I've always liked the idea of taking photographs. It appeals to me in a way that drawing never has. Maybe because it seems more likely to capture a "perfect" image. I always get frustrated that I can't draw what I can picture in my mind.
I got a digital SLR camera a few years ago; but haven't really done much with it. In truth I still use the automatic settings when I do get it out and that feels wrong.
My WI had a talk from a lady who does wedding photography and she specialises in photos that use light in incredible ways. She even told us how to do it and sent us off to have a practise.
I went with my friends and we had a play. I think the results are spectacular and I'm a bit amazed that I was the one taking the photos. It's inspired me to play around with my camera a bit more and I'm having fun with it. I guess time will tell if I ever learn to use it properly. Watch this space.
I spent the majority of my teens and twenties wearing pyjamas. It was part of the glamorous life of a girl with ME/CFS. Recently though, I've been more than making up for it and my wardrobe is packed to prove it. I've fallen in love with tea dresses and pretty shrugs, soft woollen jumpers and classic jeans.
The problem is I still have days where I feel like I have nothing to wear, despite having to cram the hangers onto the rail. Days when I look at all my clothes and wish I could get something new. Even though I know I've got too many clothes. I don't need this many clothes; but I still like buying new things.
I love the feel of a new top or dress, the buzz of wearing something for the first time, knowing people haven't seen me in it. The thing is, it can be hard to justify a shopping trip when my sagging clothes rail and wedged wardrobe doors say otherwise.
That's why I was excited when my WI organised a Swish.
Never heard of Swishing before? Me neither; but I found out it's when you swap your clothes, shoes and accessories with other people. It's a bit like free shopping and is a lot of fun.
The WI members all had to bring items that they no longer wanted - I had a dress and some tops that just weren't my style any more. I was happy to donate them to a new home.
In exchange for each item we took, we got a button as a token. This button could then be exchanged for a new piece of clothing. I hadn't really thought of what I would get, I was more focused on making some room in my own wardrobe; but I found some things that I fell in love with.
They were all things I would have bought myself if I'd seen them out shopping and now I can't wait to wear them.
I was amazed at how polite everybody was. I'd had visions of it being a cross between a car boot and a jumble sale - elbows at the ready; but everyone was really calm and lovely. They enjoyed browsing through the rails and each chose really individual pieces, things that I wouldn't have thought to pick up; but on them looked amazing. Everyone was really happy by the end.
I talked to my friend Lauren who has her own Frugal Blog. She had done a short talk at the beginning of the evening for us and given us some top tips on saving money. She had Swishing parties with her friends in their own homes. They were more informal; but just like our Swish, they each brought items they no longer wanted.
The best tip she told me was that if more than one person wanted an item, they each had to model it, then their friends decided who it suited. This way it avoided arguments and the piece of clothing went to the right home.
Have you ever swished? Is it something you'd want to do with your friends to help save money and get a fresh wardrobe?
So the idea was to clear space and I've now got the exact same number of clothes as I started; but I've got new things to wear and they didn't cost me a penny. Even better - I've already found four more items I want to Swish. I think I'll have to organise my WI to run another one very soon.
This month my WI Craft Club, aka Grown Up Brownies, learnt how to do wet felting. It was a craft I had heard about; but had never imagined I would try. Fortunately one of our members has been making her own felt flowers and she offered to do a tutorial.
I went equipped with a very random assortment of items including -
I wasn't sure what I'd let myself in for. It didn't take long to see how the items would be put to use. We all got stuck in designing our flowers. I chose to use red and orange wool, so that I could make a poppy for my Grandma (who is hopefully not reading this post - if so, Surprise!)
Wet felting is an odd craft, you start out with tufts of wool, add water and soap, then roll the felt between the bubble wrap with a rolling pin. I now know why my wool jumper shrank - won't be making that mistake again.
It's hard work all that rolling. All the ladies were making a fair bit of noise, you'd have thought we were in some kind of gym session. We were worried the people downstairs might come up to find out what we were doing. I think we may even have worked up a bit of a sweat. I was certainly glad when the strands of yarn had come together and I could get on with shaping my flower.
It turns out wet felting is not very precise. It's hard to control how the flower will actually look and this does not appeal to the perfectionist in me. I tried really hard to just let go and just see what happened; but apparently I had a very clear idea of what I wanted to create and my felt just wasn't coming close. Saying that I'm not disappointed with my final flower, it's poppy like and pretty in its own way.
I did have fun and loved seeing how all the flowers turned out differently. I brought home the leftover remnants and I may give it another go; but I don't think wet felting is going to be my new passion.
I won the Good Housekeeping Novel Competition. My novel, The Box, is going to be published on 25th July 2019, by Orion