Blog. It’s been a while since you and I conversed. Perhaps ‘conversed’ is putting it a bit too strongly, since our conversations are always distinctly one-sided (if I ever think otherwise dear Blog, please inform me that, like the Cheshire cat, I’ve gone quite mad.)
Anyway, I’ve been up to this and that, just living my uneventful (thank all the Gods) and ordinary life. My singing lessons are now ‘live’ as it were, i.e. no longer on Zoom, and I am now the subject of my teacher’s first MA project – because I stammer. My teacher has undertaken a Masters’ in singing pedagogy (or some such) and was delighted to discover that there appears to be a gap in the research regarding the impact of singing lessons on those who stammer. Those who’ve completed a Masters’ degree will know the utter nail-biting academic trauma of trying to find a research area that hasn’t been done before, so my teacher was delighted to have her project handed to her on a plate, as it were, in the form of one of her pupils (me) who fit the bill. My role in this project was simply to make notes on four of my lessons, which I’ve now submitted, and she will make of these notes what she will. Of course, as I’m incapable of writing a hundred words when several thousand would seem to be called for, I rather think my teacher doesn’t know what she’s let herself in for.
But the point of this post is to discuss my newfound crafting obsession. FELT. I mean who knew? Yes, you can craft things with felt. Not just any felt mind you (I’ve done my research) and definitely not your bog-standard acrylic crap from your local shop. At the very least you must use a wool blend felt because anything else will distressingly fall apart. I’ve gone with sheets that are 40% wool and 60% rubbishy fake stuff, which is probably right now contributing to climate change. I source my felt sheets from Etsy which are provided in every wonderfully vibrant colour under the increasingly hot sun.
You really can make anything from felt. The patterns available on Etsy range from fruit and veg, to animals, to flowers, to dolls and on it goes. This goes for most other crafting materials I suppose after all you could also fashion just about anything with your knitting needles or your crochet hook. The difference is, is that things made from felt somehow don’t look handmade (unless you majorly cock it all up.) I mean they have the finish of something machine made that you’d generally find in a shop, even though they’re predominantly hand sewn. This is because felt is pleasingly smooth in appearance (unlike knitted things which, of course, is what lends them their charm) and felt doesn’t fray or get sticky-out wool fibres all over it (there’s probably a word for that.) Why didn’t I know about felt years ago, I ask myself, bemoaning the wasted years I didn’t spend fiddling around with felt.
The process of faffing about with felt is so satisfyingly multi-tasking. You must first trace round your project templates onto the felt, then cut out your felt pieces, then stitch them together (and sometimes embroider on to them.) I have also learned several sewing stitches during my felt journey. Namely the blanket stitch (such a satisfying stitchy process), the lazy daisy stitch, the running stitch, the back stitch and the straight stitch. You must then stuff the pieces. As with knitting this is absolutely the key part of the whole process. Get this wrong and you’ll produce a felt monstrosity, the sight of which will probably make its intended recipient form the sign of the cross before running away.
Admittedly, the felt crafting process is also the most time-consuming, fiddly, back breaking, finger aching hobby you could land yourself with but, as with anything crafty, isn’t that ever the case? And isn’t that also the very reason to
waste spend your precious time on crafting anything? To submerge yourself in a mindful (as my singing teacher would say) intricate creative endeavour, the end of which almost always gives you a sense of satisfaction so lacking in other areas of daily life.
My first fab felt project was a quiet activity book for toddlers and was made for granddaughter no.1. I’d never heard of felt quiet books. The book took 3 weeks of daily felt fumbling, alongside watching YouTube tutorials on how to do the stitches. The end result is not perfect (particularly the mouse which is only 2″ high and thus almost impossible to stuff adequately, let alone trying to stitch cuteness onto its miniscule face) but was a valuable exercise in learning from my mistakes. The mouse goes in various pockets in the book which pleased me no end I can tell you. He runs a book shop and I stitched on (tightly) various animal buttons from Etsy as his friends. Did you know they make buttons that look like anything and everything? I didn’t and it, yet again, pleased me no end. I’m already engaged on my second fun-filled felt project. The quiet book did not require any stuffing (apart from the titchy tiniest of mouses) making it a somewhat simpler project in terms of its appearance. My second project is all about the stuffing.
The granddaughter is now in receipt of her felty book and here are some photos of said book. I hope she enjoys flipping through its feltsome pages. The quiet book pattern was purchased from Noialand on Etsy. Oh, Etsy, what a treasure trove you are for crafters and why did it take a pandemic for me to fully check you out?
In other news Blog. My local choir re-started a month ago and I braved going along. I then immediately messaged our leader with my concerns that there appeared to be zero social distancing in the room, zero mask wearing and, as I’d isolated for months on end, the whole being in a crowd of people thing came as a total shock to my ever-heightened nervous system. Our leader then introduced mask wearing when ‘mingling’ but to be taken off when singing. This reasoning seemed to be on a par with the Governmental/Scientific continuously mad mixed messaging re: Covid, so I’ve been attending choir sessions wearing a face visor. Yes. I, alone, in a group of 50 choristers, stand there defiantly wearing my visor for the whole session. Admittedly I feel a bit prattish (it took me 30 minutes into the second session to pluck up the courage to put it on) but now I have no hesitation.
Last night at choir a group photograph was taken to be put up on the Choir’s Facebook page. There the choir all are, standing inches from each other, grinning into the camera, sporting no Covid preventative measures at all, and there am I, on the end of the front row, sporting my visor. All you would see is a body topped by reflected glare from the room’s lighting; you can’t see my face at all – a bonus as I always look crap on photographs.
In support of my solitary Covid stance at choir I like to gently sing a ditty to myself, to the tune of ‘You can dance if you want to’ (by Men without Hats.)
I’ll wear a visor if I want to
though I look like an imbecile
I know it’s uncool
but I’m nobody’s fool
cos I really don’t wanna be ill
You can scoff if you want to
A visor? oh please, c’mon,
You can say that I’m mad
cos I’m fully jabbed*
But I’m still gonna to put it on
*well nearly, third one to go