Skyscrapers and String


Category Archive

The following is a list of all entries from the heroes category.

I forgive myself

Hello everyone.

After watching Susan Sarandon on TV yesterday discussing candidly how her life was made beautiful by all her failures and mistakes I have been struck by the profound nature of her words.

Having the house all to myself this morning has meant I could have a long bath and read uninterrupted for an hour.

I’ve always been a quick reader, and some books are more padded out than others. I’ve been reading a book called “Forgiveness” by Iyanla Vanzant.

This lady is one of my personal heroes, alongside Oprah. Both these ladies are my moms, alongside Flylady.

Her name Iyanla means “Great Mother”, which is appropriate seeing as she grew up without a mother. She has been a dear mentor to me without her knowing, for two decades. She will never know how grateful I am.

In the bath I have read up to about 13 chapters of the book, and as I read through I was thinking yes, uh uh, I get that and so on. I decided to get up and go out and pulled the plug and as I wrapped my hair in a towel, these words popped into my head: “I forgive myself for not trying hard enough”.

The irony of those words hit me like a tidal wave and I was then heartbroken and sobbing my heart out. Readers, if I ever was to criticise myself it would not be for the want of trying hard. My life story if I was to write it out in full would be of the child who tried so hard she nearly died trying.

So that is my lesson for today. I forgive myself for not trying hard enough.

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Patchwork Crochet At Last!

Hello everyone! Happy Easter!

I hope you’re having a jolly weekend!

This morning I got up, my first day free of Minion Hats, and picked up my crochet.

These skeins of Spindrift came from Loop, my favourite shop in the whole world. The day I bought them was fab, I was at a class taught by Madeline Tosh, and in my break I picked out these 10 skeins.

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I am making filled granny squares, and after making a dozen, I think I have the pattern mastered now. I am joining them as I go along, it is fun working out what goes where!

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Fighting Heartbreak!

Hello everyone!

I hope you’re all doing well! Monday is done, today went slowly but I’m home safe, in my nightie, and I can hear the sizzle of halloumi frying and rattle of pans as Jon cooks dinner in the next room.

Right now, I’m listening to Amy Winehouse, the “Back to Black” album, it still sends shivers down my spine. Like her, I grew up listening to, and loving, my parents record collection of all the great classic jazz and swing singers and for me, Amy fused these influences with her heartbreaking words, and, together with the sound produced by her chocolate voice and Mark Ronson’s lavish production with horns and strings and harmonious backing vocals the whole thing is just divine.

The whole album is an expression of heartbreak, self pity, and the torture of loving someone who doesn’t love you the same way in return. I loved Amy’s music and this album is sublime, one of the best ever made. When I heard she had died I cried. Couldn’t help it. I’m still angry and sad that she’s gone.

Some of the closest people around me are suffering broken hearts, just the same as Amy’s. She wrote a brilliant piece of music with hers. Adele also wrote her best selling album “21” as a result of being betrayed and in the lyrics of her songs she refers to how she knows she will have the last laugh as she knows her pain will turn to gold when she writes about it in her songs.

It kills me to see so much suffering and I can’t give any useful help. I am frustrated as I can’t say anything meaningful, I want to offer wise words to cure, not just mouth soothing phrases. In a recent newspaper agony column, someone wrote in and said how they’d had their heart broken, and how hard it was to deal with. The columnist gave the standard response, and I read the whole 300 odd comments and they were all in the same vein to the advice I have been dishing out.

The only thing that gets you past heartbreak is time.

I want to be able to free my loved ones from their pain and I’m frustrated at how useless I am. All I feel is the distant memory of times in the past when, as Amy said “I cried for you on the kitchen floor”. I literally sank to the kitchen floor once as my world had ended, the chap I loved had called my friend to say he was marrying someone else, and she just casually mentioned he’d rung to say he’d got engaged. I went “back to black”. I stopped breathing for what seemed like forever and then I howled and sobbed like I had broken. She also killed my cat a year later, but that’s another story altogether.

You do get past it. In Sense and Sensibility, Marianne Dashwood initially thinks it is heroic to die for love. By the time she has nearly died of a broken heart and she has seen her great love marry someone else for money she acknowledges the wrongness of her idealistic initial view.

