Thursday, 15 March 2012

The Craft List

What do you say we stop talking about jobs and redundancies and leaving Hull and all that kind of depressing stuff and focus on something totally frivolous? I can sense your wildly nodding heads from here.

There was an awful lot of crafting that's been going on these here parts. Well at least there was until the R-word came up and during all the uncertainty I seemed to develop a complete crafting paralysis. I would have thought that crafting would have been great as a way of channelling my efforts away from thinking up various job scenarios but instead my coping mechanism seemed to consist of a regimen of sitting and staring at the TV and a lot of sleeping.

But before that there was a lot going on and I feel it would be remiss not to document it in some way.

Now. Who else saw Heather's baby blanket and went into paroxysms of delight? Me too! I developed an overwhelming urge to just crochet these filled in granny squares, using any spare wool I could get my hands on. I was a woman possessed for some time and I swear at one point I became convinced that I was in the crochet version of The Red Shoes and I was literally going to not be able to put my crochet hook down until I died from exhaustion.

They are now sat in a stack where they shall remain because I really have no idea what I'm doing. I feel this might be something I have a flurry of activity on before it lies dormant. Perhaps I should call it the Mount Etna blanket.

I feel I've been bitten by some kind of embroidery bug lately and there is so much I want to do that's embroidery based. My head is bursting full of ideas about various things I could do. So much so that I might have to buy shares in the stock of embroidery hoop manufacturers if I ever actually carry out all of the things in my head.

Mostly in my head however is that I really want to learn how to do some new stitches. Especially inspired by the fact that one of my Not Really Resolutions this year is to learn how to do French Knots.

Whilst all these vague notions were spinning round my head, the Feeling Stitchy blog launched their January Stitch-along which was all about couching. I had bookmarked it to come back to later and when it was suddenly a few days away from Valentine's Day and I realised I hadn't made a card for The Person I whipped out some aida, yarn and thread and made something up on the spot. It was far from perfect and most definitely resembled something a child would do but it wasn't bad for a first attempt I thought. Especially a first attempt which probably took a grand total of 30 minutes, if that.

But then this sparked off something in my head and out of nowhere it came to me. I could quite easily do one piece of work and demonstrate lots of different stitches....

Now granted the picture below doesn't look like anything. That's because it was started in a flurry and I haven't picked it up since, but the idea is to fill the fabric inside this hoop with many many hearts of different sizes and shapes and in different embroidery stitches. There will be a stem stitch heart and a chain stitch heart and a running stitch heart and a backstitch heart...get where I'm going?

I got so incredibly excited about my idea that I had to start on it immediately and I thought that it would be cool to have, as a centre point, a fabric heart, which would be stitched in place. Now I realise why people are always bleating on about bondaweb. I decided to just cut out the heart and stitch it straight on. Not a good idea, you can see it's kind of wrinkled and baggy. I should have not been cheap and got hold of some bondweb, adhered it properly to the fabric and then stitched round it. I'm kind of undecided whether to start again with this one. But the idea is still bloody awesome and I'm getting it down now in case someone else thinks of it (which I'm sure they have by the way, it's highly unlikely I would have an original idea).

Cross Stitch
The biggest piece of cross stitch I've ever worked on is coming along very nicely. As you can see from the picture below I am officially finished cross stitching the main design and I am over the moon crazy in love with it.

I was actually dreading the back stitch part of it because it's really detailed in places and let's face it, backstitch is a pain in the proverbial at the best of times, let alone when you're doing it all over a piece like this. Plus I decided I would be a good girl and would backstitch over each individual square, instead of taking it over a few like I might be tempted to do for a card.

However, once I began the backstitch I could see the design really come to life. The windows immediately looked darker and stood out more. The brick work, which kind of made me want to die when I was doing it, makes the tower on the right look amazing.

This picture was taken at the end of February and I've done a lot more since then, but I think I'll wait until I'm done for a big reveal.

I also immediately began cross stitching the needle felt case which came with the January issue of CrossStitcher magazine. It's got soluble aida in it - brilliant! I went all kinds of wrong though in the beginning. Like I can't even explain to you how wrong I went. But thanks to my experience as a cross stitcher I didn't lose all faith and have a fit about it, I just made efforts to work around it and now I'm just pretending it never happened.

