Monday, 27 June 2011

The exuberance of youth

Sometimes I'm convinced I've aged in dog years. I don't exactly feel old, and in my head I've not changed for the last twenty years. It's just that every now and then I find myself saying or thinking things that have no right being said or thought by someone my age. By my mother, most definitely, but not by me.

I blame the children! Until they arrived I hadn't really paid much attention to time passing, only milestones like driving, voting and graduating being of note. My boys however provide a daily, tangible reminder of the years that are galloping by. For a time they kept me young. Caring for them in their formative years helped me remain physically and mentally active (twins understand very early on the concept of divide and conquer!) 

I could ascend a climbing frame or tree with the best of them. I thought nothing of scrambling over craggy terrain to get to the most interesting rock pool, spending the next half hour or so up to my elbows in frigid sea water as we tried to identify the inhabitants.

All done while keeping watch over them, protecting them and all the while getting the opportunity to see everything again through their eyes.

Now in their teens I, quite rightly, have taken a back seat in their escapades. They are stepping out on their own. That's as it should be. But subsequently it would seem that from this position I'm no longer party to their 'joie de vivre' , and that's what makes me feel old. No longer buoyed by their high spirits and air of discovery, I worry! Out of sight isn't out of mind. On the contrary, out of sight means a mind full of horrific possibilities. Every one of my concerns leads to yet another wrinkle, another furrow in the brow, another year that feels like seven.

This weekend I was informed of a camping trip they were planning along with four of their friends. Their excitement at the proposed outing was almost palpable. I, on the other hand wasn't quite so enthusiastic. I slipped in to overly cautious mother mode and bombarded them with questions, pitfalls and 'so help me' warnings.

"Who are you going with?", "Where are you camping?", "Who owns the ground?"

"It's raining, you'll get wet", "It's midge central out there, you'll be eaten alive", " You can't have a camp fire, there's no dry wood. How will you stay warm?"

"There had better be no cigarettes/drink involved or so help me.....!", "What? Some of your friends are girls? There had better be no nonsense or so help me.....!" 

You get the picture. 
I began to feel like an old biddy, my maternal caution making me sound like a killjoy. Fortunately the exuberance of youth prevailed. To put my mind at ease they camped in the garden (actually I'm not sure if I gave them much choice but the access to a toilet seemed to sway them) As the six of them started to unpack the tent I hovered anxiously at the back door, waiting to step in and take charge. My help wasn't required! They were carried along on a tide of good natured co-operation and in between laughing, spraying jungle formula on each other, and getting damp in the ever present drizzle, that none of them seemed to notice, the tent was erected.

That evening there was the occasional foray in to the kitchen for treats and hot chocolate. I have a feeling that was more an effort on their part to let me know they were okay than an actual need for sustenance. Their subtle attempt at saying, 'we're fine, we'll manage, you don't have to worry so much'. When did my boys start taking care of me?

As I sat watching the flickering lights of their citronella candles and wind up torches I wondered if there will ever be a time when I won't worry. A time when I can just let them go and enjoy themselves. A time when this age I'm feeling provides me with the attending wisdom, and the ability to relax.  

So what did I do as I sat pondering time, age and wisdom? I took up my embroidery! It seemed appropriate somehow. There was however no rocking chair involved, I'm only willing to take the image so far :o) 

Friday, 17 June 2011

Sinister or Dexter

Some nights I don't sleep very well. While a number of these wakeful episodes are the result of a very convincing impersonation of a traction engine performed by he who shall remain nameless, most often than not I am the one to blame. I can't seem to get my head to switch off and I start mulling over some seemingly inconsequential thing that has been put to the back of my mind earlier on in the day. 

One of these little brain teasers that is becoming a firm favourite (!) is 'does it make a difference if a bag is left or right handed?'. 

I wear my bag on my left shoulder, and quite frankly didn't really notice if anyone else did the same. That was until I started making bags myself. I design them around me, using myself as a model to work out sizes, strap lengths and overall usability. So of course my bags are going to be geared for a right handed, left shoulder user. Does it make a difference? Well, yes, I think it does.

This is one of my newest bags ( apologies for the poor lighting, but if I had waited for a sunny day I might not have posted this until September! )

worn on the left shoulder

worn on the right

The leather embellishment on the front of the bag is a brooch so it can be moved to any position ( a concession I made after a sleepless night!) but the one on the strap is fixed. Even the inside of the bag has been geared to wearing on the left. The key clip is at the front and the zipped pocket works from front to back.

I've done the same with this bag, the strap being adjustable as you are wearing it , but only if worn on the left shoulder.

I thought I'd cracked it with this one. No embellishment to dictate a front or back. The scarf handle can be tied on whichever way you please. Hurrah!

Oh, but what about the zip? Well, obviously I've put it in so that it can be opened front to back. After all, when you're in the middle of a busy street, rooting around looking for your purse  you don't want to give everyone access to the contents of your bag. 

But if you wear it on your right shoulder it zips from back to front, and the key clip is further away . A bit of a fiddle wouldn't you say?

And if you flip it around so the zip is once again operational from front to back the inner zipped pocket is now on the outer side of the bag. Aaargh!

