Tag Archives: reflection

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.


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

Day 245 – 251

Day 245 – 251

This Saturday I went out for drinks for a good friend’s birthday. As is kinda normal for me, I chose not to drink alcohol.

I enjoy a glass of wine (in fact I have one sitting beside me right now). I enjoy a beer, or a bacardi, or baileys, or even a whisky on occasion. But when it comes to going out with friends, I usually chose not to drink. At family functions it is usually the same. I know why this is my choice but I have had the “but don’t you want to have a drink?” conversation so many times now I got to thinking that maybe my “logical” reasons aren’t so logical to other people. (The difference in logic from person to person is another post for another day)









Here are my main reasons.

  1. The times in my life when I have been a heavier drinker than I am now I put on weight very quickly.
  2. I like to go home after a good night and sleep in my own bed.
  3. I like to drive on nights out because it gives me freedom to leave at whatever time I want, even if that time is later than the last train home. I won’t need to travel home on the night bus that takes an age to get home and is usually filled with drunk unpredictable people that on occasion can frighten me. I feel safer in my car and I can listen to whatever music I like as loud as I like without offending anyone to top off my fun night.
  4. The main reason is I don’t like the sensation of feeling drunk. I like being tipsy but that one sip too many and I move into the “drunk” phase and I don’t like it. I don’t like feeling out of control of my body. I don’t like that as an emotional person to start with I become over-sensitive and over-emotional in either a good way or a bad way. I cry (again because I am too happy or any one of a number of negative emotions). I say things filter-free…

I used to joke that whenever I drank the alcohol came straight back out via the tear ducts. I have a theory that it I have a faulty over-flow valve…

So, in my head, this all makes perfect sense. To my friends and family at times I am a control freak and need to let my hair down more, but personally, I think I am a lot more fun sober.

The night out I am talking about this time was a shorter night out but it was so much fun! It involved the wearing of a top hat and a fez. There were times when both these hats were worn at the same time! That is a story that only makes sense if you were there (and not even then if we’re all honest). There is now talk of a random hat party in the future. I am going to attempt to crochet a top hat for whenever that happens. Thank you for inviting me, see you again soon!

Ok, so, the rest of this week, it wasn’t all about the nights out and funny hats. This was week two of self employment. I added a new college to the mix (as previously mentioned). This college is Edinburgh based and I accidentally stepped back in time. Ok, that was a weird way of putting it but I really had a moment where it was 2005, I was living in Edinburgh and working for Shanks during my uni work placement year.

To explain, the college building I am working in part of the time is two doors down from where I worked at Shanks. I worked there as an analyst in a solvent recovery plant. That meant climbing up road tankers to take samples, it meant hard hat, safety boots, lab coat and fluorescent vest. The student is studying bricklaying which means hard hat, safety boots and fluorescent vest. So many memories of that time came back.

The 6 months of 2004 I spent there were horrible, my boss was mean to the extent that my hair was falling out in clumps. The 6 months of 2005 I spent there a shift happened, I could see the end, it was temporary and I started to feel stronger. That 6 months really shaped me. So many good things happened (I met who I describe as the love of my life for example). When the proximity and clothing came together to send me back in time it was 2005 I went to.

I couldn’t be so close and not do a little visit. Wow, I was suddenly quite emotional (what else is new?!). It was like we’d never been there. Carrie and I had never danced around the lab to crap on the radio. Steven and I hadn’t laughed about all the ways we hated our boss. Rosalia hadn’t been driven around on top of a tanker because the driver hadn’t seen her go up. I knew that shortly after I left the plant was closed and the land sold off supposedly to build flats. I had no idea that after all the storage tanks and the building were torn down it would be left to rot. Words can’t explain as well as a picture.

I was sad for a moment. Then I remembered how many times I couldn’t wait to leave there! Me of then longed to see the place gone. It is sad, but I had good times there too and those memories stay. It is nice to look back, smile and realise how I’ve grown in those 7 years.

Work with the other student is getting better too. We had a few hiccups in the first week but he’s starting to trust me a bit more now, slowly but surely.

This post was longer than I intended so thank you if you’ve stayed with me this long.

KT :-)

p.s. One thing I noticed while going through my pictures looking for appropriate pictures for this post is for a nearly non-drinker (one who for an experiment didn’t drink for nearly a full year by the way) I have a LOT of pictures of drinks, or of me drinking drinks while pulling a variety of weird and wonderful faces. Shots in particular appear in my photo album rather a lot, so I will leave you with one last alcoholic image… TEQUILA!!

