Bullet Journalling, Colour

Taking Notes; Adding Embellishments

Wherever I end up in a meeting or listening to something, I can’t help but take notes. As soon as I add little pictures, tags, colour, etc. (the little embellishments), I am able to recall what I’ve been hearing more easily. I also find that this allows for threading the overall theme together later.

Embellishments can be simple doodles, but rather than a point of distracted absence, they serve a purpose. These embellishments can be anchor points; how often have we all searched through lots of words looking for THAT point? Why not have a little colour in your notes? Maybe that highlight will make it easier to find/catch the thread of the meeting more vividly.

I’ll confess here, although I love the concept of bullet journalling, I’m not great at the ‘bullet’ part in this context. I haven’t figured out how to reduce what I’m hearing/thinking to simple bullets.. however, when I write notes, I love colour. As demonstrated below:

WJEC Chemistry A-Level Modules
Notes in my journal – colours to capture separate modules
🐝 Beelong

My experience, after much trial and error I hasten to add, is that I need colour or pictures to recall my feelings and/or the essential principles of what I was listening to or learning at the time (e.g. the little honeycomb and bee in the picture above).

I’d encourage you to think about what is useful for you when taking notes:-

  1. What do you want to remember -recollection of details or broad strokes? This will define the amount you write. Consider if a picture to depict the setting, or your interpretation of the theme will help to map your notes more effectively; this doesn’t need to be elaborate or pretty and could even be a logo or picture stuck into your notes.
  2. Consider how do you best learn/ understand – if you’re a visual learner (use pictures), if you learn best by reading (use colour to separate chunks of text), if you learn best simply listening (note down quotes and bullets for anything essential, but focus on what’s being said, primarily)
  3. Finally look back to your previous notes; do they help you recollect what was said /done? If not… Think about taking them a different way, don’t be afraid to adopt several methods in one meeting 😊

I hope this overview of how embellishments could support your note taking is useful, let me know any thoughts in comments below.

Crochet, Ponderings

Hand Made with Love. This is Luxury.

Recently, I’ve been listening to a number of hand made / yarn related podcasts: Creative Yarn Entrepreneur, B Hooked Podcast and Etsy Conversations.

These are brilliant resources for anyone who is looking to set up or already has a small business. Generally they consist of a themed topic, an interview with a tutorial /suggestions about how to approach various aspects for business management.

One theme that’s come up several times in the podcasts and that I’ve been considering is: How do we value or price hand made/ hand crafted items?

A few titbits I’ve learnt are if you’re a maker or customer:

  • Stop undervaluing the work!
  • Every time a crafter says yes to one thing, they have to say no to another – if a crafter chooses to work on a project, they are making a choice not to do something else.
  • Just because it’s a hobby or a side gig doesn’t mean it’s worth any less. If someone else is trying to make a living and the one who makes as a hobby undercuts on price, both parties loses out on potential additional income; the one making a living because they must compete at unsustainable prices and the hobbyist because they lose additional income to feed their hobby.
  • When pricing, make sure to account for time, overheads and materials.
  • ‘Materials multiplied by three’ is a sucky formula for pricing crochet work, because it doesn’t account for intricacy or skill in the project.

In the past, like so many others, I’ve often gone to craft fairs (not being a crafter then myself) and compared items I saw there to what I may be able to purchase in a large store. “A scarf for £35?!” Many times, I admired the work, got chatting to the owner and then walked away because I thought the item too expensive. To those people, I humbly apologise now! I’m so sorry for wasting your precious time!

For the last five years, I’ve massively got into crochet and handmade. I am a hobby crocheter at the moment, but in time would love to launch a business in this area.

I finally realise how much time, blood, sweat and tears have been invested into these hand made, works of art. Let’s be frank, it’s a feat to turn, what’s essentially a ball of string, into a fabric which resembles anything useful. Not to mention those who paint, turning blobs of oil or plastic into beauty; make ceramics, cultivating mud and silt into vases, plaques and various other items and those who create cards, transforming paper into stunning ways to pass a message… I could go on.