My old love still misses me, I know it in my heart. We did get back together after he ditched his fiancée to come back to me, and we broke up and got back together a time after that. I didn’t care how his fiancée felt when he ditched her for me. He did propose to me finally but I laughed. The absurdity of marrying someone who broke hearts apparently for a living was just too comical. I couldn’t do it to myself.

Now Jon is making me a cup of tea.

Dear Reader, if you only knew how kind he is to me and how much fun we have together, if I could only show my close ones their future selves in their nighties, smiling, with a cat on their lap and a quiet happy little house and wanting for nothing, I am sure they would get over their broken hearts quickly. If only I had the power!


French Ladies Crochet Bag Ta Daah!

Hello everybody!

My New Year is off to a flying start, what with bread baking, and finishing things off and lots of craftiness at home.

I have a new ta daah today, well in all truth it’s from yesterday, but by the time I’d finished it was too dark to take pictures.

A couple of years ago, my world was rocked when I went to an embroidered buttons course at my favourite shop in the world, Loop, in Angel, Islington.

There were two French ladies in charge of the course, Cecile, who was teaching, and Veronique who was assisting with translating. Both were the height of glamour, and they were delightful, inspiring ladies, tres charming! The course was wonderful and we had a super day and learned loads, as I wrote here in my review which you should be able to see if you click on the icon for Loop on the left hand side bar of this post. Cecile’s website is here.

Before the course started, I was early, and browsing in the shop. So were the French ladies. Whilst they were looking around, I think it was Veronique who had a wonderful yellow and blue crochet bag, and inside was a Volvic bottle in a crocheted cosy as well. I stopped in my tracks, unable to breathe.

A green mist of covetous envy descended on me. Unlike other kinds of coveting, which are generally frowned upon as a deadly sin; when you can knit and sew and crochet for yourself, violent coveting of someone else’s crafting becomes a delicious inspiration.

Here you can see the bag, and dear Cecile and her daughter, and some pictures of the buttons we made on the day:

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After the day’s class I was on fire with ideas, however they take time to percolate into action in real life, largely because if you already have a dozen things on the go you have to finish them off first.

I loved the yellow bag, and every accessory the French ladies possessed was hand made and embroidered and beaded, like an exposition of fabulousness and finery!

Here you can see I made a bag in orange silk scraps next, using Cecile’s book “Granny Folies A Crocheter”.

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Next I made a beaded bag out of the leftovers:

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As you can see, whatever the French bug was, I was thoroughly bitten by it!

Since the class, I’ve been to another held by Cecile as well, but my way of thinking has been transformed. I expect more of myself with my work, a higher standard, more detail, beading, luxury in my accessories, everything.

I have become the Elizabeth Taylor of knitting. Jon of course is Richard Burton. He encourages me in my excesses!

Here you can see my French Ladies water bottle cover I made on holiday.

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I wanted to make an exact copy of Veronique’s bag, but it wasn’t to be this time, the bright colours I bought originally were jarring and clashing, so I kept the clear yellow, turquoise, white and navy and toned them down with ballet slipper mauves, taupes and greys.

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So it was all sewn up, and my challenge for yesterday was to add a lining, so I hauled out my sewing machine. I made it work, after many practice pieces to get the right tension and everything. And I love it!

Here it is, handles on and ready for a jaunt! Oh la la! C’est bon!

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Hunger Games Knitting And Crochet Patterns

Here are some more patterns on Ravelry based on “The Hunger Games”.

You do have to register with Ravelry to access the patterns, and some patterns are paid for ones.


Becoming Unravelled

Those of you that have been reading my blog awhile will remember how awful my parents were to my Grandad; he was a war hero and my best friend, he was disabled and had cancer, but he was beautiful. They had all his money from where they sold his house, and then by tricking him out of their house three years ago to go into a weeks “respite care” they then made him homeless at 94 years old, and we had to sort everything out for him, but he’d lost heart from their betrayal, and he eventually died in my arms two years ago on 26th November. It nearly broke me.

After ditching Grandad, my parents cut us off completely, they moved away without telling us, not a phone call, no birthday or Christmas cards for my daughter, we heard nothing from them, not a word, nothing for three years.

Four days after we returned from the best summer holiday of my life this year, where I finally found myself at peace after a long bout of depression triggered by the above events, with graceful timing my step Dad got back in touch, as he was in a wheelchair with bad Parkinson’s, and my Mum had bad dementia.

