!! ConsciousCrafties has been built in honour of Sam, my beautiful friend I met through sickness and our love of crafts. Her strong fight with Gastroparethis and POTS sadly ended in Oct 14. Heartbroken, I knew then, after years of thinking about it, the idea for us all to sell our crafts within a supportive community needed to be launched, so it could help people now and give them hope for the future.


If you would like to take part in a crafter interview for my blog please do get in touch, I would love to hear from you.

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Crafter Interview: Laura McLIH

I have another great crafter interview to share with you. I find it really inspiring that there are people with so many different conditions that are still managing to create and do something they love. This one is from the lovely Laura and I hope you enjoy reading it.


Who are you?image7

Hi, I’m Laura McKee or Laura Mc Iih (re-named to raise awareness of my rare illness-idiopathic intracranial hypertension: IIH). I write a blog about life with this disease, chronic migraines and other illnesses I’m picking up along the way!

You can find my blog here: Laughing While You’re Crying and if you want to make sure you never miss an update then sign up to it’s very own Facebook page.

I also write about my crafting. I always try and find the funny side of living with an extremely debilitating illness but write with brutal honesty about life as a Spoonie at the same time. I aim to be accessible to readers without chronic illnesses.

What craft(/s) do you do?

I was originally a silversmith but had to put that on hold; a busy workshop, tools and machinery don’t mix well, with a cocktail of drugs and a brain disease. I had the skills I’d learnt in these classes and the tools at home, mixed with my addiction to vintage buttons and beads; when my life needed something other than NCIS, Paprika Jewellery was born.

I make silver plated and some sterling silver jewellery with vintage and reclaimed beads and buttons, as well as semi precious beads.

Here is an example of one of my favourite pieces that combines lots of my skills. il_570xn-864628207_alan

I have just begun to teach myself some new crafts at home, such as card making, decoupage and frame decoration using my buttons, embellishments and paint. I plan to sell jewellery storage as an extension of my business very soon! My business has just changed its name to Paprika Jewellery & Accessories.

What illness/es do you have?

I have had migraines since age 12 but was only diagnosed at 32 when they became chronic. After medication settled the first bout of extreme facial pain, I was left with photosensitivity, tinnitus and hyperacusis (normal sounds are amplified to extremely painful levels; different for each suffer really)! It leaves you nauseous, dizzy, tearful, confused and wanting to run and hide!
In January 2014 I suffered what we all thought was a 3 week migraine (this pain has never gone). I then developed pulsatile tinnitus (PT); you constantly hear your own heartbeat. After futile visits to ENT and neurologists; I found an amazing otologist in Cambridge that specialised in PT. At my appointment, I was so relieved to finally find a Doctor that understood every symptom. He thought I had IIH and after a range of tests it was confirmed, although borderline. My local consultants all disagreed with him and refused to continue to treat me. I was devastated, but The Wizard (as I’ve nicknamed him) told us that this was a common response to his diagnosis and not to worry. Luckily, through my IIH support group, I now have a local neurologist, who, although slightly dubious of Cambridge’s groundbreaking techniques; is willing to work with them to treat me.

I deteriorated quickly after diagnosis. IIH used to be called pseudo tumour cerebri because the symptoms are the same as those of a brain tumour; without the tumour. My worst symptoms are head pain and poor mobility. I walk like a drunk; stumbling and falling often. I have a wheelchair and walking aids in the house. The pain I experience is like I am in childbirth at some point on most days, even on morphine and a host of other pain killers. I try to get downstairs once a week but the return trip is excruciating and even with oramorph top ups and sometimes very strong diazepam doses, it takes days to recover.

I also suffer with dizziness, extreme brain fog, aphasia (I make up new words etc.), nausea, neck, eye and facial pain, extreme fatigue and all previous symptoms. I’ve also just been diagnosed an under active thyroid, I’m currently anaemic due to loss of appetite and I pass out with hormonal migraines.

We have a treatment plan to give me some relief and it may even give me an almost normal life one day, but it’s a very long road. My IIH is caused by tortuous veins and restricted blood flow. Blood can get into my brain but not out and so builds up; also increasing levels of CSF fluid. All this extra fluid is then pressing on my brain! I have had the first two procedures, venoplasty: where they inflated a vein with a balloon and a Styloidectomy: a piece of my skull was removed: veins were twisted around it. I am due to have a stent inserted soon which should be even more effective in opening up the veins and increasingly blood flow. il_570xN.986923643_at4y

What are your favourite pieces of craft equipment?

Buttons. I love all buttons, but particularly vintage and retro! I love their versatility and I try and use them to make things that are a little bit unusual. I can sit for hours rummaging through tins of buttons and sorting them in to piles, or searching for the buttons that will finish a project beautifully. I love buttons with shanks as they are so easy to use!

Why did you start crafting?

