Christmas and Beyond

Happy Christmas! As is always the case, this Christmas is not at all as I originally planned it. Covid had other ideas, after all, but I had success in making my favourite knit so far for my mother. When I first started knitting the frogs I thought smaller was cuter, but I made her a chonky Christmas frog and it’s probably my absolute favourite.

It’s roughly twice the size of my usual favourite frogs, which probably means nothing to you, but there you go. I still want to get together a little stash of frogs, so you will see what I mean soon. I’m looking forward to making them as the mood takes me on any given day. Big, small, and everything in between.

My second favourite ever knit is froggy’s little jumper. I love the addition of the glass beads. Next year I’ll be making more of those for sure.

Christmas is of course not about the presents, but regardless, I got some really cool ones this year. I come from a family of really good gift-givers. I was absolutely blown away by the handmade gift from my brother – a little wooden boat and oar.

He knew I wanted a little boat for use in future froggy photo shoots, but this is something else. It looks like a boat a hobbit would have and I’M IN LOVE.

Mother got me an Etsy gift card, and I’ve had my eye on a number of knitting/crochet patterns for some time. Today I went ahead and bought them, which makes such a wholesome purchase. I love that I’m happy and the Etsy sellers can make an instant sale without having to worry about postal strikes and such. I’ve made some fantastic choices if I do say so myself, which will make up my first knits of 2023.

I’ll share links to the patterns at the end of the post. But oh my god what a selection I have chosen. What talented people there are in the world! I’m actually feeling so happy today that I could almost do a happy cry. Maybe I’m not dead inside after all!

What’s that sound? Ok, I can hear the chocolates calling me so I’d best be off.

Merry Christmas one and all x

Original frog pattern (link)

Elephant pattern (link)

Octopus pattern (link)

Cardigan pattern (link)

Frog dress pattern (link)

Change of Plans

So much for plans. The bug I had turned out to be covid, AGAIN. Can someone please explain to me how it’s fair that I’ve had it twice now? This time around was in some ways worse and in some ways better than the first time. This time I felt a lot worse but for a shorter period of time, so that’s something I guess.

I feel wiped out now, so to take the pressure off, my handmade Christmas has been cancelled. That’s two illnesses I’ve had whilst trying to get it done, and one of my knits didn’t turn out as I wanted so that would mean a re-do I have neither the time nor energy for. I just don’t have it in me to get everything done, and that’s OK. The fun part is that I still have loads of gift ideas for friends and family so I will give them as and when they are completed (to my satisfaction – they have to be to a high standard). I prefer giving gifts for no reason, so it will all work out well in the end. You don’t need a holiday to give people stuff!

I did gift my mum the rejected item, as it was for her anyway. It was a little elephant, which I renamed a wonkyphant. I knew she’d love it regardless, but it’s not quite where I want it to be. The first wonky time I try something is always special, so I knew she had to have it even though I wasn’t happy with it.

I have actually found an INCREDIBLE crochet elephant pattern, which I’m not sure I can even pull off. But if I can… it’s going to be spectacular.

I have so many things I want to make next year, but I’m keeping it very much loosey-goosey. I need to focus on my health as I said in the last post, so I’m looking for a very relaxed balance of fun things and things that are good for me, as well as things that fit into both of those categories, of course.

I want to get out for walks in nature and such, but I am very much wholeheartedly embracing the slow-living movement. Instead of going out and burning as many calories as I can, my walks will be for taking the time to pay attention to my surroundings whilst getting gentle exercise. If I can’t enjoy it at all, I’m not doing it.

Someone who’s enjoying relaxed crafting is Pea. For a bird who is exceptionally wary of hands and fingers, I’m surprised at how interested she has been. Although I do believe she was disappointed to discover that none of it was edible.

As far as knitting companions go, she’s fairly perfect.

Hayley x

Cold Snaps

Would you believe it, I’ve only gone and caught another bug, which is putting me even further behind in my secret things. Yesterday I felt rough as anything and got very little done, but today I’m feeling slightly better. Instead of getting on with my knits though, I’m here, writing a blog. It’s because it helps me to get my brain in order, so I should be more focused for the rest of the day.