Day 207

Day 207

Mum and I had an interesting chat this evening. We were talking about the choices that people make and how you can often see the consequences before they even happen. You can see exactly what result they are about to get that is exactly what they don’t want. Jillian Michaels talks about this in her book Unlimited. She talks someone who has found themselves in rather a mess because of a sequences of events all sparked by choices.

This all got me talking about my choices, I want to understand exactly how I got here. This is not where I thought I’d be at this point. I am not doing the job I want, I don’t have the money I thought I might, my flat isn’t what I thought. But here is the really funny thing, we tracked back through my entire life, talking about the first time I remember consciously choosing things for myself. Were there things I could have done differently? Of course. But here is what I discovered.

I always thought that choosing chemistry as my degree on leaving school was a bit of a mistake. It seemed like a good idea at the time… I wanted to do other things but they never really seemed like a real option. Tracking through from then until now here is why it wasn’t a mistake.

  1. I met one of my best friends on the very first day (I fell down the steps outside the building and landed on her – we’ve been friends ever since)
  2. I wouldn’t have had the chance to take a placement year and live in Edinburgh. That would have changed me into something different to what I am today.
  3. I would not have gone on to work where I did after, meeting people I am still friends with now. I also wouldn’t have been made redundant from there which paid my uni fees for my sign language interpreting course.
  4. The biggest one of all. I wouldn’t have met the man-shape. He was friends with my 3rd year lab partner.

That 5 year course went a long way to forming who I am today.

Thinking about my choices my mum did say she didn’t think I had made any real clunkers decision wise. Sure, we all make little decisions every day that shape us. Some of them are good decisions and some of them are total clunkers.

Where has this all come from? Well, I am at what I would call a pivot point. I could go a number of different ways right now. I have gotten through to the final interview stages for a job that is not what I want to do. I felt I had to take a couple of hours to understand my choices up until now to make sure that what choices I make now are the right ones for me right now. (There is no such thing as THE right choice I don’t believe, but there are

some that will make me happier) The closer I get to being offered this job the more I start to hear the little voice shouting in my head: “You’re going the wrong way…”


So, here is the plan. Go for this job, see it through to the end, have the option. Meanwhile, pursue what I really want with as much vigour as I can. My intention has been thrown out into the universe. Now I need to be ready and prepared to catch it when it appears.

And one last thing, going back through my choices both big and small, I can start trusting in my own judgement, because you know what? I’ve done not too bad making decisions for myself up until now. I can do the big ones, now to master the little every day decisions.

KT. :-)


Day 196

Day 196

A day spent with family can go one of two ways. Either everyone gets on great, you all come away feeling closer or there are silly arguments, old resentments and/or guilts surface and you come away feeling closer to some people and frustrated with others. Most family events I’ve ever been to start as the former, become the later and if you have enough time come full circle to everyone feeling while again. This day was one of those. And it got me thinking…

I wish I knew of a way for all people to release all their bad feelings about themselves (and by all people I mostly mean me) and release any resentments against others to start from a clean slate of forgiveness. I’m not thinking “eternal sunshine of the spotless mind” here but sometimes we do need to let go of past slights and hurts to move past the square we’re on. I understand that all people need to work through their own personal issues and demons in their own time but if I ever find a quicker, easier, less painful process I’ll probably be a millionaire in a very short time.

A lot of my journey has been about this. There is the navel gazing “how can I be a better person, how can I learn from my past mistakes and move on stronger, how can I make only new and different mistakes (and less of them) in future” part. There is the how do I streamline my life to make things easier so I have more time for fun part. And most importantly for me there is the looking outwards, how can I be good for and help others, how can I build a great future part.

The balance is tricky for me just now. I’m finding things hard and my lower moods and motivations are leading to more introspection and navel gazing than ever before. I’ve become increasingly jaded, scared and depressed. I’m stuck in place like I’ve been planted. The interesting part hopefully is that means because I’ve done a lot of soul searching during this time, the second half of this year (which I am just getting started on) should be quite the story. If only I can dig myself out.

I’ve done a lot but this looks and feels a lot like square 1. Who knew?! Maybe I am just on a different, new playing board now. I like that thought. I’ve levelled up!


Day 188

Day 188

Apologies for the late entry. I was out with friends last night.

