Happy 2014

Well, hello and welcome to 2014!

I was suspiciously quiet over the last year. I wish I had a good explanation but I don’t. I was scared I’d be boring and that meant no content. There isn’t much more boring than no content at all! What is even worse than that is my life has not been boring at all. I’d love to be inspirational (to myself if nobody else) and that was what stopped me writing. I didn’t find the foundation-laying inspirational. That was wrong of me.

So here I am, once again crawling back in and asking you to accept me. I will try to be a better blogger again and share some achievements this year. Guess I better go get started on that!

To begin with, current craft project is a pair of two at a time toe up socks.

 sock knitting

Talk to you soon!

KT :-)

And… We’re back

Hi everyone,

Thanks to an impressive combination of procrastination, disorganisation and busy head syndrome this little site of mine had some downtime (quite a lot of downtime actually). I can assure you that she is now up and about again post coma. I have some major changes to to make here soon if I can only figure out exactly what I want them to be.

I have changes to make in a few areas actually…

Isn’t it funny how when one area of your life clicks firmly into place (I swear it makes an actual noise, you know, like a safe door closing or a cog moving itself into place) other areas have the potential to slip backwards if you don’t keep your eyes on them. For me, I am the luckiest girl in the world. I LOVE MY JOB!! Or should that be “I love my jobs” plural. I have two professional jobs at the moment, I am still interpreting with the additional support needs student who is now in his second year of a foundation course (life skills & experiences) and the department has also asked me to be a lecturer with them, so I am now teaching science and will be teaching forensics to students with learning difficulties. It is a lot of hard work but so much fun.

The teaching has been completely new to me and that has meant I’ve had a steep learning curve and there have been times when my brain has just felt full.

And when my brain is full other things either slide or don’t feel as good. For example, I don’t remember the last time I just went out for drinks with friends without having bought a ticket for something. I’ve barely seen any of my friends at all for weeks and that’s not good. I’m starting to feel a little isolated sometimes. That has the knock on effect of making me clingier than normal in an other wise really good relationship. Times are tricky for both of us in different ways and me being needy is not me being supportive. My money management has slipped back towards the firefighting end of the scale. Thankfully no fires have caught yet but it did cause the website to be down for days, and that was just lack of planning. I don’t like how I look at the moment, this chick needs some work. I look and feel frumpy thanks in no small part to have needed a hair cut for weeks now (my roots are about an inch long.) I’ve just been so wrapped up in not messing up with this new challenge that almost everything else has gone to the dogs. The only down time I’ve given myself has been for knitting where I have two projects on the go at once (unheard of for me).

No more! I have booked myself in for a hair cut tomorrow. That will go a long way to helping me feel better about myself. My lessons have a rough outline right through to the end of the academic year so no more panicking about what we’ll be doing. I am meeting a close friend on Friday for a catch up. I’m letting other things be important again.

Anyway, short and sweet this time. I have some re-organising and sorting out of neglected things to do!

KT. :-)

What I learned while tatting a doily

Guess what everyone? (anyone who already follows me on twitter knows this one already)

The Doily is finished!

start of doily

I started this doily back in november 2012. I can’t remember exactly why this started but I do remember how. I have probably mentioned before that I am not the only person who knows how to tat in my family; my gran was my inspiration to learn although she lives too far away to have taught me. I had been talking to her on the phone about how I really felt that tatting was becoming a passion and few days later an envelope arrived with all of her pattern booklets in it. She had gone through and ticked the patterns she had done and beside a couple had written comments. Beside this pattern she had written “did

 

this one often”. I never pictured myself being a doily maker but if I was ever going to make a doily, it had to be that one.

tatting

I put it down to make items for Christmas presents and it got picked up and worked on sporadically over the next few months. Much of the work on this was done in breaks at work, or while my student was doing practical work. It became quite the conversation starter.

But a couple of days ago I was finally finished, and it has taught me a few things. I’d like to share them with you.