My friends, I have had an epiphany that I must share! Hand made is luxury, not cheap!

It’s the curated work of someone else. They’ve willingly researched the right material to use, chosen colours /themes, developed a skill to convert that material into something of value, designed (or purchased a pre-made pattern) and then made useful items for friends, family and customers. So much effort goes into these lovingly crafted things.

I have been reflecting on an item I made recently – an absolute privilege, for wonderful, family friends. The item took 20+ hours to complete, the yarn was approx £20, the backing ~£15, the packaging ~£5, postage about the same. Not counting my time, I already started at a basic cost of £45! I could’ve bought in bulk and possibly halved these costs, however, the most valuable thing I put into this was my time; not mentioning the practise and patience it took to learn the craft in the first place. 😊

Please, when you look at hand made or painted or crafted, think luxury!

The closest analogy I have for this is the difference between a microwave meal at home and eating at a restaurant: Eating out is a treat because someone else carefully thought it through, developed the skills to make it and served it beautifully for you to enjoy. A microwave meal requires similar skills at the start, but it’s created for the masses and it’s not as fresh or tasty as the restaurant equivalent. We’d expect to pay more at the restaurant, crafting is no different.

If you’re someone who has thought like me in the past, I hope this post has helped you to consider the purchasing choices you make, I hope that any myths about hand made being less quality than factory manufactured are put to rest (micro meal vs. restaurant) and that when you next see a small, local hand made fair you remember that these products are LUXURY.

On a side note; check out the Just a Card campaign. If you go into a local gallery/shop try to buy something, anything small if you can’t buy big. Its keeping this type of local art industry thriving.

Thanks for reading my latest ponderings. I hope this post has made you think and would love to hear/read your comments!

To keep up with me on a more regular basis and see my latest makes follow me on Instagram. 😊

Colour, Ponderings

Visit North Wales!

After approximately 10 weeks of almost non-stop, sunshine, it rained when I visited North Wales a few days ago! I hasten to add the whole of the UK had similar weather and North Wales (despite the rumours) didn’t have a climate of its own. 😉

We stayed in a beautiful country house hotel (Sygun Fawr); nestled in the country side, with magnificent views in all directions, this was one of the most peaceful places my husband and I have ever stayed.

The mountain view in the picture above offered hours of enjoyment as the clouds billowed around the landscape. Within a few minutes we saw the picturesque view disappear under clouds, reappear in a haze and then highlighted to full colour by glorious sunshine. Near Beddgelert, these types of views are seen often. There are several walking routes available, including a climb up Snowdon Mountain,which is only a few miles away.

We wanted a restful weekend, so no climbing for us; however we did visit a spectacular copper mine (Sygun Copper Mine). My love of chemistry and my husband’s love of history were indulged, as well as both our love of art and colour.

The mine tour is self-guided, following signs to various stations, listening (via speakers) to the story of a miner describing the conditions and offering an insight into the process of mining copper. We climbed through the mountain, up metal steps; the highlight being several stalegmite/stalegmite formations and ‘the light at the end of the tunnel’; the stunning views at the top (bottom left of the above picture).We spent a good while taking pictures and then meandered down the path back to our car, where we drove to a nearby lake.

The second day was spent in Portmeirion. This village, known as the ‘little Italy’ of North Wales, was designed by Clough Williams Ellis; he wanted to show that it was possible to place buildings within a beautiful landscape, without ruining the atmosphere. He also loved Italy, therefore there is colour, pattern and stunning architecture whichever way you look in the area. Also worth noting, Williams Ellis often saw buildings elsewhere and when possible and only when he felt they would add to the village’s unique outlook, they were imported into the structure. For example this Bristolian columnar structure:

The colours and the playfulness of the architecture are nothing like I’ve seen elsewhere. There may well be some art or crochet piece in the future completely inspired by Portmeirion.

