Friday, 2 February 2018

A knitwear designer

Today I finished my first knitwear collection. It still needs some editing and proofing but the designing, knitting, modelling, photographing and layout has all been done. I have learnt so much. Which is good as I have ideas bubbling in the pot for at least 5 more. So here are the things I have learnt.

1. Sit down at the beginning and plan out, just roughly, all the items. Look at what materials I will need.

2. Buy all materials at the beginning. The process for this collection was slowed down immensely by having to wait until I could afford to buy yarn for the next project. One day, gods willing, I will be a super amazing designer who can get yarn support. Until that day I have to take the budget into account upfront and deal with it.

3. Finish all items so they can be photographed together. I am both the model and the photographer so doing it piecemeal wasn't an issue and I did need several locations for this one. But being able to do them all at the same time of year and possibly time of day would be an improvement for me.

4. Make bigger swatches. I'm pretty good at swatching but I did find myself cutting corners. Don't!

5. Get a quote for tech editing upfront. I am hoping to have this collection teched before I release it but it might be touch and go. I know it's an important step if I can afford it so I need to do my upmost to afford it. Especially if I plan on having actual books printed at some point. It's none negotiable for that.

6. Write a style guide and use it as I go along. I spent most of today going through the patterns and checking formatting to bring unity to the whole project. I could have saved myself hours of work if I had done this as I went along.

All said though for a first project it's not gone badly. I am everything in this project. Designer, knitter, model, photographer, graphic designer. Next up I have to figure out selling on Ravelry and the dreaded VAT shenanigans. But if everything goes to plan I will be releasing Untold into the world by the end of the month.

Wish me luck!

Friday, 26 January 2018


CW - #MeToo, sexual abuse.

This week I said something out loud that I'd been thinking for a while. Speaking, rather than thinking or reading, engages different pathways in the brain. To say that admitting this thing out loud hit me harder than I expected would be an understatement.

I'd intended this blog to be me talking about it but I'm sat here struggling to write it down. I'm honestly not sure If I'm ready to step onto this path because I know it's going to hurt. I've been functional not talking about it or admitting a damn thing for 14 years. Why start now? Why? Because I know I should.

So, husband and I were having a conversation about #MeToo. Unfortunately as with a lot of women I can say Me Too. Sexual harassment in the street, workplace and even amongst friends has happened to me in the past. These tags and movements and the conversations that they are creating are fantastic because they are making us all look at what consent actually is. Planned Parenthood have a great thing called FRIES. Consent must be Freely given, Retractable, Informed, Enthusiastic and Specific. And it is this wonderful thing that brought be to the conclusion I said out loud yesterday.

I have been sexually abused. I would still struggle to say I've been raped because I still associate that word with violence even though I know, I KNOW, that this doesn't have to be the case.

In the months leading up to and just after my suicide attempt 14 years ago one of the men I lived with pressured me into sexual situations. I would "consent" because I just wanted him to leave me alone. This included consenting to be the one receiving rather than giving. This went on right up to me agreeing to penetrative sex on the promise that he would never ask me for anything again. Which of course he did.   

It's really hard for me to even think about the consent aspects of all this without ending up a victim blaming mess. I consented. Because I was depressed and alone. Because agreeing meant he would leave me alone for a while. Right up until yesterday I would have said I'd been in a dodgy sexual situation and I would have known that he was a dick. But I would have struggled to say anything harsher than that. But saying yes isn't really all there is to consent. Freely given? No I was nagged and cajoled and bullied. Retractable? No that would have made it worse and possibly violent. He wasn't given to violence generally but it had been known. Informed? Yeah I was sober most of the time but depressed enough to not really be able to make these choices. Enthusiastic? Hell no. Specific? That one was a yes. It's why there was only one case of penetrative sex. I was very specific on what I was willing to do.

So based on this did I consent? Yes. Was my consent abused? Yes. Am I struggling to deal with this right now? Yes. Will I be ok? Yes. Yes I will. Because admitting something means being able to try and heal from it.

Sunday, 14 January 2018

Lone Wolf

I sometimes wonder if all humans are really pack animals. I don't think I am. I love my family and friends, don't get me wrong. But I often find it really hard to find the desire to spend time with them. Once I'm there it's great and I generally enjoy myself. But the get up and go can be hard to find.

Perhaps it's because I've become part of more social groups as I've gotten older. There are more people to see and thus more people I feel beholden to. Add to that family obligations and a job where I am customer facing (in a very demanding and hands on way) and suddenly I'm spending a lot of my time interacting with people.

I'm an introvert. I require time on my own to recharge. But getting that time feels selfish these days. Turning down friends because I want to sit on the sofa with my cats and knit feels awful when it's so hard to find time that we're all available. Shutting myself away in the bedroom because I really have no energy to interact with my husband and daughter makes me feel like a terrible wife and mother.

How can I balance all the demands that people have of me whilst not losing myself in the process?

I guess the answer is by trying my best. Making arrangements with people and trying to stick to them. Crying off when I know I need some time alone. Taking the time to sit on the sofa, or having a crazy long bath. Knowing that at times I am going to come off as frustrating and accepting that. Getting good at making apologies and being the most present version of myself that I can be when I do socialise.

I suppose that is all that I can do.

Friday, 5 January 2018

The weekly blog

So I've tasked myself this year to write a blog every week. It'd funny that I waited until the new year to start as I am so opposed to new year's resolutions. But the year started on a Monday and I liked the idea of a measurable 1 a week against the 52 of a new year.

