I sit here with my head in my hands, trying to stop the dark thoughts running around in my mind… My body is so fragile and sensitive to touch. Please don’t brush past me right now, I’m scared that I will break.
How did I become so scared? Scared of the door, scared of a noise, scared of the people I have known all my life… but so much more scared of my own thoughts. I can’t catch a thought they’re moving so fast. The adrenaline that is rushing through my body and sending me into unknown panic which I cannot escape. Right here and right now my death seems so blissful. Just please stop this pain, I’m growing so tired. I have no fight. Tears fall from my eyes as the panic sets in. The feeling is so intense I want to rip out of my skin. Please just help me take it away. My mind plays tricks on me, telling me that no one is to be trusted. They’re going to think I’m weak, think I cant cope. (But I can’t cope, or can I?) Why would my own mind turn on me this way?
As an Aspie (apparently that’s the term) or a person with Asperger’s, I have never been the best at making friends. This goes as far back as I can remember; spending my dinner breaks with the lunch ladies because I didn’t have any friends, and the ones I thought were friends got me into a lot of trouble. I knew it wasn’t the best situation, but when you become lonely, even in primary school, you try your hardest to fit in with other kids. This continued all the way through school: playing by myself, not wanting to speak out loud in class, or be partnered up with anyone, and even becoming an assistant librarian, due to spending all my time alone in the library. Its weird to think that I was diagnosed at 27, when there were a lot of signs prior.
In university I was still incredibly shy and introverted, but the things that had caused me to be an outcast, made people appeal to me more at an older age. I liked games, crafts, silly things on the internet, and being on a fine art course meant that I was able to express myself through my work and people felt that they knew me better because I was in a place where I felt happy to be myself. This was until I realised what university was all about. Drinking.
Everyone on our course was familiar with one another, and would go out on bar crawls weekly. This would lead to house parties and university trips around the country with nights out on the town. I was never really the drinking type, as I have very little common sense and would find myself in bad situations a lot of the time. One instance of this was holidaying with a friend, who took a man home to our hostel, meaning that I had nowhere to sleep and camped out on the stairs. Luckily I knew a group of men from my hometown who were visiting and they offered me a bed for the night and my mother wired me money the next day to travel home alone. A lot of these things could have led to a bad situation, but I was none the wiser.
Back to university, I realised that as my entire group would be going to these social events, if I were not to participate, I would be the odd one out again, and I did not want this to happen. From the start of my first year I would go out on these binge drinking nights weekly, using up a lot of my student loan on alcohol and transport, thinking that it would make me feel more included. The one thing I didn’t count on was a gluten intolerance and an allergy to alcohol. This would cause my face to flush and burn red and become itchy, and I would have week long hangovers, turning almost into flu like symptoms. You would have thought this would deter me..but no. I continued to go out, trying to fit into this group of people, to be just like everyone else, and in turn missing many days of my course and becoming very ill.
I almost failed my first year at university, and my parents were certain that I wouldn’t have gone back after my first year, but thanks to a small set of people in that very large group of students, they made me realise what I was doing to myself. I decided that, I could go out at times, but not if it effected my course schedule, as well as rarely drinking. This meant that I was able to have some sort of balance. It also helped that I met my partner Adam, as rather than going out binging on alcohol, we would have quiet drinks with friends who were in couples, or nights out, but I knew I would get home safe.
Some people however, were not happy in my lifestyle change, including my best friend, who seemed to think that if I didn’t go out drinking I was no longer a friend, and would blackmail me constantly. She was able to work two jobs and do her university degree, while I struggled with ill health and barely passed my assignments. I still however bowed down to her, as I didn’t want to be that person who was left alone on a course with no friends. So again my health and course took a turn for the worse, as she would ask me on nights out before assignments needed to be handed in, and attack me verbally if I declined. It wasn’t until my final year that I realised what kind of person she was. She was a taker and was never there for me. It almost cost me an important time in my life but I tried to move on from it.
I started going to support groups and meeting people with similar ailments to myself, knowing that these people would have more of an understanding of what people could be going through, hoping that this would be a place where I wouldn’t need to be someone I wasn’t and do things that I wasn’t capable of doing. The only problem with this, was that I had done a whole 360 on myself, going to people that needed more support who felt that I was that person they could unload onto. I began struggling to look after myself with the amount of support others wanted from me. It felt like I couldn’t function in a group but I also struggled on my own. I didn’t realise how difficult socialising could be.
In 2016 I started having seizures and wasn’t given any support for them. I was also diagnosed with Asperger’s (who would have thought eh?) and several other conditions. These left me mostly housebound, with support offered, but no way of receiving it. Yesterday, I found out that one of my oldest friends, who I haven’t spoken to in some time, is moving to live in another country. He has always been the type of person I aspired to be, and I knew that I wanted to see him before he leaves. I started to become unwell and struggled with a lot of things, feeling like I needed to put it off but knew I couldn’t. It was only then that I realised..I haven’t seen anyone, apart from my family, in over a year. It was an absolute shock and it clicked, the unwell feeling was my anxiety. I have been locked away with my health for so long that I had completely forgotten about my need for other people, and now I have practically become a hermit.
There is noway I will miss the opportunity to see someone I care about before they leave, but I know it is going to be a huge struggle. It just shows that although certain people can be detrimental to your health, you need to social to keep sane, and to keep yourself aware of your surroundings and yourself. It just seems that I struggle with balance. I have been unlucky in the people I have met and in my own choices, but I want to be the independent person I was, and do that alongside friends. If anyone has any tips or things they do to keep in touch with people and maintain that social balance, I would love to hear from you.