I started silversmithing as a gift from my husband when I was working part-time after my cimg_3627hildren had just started school! I’d never done anything like it before and didn’t think I was creative at all. I loved it and couldn’t believe that I produced a beautiful statement necklace; myself!

 

When I was at one of my lowest points, feeling worthless; I remembered that I had a jewellery making kit and realised it was something that I COULD do; when faced with all the COULDN’TS!

Concentrating on something kinaesthetic is a wonderful distraction from the pain. I can create something simple even when the pain is quite high but, of course, there are times when my PA (carer) puts it out on the bed for me; at the end of the day it is still there, untouched.

What adaptations or changes have you had to make to craft because of your illness(es)?

I can’t sit at a desk as my head needs supporting the majority of the time so I used to sit on the sofa and now I lay in bed. I can’t bend down or carry things, so I have a trolley to organise most of my jewellery. My husband, children or PA would wheel it next to me or bring me the trays I need.

I can only spend about 20-30 minutes on something. So I have to allow for that when planning custom or bespoke orders. I rely on my husband for a lot of help; he does many things but he’s always my postman! At the moment, I can’t manage to use my light box; however I’ve found an app that cleans the photos for me and makes them look great!

Favourite project:

11267057_1593459354227306_8629045295669910548_n
This was my first bespoke order. It was for a frie
nd, before I’d even started a business page on Facebook. I hadn’t had much practise and I certainly hadn’t learnt about product photography; although I love this image (a great photo, but no good for marketing)! My friend was going through a difficult time. She visited regularly, brought gifts, took me out if I could cope. When she asked if I could make a necklace for her mum as a thank you gift for helping her through her difficulties; it was the perfect chance for me to say thank you and to practise my skills.

The necklace was centred around a hammered circle. I couldn’t hammer anymore of course, so my 11 year old (at the time) gladly put on his safety goggles and did it for me for some extra pocket money. It was beautiful with the silver and purple beads, bird and elephant charms and the stunning purple agate cabochon. I practically gave this away to her but it was worth it for all the compliments; I’ve even had a few custom orders from the design.

How expensive is your craft/ how much do you spend on crafting?

My favourite item of stock, my buttons, are mostly from my Nana’s collection; added to by friends with vintage gifts and donations. I have bought some new buttons which are useful for some decorations and children’s jewellery.
Rummaging through flea markets, vintage fairs and charity shops; I’ve found many bargains. Although that is not why I like pre-loved and vintage. These items tell their own stories. I built most of my original stock this way, but I have to have spare spoons to go out on those adventures now. (You’d be amazed at how many charity shops aren’t wheelchair friendly though!) Now I shop online for everything, so I’m not really making a profit yet!

I’m going to be expanding my business by making beautiful decorated jewellery boxes plus accessories; aimed at a wide market. I’ll be making small boxes with hair grips for children; beautiful boxes and jewellery stands with decoupaged poems or personalised word art, even wedding themed boxes! I am very excited by this addition to Paprika Jewellery & Accessories but it costs all of my monthly £100 budget and more, plus any profit. I’m ready to start now, decoupage in bed-could be interesting and will definitely be exciting!

Advice for someone with a chronic illness starting off in your craft(/s)?

You might not know what YOUR thing is until you get started! And even then you might find that you discover other strings to your bow along the way. If you can get out of the house for a bit then I’d highly recommend a group of lessons to teach you the basics; either in a structured setting or a few lessons from a friend. Failing that (or as well as), invest in a couple of recommended books and get a Pinterest account/board for ideas and then just have a go! Remember to always count your spoons at the beginning of your day and spend them wisely. Don’t expect to finish tasks in one day or even two; be prepared to spend 20-30 minutes at a time. If you can manage longer, then great, you’ve exceeded your expectations! Finally, if you’re wondering whether or not you should try crafting, then please read this blog post I wrote. I researched the benefits of crafting for those with illnesses. It’s quite a long read but I’m sure that you’ll be convinced that crafting will make you feel special again! You deserve to craft!

 

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Crafter Interview: Little Harriet

It’s time for another craft interview. I love doing these posts so much, I find them all really interesting and I always come away thinking ooooh I want to do that too! I hope you enjoy reading them as well.

Firstly, I want to shout out to the lovely folks over at Conscious Crafties a few of which have agreed to be interviewed here for my blog over the next couple months. You should check the site out, it has lovely handmade items made by spoonies or carers. So on to this months interview with the lovely Louise.


 

 

Hello! I’m Louise and I have just opened a shop on Concious Crafties that you can find here. I also blog at Little Harriet. I’m 34 this April and have lived in or just outside of,  Blackpool all my life. I love living by the sea and the beach is one of my favourite places to go, especially when it is windy and you can blow the cobwebs away.

What craft(/s) do you do?