As an example, in the picture above, the stores for the garden area, painted to blend in (bricks and what appears to be arches) are really made of wood and metal.

I honestly think we could have spent an inordinate amount of time in Portmeirion and we are sure to return.

Our short trip has given us a taste of this beautiful part of the world and I hope it has inspired you to visit. Be assured, you won’t be disappointed!

Thanks for reading, wishing you safe travels wherever you journey this summer.

If you’d like to see some more pictures of the mine or Portmeirion, please check out my Instagram 🙂

Bullet Journalling, Crochet, Ponderings

Rest! What is it Good For?! Absolutely Everything!!

I’ve been AWOL for a little while on the blog, Facebook and Instagram as it’s been a manic few months.

It was only when I finally stopped last week, on holiday I realised how long it had been since my last real ‘rest’. This view from our balcony did me the world of good:

Being away made me think about a couple of things.

  1. Why is rest important?
  2. What strategies could I incorporate into daily life to introduce more rest?

Why rest?

Simply, because it’s good. Rest allows contemplation, celebration and restoration. When we stop being so busy (as has been my experience last week), we are able to think more clearly, observe details often missed otherwise and focus more on the current moment. We also have opportunities to celebrate what is going well and consider where we need to make changes.

I feel less frenzied this week, my mind has more freedom to dream, hope and think. I’ve actually become far more productive too. I think these are some of the benefits of rest, but how to actually introduce rest?

Strategies to have rest

In the midst of busyness, I find that I often fore-go things I enjoy, fun goes out of the window!!

So, with that in mind, I hope to:

  • Walk more; at least twice a week – I started walking by the river and through the local park recently and it has done me the world of good to be outside.
  • Crochet – this goes without saying given my previous series of posts, but I love to crochet. However, crocheting is one of the first things to get taken out of my schedule if things are busy. Whilst on holiday I crocheted more in two days, than in the last two months. The sheer joy and the ‘mindfulness’ of hook and yarn was exactly what I needed.
  • Sew – I recently bought a new vintage sewing machine (blog post to follow), one I’ve dreamed of for many years. However, I don’t feel that confident sewing, so I am going to spend some time re-learning how to sew. This will hopefully be another calming activity.
  • Bullet Journal – I recall a time, as I first began the Bullet Journal journey this year, I wrote a couple of lines each day or drew a small picture to represent my thoughts for the day. A real journal as such. I found that I slept better and it was a good record of life, I felt less like ‘life’ was just passing me by. So, I hope to do this as a wind-down before bed each night. While on holiday I updated my pen test list:

  • Finally, I’d like to introduce regular nights off in the week. I am notorious for being unable to say, “No”. So in a bid to take care of myself and take opportunities for rest, I will have a night off planned each week, with no responsibility! On these evenings, I may just stay at home. Though, as I also love art/ arts & crafts, live music and dancing, I may use these to have some fun with the people I love.

I hope that these new ways of living help me to rest in my everyday and this post has inspired you to learn to take some rest too. If you have any other strategies or thoughts regarding rest, I’d love to hear them – please comment below. 😃

Crochet

Favourites from Four Years of Crochet, Part 2

In my last post, Part 1 of this series, I started by looking back at the first ‘big’ project I’d ever made. 

The second is a baby blanket made for another set of dear friends. This time round I was looking for more of a challenge, having grown in my ability and the realisation that I can become easily bored by continually repeated patterns!

The Owl Obsession pattern by the The Hat & I caught my eye. It’s full of colour and required me to explore new skills, as I’d made little that required joining motifs at that point.

The pattern is brilliantly written, with a lot of pictures, which helped immensely given that I was a relative newbie. The blanket is made by making several different shaped motifs and joining them to eventually create a square. 

I recall doing a practise octagon/owl motif at my sister’s house over the Christmas period. I used some stash yarn, while I waited for the Stylecraft Merry-go-round yarn I had ordered to make the rainbow section. 

