Everyday Objects

This week’s theme for the Lens-Artists Photo Challenge is ‘Everyday Objects‘. I had an enjoyable time poking around the house for everyday objects to capture 🙂

My life at the moment includes a lot of cat care. My cat Bobby has had an eye ulcer for 7 weeks now and has been back and forth to the vets multiple times. He’s had surgery, and may well need more surgery to remove the eye if it doesn’t eventually heal. He also has Hyperthyroidism so is currently on meds for that as well as painkillers for the eye. So his medications have become everyday objects and he’s getting used to me squirting meds into his mouth twice a day! Here’s a little medication still life:

As you may be aware, I love to crochet, so there are various items around either finished or half finished. There is also rather a lot of yarn to be found! I decided to take a close up of the cardigan I’m making for my daughter to show the texture of the stitches and the detail of the yarn:

So, pets and crochet are a big part of my life… what else? Well me and my daughter have been collecting house plants, and our living room is now abundant with green (and other colours). Even living among these plants every day there are still details you might miss if you don’t pay attention. Like this flower on the String of Hearts (Ceropegia woodii):

The flowers are a very odd shape and are really small. Quite fascinating.

If you look closely at some of the cacti, you might also find a flower or 2 there, lurking among the spikes:

In amongst the plants are some other interesting items, like this little gang of forest creatures and their rubber duck friend!

And there are some frogs chilling on the windowsill too.

My daughter likes to rescue fallen leaves from the plants and see if she can propagate them. This one is doing really well with lots of root growth:

Talking of the plants, we have a lovely little mister bottle which is both useful and decorative. When the sun shines though it you get a lovely blue glow.

Another item that catches the light is my little butterfly I got for my birthday this year:

Finally one of the other common objects you’ll find around our house is lego. We’re a bit older than the target market perhaps, but I think lego is something that can give years of pleasure, so why not carry on how ever old you are?! Here are a few items from the Harry Potter corner:

On the Hook, 22/8/20

This week I’ve mainly been working on secret things, but I did finish off my cushion. I’m very happy with it 🙂 It looks good from either side and goes well with my blanket and the other cushion I made. In the last picture you can see me comparing the tulips on the cushion with some on the blanket.

In other crafting news, I made a face mask. It’s not very good, but I finished it so I’m proud. It’s a pretty basic one, just going to be a spare, in case I don’t have any clean ones. It is not in the same league as the lovely ones my sister made for me and my daughter, but as a spare it’ll do! I got a kit from Hobbycraft a while ago to make 3 masks, and it’s been sitting there for ages as I lost my enthusiasm, but at some point I might make the others. Sewing is really not my thing and I have to hand sew so it’s slow and laborious. Shame I can’t crochet face coverings! In the photos below, the first one (pineapples) is the one I made, the other 2 were made by my lovely sister 🙂

Creativity

I struggle with labelling myself as creative, or labelling the things that I do as creativity. Is following a crochet pattern creative? Is photographing an insect or a flower creative? I get bogged down in dictionary definitions that say things like: creativity is “the ability to produce or use original and unusual ideas” or “a creative person has the ability to invent and develop original ideas”. Is what I do original?

Anyone can point a camera at something and snap an image, we all have cameras on our phones these days so we can capture the moment really easily. So is what I do creative? Is what I do original? Well, actually, yes I think it is.

  • I actively go out to find things to photograph
  • I observe
  • I choose what I point my camera at
  • I think about the composition of the shot
  • I try looking from different angles
  • I think about the background
  • I remember the effect that I’ll see in the shot that you don’t actually see in real life

So I cautiously say yes, I am creative, my photography is part of my creativity.

For example this shot I shared last weekend:

Common Darter

In real life it was a hot, sweaty day, I was leaning on a fence trying to get a good angle on this dragonfly, I might even have had one awkward leg over the fence at this point. He was actually further away than it looks and he was resting on a dead flower head over a quite green and tired looking pond. My first priority was focus, but even if you get perfect focus, a busy background will spoil it. So I was trying different angles, trying to find a good background while still getting the dragon looking at his best. You don’t see the bokeh effect while looking down the camera lens, but if you know how those sparkles of sunshine on the water will look, you can use it without seeing it.

I also had to choose how to crop the image. Some images are perfect straight out of the camera, but often I do minor tweaks like cropping and making sure the colours are true to life. Here’s the original image untouched:

With so much bokeh and the dragonfly being quite small within the frame, he gets a bit lost and it’s hard to see what the focus of the image is meant to be. The cropped version was intended to have the dragonfly as the central focus, with the bokeh a very pretty extra.