I have been round a few times now, and Social Services are now involved but nothing seems to be happening. Their newly built house is literally full of bin bags, the kitchen counters are full of mouldy cake. My step Dad asked me to help him look for his mobile phone as he’d lost it and I discovered the horror of the kitchen and as I opened the kitchen cabinets, and recoiled in horror as there were two broken eggs which were reeking terribly in one.

Not so funny for their next door neighbour, but it made me chuckle, Mum had opened the door to the postman yesterday and signed for a parcel for the lady next door, but of course as soon as she took it indoors she lost it, and has no idea where it could have gone. God knows where all the lost things are. Probably will all be found with their consciences.

They offered me a lift home lol, as if I’d get in a car with a pair of crazies!

I took some snaps of my family when I was there today, The picture below might be my Great Grandmother, or her mother. I have no way of knowing. We all look so alike.

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Here are my “other” Grandparents, my stepDad’s parents, they were alright to me but my Grandad Harry was a handful. He would always call my Mum “Binks”, which was the name of one of his nieces, and get my step dad totally plastered until he was sick, my Mum would boil with anger when he did this. My Nanny Frances was nice, she would have liked Amber.

Frances is in the middle, my Nanny is on the right. So much drinking occurred when the family was together all the women in any pictures always look angry. Still, until today I never had any photos of Harry or Frances.

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I reported both my parents to the dvla today as unfit to drive, they are in such a state they need to be in a home. I intend to have stern words with the social worker on Monday.


9000 Hits and An Old Friend Visits

Hello everyone,

I think we are halfway through the week and I can report today I have now had 9000 hits! How fabulous! Thank you everyone!

At the lifts this morning amidst all the damp and reluctant employees queuing to start work was an old friend, who lives in Manchester and doesn’t even work in my Firm, I was delighted! He was my friend at my previous employer, and he left there but didn’t forget me, he found me my job where I am now, so I owe him a lot! A heartfelt thank you to you Andrew!

We managed to squeeze half an hour for coffee and it was so nice to properly catch up and I could thank him in person properly; for the last six years in the job he gave me have defined me. I have been broken down and built up again in my personal life, but my job has given me happiness, pride and a sense of purpose when I had lost faith in pretty much everything else.

Today I sat down and wrote a Charter for Disabled Colleagues. It sets out what every disabled person should be entitled to, in order to ensure they are treated with dignity as employees.

See what I mean about loving my job? Who else gets to do things like this all in the same day, as well as meet up with Knitting Club lunchtime. There were loads of knitters with baby wool on the needles, and another two rainbow hats went in the pile for blocking! Thanks Sarah!

My dear daughter made me a packed lunch today, and she texted me at mid day to let me know she had won the Sixth Form Captain’s Prize. I have to go to Prize-giving again, it’s her fourth prize in her career at my old school. Whilst I was in a meeting to help folk with disabilities yesterday she was giving an address to the Lower School assembly on her anti bullying initiative. You go girl!

Also Jon and his friend Rich had a debate online about the film of “the life of pi”, around the idea of the film being a complete fantasy as the Tiger would be rapidly eating the man in the boat, and the fact that there were no guns or bombs in the film so it would be unlikely to be of any interest to watch, from their perspective. I’m not doing it any justice paraphrasing it here, but it was genius comedy to read, like Beavis and Butthead.

So you can see, I’ve been to Pilates after a very jolly day, Jon made me dinner it was ready on the table when I arrived home, and I’m about to finish another preemie hat.

I am very happy indeed, it feels like today has been a really special day; one I will always remember!

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Ugh! Monday!

Hello everyone!

We have survived Monday!

Going to work is one of life’s great pleasures, and I am lucky to enjoy what I do so much. Oh but today! What a pain!

For example, I went in to claim the matched funding for Help For Heroes from our knitted poppy project, and the small print required me to run round in circles and get the charity to email our donations office. What a performance! I felt really embarrassed but the lady at H4H was so wonderful, it wasn’t a big deal. But imagine how awful I felt until that point to think I’d stuffed it up!!

It’s been one thing after another. Another friend is horribly ill, another one has her Mum in hospital and it’s not looking good, and another friend’s son is in hospital with a torn shoulder.

On top of that add a squillion emails and then to have to deal with an unnecessary work squabble over the same thing as before yet again, it’s exhausting!

At least I can come home to Jon and Amber and my knitting.

Tonight we have mince and tatties, my Grandad lives on in his favourite dinner.

