Sunday, 24 May 2020

Crafting for Therapy

Hello! Everyone alright? It's been a long week here. Nothing major, just a weariness with the current situation, and a niggling anxiety always at the back of our minds. I may or may not return to work (I am a primary teaching assistant) full time after half term, we are not sure; John may return to work in three weeks, or six, or nine, no-one knows; Angus (Y6) might go back to school after half term...or he might not. It's not anyone's fault, not our employer's fault, it's just the huge uncertainty hanging over our whole lives at the moment. We went into this lockdown with a fair amount of motivation and I think that, on the whole, it's been a positive - if surreal - experience, but we all found ourselves listless last week, thoroughly fed up with homeschool, and unable to muster even the motivation to cook dinner. Of course I know that we are not alone, but that doesn't make the uncertainty any easier. Also, it sunk in this week that we almost certainly won't be going on holiday to France in August - I had been holding out the tiniest bit of hope that we would - or to London in June, or anywhere fun at anytime for that matter. But these are first world problems. The main thing is that we are all safe and well and that is all that matters really. 

One thing that has truly kept me mentally balanced and feeling calmer over the last week has been working on my Lockdown Sampler. I am still sewing a little motif each day, one for each letter of the alphabet, and the hour or two that I get to sit and sew is hugely good for me. I had got up to I when I last showed you my progress, and J had to be for jigsaws. I love a jigsaw - I normally associate them with those blissful days between Christmas and New Year - but it's been lovely to have time to work on a couple over the last few weeks.

K is for key workers. I nearly sewed a key, and was going to save rainbow for R, but I wanted to include something else for the letter R and so there had to be a bit of jiggling around. I think a lot of other countries also do something similar, but in the UK many people have been displaying rainbows in their windows at the front of their houses, often drawn by the children living there - to express their thanks to the key workers who have to go to work at the moment whether they want to or not. The rainbows are also a lovely thing to look out for when walking around your local area - Bella and I like to count them on our dog walks. Also, this was a complete joy to sew as I'm sure you can imagine!

L is for lockdown, and I struggled to think of the best way to represent this (padlock?) but then I remembered the social media sticker people have been using a lot on Instagram and Facebook to highlight the "stay home" message throughout lockdown. It was challenging to sew but I did really enjoy it.

M is for Making, a bit of a catch-all word for all the creative activities that have kept me sane and happy during this time, including crafting and especially crochet and sewing. A ball of yarn seemed the best way to sum this up.

N was very nearly for the NHS, but I had already doing "clapping" for C and and key workers for K, so I had to think again. I decided to do the news, something I've developed a bit of a love/hate relationship with lately. I hardly ever watch the news on TV but have Radio 4 on most of the time, and will spend a few days listening to it and taking it all in, then I reach saturation point and have to have a few days off for the sake of my peace of mind. 

O is for outside. The fact that this lockdown has happened during spring, and not in the dark depths of winter, has made it so much easier to bear, especially while the evenings are so light at the moment. Knowing that the seasons are still turning outside gives me hope.

P is for pasta, something of a staple food in this house, and apparently everywhere else too, as it was one of those foods like flour and tinned tomatoes that everyone stockpiled at the start of lockdown. A plate of spaghetti bolognese was a fun way to represent it.

Q is for quilting. I have loved working on my patchwork quilt over the last few months. The benefit of quieter days than usual is that I don't spend my evenings catching up with housework, chores and admin as I usually would, leaving a bit more time for TV watching and sewing my hexagons.

R is for reading. Again, the benefit of slower days means more time to read in bed as I do't have to be up at 6 am for work. We have all read a lot over the last few weeks and it's been a luxury I've relished. Once I'd decided to sew book spines, I straight away thought of the iconic Penguin publishers graphic design, and had a lot of fun sewing these. To give you an idea of scale, these books are 23 mm wide by 21 mm high.

And finally S is for Sourdough. It's become one of those lockdown jokes that everyone's making sourdough now, but in my defence I was making it before, although I've enjoyed improving my starter and loaves lately. I think this may look more like a beehive than a loaf of bread (I was trying to sew those little grooves that the proving banneton leaves behind) but if you squint and don't look too closely I'm sure it's ok.

