Yarn Along: So that happened

I had a slightly odd experience this morning. Last week, I’d fully intended to participate in the Yarn Along, and wrote most of a post which only really needed tweaking and some pictures adding. Then at lunchtime, I was hit with a massive migraine, the effects of which I’m really only just over. But it’s Wednesday again, and I thought it would be easy to just go back, edit the post and put it up here.

Except the two projects I was talking about have both been finished, as have the books I was listening to. Apparently it’s been a productive week, possibly due to the enforced time of rest – I slept for the best part of two days, and when I wasn’t sleeping, I wasn’t really up to doing much apart from lying under quilts crocheting.  I have found this tiger to be an excellent crafting companion. He doesn’t interrupt my counting, he doesn’t try to play with the ball of yarn, and he’s great for propping a pattern up on.

Does anyone else find they go in cycles with their crafting? I find that for a couple of weeks, all I want to do is start things. I spend time on Ravelry matching patterns and yarns, I swatch, I fill my heap of project bags with all kinds of lovely things. Then in the middle phase, I despair because I feel overwhelmed with works in progress. In the last phase, I have a spurt of energy and seem to finish things left, right and centre, and I just want to be DONE. And towards the end of that phase, I start the ‘what shall I make next?’ process all over again, and have to be crowbar-ed out of my Ravelry library. 
It’s not just me, right?

As part of my finishing spurt, I’ve blocked a cardigan and a shawl, both of which are still drying. That takes the number of FOs that need photographing to four. I’m going to have to take them on holiday with me at this rate! In my concentrated effort to be DONE, I’ve picked up my Hap again and finally settled on an edging that, if I don’t exactly love it, I can live with. There’s not much yarn left, so I’m hoping to be done by the weekend. 
I finished a couple of books, and am currently trying to get to grips with The Weather Experiment. I’m sure it’s a good read, but the narrator has one of those voices that I find it easy to tune out, so I keep missing sections because I’m staring out of the window on the bus or wondering what to have for dinner. As there are so many other books on my ‘want to read’ list, I’m not sure I really want to take the time with something that can’t keep me hooked. I think I’m going to try The Ask and the Answer next. I read The knife of never letting go several years ago, and always wondered what happened next! 

Hopefully with a better head this week, I’ll actually get around to replying to comments and making some too! To see what folks are up to, head over to Ginny’s for the Yarn Along.


Pick yourself up, dust yourself off and start all over again

Alongside the catchy lyrics of the title of this post, I’ve also been using Lamentations 3:22-23 (a surprisingly encouraging book, considering its title!) as my motto lately:

Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.

The ‘new every morning’ bit is just as well, because every day lately I’ve resolved that this will be the day when I [insert productive goal here]. And most days, it hasn’t been. Most days have been like the one before, where I get a few good hours in the morning, where my brain cooperates and I get stuff done, then it’s more or less worn itself out, and I spend much of the rest of the day wrestling with anxiety and exhaustion. That’s apart from the days where the negative stuff just takes over full stop and the whole day feels like a battle for sanity. I can’t listen to yarny podcasts or get on Ravelry without experiencing massive anxiety, and blogging has just been impossible.


I have, however, made sure to take lots of pictures of flowers!

Continue reading “Pick yourself up, dust yourself off and start all over again”

#creative_identity. Crochet, The Library and Me.

Over at A Playful Day, this month’s theme is Creative Identity. It’s an interesting topic for me, and while I usually have thinky-thoughts, save them as a draft and never post them, this one has got me thinking enough to finish a whole post.

I like new things. I like starting new projects, learning new crafts, and often lose interest once I’ve got the hang of them. My house and garage are stuffed with odds and ends for different types of yarn, fabric and other crafts (though not paper. With paper, I end up with more cuts than it does.) In May, being so unwell meant that a lot of my creative activity ground to a halt, but the one thing that never stops is my brain.

 The centre of my Hap was pretty much the last thing I finished before I ran out of energy for anything but work and sleep.

