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 Β£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 Β£20, the backing ~Β£15, the packaging ~Β£5, postage about the same. Not counting my time, I already started at a basic cost of Β£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. πŸ˜‰

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 πŸ™‚

Ponderings

Snow! When Everything Has New Perspective

As I woke on Thursday morning this week past, everything around me had a taken a new hue. The sillouettes of my normal view were visible, but the details were missing.

I’ve often thought that snowy scenes offer some kind of magic; but these last few days I realised that their beauty comes from hiding the familiar edges of what I know and offering a renewed perspective.

It can be so easy to slip in to feeling like life is a bit dreary, dull and monotonous; to be honest there have been many moments when I’ve felt like this. Today, however I realised that sometimes this comes only because we focus so much on the minor, insignificant details that we miss the outlines of our lives.

If I’m honest I forget that each day I have the privilege of being able to read and write, running water, a beautiful home, a car, family- I could go on. The reality is I am so familiar with these things that they take a back seat quite often and the stresses and strains of work, busyness of life and worry take precedence.

The snow however afforded me the joy of going for an impromptu walk; discovery of a deserted, snowy, children’s park; watching a duck skim along a river and listening to birds sing. I suddenly noticed the pops of colour that are so easily lost in my normal observations. The vantage of my locality covered in snow also highlighted the colour that’s normally missed. I also managed to work on a crochet project and to top it all off I had an enormous amount of time with my loved ones. For me, that’s the magic of snow.

I guess my biggest perspective shift is to understand the sillouettes of my life are consistent; but they’re not going to be looking like this forever. What will I do to make sure that I don’t miss the joys of life around me in my everyday? How will I see the beauty and listen to the melodies of life more clearly -even without the snow?

I think it would be wise to make a concerted effort to disconnect from the hustle and bustle of life and remember to shift perspective; embrace the here and now and see the precious things in life today.

The snow is an inconvenience for sure, but it’s also a pace-changer. What has the snow revealed for you and what will you do to help you to recall this in a few weeks time? Comment below, I’d love to know your thoughts.

I’m hoping to write again soon; the intention is to write as inspiration strikes. If you’d like to follow me to read the next update, click follow below.

Bullet Journalling, Slimming World

Slimming World, Fresh Food, New Start

This post is about my return to a journey I started almost five years ago by joining Slimming World. Since getting to my target weight in 2015, I have managed quite well to keep off the pounds, however in recent months, I have to confess my discipline has slipped.

I’ve been noticing for months that where I used to stick to one piece of chocolate, I’ll often now have two or even three in a row. So today, despite having to sacrifice my Saturday lie in, I joined a local group again.

When I did last did slimming world (SW) a few years ago, I lost just under three stones; this was fundamentally because my husband and I changed our lifestyle, eating habits and I played netball regularly. I really enjoyed the process, saw good results, but wasn’t putting undue pressure on myself, knowing that the weight would come off over time.

I’m hoping this post serves as a reminder to me and to you that it’s good to consider our health, but also to give ourselves a break.

So to this end, as I go through this weight loss journey I choose to:

  • Go at my own pace – no competing or comparing
  • Cut my self some slack – there will be good and bad weeks, but over time, the good will outweigh (πŸ˜†) the bad.
  • Enjoy food – remember good relationships, community and friends are worth more than a few pounds; be grateful!
  • Experiment – work out what works this time, this week and don’t be afraid to try new things

If any one else is also on any kind of health kick, be kind to yourself. Learn from those you can, forget the ones who are unhelpful and be grateful for the ones who cheer you on and join you on the journey.

To aid me, I’ve added a very simple tracker in my bullet journal showing each pound lost, which will (I hope) serve as motivation on this journey.

I expect that I’ll share a little more about food in the coming weeks. Wishing you all the best of health for the coming year πŸ˜„

Crochet

Favourites from Four Years of Crochet, Part 5

In Part 1, I celebrated my first ever blanket that I made for a friend. Recently, this same friend commissioned me to make her daughter’s flower girl dress for our mutual friends’ wedding. She has long encouraged my creativity, in crochet as well as baking and crafting in general; therefore, it was an honour to be asked and a privilege to make the dress. 

The style my friend chose was akin to a princess dress; fitted bodice and a puffed out skirt, like a floor length tutu. 

As it was my first commission I wanted to get it right. I did a lot of research into crochet flower girl dresses and came across The Sarah Dress by Deanna Hardin. This pattern is made using rows of ‘shell stitch’- a group of stitches made into one stitch which fan out resembling a shell. Once I’d understood the workings of the pattern it was easy to carry on to make the main bodice. 

This pattern taught me a lot about making a made to measure item. Firstly, measurements cannot be approximated! Age 5 general measurements do not equate to this age 5 child. I found that I ended up making the crochet part of the dress twice, adjusting the gauge (closeness of the stitches) the second time to make the dress smaller. This was required in part because I had envisaged a criss-cross back detail, which meant I needed to make adjustments to the pattern. 

The pattern suggested using lace for the straps, however I had wanted to crochet these and came up with a pattern which incorporated the shell design in open work. I also added some buttons to secure the straps, and stitched the straps in place as a final adjustment.