1. Life is too short for bad thread

Never, ever, jump into to any kind of large project with tools or materials you are not completely in love with. I grew to hate this thread with a passion. It was a splitty, twisty, difficult to unpick, the colour not as fully saturated in some places as in others… It wasn’t even a colour I was drawn to. You are probably asking yourself why I used it in the first place then, right? I had it to hand and it was a free gift with an order of a completely different thread. This leads me nicely on to lesson two.

2. Sometimes things are free for a reason

I love free things. I love a bargain. This thread was free. It was free quite probably because once someone had worked with it once they never wanted to go near it again! It is lovely to the touch, silky and smooth. It only reveals its true nature when you’re too far in to turn back. leading to lesson three.

tatting progress

3. Swatches are not for gauge alone

Many people who read this blog are crafty people, especially yarn based crafties. Those of you in that world will most likely fall into one of two camps: “gauge swatches are a necessary evil” & “gauge swatches are for wusses, I laugh in the face of gauge swatches!”. I was closer to the latter. I though a swatch was something that you only needed to do if you were making an item designed to fit a specific person. Even then, I’ve been told that gauge swatches lie so why bother? If only someone had mentioned I had listened when people told me that swatches had other functions. They are for practicing new techniques. They are to see what properties the fabric you are making will have. Lastly, they are for showing you that you hate the thread you are about to trap yourself into using for a project that will take hours out of your life over a span of time with a fiery passion! if I had played with this thread a bit I’d have known, I possibly could have finished much sooner because I would not have procrastinated so much out of fear of the frustrations brought on by bad thread.

4. When dealing with any tatting pattern, make sure it is in your preferred format.

This one is quite specific. I was using a vintage pattern in this instance. The older the pattern the more verbose the instructions become. The instructions are written out in full. Great! Erm… nope. In about a size 8 font all of these repeated words swim together for me and mistakes get made. Some tatters work will with this kind of instruction. Not me. On about round four I decided enough was enough. I transposed the instructions into a format better suited to me, I used the short hand. Numbers, dashes and abbreviations, and each separate step on a new line. That is what worked best for me. Had I been born with a better functioning spacial awareness I may have chosen to diagram it based on the written instructions and photograph.

Tatting close up

5. Some mistakes are meant to be there

Ok, they aren’t meant to be there per se, but if I was to un-pick back every time I spotted a missed join or an incorrect count I may never finish. I can see a few mistakes, I’m not going to point them out to you, that would be silly. I discovered something about myself doing this. There was a funny moment, I realised I was going to have to cut back to the mistake I could see. I got the scissors and started to shake a little holding them so decided it was a step too far for me that day. The mistake was there to stay. When I stopped unpicking back to mistakes beyond one join, the mistakes slowed right down. Resigned to a lack of perfection, I relaxed and got a little closer this time.

6. Never underestimate the power of a deadline

I decided half way through that this doily would make a good present for my gran (ok grandpa, message for you here, you are the tech-savvy one, so if you are reading this DON’T TELL HER!!). In March, April, even May August felt a very long way away. In June and July? Not so much. Deadline, however arbitrary, motivated me to get the monster done.

7. Never underestimate how a shared passion can bring closeness across miles

I’ve always been closer to my grandpa than my gran. We always seemed to have more in common. Also, he is a big softy, it’s easier to just sit and be with him. Gran has always more energy than the rest of us. Gran is a busy bee. We didn’t know we had a shared passion in common until recently. In the last year and a half I have had more conversations with my gran than ever. We share stories about tatting. I tell her about new ways patterns are written now, the effect of the internet, the invention of needle tatting and all other areas in my craft life. Gran tells me about the patterns she liked, the fact that she has almost none of her tatting because she made it all and sold it in sales of work to raise money for charity. Although she doesn’t tat any more, although my grandparents live 400miles away, I’ve never felt closer to my gran.

So there you have it, a few mistakes I hope to not make again and hopefully a few land mines flagged for others to avoid too. Please leave your own long project discoveries in the comments. I’d love to read them.

KT :-)

Finished Tatted Doily
Finished Tatted Doily

Keeping cool in a crisis (or why strapping wheels to your feet isn’t always a good idea)

It’s been over a week since my changing a car battery tutorial. My car is currently still in car hospital. The alternator died. My dad changed the alternator but the one he bought unfortunately was also dead (really need to get the money back for that). I hate not having a car. I know many people who survive perfectly well without a car but I feel trapped. I have learned just how expensive public transport can be to get to the places I normally go without thinking twice.