I chose Stylecraft yarn as it was relatively inexpensive, the merry-go-round had the rainbow colours I desired, as well as long colour changes. I knew it would be soft as it was called ‘Wondersoft’ yarn. Stylecraft is also known for its softness and durability in the standard range, so I expected no difference in the Wondersoft. I also wanted something easy to wash and this was ideal as it was on acrylic base.

I found at the time that the gradient-type yarn suggested in the pattern was hard to find in the UK, however several different options are available now. In the blanket below you can see some harsh colour changes which the gradient yarn suggested would avoid. 

Once I’d made all the motifs, I now discovered the challenge of weaving in all those ends and joining several pieces together! I found this the most difficult part of the project, since I didn’t have that much confidence in my sewing skills. I pushed through the fear that I would ruin the project, and if I say so myself, I triumphed! 😃

I often add unique elements to each project, giving a personal touch to a widely available pattern. Here, I wanted to have a little fun with the embroidery on the eyes, creating some with sleepy expressions, looking sideways, etc. I decided to embroider the eyes rather than use buttons, for safety’s sake.

The blanket, as above, took about two months to make, with me working on it on and off between work and other projects. 

All in all, this was a difficult project, but again spurred me on (following my Christmas practise) to try the pattern I’ll discuss in Part 3. 

If you’d like to know when the next post is up, click follow below. Comment to let me know what you think of the series so far. 😃

Crochet

Favourites from Four Years of Crochet, Part 1

This series of posts is a look into my own history with crochet; an opportunity to celebrate the projects that give me great joy.

My first ‘big’ project was a baby blanket made for dear friends. I didn’t want to do anything too complicated, as then and now I detest weaving in ends. Therefore, patterns that required joining or several colour changes were out. I had also decided that I didn’t want to do a bog standard thing (you’ll notice a theme through the posts on this topic) 😋.

I eventually stumbled across this pattern, for a circular swirl blanket:

https://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/swirl-blanket-2

I like pattern and colour, so didn’t want a simple solid block. I also wanted to stick to neutrals as I didn’t know if the baby was a boy or a girl. I found a beautiful variegated yarn called Hayfield Baby Changes DK, which gave a self striping effect.

The project took me approximately three months, working on it in the evenings. It’s a fairly simple pattern, mainly single crochets (US) and chains, challenging enough at the time.

Here’s some pictures of the final piece:

I hadn’t discovered the marvels of blocking at the time, so it’s not as flat and crisp as I’d look to finish a project now.

It’s still well used by my friends though and makes me smile each time I see it.

To be honest, I find that I’m giving a part of me when I make items for friends and family, particularly if I’ve selected the colours and pattern. I have a excited nervousness each time I hand something over, so it’s a real privilege that this blanket is still used so many years on.

Another point of pride and honour was to be asked by the designer to be one of the featured projects on her page for the pattern. It was a complete surprise; but wonderful all the same.

By this point I’d not only discovered the ‘kick’ of giving gifts, being recognised, but also the health benefits of crochet. It’s now well documented that the rhythm of knitting and crochet help to calm anxiety as the repetitive motion and focus on the stitches are akin meditation and mindfulness. For me, particularly in winter months, working with colour also lifts my mood.

I’ll explore this further in the next part where I’ll also be looking at another baby blanket, which this project spurred me on to try.

If you’d like to read more about this, please click follow below.

Crochet

History and Creativity in Crochet

I mentioned at the end of my last post Re-discovering My Creativity… that I wanted to explore the history of crochet and also consider whether the use of patterns within crochet deems it outside of the creative arts; a thought that I have heard espoused several times. 

From reading several sources primarily on the internet, it seems that the popularity of crochet in Europe grew remarkably in the 18th and 19th centuries, particularly when it became a past-time of Queen Victoria. Crochet made by Queen Victoria was even given as a gift to soldiers who had served in the second Boer War.