It occurred to me in the middle of it all, with beautiful creative posts swirling around me, making me feel completely inadequate and plodding, that craft isn’t actually how I mostly express my creativity. I love making, I love making up my own patterns, I love beautiful things. I have a serious Instagram and Podcast addiction. But actually, I mostly express myself in my day to day work. I love my job (most days) and I’ve spent a lot of time over the last eighteen months expanding its boundaries.

Libraries are wonderful things. Being a librarian gives me the best of all worlds. I work primarily with people, but I get to handle beautiful objects. There’s always a new challenge, whether it’s budgets or difficult people or a new subject that needs an entirely new section of the library. I teach students how to use catalogues and databases, and I get to see their faces when I show them the amazing research world that’s out there. At the moment, I’m coordinating a massive hardware upgrade, designing on a new website for digital manuscripts, consulting on two exhibitions (one of them international) writing three talks and organising an Oxford-wide survey. I firmly believe that this job is what I make of it, and I intend to make everything.

The thing is, it’s hard to show how creative I’m being. There are no beautiful lines of stitching to photograph, there’s no colours to play with, no fun designs to show off. Like craft, there’s a lot of boring grunt work to be done – and it’s the same whether you’re filling in a grant application or chugging through another massively long row of treble crochet. It’s just that at the end of it, it’s hard to set up a good scene to Instagram. But for me, they both satisfy that part of my brain that needs to make. That needs to see the things inside my head become tangible. I think that need is at the root of my creativity, really. I have to keep this swirling mess of my brain occupied somehow, whether it’s in designing a crochet pattern or volunteering for yet another project that I think the library could help with.

And of course, one of these I have to do, while the other is optional. By thinking more consciously about being creative at work, it’s meant that when I get home in the evening, too tired for anything but food and bed, I’ve still been using that part of my brain, and still have that creative buzz.

 Yes, this is really part of where I work, although my building is the ugly one behind it that we don’t take pictures of!

I realise that I’m incredibly blessed, and certainly a lot of my library work hasn’t been nearly so fulfilling. To be able to honestly stand up and say I love my job is a rare privilege. In the craft world, a lot of the time, work is what you have to do to fund your yarn habit, so I found it hard to see it as creative – it’s not what springs to mind for most people. Then I step back, look at a presentation I put together and realise just how much creativity went into it – I recently spent a whole (Satur)day putting together a Prezi, because I knew to work it had to be exactly the way I saw it in my head. It was hugely hard work, but absolutely worth it. So many people dream of giving up their jobs to ‘do something creative’, but I’m finding my creativity right here.

And don’t get me wrong, I love my crafting. The urge to make doesn’t stop just because I leave the library for the evening. But what’s helped me hugely over the last few weeks is stopping seeing creativity as something I leave at the door when I get to work. Whether it’s using “Cats of the Internet” as my sample research topic, or starting my presentation to Important People with a Terry Pratchett quote, I am immensely fortunate that I don’t have to stop being me to do this job. In the immortal words of the Third Doctor:

[I’m serious about] what I do, just not necessarily the way I do it.

And that has made all the difference. I’ve only been on hiatus from crafting, not from being creative, and these project bags are all just waiting for me to get going again. Watch out, June, here I come!

Yarn Along: At Capacity

It feels strange, but apart from a hibernating cardigan and a blanket that’s waiting to be frogged, these are all the crochet projects I have on the go right now. L-R they’re my Hap, my sadly neglected Freyja, the Frankencardi, and the sample that never was and needs ripping out to start again. I checked my Ravelry pages, and there’s nothing more to be found. As I’ll be away for a few days next week, I’ve been trying to think what else I could start as a nice easy project to keep my hands busy, but I can’t seem to make any decisions. Maybe I’ll just use the blanket yarn to make some simple granny squares, for a different blanket this time. Or maybe not.

Perhaps it’s better not to start, as I have a few dozen sewing projects waiting to be completed, assuming I can manage to get my machine set up. Even that feels challenging at the moment. Between work stuff – which is all-consuming – and home stuff – which has been immensely stressful – I think my brain has actually reached capacity. There’s no more room in here, and for once, instead of wanting to start a new thing right now, I really want to finish things, get them done and clear the decks.