Here is today’s preemie baby hat, we have another week of making these.

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Bad Ishbel!

18,000 people have knit the Ishbel shawl designed by Ysolda Teague. I consider myself to be a hardy knitter, one that has no fear, I’ve knit a dozen or so shawls, and I’ve always wanted one of these, so why not cast on?

The usual stocking stitch middle rapidly completed, and I suddenly had the right number of stitches. I paused at this point to make a swatch of the lace pattern. I threw 40 or so stitches onto spare needles, knit the lace pattern for a few repeats, and thought, ok, let’s go!

But no. Something happened. Ishbel is naughty to me! The pattern has a mind of its own. What in everybody’s paws but mine turned into an elegant swirl of leaves, ended up resembling some kind of computer code. There is a kind of diagonal velocity which reminds me of “the Matrix”, a film notable for some horrid jumpers with deliberate holes ripped into them. It made me shudder each time one of these hideous garments appeared on screen.

Here you can see it. I am so ashamed. I still wore it out today, the yarn is gorgeous!

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This weekend I have been sorting my craft corner. I love my little chest of drawers, my shelves full of wool, my folders of favourite patterns.

I have so many things to make for Christmas, and so many ideas for designs. My “little Loop” in my front room, next to my knitting chair is all ordered and ready for me to start! I am really happy.

Today we went for a long walk. I slept until 8.45am and now I am going to put dinner on – chicken cooked in sweet red wine with thyme, onions, fennel and carrot, then go up for a nap. Once it is cooked the smell will waft up the stairs and wake me up lol!

Now I am knitting a scarf for my friend’s son, it’s his birthday this week.

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I feel like I am getting my act together. My parents have been in touch with social services and they’re not driving any more, which is good. They still don’t ever ring me but I do call them to check they’re ok. Next Saturday I’m going over to help my Dad get to grips with online shopping. My Mum keeps packing boxes thinking she is moving house, Dad sounds like he’s at his wit’s end.

It struck me that although I had no happy memories of them as a child or growing up or as an adult, and they certainly were evil and horrid to dump my Grandad, now they are being relatively nice to me and at least I can start to build some less bitter associations in my mind relating to them, which must be good for my own well being and mental health.

It’s two years on the 26th November – next week – since I lost my Grandad. I’ll never replace him. I know he is looking down and he must be pleased to see how much he is remembered and thought of. Dear Grandad.

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Happy Weekend!

Hello everyone!

I hope your weekend has been good so far!

Jon is completely well and is in my good books. Long may it continue!

Yesterday he blocked two shawls for me, did loads of jobs round the house, then I went out for a swim. When I came home, dinner was ready!

At Knitting Club at work with our poppy knitting we raised just under £850 for Help for Heroes, which will be matched £ for £ by our employer. What was really touching was the thank you letter we got from our citizenship team, headed by an ex serviceman, whose words were truly heartwarming and humbling. We’ll definitely be making these again next year.

Not a bunch to sit on our laurels, we have dived into making premature baby hats. I have made 5 so far, and have a sixth on the needles. I have two from Mary and Sarah also in my bag as well!

One of my friends wrote a blog post recently about someone on Ravelry who had a huge number of WIP’s, ie unfinished knitting projects. I think the number quoted was about 250. I must confess, I am in progress on about 7 things, and plan to cast on another 7 small things. I also have some other large knitting projects I’ve started, blankets and the like, but I’m not bothered about when they get finished.

Here you can see some of my baby hats:

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These are great fun to knit!

Today has been super!

I had a long walk through the park, ordered some new net curtains, blocked a third shawl, it is supposed to be an Ishbel but it is a complete disaster! 18000 people have knitted this, I faithfully followed the pattern, but mine doesn’t look like vine leaves, it looks like some kind of anstract modernist piece. I hated knitting it!

It is dry and I’ll post some pictures tomorrow.

Here are the two nice shawls blocked yesterday:

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This cream one is for dear Katy, my hairdresser. She is such a beautiful, kind and smart person, she has been my rock these last few years. She always admires my knitting, so this is for her, I am next seeing her just before Christmas!

Here you can see my holiday shawl:

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I sewed up another pair of mitts, and wrapped them for my friend. I want some for myself!

Anyhow, I have heaps of knitting to get on with! Have a lovely evening! I’ll see you tomorrow!