sareini: The Mountains of Madness have many little plateaus of sanity - Discworld (Mountains of Madness)
Tomorrow I'm heading up to spend the weekend with my niece (my brother having managed to plan a week in Wales at the same time so he and the dog won't be there), where we will be going to the Popup Wool Show. I did this last year and everything was fine; we had a great time, I spent far too much on yarn, and my neighbours checked in on the cats. This year Ross is doing the catsitting, which is even better as Lily loves Ross (she sits on his lap, which she won't even do for me), and even though Callie still mostly flees from the sight of him, she does that for everyone and last time she actually came out and sniffed him, and so everything should be fine.

So of course yesterday I had two massive panic attacks over leaving Lily which left me physically sick and nearly fainting, and all because Lily meowed at me once, which to my broken brain apparently translated into, "Lily is going to die this weekend". I'm at least calmer today because I've managed to cram some sense into myself, but I've still got a headache from making myself so worked up yesterday.

I hate the utter randomness that my panic attacks follow, because I can't do anything to counter or prepare for them. Ideas and intrusive thoughts just enter my head out of nowhere and make themselves at home, and the next thing I know I'm lying in bed thinking that the floor is going to collapse under me, or that someone is preparing to break into the house right this very moment - or that the cats will drop dead if I leave the house for more than an hour. And with the current state of my local authority's mental health services, the chances of me getting any sort of treatment (CBT or otherwise) before 2018 at the earliest are slim to none. So I mainly have to figure out coping methods on my own.

One method (technically two) is to distract myself with knitting or crochet. Right now I have a 10-stitch blanket on hand for random panic attacks (I'm making it with a ball of Sirdar Colorwheel because I think the long colour changes of the yarn will work well with the pattern, and it feels really soft), and last night I finally found with a pattern for a skein of yarn I got at last year's Popup Wool Show that's 55% Bluefaced Leicester Superwash and 45% silk - Persephone. I'm probably going to take this one with me this weekend as the pattern is incredibly easy to memorise (and the ball is smaller than the Colorwheel).
sareini: "I knew the two of you would get along like a house on fire (screams, flames, people running for safety...) - Discworld (House on Fire)
Sometimes I go onto Ravelry to idly browse the patterns. This is never a good idea, because I am (a) easily distracted; and (b) easily distracted. I try to limit myself to just adding projects to my favourites list in the hopes that I can one day do some of them, but that just leaves me with huge lists of things I want to do when I can barely focus on finishing what's already on my needles and/or hooks at the moment.

Case in point: two years ago a friend of mine was diagnosed with breast cancer, and I decided to knit a hat for her. She had an "all clear" scan this week. The hat is still not finished (although I picked it up again today and might get it finished tonight...) so I guess it's now more of a "Congratulations on beating cancer!" hat than anything else. That's still good, I guess. But that's just an example of how spotty my ability to keep a focus on one task for a protracted period of time. It's why portions of doing my brother's birthday present and niece's cardigan have been so hard, because my mind just won't stay fixed to them.

I wonder sometimes if this is the depression or something else gone askew in my mind. I remember being able to focus on things to completion in the past... but that was a long time ago. It's probably something I should bring up next time I see someone at the Greenfields Centre (who, incidentally, finally called me back on Tuesday! Huzzah!), although whether there's anything that can be done about it I don't know.

***

In other news (and see how I flit from topic to topic!) I'm wondering why so many shows I like seem to shoot themselves in the foot when they hit Season 2. Preacher (although to be fair I was having problems with that in Season One; it's just that 2 sealed the deal for me); the new Doctor Who (I much preferred Christopher Eccleston's Doctor); American Horror Story (which made the mistake of putting too many plotlines into one story, so we had aliens, a serial killer, Nazi experiments, demonis possession and an abusive mental asylum all at once) and now The Strain for the latest example, where the supposed protagonist who I was already having problems with becomes even more unpleasant and starts drinking heavily (and yet is still supposed to be the hero and a responsible father, people!) and most of the rest of the cast seem to have taken a beating with the Stupid Stick as well. Thank Eris Fet is still mostly awesome or I'd be giving up on this show as well.
sareini: "Made a note in my diary on the way here. Simply says, 'Bugger'." from Blackadder (Bugger)
Ugh, but this week has been a mess.