However, I was aware that there must be a history of crochet (or very similar craft) in Asian culture, as I’d heard family talk of it going back generations. All I could find about this on my search was this blog, which is a three part series on the history of crochet. It seems that no-one is really sure of the origin of crochet as we know it now, only that there are several possibilities of how it came about, one being Tambour. Tambour is a type of embroidery, making lace by pulling thread through mesh using a hook. This looks and sounds very similar to Aari Embroidery, which is often used to adorn sarees and make beautiful pieces such as this one from the Kotch region of Gujarat.

I am sure that these embroidered pieces were done by, ‘eye’ as well as by using a pattern, maybe a picture that was drawn over and over again on to several pieces of fabric. However, like crochet, I believe that the creativity in these pieces comes from the skill of the embroiderer; their choice of colour, base fabric and their ability to make the pattern come to life. As an analogy, (if you know me, you’ll be aware I love a good analogy!) I think of following a pattern as playing music, few would say that a beautifully performed piece carried no artistry because the notes were written by a composer, in this case, the skill of the musician is taken into account; why not for fibre-crafts, colouring or drawing?

I am not (yet) gifted in designing crochet, but my following a pattern still requires a dedication to the craft. For crochet, I believe there is art in the acts of teaching my hands to contort to various angles to have an even stitch tension (an art many struggle to conquer); spotting the right type of yarn to make a project – considering the texture and colour, including variegated (multi-coloured) options and bringing a vibrancy to the finished object, including knowing how to handle the new fabric, so that it appears it’s best. None of these things seems overly creative, but in my opinion the very act of dedicating oneself to a task, putting energy in to achieve a goal and/or pursuing things that may begin as ‘outside of one’s comfort zone’ are intrinsically creative; each of these activities creates new (healthy) neurological pathways in your brain.

This week (I was reminded on Facebook), was four years since I learnt to crochet. The first few weeks were a lesson in dealing with failure! I couldn’t work out how to get my hands to do the thing I needed, I couldn’t remember stitches etc. However, here is the first piece in the round I ever made; following this online course and guidance from my friends who were already familiar with the craft.

1273671_10100268810231177_1241141172_o

Isn’t it awesome (even if I say so myself)? This piece carries a memory of overcoming perfectionism- to finally make something, anything that followed the pattern and resembled the picture shown was a massive achievement.

I hope that in the weeks coming you, too, have moments of victory, reminders that you can achieve and opportunities to create.

My intention over the next few posts is to share a few projects I’ve made since the coaster above and more places of inspiration. I hope to add a few more snippets about bullet journalling and drawing too. I hope you’ve enjoyed this edition of the blog, let me know what you thought in the comments below.

 

 

 

Crochet, Introduction, Uncategorized

Re-discovering My Creativity…

As I explained in The Adventure Begins… I am looking to write this blog both as a way to express my creativity, but also to encourage others to tap into their own. This post is about my journey into re-discovering my creativity and some of the labels and boxes that restricted my ability to be creative.

As a teenager I had convinced myself that I could not, “do art”. In my mind you were either, “arty” or, “a science geek” – never the twain shall meet. I had simply forgotten that I had held many arty hobbies as a child; for example, friendship bracelet making, card making, playing the recorder, etc. I knew I had a love of science and went on to pursue this to degree level, putting “art” firmly in the court of my more gifted and obviously arty friends.

By the time I got to university, I did not connect myself with any kind of creativity or artistic flair. The divide seemed firm in my mind.
However, I increasingly discovered that science was an art; an interesting lab session when one of my colleagues turned the inside of a fume cupboard lime green proved that, a small mis-interpretation could lead to quite violent and vivid results!

I also discovered through my studies, that scientists (men and women like Ernest Rutherford, John Dalton and Dorothy Hodgkin) made breakthroughs in their field precisely because they were curious; they investigated, probed and delved deeper than those who had gone before them. Many scientists, having thought outside of traditional avenues to get to their insights, had to stand firm to their new understanding; often their bravery led to corroboration and further discovery. The way we understand the world now would not be possible without their creativity.

