A crafty handmade update #BEDM

Almost two years ago, I blogged about Making my own happiness – a blog post is here. It was a post done to part reassure myself that I’m not failing at life, part to help people and reassure them that they’re not failing at life, and part to show off my crafty wares.

jpeg15

Crafting is a big part of my life – often it comes in tiny bundles, fitting neatly into my handbag (although I should be fair and admit that my craft supplies are instead taking over my home…) but the act of making something, with my hands, is one of my favourite things. Even better if I can make things for the people I love.

So I wanted to show a few snaps of things I’ve been making over the past few months. On the plus side – lots of pretty projects. On the downside – I only have iPhone photos of most things, and not many photos of finished articles. Lesson learnt.

IMG_7169

In October, when Tao and I went to Oslo (blogged ) and I promised I’d knit him a scarf in less than a week (on top of working full time at the time). The above is a snap from December of us both wearing handmade scarves – his was a rushed little thing, and was made quickly; mine was a Christmas gift from my own crafty mama.

Since then, Tao and I have had a long-running scarf joke, so over my Christmas holiday, I made him two more – I only have a photo of the in-progress blue scarf, but it was a huge success.

IMG_7347

(Also, backdrop for that scarf photo – bonus photobombing by a beautiful tile I got for Christmas – again, from my crafty mama!)

IMG_6863

IMG_6931

The next two recent makes were a pair of mandalas – a mandala is a spiritual and ritual symbol representing the Universe, in Hinduism and Buddhism. They weren’t made for any real spiritual reason, more-so because I thought they were rather beautiful. They were a Christmas present for my mama.

IMG_7756

10914180_723875694378389_654980992_n

Bonus photo of the crochet Toad (of Mario fame) blanket I made for Tao – I’ve blogged the finished article, but the first photo is is a work-in-progress pic.

As I mentioned above, part of my love of crafting is that my projects tend to be quite small and portable. The Toad blanket was made up of hundreds of crochet granny squares – which in themselves are small and handbag-friendly. I was able to crochet anywhere and everywhere I went – until it came to stitching it together. I stitched it together in rows, before stitching each row together. I then added the blue sky and green grass corners. I love it – and it’s 7.30am here and Tao is currently napping underneath the blanket, so I’m going to speak for him and say he loves it too.

IMG_7962

This little beauty was the beginning of a scarf for Tao’s mum, for her birthday. Tao and I picked out the most beautiful yarn, seriously good quality. I finished the scarf in good time – and then promptly got a really awful cold on the weekend of her birthday, so I couldn’t go over to see her – but I’m told it was well received.

IMG_8097

IMG_8150

And finally this little lady in progress is my current cross stitch project. It’s almost finished, and it’s been a super soothing craft to work on.

My cross stitch (or whatever I’m crafting at the time!), my boyfriend, and some food = ultimate happiness.

Making my own happiness

So, I should preface this by saying I’m quite a sensitive person – unless it’s constructive, I don’t handle criticism well; I don’t get along with angry people; I’m inherently a happy person and I think everyday happiness is a choice. You can either get on with things, be grateful for what you have and be happy.. or.. you can be miserable.

But even happy people get sad, and this just so happens to be one of those days for me. I struggle with people who are immediately challenging, or aggressive, or defensive, or argumentative; I try the old ~water off a ducks back thing, but sometimes it just doesn’t work.

A wise woman once asked me “what do you do to make your time worthwhile?” and after refuting my answer of getting drunk in the pub after work with work friends, I started thinking some more. After a few days, I realised I do have a whole heap of things I enjoy, that I do for my own happiness, and (gasp!) aren’t rude or saucy in any way. So let me present the tangible things I’ve done recently, that have made me happy…

jpeg14

My friend Kate and I found a really cute job in Greenwich where you can paint your own pottery – this is the finished work (mine is the blue/green, Kate’s is the orange). Just an afternoon of playing with paint and making a mess was enough to make me smile.

jpeg15

This is the beginnings of a Christmas present I made for my mama last year – see the finished article below. They’re crochet granny squares, hundreds of them, and it was honestly one of the most cathartic things I’ve done.

jpeg1

These are the famous origami hearts I made – they looked so beautiful strung up. I made 400 of them in 1 weekend, and it was such a nice process – my hands make-make-making, whilst the rest of me watched films.

jpeg2

This is the point where the original few hearts became 400 of them. I love the colours of them, together in a box.

.jpeg3

Of course, I take hundreds (thousands?) of photos – even photos of cameras make me happy. This is my latest baby, to replace my previous Olympus Pen that died a sad death recently. I love taking photos and looking back on them, months or years later. So much changes, and we miss it even happening.

jpeg4

As well as origami hearts, I made these tissue paper pompom flowers for the party in Warsaw in July. Because they’ve got a lot of wiggle room and don’t need to be perfect, it was the best afternoon task – just snipping and tying and poofing out, no worries that they’ll look bad.

jpeg5

Origami stars are another way I occupy my hands – I have no idea what to do with the hundreds of stars I’ve already made, but they look cute stored in my wine glasses, vases and bowls. Again, just keeping my hands busy, and coming out with something so sweet, really makes me happy.

jpeg6

Pancaaaakes, and big long lazy brunches, are some of my favourite things. I rarely have time for proper breakfast, I just grab something and eat at my desk, but the process of cooking can be as fun as the actual eating. I’ve realise it’s about keeping busy and doing something with my time – and having something so nice at the end.

jpeg7

Even “borrowing” a colleagues heart-shaped hole punch made me happy – I love playing with patterns and shapes, and this is such an utterly pointless piece of paper, but it’s cute, and it was fun to play with.

jpeg8

At Easter, I went home to my parents and with the help of some Polish “egg dye”, we decorated eggs. A fun little afternoon of dipping and dying and painting is time well spent.

jpeg9

I’ve been a knitter for years now, and as with the crochet, it feels almost soothing for the soul to knit – I can do other things at the same time (read, watch a film, chat to friends) and suddenly I look down and I’ve made something lovely. You definitely don’t get that with buying something in Primark, trust me.

jpeg10

Calligraphy is a relatively recent hobby – in spring this year I invested in some inks and nibs, plus a pad of paper, and I just started going. Practicing the alphabet is a brilliant way to get stuck in, I found it really calmed me down, and the calmer I got, the smoother the letters – so, in a bid to improve, I made myself become even calmer and relaxed.

jpeg11

I also like secretly decorating the light switches at work with cute little faces. Because, well, why not?

jpeg12

Over Christmas/New Year, my mama started teaching me how to knit lace patterns, and I loved sitting with her, laughing at silly things and talking, and learning more techniques. I love this little swatch of work.

jpeg13

And finally this – this is the crochet blanket I made for my mama for Christmas (this is before the loose ends were tucked in/tied/cut off!). The idea is that it goes from a mix of light blues/grays/greens, through to medium, and then dark navy and greys; when you shake it out I wanted it to look like waves (my parents went to the Amalfi Coast in Italy in October last year, I wanted it to remind them of that). A huge piece of work, which I was still finishing on Christmas Eve, but I’m still so in love with it.

So there you go – I do have things that make me feel worthwhile, and I do them myself, I don’t rely on anyone else. Because happiness really is a choice.