A craft post – the bench project

One of my New Year’s Resolutions for 2017 was to make time for more creative stuff. I decided I will do one project a month, ideally small enough to do over a weekend. So for January, kicking off in grand style… I upholstered a bench.

I will tell anyone who will listen that I re-upholstered the headboard on my bed a couple of years ago. It justified the expense of the chunky craft stapler I bought, but it has been languishing in my drawer for a while, so here we go…

You will need:

  • your bench top
  • foam block(s)
  • fabric to cover the top
  • a big ol’ stapler

You may possibly need:

  • A second pair of hands
  • cushion pads
  • fabric or craft glue
  • your vacuum cleaner
  • ribbon or other trim (bench style dependent)
  • A method of making your new upholstery flame-retardant
  • Your tunes and snacks of choice

I have had this bench in my lounge since my parents dropped it off when I moved in to my current flat. I think my dad put it together from the old legs of a table or bench, and a random shelf, or cut off of ply. As you can see, the colours are totally different between top and legs. It sits under the living room window, so someone (totally not me) can sit and look out the window and watch (judge) passersby. It usually has cushions on it, which is fine, but I wanted a more permanent solution. As this is an existing bench, all I had to do was undo the screws my dad had used to put it together (he did it in a super handy way which meant very little faff – thanks past-dad!) but I have no clue about your potential benches (potenches?) so in however way it works, stage one is to have the top bit of the bench separate from the legs. Then measure the length and width of it, so you know how much padding/foam block to buy.

I bought a 4” thick foam block from a high street craft shop, in its standard size. I even put it on the floor and sat on it to see how much it would compact when sat on. Thankfully it was a quiet day and no one challenged me about it! The block I found was quite dense already so it didn’t sink too much. I also bought a couple of cushion pads to help give the top some shape and make the direct bum-to-bench feeling a little cosier. See what feels right for you!

I had to cut the foam to the dimensions of my bench top, which was easy enough with big scissors and a serrated knife. As you can see, it left my block a little rough on the edges but I’m OK with that. If you want the cut side to match the factory cut, the internet suggests either a foam cutting saw, or an electric carving knife. I also bevelled the edges to give a smoother line for the fabric to go over, rather than all the corners, especially given the density of the foam. No one wants lumpy corners! You will likely end up with foam bits all over the floor, so be careful if you have small kids or pets. This is why vacuum cleaner is in the materials list.

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Now for the fun bit. This is where you may need a second pair of hands to just keep stuff steady. I didn’t have that option, so I had to take out some staples and adjust as I went. I put the cushion pads on top of the foam, giving them a fab of fabric glue underneath for luck, though how it will fix to the foam I have no clue. Even if it only stuck temporarily, it ain’t going anywhere now it’s contained in a fabric prison! Then I stapled along one long edge, on the underneath side. I stapled far enough in from the edge to give me good stretching room. My top tip is to start with the centre and work outwards evenly. This helps to stop the fabric all shifting one way so that you don’t end up with too much at one end and not enough left to cover the other.

NOTE: My bench already had screw holes, so I made sure not to staple over them! If you’re making your bench for the first time, it’s up to you if you cut holes for drilling, or just fix through the fabric as well.

I used my fabric on the bias, which means at an angle to the edge. Depending on what fabric you’re using, this may be a good idea to help you get the top really tight. Using the bias of most traditionally woven cottons will give you the stretch that you just don’t get if you follow the grain lines. Depends on your fabric/pattern though! Mine is peacock feathers so I think it looks good at an angle. If you’ve got stripes or something really straight and regular, it might look weird at 45 degrees. You do you!

So, one long edge is stapled. Sure would have been good to have a second person help me for this bit! Ah well. I rocked the top over, pulling the fabric tight over the top, smoothing out the cushion pads and foam into a vaguely dome shape (and for bonus points, symmetrical!). Because the fabric is on the bias – and this is the downside – it was a little harder to stop wrinkles and bunching in the fabric. Just keep adjusting until it’s even on both sides and not totally pulled to one side. Staple the other long side!