One bad thing though, that kit had absolutely nowhere near enough thread to complete the project. I'm a pretty frugal stitcher when it comes to thread and the red that was part of the kit barely did half the design. Luckily I had the matching colour already in my thread box but it seems to defeat the object of having a free gift if you don't provide people with the materials to actually stitch it.

I'm looking forward to finishing this because then I can finally stop finding needles stuck in random pieces of aida all over the place.

Oh and in between all of this I've also been working on another couple of mobiles that someone at work has asked me to do. Busy busy busy.

Now all I need to do is actually pick some of this stuff back up, instead of just sitting and staring at it and feeling overwhelmed. I'm almost feeling the need for another Gantt Chart here.

So. What have you been doing lately you crafty little lot?

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

The Plan

So it is indeed official. I am for the chop, didn't dodge the bullet, am walking the plank. I'd do some kind of redundancy chant, you know something along the lines of "Gimme a R! Gimme an E!" but it's a really long word and frankly I couldn't find enough that rhymed with it.

To give you a brief overview there are 2 main things you need to know:

1. I am being made redundant.
2. I will be moving to Preston to live with The Person.

Whilst these things may come as a shock to you, they're actually known to me as Contingency Plan A.

Further to one of my previous posts, I think I have found my magic trapdoor out of The Pit. It was quite simply the knowledge of what was going to happen. Even though it was bad news, it was far better knowing that not knowing. Turns out that I'm not so good with the unknown - others may thrive on it, I like a lovely nice plan and a list thank you very much.

You may not have noticed but we're in the middle of a stinking great recession, meaning that there aren't many jobs about. There are especially not many jobs in Hull - we suffer from some of the highest unemployment figures at the best of times, never mind at the moment. The same week that I was made redundant, about 300 people lost their jobs in a Comet call centre and various other companies shed their staff like a snake does its skin.

It was clear to me that the following chain of events would happen to me once I lost my job and stayed in Hull:

1. I wouldn't find another job doing what I'm doing now because it's kind of specialised.
2. I wouldn't be able to afford my rent and carry on living in my lovely shared house.
3. I would end up temping/signing on.
4. Find it very difficult to find the £54 return train fare from Hull to Preston to see The Person

So it kind of felt logical to make the move to Preston and go and live with The Person, I can temp/sign on in Preston and living there would also eliminate the need to pay for the train fare. Plus, you know, I love him and stuff.

And so I'll be leaving my beloved Motherland behind in about one month's time and shacking up in Preston at the end of April (bar sorting out my leaving conditions with my work, who are being arses by the way) and starting a new and slightly terrifying new adventure.

Right. Let's find some boxes.....sigh.

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Things NOT to say to someone who's just been told they've been made redundant...

...Now I am aware that the following list* will contain things that people are saying only in an attempt to express sympathy/empathy and try and make you feel better. But, hand on heart, saying the following things to me in the immediate hours and days after I've been told I'll be losing my job are only going to make me want to punch you in the face.

"Things happen for a reason."

I have always hated this saying because it is only ever trotted out when something truly horrible has happened. Why do people never say this when you hear great news? "I just passed my driving test" "Aaah yes, things happen for a reason." Why is it that people want to say this to you only when life has just taken a massive dump on you from above?

Saying this to me will make me want to respond with, "Yes they do happen for a reason. They happen because there's a recession on and there's no money and my boss doesn't think I'm worth keeping on. Now I feel so much better!"

"Everything will be OK"

Will it? WILL IT?! Actually, I'm sure it will be fine. And one day I will look back on this chapter in my life and say "Oh yes, at the time it was shit but look how lovely life is now." But right at this minute just after I've been told I've been made redundant I'm afraid I cannot comprehend how everything is going to be OK. Instead I am in a swirling vortex of emotion in which the rug has been pulled out from under my feet and I'm trying to simultaneously work out my statutory redundancy pay (which is wank by the way. One week's pay, capped at £430 for every year you've worked. I think I'll buy a Ferrari with my pay off.) and when I have to give notice on my flat and where I last saved my CV. Telling me everything will  be OK is just not helpful in the slightest and you know what? There's a chance that everything might not be OK. OK?!

"It's probably a blessing in disguise" "It's probably the push you needed to move on in your career."

I don't even feel I should need to explain this one and yet the sheer number of people I've had say this to me tells me that people clearly think it's an appropriate response to hearing that you've been made redundant.