I fell across Conscious Crafties by sheer fluke and joined immediately as it was just what I had been looking for. Support and understanding is vital when you are battling illness and disability.
My felting took off in August 2016 after my jewellery making days were cut short due to Osteoarthritis, Fibromyalgia, Degenerative Bone Disease and Reactive Depression. I was no longer able to manipulate pliers and tiny beads, polymer clay proved too painful to roll out and wire was a struggle. However, once I discovered Needlefelting I was hooked and spent many an hour on the Interweb learning my new skill. If I say so myself I learnt very quickly, got really good a it and sales of my quirky, fun makes soon followed due to their uniqueness. No two are the same. Faces are fun to watch come alive as I stab the fluff. Wet felting is a new skill I’m playing with. Having mastered felting soaps I want to learn much more so have enrolled on a course in September in the New Forest.
Am not good at blogging but this one comes with a heartfelt (no pun intended) message to fellow crafters who suffer. Never give up hope! We struggle, we hurt, we are weary, we cry with frustration, we see the black cloud hovering but through the darkness there is sunshine! By knowing our limitations we can and will live with whatever ails us.
Through this amazing group we have knowledge, skills, advice and listening ears! Use it well my #craftiebuddys
Hi folks, hope you are all having a good day so far! My daughter Susan and I have been Conscious Crafties members for a wee while now and have enjoyed seeing the many, many gorgeous crafts over the weeks and been over the moon with the couple of sales we’ve had (many thanks and appreciation). We’ve been relatively quiet ourselves, that’s been due to a further dip in my health (had to relearn and accept new limitations for myself) but, we have continued to work away in the background formulating new products, testing new products, trying out new exciting ingredients, rebranding packaging etc and starting to put together Christmas gift sets (yeah, that time already….yikes!) but we do like to try and be organised.
Anyway, the lovely Karen got in touch a few weeks ago asking if we would like to put together a kind of information / fact sheet on what’s involved in the cottage industry of handmade soap and toiletries (sorry Karen, I hadn’t forgotten, have just been trying to gather energy, confidence and get the old grey matter kicking in!…aye I’m quite shy, coming out of my shell can be quite scary sometimes lol). So we are going to start with the fact sheet in our blog (which we aim to be doing every week) we would like to cover the ingredients we use, why we use them, the benefits to the skin, hair and nails and don’t forget we also make products for the guys and our precious furry friends pet products too! We will cover Cosmetic Safety Assessments, Insurance and UK/EU Cosmetic Product Regulation. We will also aim to raise awareness of buying handmade cosmetic products at markets and fairs etc.
Well I hope some of you lovelies will be as interested to have an insight to our little industry as we have been in the discussions on CE marking on fabrics and toys etc. I noted with great interest a post recently in which photos were taken of toys for sale in a Supermarket with no CE marking on the label – how can they do this and the small cottage craft person can’t! Yeah, we come across this frequently in our industry too, seems to be its different rules for the big companies and rules for us!
I do hope you will join us and visit our blog where we are very much looking forward to sharing with you, in the meantime be kind to yourself, have a good day, keep up the great work and blessings to all.
Hi, I’m Roz, and I’m the artist behind North Mayo Fine Art.
I’ve been creating art for most of my life, but have been an artist for 3 years. I might not have become an artist, had it not been for the fact that I became disabled, with multiple chronic illnesses, and became housebound.
I want to tell you a bit about what happened to me, and why I’m thankful that my life took the turn that it did.
I started to draw at a young age, and could always be found with a pad and pencil in my hand. My first drawings were the normal, square houses with the sun in the corner, and the V shaped birds. I remember drawing various animals including lambs, chicks and a horse that I was so proud of, and my people were the typical triangle body and fat arms and hands that rolled into one object. I was so proud of my drawings, and thought that they were the best drawings in the world.
I took art at school and enjoyed it so much that I asked the head of the art department whether I could take an extra GCSE in art, which I did (I did 2D and 3D art) I then went on to do a GNVQ in Art and Design in the Sixth Form.
I decided to get a job, and at that point my drawing took a step back, but I still dabbled in it from time to time. I always wanted to work in photorealistic art and that was always in the back of my mind.
Fast forward a few years, and I met my husband, and we decided to start a family, and thats where it all went wrong (for me).
Without going into a lot of detail (and boring you all), my pelvis broke and fused back together in the wrong place, and no one did anything about it. My consultant said it was normal pregnancy pain and I was just exaggerating it for attention. I was so angry. It happened again during the 2nd and 3rd pregnancy too, and still nothing was done.
I now have permanent damage to my back, hips and pelvis and I’m registered disabled. I’ve also developed multiple chronic illnesses including Fibromyalgia, Arthritis, IBS, Postural Hypotension, Asthma and Chronic Migraines to name just a few. I’m not telling you this for pity, but there is a reason for it.
I started many different crafts when I was at home with our first baby, including card making, stamping, crocheting, sewing, paper craft, cooking and weaving, and loved creating hand made items, but after baby number 3, my condition was so bad that I had to give everything up. I hadn’t been able to drive for a long time, my body was too sore to sit at a table to work, and I developed an allergy to every type of wool that I bought. I could no longer stand up to cook either, and I felt like my life was over. I was housebound, and on the verge of bed bound.
I was in so much pain that my bed became my best friend. I couldn’t dress myself, I needed help to have a shower/bath, and had to have the house kitted out with home aids to try and help me manage with everyday tasks. This was not how I imagined my life would be at 27.