The pond itself wasn’t quite so pretty in real life – those sun sparkles made all the difference. This shot shows you more of the reality – a green algae filled pond with some not so attractive browning leaves:

Common Darter

And what about the crochet? I often feel that following a pattern is not proper creativity, as I’m following instructions and if anyone else followed those same instructions they’d end up with the same thing. But I think I’m being a bit hard on myself there. Not everyone can crochet, not everyone has the patience to make something large, not everyone will choose colours in the same way, or the type of yarn they use. Even with experienced crocheters there will be differences in tension, and how they hold a hook. So each item made from the same pattern can end up looking quite different.

For example my Pandemonium blanket is unique. As far as I know, no one else used the exact same colours in the exact same order. And there were probably mistakes here and there woven into it. So although I followed a pattern, I created an original:

I have actually strayed into the area of crochet design too from time to time. For example my Pandemonium-inspired cushion. Nobody has a cushion quite like mine!

So if you’re like me and you think, I’m not creative, have another look and think about it some more. I bet you’ll find you are creative really. When you took the photos you share on your blog, you didn’t just randomly point at nothing and click the button! You thought about what you wanted to capture, and created a composition. You’re actually being creative by blogging too – it’s not necessarily ‘creative writing’ (fiction), but you are creating words, sentences, paragraphs that are unique to you, they are your words, created in your mind.

For some of us, living ‘in the time of Covid’ can mean we are actually more busy, constantly working because work is now in our living rooms, and it can be a struggle to step away. For others, there may be time on your hands, and you don’t know how to fill it. Either way, I think it’s a good idea to make some space for creativity in whatever form it comes for you. Creating can be calming and mindful, and that can be particularly important at the moment, when there may be fears and anxieties running riot in your head. And don’t be put off by thinking you’re not really creative, because you are. It might be a different form of creativity from the next person, but there will be something you can create. Just by taking that time to try creating something, you are feeding your soul. Even if it doesn’t turn out as well as you expected. You might find that taking that time to see what comes from within you will result in something beautiful, or it might just result in a mess, but you tried, you experienced, you gave yourself that chance. And giving yourself a chance, being kind to yourself, being encouraging to yourself … that’s a gift that you deserve.

Inspired by the Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: Creativity in the time of Covid.

[Congratulations if you made it to the end of this epic post!]

On the Hook, 15/8/20

Well, this is a first. I have absolutely nothing new that I can show you today! Have been making some slow and steady progress on secret things, and haven’t done any other crochet this week! So rather than just leave it there and have a very short post I thought I’d do a round-up of all my WIPs (works in progress). I suspect this is going to end up being a long list!

I think these are all the things I’ve started this year and haven’t finished. I’ve left out the things that have been completely given up on!

Secret things

These are secret so you can’t see them!! 🙂

[Photo by Kristina Flour on Unsplash]

Dragonfly Jumper

Pandemonium Baby blanket

Pandemonium-inspired cushion

Ombre jumper

Sophie Cardi

Lilac Cardigan

Clara sweater

Leila Sweater

Fluffy shawl/scarf

There are more things stashed away from last year and beyond, but if I include those we’ll be here all day!

Just got to try and prioritise now. Secret things have a deadline so they’re high priority. The cushion could get finished quite quickly so maybe I’ll put that one next. And my daughter really wants her new cardigan so that is near the top of the list too!

Perhaps next week I’ll have more to show you 🙂

Sun Sparkles

I went for a brief walk today. It was hot and sunny, too hot for me really, but I wanted to visit the village pond and see if there were any dragonflies. I didn’t stay long, but got a few shots. I have been having a bit of trouble with my auto-focus, and was a bit disappointed when I went through my photos, as many of them were out of focus.

But then I saw this one and felt a lot better!

Common Darter

The combination of the sun and the water worked together to give me this beautiful bokeh background! Really happy with this shot, raising this Common Darter to something quite magical

I also got quite a nice shot of a grasshopper sunbathing:

Grasshopper

Hope you have been able to enjoy the sun without getting to uncomfortable. I’m torn, my favourite creatures love the sun, but I struggle with the heat! Even so, the world looks so much more hopeful in the sunshine.

If you’re struggling with the heat, perhaps this cooling video of the stream near the pond will help 🙂

Inspired by the Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: Under the Sun.

On the Hook, 8/8/20

This week I have made some progress on secret projects, although there were a few evenings when I didn’t crochet and just cuddled my sick cat. I also did some crochet that I can actually show you!

First I’ve done a few more rows on my dragonfly jumper. I think I’m at the end of the increasing now, so once it gets to the arm stage things will be more straightforward. The original pattern I was looking at has some optional shaping, but I think I’ll just go straight down.

And this morning I whipped up a quick plant pot cover for one of our many plants. This was quite experimental, but I think it turned out well. This Ficus is sitting next to a couple of others with pink pots, so I thought I’d continue the pink theme, with a bit of grey to contrast. I made it up as I went along and included a drawstring at the top so if the cover is a little large you can tighten it. Then it was rows of htrs interspersed with some crossed trebles to add a little more texture, top down. My daughter is pleased with it, so I’m happy 🙂

Next job will be making covers for the other plants who don’t have fancy pots.