Day 188 was international kissing day! Mwah! That particular “national day” or “international day” in this case, has fond memories for me. When I was a teenager I used to spend my summers (4 or 5 of them, I lose track) at Castle Toward at an orchestra residential course for about 10days each year. Now, I’ve told you about this place before, that was the place I went to a couple of months back with friends to stay at my friends parents house.


We were always there at the start of July and my first year there someone heard on the radio that it was national kissing day on 6th July. Every year after it became a bit of a tradition for the boys to knick the brightest lipstick they could find from one of the girls and then sorta terrorise us! It was a great laugh and one of the things I remember about that time. I also remember how cool the ones who had already paired up played it, that was also a source of fun.

Fond memories and some nice reminiscing.

Do you have a recurring holiday, or national day with fond memories? I’d love to hear about them.

KT. :-)

Day 172

Day 172

I spent this evening with my mum and some of her friends at a special event. We had an evening with Kyle Gray, The Angel Whisperer. I don’t think of Kyle as “The Angel Whisperer”. I think of Kyle as the cool, medium, quirky kid I met years ago at a colour workshop I took with my mum. He was only 15 when we met him the first time.

Good news is he remembered both my mum and I after so long.

When we first went in everyone was to pick an angel card that would hopefully be a message for us, answer a question perhaps, and that we could take away with us. Anyone who reads this blog can have a chuckle with me about how totally apt the card I picked was… Here it is.


It really is the message I needed to hear because it is what I already know to be true, I just need to trust it. I was also reminded this evening that I have a history of being a good manifester when I put my mind to it. I guess I better get on that then!

Thank you angels for the good things already on their way to me.

Please check out http://kylegray.co.uk for more information about Kyle and details of his new book. It should be an interesting read and I wish him every success.

Ps. In case you are wondering, every reading/message he gave tonight was bang on the money. Kyle is the real deal.

Day 170

Day 170

Well, I am already starting to feel better. I spent most of today with the man-shape and never has it been more needed (for both of us I think). We talked about the business we want to run some day and were talking proper concrete plans. The hardest part by far will be funding. But we have a big dream and the drive to make it a reality.

Something else happened a few moments ago. I, by chance, heard a song I used to love when I was younger. The song was Want You Bad by The Offspring. It is such an upbeat song and I love the lyrics. The man-shape (and a few others) would most likely tell you that, I’m paraphrasing the song here, my one vice is I’m too nice. I always saw that song as being my permission to misbehave a little (ie do what I would like to rather than what I think I should do). And that song always makes me smile so much.

I love it when a song comes out of nowhere and changes how you think, feel or behave. And this song reminded me of one of my mission statements from this year: “I aim to misbehave”. Thank you Mal Reynolds, one of my favourite Joss Whedon creations for that one.

So here I am, reminded, refreshed and happy and aiming to misbehave (but only a little…!)

KT. :-)

Day 168

Day 168

I have an apology to make. Between upload issues and general life stuff this blog has not delivered what was promised for a couple of weeks now. Here is a moment of honesty: I am finding things hard just now. I am not used to feeling useless. I know I am not useless, I’m not trying to say I am but not having a job makes me feel less a part of general society more than I realised. Not having a job basically means having very little money, watching every penny to make sure that the bills get paid. Everyone reading this, pay off any debts and start saving a cushion fund now. Seriously. Hopefully you’ll never need it but if you do it will make things much more pleasant.

The lack of money is meaning that I’m not going out and seeing people as much as I would like and the times I do I feel a kind of guilt if I am spending money on “fun”. It’s crazy. I should be living my life. I can’t keep thinking like this or I’m going to end up driving myself insane.

I haven’t had much to say in this blog lately because the few things I can do to help pull myself back up are either really private or really rather boring. I mean, who wants to read that I spent a day filling out paper work or trying to write a business plan? (by the way, being more proficient with a crystal ball would make financial forecasting much easier…)

The blog (and me) has lost it’s way a bit and I’ve not been able to deliver some of what was promised and for that I am sorry. Project bedroom is still on hold until I can afford the make over. I am much cleaner and tidier since the clutter binge of the start if the year but it has fallen into an “as and when” routine rather than something scripted that I can share here.

I am working on everything that the tabs along the top say I am but I have totally lost my voice when trying to write about the better life I have been attempting to build for myself. And if I am completely honest, I feel that it is so disorganised and difficult just now that writing about it could end up being uninspiring to anyone reading and might discourage people from doing their own “creating me” style projects.

