Monthly Archives: September 2019

Mindful Decluttering

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I am a great believer in keeping busy and tidying up so it should be no surprise to discover that this can be a form of mindfulness, particularly if prepared to do a bit at a time rather than in one fell swoop. My workshop is very well organised, except when I have put something in a safe place that I can’t remember. However, I felt that my house had become a place of glory-holes and unnecessary clutter. I have a useful kitchen pantry but it had become impossible to find anything without all of the gadgets and bowls toppling over. It was surpassingly easy to sort everything into baskets, ditching quite a few spare jam-jars and plastic boxes without lids. 

Of course, this had a knock-on effect to the other kitchen cupboards. I discovered several packets of opened or out-of-date nuts and seeds and found 28 missing clothes pegs. Reorganising is so oddly satisfying that it has spurred me on to tackle other dreadful cupboards. Just how many old teapots, DVDs and old road atlases do I really need?!

Nella’s blood results were not noticeably better and showed that she is lacking protein but we have been given a grace period to keep persevering. I have been getting her to eat lots of dried fruit, nuts and grains and I will have to think out of the box to find other sources of protein such as millet to add to lentils and quinoa. She saw a Reiki therapist which she found calming and I am looking into alternative medicine to deal with anxiety and low mood.

We had a lovely day visiting Freya in St Andrews on Saturday, just having a wee wander around the shops and chilling in her flat. She loved the Halloween box that we had made for her with seasonal bunting, vegan wax wraps and home-made almond Nutella. I could not resist a rather nice sewing box in a charity shop. Hopefully, Nella will be spurred on by the idea that if she can get a bit fitter she will be able to stay overnight with her student sister.

I have not worked on any of my own projects or decided what to work on in my screen printing evening class but I had 2 lovely, regular customers drop off half a dozen quilts which they helpfully labelled with measurements and even cut all of the wadding to save me some time. None of their quilts are huge so I should be able to work my way through them while Nella does artwork in my workshop. 

Catch The Pigeon

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Since I had I finished up the last 3 “easy”, all-over pattern customer quilts, I had to move onto a custom quilting job. It was not a major, over-the-top custom quilt, more like low-key custom. I find that deciding what to do in the first place takes a while then it is just a matter of getting on with it. The pattern is a Lynette Anderson seagull pattern but the gulls are not like great big “skerries” that steal sandwiches in Aberdeen – they are more petite and because of their colour sometimes reminded me of pigeons, except for the webbed feet. 

Somehow, the cartoon adventures of Dastardly and Mutley come to mind when they repeatedly attempt and fail to catch the secret-agent pigeon that carries messages. I sympathise with their efforts. Despite making good progress with Nella eating just a little more, we were told that her health parameters remain poor and the weight loss is continuing. It was a hard week for both of us as I had to increase all of her intake in a last ditch attempt to avoid hospital admission. She felt very low as it feels like things will never get back to normal. Every meal and snack almost rolls into one and I am very aware that she is not taking in enough calories in her restricted vegan diet for her health to improve. She has become really bored with not going to school and finds it hard to find any joy in life. 

 

In an attempt at another easy craft activity we have started a scrappy rag-rug which has got off to a promising start but will take ages to complete. However, we felt very pleased with ourselves when we managed to make a pair of pyjama trousers without making any boo-boos!

Against all the odds, Bumble is still just about in the land of the living. She is not eating much, sleeping most of the time but not complaining so has been keeping me company for a bit longer than I had expected. 

Happier news was that I was informed that a member of the QGBI, London Region, Jaclyn Horton, had award me an alternative prize at FOQ – “I Want That Fabric!” I was particularly thrilled because the fabric she meant was the Warli figure fabric that I designed and screen-printed for “So Many People”. The write-up that she gave the quilt was really complimentary which made me feel proud of my work:)

Thinking Creatively

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I have to keep a food diary for Nella, adding a range and quantity of foods each day if possible. She has so many fear foods that this is a difficult task. I blended together dates, coconut and walnuts to make energy balls and introduced some weird grains such as freekeh and red quinoa to try and increase her protein. This weeks blood results were marginally improved so she had another stay of execution from hospital admission. She feels like a fake anorexic for eating anything at all but I keep telling her to repeat the mantra, “I am doing this to stay out of hospital!”

Poor Bumble is not doing too well and had a visit to the Vet this week. I know she is not herself when she is not eating. He could not pinpoint a particular problem but thinks her mammary tumours have probably spread to her lungs. She has been put on a course of antibiotics but to be honest, I think her time will be limited. She does not seem to be in pain but her back legs are wobbly, she sleeps most of the time and only eats little bits of chicken if I feed her by hand. I have to remember that 12 years is a good, old age for a Scottie but I will be heart broken when she pops her clogs.

Food preparation and the painfully long time that every meal takes use up most of my days but I have managed to fit in one or two crafty projects to keep us both occupied. Over the weekend we have tried out rag-rug making, shrink plastic and printing notebooks with a gelli plate. On weekdays when we are not attending appointments, Nella works on school stuff in my workshop while I try to carry on with customer quilts. 

