Covid, Crafting and Chronic Illness

It’s been four months since my last post. When the new year hit, I promised myself I would try and post at least once a month this year, not really a resolution as such, just something for me to aim for to keep me thinking, writing and sharing. 

I don’t really know why I started a blog, it was more a way for me to share what I’ve made…I’m not good at writing and I’ve never been able to keep a diary or a journal, I’m not really the “dear diary” type.

I managed to blog in January & February but then the world started to get weird and people started talking about this virus which was causing whole countries to shut down. I live in the UK where everyone is way too relaxed about this kind of thing (apparently the government knew about the pandemic in October last year and did nothing *eyeroll*). I tend to isolate myself from “the real world” anyway and pay no attention to the news so the first I heard about The Virus was from concerned colleagues talking about shutting down the office. 

Around early March, the murmurings became daily conversation. I wasn’t really concerned and ignored the chatter, it probably wouldn’t affect us all that much. I had a week booked off in March as I always do for my birthday, I hadn’t really made any plans other than I wanted to go to Nandos as it’s our favourite place to eat. It was during this week at home that things really started to ramp up in our area and more and more cases started to surface…then I started to worry, more because I knew we would have to go to the office on the stinking bus that we usually take from the Park & Ride just outside Cardiff into the city centre. 

When I went back to the office the following Monday, there was hardly anyone there, people had already started isolating at home or were so concerned they were afraid to leave the house. Myself and G (we work for the same company) always seem to be the last ones standing so we went to work, did our jobs and waited patiently (ish!) and anxiously for someone to make a decision about whether we were going to go into lockdown or not. It was very frustrating when other companies and big employers around Cardiff had already sent all their staff home but eventually on the Tuesday, the decision was made and we were sent home. I was one of the “lucky ones” who got sent a laptop pretty quickly, although it was an old battered one that had been reallocated from another user, it gets most of the work done and I’ve been home ever since.

I am a home-bird and I love being home. The trip to the office every day is a killer. No-one likes getting out of bed in the morning, but when you suffer from depression and/or other chronic illnesses, this struggle is a million times worse, so being at home for me has been a god-send. I feel so much better having an extra 1-2 hours in bed each day. I feel so much better not having to worry about what to wear or how many idiots are going to try and kill us on the road on the way to the Park & Ride. I don’t have to worry about whether my IBS is going to flare up, or if I have a migraine, I can start work later or take a longer lunch break to try and sleep it off. Honestly, I hope I never have to leave the house again! 

I’ve only had a handful of very bad migraines (2 of them had me throwing up which is rare these days) and I’ve not had a cold or the flu at all (in the second week of lockdown I had a sore throat which lasted about 3 days and again a few weeks later which was only a day or 2) which has been amazing. When you suffer from migraines and you get a cold or the flu, everything is so much harder because the sinus issues seem to make it all worse and I end up with a migraine that lasts for days. 

It also doesn’t help when there are grown women in the office who in “normal times” can’t even be bothered washing their hands when they go to the bathroom – even before COVID kicked off, I would always open doors using my sleeve for this reason – people are filthy and people are made to go to work when they’re sick because they’re afraid to lose their jobs for having a “bad” sickness record. This is how germs spread and cold & flu viruses end up affecting several people in each team.

Anyway….rambling again…There are some days when I do go outside, I try to walk up to the shops at least once a week/every 10 or so days just to get out and get some exercise (and snacks 😂) but other than that, I really have no desire to go anywhere, I like being home and being inside. 

I miss my family and hope that at some point I will find the strength and the courage to get on a train or a coach and go visit my gran and my mum or that at some point, G will feel comfortable driving up to Cheltenham so we can visit my sister and my nephew who I’ve not seen since our birthdays in March 2019 (the 3 of us are all March babies ❤️). Travelling was already a struggle for me as I’ve not really been well for a long time now. I’ve not actually been diagnosed officially with a chronic illness but there’s no mistaking that there’s something wrong with me. I have been diagnosed with migraines, depression and adenomyosis (this is a “lady” problem which has been incredibly unpleasant) – I don’t know if these come under the chronic illness category but they’re not fun and it makes doing anything a struggle. I do think though that I have chronic fatigue syndrome or some kind of fatigue-based condition because I am always tired, I rarely sleep well and if I do get an OK nights sleep, I still feel tired and never have any energy. 

I feel guilty about being “depressed” and I never talk about it because I don’t feel like I have a reason to be depressed, I can’t justify it and don’t know why I am but I always have been for as long as I remember. My only explanation is that it’s likely genetic. I just do my best each day, I go to work (or to the next room now!) and have so far been able to hold on to a full time job since I left school but that’s literally all I can do. 

I’ve been feeling more and more guilty lately about the fact that I struggle to “keep a home”, I have never “liked” housework but it’s getting harder and harder to manage and I dread if anyone comes to the front door because I’ve not done the dishes or there’s dust everywhere or there’s piles of laundry either waiting to be washed or waiting to be put away. Fortunately the only people who do ever come over are G’s brother and uncle and they’re not really bothered about the mess, but there’s always that fear that someone else might appear on the doorstep. 

I would like to cook more, I used to enjoy it but now I dread going in the kitchen, making a mess that I have to clean up, standing for a long time in the heat even if the windows are open, getting a stiff neck and shoulders or my back hurting. There are so many nice things I wanna make and eat but just thinking about spending all my time in the kitchen makes me wanna lie down and cry. 