Considering my usual startitis, I’m starting to think I might be sickening with something. Finishing? That’s really not like me at all. Maybe I’m more stressed out than I realise! Hopefully if I can get some of these done and gone, I’ll free up some of my brain capacity for new stuff. Right now, I just want to hunker down with what I have and sew in ends. And this is the woman who wore a shawl for eighteen months without sewing in the last end. Definitely ill!

I’ve been trying to get some books read, but have been disappointed in everything I’ve started lately. The ‘Audio Crimes’ collection of short stories that I borrowed contained 4 dull and 1 averagely interesting story, while ‘The Painted Lady’ by Edward Marston which I’m listening to at the moment isn’t quite working for me. There’s ‘Blood and Beauty’ to try, which is historical fiction, and I’ve downloaded ‘The Gunpowder Plot’ by Antonia Fraser, in the hopes that some good non-fiction will hold my interest, but otherwise, it’s back to the podcasts!

I’m running a little late, but joining up with Ginny this week, after a few weeks off. Looking forward to catching up with everyone!


15 in 2015: June edition (don’t ask about May)

I think the less said about May the better. Can we all agree on that, please? I spent the first two weeks or so feeling absolutely dreadful, and the next two weeks trying to recover, which was an uphill battle. Stuff has happened that set me back a bit, and I still want to sleep more than I want to be awake, but I’m definitely emerging from the other side at last. Now is the time to try to put myself back together again, little by little, as trying to do too much sends me rolling right back down again.

What I mostly seemed to do in May was take pictures of flowers. I’m actually okay with this.

But as it’s a Monday and the first of the month, it seemed like a good chance to draw a line under the last four weeks and start again. One good sign is that I’ve realised my Ravelry Projects list is looking a little empty, and while I have some things that I’m finishing off, there’s nothing on it that I can just pick up and stitch at the moment. Going through my library and my stash, I’m starting to get excited again, which has to be a good thing. My lists and plans and gearing up again, so it’s the perfect day for a 15 in 2015 check-in.


I had to go back to April to see how I’m doing on my 15 in 2015 goals. And it’s not so bad, really. I’ll do a full half-year round up at the start of July, but here’s how I’ve done for April and May.

14 New recipes tried twice
This has actually been my most successful one, since I started using Jack Monroe’s recipes. They’re simple, tasty and mostly made from ‘storecupboard’ ingredients, which means I don’t worry if I don’t make what I planned, as the ingredients won’t go off! We’ve had turkey and chickpea burgers, cauliflower cheese carbonara (fab!), mushroom and kale soup, and haddock kedgeree, all of them at least twice. We’ve also had Mushroom Tea Bourgignon (a bit dull) and spaghetti puttanesca (not entirely successful, but I know how to solve the problem) once each, but I’m sure we’re going to have them again. That’s pretty good going for what’s been an otherwise uninspired month!

12 Books finished
I’ve read (or been read to) quite a lot, and I think my total for the last couple of months is 3 books, which is great for a time when I haven’t wanted to interact with anything much, let alone literature.

9 Friends emailed
Not as many as I’d like, but I managed to email 4 people in the last few months, which feels like a real achievement.

8 Patterns written
Not completely written, but I’ve got 2 full samples ready to be turned into written patterns, and an idea for a third.

0 Stash acquired
I’ve absolutely kept to this one, despite extreme provocation from all the wonderful fibre festivals that have been going on lately, and the amazing pictures on Instagram from Quilt Market. Sorting the garage yesterday, I realised that I really do have an epic craft stash – fabric, yarn, notions, beads, bag handles, you name it, I’ve got it. It’s rather inaccessible in the garage, and not being able to see it, I tend to forget I have it. One day I will have a permanent craft space, oh yes, and then we’ll see what I can make!