I was in a very deep black hole and couldn’t see a way out. I thought that my life was over, and didn’t want to imagine the rest of my life lying in bed in agony. I fell into a deep depression, I hated having to be so dependent on my family, and incapable of managing the simplest of tasks on my own. Being in excruciating pain all the time was awful, and there was nothing I could do to change it. I’m allergic to all pain medications so couldn’t take anything to ease the pain, and other medication I was offered caused some awful side effects.
After many months of wallowing in my own self pity, I decided that I had to pull myself together and find something that I could do. No one else was going to fix me, no one understood what I was going through, and it wasn’t their fault, but without going through something like this, it’s impossible to understand the utter torment that comes with it, so I had to do it myself. I had to drag myself out of the deep black hole and try and get some purpose back to my life.
I got my pad and my pencils out and started to draw. It was something that I could do in bed on my worst days, and curled up in the chair if I felt up to getting up. I could pick it up and put it down whenever I needed to.
Once I realised it was something I could focus on, I started to set myself goals, and challenges, and aims for the future. I started to show my friends online what I’d drawn and got an amazing response from them. It gave me the confidence to start using coloured pencils.
I was determined to improve my techniques, and succeed in my goal to create photorealistic drawings. I worked long and hard, knowing that if I put the effort in, I would get the results I wanted. I also knew that it was going to be a long process, there were days that I could only manage 10 minutes before I had to stop and sleep, and other days I could manage a couple of hours, but I didn’t give up.
As my work improved my friends started to ask for portraits of their pets. I was thrilled that people liked my work enough to want it in their houses. Slowly but surely more and more people came to me wanting work, and my work was getting noticed in more and more places.
In the last 18 months I’ve had my work published in several coloured pencil magazines, I’ve had an article published about taking my own photography for reference photos, and I have 2 exhibitions booked in galleries in the next 12 months. I’ve also brought out my own range of products.
I’m attending my first Craft Fair in August, which will be the first of many fairs and markets that I will be attending.
I still have bad days, days that I can’t face anything more than dragging myself out of bed and down the stairs, just to curl up on the chair and sleep in my pyjamas, and then there are days that I feel well enough to have a shower and get dressed, which is a huge deal for me. Mornings and evenings are hard for me as they are the most painful times of the day, but I manage the best that I can, and when I feel upto drawing I take full advantage of it, and try and create something beautiful.
I feel very lucky, because lots of opportunities are coming my way and I have a very bright future to look forward too, with lots of exciting plans in the pipeline too. None of this would have happened if I hadn’t become disabled, as I would still have been working full time and wouldn’t of had the time to put into my drawing the time that was needed to have been put in to get to the stage that I’m at now.
If I could give anyone that lives through disability or chronic illness one piece of advice, it’s never to give up on yourself or your abilities to achieve anything that you want to. You might have to take a different approach, or work in a different way, but it’s still achievable. You will go though hard times, and you might lose sight of the positives in your life, but they will still be there, and with hard work and perseverance, you can achieve anything that you set your mind to. Take the rough with the smooth, and live your life to the best of your abilities, whatever they are.
I recently visited my partner at his home, which is quite a rare occasion, due to health and hospital appointments, he is usually at mine. I sat down and noticed this lump of materials I had made a while ago, which we had nicknamed jellybean. It was then my partner asked me just how long it had been since I had made jellybean. I thought for a while and said ‘around two years’. We were both quite surprised at this and taken aback. It had not felt like that long a time, but it had also felt like forever.
Jellybean had been my first attempt at anything craft like. I had taken art courses for most my life but had always detested crafts. My high school teacher had always been hard on me, due to her hate of my older sisters. She assumed I had the same type of personality and was very hard on me from day one. This led to me dropping textiles soon after. I had never learned to sew or cut fabric, I couldn’t even iron!
I had left my PGCE course for teaching in primary schools in 2014 after struggling with my mental health and my physical health deteriorating soon after. I couldn’t handle the amount of work and the constant travelling that was asked of me, and went from a lot of stress to simply lying in my bed crying for days at a time. It took around three months for me to leave my room or my house and interact with people. I was lucky to have my amazing partner Adam with me, helping overcome these barriers, finding new ways to track my progress, one of which was a list of things I wanted to do or achieve, no matter how big or small, it would go on the list and I needed to cross off at least one item a month. This process is something I hold dear to me, and after two years, I still have this list, still marking things off that I have done, not only from habit, that has helped me manage my mental health, but also as a reminder of the small things I couldn’t once face that I can now do with ease.
One of the checks on my list was to get rid of clothes I had not worn or did not want. This was to make more space, and in hopes that a little cleaning would do me some good. I remember looking through the clothes and seeing a set of love heart pajamas I had never worn and thought ‘maybe this might come in handy for something else?’ With my health I had lost my education and my job and felt that I needed to find something to fill up my time, so that I didn’t sit around worrying for most of the day. I decided to take this clothing and make something from it. Bearing in mind that I had never made anything in my life, I didn’t know that a pattern would have made this a lot easier! I just started cutting bits out of the material and sewing them together. It took me a whole day, but I came up with new ideas, buttons eyes, arms attached to a cape not attached to the body.
When I saw my finished jellybean I thought, bloody hell what is this mess I’ve made. The fabric was inside out in some places, stitched horribly, and a bit of a mess, but I loved him. He was something I’d actually finished. Yes he was a monster, but he was my monster. Later on I had shown Adam and he wanted jellybean. He said yes it was a bit odd, but it was the first thing I had made and for that he loved it.