All of which takes me up to today, and T. I had better get sewing.

Wishing you all a happy bank holiday weekend and week ahead. 


  1. My favourite must be O for outdoors and those tiny little patchwork pieces - well done Gillian it is really a work of art.

  2. oh gillian, such lovely work you are sharing with us. thank you so much. a lovely post and please take care lovely lady and your family. (-:

  3. I admire your fiddly work and positive mood to turn this situation in a piece of art.

  4. Why is everyone making sourdough?! Why the frantic activity for the stuff that everyone seems to have copied from everyone else. It isn't usually wholemeal so less healthy and it has a funny flavour, plus takes hours to make and seems to result in bread with so very many holes in it. Not for me that one.

    The embroidery is inventive and nicely done. I think many people are out of lock-down mentally and are certainly acting like it. I think the government will be responding to that feeling soon. The news can be a big headache with so many contradictions. I try to ignore most of it until it becomes a reality as much of it is fiction or opinion.

    I have just got a bag of ordinary flour in after all this time of empty shelves. Pasta is still tricky to get.

  5. I think your stitching is just lovely. I am amazed at the color and detail you have in each item. So clever! People are tired, for sure, but here in the US, when I see that we have almost 100,000 dead; I feel like you and know I am lucky to be safe at home. Thanks for posting!

  6. My 10 year old loves this and said let me know when it is finished so I can see it. She is embroidering a horse on a rainbow because she has a loathing for unicorns so she left off the horn! Looking good Gillian so intricate and detailed. Jo x

  7. I love your cross stitch a beautiful memory keeper.

  8. It's wonderful, I particularly like the books. I didn't have a great week last week either, so it's good in a way to know it's not just me/us. The children have started to find it a bit tougher - I guess it was a novelty to start with. I used to make sourdough but we haven't had one in weeks because of the lack of flour. I am feeding my starter and keeping it in the fridge in the hopes that it will be ready once there's some flour to be had. I am wondering if I need a craft project. I'm feeling a bit listless - the sentence you wrote about being unable to muster the motivation to cook dinner rang very true with me. I can't seem to settle on much - maybe the lack of time pressure. I do hope you all get your plans sorted soon for work/school etc. Mine will not be going anywhere until September as I understand it (Years 7, 9 and 11 currently) so it will be along haul for them. CJ xx

  9. Still loving your lockdown embroidery. Truly stunning work Gillian.

  10. Love your lockdown embroidery & can't wait to see the finished article. Yes, strange & surreal times indeed & even though I've not got some of your worries, our children are in similar situations to you here in Oz & the one in UK. I seem to have bad days & good days & put some of it down to our lousy weather at the moment too. Been so cold, gloomy & wet, & I do realise it's autumn, but it's been a cooler & wetter May than usual. Hopefully this will all ease soon & our new normal will help us settle. Take care, stay safe & huggles.

  11. Love love love your embroidery work and this one is truly historic

  12. Oh my God (I don't often say that, but it just comes natural right now!) - I can't believe how incredibly pretty and detailed your sewing/stitching is, Gillian! The Outdoors scene with invididual flowers and the stem of the birch tree so superbly done, and the tiny tiny hexagons for quilting - I just can't get over it! I would never have the patience to do this, let alone the skill needed to make anything like this, and from scratch, too!

    Like you say, I guess the uncerainty is getting to many people right now. For myself, work has never stopped, so the only uncertainty was whether or not my sister and I could go for our annual Yorkshire holiday this June. We now know for sure that we can't and won't be going this year. It's a shame but can't be helped, and as you say, very much a First World problem.

  13. So clever! And thanks for clarifying K for rainbow ;) I'm pretty sure we had rainbows in windows here in Australia too, although I live in the country and didn't get to see any in our little town.

  14. So beautiful, what a lovely idea. Way beyond my skill!
    When someone re-discovers your stitching in a 100 years time will they wonder why K is for rainbow? Will you write a key to the letters and attach it to the back somehow?

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  16. I absolutely love your Lockdown Sampler. It is just beautifully done.


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