In my state of feeling trapped I decided to rearrange my living room for a change of scene. This, and also, I wanted to move the xbox to the other side of the room so that it can be connected to the internet again. That has lead to a whole new problem. It looks like my gamertag may have been compromised. But that is another post for another time. (Why is nothing ever simple?!)

meetup.com
meetup.com

Recently I have been wanting to expand my social circle. I have some very good friends but I have gaps, especially with local friends that I can go out with of a weekend evening. I used Meetup.com to search for local groups that might interest me. I joined a few and on Friday I went along to my second meet up accompanied by one of my longest serving friends – Roller Disco…

Ok, Roller Disco when neither of us know how to skate sounded like a proper laugh, something silly that was a bit out of the ordinary. The first half hour consisted of us getting our skates on, some protective gear and making our first attempts to move around the floor. On our third attempt I felt like I was gaining confidence made it back to the table we were calling base and looked back to see where my friend was. I found her and watched her make her way back, and then I watched her unavoidably bump into someone and fall… Looked sore but I waited for her to get up. She didn’t. Next thing I knew about 6 or 7 people had rushed around her, someone was holding her head still and the first aid people were rushing over with a board to put her on.

IMG_2608

Untying shoe laces gets exponentially more difficult when stressed. I got my skates off and made it over to her. They were putting her on a spinal board as a precaution. She had come down hard on her coccyx and they were worried about injuries elsewhere on her spine.

Now, before I go any further, I have to tell you she is totally fine, but we didn’t know that at the time. I kept talking to her about totally random things, we were laughing and joking although she was so secured in place she couldn’t nod or shake her head or move anything really. One funny moment was when one of the first aiders couldn’t find a pulse. Me: “erm, I know you’re talking to me and all but you appear to be dead” Her: “I can assure you I’m not…”

I was quietly freaking out at this point. My friend just felt silly. We are both convinced now that they went over kill both to save themselves from potential legal action and also to use her as a training exercise. I kept it totally together until they put her in the back of an ambulance and closed the door on me while they asked her more questions. I pulled myself back to the laughing, joking “this is all just a bit daft” self. While in the ambulance I was trying to come up with conversation, ANY conversation, to make the crazy long journey go faster. We decided that spinal boards with televisions suspended over the head would be a good idea. She suggested showing shows such as ER or Casualty, I suggested House. We then decided those shows take too long so something like The Big Bang Theory or Friends would be better; they are short and we’ve all seen them already so it wouldn’t matter if you didn’t get to the end before being let off the board again.

Spinal board

Arriving at the hospital was a low point. I was asked to sit in the waiting room for half an hour leaving her staring at the ceiling on her own. Not fun for either of us. My guilt level was pretty high at this point. After a while I did get to go through and sit with her, keep her chatting & laughing.

After a while she had her first check over and then was released from her shackles. More time went past and we were seen again. She was given the all clear and we were good to go. A taxi ride back to her car later and we were on our way home… 4 hours after she’d fallen.

The moral of the story? If you fall in a public place where there are first aiders around, when they ask you are “Are you ok?” DO NOT answer “no”! The correct response is “I’m not sure, give me a minute.”

KT :-)

 

The Day KT Changed a Battery

Today has been one of those days that just makes you want to dust off that blog that’s been sitting in the cupboard unloved for a while.

The last day or so I’ve been having car trouble (well, longer than that with general or “other” car troubles. This specific issue has been a couple of days)

Blue Car

I’ve been getting warning lights. Two of them specifically, one that looks like a wee battery and one that usually comes on when the hand brake (parking brake) is applied, so I assume that one relates to the brakes some how. I did what any self respecting girl does, I simultaneously Googled, phoned my dad and looked through the handbook.

The handbook and my dad told me that those lights meant possibly problems with the drive belt and brake pads/ brake fluid levels. Google was pretty useless to be honest. Rare, but true.