This first make, and how it had made me feel creating something from very little, lit a spark in me. If this had been taught to me properly in school, it would have been my calling. I wanted to do nothing but make things. This is where i should mention I have Asperger’s. I ate, breathed and slept crafts. Every part of my day was invested in making items. At first they were a little ‘rustic’ shall I call it, but I invested time in experimenting and repeating these crafts until I had made something I thought was quite appealing. This was my little felt bear.
I found this pattern on How Joyful for free and tried it out myself. It said for experienced sewers, but I was determined, and after many MANY failed attempts, I cracked the pattern. It felt that I had learned a secret language, that had been there the whole time, but I never noticed it until now. with this new found ability, I looked everywhere for new patterns I could use, free patterns that I could try over and over, until I was happy with the outcome.
After making all of these teddies, I realised that I wasn’t 100% with the type of fabric I had been using. I had mainly used recycled clothes, fleece and felt, but I wanted to look into more technical processes. To make the kinds of bears that I had seen in the craft fairs and online that appealed to me so much. I went about online looking at patterns I liked the look of, changing them and altering them to the look I wanted and that’s pretty much where I am now! I have only made around 5 of these bears, but I can already see a difference between these few, and such a huge difference from 2015 to now!
Jellybean looks terrible, but I love him for being my first step on this journey. I love following others that do similar things and looking at others who create these amazing crafts so that I can learn and become better in this field and hopefully create bigger and better things! It just goes to show that practice and time are key elements in everything that you do.
I have struggled to walk now for about 10 years. Over the last 2 years I have had to use an electric wheelchair to get around. This is the reality of living in a body that has been ravaged by severe active Rheumatoid Arthritis for over 17 years. Due to my physical limitations and lack of money (as a consequence of giving up full time employment due to my RA), I haven’t been away for more than 4 days at a time for many years, and haven’t been abroad for even longer. When I was asked to go on a cruise, starting from Florida, USA, and my benefits were accepted and back paid, my crazy heart went “let’s do it”.
My head then had to process and organise all the practical elements of taking this holiday. First challenge – getting around onboard a cruise ship that measures about half a mile in length and has 15 decks. Second challenge – travel, including transfers and flights. Not much of a challenge as an able bodied person but a lot has to slot together for someone like me, travelling on my own, with 2 weeks worth of luggage which I can’t carry, and being unable to walk more than 5 steps with 2 sticks on a good day. Panic! “What have I done?! I’ll never be able to make it!” was pretty much what my brain was saying. “Book it and worry about the details closer to the time” is what my heart was saying.
I am SO glad I listened to my heart! I booked my place on the cruise 16 months in advance. I then got in touch with the cruise organiser, who also turned out to be disabled, and arranged the hire of a mobility scooter onboard the ship, and I forgot about it for a while. Christmas came and went and suddenly it was February. The cruise was at the end of April and all I had was a cabin on the ship. The next step was finding and booking flights to Orlando that I could afford. Thank goodness for price comparison sites! Unfortunately I couldn’t get a direct flight to Orlando, on budget. But I found flights from Manchester to JFK and JFK to Orlando. “Aaaargh,” went my brain, “how on Earth are you going to get through immigration, customs, security etc and then find your connecting flight, with all your luggage?!” My flight home was a direct one, from Orlando to Manchester, so that made the logistics slightly simpler.
I needn’t have worried. Calling the airlines set my mind at rest, to an extent. Once I got to the check-in there would be someone there to meet me, with a wheelchair, and they would take me, and my luggage, through to the plane. For my transfer someone would be waiting for me, again with a wheelchair, to take me through all the checks and onto my connecting flight. Easy. Now I just needed to get from home to the airport, drop off to check-in, airport to the ship and visa versa.
My lovely, retired father offered to drive me up to Manchester and help me to check-in if I gave him petrol money. I accepted, for the time being, and set about finding another solution, which didn’t cost as much as getting a taxi. Well the universe must have heard me because what should land in my email inbox but a discount voucher for airport parking. I looked at all the options, and terms and conditions, and discovered that, for £50, I could have “meet and greet” parking at the correct terminal at Manchester airport. Not only was this cheaper than giving my father petrol money, for the round trips to drop me off and collect me, but it also meant I could pull up to the front of terminal 2 and someone would unload my luggage and park my car for me.
I was so close and yet, in my brain, so far from being able to take this trip of a lifetime and I was now down to 4 weeks before I flew out. There were small gaps in my assistance but without those gaps being filled I couldn’t see a way I could go. Some wonderful friends, from Florida, who were also going on the cruise, offered to pick me up from Orlando airport, put me up for a couple of days, drive me to port and help me through the boarding process. Only one tiny gap left; from “meet and greet” to check-in. A couple of phone calls later, first to the car park and then the airport, I found that wheelchair assistance was available from “meet and greet”! It all worked in principle. I was all set.
You know what it’s like to be a carer. Or at least you think you do. It’s just looking after someone else, how hard can that be? … RIGHT.
Well just take a moment to sit and think. Caring is not a choice it’s a lifestyle. You need to have all your wits about you just to make it through the dark days. Not just yours but who you are caring for too. Those moments. NO, every moment affects you.
You think caring sounds easy. You think caring means sitting on your bum having a lovely life. Being paid less then you can ever dream to live on. While society deems you as a lazy person because all you do is care.
Take a little time to step into my shoes. My life is hard. For disabilities and mental health there are days out. Rest bite. Care in the community. Cheap day tickets to places. What do carers get. NOTHING.
I’m not complaining. I love who I care for but their dark days are also my dark days and shock horror I get bad days too. I have thoughts, feelings, dreams, but all these are on stand by because the person I care for needs help every day.
