Sunday, 23 January 2011

Goodbye and hello again

A few days ago I decided to merge my two blogs, and now it's done! I've imported all the posts from somethingbetterinstead to this blog. I found I was invariably pasting stuff on both blogs, or wasn't sure where the items should go. So now everything will go to just one place.

This blog is no longer only about amigurumi crochet soft toys, but lots of other things as well. You can find more general things about how I spend my time, including some yummy recipes and some of my ideas about more serious stuff as well.

I would love to receive your ideas of how I can improve my blog. If you have any ideas, please insert them in the comments box below. And if you're wondering what the photo is - it's the sky seen from my kitchen window a few months ago. It looked better in real life but I thought the photo's not bad either, eh?

Saturday, 22 January 2011

Growing old

Many years ago at work we produced a publication about elder care. In it was a lovely poem, which I also translated into French. Since then, my lovely Mum who is 91 years old has developed dementia and I decided to try to dig out the poem from our archives. Amazingly, I found it, together with my translation of which I was very proud because I managed to make it rhyme while still respecting the meaning and the rhythm of the original English. Here they both are. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.

What do you see nurse, what do you see?
What are you thinking when you look at me?
A crabbit old woman, not very wise,
Uncertain of habit, with far away eyes, 
Who dribbles her food, and makes no reply,
When you say in a loud voice, "I do wish you'd try!"
Who seems not to notice the things that you do,
And forever is losing a stocking or shoe.
Who, unresisting or not, lets you do as you will
With bathing and feeding, the long day to fill.
Is that what you're thinking, is that what you see?
Then open your eyes, you're not looking at me.
I'll tell you who I am as I sit here so still,
As I move at your bidding, as I eat at your will.
I am a small child of ten with a father and a mother,
Brothers and sisters who love one another.
A young girl at sixteen with wings at her feet
Dreaming that soon now a lover she'll meet.
A bride soon at twenty, my heart gives a leap,
Remembering the vows that I promised to keep.
At twenty-five now I have young of my own
Who need me to build a secure happy home.
A woman of thirty, my young now grow fast,
Bound to each other with ties that should last.
At forty my young now soon will be gone,
But my man stays beside me to see I don't mourn.
At fifty once more babies play around my knee,
Again we know children, my loved one and me.
Dark days are upon me, my husband is dead,
I look at the future, I shudder with dread,
For my young are all busy rearing young of their own
And I think of the years and the love I have known.
I'm an old lady now and nature is cruel,
'Tis her jest to make old age look like a fool.
The body it crumbles, grace and vigour depart,
And now there is a stone where I once had a heart.
But inside this old carcase a young girl still dwells,
And now and again my battered heart swells.
I remember the joys, I remember the pain,
And I am loving and living life over again.
I think of the years all too few, gone so fast,
And accept the stark fact that nothing can last.
So open your eyes, nurse, open and see,
Not a crabbit old woman, look closer, see Me.


It has been reported that this poem was found with the belongings of an 
elderly lady who died in a nursing home in Ireland.

And now in French:

Madame l'infirmière, que voyez-vous?
Qu'est-ce que vous pensez quand vous me regardez?
Une vieille femme perdue, plus ce qu'elle était,
Qui ne sait pas où elle est, ni ce qu'elle fait,
Qui bave quand elle mange, et ne prend jamais note
Quand vous dites "mais essayez!" à voix bien trop haute.
Qui ne semble remarquer les choses que vous faites
Ni même savoir exactement qui vous êtes,
Qui vous laisse faire, mais pas sans peiner
Me nourrir, me laver, pour remplir les journées.
C'est ce que vous pensez et ce que vous voyez?
Alors, ouvrez les yeux, vous n'avez pas bien regardé.
Je vous dirai qui je suis, moi qui reste sans bouger,
Moi qui fais et qui mange ce que vous, vous voulez.
Je suis une petite fille à l'âge de dix ans,
Avec des frères et des soeurs, aimés par nos parents.
Et puis à seize ans, la tête je relève,
En esperant bientôt voir l'homme de mes rêves.
A vingt je me marie, le futur me guette,
Je me souviens bien des promesses que j'ai faites.
Bientôt vingt-cinq ans et j'ai des enfants moi-même,
Qui ont besoin de savoir que maman les aime.
A trente ans, les enfants grandissent
Avec les liens que les longues années tissent.
A quarante, les enfants vont bientôt partir,
Mais mon mari est là pour me soutenir.
A cinquante, les bébés sont là encore une fois,
Les petits enfants de mon mari et moi.
Et puis vient le jour où mon mari est mort,
Le futur ne me promet que peur et remords.
Mes enfants s'occupent de leur propre familles
Je pense à toutes ces années d'amour envolées...
Je suis vieille, la nature est cruelle
De transformer en carcasse une jeune fille si belle,
Le corps se désintègre et perd sa vigueur
Et il y a une pierre à la place de mon coeur.
Mais dans cette carcasse habite toujours une jeune fille
Et mon coeur se réveille quand je pense à ma vie.
Je pense à mes peines, je pense à mes joies
Et je revis et j'aime encore une fois.
Je pense à des années toutes trop vite passées
Et je trouve malheureux que ça ne puisse durer.
Madame l'infirmière, approche toi et vois,
Ce n'est pas une vieille folle, non, c'est Moi.

