Butterflies

When I was young, I used to like collecting caterpillars and mullion leaves and keeping them in old ice cream tubs with netting over the top until they turned into butterflies (cabbage whites, I think most of them were). I think I was trying to watch for the exact moment when the butterfly hatched from the chrysalis, but I don’t remember ever managing that.

I’ve always liked the theory that butterflies were originally flutterbyes, but that metathesis caused people to call them butterflies. The OED, source of all linguistic knowledge, seems to think not. The Old English was buttorfleoge, for which they have a reference from c.1000. Shame. I prefer to call them flutterbyes; makes more sense.

Butterfly

I haven’t done much cross-stitch so far this year; I think this may even be my first, though I have also started a Celtic dragon-knot. The yellow butterfly was a Mouseloft Stitchlet, and the blue one a sticker of the colour-it-yourself variety. These stickers are encouraging me to be more creative with both my scrapbook and my journal-organiser.

The Joys of Colouring

Over the past few years, a whole industry based on colouring in has grown.

Colouring in has traditionally been a child’s activity, with crayons and big felt-tips (which, more often than not, dry out because of the child’s inability to put the lid on), and drawings of scare-crows and farmers and farm animals. I know, because a My First Colouring Book got me through my AS-level exams.

These days, colouring in goes hand-in-hand with Mindfulness. Otherwise known as Five Minutes Peace to empty the brain of the stresses of the day. Or an elephant in the bath-tub wanting some quiet time away from the noisy brats.

I’ve recently taken up colouring in. Not for mindful reasons. No, I found stickers. Stickers to colour in. And stick in my first, tentative attempt at creating my own organiser/journal/thing. It’s more of an organiser with note space than a journal. I have a separate one of those. I also have fun shaped post-its for my notes and random thoughts. And washi tape! I never really had much time for washi tape before, or known what to do with it, but now I know! And it’s amazing!

But colouring in has changed. Or maybe it’s just that the adult patterns are that much more detailed, that fat felt-tips just don’t cut it any more.

Having discovered these sticker delights, I gathered coloured pens, and set to it. Initially I started with a small set of expensive fineliners, because I already had them for brightly coloured notes. But no, I thought, colouring in requires felt-tips.

So I duly dashed off to WHSmiths for a set. A very lovely set of 30, in a box to keep them safe. Only the pictures for adults to colour in have finer lines. More delicate detailing. Felt-tips are just a bit…unwieldy. Overkill, almost.

Apparently, adults require fineliners for colouring in. Like a child graduating to writing in ink, so an adult graduates to colouring in with dainty tipped pens. Or really fancy pencils. Most peculiar. Children go from crayons and pencils to pens, only to back to pencils as an adult. I prefer the fineliners. I had to expand the collection though, since my original set had only 10 colours, and no purple, which was really quite distressing.

And then back to Hobbycraft for more of the stickers. You can also get cards and envelopes (not from Hobbycraft, that I’ve seen) with doodles and drawings for colouring.

My papercraft collection will expand still further. I’m also attempting to learn calligraphy, to make the pages of my journal/organiser/thing prettier.

Cream Tea

At this point in the camping proceedings, it is necessary to take a small break.

The generals are planned, the large issues ironed out: the time for the minutia has almost arrived. Before that, though,to prevent the scrambling of brains and confusions of the writer, a rest is required. Preferably accompanied by something good and wholesome to feed the little grey cells. Hard work, planning.

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Mark turned up at my campsite with scones, freshly made; clotted cream; and jam, raspberry. What better way to feed a brain than with cream tea!

I believe the earliest records of such a thing as a cream tea come from Tavistock Abbey, when the monks would provide their workers with fresh bread, cream and jam for mid afternoon. Scones are not, it has to be said, really a West Country delicacy. A split is more the thing for a proper cream tea. Or simply a crusty white bread roll. Nothing better.

Just remember: cream, then jam.

Camp NaNo Catch-Up: Gardeners and Architects

Apparently, there is a George RR Martin quotation out there about how writers are gardeners or architects.

Some writers have an idea and run with it; others have an idea and plan the story. Of course, as with all things, most people are not really one or the other, but a mix of both. Normally, I get about half way through the planning stage and then start writing and see where it takes me. I’ve never been very good at endings, though. I might be seeing things, but I suspect there’s a link between that and where I cease to plan…

It’s been an interesting time for me, this month, with my focus being on planning; every now and again I get the urge to just start writing, I have enough notes and plans, and anyway that part of the story won’t happen for ages, and by the time I get to that bit I’m stuck on, an answer should have presented itself. Right?

I’ve written before, with just an idea. It was a struggle. Especially when I got stuck, and all I had for inspiration was how the entire story was supposed to end. Not knowing how to get there – not really a good way to write, I found. Led to a lot of writer’s block. I don’t, yet, know if writing from a comprehensive plan is going to be any different – no doubt I shall meet with other problems causing the same effect – but I’m not going to know until I try. And the hope is that I’m going to be addressing the most major plot-holes in the planning stages, and not half way through the writing. Starting over is never fun.

CampNaNo

I find, with the planning, that I enjoy it more. It’s easier to see progress and to feel optimistic about the story. I’ve found a couple of things which help me. They might be simple; they’re the sort of things you already know, but kind of ignore.

The first is good old pen and paper. I carry my notebook around, and write on any old scrap of paper to hand. Ideas, plot-points, problems, they’re all ticking away at the back of my brain, figuring themselves out. My brain is always half away with the fairies.

The second is my desk. Or, if I decide to work on the sofa, my table-top ironing board, which makes an excellent substitute. And means that it finally has a purpose, since I think life’s generally too short for ironing.

How do you write? Are you a gardener or an architect?

To-Be-Stitched: Keeping Track of Future Projects

I have the same problems with cross-stitch patterns that I have with books: Quantity and Time. My TBR list is longer than my arm, and I have a box full of cross-stitching magazines and a drawer full of kits. And not enough hours in the day.

I don’t help myself, either, buying a new magazine each month, usually full of many patterns which I want to stitch. And then by trying to design my own patterns, too.

About ten magazines into my collection, though, I came to a decision. I was marking the patterns I liked by folding down the corner of the page, but I wasn’t really keeping track of them, for suitable occasions in the future or just-becauses. So, I did what comes naturally to the planner.

I began to note each pattern down, in a notebook, complete with the edition it was in, the length of time it supposedly took, and a complete list of all threads and fabrics required to complete the pattern. My Project Notebook. I also make a note of potential recipients.

And when it’s made, it gets ticked off the list.

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Do you have a To-Be-Stitched list? How do you keep track of it?

Birds of a Feather

For a few months each year, I have a lull in birthdays, and I get to spend some time working on other projects. Projects for me.

Fortunately, my lull in birthdays happens in consecutive months through the summer. Of course, the summer does bring other distractions in the stitching world. For one, it is wedding-season, after all; for two, it’s about time to start thinking about Christmas cards, if they’re to be done in time to make the post…More on them anon.

Birds_of_a_Feather[1]

This year, though, I’m combining a wedding-project with something I’ve been umm-ing and ahh-ing about for the last few years. Well, OK, in my hunt for a suitable wedding-gift, I came across a pattern I designed back when I worked in a card-shop. I never did anything with it, beyond sketching it out and making a stab at picking colours. With a little adaptation and personalisation, I think it might be just right.

As I go along, I’m making changes to the original colours, for the better, but no doubt I won’t really know until I’ve completed it. It’s not going to be a huge project; in the 16-count aida I’m using it won’t be more than a 6-inch square. But I have ideas about mounting it on a sort of quilted background. We’ll see.