The first half of the week was taken up with my mind waging a minor war against me. I would be lying in bed trying to fall asleep and I'd hear "voices" coming from "downstairs". Whether these were actually noises from outside that I was mishearing, or hypnagogic hallucinations I don't know, but the result was the same - bolt awake and lie there trying to work out what was going on for several minutes each time. I ended up having to remind myself that, if there was really someone else in the house, the cats would be reacting to it and they were still lying, dead to the world, on the bed or in the bedroom doorway.

I had a moment of thinking Nick was still here as well, which was disorientating more than upsetting, but still not something I want to be happening regularly (because of the disorientation).

My anxiety's been particularly high and the one time I went out this week I couldn't stop myself from thinking that everyone was watching me.

And then finally I had no concentration for most of the week, so I couldn't really get anything done. So thank you, broken brain.

Then, over the last couple of days, I've been suffering from a lurgy. Headache, aches in all my limbs as though I'd just hiked up and down a mountain, a slight fever, a feeling of being utterly run down and stomach upsets. Hopefully I'm starting to come out of it now (in that I ache slightly less today) but I probably still need to catch up on a fair bit of sleep (which I couldn't do today as I had to sit around waiting for a delivery of cat litter all day that didn't arrive until 6:30pm).

***

Creativity-wise, this week I mainly worked on the Rock A-Z cross stitch. I took a day off today, because my arms already ached without adding the pain of RSI from holding them in the same position for hours while I stitched, but I've finished up to the letter O, so I'm at least halfway through. I figure it's going to take me a little over a week now to finish it altogether.

I've also been practicing sock skills. I'm enjoying using the magic loop and toe-up patterns for knitting socks, but I'm still having the problem of ladders on either side of the sock from the magic loop. So far I've not had much success in correcting this; I'm either going to have to keep looking till I find a way that works for me, or just resign myself to the fact that I'm going to be crocheting the sides together when I'm done.

Finally, I think I've at last come up with a workable idea for a video review series to go with my blog. I'd originally thought I was just going to do video reviews of movies I'd already reviewed, but I kept thinking that was somewhat redundant at best. Then today I remembered the old Masters of Horror TV series from 2005-2007, where a whole bunch of horror directors got together and each made an hour-long TV episode, doing (for the most part) whatever they wanted. I'd been thinking about doing a review marathon for them at some point anyway, and so it struck me that trying out a video review format would probably work with them without disrupting the movie review portion of the blog. So now the next step is to start to properly learn how to use Premiere Elements 14, which has been sitting on my computer waiting for a year now. And also to work out whether I have a microphone that works, or if the part of my computer tower that I plug my headset in is in need of fixing.

Needles

Jul. 15th, 2017 04:42 pm
sareini: "Yes, bugger all that. Let's curse somebody." - Discworld (Curse)
Well, today has certainly been an interesting day.

The Tour-de-Sock started today, and so I excitedly went to see what the first pattern would be. Looks great... except it's a toe-up pattern and I've never done that before. But that's one of the reasons I signed up for this; so that I could learn some new techniques. So, toe-up cast-ons.

Except after 20 minutes of trying, I realised I was not going to be able to do the cast-on with the double-pointed needles I had. And unfortunately, my one pair of circular sock needles was brutally murdered by Callie a few months ago (also the last time I buy bamboo needles). So I figured that my only remaining option was to go to the knitting shop in the next town over and buy some metal circular sock needles. And to save money and challenge myself a bit, I was going to go by bus.

It should have been easy enough. Use the local bus service's journey planner, get on buses, everything's fine. But between the first and second leg of the journey, I forgot what bus to get, and so re-input the details on my phone. Except it turns out that if you type in "59 High Street, Newcastle-under-Lyme" it takes you to a different place than if you type in "59 High Street, Wolstanton, Newcastly-under-Lyme", which is where I actually wanted to go. So that was an interesting - albeit slightly terrifying - detour.

I finally get to the store, and I decide that after all the trials of getting there, I deserve a reward, and so I bought some yarn as well. I made sure at least to get sock yarn so it'll at least get used up.