I even managed to stitch a few eyelets and sort though the rainbow warily blocks that I have already got to see how many more are required. I think I probably have enough to make a double sided project except that I can’t actually stitch through the large mirror sequins. I still don’t know whether I am aiming to make a tent, a canopy or more sensibly, a one-sided quilt – it will be a while before that becomes clear.

Last, Last Chance

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Earlier this year I bought an iPad thinking that it would take over from my 2012 MacBookPro but for some tasks it just does not perform the same way and I crank up the straining laptop to do spreadsheets, online banking or resize pictures for printing. I expect the iPad can do these things but I don’t know how to make it so I either have to figure that out or consider whether it is time to trade in the laptop.

Having become a bit of a Marie Kondo convert (Tidying Up and Spark Joy), I decided that it was time to let go of the old school desk that I have had for 30 years since rescuing it while on teaching practice. The school rabbit hutch had sat on top of it so it had been out of classroom use for years. It had inkwells and lift up lids but was designed for small children who only had minimal stationery and books. I decided to offer it free to a good home on a Facebook buy, swap, sell site and it was quickly snapped up by someone locally who has a small child, so far with minimal stationery. Nella and I took a similar approach to 2 bookcases of children’s books and donated 5 boxes to charity so others can enjoy them. Getting rid of stuff that is no longer being used or enjoyed is cathartic. I really must work through the entire house (at some unspecified future date!)

Keeping my youngest under close supervision has not been easy – she had to spend some time in my workshop this week while I worked on 4 customer quilts then I had to spend afternoons in her room working on Higher English. Luckily, it is Victorian melodrama which I studied at school and uni but my understanding of modern textual analysis and citing references is sketchy. Having rediscovered some of my cringe-worthy old essays, written in fountain pen I don’t think I would be awarded a degree today!

Freya returned home in one piece from her trip to Tanzania and Zanzibar, having had incredible experiences and adventures. She brought me some gorgeous fabrics which I have put away until I decide what sort of projects they are for. I made her a welcome-home vegan carrot cake with cashew “cream-cheese” icing – which was much better than I had expected. 

 

While she was home to help keep an eye on her sister I managed to fix the faulty needle threader on the Bernina 710 to stitch a few eyelets onto plain fabric so I can layer it up with silver lame to make mock shisha mirrors. The quilt that I am making of so far unspecified size either has far too many blocks or will need many more smaller units. I won’t know until I lay it all out and see.

Sadly, Freya was only home for a couple of days before packing up her plants and books to begin her final year at St. Andrews. We filled a surprise box with treats to start the year off and left her at her flat to cope with a washing machine which has duck tape to seal its door. 

Over the weekend we cajoled a little almond milk and pieces of tangerine into Nella to see if that is enough to stave off the threat of hospitalisation but this huge effort may just not be enough to avoid that fate. It really is a game of cat and mouse…

 

Positivity

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The one thing that is essential when dealing with a child with Anorexia is maintaining a positive outlook. Even when it seems that there is no improvement, the only thing is to keep trying and keep hoping that the vicious cycle can be broken. On Thursday we were warned that a hospital admission is looking increasingly likely if the medical checks show up increasingly failing health and weight continues to drop. We were given the weekend to turn things around, even the tiniest amount. Her friends visited and gave her a brave and loving “talking to” which I hope struck a chord deep within. 

I now have to provide almost 24/7 supervision so there is no opportunity for her to exercise and I must insist that some food is at least tasted 3 times a day. Everything revolves around mealtimes and the issue of food, even though my daughter will only touch one piece of fruit and a few spoons of home-made soup each day. 

We kept ourselves occupied by building an IKEA desk and bookcase, getting started on some school-work and trying not get sick of each other’s company. She had to sit in my workshop while I had a DIY quilt customer for a morning. This new regime will curtail my DIY work since I usually work through lunch but I will have to figure a way of keeping going with some quilts otherwise the business will just disappear. I have not worked on my Rainbow Warli quilt at all and I really want to make some progress towards getting all of the pieces finished, even if I don’t know what sort of quilt it will become. I almost decided not to proceed with Year 2 of my textiles printing evening class but I will do it anyway as a lifeline for my sanity or at least a change of scene. 

 

I used the little Elna sewing machine that now lives on my daughter’s new desk and finished piecing the “Positivity” quilt. This is a pattern by Christa Watson using the fabric that I won as a door prize in her class in Florida, mixed with a few extra scraps and multi-coloured squares instead of neutrals. I got the Bernina Q-matic to quilt spirals all over it for texture and backed it with an Indian mandala cotton bedspread. While she made a short visit to her friend’s house I got the binding on and made up her bed. It is bright and cheerful – she loves it and IF she has to go into hospital this is something that she can take from home that I have created especially for her.