Equilibrium

Today is apparently my 4 years blogging anniversary! Over the years, crafting has given me fuel to blog and blogging has motivated me to keep crafting. Recently I’ve had less time and motivation for either because my creative energies and time have been increasingly directed towards my theatrical pursuits, which is less suited to writing about. Rehearsals don’t make for many pretty pictures! Here’s some pretty tulips instead!

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I’m currently rehearsing for my third show of the year and I’m hoping to take part in a couple more before the year is out. Not only that, but I have also recently gone back to work after nearly 9 years of stay-at-home parenting. I wasn’t planning to go back to work just yet, but when my dream job fell in my lap, I couldn’t possibly refuse! I’m currently in the rebalancing phase – hopefully I’ll find my way back to crafting and therefore blogging once I’ve found the new equilibrium. There’s still plenty on my making list!

 

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That’s what friends are for!

Life’s been rather busy here of late. Suffice to say I’ve not had much time for crafting and even less for blogging. I’ve rehearsed and performed one show already this year and I have a musical nearing curtain up.

I’ve done a spot of flower arranging; my cardigan just needs binding off, buttons and blocking. The alpaca hat and scarf for my bestie is in a state of perpetual WIP – I’m not sure they’ll be done in time for wear before the weather warms up. Soz, C! I’ve missed Unravel Festival for this year, although I will be going to the Knitting and Stitching Show with my bestie in a couple of weeks time – excited, much? Thanks, C! (Anyone else going?) I’ve just been given a stack of costume bits to sew for the musical. But looooook what my bestie just brought back from holiday for me…

Ain’t she just the best!? Just gotta find time to knit them now…!

A rose by any other name…

Today I have been turning my hand to something a little different. In need of a more suitable prop for a scene than the fake daffodils we’ve been using in rehearsal, I volunteered to do a spot of flower arranging!

A quick scout round town came up trumps for Arum/calla lilies, white roses and some greenery.

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I used a Stanley knife to separate the stems of the roses and the ivy so I could arrange things more easily. I built up the arrangement and secured it with florists tape (which really didn’t stick as well as I hoped) and some sugarpaste flower wire that I dug out of my cake making supplies. I was concerned that my first arrangement may be a bit big for its required purpose, so I used the leftover stems to make a smaller arrangement. Tonight is our dress rehearsal, so I’ll see what the director thinks and I can always rearrange them tomorrow if necessary.

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Good times!

I do enjoy Christmas. The run up is always a little crazy with school nativities and activities, parties, planning and shopping, decorating, preparing and wrapping. I’ve had rehearsals for two different shows as well as taking part in my church carol service – learning the harmonies for various carols has been a particular highlight!

I also ended up with various creative projects on the go too. Along with the apron for my nephew which I showed you last time…

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There was a fair isle hearts hat for my niece. I used the TinCanKnits Clayoquot Toque pattern as the starting point, but changed it up with a folded brim and my own design for the hearts.

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And a wheat bag for my sister in law, which I made from a little corduroy skirt I found in a charity shop. I used my mum’s sewing machine to sew it – she’s got an all singing, all dancing Janome machine that took a little getting used to, but sewing machine aspirations right there! – and filled it with wheat and homegrown lavender.

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There’s also been a fair amount of baking. Vanilla shortbread and slightly experimental apple and cinnamon cupcakes with caramel buttercream (I’ll be making those again!). My first ever meringue kisses made in a hurry to use up some egg whites before we went away for a few days, and my first ever Christmas pudding which fed the family on Christmas Day.

Fortunately, Christmas itself is a time to chill out and spend time relaxing with family and generally not doing too much except eat and wash up and eat some more and keep the kids entertained!

When we travel up to spend time with my family, Mr Jack and I like to spend time on the journey reflecting on the year past. It’s been a good one, with lots of things falling into place following the last couple of years of upheaval with house hunting, moving, school uncertainties etc. The boys are well settled at their new school, and we feel better rooted in our new house and town. I’ve surprisingly become a runner over the last year. I’m loving parkrun, and though I didn’t quite officially meet my target of a sub-30 minute 5k parkrun by Christmas, I have done sub-30 training runs and I’m not far off that at parkrun. I’ve also shed nearly 2 and a half stone thanks to Slimming World. I aimed to be at target by Christmas and was just a couple of pounds away. Technically that’s within the target range anyway, so I’ll call it a win! I feel very boring going on about food and pounds but ultimately I feel so much better for having done it and just for me!