I don’t get time off. I don’t get to follow my dreams. I don’t even get ask how I am coping. What I may need. These all come second place. These are unimportant. Just because I care for someone. Those persons needs become more important then my own.
If you’re a Carer you sign over your life. You live for two people and then you wonder why you are tired all the time. It’s almost impossible to administer self care because bad days are bad days and they need fixing. You’re the carer so it’s now your duty to fix them.
You can’t go out alone because you can’t leave who you care for unattended in case something happens to them and then you’re filled with guilt for not doing your duty.
It’s easy to pass judgement. It’s easy to look like ‘I’ve got this’ and most of the time I have. Most of the time life ticks by nicely because it’s been planned one week in advance.
Sometimes I cry myself to sleep at night because I feel like I have no freedom. I feel trapped because my dreams have to come second. I feel emotionally drained from propping up those that need me. I feel empty because I have given all the love I can give but there’s still a hand asking for more.
I shy away from activities because I’m too tired to participate. I hide from the world because I find it hard to be true to who I am. The list of TO DO’s keeps on growing. I don’t have time to make friends because I’m too busy making others happy.
Caring can be an isolated life. People forget you. People misunderstand you. People can hurt you with comments. BUT we FIGHT for not just ourselves or those we care for but misunderstood carers everywhere.
If it’s one thing we have in common it’s that we actually CARE. So please be good to your carer. They are there for you but be mindful that they also need time to be themselves.
My name is Lucy and I was introduced to Conscious Crafties by the amazing Karen Thomas (what a fantastic job she is doing, running this website and shouting out for fellow chronic creatives, I think its fab). I don’t have a chronic illness myself, and my story has developed over the last 4 years after losing my mum and then caring for my dad. Which at times I loved and other times felt the drain, the drain of being his emotional rock and making sure his wellbeing was top of my agenda. This then put pressure on my own wellbeing and family. But I loved him and wouldn’t change anything I helped him with, and like they say, and I’m a big believer of….every cloud has a silver lining! From this difficult time in my life I learnt to find my escape and my inner peace, this came in the form of sewing. I sewed at every spare minute I could find and quickly started making for friends and family and as these requests grew I launched my small business Madebylucy that I run from Facebook and Instagram.
This really took off and I was finding such joy making gorgeous cushions and bunting and a whole host of other handmade goodies for others. Hosting Madebylucy parties in people’s homes and attending craft fairs and school fetes.
Then after losing my dad I felt that I would like to share this passion with others and get more people creating and using craft as an escape, and to meet new people, helping them do something that they thought they couldn’t possibly do. So I set up an evening sewing group, a relaxed informal group that would meet weekly, and from posting on my Facebook page an item that we would be making all people had to do was turn up. This has proven really popular and so I expanded further. I now also run an online sewing and craft supplies shop to help people find affordable, fun and inspirational products to give people a chance to have a go, buy from a person they may know, and from one that has a love for the products and uses them in their own work. (AKA ME!)
My online shop is my real passion that with my sewing group and my desire to grow my sewing classes to encourage more people to have a go. I am looking to hold these in my local community, using community buildings that are easy to get to and that don’t feel too daunting to attend.
Well that’s my story so far and I am super excited about all my future plans I have, and would equally love for you to visit my Instagram page to see what I’m up to or have a browse in my online shop at Ribbon and Thread maybe you’ll come across something gorgeous you just can’t live without! ?
If you’d like to follow me even more, then I have a monthly newsletter that I ping into people’s inboxes at the end of each month. I include a simple to tutorial to have a go at, and share news from the month and sometimes have offers and special discounts for subscribers.
Eeeep so back on the dating scene … as a single chronically ill working mum of 2 boys ..
So the first thing: Have I got time to fit this other person in my life? …I hardly have time to shave the old arm pits …oh god don’t get me started on the secret garden.. there are so many bushes I’m not even sure it still exists.
So number one on the list: invest in a hedge trimmer just in case I get lucky .. I think I remember how that feels. Recently getting lucky means peeing on my own hehe. And there’s the not getting in my jim jams at 8pm and raiding the biscuit tin before the boys get the good ones… and what do you do on a date???
I cant get babysitters so how romantic would it be with my 17 year old snap chatting and my 7 year old trying to climb the table while knocking every drink flying … losing my temper on the first date is probably not a great look!
So a date at home it is … (bonus might be able to get in my jim jams then) no no nooo come on woman at least get to the third date before you bring the flannel jim jams out and the fluffy bed socks ..but at home that means I need to hide the washing, bleach out the bath and bribe the boys not to pee on the floor for just one evening (would be nice to not have my bathroom smell like a public bog for an evening, I’d even settle for a hour).
So no jim jams it is, the washing is done, no pee on the floor.. boys in there beds now please go asleep… from the bedroom I hear “mum I need a wee ” … so now there’s pee on the floor right next to the dumped pjs I’ve just lovingly put on him .. I get out the mop and dress his wriggling body once again..
Put him in his bed and suddenly hear…
“Mumma I need a poop ”
Sooo.. back in the bathroom I go…
Standing right in the pee on the floor but lucky for me the pjs are dumped right next to it slowing soaking it up .. but this time shining bright was a long line of skiddys clinging on to the side of the toilet like an octopus holding on for dear life …
Soooo… I get in my jim jams and fluffy socks, grab hold of the biscuit tin and get into bed.
F**k it I’ll start dating next year ..
