Three Things Thursday: 18 August 2016

As usual I’m joining with Emily of Nerd in the Brain (and others) for Three Things Thursday’. As she says…

*three things that make me smile: an exercise in gratitude – feel free to steal this idea with wild abandon and fill your blog with the happy*

First, I’m smiling at rainbows. There’s a saying that you can’t have rainbows without rain, but it’s completely untrue. If you have one of Pauline’s fantastic light-catchers, you just need a little sunshine.

Second, seeing the limery as I envisaged it… with loads of plants, crops to pick and space for us too:

IMGP0225

this is how we see it from the kitchen

Third, happy dogs. A close friend of mine has just lost one of her dogs and has another seriously ill (possibly because of salmonella or poison) and so I’m taking time to feel grateful for Sam and Max. I also want to say thank you to everyone who has a shelter/rescue dog – there are so many unwanted dogs, let’s give them all homes before we start deliberately making more.

So that’s it for this week. What are you feeling grateful for?

…and a little extra one that has happened today (I knew it was going to, but not exactly when)… I’m day 231 here and you can watch the video tutorial here

 

Talented friends

When I first started blogging I never realised what extraordinary people it would put me in contact with.

Today I want to share the creations of two friends – both met through this blog, but one who lives on the other side of the world and one who lives (literally) just round the corner (about 500m away).

Katie is the one close at hand. How, you may wonder, is it possible to have so much in common with someone in the next street, but never to meet them? Well, because of health issues, Katie doesn’t get out much; she does, however, experience the world through the internet. And so we met through our blogs… gradually coming to the realisation that, not only do we both live in west Wales, but we are on each other’s doorstep! Katie does the most beautiful crochet, so I was delighted a couple of weeks ago when she presented me with some of her work – a stunning summer shawl. I had seen this as a work in progress earlier in the year and had admired the colours, but I had no idea that one day it might be mine:

Beautiful shawl

Beautiful shawl

And here’s some detail:

intricate work, lovely colours

intricate work, lovely colours

Not being well, Kaite doesn’t blog very often, but you can see some of the amazing stuff that she has made here.

The second item I’m now the proud owner of is from Pauline, The Contented Crafter, in New Zealand. I already have an original picture from Pauline (swapped for a dragon), but have been hankering after one of her light catchers for a while now. I was over the moon, therefore, when she told me she wanted a few of my creations, including a shy hedgehog, and were were able to arrange another swap. I think I may have come out best from this exchange, because she made me the most amazing light catcher to hang in the limery. The charms on it represent so many parts of my life:

In addition to all this, the light catcher also gives us rainbows:

Find the rainbows in your life!

Find the rainbows in your life!

What a fortunate person I am!

If you would like of of Pauline’s light catchers, she does commissions. Check out her gift shop here.

So, there you are… all because of being open to making new friends through blogging.

Fly, my pretty!

Sometimes, you write a comment on someone’s blog post and it leads you down a very interesting path… for example, I never expected that my comment on The Contented Crafter’s blog would result in me owning the picture that the post related to. I simply said, of her lovely creation,  that ‘I would have it on my wall in a heartbeat!’ In no time at all the picture was offered to me in exchange for a dragon. Inspired by the one that went to Narf in Tasmania to guard her plants:

A dragon for Tasmania

A dragon for Narf in Tasmania

this one, however, was to be a water dragon…

And so I started the hunt for appropriate wool… none to be had locally, but plenty of choice on the internet. I chose “aqua” as the main colour, with support from “oxygen”(lighter) and “peacock” (darker).

Colours for a water dragon

Colours for a water dragon

Originally, I had a vision of an undulating dragon, but somehow as I worked on it, I couldn’t create the shape I had envisaged and after some frogging I made a much straighter body. I then decided to make the spines down the back sinuous by creating two intertwined rows in different colours… like a meandering river. As a water dragon, he could not have feet like a terrestrial dragon, so I made him webs for improved swimming ability!

Adding the spines

Adding the spines

I made the wings in “oxygen” and edged them and then remembered that I had a few freshwater pearls that would provide some appropriate embellishment. In the same box as the pearls, however, I came across an old film canister containing pearlescent beads. As soon as I saw them, I knew that they, not the half-dozen pearls, were just the thing.