I think I have tried a bit of everything over the years! From knitting to silver smithing  (a disaster!) My main crafts now are photography (I have a passion for close up pictures, I did a project at college last year which included close up images of flowers, I have continued to take these type of images ever since.) jewellery making, glass fusing and crochet. I’m always looking at new things though, at the moment I have been playing with wire and beads. I get these ideas at random times and don’t rest until I have had a go. Sometimes it works out really well and sometimes I just have to shake my head and wonder what I was thinking! 352 [3043]

What illness/es do you have?

I have Cystic Fibrosis and CF related diabetes which is a bit of a pain to say the least!  C.F affects the lungs and digestive system, it causes thick mucus (nice right? such a pretty disease!) which causes infection in the lungs. These infections lead to scaring and eventually your lungs get really damaged, at the moment my lungs work at 34% of what they should do. I frequently get out of breath and have to do physio a few times a day to shift the rubbish on my lungs. I also use oxygen when I am having a bad time and also when I go out for a walk or exercise. Then there is the inhaled antibiotics and various pills, it never ends! I can put the local pharmacy to shame.

My digestion being the trouble it is means I struggle to put weight on, to help I have a tube called a peg in my stomach which I use to get extra calories, I just attach myself to a bag of high calorie mush and watch the soaps while getting “fed”  I need enzyme tablets to help digest my food, normally I take about 40 of these per day depending on how much/ the type of food.

Every 3 months or so I have to go into hospital for I.V antibiotics. These admissions normally last about 2 weeks but my last one was 5 weeks as I caught the ‘flu. It gets pretty lonely in hospital as its a specialist centre and 60 miles from home, this means I don’t get a lot of visitors, luckily I have my craft things to keep me busy.

What are your favourite pieces of craft equipment?

My camera, I use it all the time. I have my main big camera with a decent lens and a small digital camera that I carry around in my bag just in case I spot something interesting.

I am just a little bit in love with my kiln. It was my first big craft spend and the one I really had to think about buying…ohhh but I wanted it! I love how I can put bits of glass in it, fire and when you  open it the next day you never know what you are going to get. It still makes me all excited to see what has been created, it feels like how Christmas used to be when I was young.

I also love beads, all types but the sparkly ones are my favourite. I love bright and colourful and I can never have enough.

Wool. There is a brilliant wool shop near to where I love and I could spend hours in there going oooo at all the different types of yarn. blue necklace [3044]

Why did you start crafting?

I was in hospital a few years ago, I was having a really bad time with huge kidney stones, my health was rubbish and a relationship had just ended, I was pretty down but, reading the paper, I saw an article about a lady who made her own jewellery. It looked like something I could have a go at and, for the first time in ages, I was thinking of something other than my broken heart and pickled kidneys. I mentioned it to a very, very good friend and next thing I knew, a how to make your own jewellery book and a selection of beads had been delivered to the ward and from there the passion grew.

I love crafting, it gives me something to do. I love that I can do “something” instead of just letting the days blur into one. My main love is the sense of having something to aim for, even if its just listing one item, if I can do that then I have achieved something. I know it doesn’t sound like much but to me it gives a routine, that in turn helps keep me happy and when I’m happy I tend to look after myself really well.

Recently I have found a brilliant community with the Concious Crafties, I love promoting the other sellers items and I feel like I am part of something really good.

What adaptations or changes have you had to make to craft because of your illness(es)?

When I am fusing glass I have to take frequent breaks when cutting as it hurts my hands a bit and also I get tired and breathless standing up. I also take some medicines that make me a bit shaky, this isn’t ideal when you are trying to stack glass! There was lots of swearing when things fell over. Now I use glass glue and let it dry in between each layer, It means I have to be patient but at least the air is a little less blue.

When I’m in hospital I am limited on what I can take in with me due to space, so I tend to take in small beading projects or maybe a few balls of wool, it has to be light and easy to fit in my case.  Also my camera is always with me.

silverfishmirrorshine

 

Favourite project: My PMC Silver Fish

The little fish has to be one of my favourite things I have made. It’s not very good and I don’t really use silver clay now (though give it a few months and I’ll probably be obsessed with it again) but it was a gift for my mum so I put just that extra bit of love and care into it. I also love it because it’s shiny and I absolutely love silver which I rarely get to use in great quantities because of the price.

How expensive is your craft/ how much do you spend on crafting?

Things like glass fusing can end up really expensive, sometimes I will go a month or so without buying any new supplies or I will wait until there is a special offer on.

The kiln was my big expense and my camera wasn’t cheap either but things like beading and crochet are fairly cheap in comparison..I like to tell myself they balance themselves out!

Advice for someone with a chronic illness starting off in your craft(/s)?

Find something you love and just play, there are lots of craft related youtube tutorials out there, once you have mastered the basics make your own rules and do what makes you happy. I’d suggest keeping a blog or diary so you can see your progress, there are lots of craft blogs out there too.


 

As always, if you think you might like to take part in a chronic crafters interview please get in touch. I’m always looking for more people to interview and there are never any time limits or deadlines you need to keep.

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