Of course the problem was nothing as simple as a broken belt. The belt is intact and turning but the battery is not charging. Uh oh, alternator issue. (The brakes appear fine and I think that warning light is just keeping the battery one company). Now, replacing the alternator in this car is not going to be cheap. She was still starting so we didn’t worry too much. I took spare batteries (two) and jump leads so that I could start the car even if the battery got too low.

That happened today, away from home… The jump start worked perfectly, but then a few other warning lights decided to join the party. The safest thing to do was to change the battery before going home. Conveniently I was in the next street to a tool shop. I am now the proud owner of my very own 10mm spanner!

Now, I am typing this in a coffee shop. I haven’t tried to start her yet, but the battery has been changed. The moment of truth will be when it comes to starting the car to travel home. But assuming all is well, here is how to change a car battery!

 How to Change a Car Battery

Step 1: Locate a second battery of comparable size.

Step 2: Ascertain the size of nuts used to hold everything together (in my case all were 10mm, yours might be 13mm or something else entirely)

Step 3: Loosen the bracket holding the battery in place.

 (You might want to double check you have plasters nearby, mine bit me.)

Step 4: Loosen the nuts holding the battery connections in place and remove connectors & lift old battery out.

Top Tip! At any of those points, should any nuts be rusted in place use anything greasy to loosen them. Lipstick is a suitable option if that is all you have (according to my dad). I used hand sanitising gel. Don’t worry too much about any scary creaking noises the nuts make, that is them freeing off.

Step 5: Lift up replacement battery into place reconnect everything remembering that black is negative and red is positive.

Step 6: Go into the pharmacy next door and purchase wet wipes for hands and that oh so sexy, well placed, grease smear across your nose and right cheek. In the event that you have not conveniently broken down outside a seller of wet wipes or a bathroom you will need to either ask a stranger for somewhere to clean up or continue your journey looking like Charlene from neighbours (showing my age here, played by Kylie, worked as a mechanic).

Step 7: (Untested by me at this point) Start car and go home!

UPDATE: She started first time.

 

In other news, I went for a job in addition to my self-employment. I got it! So now, in the same college where I do most of my interpreting work and in the same department (additional support needs), I am going to be a lecturer! I will have two classes a week at first and it’s all subject to change based on the college merger that goes live on 01Nov13.

I have a lot of prep work to do before I start but I’m really excited about it.

Tonight I am off out with a group of people I’ve never met before. We’re off to a comedy night. I’m hoping it will end off the day nicely.

 

KT :-)

The great hair debacle

It’s been a week since I sneaked back in. This week I’ve been on holiday from the main job at the college (much needed and I’m trying really hard to ignore that being self-employed, this holiday is unpaid). I’ve done lots of playing with my computer getting things all how I want. I’ve been working on the socks and I think I’m close to being done. I dyed my hair (more on that later). Oh, and I turned 30.

Happy birthday to me!

This birthday has been truly weird. I didn’t really have a birthday as such. No big celebrations. It all sort of blew past without fanfare. And that was ok.

It was one of those birthdays with a zero on the end. People usually do one of two things at “big” birthdays in my experience: they either freak out and simultaneously pretend it isn’t happening, or they want to make a big fuss. I suppose I was closer to the first category. I just felt no need for balloons and parties this year. What I do feel the need for is some big changes.

I am ready to push my business forward. I am ready to change my home surroundings. I am ready to let go of all the superfluous things in my home/life and make space for the fresh and new. I am ready to change my wardrobe and appearance. I am ready to rip it up and start again!

I am ready!

This all started with the decision to get a bit more adventurous with my hair. I had decided on a purple shade bought the colour and enlisted my mum (former hair-dresser) to help me apply it.

This was the shade I was going for.

I did not get what I wanted. The colour came out a dark burgundyish colour. Not a big change really. Nobody has even noticed truth be told. I can even see my old colour in places. I know we followed the instructions to the letter.

