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Thursday, March 27, 2014

I have a favour to ask...

Edited to add photos of sample blocks.

In my time blogging, and through my experience with Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, I have seen time and time again how generous the quilting and crafting community can be. And so, humbly, I am asking for a little favour peeps.

Dear friends of mine lost their daughter in a tragic accident ten days after her wedding, while she and her new husband were honeymooning in Vietnam.

I am assembling a team of friends, family and colleagues to put together a quilt for them. While we can't ever expect to understand what they are going through, we want to make them a tangible reminder that they have so many people loving and supporting them always. A quilt offers physical and emotional comfort, and will let many of us feel like we are 'doing' something to help this family. 

It's looking like this team will be made up of a very small number of quilters, quite a few people who sew but don't quilt, and a number of people who rarely sew but are happy to make a block with guidance from the more experienced sewers. I also have a couple of people who don't feel like they can manage the sewing part, but have offered to make cuppas (a very important job!) if we have a group sewing session.

Now here's where my favour-asking comes in. This couple also has a son, who is grieving the loss of his sister. I would love to make a quilt for him as well, to extend the same message of comfort and support, but I feel like doubling the size of our project may be a little too ambitious for a group which is almost entirely non-quilters.

Would you like to contribute a block for this second quilt?

I need 63 blocks for this quilt - I'm going to make as many as I can - but it would be fantastic to have some help.

If you would like to contribute - please comment below or email me bronwynbeazley(at) gmail(dot)com. I'd be more than happy to send you precut squares for this project if you need me to.

The block I'm making (see below) - will be a simple nine patch. Use nine 3.5 inch squares to create a 9.5 inch block, which will finish at 9 inches once sashing is added. (My quilt maths is often wrong, so please let me know if that doesn't compute!).

Colours - mostly blues, with some grey, and if you feel so inclined, a small pop of yellow.

Excuse the night time photos - I was a bit keen to finally get some photos added to this post.

In this one, I've pieced two rectangles together to make my centre square, just to make my yellow piece a different shape.


If you have any questions - just ask!

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Retreating

On the weekend, I spent a lovely couple of days at The Retreat in Woodend with Abbe, Jules, Faith and Mummy Helen.

This was my second visit, so I'm guessing that I behaved suitably well (or appropriately badly!) first time around for Abbe to invite me back. Obviously I was so caught up in the Christmas rush, I didn't get around to blogging my first Retreat visit though. (Bad blogger, what's new!)

My brain was all over the shop in the week before this trip, so I really had no idea what projects and fabric to pack, or even what I felt like working on, but in the end I had a pretty productive weekend. Maybe my approach to packing - 'just keep chucking stuff in' - was the right plan this time.

A giant star quilt - just because.

A length of bunting - just to keep up with the Bunting Queen, Jules.

Finished off some place mats the kids had been waiting on.

Some scrappy coasters - a la Beccasaurus

And I finished piecing the rest of the Drunkards Path blocks I had cut out.

I also spent a bit of time working on the design and colour scheme for a special project I am working on for a friend. By working on, I mean I brain picked the other gals in the form of, "what about....?", "or I could....", "but if I..." and so on.

Movies choices this time round seemed to be of the retro variety - Point Break, Dirty Dancing, Pretty Woman - a good way to test the old memory and see how many lines we remembered.

I even managed to call in for a quick (2 hour!) cuppa on the way home with a friend who lives nearby.  All in all, an excellent weekend. Can't wait to do it again.


P.S.
My daughter asks if I took any photos while away. 
"Of course I did, they're on my phone, go and have a look."
Looks. Big sigh. 
"Not of the stuff you made, Mum, I already saw them on Facebook."
"What then?"
"I wanted to see what The Retreat looked like."

So, next time, I must remember to take enough photos to keep the children happy. Very important.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Opening up about depression.

I can't really explain why this post, now. The words just came to me and asked to be written. And once written, I thought they may as well be shared. So here are the words, being shared.

April will mark eight years since I went to my GP, took a deep breath, and said, “I think I have post natal depression”.


Doesn’t sound like such a big step now, but at the time, that was like leaping off a cliff.