Getting back was a little bit easier, since I had a better idea of what I was doing by then... but I missed my final connecting bus by one minute (more like 20 seconds, in fact, as I watched him pull out of the stop as I came within range). That left me with a 30-minute wait for the next bus, so I decided to go buy a drink.

I'm just walking out of the bus station when a middle-aged man holding his phone walks up to me and stops me. He looks a little lost so I'm prepared to give badly-described directions to him.

"Hello," he says. "I'm new here... and I was wondering where... I could fuck you."

Stoke-on-Trent, ladies and gentlemen! Shortlisted for City of Culture 2021!

I just stared for a second while my brain assured me that yes, that's exactly what I just heard, before I managed to respond, "You don't. Go away." and I started to walk in a radically different direction from him. He then called after me, "Is that a no then?"

Yes. Yes it is a definite no, you creepy stranger accosting people outside of bus stations. I was worried he was going to start following me but the homeless woman who begs for spare change nearby started yelling at him for being a creeper as well, so I was saved. Next time I see her I'm going to give her money for a coffee.

Now I'm home, where the cats have greeted me with great joy because it means they get lunch, and I'm making plans to not leave the house again except for essentials for at least a week (Ross's birthday and Lily's vet visit aside). Next time someone asks why I get so anxious about going out I'm going to point them to this tale.
sareini: A Procrastinator's work is never done! (Procrastination)
I figured I needed to make a list and plan out which of the many, many projects I'm currently working on need to be done first and in what order.

Knitting/Crochet/Cross Stitch:

- Ross's birthday is on July 12, so of course his cross stitch project is the most urgent to be finished, although that won't be too difficult.
- Next up is my niece's cardigan and my brother's cross stitch birthday present, which will both need to be done by mid-August when (theoretically) I'll next be visiting.
- Everything else (Horror Movie Villain cross stitch, cardigans and scarves and other things for me) is for me and can therefore be worked on whenever.

Movie Reviews:

- July is time for my twice-yearly Franchise Marathon, and this time around I've picked the Howling franchise to work my way through, because I've been neglecting werewolves for a good while now (mainly because very few werewolf films have ever truly grabbed me). So starting July 1 I've got the eight movies in the series to go through, which also means sourcing them (and two of them have already proven to be remarkably difficult to find, even with all the resources I have at hand), watching them ahead of time and writing the reviews. As long as I can keep at least a day ahead of the current film, I'll be fine.
- I've also got a couple of other movies heavily noted and ready to be written up, but they won't be needed till after the 8th, so no rush there.
- I really need to watch some more movies from my Huge Pile O' DVDs/Blu-Rays before they become sentient and start eating the house.

Writing:

- I need to write more stuff. That's all. Worldbuilding, character stuff, fanfic, whatever.
- I might want to stop grabbing bingo prompt cards... but nah.
sareini: (creative)
It is finished!



(Click to make it bigger and please ignore the mess that is the storage room; it has the best light for taking photos of stuff like this.)

Well, technically. It still needs all the ends sewn/woven in and the pattern says I should soak block and pin it for it to be 100% completion, but sod that right now. I've finished knitting it and that's the bit that counts, right?

the Scheepjes Secret Garden yarn was interesting to work with. Kind of slubby but not very, and very soft and smooth to work with for the most part. Had a tendency to pick up stray cat and human hairs easily though, probably because of the polyester content. As I said before, the cotton/silk/polyester blend translates to, "This will be a bugger to clean". I did like the colourways though, and it's a shame that the yarn is rather expensive (£4.39 or thereabouts for 50g, which was only 90m), which means that this yarn is really more of an accessory yarn unless you're rolling in cash.

Next on the plate now is finishing my niece's cardigan, then my own. Onward!
sareini: following my fish (delirium)
I have a fair bit of sock yarn about the house, because of my Sock Yarn subscription. I tell myself I have plans for them - shawls, scarves, maybe even socks! - but I make so many plans and start so many things that the poor skeins are still waiting to be used.

Well, the other day I heard about a thing called the Tour de Sock. It's based on the Tour de France, only with sock knitting instead of cycling. The idea is that you pay $7.50 (which goes to Doctors Without Borders) and you get six sock patterns to knit. The idea is to knit them as fast as you can, and the fastest knitters get prizes.