The next day I tried to call the L’Oreal care line. Here’s a heads up to all people who ever want to contact L’Oreal, you don’t get to speak to someone straight away. You are kept on hold and then when someone answers they take your details for someone to call you back. I was told when I called on Thursday that “it might not be today or tomorrow but someone will call you back maybe Monday or Tuesday…”

That would be nearly a week! Seriously?! Hmmm. I wasn’t happy. I did the only thing I could think to do, I tweeted my complaint publicly. I got a direct response. That response told me to email an address with my twitter handle in the subject line. I was called first thing the following day. The moral of this story? To get results, make the threat of complaint public. I’m actually quite sad that I had to.

I was less than impressed with L’Oreal’s customer service until that phonecall. The phonecall itself, now I was actually speaking to someone, went well. They are going to investigate what could have gone wrong. I’ve to send before and after pictures and when they have investigated further they will decide what action to take. I can’t ask for much more than that.

I’ll follow up with you all later when I get more information.

So, part one of being ready for big changes turned into a fail. But instead of just sighing and saying “oh well” I’m trying to see if it can be salvaged.

And now? I have black bags, and I’m not afraid to use them! I’m sure part 2 will be a doozy!

KT.

ps. as inspired by a few other blogs that I follow (and to spur me on with these things)

I am currently listening to “Interview with The Vampire” by Anne Rice. I’ve been listening to this on and off for weeks but I’m nearly done.

I am currently reading “A Guy, A Girl And A Voodoo Monkey Hand” by D.I Jolly and I’m looking forward to posting a review when it is done.

The one where I sneak back in

So, I accidentally fell off the planet for a wee bit there.

I haven’t wanted to write this blog for a while. I’ve felt like nobody would be interested in anything I had to say and in spite of being told it didn’t matter who, if anyone, read this; it still mattered to me. So I wrote nothing.

I started to feel like I wasn’t making the huge leaps that other blogs I read make on a near daily basis, so my ramblings would be uninspiring at best, boring at worst. I have not eliminated all debt. I have not redecorated my home from top to bottom. I have not created a whole new wardrobe using only bin bags, lolly sticks and an old pillow case. I have not lost 10lbs or run any marathons.

I have

  • Prepped the walls in my kitchen over a few days in January and then painted them white so they are ready for something more exciting later.
  • Continued crocheting the massive never ending blanket.
  • Learned some new tatting techniques.
  • Devised and written my own tatting pattern.
  • Fought a PPI claim and lost.
  • Started a fight over a class I paid for that turned out not to be what I signed up for at all. I want my money back and I won’t give up on it.
  • Survived my side hussle job going into administration and come out the other side. (job still intact)
  • Continued getting to know the main student that I work with in the day job.
  • Knit my first lace socks. (knit my first lace anything actually)
  • Learned how to knit toe up socks two at a time.
  • Had problems with my hands that are now the subject of an ongoing medical investigation. So far all that has turned up is non-anaemic iron deficiency which has nothing to do with the problems I’m having…

All I can say is I’m sorry that you weren’t able to join me on those journeys. But as I said above, I didn’t think they would be all that interesting to people.

With all the things that have been going on there have been times when I’ve felt ready to throw in the towel. I’ve been down about things and then giddy with ideas and back again. But most of all, my biggest achievement so far has been to keep on keeping on.

This might be the time to let people back in because in a couple of days I turn 30. It’s one of those birthdays that ends in a zero. People tend to make a big deal about them, or freak out. I have chosen to do neither of those things. I have, however, decided that for me, a new life begins at 30. I have big plans. They might get a little drastic but it is all for a good cause: the cause that I set out to achieve with this blog more than a year ago.

The New Plan: Rip It All Up and Start Again!

And if you want to know what that means, stay tuned. I have a feeling things are about to get interesting!

KT.

End of Year Review

Hi everyone,

I’ve been thinking about this post for a few days now. It hasn’t been an easy year. I’ve lost people I loved, I’ve been without a job for a time, my social life has been sparse. But in a few other ways, it’s not been a terrible year. I have done some good things this year. This wee review is to remind me of what I’ve already achieved and to see where I can build on next. Lets take this one bit at a time,

Creating My future

I started this year with small debts (but no control over my money) and a job I hated. My goals were to get control of my money and establishing a career for myself doing something that I enjoyed.

cookiesOf all the things I set out to achieve, this is the area I have done best in. I survived the job I was ready to leave. I was unemployed for over 3 months. And now? I am self-employed. I am doing a job I enjoy with the qualifications I took years to get. I will call that a win!