As someone who has always found it hard (impossible sometimes) to ask for help, this was momentous. I’d been to my GP with intentions of seeking help before, but always with another issue. I’d think, “I’ll mention it after we sort out these scripts” or “I’ll get the pap smear done first, then….” or I’d let my daughter’s sore ears/throat/rash be dealt with first, telling myself “I’ll talk about it if we have time”. (Seriously, a pap smear seemed like a better option than asking for help.)



I’d change my mind because there was a lengthy wait and I didn’t want to be the cause for my doctor becoming even more behind. I'd change my mind because the baby and the two year old were reaching the end of their patience. I’d change my mind mid-consult as I just couldn’t quite form the words I needed. I’d change my mind because I was worried I’d be told that I was imagining it, that things weren’t really as bad as I perceived them to be, that plenty of people have it much worse. (This last reason is the most ridiculous of all, as my GP is one of the kindest, most approachable and understanding doctors I have ever met.)

That’s the thing though – depression lies to you. It lets you make these excuses to yourself. It let me get away with thinking, two and a half years earlier when my first daughter was born, that yes, maybe this was post natal depression, but I’d studied psychology, so surely I’d be fine to manage this on my own. (Nope, the answer is no. Bad choice.)

Depression lies and tells you all kinds of things that aren’t true – that you won’t get better, that no one wants to listen, that you must be hopeless because you can’t manage two kids in the supermarket. (I now know that pretty much any shopping trip with a toddler will involve a tantrum somewhere along the line, and that babies have a special knack for needing you when you are halfway through something.)

Sometimes you just have to ask for help and hand the reins over to someone else. Let them decide if they have enough time to listen to you. Let them decide if you are imagining it. Let them help you to make a plan for how to deal with it.

The key message here is ASK FOR HELP. Suck it up and – ASK FOR HELP. Got it?

I didn’t really tell anyone at the time. I was feeling overwhelmed by the emotions of finally asking for help, and thought that I’d tell people when I had things more under control. I didn't want to worry people by letting them see just how fragile I really was at the time. Then, as often happens, the longer you leave things, the harder they get.


I told my husband – I said I’d been to see my doctor and we’d decided that starting medication was the approach we’d take at this point. I don’t think he grasped the magnitude of this situation though. The fact that someone who so rarely asked for help, had sought help. The fact that maybe I might continue to need help.

Depression is a hard disease to understand unless you’ve been in the grips of it. And I think that some people are just never able to fathom the way it can affect so many aspects of a person’s thinking and behaviour. Likewise, it can be hard for some people to understand that medication can help improve these things.

Antidepressants are not a big deal, in the scheme of things. If you need them, take them. But if someone is telling you not to take them, when you know you need to, that is a big deal. A big deal breaker, in fact. Enough of a deal breaker that can lead to the end of a marriage.

But hey, that’s life. Sometimes tough decisions need to be made. You make a decision and cross your fingers that it’s the right one, and that things will improve. 

And, you know, things have improved for me. I’m a single mother, but it’s no big deal, my kids are happy. I still take antidepressants, but, again, no big deal, I’m well. I often feel disorganised, I struggle to fit everything in, I get overwhelmed with big decisions, I sleep like crap, I worry about money, I wonder if my kids will turn out okay, I whinge about my freaking back. 

And, you know what? 

I’ve never been in a happier place.

Seriously.

 

And now that I’ve shared those brief thoughts with you, I think it’s time to move on to some camel-toe applique, an anti-Valentines Day rant, or a picture of kittens and unicorns.

(Insert picture of kitten and unicorn reminding us to ASK FOR HELP.)

Also, the pictures are just for pretty value. Cos you can't blog without pictures.

Monday, February 24, 2014

A Star Wars Quilt

When I saw this Star Wars panel at The Fat Quarter Shop - I knew I had to make it into a quilt for my Star Wars loving nephew.


I started by cutting each character block out separately, and added borders in coordinating solid colours around each block.


It was looking a little small, so I added an extra border around each one, tilted each block on varying angles and trimmed back. 


With my supervisor napping on the job (and on the quilt), I eventually got the basting done. I really should use more pins, I know, I'm pretty slack with my basting.


I quilted vertically and horizontally in my favourite organic style (which basically means that I don't worry about lines being straight or an even distance apart).



