The crafting perspective.

I am not known for my handiwork skills, nor my practical expertise in gardening or decorating. I tell myself constantly that I am not a practical person in the physical sense.

Yet, I can planned pack for a holiday, I can cook for a houseful of people, I can organise brilliant parties and bake amazing cakes. I can see how a room of furniture could be arranged, I can place plants and pictures in the “right” places, I can choose colour schemes for rooms. All of which are practical, physical skills and I am good at them all. I need to change that narrative in my head.

One of my aims this month was to create space in my day for doing something different, something that does not involve typing on a screen or meeting in a room of people making more to do lists. I decided some more time crafting would be good. I have been trying to sew. It is not neat and tidy, but I am only starting out, so why would it be? It is fun. And a bit addictive.

I have managed to meet up with friends three times in the month to do some gentle sewing or knitting together over a cuppa. A friend and I had a fun afternoon wet felting and making some beautifully wonky coasters. It is a social activity as well as a relaxing one.

Looking at my progress I realise why I tell myself I am no good at it – it takes practise, it takes time. Embroidery, knitting, felting are not skills we’re born with, they’re skills we learn. I am as able as anyone else to learn the skills, but they take time.

Finding the space to sew a bit or do anything creative has shone a light on how I spend my time – a lot of what I do is very similar, both in work and in my home life – organising lists, groups of people, planning, emailing, meeting. It has been fun doing something very contrasting, but it has also given me a real insight into how little variation in activity there is in my week.

Creating Space

I am trying to focus on a theme of ‘creating space’ this month. Space can of course mean many things and indeed it does to me.

My focus this week was having space in my diary: I am not doing very well – as soon as space occurs, I fill it. I work part-time technically, but I only have one day a week off, split into two afternoons. I combine that limited time off with a habit of booking lots of social events into those afternoons and a tendency to offer to do lots of tasks, as I have a day a week to complete them. My perception of the amount of time I have off work does not coincide with the time it will take to do all the tasks and meet all the friends.

I travel a fair amount in evenings when I am away with work, and yet also manage to fit in meetings either around travel or on the evenings I am not travelling.

I feel a need to leave space, rather than filling each part of the blanks with something else. My aim is to have space for just mulling things over and seeing what comes up, but I have a nagging feeling that having space in the diary will not be the solution, because I really dislike not doing things, I want to be seeing people and feeling useful. Maybe I need to head back to the drawing board on this one and define space in my diary in a way that suits me more?

Enjoying the books

This is a follow up post to my controversial statement the other day. I am of course not getting rid of all my books, but just the ones that don’t ‘spark joy’ to use Marie Kondo’s concept.

I have by no means finished clearing, but so far, it’s been a great experience.  The pile of books on the landing had some great books in it, which I had just stopped seeing, they were part of the furniture, something that sat next to the mirror, not something to read.  I am looking forward to SJ Parris’s historical fiction.

The space next to my bed contained some real treasures, I started the Claire Balding as soon as I could.

Yesterday I spent a few minutes tackling one of the shelves where I store my old university books – I studied French and German.   That was a real joy.  I kept everything that spoke to me.  So the grammar books are back on the shelf, as are some books which are now history books, but were factual back in the 1980s/90s when I was studying.  Germany was two different countries, odd to think. There were some odd choices too.  The three different versions of the Iphigenia tale all remain (really bright sparks of joy from them), as do the Zola novels in translation and Manon Lescaut.  The latter has me intrigued, why that spark of joy? No idea, I shall have to reread it. There are several Alphonse Daudet novels which were the subject of a project whilst studying in Provence.  I don’t particularly like them, will probably never read them in French – I will probably never read anything in French ever again –  but they sparked joy of memory.

The discard pile really made me giggle.  There are several books by Marivaux.  Who is Marivaux?  I am guessing I must have studied him, so how do I not know?  And I seem to have studied Gerhard Hauptmann, but that made no lasting impression either.

I am really looking forward to tackling the next shelf.


A little spot of mine

I have a desk.  This is quite an achievement, it’s not quite completed yet, as in, I am not convinced the desk is in the right place, but I have a desk and I am writing this at that very desk.   One of the family keeps asking me why I want a desk, one is helping to make it happen in any way he can and the third may not have actually noticed yet that I have a desk.

But the questioning interests me.  Why do I want a desk?  I have no real answer.  I have this romantic vision that it is a Virginia Woolf inspired need for a desk, if not a room, of one’s own.  Not sure it is though, as we have discussed having a She Shed in the garden, and frankly, I don’t really want one – I don’t want the hassle of having a whole room to look after and be responsible for.  I don’t really want to have to walk to the end of the garden, I don’t want to be isolated in a shed on my own, I really like my family and like having them around.  I don’t want a whole room of my own.

I do want a desk though, but why?  I own a laptop, so I can use it anywhere.  I am a clear desk sort of person, so would always clear off the desk at the end of a task – or the kitchen table, the sofa, the bed – wherever I end up doing desk-type things. So I don’t need a desk to store things really.

It may be because I have not had a desk to myself since university.  At home, we always shared a computer, until the now luxurious days of having a laptop each.  This is a luxury I still get a huge thrill about, I will never ever not appreciate my own laptop – it is an amazing, beautiful thing.  At work I job-share and have done for about 16 years now, so I have always shared my desk.  I love sharing my work desk though.  Chocolate appears and disappears in the drawers, someone else’s taste in hand cream is always exciting, it’s nice to have a note left on my desk just saying hi. One day there was a bottle of gin in the locked drawer.  The joys of desk-sharing.

Well, this has been the first time the desk has been used properly (it was a splendid stand for the Easter tree over the weekend) and I love it.   Still not sure why though.

The blog is about twice the length as the last few though, so I write more it seems.

This is the first time the photo is actually mine.  A photo-worthy desk.



PS thank you for the well wishes on Monday – all feeling much better now.