As for money? If being self-employed has taught me nothing else, it is that money is for using, and I am in control of it. I have plans in place to pay off my debts (increased again during unemployment) and, give or take this week where I have decided that if I want a drink, or to get something that will make either the man-shape, myself or both of us smile then I’ll get it, the purse strings are under control.

Creating My Home

It started off cluttered, difficult to clean, undecorated and unloved. Now? Well, the clutter has been pared down to manageable levels and continues to decrease. The dream of all my non-furniture stuff fitting in my car still stands! The flat is usually clean if not always tidy and I can clean it relatively quickly and easily. I don’t have a set routine, but currently living alone, I’m not sure I need one.

It still isn’t decorated as such, but that will be easier to achieve with less clutter around and hopefully a little more money later next year. I’d love for this to be a 2013 focus, but I’m not making any promises.

Creating My Network

I have met a couple of new friends this year, I still have the amazing strong “man-shape” in my life. Over all though, this has been the place where I have made least progress.

Why does nobody tell us as children how difficult it is to make new friends as grown-ups?!?!

Where do people meet new friends? Through work? I am self-employed and although I see other people regularly, I am not really part of anyone else’s team. Through clubs and shared interests? Well, I’ve tried that and this year I have met one close friend through a shared love of crafts. Usually though, this doesn’t work for me. I meet people and we get on well, but if I leave the club, orchestra, knit night etc the friendships I made there peter out very quickly. I just don’t have the knack there I guess.

I don’t give up though, next year I hope to put myself out there a bit more and try to make some more local friends… somehow!

Creative Me

I can hardly recognise the creative side of me now! This year I learned how to make tatted lace. I can shuttle tat and needle tat. I recently started working on my own patterns too.

tatting

I am still knitting and crocheting when I can and I’m still enjoying all of them.

I have enjoyed going out and taking photos of my surroundings and looking at places with fresh eyes.

dragonflyI find solace in creating things and I am very glad to have that side of me. Long may it continue!

Ok, I’ll leave it there. You know what? I was all set to beat myself up for not doing everything. That would be nuts, cause I did good!

KT :-)

Happy Holidays

This is just a little quick post to let you all know that I haven’t forgotten about this blog but I’m not quite sure what its meant to be any more.

If anyone would like to chip in with what they like best about my little corner of cyber space that would really help.

In the meantime, HAPPY HOLIDAYS!! Whatever holidays those may be.

KT :-)

Rookie mistakes

Why on earth is asking people for money so difficult?

The one part I’m hating about being self-employed above all others is chasing up unpaid invoices. There have been a few teething problems for me. People have made mistakes when setting me up as a new vender within colleges or just never had to deal with an interpreter before so had no idea what to so with me or how it worked.

All but one has now been cleared up after much back and forward. The one college that hasn’t yet paid me for any of the work I’ve done is also the college that has now got access to their other interpreter on my day so has told me I’m no longer required. (Don’t worry Mad Men fans, I didn’t lose Lucky Strike…)

What I have been finding so difficult is sending the words “this is not acceptable”.

It is not acceptable to me!

Now, that wasn’t so hard. But I’m so determined to not sour the relationship there, I enjoyed working in that college, that I’ve said everything but those words. I’ve been firm yes, but not direct.

I now know why. I’ve made a school boy error. In my head (and on paper somewhere or other) I have my terms and conditions. I’ve even had training on it. It was one of the first things I chose to have training on. Terms and conditions for interpreters. Seems so simple! So why didn’t I go through the procedure of when I accepted that job not first sending my terms and conditions to my clients? Why did I not protect myself in that way? More to the point why did I not think I’d need to??

Too trusting? Maybe. Naive? Definitely!

Lesson learned. Terms and conditions give you the power to stand up and say what is acceptable.

In my head mine including “if you haven’t paid me within x amount of time I’m adding 10% to the bill”. In my head is no good to anyone. It was a rookie mistake. Lesson learned.

Anyone else out there made a classic rookie mistake we could all do well to avoid? Please share it in the comments.

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