Now is the time to do a little trimming of excess, so that the ends aren’t too bulky. Be careful though – it’s better to have to keep trimming little by little, than hack too much off at once and then have gaps. To do the ends, I tucked a little around the corner and pulled the end over before stapling. Not a proper parcel or hospital corner, but enough to get a little pleating at the ends, because I like that effect. If you want your ends smoother or more like envelopes, tuck in like you would a birthday parcel before pulling the end over, to hide that excess. Trim out some bulk if you need to.

Put your bench top roughly on top of the legs and step back. Is it as symmetrical as you want it? Have you got one baggy corner? I had a baggy corner, so I did a bit of emergency stapling. There’s always one baggy corner…

Once you’re happy, fix the top to the base/legs/box (whatever!). I was lucky – I just had to screw it back in. I bow to your own judgement on wood glues, different types of screw/nail or however else your project is going.

OPTIONAL EXTRA: I decided to glue a complementary coloured ribbon along the upright edge of the bench board, just to add a finish and cover up any little wrinkles along the edge. I didn’t have the patience or skill to do this with those big stud nail things, but that’s another option that looks really good.

Now sit back, admire your bench with a brew and something tasty. Then vacuum again. I vacuumed, sat down to write this up, and immediately noticed a piece of foam I’d missed.

SIDE NOTE ABOUT FIRE SAFETY: Depending on the fabric you’re using, you may wish to treat it with a flame resistant/retardant spray. It may not be fabric originally designed for furniture, but now you’ve made it into a furnishing! Just be aware if you’re making this bench as a gift or for sale – there are laws about this stuff, people!

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Perspective

Two years ago I went on a WW1 Battlefields tour trip. We visited a lot of sites in the Ypres area and across the Somme. Among the cemeteries we visited was Langemark. It’s a small place, just off the side of the road, and if you didn’t know it was there it would be difficult to spot. It is a rare sight on the WW1 landscape: a German cemetery.

Langemark_German_War_Graves_2011_06

Langemark

If you have driven through Belgium and northern France, you will probably have seen numerous war cemeteries. There are almost an uncountable number through Flanders and the Salient. Small clusters of bright, creamy headstones and crosses. Mini cenotaphs and mausoleums. Some mark where units fell during operations and missions. Some are planned and gather the dead from different local events. But they are everywhere. On sunny days the stones catch that light and beam it out. On overcast days they huddle like ghosts, still faintly glowing in the murk. They are VISIBLE. Rightly so. I am in no way saying they shouldn’t be. The War Graves Commission has done and continues to do an amazing job marking and recording all these sites; maintaining them and allowing visitors the chance to reflect, commemorate and connect with family they lost.

tyne cot

Tyne Cot

Langemark, though, is a different affair. Against the hundreds of ‘Allied’ war memorials and cemeteries in Belgium, there are thirteen German ones. That’s all. The guide who took us to Langemark was Belgian, and he was clear as to the reason why: the Belgians didn’t want them. I can understand that: here were the casualties of the enemy. Here were the reason so many of their own had died. Many fallen German soldiers were of course repatriated. But the ones that remain are spread between these thirteen cemeteries.

Where the bright, white headstones of the British, the Irish, the Canadian, South African, Australian, French, Belgian (and so many more) troops stand straight and tall on parade, the Langemark graves are flat. The grave markers are dark, not white. The cemetery is enclosed by a low, unassuming wall. The site is under a lot more tree cover. There under sufferance. ‘You can have your cemeteries,’ the Belgians said, ‘but only if we can almost pretend they’re not there.’

Tyne Cot was a sombre place, but with a heart of gratefulness. I cried when I saw a double headstone for a grave containing the remains of four people. I was doing fine until someone else on the trip asked me why the grave was arranged that way; why the inscription said “believed to be” above each name. ‘The clue is in the designation,’ I told him. It was an artillery crew. Gunners. These four men were possibly manning a gun when it was shelled, and so they knew which four soldiers were on the crew. They perhaps found their name and regiment badges. But they couldn’t tell which man was which… I am fighting the tears again now thinking about it.