From a single, fluffy, tired, bickie loving mum xxx
Recently I was asked to create 50 stuffed boobies for a newly formed company specialising in helping new mothers meet lactation experts in their area to help them breastfeed their baby. I thought I would give some advice based on my experiences so that those who are nervous about taking on a large order can use my bumps along the way, to make their first order a huge success!
When I first received that message I’ll admit I was terrified. My main thoughts were that I couldn’t do it and then if I did, then surely I should offer a discount for such a large order. I decided to speak to my husband about it, to see his thoughts and let me say they opened my eyes.
A large order still means the same amount of work, you are still going to spend the same amount of time making the items as you would if you had 50 separate orders so……
Don’t undersell yourself
I worked out how much it would cost for 50 breasts and how long it would take to make them all. I offered free postage as a thank you for a large order and I made sure that the timescales I offered were true.
Don’t offer to do something bigger/quicker than is possible.
Because, when you can’t deliver this, it is unlikely the person will want to work with you again. I offered a charge to close my shop and work only on their order, halving the time it would take to create, which the customer used so I did as was asked and had her order ready within 2 weeks.
Communication is paramount
As part of this order I was asked to attach tags with the companies logo on that would be delivered to me from their supplier. I had no problem doing this so agreed. However, when the breasts were made, the tags were still not here and I started worrying again, knowing that my two weeks were nearly up. So, I simply emailed the contact and explained and all my worries were for nothing, she completely understood and just asked to be kept up to date which I did.
The tags arrived in the third week, I attached them within 2 days and sent the boobs off to their new owner.
Send your creation tracked and signed for
I can’t stress this one enough! Your order that you’ve just completed can be worth hundreds of pounds, or in some cases even more, do you really want to risk that it will go missing in the post? Then give your customer the tracking number so they feel in control of where their package is.
Relax, celebrate YOU DID IT!!
Hope this helps anyone who’s questioning whether to say yes to that order.
Hi all, I’ll start by introducing myself. I’m Sarah, 31, and live near Leeds. My life has taken a very different path to how I had planned. At school I was very sporty and loved science. I loved outdoor pursuits such as climbing, caving, walking, but also loved swimming and running 100m or 200m. I was a sprinter not a distance runner, but still I represented Leeds so wasn’t too shabby. At 17 I was asked by my PE teacher if I wanted to do a sports instructor’s qualification. I accepted, did the course alongside my A-Levels, as my overall career goals was to become a nurse but really enjoyed the variety my 6th form years gave me.
After 6th form I took a gap year. At the time my sister was working for a year in Uganda so decided that I was going to go for a month. I was working full time in a nursing home at that point. Being a fairly severe but controlled asthmatic everyone believed I’d be fine. So went for the adventure of my life… I was so excited.
Arriving home after the amazing experience I started university doing my nursing degree the next day. I had got a chest infection when I was in Uganda but had been given antibiotics to take with me. So, when I was more breathless than was normal for me I naturally put it down to that. I was loving every second of uni. New friends and new challenges was just what I needed. The breathlessness continued and in many respects got worse. I ignored it until it put me in hospital. The attacks increased and the tests began, all I could think about was university, I’d made some amazing friends by this time, was keeping up academically but my placements were beginning to suffer.
The consultant I was under was brilliant, she covered every avenue she could think of. But could not find any answers as to why my asthma had changed so dramatically. The eventual conclusion was shocking and puzzling to everyone involved. They believe that the amount of sports I had been doing my school career enabled me to effectively fake my lung function tests. So instead of just using my lungs to get a lung function score I was using my rib cage muscles etc (accessory muscles). By using other muscles I was able to compensate for my breathing deteriorating so never giving a true picture of how my lungs were working. Going on a long haul flight caused too much stress on my lungs and diaphragm allowing the deterioration to show itself. It was a surreal time in all honesty. Things were changing so quickly with my health but was clinging on to university, which at the time was my ‘normal’ or ‘sanctuary ‘ in my fast changing world. By burying myself into study I was able to try to ‘pretend’ (if that’s the right word) everything was okay. Little did I know that the worst was yet to come…
I’m Jane Elizabeth Higgins. I was Jane Elizabeth Chandler until last year when I Married the gorgeous Mr Higgins, who loves and supports me through sickness and health.
I am so happy to have found this beautiful community of Crafties. I can’t actually express in words the emotions I felt when I read the welcome message from Karen and realised how perfect this community is for me.
I was diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis in 2002. This is an Inflammatory Bowel Disease which causes diarrhoea, bloody stools, weight loss, pain, fatigue, depression, anxiety and incontinence. After a few years and lots of medications, including immunosuppressant’s I became steroid dependant and in need of surgery in 2009. More than half a dozen surgeries later, a stoma, ongoing complications, losing my job, more weight loss and countless hospital stays, I had my final operation in 2012. I now have an ileoanal pouch. Since then I have developed extreme Fatigue, Fibromyalgia, Nerve Damage and Joint Pain.
While off sick recovering from Pouchitis (inflammation of my pouch) and Anxiety in 2014, I joined a local craft workshop. It was here that I started making jewellery. I loved it straight away. I have always loved practical activities and as a primary school teacher I enjoy teaching the practical subjects such as science and design technology. The jewellery making fulfilled a need in me to create; its very therapeutic. I began making more and more things and trying different techniques. My favourite is beading. It soon became clear that I would have to give up teaching altogether. Soon after that I started my own business. It allows me to work when I’m able and rest when I need to.
I make IBD awareness jewellery to raise money for Crohn’s and Colitis UK (CCUK), a national charity which has helped me a great deal on my journey. I also make awareness bracelets in aide of Children’s Liver Disease Foundation (CLDF), GoGold for childhood cancer (money raised goes to Clic Sargent) and Sickle Cell disease (Sicklekan), as I have people who are close to me who are affected by these conditions.