I have not completely lost heart but I do need to have a good think about how to focus myself (and this record of events) again. I’ve got too far and made too many good steps to give up now. But I do need to share that this part of the journey isn’t easy. To say otherwise would be a lie.

Nothing worth doing is easy, right? Well a better, more streamlined, more fun filled and less stressed life will be worth this time. And I am sure I will recognise it that bit easier and appreciate it all the more for it not coming too easily.

Thank you to anyone still with me. Together we’ll get there.


Day 93

Day 93

Today I turned 29. It is my birthday. Birthdays are weird. I didn’t want to have mine this year.

Every single day somebody celebrates another year passing since their birth. So really, to most people on the planet today was like any other day. But for me today had a name.

I am a little apprehensive about birthdays because as soon as you make a plan, have expectations, something completely different will happen. This year, to play the fates at their own game my plans were made for Friday, Saturday & Sunday. As you saw from my photos I spent Friday night away from my flat in my friends house in a little hamlet outside Dunoon. We had a couple of drinks and just relaxed. I discovered I have quite the skill for wii bowling.

The little place my friends parents live just so happens to be beside where I spent a couple of weeks of my summer during most of my teenage years (5 summers if my memory serves me correctly).

On Saturday afternoon I took a sort of pilgrimage to my past. Again, I went in with all these expectations of how I would feel being back there for the first time in maybe 10years. It was strange. I had expected (rather stupidly) to have some sort of revelation there, to remember who I was at that age and just know where I am meant to go next. I didn’t have anything like that. What struck me was how little had changed. It was so unchanged that I swear I could hear the giggles of us as kids running around on national kissing day (6th July if you’re interested) like we did every year, the boys wearing lipstick and us all just laughing. I could look at each window and remember what I did inside the building. So many of my experiences there formed who I am today and I could hear the echoes. But I had no profound moment.

I did feel peaceful. I did know that I have to take the man-shape there some day soon, for him so see it, experience it, and learn me just a little more than he could otherwise. Plus, it is just beautiful there. My photos don’t do it justice.

I had no profound moment but I did remember who I was years ago and although most of my changes have been for the better, I miss that girl. There was very little she had failed at and she was a walking bundle of potential. If I took anything away from the short time back there it is the fact that she still is. It might sound arrogant but there is very little that I am not capable of if I apply myself. It was nice to remember that that little balshy girl is still there, but with some wisdom of a few failures under her belt.

After my trip back to the castle I was given the chance to have a go on a pony for the first time in my adult life. It was fun. Sam was a very well behaved pony. I wasn’t nervous of being on a horse/pony, but I was nervous of making a fool of myself in front of two friends. How crazy stupid is that?! I got to have an experience I have not had in a long time. I don’t think I made a fool of myself and I was proud of myself for doing it.

So quickly after that it was time to come home. I travelled home alone. I got the ferry and two trains. I listened to music, got a little knitting done and reflected on my past (like people often do when birthdays are close). I’m not where that kid who spent her summers at orchestra residential holidays for her summers thought she’d be. But I think that’s ok. Where I thought I’d be would most likely have made me both boring and miserable. At least this unknown way is an adventure!

Yesterday, Sunday, I spent with the man-shape. In many ways it was totally his day. We went to Edinburgh, in part because I lived there for a year (and was living there when we met- reflecting on my past has been a BIG theme this weekend…) and also because he happened to have an audition there. The audition went well for him (he got the part). I then decided, in keeping with playing the fates at their own game, that we should go bowling and do the birthday stuff a day early.

We had fun bowling, even if we did end up with a very annoying family in the next lane… We both broke personal bests. He won both games. My wii bowling definitely went better than my regular bowling.

We came back via the video shop with DVDs and settled in for the night. We ended it off with Wrestlemania (a favourite for the man-shape). It was great to see when he started to get into it.

And then today. And as suspected, the fates did their thing, not knowing that I had gone out of my way to have my fun early. In so many ways today was just like any other day. Drinking coffee, watching tv and spending time with one of my favourite humans. I got older, I reflected on my past and how I got here. I got over emotional. And now? Well, I let myself wallow until bed and then I start anew tomorrow. I have work to be done. Miles to go (counting down from 730… Sorry, in-joke).

I can do more. I am going to do more. I deserve it. Life isn’t fair. In so many ways to so many people it just plain sucks. I’ve had enough of that. It’s not fair. So now I need to go and create the life I want. Isn’t that what this whole enterprise is all about??