Langemark was sombre alright, but with an undercurrent of shame. It was gloomy and cold due to the thick canopy of trees. We did not linger. The grave markers were written in German (unsurprisingly). There was no memorial with a cross on the top. There were just four bronze, faceless men, remembering their comrades as best they could.

Langemark-German-Cemetery

Why am I telling you all about this? You see, history is written by the victors. It’s the social version of evolution. The stories, legends, grudges of the past get passed down to the next generation and then the next. In another few years we will start to see the last survivors of WW2 finally passing away, as those from WW1 have already done. Their legacy, apart from the sadly unheeded plea for such a conflict to never happen again, is History, with a capital H. It’s what we are taught in schools, see on documentaries, get stung by in the pub quiz. It moulds our consciousness and we don’t even realise. We take these stories as fact. They refer to real events and people, but they are relayed by people with an emotional investment. The phrase “there are three sides to a story: my side, your side, and the truth” did not come from nothing.

I am in no way trying to belittle the actions of those in the Great War or any conflict since. I am not trying to say people lied about events or have deliberately distorted the past (though I am sure that has also happened). I am just trying to navigate storytelling.

Onto a slightly lighter version of the last seven hundred words: Draco Malfoy. He’s not the star of the Harry Potter series, though he is not the Big Bad either (and we cannot name who is!). There are a few of these memes around, but this is my favourite one:

draco

It is natural, I suppose, to tell a story from the hero’s point of view. That’s one hell of a tale. It may even be full of sound and fury! We get that spark of an idea: save the princess, diffuse the bomb, stop the Apocalypse. There is nothing wrong with those stories. But how would they look if they were told by the losers instead of the victors? Draco’s version of Harry Potter is a little different, no?

jafar

Dylan Saunders as Jafar in ‘Twisted’

What about Aladdin? I’m sure I’ve talked about this before. StarKid wrote and performed a musical called Twisted, which is a parody of Aladdin told from Jafar’s point of view. In the story, Aladdin is an arrogant, psychotic wastrel who is thirty-three and still tries to mack on the teenage princess. Jafar is an idealistic government official trying to end “the socio-economic inequality” of the kingdom, but is constantly foiled by the selfish and incompetent Sultan (and other Viziers). This in turn sprang from the Wicked series by Gregory Maguire. If you haven’t heard of those, it’s the Wizard of Oz from the POV of the Wicked Witch of the West.

wicked

How would the stories you tell be turned around if the vanquished were the narrators? Do villains see themselves as villainous? We are all in that chain of narrative somewhere after all. Arthur Dent is a monster to Agrajag. How would Lord of the Rings look if Sauron were the hero? There he is, just trying to rule his lands, when the races of Men et al decide to overthrow him. Even the trees get in on the action! I mean, Sauron has built a stable economy, there’s almost no unemployment, he’s got heavy industry going on… and then an invading army – including ghosts/the undead don’t forget! – storm the gates and some undergrown guerrilla fighters infiltrate the fortress.

good guy sauron

Although this type of story clearly lends itself to parodies of existing work, I for one am keen to explore my options on this. I want a story where the hero… isn’t. Or where the “good things” the heroes do have bad consequences for Joe Public (I’m thinking collateral damage of a huge wizard duel). Or even that someone thinks they’re being the hero and starts this huge chain of events in Righteous Indignation, but then it turns out they were totally wrong and they have done some major damage for no reason. Or hey, a story that isn’t so A vs B. Shades of grey, people. Count them! But not beyond forty-nine…

All I’m saying is, don’t forget the Langemarks when you’re thundering through the Tyne Cots. If a narrative is to have depth, it needs to consider more angles than “well they’re doing it because they’re evil”, or “they just do the right thing!” There are more than forty four thousand people at Langemark, including 24000 in a mass grave. Some will never be identified, but they are all important. Germany was not wiped off the map, after all. Their survivors have their own stories to tell. Their own History is quietly grieving in the shadows under the oak trees.