Yesterday I did a tiny bit of crochet, which I am VERY excited about, but the only other thing of note I did was watch Spirited on Apple TV. I LOVED IT, by the way. It’s funny and sweet and one that I will probably watch every year from now on.

It’s literally freezing outside, so I’ve been popping out occasionally for some frosty photo shoots. I think it’s important to capture these moments because I can handle crappy weather if it looks pretty. There will be plenty of grey and oppressive days in the coming months, so I want to really make the most of more photogenic days.

I woke up this morning to a blanket of snow, so you can bet I’ll be out there again if or when it actually gets light. Our garden isn’t very photogenic in the snow, but I really can’t help myself. It’s funny, but I kind of forgot this year, as I’ve been trying other crafts, that photography is an art form in itself. Whenever I’ve thought I wasn’t being creative, I always was, because there’s not a day that goes by that I don’t take a photo. Not a single one.

Last week Pea came out to model for her Christmas photo shoot, and she did not disappoint.

Because I’ve been generally feeling ill more often than not lately, I haven’t felt particularly Christmassy. I have one more week at work (assuming I feel well enough) until I have an entire week off, so I’m not forcing the Christmas feeling upon myself. I’m sure during my week off it will arrive as a matter of course.

Some work people want to go out on the Friday before Christmas, and I was considering popping out to be sociable until they said they don’t want to go out until 8pm. I mean, that’s practically bedtime! So I absolutely will not be participating.

I’ve been thinking a lot about my health lately, and although I probably would have caught these bugs regardless, I really have been neglecting my overall well-being and want to do something about it. Once Christmas Day is done, I’m going to be making some big changes.

I’ve already requested to be permanently moved to a different department at work, which will mean a lot more physical activity on a daily basis. I’ve been told that my transfer should go ahead in mid-January, and I’m actually really looking forward to it. Once this happens, I absolutely HAVE to take better care of myself, because doing this job during summertime is no mean feat. I will have to lose some weight because, with the amount of insulation I’m carrying around right now, it would be hell on toast. I could do it, but I’d really rather not.

Every attempt at weight loss since 2019 has been tinged with anxiety for me because it brings back memories of a particular ex. I was at my slimmest ever when we were doing… whatever it was we were doing (even now I’m not sure) and it’s only recently I’ve stopped hearing his voice in my head. ‘Daaahhhling, don’t eat white bread, it’s poison’ was one of his favourite things to say, and there was a particularly memorable run we went on, which he said I ruined because I ate a single blackberry. Luckily I can laugh about it now, but every time between then and now when I’d try to make changes, I’d be regretting that time with him and wonder what life would be like now if we’d never met.

That’s not helpful though, because it happened, and there’s nothing I can do about it. The difference now is that I am truly ready to start a new chapter in life and leave all of that behind. I’m just excited to be making new memories and reaching new milestones without dwelling on that time. It’s done.

Onwards and upwards!

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x

Secrets

I’ve wanted to post an update here since the end of October, but the thing about making the frogs is that I don’t want to talk about them until they have been given to their intended recipients. Because of the ongoing postal strikes, I decided to take a risk and send a parcel via Evri, my reasoning being that I’d been lucky enough to receive everything sent to me with no issues and that at the time I had a lost parcel through Royal Mail.

Biiiiiiig mistake.

Evri picked the parcel up, but from that point on it was lost. I say lost, but I suppose stolen is also a strong possibility. Whatever the reason, I don’t think we’ll see that particular frog again. Such a shame, because it was a cutie.

Around this time, I was still buzzing with energy, excitement and creativity, and then I went and caught a bug. It was only a cold, but (excuse me while I go off on one very slightly) why do we say it’s only a cold. Truth is, I felt flipping awful. Since when did it become a badge of honour to pretend that you aren’t bothered by being ill? OooOOooh look at me, I’ve come to work to spread my germs around because I’m so flipping badass!