Now, I have no illusions about my knitting speed. I knit like glaciers used to move before global warming. But Doctors Without Borders is a good cause, and six sock patterns for $7.50 is a good deal. And I have sock yarn. And I've been meaning to work on my sock knitting skills. So I signed up.

The whole thing doesn't start till July, along with the cycling, but I'm mildly excited. Should certainly be interesting and a learning experience, at the very least.
sareini: "Did I mention that my nose was on fire? That I have fifteen wild badgers living in my trousers?" - Babylon 5 (Nose on fire)
I've decided I'm going to try to be somewhat more organised for June. To that end, I've set myself a few goals for the month.

1. Write at least 15k; fiction and movie reviews. Should be pretty easy, right?
2. Publish at least 8 movie reviews; that works out at two a week.
3. Write at least 250 words of fiction a day.
4. Finish at least two stories - perhaps my biggest challenge as I'm great at starting things, but not so good at finishing them as the self-doubt creeps in.
5. Finish the Shawl of Secrets - probably the easiest one as I'm about 90% done as it is. A couple of days sitting mining/watching stuff should do it.
6. Finish Rachael's birthday cardigan and possibly my own (fingers crossed!)

I don't think those goals are too bad or stressful.

I've also started work on my brother's birthday present - his birthday is in August so I figure starting now will give me a good chance of finishing on time. I'm doing him this, as he likes to put up 70s and 80s album covers as art. Also last Christmas I made my niece a cross stitch picture of Harry Potter spells which was remarkably well-received, so I figured I'd continue the trend. (It should be noted that I was stitching that thing up to 11pm on the 23rd December.)

***

In other news, Lily is much better today. No vomiting and her mood has perked up considerably. I'm going to keep an eye on her for now but no longer feeling the need to rush her to the vet when there would be very little they could do other than tweak her meds and hope that worked. I am looking at making her diet more strict to see if a blander diet might help - duck, turkey, chicken; occasional treats of tuna loin and scrambled eggs (made with water). Thankfully that's all stuff Lily already loves, so she'll just have to get used to not getting bits of grated cheese or the cream from doughnuts any more...
sareini: (creative)
The past couple of days have been good for yarn, as I've had two separate packages of the stuff delivered to my door. First off was yesterday's delivery, which consisted of the last ball of yarn I needed to complete the Shawl of Secrets (the shade is called Secluded Lake) and a ball of the new Scheepjes Whirl yarn, which is 1000m of 4ply cotton/acrylic that has long colour changes all the way through it, making it great for shawls, scarves and anything else that you might want that kind of effect with.

Two balls of yarn

The name of the colourway I got this time is Melting Macaron. It's not the kind of colourway I would normally have gotten - I generally prefer darks, or blues and purples - but most of the colourways were out of stock and I wanted to try working with some new colours for once. With the Whirl I'm making a Mandala Cardigan, using a pattern designed specifically for the launch of the yarn, which can be found here. And of course I started it already despite having a ton of other prokects to be getting on with, because I like the instant gratification and playing with new things.

The beginning of a mandala cardigan

Then this morning I got my monthly yarn club delivery from Devon Sun Yarns. they're an indy yarn company who specialise in hand dyed yarns in numerous and striking colours, and I've been in love with them for ages now. They have several yarn clubs but I'm a member of the Sock Yarn Club, which delivers me a skein of 4ply yarn every month to do with as I please - although right now I've got several months' worth sitting waiting to be used because I haven't decided what to make with them, need the time to start them and because Callie bit through my bamboo sock needles (she has a powerful chew on her). This month's colourway is a gorgeous blue-green.

A skein of yarn

So I have plenty to keep me busy for a while.