I think the next person that says it to me I will push in front of a car and then tell them "This is probably a blessing in disguise, you've been saying you're really over-worked and now you have to spend 6 months in traction you'll have loads of time to relax."

No-one wants to be pushed out of their job whether it's good for their career or not. Think before you speak.


Things that are good to say to someone who's just been told that they've been made redundant?

Any variation on "I'm really sorry", "This is massively shit", "I really hope you find something else soon" etc etc are all acceptable and will result in you not being put on my list of Stupid People I Know.

*This list is not exhaustive and should also include the many variations of the few things listed above. My favourite was "You need to have the rain to have the rainbow" which thank goodness was received over text or I may not have been held responsible for my actions.

Thursday, 1 March 2012

The pit

It’s hard to know at one point I fell into the pit.

The more I think about it, the more I think that’s because there was no impressive, arm-twirling, comedy falling backwards moment. I think instead I tripped up, fell and have been desperately clinging on to twigs and bits of earth ever since then to stop myself slowly sliding down to the bottom.

The pit is not unfamiliar to me. I wouldn’t use the D-word because I’m not the type of person that gets a snotty nose and calls it the flu but it’s a pattern I’ve seen before which sees me fall into a pit, scrabble around in the bottom for a while, and then suddenly find the magic trapdoor that releases me back out into the wild again.

It wouldn’t take a genius to work out the major cause of my fall. I’ve now been waiting five weeks to find out whether I’m going to be made redundant. I hear you, they are indeed bastards. Five weeks of not having a clue what’s going on, whilst the CEO jets off on a skiing holiday and you daren’t buy a pair of shoes because you need to save as much money as you can in case you don’t have a job.

It has been woefully mishandled and judging by the other people that are in the same position as me, we’re all at various points, clinging on to the walls of the pit. The kick of it is that when they do decide to tell us something, it could just as easily be the “good” news that your job is safe as it could that you’re being made redundant. Unfortunately, they’ve treated us so badly that I feel the need for the inverted commas – not many people want to stick around even if it turns out they’re not in the pool.

The process doesn’t do wonders for your self esteem. I know it’s not supposed to be personal and I know it’s a strategic decision. But when you’re the only person that does your job, it’s not particularly nice to think “Wow. 5 years and they still think I’m irrelevant. Awesome.”

Then you add to that that the job market sucks at the moment and you slide another couple of feet down the pit.

Then you start applying for jobs that you’re not really that interested in but you feel you have to apply for because you weren’t brought up to just go on the dole and having any job is better than no job. And then they reject you. Cue another mudslide that pushes you further down the pit.

Then you start applying for jobs that you know you’re not really qualified for and you don’t really stand a chance of getting but you feel you have to try. And even though you know they’re going to reject you and you dig your heels in and brace yourself against falling – you still fall another few metres.

Then the person that you work with basically gets headhunted to do a job that you could probably do and you can feel your legs shaking under the effort of holding yourself up and remaining positive and cheery.

And then there’s a throwaway comment by a friend that isn’t meant as an insult and a stupid “fun” discussion with a group friends and a trip into town where you literally cannot find anything that suits your body shape and you will find you have finally reached the bottom of the pit, where you are unable to find anything remotely positive about your physical or mental self.

Instead you become convinced that you are a fat loser who is unemployable and will never amount to anything and will never get the house, the marriage, the babies, the job that everyone else around you has.

And I do believe at this point you have reached total meltdown.

No amount of self-cajoling can pull me out at the moment. I know it’s not helpful and I know that there could be so much else wrong and I should be thankful I have my health etc etc but that’s the thing about the pit – it seems to have an invisible barrier to reason. In fact then you start to feel guilty that you’re wallowing in self pity and should get a grip and you discover that you actually haven’t reached the bottom of the pit, there’s a layer of quicksand at the bottom for you to sink into. Add “selfish witch” on to the list of bad characteristics.

All of this is just a terribly convoluted way of saying “Sorry I haven’t been blogging much lately” which is a much simpler sentence to write and could leave you with images of me jetting around the world, meeting wonderful people and doing interesting things, when in fact I’m sitting at home, eating my emotions and wondering if drowning in a cup of tea might actually be the best way to go because I really love tea.

I’ll be back any minute now. I just need to find that magical trapdoor, I know it’s in here somewhere.