Who will remain after your fantasy battles? And how will your hero treat the dead?

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Pontificating

Wow, so, hey! What a turn up for the books (pun always intended). Let’s catch you up:

I still haven’t finished Rivka’s Christmas present and her birthday is right around the corner as well. Oops! She’s super into scarves and headwrapping at the moment though so I imagine a couple of lovely layering linens will go down a treat. Or maybe that’s to throw her off the scent and I’m going to buy her books. Or make her something… Hmmm… I guess in a month we’ll find out.

I am still reading. Always reading. Not doing very well with Book Bingo. A lot of the books I have don’t fit into those categories… but I’m working on it. There’s no time limit, right? Right?

I have, however, read an amazing debut novel from Paul M M Cooper. River of Ink is a sumptuous narrative set in Sri Lanka in the thirteenth century. Cooper himself hesitates to call it ‘historical fiction’ (as you can hear for yourselves in the Papertrail podcast interview he did). I can see why: it’s very much a character piece so really the history side of it is just the window dressing. But it’s an extremely beautiful window. The story is told by Asanka the court poet. He is translating an epic saga poem for his new master. The world of Sri Lanka is exquisitely constructed – Cooper has clearly done a lot of research and I think spent time over there getting to know his locations firsthand – and the language is poetic, as you would expect, but not laboured.

river

Asanka is narrating the tale to his lover, who appears in the tale as well, and his relationship with her also tells us a lot about his character. Asanka is quite set in his ways but if he considers something worthwhile he will stubbornly and doggedly pursue it. He excuses his transgressions on occasion, while being critical of others, but the strength he doesn’t know he has slowly comes to the surface. He is a reluctant hero, and he fights his war with words. Be in no doubt: it is a story of conflict and violence and death, but Cooper weaves those harsh moments deftly through the real point of the story. He clearly very much loves words and language and poetry. Hang on, do I mean Asanka or Cooper? Both. Oh, very both.

I had the joy or reading part of this book in a beautifully painted roulotte caravan and being surrounded by peacock motifs, turquoise, purples and greens while reading on a chaise longue was almost like heaven. I mean, I don’t think I can attribute that to Cooper, but hey why not.

Other than listening to some audiobook Neverwhere (narrated by Neil Gaiman himself who as you know is not always my favourite person but at least he gets to make the characters sound the way he intended them to and he doesn’t do a bad job) I have almost from nowhere discovered podcasts. I know. I’ve always been behind the curve. My friend Jim told me I should listen to Hello, From the Magic Tavern and since I always listen to Jim I did so. Fifty episodes in, I’m now trying to eke them out as I don’t want to catch up so quickly and run out of them! Waiting for a new episode every week is for losers #Netflixgeneration

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If you’ve never heard of it, it’s a comedy podcast hosted by Arnie Niekamp from Chicago. He fell through a dimensional portal in a Burger King drive-thru and landed in a magical land called Foon. He hosts the podcast (so lucky that he had the equipment with him in his car!) from a tavern called the Vermillion Minotaur and usually he co-hosts with a wizard called Usidore and a shapeshifter called Chunt. They have local guests and tell stories and Arnie is trying to get his head around life in Foon. It’s mostly improvised and they do try to trip each other up a little, but the continuity is great and they’ve really built a bizarre and wonderful world. My personal favourite episodes usually involve Mittens (the national sport of Foon) and its weird rules, Glenn Miller & Spants the travelling bards, or more recently the episode called Offices & Bosses, which is about a roleplaying game that is popular in Foon. You may not need me to tell you the premise of that. Also any time a wizard introduces themselves they do so with their full name including all nicknames and regional variations. The first time I heard Spintax the Green’s full name I could not stop laughing for a literal five minutes.