***

In other news, I finally accepted that my computer chair's hydraulics have died, after only a week of sitting on a chair only 6-8 inches off the floor and developing a constant pain in my left leg from it. So I've swapped out my dead chair for Nick's old computer chair, which involved moving half the stuff in the front room around to move a chair four feet and confused the cats greatly, but right now Callie is sitting behind me in the chair while Lily is boxhopping, so they're happy enough. Hopefully my leg will stop hurting now as well because it was starting to affect my sleep.
sareini: (cat)
I woke up this morning to find Callie licking my closed eyes. Apparently my role in life now is to be a salt lick for a kitten. It's the hay fever, of course; now that it's May and the weather is grudgingly admitting that it's springtime the pollens are really getting started, and of course I was already allergic to all of them even before the news of "super pollens" (pollens that have mixed with diesel fuels to be extra sticky in the mucous membranes) hit last week. Already my nose is getting runnier, my eyes more sore and prone to sticking closed in the morning (cat licks aside) and most annoyingly, the roof of my mouth itches more and more of the time. At least my life as it currently is minimises my contact with random free-floating pollen in the outside world.

In other news, I managed to be relatively productive around the house today. Did some small amount of tidying, typed up and published a review for the movie blog (The Void, in case you were wondering) and got as far as I currently can with the Shawl of Secrets. I'm now at the point where I have to buy the missing ball of yarn before I can continue, and depending on how things go on Thursday (another vet visit for Lily) will determine whether I can get that this week or at the end of the month. Still, it's a good thing it's not able to distract me right now, as I still have to finish that cardigan for my niece.

Possible Criminal Minds spoilers if you've not seen Season 11 yet )

Knitted shawl in browns, reds, oranges, yellows and greens

On Anxiety

Apr. 25th, 2017 03:40 pm
sareini: "I'm sorry, I'm having a bad century" quote from Neil Gaiman's Sandman (Bad Century)
My weekend actually turned out pretty crappy. I ended up spending most of it in the throws of a major anxiety attack, one which left me alternatively just sitting in bed shaking, being physically sick or suffering problems at the other end. Oh, and we can't forget the sleeplessness either. Things didn't really get any better until Monday noontime, when I received something in the mail - but we'll get to that later.

I often find that trying to explain to people what anxiety and/or panic attacks are like is a lot like trying to explain what yellow smells like. The first thing people usually ask is, "Do you know what caused it?" which, on the surface, is a perfectly reasonable thing to ask. If you know the cause, you can maybe do something about it. Unfortunately for me, my anxiety attacks are often completely random and with no obvious cause - sometimes I actually wonder if they're triggered by something in my subconscious going, "What? We have nothing to panic about? Let's fix that!" and just panicking for the sake of panicking.

The physical symptoms don't help matters either. Much as with any stressful situation, when you have an anxiety or panic attack your body produces more adrenaline than you really need, to prepare for a "fight or flight" response. And one of the other things adrenaline does is slows down or even stops your digestive system as part of this. But of course, it can't stop forever, which is why I end up backing and forthing to the bathroom with disturbing frequency. And if you're being sick, you can't really get your mind off the anxiety, can you? It's a particularly vicious circle.

So I spent the weekend a panicking mess. I could barely even talk to people, which then started a whole new anxiety loop - "What if they get mad at me? I can't face them after this!" - and on and on it went. Because I can't really explain how bad my anxiety makes me feel, I worry that my friends don't or can't really understand the way I am sometimes; why I disappear randomly, stop replying to them, run away from conversations online - I just randomly reach a level of my ability to cope with things, and the moment things go over that level I'm gone.

But like I said, things got better on Monday. I received a package of yarn for a shawl I've had the pattern for for a while now - the Shawl of Secrets made with Scheepjes Secret Garden yarn. I originally got the pattern several months ago when I was "helping" my niece get free shipping on an order of her own (that's my excuse and I'm sticking to it) and last week I decided that I had the excess money to actually buy the yarn - well, most of it anyway, as one colour was out of stock. So I was able to start work on that and finally I had something I could focus on to bring my anxiety down. And it works up really quickly as well - I'm already on the second colour, which makes me slightly bothered that I'll have to stop rather quickly when I reach the part of the shawl that needs the one colour I couldn't get at the time, as I'll have to wait a week and a half before I can get that last colour (I have to put limits on my yarn buying, or the house would be full and we'd be resorting to eating the stuff). But it's very pretty, and it feels very nice - it's 20% cotton, 20% silk, and 60% polyester, which I realised perhaps too late translates to "Bugger to clean, best not get this dirty". But that's something to deal with when it's finished.