As a result of making the pattern, I learnt a fair amount about tulle through a Facebook group I follow (Haphazard Hookers…Hook along). In my experience (and of some others in the group), the best place to source it is eBay. The only local place I could purchase it from was John Lewis and this wasn’t the cheapest (or most convenient). 

The best form of tulle to buy for this purpose was in rolls approx 6in wide. This is because it is quite an art form to handle tulle without it ruching and twisting. To combat this I was laying strips to length across my bed and cutting to size, so they remained flat. Another tip I learnt was that to maintain a consistent length, it’s best to have a guide measure, a piece of card to wrap around; in my case this was a house tape measure (one of the bright yellow hard ones) as I had nothing long enough to use otherwise.

The (second) dress didn’t take long too crochet, in fact I think it took longer to attach the tulle by knotting each piece to the bodice. This made a fabulous puffed skirt. 

I used a standard dress bag to store the dress and to my surprise I found that tulle gives an amazing texture when it is removed from its squashed state. The puffyness returned to the skirt straight away, but alongside this the top layers of the skirt also attached to one another giving a beautiful layered and pinned effect. 

For modesty’s sake, I had planned to also add a lining. I used the fabric from a vest top for the top, with leggings underneath the skirt. Another friend helped to sew the final part of the lining as she is a fabulous seamstress. 

It was such a pleasure to make a piece that my friend’s daughter called, “her wedding dress” and to be part of the joy that was a stunning wedding of two lovely friends. 

I chose this piece to be the last in the series for a few reasons. Firstly, it is chronologically, the last, large crochet project I’ve done. Secondly, this was the first commission I’d been able to fulfil. Thirdly, this was the project that inspired the blog that you’re reading. Fourthly, it enabled me to put into practice a ‘crochet diploma’ I’ve been studying; by designing the straps. Fifthly, this project helped me to consider my creativity as not limited to the familiarity of playing with colour, but also considering texture and movement. 

It’s been an absolute joy to reflect on the years of crochet so far through this little series of posts into my personal history with the craft. It has been a reminder of the seasons that have gone and the help that friends and family have been to my personal growth. So to each of you, many thanks for the hugs, encouragement and well wishes; they are noted and appreciated. 

I think this will be my last update of 2017, into 2018 I hope to carry on in the vein of the last few years; growing in, learning of and exploring the realms of creativity.

My intention is to broaden the blog to organisational creativity (as related to Bullet Journalling), interiors (I have some upcycling projects lined up) and continue with the themes of crochet I’ve started this year. 

So, all that remains is to wish you all a very merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Xx

Crochet

Favourites from Four Years of Crochet, Part 3

InΒ Part 2Β I mentioned that the practise Owl Obsession motif spurred me on to try another pattern. This was also the first Crochet-A-Long (CAL) that I had decided to join. CAL parts are usually released once a week, with a group of people each making the same project, finishing the complete project at theΒ  same time. In my case, the CAL was hosted by a Facebook group I follow,Β Official CCC Social Group.

The pattern was designed by Dedri Uys ofΒ Look at What I MadeΒ and is called Sophie’s Universe. It’s a stunning, large blanket made with intricate stitches and lots of texture. The beauty of the pattern is that each part is set up as a tutorial. Therefore, despite starting the pattern having never done anything as complicated, I have been able to make the blanket fairly easily.

As usual for yarn selection and particularly following the number of ends I had to weave in for the Owl Obsession, I wanted an option that meant the least sewing! Therefore, I selected a long variegated yarn that I found in Aldi. It’s a beautiful blue, yellow and grey, Aran yarn that is very easy to work.

 

Despite my best intentions, having started this project in January 2015 (when the pattern was first released), I have to confess that it is not yet finished. It has become a go to project in between several others. I want to mention here that there are crocheters that have completed the pattern in a few weeks; for me it’s a relaxing, eye-opening project so I’ve chosen to slow down and take as long as I need – there have been times when I’ve chastised myself for the pace, but I’ve grown to understand it’s become a familiar friend on my crochet journey, so I’ve welcomed the warmth (it’s now as large as a lap blanket, approx. 4.5ft by 4.5ft) and comfort it provides.

This is a pattern I would recommend to anyone who wants to expand their crochet skills; it has really widened my range and helped me to understand the anatomy of stitches much better. It has also helped me be far more fearless when picking projects. When you’re learning, you suddenly are happier to learn more! πŸ˜ƒ

I have also recently bought the pattern book and continue to work on it when I can, however most of my yarn is currently packed as we’re about to move house. So, as she (Sophie) has been a long-enduring friend, so she will continue a little longer… I suppose she’ll be a life-long companion once complete, as she’s made for myself and my family – you’ll notice most of my projects are given away, so this is rather special.

I hope this post has inspired you to take on projects that are beyond your current capacity, knowing that you will grow, much as I have done.

Next time, I’ll be writing about the project that made me most emotionally anxious, but also the one I’ve been most privileged to give away.

Again, if you’d like to follow, please click the button below and please leave a comment – I’d love to know what you think about the series so far. Thank for reading, until next time 😊!

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) πŸ˜‹.

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.

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 πŸ™‚