It’s rude, it’s bold and it’s hilarious. You currently have 62 episodes to get through. What are you waiting for?

Next projects… well… I’m sewing a manticore onto a cushion cover. As one does. Also trying to be more accountable to my creativeness. I was thinking about this the other day – I will always have projects on the go of one sort or another. I will write, I will stitch, I will take the vacuum apart and put it back together again (guess what I did yesterday?) or occasionally I may even draw. I need those things. But not in the same way I used to. As a teen, I wrote a lot (A LOT) of awkward angsty poetry. I wrote fanfiction. I wrote angry cathartic stories. I did some other things, too, like friendship bracelets and weird sketches and things. All that, I feel, was partly due to my latent personality being desperate for recognition.

Since hitting my twenties, and since finding decent friends and a fulfilling lifestyle, that focus has shifted. I don’t have to pretend to be “normal” whatever that means. No more Suzy-Highschool. So that drive to pour my real self into stories or fabric or drawing (and the odd cringeworthy song) has become less necessary. I am who I am on the outside now. Luckily. I may have a few grey hairs but I’m also independent, employed, in a great relationship… despite being a massive nerd and weirdo. So hoorah for that! Now I get to do the projects I want to do. Make things that are pretty or that I know others will like as gifts. I get to do for fun what I used to do for sanity.

Screw the normals! Well, actually, don’t screw them, because in my experience they’re not very good at it. To mix in another metaphor: I’m not hungry for it any more. My soul isn’t starving. I can nibble, and I want a snack, but I don’t need a big banquet of brain release. I’m happier. So that’s a good thing. Less productive maybe, but I’m productive in other ways. Emotional bridges, a little bit of mindfulness, taking care of my body, just actually chilling out… all the things I couldn’t really do when I was younger. I may be growing as a person. Horrifying.

And now for bacon. And listening to podcasts.

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Roadblock

I’m hitting a bit of a wall with writing. This stupid fecking draft will not die. I vowed to get it done this past NaNo, but that didn’t turn out so well. I failed again. Did I even make it to 25k? I can’t remember. I’ve blocked it from my mind. It was another year for personal growth as I got swamped with work projects and refused to bury my head in writing to cope with it.

The trouble is, I still haven’t overall finished it because there are so many issues I don’t know how to fix. I don’t feel, currently, like enough big stuff happens to get to a satisfactory climax (wahey). It needs editing, and while I’m aboard the objective critique train, I am starting to worry that I’ve gone a few stops too far. I’m doubting myself.

There are those really gripping books you read where there are good but boring bits in between the good scenes where all the cool stuff happens. There are books you read where the author clearly didn’t understand that no one else cares about the tiniest minutiae of the characters’ world (Thomas Hardy I’m looking at you) and there are books that are basically one high-octane scene after another. I’m having trouble finding that balance.

I’m writing it, so of course I feel like all of it is good stuff and crucial information (apart from all the duff stuff I’ve already wiped and feel better about). But I’m trying to look at it from the perspective of a reader, at all the times I got bogged down in a story when I just wanted to get to the action. But then going back to read that background stuff when suddenly, oops, there’s something you can’ understand in a big scene if you don’t. That’s fine. That’s what I’m going for. I need to keep those subtle hooks as well as the big T-Rex claws. But how do I decide what’s filler, or just boring, and what isn’t?

I originally thought about making it two books, just because the titles “Once Bitten” and “Twice Shy” are begging for it, but maybe I don’t need to do that. I don’t feel like I’ve run out of steam necessarily, but I do need to actually decide how it ends and what happens. And the more stuff I go back over the more I want to change. Which is good. I’m not deleting things, really, just shifting them about to try to balance the pace of it. I spent a lot of time back in 2009 writing it for NaNoWriMo where the goal is just to write a lot of words. So the first bit has had a lot of pruning for completely pointless waffle. But the middle bit is now problematic. Shit, I don’t know.