Overall, that’s not too shabby, I don’t think. The goal for June is to set my sewing machine up in the living room in a way that doesn’t drive me nuts. Our flat is quite small, and having too much out at once makes it feel rather claustrophobic, but I can never be bothered to set up and put everything away each time, so I need to work something out, or my sewing goals will never be met. I have too many UFOs for that to happen!

June has started cold and grey, but I think that means it can only get better. And if it doesn’t, at least I’m getting good wear out of all my woolly shawls! Hope your month has been manageable, and I’ll be back on Wednesday with a WIP round up :)

Yarn Along: A post of two halves

This is a post of two halves. If I’d written it yesterday, I’m not sure it would have been. Actually, I’m not sure I could have written it yesterday. Anyway, the usual, fun, yarny stuff is at the top. The more serious note is at the bottom.

It’s been a tough ten days, where I have mostly kept my head down and interacted with people as little as possible. While that’s been bad in all kinds of ways (see below!), it’s been good for the crochet!

Britsock, sample crochet shawl, homemade project bag

I’ve got through my first skein of Britsock for the design I’m working on, and wow, I love this yarn. It’s silky and fluffy all at once, and is just a dream to work with. Deadlines have slipped, so I don’t know if I’ll get this out when I wanted to, but I’m going to try!

Start of crochet cardigan sleeve

Last night, I was actually feeling up to picking up the Cardigan of Doom, and I was so glad I did. With an hour and a half to concentrate and work on it, I got about halfway up the second sleeve! Progress! Hopefully I’ll get it finished today, so that I can unpick and re-do the other one on Thursday and Friday, ready for Mum to try on at the weekend. We will get there!

No books in my Overdrive library message

One of the things I’ve fallen behind on this week is listening to books. I’ve got 4 on loan at the moment, but none have really grabbed me. I’ve tried a few, but none of the writing styles have really worked for me, and I find my attention drifting. So I’m going to give this one a go instead:

cover of book: the last empress

Her story was in Princesses Behaving Badly, which I read a few weeks ago, and while this is a fictional version, if the writing’s good, it’s exactly the sort of thing I like. I’ll report back!

Don’t forget to click the picture at the top of the post to see what everyone else is working on this week.

After making a couple of dozen attempts to write this post, I’m starting to understand why people keep their blogs as purely happy places, where they don’t talk about struggles or problems in any kind of detail. It’s almost impossible to hit the right tone where you don’t sound like you’re complaining, but you get across how tough the week has been. But I’m going to at least try, because this has been my week, and if it’s been your week too, it’s really important to hear that it’s not just you.

Since last Monday week everything has felt very bleak. I haven’t been able to do things with deadlines, some of which were very important to me. I haven’t been able to do the things I enjoy – Ravelry, podcasts, music, reading. Doing anything other than sleeping has just seemed beyond me. I’ve cried a lot, for no reason – a newspaper headline, a missed bus, being unable to decide what to have for lunch. When I’ve seen people, I’ve done a lot of talking. A lot. And tried to say nothing because my words haven’t felt under my control. I haven’t been able to wash my hair. I’ve eaten a lot of things. A lot. Not all of them good for me. It’s been hard to feel anything.

Last night, I managed to have a shower and wash my hair. I’m starting to feel things other than anger and anguish, and my sense of humour is coming back. Now I have to find the energy to face up to all the stuff I’ve missed. I’m trying not to tackle all of it at once, in case it sends me on another downward trend with the sheer weight of things I have failed to do. Baby steps and bare essentials. Everything else is a bonus.

I’m not putting this down for you to feel upset or sorry for me – I have a lot of support and prayer that holds me up when I’m like this, and I hang on, knowing I’ll come out the other side. I have my faith, which is sustaining and the only thing I know when I know nothing else. But the recent documentary The stranger on the bridge has had my colleagues discussing mental health issues for the first time, and with compassion. At the moment, when they say “it makes you wonder who else might be struggling and you don’t know it” I don’t say anything. I’m not up to that conversation yet. But if you are, and you have the chance, please take it. Having things in the open, de-stigmatised, is the first step for a lot of people to be able to say “but I feel like that. You mean I don’t have to?”