I'm not thinking of it as a resolution though. Just like I don't think of any of the things I want to do as resolutions. It's just a to do list. I hate new year's resolutions. We all think about these giant changes we want to make and then we put them off until this arbitrary date. At which point we work really hard on them for a couple of months, realise that actually these things take quite a bit of time and effort, slack off, eventually give up. Rinse and repeat next year.

I'd rather we all took steps RIGHT NOW to make the changes that we want to make. To ourselves, to the world. Look at what you want to do. Look at all the steps it's going to take to get from A to B. Start plotting them and then just make a start. It may take more than a year. It may take your whole damn life. Don't give up if you fail or struggle. Just get right back on it again. Start over, make progress.

Life isn't just going to give you what you want. I mean, it might, stranger things have happened. But that chances are it won't. Which means work and effort and time and commitment.

So what do you want to do this year?

Wednesday, 7 June 2017

Oof, it's been a while

Yowzer. 16 months since I last wrote anything here. I've mentally composed many a blog but I never get around to writing them. I like to type on a proper keyboard for things like this and lately it seems that there is never a time when I'm alone at home long enough to write.

It's silly that I need to be alone to write. I mean, I'm going to release it into the world where anyone can read it. But heaven forbid anyone glancing over my shoulder at what I'm writing!

I'm going to try though. There is so much bouncing round my brain and my heart at the moment that I honestly feel I need to write.

We'll see how long it lasts.

Monday, 18 January 2016

The Oddness of Grief - Part 2

This week I feel sad.

On Saturday it was my birthday. A local cinema was showing Labyrinth in honour of it's 30th year. This was planned before Bowie's death. It was sold out before Bowie's death. Labyrinth fans, we are legion. Before the film they showed some old gig footage and some of the newer music videos. David and Tilda Swinton? Yes please. That was a delight. Lazarus? Less so. I'd seen that video earlier in the week and been fine but it really hit me on Saturday.

The film was wonderful as always. I sang along. I felt sad at all the parts I usually felt sad as. I admired the fans that had come to the showing in costume. There was a raucous round of applause at the end. It was a lovely experience. I left the cinema not exactly happy but feeling that I had enjoyed myself.

Then I went to work on Sunday and I felt sad. I felt sad all day. Close to tears on many occasions. I feel that way today too. The bittersweet realisation that whilst we still have his work he is gone.

I know Jareth isn't real (Shhh, I'm just saying that for any psychologists reading) so he will always be there for me. But now there is no way at all the sequel that get's talked about will involve Bowie. And somehow the idea that some part of the Goblin King is gone leaves me feeling hollow. As a young teen all I wanted was someone to look at me like Jareth looks at Sarah and that has stayed with me always. I think I will be re-watching it more this year than I normally do.

I don't know. I knew all this last week but now it feels really real.

I finally solidified my ideas for my Labyrinth tattoo that I've wanted for what feels like forever. I want a Victorian style oval frame but the top instead of being all curly Gilt style I want it to be Jareth's pendant. Inside it I want a stylized barn owl. I just need to find someone to draw it for me now. I've been collecting reference pictures ^_^

Last week I think I was in shock. This week I feel sad.

Monday, 11 January 2016

The oddness of grief

David Bowie is dead.

Did I know him? No. Am I grieving? Yes. It almost pains me to admit it but yes, I am indeed grieving.

The man was a huge influence on my life and I am incredibly grateful for his presence. It all began with a little film called Labyrinth. It came out when I was 4 years old so I never got to see it at the cinema. However it was always on at Christmas time growing up. I would watch it and we would record it on VHS. By the time it was on tv again I would need to re-record it as I had watched it so many times that the video was wearing out. The forest wouldn't be glittery any more and you could hardly tell that Jareth's eyes were different. It went out of print as a VHS for a while and when it came back my then boyfriend bought me a copy straight away. He is long gone but I still have the VHS even though I have no way to play it. I bought it on DVD as soon as it came out. I have the soundtrack on CD. I even have a copy of the script somewhere. I can quote it at will. Words from it were the first thing my now Husband ever said to me.

Like I said, I love it. I have been fortunate enough to go to the cinema to see it once. This year is it's 30th anniversary and there will be a late night showing on my birthday to which I am going. I know I will not make it through it without crying.

As a teen I discovered glam rock and bisexuality and discovered myself as well. Bowie and the others of his time were icons who allowed me to learn how to express myself. I owe a lot of my personality, don't give a dam style (and general love of glitter) to them. I also owe a lot of my eclectic musical taste to Bowie. If I loved one artist who worked in so many styles then surely it was ok for me to like folks from all styles of music. To this day, although I have a strong leaning tot he alternative, I love music from almost every genre. Artists like Bowie and Madonna are responsible for this.

In 2000 Bowie played at Glastonbury. I was a skint 18 year old and I have always regretted not being able to go. We watched it at home on the telly but it's not quite the same thing. I did always say though that he was the one celebrity I never wanted to meet because all I would be able to do is say "You're the Goblin King". Now I'll never be able to test that theory.

So yes, I am grieving. I am grateful that I got to be influenced by this man and I am grateful that I will be able to pass that influence on to others. He will live forever through his music and films. As a  Buddhist I have to let the loss go and just be grateful. But today I will wallow in sadness and that is ok.

So long Jareth.