I’ve been involved in some great theatre this year too and am so excited for what’s lined up for next year already. My first turn in ¬†Shakespeare in February followed by a fun musical in March and then I’m booked to see both Harry Potter and Hamilton in London during April.

Then of course there’s also Unravel in Feb and the Knitting and Stitching show in March too. Plenty to be looking forward to.

For now though, I’m going to enjoy a few more days of food and family and a chance to not do much. Maybe I’ll manage to get this second crazy sleeve done before the year is out. Now that would be an achievement!

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Blue

I’ve got the post-show blues. It’s always quite a big come-down after taking part in a big stage production, but even more so when you’ve really loved being part of not just the show itself, but the show-family that forms in the process. I’ve learnt so much from taking part in this particular production, and genuinely enjoyed it from start to finish, that it’s a hard one to let go of. I miss the theatre, I miss the people. I miss the backstage laughter and the onstage buzz. I miss my little knitting circle too. I think half the cast had had a go at knitting something by the end of the run!

Fortunately, I already have the next couple of shows lined up, which always helps limit the bluesy feelings. One is in rehearsal already and the next one starts rehearsing in December, so I’m going to make the most of a slightly quieter November before I start juggling two sets of rehearsal schedules!

This week is also busy enough to keep my mind off it anyway, as it’s cake-time again. We’ve recently celebrated Pumpkin’s birthday, and so it’s party time at the weekend, which means another elaborate cake creation is on the cards. He’s into Mario Kart at the moment, so I’m trying to plan something on that theme. Watch this space!

I’ve done a bit more work on my coffee table. There’s a little more sanding to go and then I can paint it. My knitting is going as slowly as ever, but little by little I’ll win.

We harvested the last of the veg from the garden at the weekend, so I’ll leave you with this colourful photo to banish the blues.

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Oh October!

It’s October again. October always seems to be when silly season begins and then, well, it’s non stop til Christmas really.

Rehearsals are stepping up a gear for the show I’m performing in at the end of the month. We still have our little knitting corner when we’re not required for a particular scene, and generally it’s all very enjoyable.

I’ve also just auditioned for two more shows – a musical and a play – and have ended up being cast in the role I wanted for both of them! They’re like buses. I did heaps of auditions in the summer and was only cast in one and now two come along at once! Typical! Should be lots of fun though, as long as I don’t wear myself out with all the rehearsals!

As for the knitting, it continues, just very very slowly, not helped by the fact that one of the new needle tips I bought was already catching in the grain so I had to get back to the shop to exchange it. Fortunately Knitpro have a great policy of replacing faulty needles so it didn’t cost me any more.

I took a calculated approach to the remaining grey yarn. I weighed and divided it into two balls, then I cast on and knit a cuff to a length that would match the other edges of the cardigan. I weighed the cuff and the remaining yarn to work out how much I had left for stripes. Then I ripped the cuff out again and got to work. I managed to do the two stripes at the top of the sleeve out of what was left and know I still have enough for the cuffs at the end.

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I’ve started striping in the lighter grey yarn and quite like how it’s looking so far, I’m just not sure how it will look with the whole sleeve done in a different grey. Time will tell.

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As if I needed anything else to work on, I just spotted a small but solid pine coffee table outside a charity shop which I thought I could tidy up by stripping it down and painting or waxing it. We don’t have a coffee table in our living room and I’ve wanted one for ages and at only 8 quid and with some paint leftover from the desk I did a couple of years ago, it couldn’t hurt to try and see what happens. Just gotta find the time to do it around everything else!

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The eagle-eyed amongst you will also have spotted that we’ve done absolutely nothing more with the study. Still a sidelined work in progress. As is the garden currently. It’s silly season out there too as the garden is gradually getting covered with leaves and chestnuts and I remember how much hard work it took to keep on top of it last year. Speaking of which, it’s very nearly a whole year since we moved in here and I just can’t fathom where all that time has gone!

I’m still running. After doing very little over the summer it actually felt great to get back to parkrun. My times were much slower than back in July, and then I ran a couple with the boys – both of them have now run/walked a full 5k – so I was pleasantly surprised to get a new PB last week when I ran it on my own again. Unfortunately rehearsals mean I can’t do parkrun for the next couple of weeks but I’ll keep up the weekday running and get back to it as soon as I can.

The icing on the cake of October is of course Pumpkin’s birthday. He’s very into Mario Kart at the moment, since Mr Jack busted out the old GameCube – retro gaming! – so ideas on a postcard please, for how to make a Mario Kart cake without it being insanely complicated!