And if you’re stuck and wondering what to do, Mind have a lot of information in easily digestible form. It’s a UK charity, but the information is borderless and well worth checking out.

Yarn Along: Happiness is…

…a zigzag swatch with straight edges. At last!

I’m hoping to get this written up soon, but the ends had been bothering me. It’s such a relief to finally come up with a count I’m happy with!

My hands have been rather sore this week, so I’m rather behind on the rest of my stitching, especially Frejya, which seems to hurt them even more for some reason. Little and often is all very well, but it doesn’t get you very far on your row count! On the plus side, Sol’s is coming on nicely, so definitely go and check hers out.


After a few weeks of podcasts, I went back to a book this week, with Princesses Behaving Badly. While the style isn’t one I usually like, as it’s short sections on each Princess rather than a coherent narrative, it actually rather suited the way I listened to it, which was in fits and starts. The historical detail was a little patchy – some stories were picked over in detail, while other were just delivered without comment – but in general, it was a fun listen and great survey of women through the ages. I’m having trouble deciding where to go next, though. Do I want fiction or more history? Fun or serious? Long or short? What are you reading at the moment? Inspire me!

Joining up with Ginny as usual:

#loveyourblog: Ugly (warning: Contains Classics)

A Playful Day

As soon as I saw the prompt for this week’s #loveyourblog challenge, I knew I wasn’t going to write anything personal. Like a lot of people, my relationship to words like ‘pretty’ and ‘ugly’ is kind of complicated, and while I try to be honest in this space, that’s not a road I’m up to exploring at the moment.

It wasn’t until Saturday that I knew what I was going to write about for today. If you follow me on Instagram, you would have been slightly bombarded with pictures of me doing a tourist trail around my own city. I’d say I was sorry, but I had a great day! My most thought-provoking stop was at the Ashmolean Museum, where they have a small display of painted figures from antiquity, called ‘The Gods in Colour’.

2015-04-18 12.14.08

Alternative interpretations of the same statue, with the ‘original’ in the middle.

Most people who studied Classics know that the beautiful white marble statues that we see in museums are far from authentic – I saw a painted statue for the first time in the Cast Gallery in Cambridge when I was 16, so this isn’t a new idea. This classical ideal of pure white marble and clean, elegant lines is a myth created by the scholars who found the statues. We know from Greek literature that statues were painted, but that didn’t stop some of the discoverers scrubbing them clean so that they better matched their ‘ideal’. Most of the sculpture would have been painted, and if the traces are anything to go by, the ancients were not afraid of colour.

2015-04-18 12.06.00

An archer wearing truly magnificent stockings.

Given they had natural, bright pigments to work with, it’s not really surprising that the results were also bright and garish. What I did find surprising was the amount of patterning. Apparently they really, really liked their geometric shapes and weren’t scared to show them off.

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Some of the pigments available in all their gaudy glory!

I really like seeing replica statues painted, because it challenges our idea of what we think is beautiful. To us, some of the colour and pattern choices suggest a distinct lack of taste on the part of the ancient Greeks and Romans, and yet much of what we think of as beautiful comes from their sculpture. It’s all over the place at the moment thanks to the British Museum exhibition and BBC programmes to go alongside and all illustrated with glowing white faces and bodies. Turning that on its head and pointing out that these people with their ideal bodies would have been daubed in paint patterns that sometimes look like they’ve been done by a colour-blind toddler is entertaining.