***

In other news, I've temporarily renamed Callie to "Bitey McMoglet" after she's spent the last few days on a renewed assault on my feet while I'm in bed. Perhaps the most amusing thing is that she actually responds to it (although to be fair, she also responds to, "Leave your sister alone," and "What are you doing in that bag?").
sareini: default (Number 13)
It is cold. -6 degrees celsius (that's 21.2 degrees fahrenheit) to be exact. As a result, Nick is wearing socks on his hands a la Jeff Hardy (I've threatened to get some brightly coloured fabric dyes and paint stripes on them) and Jelli, once she's on our laps or in fact anywhere where there's a duvet or chance for warmth, refuses to move. She's perfectly happy to employ her claws in this as well.

In trying to keep my hands unfrozen and have the blood keep running through them, I'm trying to knit gloves. Only I don't have any sircular needles and I don't know how to shape fingers, so they're likely to end up as some sort of freaky handwarmers or something...

Oh, and there's also snow. I hate my country's weather.
sareini: default (Sandman - Trouble)
I spent Friday and Saturday sick and mostly in bed. Nick made me warm Ribena, which I haven't had since I was in single figures.

Today I felt better... so it was Nick's turn to get sick. Thankfully he hasn't gotten it as bad as me, but now I get to repay him for all his fussing over me by making him lots of coffee and Quorn (although admittedly not at the same time).

Continued with my knitting. The scarf I'm knitting for Kerry (if you want an idea of what it looks like, it's similar to the scarf the girl is wearing on this page, except mine is pale purple and more pastel in colours) is now just over a meter long... it needs to be 180cm before it's done.

Passed my trial period with my RP supergroup on CoH (I didn't even know there'd been a trial period!) and got promoted. Which made me feel like I was actually doing well, and therefore made me happy.

Also watched a lot of one-hour documentaries on serial killers with Nick on the Crime and Investigation channel.

And that's about it.
sareini: default (Number 13)
So today, if you remember, was my interview with an advisor down at the Jobcentre about this 'Pathways to Work' thing.

Things didn't get off to too auspicious a start when, after walking all the way into town to get to the JobCentre, the first thing I see is a sign in their car park/outside area telling me that they have a rat problem and could people please not stand around out there. The JobCentre itself is abattered and rather manky-looking blue-and-white/grey prefab that looks like it was meant to only be a temporary thing but the money ran out.

Inside though, everything is high-tech and new, with touch-screen consoles for jobseekers to access and all the latest computers for the staff to use, which raised my spirits somewhat as I tend to judge how efficient something is by the state of its tech (the SS office, for example, spent over a year supposedly upgrading its computer systems and look how bad that is).

Waited a short while, then the advisor I was seeing came to get me. There weren't any private offices or anything like that, but we went to the back of the building, which was quiet and rather under-populated. This was the disability advisor's section.

First thing I found out was that I'm not actually due for my Incap check till December of this year, which surprised me as I was sure it would be April. Still, no matter, I could still get all the help I wanted, it just wouldn't be under the 'Pathways to Work' name.

We discussed the types of work I'd like to do (anything but manual, I said, but with emphasis on IT, office, admin and secretarial as I think I'd be good at them - certainly at IT), and the options available to me. There was doing voluntary work, which gets you experience but no cash, 'permitted work', which is under 16 hours a week but you can take home up to £86 on top of your IB, and part-time and full-time. We also discussed CVs, career guidance and the possibility of getting qualifications.

All in all, it wasn't too bad an interview at all. I certainly didn't feel pressured into signing up for anything or dropping my IB to go back to work, and it was made very clear to me that everything would be done at me own pace. I went away with the promise that someone called Samantha would be calling me to help me with writing a CV if I needed one (I freely admit that I can't remember how to do half a CV any more) and with the number of a college scheme that could help me get NVQs or equivalent in IT and web design and/or anything else I thought would be good for possibly getting a career. I'm going to look more into them this evening and possibly call them in the morning.

Now I'm home, tired but not feeling too shell-shocked, and working on Kerry's birthday present - a scarf whose pattern I found in the new knitting partwork I'm collecting. Her birthday's at the end of Febuary; I'm hoping it'll be finished by then...

August 2017

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