So I asked the lovely Lisa Lam of U-Handbags for some help. She very kindly offered to do a straw poll on her FB page to discover whether most women were right or left shoulder users. Many thanks to all of those who took the time and answered what must have seemed like a strange question. 
There were right handers that wore them on the left, left handers that wore them on the right, lefties on the left, righties on the right and some that couldn't make their mind up, changing side depending on bag style or how heavy it was.

You would think with all of that information I would be able to say once and for all whether we wear our bags predominantly on the left or right and design them accordingly. I can't. Unfortunately it was almost a 50/50 split! 

He who shall still remain nameless came in to find me with my head in my hands, bemoaning the unfairness of it all. 
" You didn't really expect to arrive at a logical conclusion did you?" he said, "It is women you're dealing with after all."

Methinks the traction engine will be running in the spare room tonight!   

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Back in the driving seat.

I've been trying to motivate myself these past few weeks and get back in to a making frame of mind. Working in the charity shop has given me access to some fabulous fabric finds, and while I can picture them as any number of new handbags or home accessories I can't quite dredge up any enthusiasm to sit behind my sewing machine and get creating. 
After arranging and rearranging my workspace for the umpteenth time, hoping that re-acquainting myself with all of my bits and bobs would help, I finally had to admit that I needed to find another way of spurring myself in to action.

Fortunately salvation was close at hand. During the reshuffling I had moved some boxes that contained unfinished projects. I hope I'm not alone in the habit of starting one thing then getting sidetracked on to something else. It's not a case of getting bored, just that the next project becomes so compelling that I have to stop what I'm doing and focus entirely on it.
Last year I had cut out some pieces of felt to be made in to key rings. I sold a few of the finished items at craft fairs but they were quite time consuming, being all hand sewn, so I decided to take them off my product list. Since my bags were my main focus I put the remaining pieces to one side with the intention of getting back to them at a later date.

Today proved to be that later date. 

Sequin headlights......

....and button wheels...

...a car key ring for car keys.

I enjoyed making this so much that I think I spent the entire time sewing with a smile on my face. I doubt very much I will ever sell them again but as my needle went in and out, in and out I could feel the joy of making, just for the fun of it, returning. 

So if you find yourself in a rut, or facing a bit of a road block, try going back to something familiar. Put yourself back in the driving seat and revisit a route you've taken before. You might be surprised at just where it may take you.

Friday, 10 June 2011

Sunglasses and pleasant surprises.

I'm not sure whether it's a sign of ageing or a result of living in one of the wettest towns in the country ( it's the clouds hitting the hills you see, no scenery without sacrifice! ) but I've noticed over the last few years that I start squinting at the merest hint of sunshine. 
That's not a problem in itself. A bit uncomfortable yes, what with the scrunched up facial muscles, saline irritated skin and limited visibility, not to mention the knowledge that the inevitable outcome will be crows feet you could plant potatoes in. No, my predicament comes when I try to alleviate the glare by the expedient use of a pair of sunglasses.

Do you believe in another dimension? A parallel universe running along side our own? I do. And I know that that universe is inhabited by Biro's, odd socks and sunglasses! There must be a wormhole somewhere in my home that allows those items in this world to seek freedom in the other one. It's the only explanation I have as to why I can never find a pair of sunglasses when I need them. I keep my prescription pair in the car and I can always lay my hands on them which is why I'm sure the wormhole is in the house.

So I've had to start getting sneaky. Instead of only having one pair of sunglasses, and risk leaving them in a room where they could find their way along an Einstein-Rosen bridge, I have loads of sunglasses dotted around the house, safe in the knowledge that if one pair escapes there will be another to take it's place on my nose.

That's all fine and dandy, but it doesn't always keep them safe, especially not when you put my memory in the mix.
We had a brief bright spell here in Moffat last week ( I say last week, I mean Friday! ) I grabbed my second favourite pair of glasses, the first having obtained their freedom a couple of weeks earlier ( a pity really, I loved those shades) and set off into town as I was covering a shift at the local charity shop. At the end of the day I couldn't find them for my return journey. Do you ever have a moment when you're not sure whether the thing you are remembering took place that day or whether you are remembering it from a previous occasion? Well I did. I wasn't sure whether I took my sunglasses off before I got to the shop, leaving them in the car, or when I got to the shop. A brief search had me convinced the car was their resting place, so of I toddled. It hasn't been sunny since so the whole episode slide from my mind.

I was working today and about half way through my shift I was called upon by an older lady to see something in our jewellery cabinet.
"I've just had my cataracts done dear and I need some darker glasses. Do you think I could have a look at that pair" she said pointing her arthritic finger.
Yup, you guessed it. There were my sunglasses, staring blankly back at me, almost daring me with their indifference. Well what could I do? I sold them to her of course. What are a few crows feet compared to protecting sensitive lenses.

That Karma thing must have been working though ( I'm not sure whether physics and religion really blend but for the purposes of this post they will) because later on that day another lady came in to the shop. We are on nodding and chit-chat acquaintance as she attends our craft fairs in Moffat. Anyway when I spoke to her at the fair in May she said she had some things I might be interested in. She found out I was volunteering in the shop so in she popped..... 

 ......with a potato bag full of wadding.........

......and over 7 yards of red wool fabric. Never underestimate the power of a good deed.

And keep an eye on your sunglasses at all times, they're tricky little devils!
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