2015-04-18 12.11.28

I had the distinct impression that this lion was looking at me in a funny way…

But, and this is why I’m not wholeheartedly recommending this exhibition if you want to know more about painted statues in the ancient world, the quality of the statues that they’d painted was something of a disappointment. I don’t know if it’s because they’re no longer allowed to literally take casts for fear of damaging fragile statues, but I found the painted works looked amateurish in the sculpting. Adding the unfamiliar paint job then just made things worse, and there were some pieces that I really did feel looked ugly, not for the paint job, but for the detail of the underlying piece. I think I also felt that the paint had been applied very flatly, particularly on the human figures, which I found odd. The Greeks knew how to sculpt figures and drapery to make them look almost lifelike. Why do we assumed they wouldn’t have painted them to match. It almost felt like a deliberate attempt to stress the strangeness of the statues, as though to poke people in the eye, saying “you think sculpture is white and shiny, I will show you different!” Greek art is constantly subtle and surprising, so to paint the statues with none of that felt off-kilter to me.

2015-04-18 12.10.37 A watercolour made by artist Emile Gilleiron at the time of discovery (1888), which I think shows the effect of the paint much better than the replicas.

Painted or not, the original sculptures were made with a remarkable skill that the paint was supposed to highlight, not mask. I think I would have preferred to see Photoshopped pictures of the originals with colours on, rather than the slightly strange-looking replicas. Of course, my eye is attuned to see Greek sculpture as white marble, slightly weathered by time so that the surface has acquired a sheen and patina, rather than the gaudy colours of these casts. It’s entirely possible that the originals would have struck me as slightly odd as well!

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Do I prefer the foreground-Augustus or the background-Augustus? I’m not sure that this exhibition helped me to work that one out!

Were the painted statues ugly? I’m still not sure I know. But I find looking at something I thought I knew and trying to see it differently a really valuable lesson.

Yarn Along: Frankencardi strikes again

Thanks to everyone for the encouraging comments on yesterday’s post – I think it’s important to say these things out loud, so that you know you’re not on your own with them.

After saying yesterday that I’ve been restrained about starting new things, today I managed to bring 3 projects with me, although I’ve only really had a chance to work on one of them.

My Hap for the Knit British Hap Along is pootling along nicely. At the moment, I’m just going back and forth, back and forth, letting the rows grow and pondering exactly what I want to do about the edging. Do I want just a feather and fan edging or do I want to add a border on top of that? Am I going to work it straight onto the grey, or am I going to add a ‘buffer’ row in between. And if I do, what colour? Decisions, decisions, none of which matter as I’m gradually building the centre. It’s a perfect project for chatty break times, as I don’t have to concentrate on the pattern, and I don’t notice how long the rows have become!

The project behind it is a design that I promised myself I’d finish writing up at lunchtime, except I was lulled by the sunshine and ended up Happing instead. Ah well, another day.

 Someone pointed out to me that buying a yarn project bag with moths on was a little inappropriate, although I confess that hadn’t even occurred to me! Still, now it seems just right for carrying around this monster of a project. Because yes, the Frankencardi has done it again. Despite the fact that it has been the perfect size in every other way, for some reason, I decided that the arms weren’t going to be long enough. So I added a few rows at some point on the sleeve, wrote down what I did and threw the piece of paper away in a fit of triumphant enthusiasm when I finished the sleeve. Which means it’s just as well that it turned out to be too long and needs ripping out. As I can’t quite face that right now, I’ve brought the yarn to make the other sleeve, and will deal with the faulty one at home, where I can count the rows a few times and work out what I did. I will finish this cardigan by the end of the month, because otherwise, I have a feeling it’s going to finish me!

Shep life

For reading, I’ve been mostly listening to podcasts this week, although I’ve also picked up the Radio 4 Book of the Week broadcasts, The Shepherd’s Life by James Rebanks. I normally listen to unabridged recordings, and so while I’ve been enjoying this, it’s made me really, really want to get the full version, because I can tell much has been left out. If you don’t already follow him on Twitter (@HerdyShepherd1), I strongly recommend it for pictures of lambs, puppies and the stunning Lake District countryside.

#loveyourblog challenge: Beginnings

It’s not lost on me that there’s something deeply ironic about being late in posting this because I didn’t know where to start. And when I’ve gone and looked at other people’s posts, I feel that, once again, I’ve managed to completely miss the point of the prompt! But as that happens to me a lot – as a crafter, as a blogger, as a person – I’ve decided not to worry too much, because I refuse to believe I’m the only person who hits these kinds of blocks.