Lip balm holders

Lip balm holders
Originally uploaded by aishakenza
Yes, I know that lip balm holders are not toys. But I made these two little beauties using the same technique as amigurumi and so I wanted to share them with you here. They are both crocheted with a 2.5 mm hook using Catania, my very favourite cotton yarn. I started with a magic circle of 6 sc, then increased to 12 (2sc in each st) and 18 (1 sc in next st, 2 sc in next st). I worked the next row in the back look of the stitch only, then continued in straight scs until I reached the height of tube I wanted. On the pink one I added a darker pink "lid" and a button and key chain. On the green one I worked a "flap" and then added a picot edging in darker green. They each contain a tube of lip balm, of course. Please tell me which one you like best!

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Early spring or just a taste of it

After the snow and cold, we've recently had beautiful weather, sunshine and warm temperatures. It's been so nice I went out walking without wearing a coat on Sunday, and I have already seen my first wild primrose!  The photo isn't very good but it's a real wild primrose, growing by a wall on the path I take to work every morning. There's more cold weather forecast for this week so I'll keep my eye on the little primrose to see if it survives. It's quite sheltered by the wall so hopefully it will be OK.

I'm still really busy at work and at home, so I've not had much time to do crafts. I do however have several works in progress - and during the weekend I did manage to make a sweet little felt purse. This is one of the wonderful free patterns on the internet that are there for the taking. I make my crochet patterns available for free, and lots of other people do the same for crochet, knit and sewing patterns. You can also buy them, but I have never done so, as there are so many going for free.

It is nice to be able to walk outside again without slipping on the snow and ice. We are lucky to live in a place that is safe and peaceful and yet only a short bus ride away from an international city and airport. I walk to and from work every day (my office is only 5 minutes away from home!) and try to come home the long way round, especially now that the weather is so lovely. The other day I saw a jay and lots of other birds, they were enjoying the nice weather too.

Sunday, 2 January 2011

Ollie the owl

Ollie the owl
Originally uploaded by aishakenza
I have made lots of felt owl brooches, so many that they've inspired me to make some more owlish things. The first one is this owl soft toy that's 15cm tall, and very soft and squishy. I've got a cupboard full of material, including the beautiful red printed cotton that a friend brought me back from Japan. I made the eyes and beak in felt, and decorated it with some lovely satin ribbon.
Now I'm thinking of making a blue owl cushion, but as it's back to work tomorrow, I'm not at all sure when I'm going to have time. Stiggy the giraffe is expecting a sister too. Do you have any ideas of how to fit more hours into the day?

Saturday, 1 January 2011

He did it!

As I mentioned, I'd promised my soon-to-be-14-year-old that during the holidays I would teach him how to make croissants. Well, he's done it!  Here is one that I managed to salvage for a quick photo before it was gobbled down with the rest of them!
They turned out very well, nice and flaky, buttery and very moreish! 

On a very different subject, I found a very cute pattern for some tiny crochet flowers and here's what I made:

They literally took me about 5 minutes each flower. I have lots of different colours of nice cotton yarn, so it looks like I'm going to have fun making some more.