Finished binding while at craft camp in early December (held at The Retreat in Woodend - fabulous place!), and before you know it, I had one Christmas present all under control. 


Nephew is happy, and I'm pretty confident I have the Number 1 auntie position under control.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Texture: A Challenge

I realised this morning how rarely I use my DSLR. 

It's a sad fact that my phone takes such a good photo that I'm happy to use it for most things. I always have my phone with me when I'm out and about, so it's what I use to capture spontaneous moments and design ideas. Sharing to social media is so much quicker when uploading from my phone - no need to find the lead for the camera, which is never where I swear I saw it last. The last holiday the girls and I went on saw me leave my bulky camera at home, rather than take up precious luggage space. 

But, I have an ongoing goal to improve my photography, and the only way to do that is practice. Practice, practice and more practice.

So this morning I set myself a little challenge. Use the DSLR and capture 'texture'. All the photos below are taken within 100 metres of my house, and are completely unedited.














I've only shared a selection of the photos I took here - some are a little repetitive - more photos can be found on the Stop That Owl Facebook page if you are interested.

There are so many aspects of this theme, I've barely scratched the surface. If you would like to challenge yourself, I'd love to see your photos of 'texture'. Tag me on Instagram or Twitter - @bronbeazley.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Shelley's (long delayed) quilt

So it turns out that while I was being an absentee blogger, I actually finished a few projects which I didn't share, so I'm going to play catch up for a post or two.


When I last posted about this quilt (*ahem* in September) - I was hoping that it would be finished that month. I actually finished it in December, just a little later than my intended finish date, but in time to wrap up and gift to my sister for Christmas.


I can't actually remember when I first offered to make my sister a quilt, and had a discussion about colours and styles with her, but I suspect three years ago would be a reasonable guess. I wouldn't want to rush the creative process, now would I?


The colours and prints in this are quite different to what I usually choose to work with, so it took me a while to gather up enough fabric, and then a bit longer again to choose a design. Some of the blocks were made by the good peeps in my quilting bee group, and I think they did a great job choosing colours and prints - they all blend in so well with the fabric I used for my blocks.


And judging by this photo my sister sent me, the quilt suits her bedroom pretty well.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Getting all deep and philosophical (about blogging)




When I started this blog, I thought about what I wanted to write about. What was my purpose? What did I want to get out of this exercise? Where would I draw the line (if any) about what I shared and didn’t share?

The main reason was that I loved writing, and I wanted to get back into that, and share my words. I didn’t need to be crafting a work of art, I just wanted to start writing regularly again.

I loved reading other blogs, all kind of blogs, and I wanted to be a part of that world in a greater sense than the odd comment on someone else’s blog here and there. I loved creating things, and wanted a space to share these things (I suspect I was beginning to bore my non-crafty Facebook friends). I liked the idea of documenting the creative process, and having a record of the things I’d made. (Also my crafty failures and the products of EITTTS* days.)

I decided it wasn’t going to be a blog about my personal life, with endless posts about what I did/wore/bought today or what my kids said. I wasn’t going to get too deep and meaningful about life (no politics or religion, thank you).

And so I started blogging.


But now, with my blog accumulating dust and cobwebs, and the idea of ‘regular writing’ being more than a little laughable, I have to wonder if it’s time for a little change.

Sometimes I start writing something in my head (surely I’m not the only one who does this!?) and then don’t physically write it down because that’s ‘not what I blog about’. Or it’s too wordy for Twitter. Or I can’t think of a picture to Instagram that thought with.


It is hard to separate my craft from my life. Creating is a big part of me. I go a little crazy and get itchy fingers when I haven’t been able to find any creative time for a few days. I create when I’m happy, stressed,excited, sad, grumpy, can’t sleep. I create when I really should be doing other things, but I’ve just had the most AH-mazing idea. I create when I’m alone, and with my kids. I get crafty with other people’s kids. I make for my family and friends.

So why do I feel like my blog has to be a ‘crafty’ blog? Why isn’t it just a ‘me’ blog?

I think it’s time to change things up a little.


* EITTTS – “Everything I Touch Turns To Shit” – a wonderful acronym I learned from Jodie.