A Playful Day

Historically, I’ve been really, really good at starting things and really really bad at finishing them. Until recently, I’d have twelve or thirteen yarn projects on the go at once, and let’s not even talk about the sewing ones. After getting rather overwhelmed a while ago, I cut back that number drastically, trying to get some kind of control. That seems to have backfired a little, because I now have three or four projects that need starting, and I can’t quite seem to manage it.

P1040566It was more or less at this point, with the project bags stretching down the hall, that I realised I might have got a bit carried away…

At heart, I think I prefer the planning to the doing, the thinking to the acting. I love research, plotting, drawing up lists and diagrams, scheming and dreaming. But recently, as the plans I’ve been making have been taking me outside my comfort zone – write a pattern, publish it properly, record a podcast – I’ve been pulling back, scared to move from thinking about doing things into actually doing them.

If you suffer from anxiety, you’ll know that it goes beyond a vague “feeling worried” feeling. For me, there are very physical symptoms involved. My chest gets tight, my stomach drops away, my face tingles and in really bad attacks, my vision greys out. For no obvious reason (because anxiety isn’t rational and doesn’t always rise and fall with actual, objective reality), my ‘background’ levels of anxiety have been high lately, and it’s been keeping me from making a start.

I refuse to believe that it’s just me who gets like this, so I thought the pep talk I’ve been giving myself might apply to other people as well. Mine starts with a lot of prayer and a little crying (I’m sure you have your own starting place!), then:

~ Pick three things. If you’re like me, you already know the whole “how do you eat an elephant? In very small pieces” aphorism, but when you’re feeling overwhelmed, that doesn’t help, because the list of small pieces is mammoth (see what I did there?) So pick three things that you can do. Just three. Easy things. Things that don’t involve research or thinking or any extra information to do them. Then cross them off the list and pick three more. You’ve broken your little things list into even littler pieces, and that can make it a lot less manageable. I find that once I get going, it’s then easier to tackle the next thing.

~ For me, this is about ‘activation energy’. Chemical reactions often require a certain amount of energy to be put into them in order to get energy out. On a bad day, the amount of activation energy required to just tidy my desk can be overwhelming, and I don’t have it in me. So I clean my computer keyboard, or rearrange my yarn into colour/weight/yardage order, or clear out my Ravelry queue, or tidy my sewing box. Once I’ve done that, I go through my to do list and cross out what I’ve done, or what is so far beyond its deadline that no one but me remembers it. This is usually enough activation energy to get me to send an email, which in turn gets me to look up something I need and so on and so forth. It’s finding the little job that will spark off all the others.

~ Leave it half-finished. I know, not exactly one from the productivity manuals, but seriously. If you’re doing something and it’s taken all your energy or anxiety control to get to the halfway point, leave it half-finished. The other half will be there when you’re up to it. When I know it’s a bad day, I only start jobs that can be abandoned in the middle. Then I cross them off and re-write them at the bottom of my list, so I know I did something, and I don’t forget to come back to them. I think this is especially important with creative endeavours. If it falls off my list completely, I forget that I’ve started it, but if it keeps popping back up, I remember, add a little, then put it down until it’s ready to be worked on again. We all know about putting projects in ‘time out’ or hibernating them on Ravelry, and I think there’s a lot to be said for tackling something rather than putting it off completely because we don’t have the time or energy to do it all in one go.

Those are all sensible, practical ideas for getting started when you can’t, but above all lately, I’ve been coming back to this:

Being scared is not a good reason not to do things.


There are good reasons not to do things, and some fears are well-founded. If the cliff is high and the rope is frayed, fear is the right response, as is not starting to climb! Not having enough oomph in you to get past the fear right now is a good reason. The cliff will still be there when you’re ready. But if you’re standing at the bottom of the cliff, with the right equipment, enough energy, and you want to climb? Being scared is not a good reason not to do it.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go clean my computer keyboard.