Following on a few years from this point, without really understanding why, I decided that I wanted to learn to paint. I was leaving a temporary job; moving to a job where I would use my degree in a work setting. My colleagues had kindly arranged to buy me a leaving gift – a beautiful set of oil paints and a canvas… but true to form, I got scared that, ‘I wasn’t creative enough for oils,’ and after about a week returned the paints to the shop, replacing them with an acrylic set. I painted, my first, just-give-it-a-go ‘work’ in 2010. I think I used every colour in the pack at least once!

IMG_20170810_215407

I didn’t really like the picture above and having had what I perceived as a failed attempt, I didn’t really pick up a paint brush for a few months. With the encouragement of my ‘artistic’ boyfriend (now my husband), I did try a few more paintings, gaining confidence each time. I still didn’t think of myself as creative, because unbeknownst to me, I had a ‘little lie’ of perfectionism living with me. This little lie has stolen so much of my life from me, and I think I have only very recently begun to shake it off, which is one of the reasons the blog is now up and running 🙂

My real moment of inspiration, and what now leads me to believe that I am creative, happened in ~2013 when I went to a local women’s event that some friends had helped to organise. Here, I was introduced to crochet. (NB: Not, “crotchet” like I initially assumed it was spelled, woops!)
Although I found it really difficult to grasp, I felt a real kindling of my spirit as I continued working the rows, having practiced for several weeks, I was eventually getting fairly even stitches. Since then, I think it would suffice to say that I have become quite literally hooked(!). I began in trepidation, unsure whether I would really stick it out, but decided that even if this was a whim for a while, I was having fun and therefore I would carry on anyway. Looking back almost four years later, I’m very glad I did so.

I have heard it said, that since crochet is usually done following a pattern, it’s not really creative. To be frank, I completely disagree with this sentiment.  Since this post is already rather long however, I will pick up that thought next time alongside a general post about crochet; a little bit of history of the craft and it’s benefits.

Wishing you a good few days ahead; if you want to know when the next post is up, don’t forget to follow the blog below. 😀

Bullet Journalling, Crochet, Introduction

The Adventure Begins…

This blog is a little adventure into the world of starting off a business and celebrating the beauty I see around me. Right now, I feel the trepidation of stepping off a boat onto an unfamiliar shoreline; excitement and wonderment, mixed with a bag full of nerves!

“Mayai”, literally translated from Swahili to English means, “Egg”. A very simple shape that on its own comes in a variety of subtly different colours, but can be adapted through decoration to suit any aesthetic, or equally, cooked to suit any taste.

Mayai Loves is born of a desire to share the things that brighten up my day; not including my family and friends, I find most often that these are pops of colour, bold prints and interesting shapes. I’ll often wonder around shops looking at shoes and handbags, most often the ones with a beautiful pattern like this one at Matalan: https://www.matalan.co.uk/product/detail/s2655426_c101/embroidered-backpack-black.

For many years, like so many I know, I told myself I lacked creativity and pigeon-holed the concept of ‘creativity’ into a small, narrow view. I believed that since I was not prolific with a paint brush, I was not creative. My intention with the blog is to explore this sense of creativity with my readers, the intention being that I may inspire you to dust off ‘creativity’ from the box into which it was discarded long ago. I hope this will in turn encourage you to don the tools which help you express this inherent goodness. If you hadn’t already guessed, I have a firm belief that everyone has a ‘creative side,’ as such, but we all need opportunities to discover it and fulfill it.

The idea of a blog and business came from friends and family, who have lovingly encouraged me to share my journey, mainly of making and giving crocheted items. I’ll be writing a post shortly about how I (re-)discovered my creative side and the intention for the rest of the blog is to celebrate some of the things I love, in the main, these will be focused on crochet, but expect to see some posts about food, interiors, art and even bullet-journalling.

I’m looking forward to going on this journey with you. If you’d like to keep up, please click on the follow button and let me know your thoughts and comments below.

Have a lovely weekend… I’m off to a wedding, but more about that on another post 🙂