I also run jewellery making parties and workshops for children and adults. These are a great opportunity for me to practice my two loves of teaching and jewellery making.
I have opened my shop with three of my awareness bracelets. They are each only £15 and £5 from each purchase goes to the health charity associated with it. I make awareness jewellery for health causes close to my heart. I have a personal story to tell about each association and I will share these with you over the coming weeks.
Until then, have a look at and enjoy the beautiful bracelets. I will chat with you again soon.
I’m lucky to be a carer for two amazing people!!! My son and my Mum!
My son was diagnosed with Aspergers/ High functioning Autism, at age 7. We have had a tough old road, now he is 17, done his GCSE’s and is now at college! Safe to say I am one proud Mum!
In May 2015 I became carer for my Mum. She has chronic Arthritis both Rheumatoid and Osteo, which means she needs lots of help. She had to take early retirement and move in with me and my son.
I took up embroidery and cross stitch originally to do something creative.
Its helps take my mind off our crazy merry go round life of hospital appointments, meetings, therapy and general house stuff.
I suffer with Depression and PTSD, due to a previous abusive relationship. So stitching helps and keeps me sane, or not as the case may be 🙂
For a long time I had thought about running my own business, but just didn’t know what to do. One day Mum saw and advert for a embroidery machine, “you could do that!” she said. So, along came this huge machine which initially I was terrified of! (I had only done hand embroidery up to that point!!). Luckily my computer whizz and all things technical son came to the rescue!
I had had the machine for a month and just looked at it in awe! Half term was all that was needed, by the end of the week he had machine embroidery sussed, taught me and so my learning curve began!
Eventually after several months I braved it and in January of this year (2016) I jumped in. Mum and my boy love the things I make and look forward to seeing the new designs and products, Mum especially as she gets to keep the seconds!
So, here I am, self-employed and loving every minute!
Its been just under 5 years since I was diagnosed as being Chronically Ill and its been a really hard slog. My physical degeneration has been hard but its the mental health that has hit me the most. I’m not ashamed to admit that I had times where I wanted an end. Crafting was a light, I saw a way to matter, to help my family but still my mind was low. I’d lost so many friends because I couldn’t face going out. I was happy to sit inside, in my PJs and watch the world go by. It wasn’t fun.
But then it changed ….. Just over a year ago I saw an advert for a new selling platform; Conscious Crafties. I’d already had 8 months of selling on Etsy but this advert said it was just for people with Chronic Illness, Disability or people Caring for loved ones who are. Didn’t see the harm in trying another selling place so I joined the waiting list. Not long after, I was invited to open my own shop there by this woman with the biggest smile on a profile picture and this cute little white dog. As I said, I’d already been selling on Etsy so I expected the same thing, open a shop and get on with it…. How wrong was I?!
Karen, this bubbly and happy lady guided me step by step through opening my store and then added me to the social group on Facebook. Suddenly my world went from this little house and my final few friends to a whole group of more people who wanted to help me succeed. Tips were flying all over the place, people cheered for you when you made a sale and at the head of it all was Karen.
What you’re probably not aware of is that Karen does all this off her own back while fighting her body each and every day. She goes out of her way to help others, going without at times because she’s such a giving person she simply wants to help everyone. She has her own family, a supportive partner and that cute little white dog – her assistance dog Teddy who tells her when she’s pushed herself too far. Conscious Crafties was started as a memorial to her friend Sam who tragically died from her illness and Karen fights to raise awareness of her own and the other Crafties illnesses as well as giving them a place to be part of society again, to feel helpful again and to have this HUGE online family who are there at any time of the day for anything you need (and it doesn’t need to be craft related).
December 5th 2016, wandering through houses for rent online (no real thought of moving – although the new Tenant to the flat upstairs with his banging music and substance smoking was beginning to make me think it might be in order) and just happened to click on to rent in South Wales. Not sure why, as had been settled in Torquay for several years after we had to stop working as Caravan Park Wardens due to hubby’s illness (maybe I’ve always a Valleys girl at heart). There was a house, it popped up and the price caught my eye – our pokey little flat meant I crafted on my lap in the lounge (ok for knitting and crochet but not great for anything else). This was half the price we were paying and HUGE, my interest was grabbed!
December 9th trip to Wales with hubby and my daughter (who had the day off). The house had been empty for many months, so there was no electric to light it up and it felt cold damp and unloved, some of the rooms were screaming out “decorate me!”. There was a lovely big yard at the back and a flight of steep steps with an iron gate (unfortunately there was so much garden waste on the steps we could not open the gate).
I loved it (hubby was rather less impressed) but daughter saw the possibilities and maybe I was swayed by the idea of my very own craft room! Deal was sealed when Agents offered us half price rent for first month as it needed a good airing and decorating.
January 5th (less than a month from seeing the place) we moved, there was a little twist to the story along the way, as leaving the house on the 9th the Agents mentioned another property just round the corner but she didn’t have the keys on her. We stopped outside and it looked great (except the hill was rather steep to say the least and decided hubby would find getting in and out the car too hard). However my daughter loved the look of it, they had outgrown their flat in Torquay and when she got home she had mailed the agents, made an appointment to view and so on the move in day we were ALL moving to Wales (she was born there but had not grown up in Wales so a bigger move for them than me).