Working on the wings

Working on the wings

But what about the eyes…? I tried mother-of-pearl, but the poor creature looked dead. I tried black , like the Tasmanian dragon, but they were too stark, I went to every shop in the area that sells buttons and couldn’t find anything that spoke to me so I resorted to e-bay – the world’s biggest haberdashery shop. There I was tempted by all sorts of glass buttons and I ended up ordering a selection because I simply couldn’t decide which would look best. In the end, I used vintage Czechoslovakian turquoise glass buttons, but now I have quite a few other buttons that will make great eyes on dragons to come!

Blue glass eyes

Blue glass eyes

I decorated the wings and spines with the pearlescent beads, and added some darker beads to the edges of the wings. Had this dragon been going somewhere in the UK, I would have wired the wings to give them extra support to counter the weight of the beads and make them poseable, but I was concerned that an x-ray at customs revealing a network of fine wires might result in the untimely destruction of the dragon in a controlled explosion (and it is, after all, a water dragon not a fire dragon). The final touches involved some needle sculpting and silver tufts on ears and chin.

And then the dragon was flying off to New Zealand and a new life…

It turns out that bartering for art is very satisfying!

Kindness

The other day my friend Andrea (who I have never met in person) posted the following on Facebook:

Never let the outside world suppress your passion for kindness and altruism. It may be looked at as unorthodox at times, but I promise you that you are not alone. Kindness and love can change the world… we just need to believe that we can make it happen. (John Bryant)

I don’t do new year resolutions – I feel that if a resolution is worth making, you should do it at the time that you think of it… like giving presents. But, having said that, I do think that my focus in 2015 is going to be on kindness and altruism.By choosing to make a stand and to be kind, we can start to separate ourselves from all the confusing stories we are presented with by politicians and the media* and focus on something that is actually achievable, positive and has an impact on our ourselves and others.

If we make connections with other people around the world in a spirit of kindness, we will surely be encouraged to treat our fellow human beings with respect and to respect the environment in which they live. Kindness is not just about charitable donations or helping a friend, it’s about having a caring attitude to everyone. I am especially keen to extend my sphere of kindness to those who I never meet, but who are indirectly affected my choices – the people who make my clothes, grow my food, support my lifestyle.

Some direct kindness is also good for the soul and so later this week I will be dispatching two packages – one to Tasmania and one to the US – to two lovely and inspiring people that I have never met but with whom I wish to share some of my creative bounty. All this is thanks to the kindness of Pauline, The Contented Crafter, and you can read the details here. I want the contents of the packages to be a surprise for the recipients, so no photographs yet… you’ll just have to make do with one of Max testing out some of my packaging material:

This box feels comfy

This box feels comfy

Kindness is something we can all increase in our lives and, in all cases, it will make the world a better place. So, will you join me in trying to be a little kinder?

-oOo-

* Thanks to John B. for another post on FB that made me think about this

 

The kindness of friends

In “A Streetcar Named Desire” (now that’s a depressing play if ever there was one) Blanche DuBois’ most famous line is

I have always depended on the kindness of strangers

… and I thought of using it as the title for this post. But it’s not really appropriate, because I consider all the kindness that has been (and continues to be) bestowed on me as a result of my requests for squares to be from friends… even if you weren’t before, you are now.

Cosy squares and vintage crochet

Cosy squares and vintage crochet

The latest little package that has arrived is from Kerry (Love those “Hands at Home”). It contained two fabulous squares using a crochet technique that she learned during a very trying time in her life. You can read the story of the resulting blanket and the associated flood here. She had a couple of squares remaining from this time and sent them to me to add to my latest friendship blanket (still the squares keep coming – thank you one and all). I really love the pattern… in fact I’m so taken with it that I’m planning to use it for one of the big cushions on my sofa. It has some affinities to Bavarian crochet, so should be relatively easy for me to pick up. But the squares weren’t the only thing in the package, there was also a piece of vintage crochet, worked by some unknown lady (well, ok that’s an assumption, but I’m sure I’m right) in the most amazingly fine thread and at such an incredible density that it is stiff. I’m adding this to my collection of lovely things that I have received with the friendship squares. Like the cards I received from Pauline (The Contented Crafter) I want to frame this.

The Dangler of International Happiness – isn’t it beautiful?

And talking of Pauline, I was thrilled to see her post yesterday on another collaborative effort… The Dangler of International Happiness. This work of art is another example of the generosity of crafty bloggers from around the world. In fact, it was initiated by Fran over at The Road to Serendipity rather than Pauline herself. I love how all the different elements have been drawn together to make this…  and so, really I think there is a much more apt quote from Blanche DuBois that sums it all up:

Oh look, we have created enchantment.

And haven’t we just?

Next group project? Something for Fran!

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