Sanctuary

The word ‘sanctuary’ has a long list of meanings if you look it up in a dictionary, but the overarching idea is that it means a place that is sacred, whether you mean that in a religious way or not. It is a place where you can take refuge and be safe. You can also think of it as an activity rather than a place, where you can find sanctuary in doing something that makes you feel safe and calm, away from things that are not safe and not calm.

As you’ll know if you are a regular reader, I find sanctuary in nature, in particular at Cors Caron, a nature reserve not far from where I live. As I walk around the boardwalk looking at the creatures that live there, and soaking up the view across the bogland, it is special, and it is sacred to me.

Reflections

A nature reserve, in itself, is a sanctuary for the inhabitants as well as the visitors. At Cors Caron I can see creatures I would never see in my garden or around my village. They are safe there, living in the perfect habitat for them, not competing with humans for space, and being treated with care and respect.

Momma duck and her 10 ducklings

For example, lizards. In the UK, lizards are not something you see every day. Most people would never see one unless they went to a zoo or had one for a pet. We do have a couple of different types of lizard though – the Common Lizard, and the Sand Lizard. There is also the Slowworm which is a lizard without legs, not a snake – odd, I know! At Cors Caron, if you are lucky, you can see Common Lizards. It’s been a while since I’ve seen them but when my daughter and I went for a walk there on Thursday they were out and about in abundance.

Common Lizard
Common Lizard
Common Lizard
Common Lizard

There were many more that disappeared between the slats on the boardwalk as well! It was the first time my daughter had seen them so I was extra delighted.

Other creatures who take sanctuary at Cors Caron are the many, many Dragonflies and Damselflies. There are some that I can see quite easily around the pond in the village, but some that I only see at Cors Caron. For example the Black Darters. I have never seen these anywhere else. To be honest I’m not exactly well travelled so they may well be very common elsewhere, but for me, if I want to see a Black Darter I would go to Cors Caron.

The males are the only ones that are actually black (mostly):

Black Darter (male)

The females (and immature males) are much more about yellow and orange, with a hint of black.

Black Darter (female)

I only see Emerald Damselflies at Cors Caron too.

Emerald Damselfly (male)

There are butterflies as well, that I only see at Cors Caron. If you’ve been a reader for a while you might remember the Green Hairstreak butterflies that I can find at the same spot at Cors Caron year after year. Sadly I missed them this year due to lock-down, but hopefully I’ll see them again next year.

Green Hairstreak Butterfly

Once upon a time (back in 2013) I even saw an Adder at Cors Caron, my one and only encounter with a snake in the wild!

Adder

Cors Caron is a sanctuary in many senses of the word, and I hope I have shared a little of why it is sacred to me 🙂

Inspired by the Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: Sanctuary.

On the Hook, 1/8/20

Not a lot of progress to report this week. Just one thing I can show you. I couldn’t resist starting something new with my lovely birthday present yarn. I’m making my own take on a pattern I found on Ravelry: Lunaria Sweater by Stephanie Erin. I liked the idea of the flower motifs going down the sleeves, but then started thinking about dragonflies instead of flowers. I then also thought that I’d like some going down the centre front as well. It’s a bit fiddly trying to rework the increases, and I’ve had to frog it back a few times. I think this version’s a keeper though. The yarn is Cygnet Watercolour in shade Blue Horizon.

Happy 18th Birthday

In 1998 I had my best Christmas present ever, my son. And then as I turned 29, I had my best Birthday present ever, and that was you, my beautiful daughter. I remember worrying about having enough love for the both of you, but when you were born, of course, all those worries evaporated. Love is infinite, huge, magnificent, and there was more than enough for you.

Who knew, back then when you toddled around dangling a ‘my little pony’ by its colourful mane, that you would come to find your special something was riding a real pony!

My baby girl is all grown up! Happy Birthday xxx

Winter isn’t coming … yet

fire and ice

fire and ice combine
as glistening frozen leaves
reflect the sunset colours
shivering in the golden glow
as winter’s grip takes hold

written by me, December 2012
Frosty Leaves
Snow & Icicles in the garden

twinkle

even in the deepest days of winter
when darkness falls early
and nights are so long
there remains a glimmer
the merest twinkle of warmer times
glistening in the hidden spaces

written by me, December 2014
Droplets on moss sporophytes
Frosty Ivy Leaves

waking

unravelling the frozen trails
unwrapping the misty shreds of cold
that weigh down our limbs
and our souls

gradually waking
from the heavy sleep of winter

we are breaking out
pushing through the darkness
into the light
knowing that days will be
brighter, warmer, fuller
and all will be well

this too shall pass

written by me, February 2015
Frosty Leaves
Frosty Twigs

Inspired by the Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: Winter.