Today is 5th February – I can’t believe its only a month since moving – the house is now almost finished as far as decorating goes – and yesterday I managed to clear the steps to our “Secret Garden”. Since I had only been able to see it from the bedroom window. The house is warm and cosy and after visiting last weekend my other daughter has now decided a move is on the cards for later in the year (new arrival due in July so at some point after that). As far as my crafting is concerned, my new craft room is last on the list to sort but it has all my bits in and I am gradually unpacking them. I ordered a new sewing machine (which i will hopefully get to start using this coming week,long time since I owned one and they’ve certainly changed!) and having space to move around is so nice.
I’ve managed to put lots of items onto my Conscious Crafties shop since moving in and now can start making some new bits and pieces. To anyone thinking of moving, its jolly hard work, but we’ve found it worth the effort and I will let you know next week how the sewing (and the garden) is coming along.
Here at Posh Dog – we love fabrics. There is no excuse – I see a pretty pattern – or a soft fluffy texture – and my mind hits overdrive. I always work on short pattern runs of 1 or 2 metres for the 100% cotton patterned fabrics – so that there is always a good turnaround of patterns – and there is always something new when you drop in. The solid colours and the fleece I buy in larger lengths – that can be a bit scary when you get 6 or 7 rolls of about 10 metres each!
So – I was decorating the living room – and I get sooooo far (it’s taking me weeks)!
– and I get a delivery of fleece for a new project I am working on – guess my timing really sucks – but it’s fabric – and it was soft – and some of it was on sale – and it has doggies on – and it is fluffy – and it’s yummie
it’s just that you can’t get in the living room yet!!!!!!!
Mind you – there are those among us that have discovered just how snugly it is – and are moving in to stake a claim on the ‘new project’
– – hmmm – guess I am going to have to make him a liner for his bed – as he has already claimed it!
Its been a while since I wrote a blog and that’s because I’ve been super busy which, obviously, is brilliant! Being this busy has also made me reevaluate how I work. I’ve created a few things that help me keep up to date with what I need to do as well as the smartest way to do it and I thought I’d do a quick blog post to share them with you so you can see if they can help your business too.
The first thing I made was a front page for orders. When an order is placed I print it off then attach my front page which picks up the important information for me to see at a glance.
I then sort them in the order of when they need posting. I also created a “to make this week” sheet so I can see quickly, how long I’ve got to make new orders. Then, so not to stress, I only keep hold of the order forms for those due this week.
I have also found myself listening to podcasts which have made me work better and I am currently in the process of making a daily task sheet, when its finished I shall give you a glimpse but for now the most important thing I’ve learnt is to care for yourself as well as your business.
” You can’t pour from an empty cup. Take care of yourself first”.
As you probably know, Valentines Day is on 14th February so I thought I would help you find the perfect gifts to lavish on your better half and ensure you stay out of the dog house this year. (Psssst!! keep an eye on the end for a couple of the more cheeky, gag gifts)
I would like to start with a beautiful gift from Carol over at Carol’s horseshoes and other gifts.
Yes, these are real decorated horseshoes that have come from horse’s feet and then decorated in beautiful appliques and ribbons for ANY occasion so don’t forget to add the shop to your favourites for future anniversaries and birthdays. Starting at just £6, they’re a bargain!
Let’s move on to…….. CHOCOLATES! Julie over at The Crafty Crofter makes beautiful chocolates (Believe me I’ve had them and they’re gorgeous!) For Valentines Day Julie has made some little hampers. There’s a luxury one for £15 or this smaller hamper for just £7.50, both come with a personalised key ring.
Tracey at Transform-a-mug makes all sorts of sublimated items for you to buy so I’m going to give you a quick message about one of them but I suggest you look through the shop to see all the other wonderful items on offer. Tracey has made some gorgeous pillow cases with a special message on them.
Let’s talk jewellery! I don’t think I need to tell you, but I will, that jewellery is a GREAT gift to give on Valentines day and at Conscious Crafties the jewellery is all handmade to perfection. Dawn makes jewellery at DawnyT Designs, I’m going to show you one of her items but, again, go look at her shop, there are lots of things to choose from. This one is a stunning heart shaped sterling silver pendant hung from a sterling silver chain. The pendant measures approximately 12x13mm and the chain approximately 18 inches/46cm.
Did you know that the Conscious Crafties owner also crafts? Karen makes beautiful things over at her Conscious Crafties Shop but the one I think you’ll like best (especially if you have Celtic blood in your veins) is this beautiful silver hearts welsh love spoon charm necklace to symbolise relationships and energy. Hand carved from recycled real silver.
And Valentines Day isn’t complete without a gorgeous card! Here’s one from Tracey’s Shop, with a lovely Roses are Red message on the front and a blank space inside to write your own message or poem.
Naughty but Nice
Remember, at the beginning I told you there would be a couple of slightly naughty gifts too? If your other half has a sense of humour they might like these!
Joanna makes gorgeous little wish bracelets at her shop Catching Dreams Crafts but this has to be one of my favourites! It’s a “You still make all my cogs turn” Adjustable Wish Bracelet. The bracelet is made from Waxed Cotton attached to a Cog charm.
Finally, here’s one of my items from my Crafty Miller shop – BOOBIES!! (teehee). Available in lots of colour combinations and stuffed for a “natural” feel.
Now I’ve got your gifts covered, quick get to the checkout because, remember, handmade gifts take time to make…..
HOW TO style HAIR with minimal energy and so we can save energy for the important stuff!
(I know hair loss is very common with Chronic Illness. In fact, I lost 2/3rd of my hair a few years back and had to cut it all off. Please do not be discouraged if you are experiencing this, I know I was, but it is very possible your hair will come back.)