I still don’t feel like I want other people to read it, but maybe I have to bite the bullet and just get some proper outside perspective. Rivka is currently in the middle of official editing for someone else, and I don’t know who else to subject to this teeny-bop nonsense. I’m not ashamed of it, much, but if it’s not your thing, it’s harder to get enthusiastic about constructive criticism. I’m trying to do this like a proper grown-up writer; with a bit of a scientific methodical thing. Take scenes out here, put them in there. Bridge those gaps. Build the tension, spin it out, ramp it up. There has to be a certain amount of deliberate construction. You can’t just write it all perfectly the first time.

I can write. I know I can. Usually. I can do the good words thing. Stringing together sentences and paragraphs and whole chapters that go somewhere… I have done that. It being a challenge to get it right isn’t a problem. It takes hard work and drive and time, and that’s fine. But I do really want it DONE. At least for the story to get to a conclusion.

That and I’m starting to feel like the main character is totally wrong. Is she acting realistically? I am afraid of entering Marysue Town. If I’m aiming for YA, the market has changed a bit since Twilight. An arbitrary cut-off, but that’s when I think it full on exploded. To some extent yes you need the readers to buy into the fantasy and wish to be that person on their thrill ride, but on the other hand, teens are smart. So are adults who read YA. And they don’t want to be talked down to, or to read yet another bland, drippy girl-silhouette who acts like a lovesick moron.

I have to get to the end. It deserves an ending. I feel like it could be, if not this generation’s War and Peace, at least a reasonable book. I won’t give up.

Right, boil the kettle. I’ve got some words to write.

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The Story of Rivka’s Christmas Present – September 2015

Here we are on 20th September. August got away from me before I knew it. I had a lovely holiday and then it was back to work, and so the quilt had a lot of things templated up but nothing really done. Then I realised it was something stupid like 120 days until Christmas and I thought I’d better pull my finger out.

So far, I have:IMG_0084

Cut and stitched the lettering at the bottom

Attached the bottom white panel to the green meadow section

Cut out lots of other pieces

Roughly constructed most of a lion

Dyed some cotton to make the sky

It’s not going too badly, but a lot of the lion I’m having to do by hand because of the fiddly seams and angles. It’s worth doing because I have more control over it, but it’s frustrating because it takes longer. It does feel like more of it is done than I think, and that it will come together pretty quickly.
Next jobs:

  • Find some pink/peach for the face and hands
  • Do some dragonscale smocking detail for the dressIMG_0101
  • Sew the bottom part of the skirt and the lion together

Then we’ll be crackalacking. As long as I don’t break the machine again. I was trucking along nicely, adding the bottom piece of skirt wreath with some killer zig-zag topstitch, when the foot level broke off! Just enough left to still vaguely work, so I locked off and got the fabric out, but… dayum. Luckily, Rivka had some glue so I’ve stuck it back on and am hoping it will hold. In the process I managed to get glue all over my hands and tip over a chair covered in clean clothes.

 

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The Story of Rivka’s Christmas Present – July 2015

Alright. For this project you will need:

  • pens
  • paper
  • tracing paper
  • fabric
  • time
  • to be insane

I have decided to make Rivka a bed throw/quilt thing. Yup. It’s currently 4th July, and the design has been drawn out for a month already. Now I’m on summer vacation and Rivka will be out at work, I have more time and space to sort things without her seeing what’s going on. I’m aiming to have the main machine parts done by October so I can do the hand-embellishing.

So what’s my design? I have chosen to recreate a Tarot card. I am doing Major Arcana VIII – Strength. I chose this card because it is about the quiet dignity of perseverance when things get tough. It’s about going on when you don’t think you can. It’s that core of steel. I had a couple of decks to look at and I looked at Pinterest as well, and have stuck with a Rider-Waite style. I adapted the hairstyle of the woman in the card to be more like Rivka, because she really represents this card 100%.