That ain’t me, so I rested up until I felt a bit better. I’m still low on energy because it’s now hibernation season, but I’ve been letting it happen rather than pushing myself to do things I don’t have the capacity for. Those dark and cosy evenings call for naps, so my number one hobby lately has been sleeping. I don’t regret a second of it.

One thing I have learned this year is that rest isn’t wasted time. If I felt my creativity waning, I used to assume that I had a creative block and there was nothing I could do about it. Now if I feel a creative dip, I sleep as much as I need to and then it always, always, comes back.

While I was feeling crappy, I prioritised my only knit that had a specific deadline and got it to its recipient just in time. I branched out from the comfort of the frogs to make a birthday present for my sister’s partner – a tiny knitted version of Newton the Whippet.

There are a couple of bits that remain secret, but since the whippet, I have also managed to replace the lost frog and knit two more for a lady at work.

I am happy to report that the replacement frog was sent via Royal Mail this time and has been safely received.

Now I’m back in the swing of things, and despite being very behind schedule I’m still confident I can get my Christmas present knits done in time. Ooooh, I cannot wait to show you those, and I’m having the best time trying new patterns.

After that, I have a lot to be excited about, including doing a course by the lady who designed the frogs. This should enable me to make MY OWN DESIGNS. When I first started knitting I didn’t think this would ever be a possibility, but as I learn more I realise that it isn’t actually magic.

And with that, it’s time for me to get back to my secret projects.

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x

All the Ideas

I have found my happy place.

I’ve been thinking a lot about my childhood obsessions since I started making the frogs, and anything miniature was a huge passion of mine. I LOVED doll houses and accessories (although actual dolls, not so much) and even now tiddly things are just magical to me. As a kid, I started having dreams that a little cupboard I’d never noticed before appeared in the wall and inside was a collection of beautiful doll houses. It happens less frequently now, but even as I’m only a small number of days from hitting 40 years old, I still have those dreams. As an adult, I sometimes feel like I need justifications for certain passions, but since making the first frog I have abandoned that notion wholeheartedly.

It’s playtime!

Right now I am negotiating something of a balancing act, because I have SO MANY IDEAS and I’m excited about them ALL. The thing bringing me the most happiness right now is making things for people rather than selling them, and for the time being, I’m just running with that. I very much like surprising people but I also don’t want to be like ‘I’m not selling frogs yet so you can’t have one of mine’. My overthinking has kicked in somewhat! So if I know you, the chances are that I have something in the pipeline for you. That’s all I’m saying for now.

Once I have finished my gifted knits, which are on a bit of a limited timescale in order to be ready for birthdays and Christmas, then I’ll work on my little frog shop. Plus a thousand other little ideas I want to get started on. I bet you’re going to love it as much as me.

What I can tell you is that if I make you something, you can absolutely guarantee it’s getting a photo shoot before you get it.

Last week Newty and I went for a walk in the woods for the first time in forever.

It wasn’t just a walk though. We also did a little foraging. Last weekend I spent quite a long time knitting a pumpkin. This took longer than my frog knits because I learned a few new stitches and a new technique, but it was worth it. Once finished and combined with my foraged items, plus a frog for my work friend, this was the result. I’m rather proud if I do say so myself.

My friend chose the sweater colour combo in honour of it being spooky season, and I think it was an excellent choice. I’ll be making one for my own frog at some point.

I posted these shots on Instagram, and I was inundated with MORE suggestions from other people. Excellent suggestions at that. It’s safe to say that I have plenty to keep me occupied for the foreseeable future.

I am something of a spendaholic, but the funds I have been spending on impulse purchases have gone down considerably. Which is damn lucky considering the current financial climate (ugh, let’s not think about that!) I have been buying cheap knitting patterns (some have even been under 70p) and expanding my wool collection. Because miniature things need such a small amount of wool, it’s quite cost-effective.

Basically, I think I am the happiest I’ve ever been, and just in time for my birthday no less. I usually spend this time of year beating myself up for not doing enough or failing at this or that, but this year I’m nothing but happy with where I am and excited for what comes next.

Better late than never.

Hayley x