I must say, I’m very much looking forward to half term. The boys are exhausted from new school adjustments but they’ll be packed off to the grandparents for half the week while I’ll be rehearsing all hours. But a change is as good as a rest, and I’ll hopefully get a few lie ins.

What do you have going on in October?

New rehearsals

I’ve just started rehearsing for my next show. With the exception of one or two fellow cast members, the whole team is new to me, though largely not new to each other. I have to admit, walking into a rehearsal room for the first time can be a pretty terrifying experience.

Fortunately, pretty early on, I spotted a small pile of knitting sitting by someone’s bag in the corner and I knew I’d be at home there. ¬†Not one, but two knitters in fact, and everyone else seems lovely and friendly too. Now I just need to get my cardigan to the point that I can take it to rehearsals with me and knit sleeves between scenes.

Fruition

Today, I am breathing a deep sigh of relief. To cut a long story short, after 4 different applications involving 6 different schools and 2 different local councils, 9 months of waiting and commuting, and 2 years of it occupying an insanely large amount of head space, we finally heard the very welcome and long awaited news that Pumpkin has a place at the same school as Pickle for September.

I can’t tell you how relieved and happy I am and how much lighter I feel. Physically lighter, like a huge weight has lifted. I can finally stop wondering and worrying and waiting! Two years of thinking and questioning, planning and hoping and just waiting and waiting has finally come to fruition.

Its funny how things happen all at the same time though isn’t it?

After four unsuccessful auditions, my fifth one finally resulted in a casting! I didn’t get either of the roles I went for, but I’m very happy to be a member of the ensemble for this one. It’s with a company I’ve not worked with before, so a foot in the door is a great start.

And as these things seem to go in threes, I’m also happy to report that my tomatoes have finally made their own move towards fruition and have at long last started to ripen!

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Letting go

What do you do with things you have made that no longer serve a purpose?

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You may recall that I made a dress back in March this year. Its the first real garment that I’ve made from scratch using my sewing machine and as such, it has a certain amount of sentimental value. Its a great reminder of a project I worked hard on, and pushed myself to overcome my ‘perfection paralysis’ and felt proud of what I managed to achieve.

That said, it was made as a costume for a show. Its not a style I would choose to wear on an every day basis and I cant really imagine an occasion for which it would be particularly useful. (Chances of someone I know throwing a 60’s party are slim!) In fact, it doesnt even really fit me any more. Thanks Slimming World!

But still it hangs on the outside of my wardrobe where I can see it from my bed and I’ve reached the point of wondering what to do with it.

The wardrobe mistress expressed an interest in having it at the time of the show, so I guess I could pass it on to her for future costume use. I just dont want to regret letting it go.

What would you do? Do you keep things after they’ve served their purpose or are you good at letting things go?

And breathe

I’m so glad its finally the holidays, I feel like I might have a chance to catch my breath.

The last few weeks have been a whirlwind of busy. My head has been full to bursting of all the dates and information I needed to remember. This time of year is always kinda crazy with school stuff, but with two children starting new schools in september, this year has been mad. All the usual school events, sports days, school trips, fundraising activities, as well as leavers assemblies and parties and transition days for visiting new schools and the associated paperwork and thought processes involved in making sure nothing gets missed. I’m sure some things have been missed.

But we’ve finally made it to the end of term. We’ve said our goodbyes to school, teachers and friends, and cut the last tie to our old town. When we moved house last year, this was the worst case scenario – having to commute back to our old town for Pumpkin’s school until the very end of the academic year – but I think its actually been a good thing for Pumpkin in the end as he gets to leave at the same time as everyone else and participate in all the leavers activities. Personally though, I’m so happy to be done with the commuting and we’ll save a fortune in petrol costs! I can’t wait to be able to walk to school again in September!

Crafting, as usual, has taken a back seat. I have been working on the first button band, but I’m not happy with how it sits at the neckline and hemline edges. I’m currently debating whether it will block out or whether I need to frog and start again. Sigh. I think it may just need one extra stitch adding in at each end to push the ends of the row out to level with the bind off edge of the neck and hem. I dont have much experience of finishing projects like this, so any suggestions?

The veggies in the garden are coming along well, though something has started munching the mini courgettes.

Ive also had another audition and am waiting to hear what comes of that. Im expecting it to be fifth time unlucky, but ya never know!

Running is also continuing to happen. Today is the first time in several weeks that I’ve not been to the local parkrun. In seven runs I’ve got my time down from over 40mins to just over 33mins. I was really surprised by achieving that personal best last week! I’m still aiming for a sub30 by Christmas, just gotta keep the motivation going.

What’s life like for you right now?