There was a post I saw on Facebook the other day that really resonated with me. It was about not being sorry anymore. It was originally a post from an Instagram page – you can read the post here. This really sums it up for me, I have spent a lot of time for as long as I can remember apologising, apologising for not doing something, not going somewhere, not being perfect, not being on time and constantly justifying myself. But like Caitlin, I’m not sorry anymore. I have very few friends and I am sorry to them that I might not always be there, or that I might not pick up my phone, or that I’ve not been in touch for a long time. Most of the time, I just want to be alone to take my time with the things I have to do and to try and enjoy the few things that I like to do in my own time and at my own speed. 

Now that I’ve got that off my chest, I can move on to prettier things 😊 

I’ve not done an awful lot of crafting since lockdown because my craft space has now become my office. I’ve done a little bit of crochet which usually takes place sat on my bed watching telly. But the weather the last couple of months has been too hot, as soon as that yarn touches me, within an hour I start to overheat and the feel of the yarn on my hands makes my skin crawl so I’ve had to put that away for now. The pattern I was working on is the Sweetpea CAL by Attic24. She is one of my favourite blanket designers and I love how simple yet effective her patterns are. I had bought the yarn kit a long time ago, but my friend wanted to work on it “together” (she lives in Manchester lol) so we could keep at it. Here’s my progress so far:

The other things I like to do that don’t really get affected by the weather is either paper crafting (cards, journals) or sewing (bags, purses, miscellaneous household items, cross stitch and basic embroidery – not garments really). 

It’s taken me a while to get comfortable working from home and trying to separate work from pleasure. So I’ve reorganised my desk so that the far end is my office and then when it comes to play-time, I can just scoot it all over into the corner and spread out with whatever I’m making. 

In the last couple of weeks, I’ve made some birthday cards (July is also a busy birthday month in my family) for my mum, gran and grandad:

I had been making my mum some journals, she is a diary keeper unlike me and she writes in one most days, I had made a couple of 2-monthly journals which have run out now so I am anxious to do some more for her 😊 I had made one for myself which I posted about a while ago, but as I suspected, I rarely write in it. 

Last weekend, I had an extra 2 days I had booked off work for a little break and decided to get my sewing machine out. I have a little folding table which is about the right height and just about fits my machine with the extension table I got to go with it (part of the quilting extras) so I thought this would be good so I can still have my sewing machine set up ready to go without having to completely reorganise my office/craft desk.

One of the fabric suppliers I have bought from sent an email about new product lines and mask-making. So far, I’ve not needed (and not really wanted) to wear a mask. I wear glasses and I get really hot really quickly whenever I’m out and about so the thought of being all hot and confined on my face makes me uncomfortable. However, there was a link in the email to Sew Can She who has done a video for a popular mask pattern, the Olsen mask. The email also mentioned some of the fabric they stock which included some similar fabrics I used when I made my CSPs a while ago. The Zorb I had appears to be a little thicker than the one they recommended and I didn’t follow the instructions exactly as I didn’t feel the need for a pocket for removable filters. Personally I think the whole thing should be washed after each use so I made it all sealed and the Zorb just covers the inside of the mouth and nose area. I also added some lightweight interfacing to the cotton exterior piece so that it is actually 4 layers and not 3 for that extra bit of protection. It turned out really well for my first one but it was a bit too big for my face with my glasses on (I don’t wear contacts and don’t go out without them) so I gave it to G and it fits him really well. He preferred having the elastic round the ears like the traditional ones rather than round the back of the head like the Olsen pattern suggests. At some point I will make some more and some for myself.

At the moment, I am currently working on a pattern test for the lovely Liz of Moments Designs. It’s a secret so can’t divulge anything at this point, but when I saw the pattern, I thought of my mum as inspiration so I’ve used the following fabrics which I think she will love 💜: 

I love this fabric range (it’s called Cat-i-tude, can’t remember the company, Bernatex maybe) and it so very “me”, I love cats and I love the colours, all purples and pinks, black and teal. I did get this white background one as well although i don’t normally go for white as I am very much a black kinda girl. My mum loves cats too so she’s gonna love it! 

I’m hoping now I’ve made a few things, my sewjo will stick around for a while, not sure what’s next on the agenda, there’s a few things I want to make and a friend wants me to make a bag/backpack for her so need to look in to that too. 

I love bag making but get put off when my lowly little machine struggles with some of the layers, even during the test for this mystery item I have had issues with skipped stitches (I’ve done all the usual, new needle, rethreading etc) which I think is purely to do with the fact that my machine hates the faux leather I’m using as it’s very thin, it’s quite durable and has a woven backing, but I have had to use some interfacing on the back of it to stabilise it…this helped a bit but still got some skipped stitches which I’ve had to fix by hand. 

What I really need is a new sewing machine. I have my heart set on the Janome HD9 – it seems to be popular among other bag makers. I don’t have the room or the money for an industrial machine and since I don’t make to sell, I can’t really justify it. Plus I have only ever used Janome machines (it’s what I learned on) so I am happy to stick with them as they are very good machines.

If you managed to make it this far, thank you and thank you for following and reading. I added a picture of strawberries as I love them and love when strawberries are in season…hope you’ve been enjoying them too! 

Please leave me a comment, I would love to hear your opinions on any of the things I have shared here today, if you also struggle with chronic illness or if you are enjoying (or not) working from home. Are you also trying to balance work with your hobbies? Let me know below 💜

Happy Crafting, Stay Safe and Keep Going xxx💜H💜xxx

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