At the moment (July) she is dealing with some tough stuff. Yes, she has been upset about it; she’s not a robot. But she’s not caving, and she’s not letting it rule her life. She is doing her best to punch it in the balls and rise above it. Her dedication to writing and promoting other indie authors is an inspiration and even though it drives her up the wall sometimes, she really cares about her author community and she wouldn’t give it up for anything.

That’s why I took this card:

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And made it look like this:

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As you can see I was brave and Sharpied it, and I clearly can’t draw hands, but I’m pretty proud of myself. Today Rivka is going out to teach a lovely lady how to make felt, so I’m going to start work on the lettering at the bottom. This thing is about the size of a single duvet, so it’s a struggle to even lay it out in the craft room upstairs at the moment. I have too many boxes up there! I have enough black to do a few letters, and the strip of white at the bottom. I might even cut some lion pieces. Oooh! I need a new box to keep all the pieces in.

At the moment I’m feeling excited. Check back in a week or so and I’ll be regretting the whole thing!

Photo updates and stories to follow!

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Getting that Fix

Currently reading: Vlad, CC Humphreys (and The Summer Queen by Elizabeth Chadwick)

Currently hearing: Guards! Guards! and Going Postal, Terry Pratchett; Memoirs of a Geisha, Arthur Golden; The Handmaid’s Tale, Margaret Atwood.

Alright, so I’m cheating on my “no new books” thing. I’ve got four audiobooks on the go that are books I’ve read before, but the audios are newly purchased. Sort of. I decided to cancel my Audible account because while £14.99 isn’t breaking the bank, I’m not actually using it. So I had 12 credits of books to buy. Can’t waste that money! And audiobooks are reeeeally expensive! So I bought some audios of books I already own, and yes, a couple of new ones that I really want to read but technically can’t because I’m working through my To Read pile. But… but… OK it’s not really an excuse.

As for cycling through four in one go… my brain needs stimulation! And these things are many, many hours long. I like them for listening to while crafting or pottering about, because I don’t need my eyes or my hands to enjoy them, and they’re less distracting. But hearing the same voice for hours on end means eventually you start zoning out. I’m trying to cope with having less to occupy my brain by feeding it more fiction. Usually that works.

I’m also cheekily re-reading The Summer Queen. I didn’t even read it that long ago, but I was at the optician’s yesterday with my new tablet, and I’ve only just put Kindle onto it, so I didn’t have many books actually downloaded. So I HAD TO read what was to hand. HAD TO. And I was there for an hour and a half in the end, so I think I did the right thing. Also, I have ordered new glasses. It’s about time. I’ve had my current frames a good four years at least, and they were chosen when I had longer hair. I don’t feel like they suit my face as well since I had the chop. So that’s exciting!

I’m signed up to a craft swapping deal at the moment as well. It’s Christmas themed! I am pretty excited about it; you know how we love Christmas in Crow-Spicer-Quinn towers! I have to make a tree decoration of some kind, but I don’t think I can stick to that! I was Pinteresting earlier and have a lovely inspiration board. There are loads of cute ideas for small decorations that you could even stack up to make wall strings or mobiles so I’ll probably make a few things and connect them somehow. Or just make a complete tree’s worth of decoration, haha. VERY EXCITED. That also means more craft project photo blogs.

I broke my sewing machine earlier this week. Well, I snapped a lever with my WOMAN STRENGTH. But I soon had the screwdriver out to take the machine apart. I eBayed a new part and it’s in and ready to start levering again. That’s good because it meant all work on Rivka’s Christmas present had stopped. It’s pretty much taking over the craft room. I’m still excited though. There’s time to do some more work on it before dinner. It feels like there’s still a lot to do, but in the way that hopefully it’ll suddenly come together. Hopefully.

The nights are starting to draw in, the fire has been lit, and it’s cosying up time. Now is the season of quilts and spices. I effing love autumn. The next few weeks are going to buoy me up, I can tell.

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