Wednesday, 26 March 2014

History of the needlefelted Alien.

As I was browsing through the seemingly endless stream of photos on my laptop, I noticed how over the years my needlefelted aliens have evolved.
The first alien came as I was just experimenting with wool and my then 4 year old son suggested an alien. Archie was born.
When he came home from daycare I presented him with the day's efforts. He burst into tears and proclaimed he wanted an alien with 6 eyes not 3. Back to the drawing board!
A alien with 6 eyes was born.
Archie was one of the first felt projects I ever sold at my first craft fair back in 2008.
Since then I have made rainbow aliens, party aliens, soap eating aliens,super hero aliens, credit card holding aliens, giant aliens, mini aliens in a jar and  aliens that now live in New York!
I have lost count of the number of eyeballs I have made and how many kilos of green alien wool I have used.
People have bought them for wedding gifts, birthdays,  to decorate baby's nursery, a friend to sit on their work desk and for that person that has everything! They reside in an astronomy shop in Helsinki I have repeat customers and have made aliens to certain specifications! They reside all over the world - Japan, Belgium, UK, USA, Australia and beyond!
They feature on my business cards and postcards of them are always popular as the alternate Christmas card!!

Each one is different and each one has a name - making them is a delight and never ceases to make me smile so here are a few more 'little green guys' that have bought me so much pleasure ( and a few euros!!)over the last 6 years. Enjoy!!

Monday, 20 January 2014

Diabetes below freezing

The sky is a crystal clear blue, the sun has finally popped up and it is -17 degrees C!
Diabetes is a tricky little blighter at the best of times but throw in freezing temperatures and the trickiness is taken to another level.
Blood sugar meters do not like the cold, they and their partners, blood test strips(we use Bayer Contour)work optimally between 9°C and 30°C - so -17 ° is not good. Even temperatures hovering around 0°C can cause an error.
Unwrapping the glucose tablets from their cellophane wrapper requires quite a degree of dexterity, try it with gloves on, no, so gloves off and throw in a wind chill factor of -30, definitely no.
Soft chewy fruit snacks turn into rock hard sticks more akin to a dog chew and the juice box you left in the car is now a popsicle. Even the gel you had in your jacket pocket is now a slushie and brain freeze on top of a tanking blood sugar can't be fun.
Batteries in pump and meter drain away in front of your eyes and the spare is probably dead too.
Oh yes insulin freezes and the thin tubing dangling in the breeze is the perfect place !
Yes we have learnt the hard way but living in a country where winter temperatures are regularly below -10° C for 3 months of the year we have learnt to adapt .
Tubing well tucked in and preferably next to the skin, pump in pouch and tucked under shirt/ jumper and outdoor trousers. Doesn't allow for quick access but save bolusing and pump checking for indoors!
Fruit snack kept in inside pocket, put 4 glucose tablets into an old test strip pot, label and put in jacket pocket. This can be opened and dispensed with gloves on!
If we are going out for a period of time such as skating or skiing, we found a small insulated picnic /lunch bag into which we put a warm pad, such as wheat bag, gel pad, hand warmer, next goes the blood sugar meter and other snacks/ juice. It doesn't need to be hot but just warm to avoid freezing. Keeping the blood sugar meter inside your shirt is another option , tucked inside a bra works too!!
I am also learning  and even more so for my son, how important good quality winter boots and gloves are. Cold hands and feet are no fun at all.
I love the winter and the beauty and fun it brings, yes Diabetes comes along for the ride, we have problems but we work them out - hot chocolate usually helps! But why does playing in the snow make blood sugars drop so dramatically?
Roll on Summer!

Wednesday, 1 January 2014

Start positive!

What better day to dust off my blog than New years day! Grey and miserable right now( the weather I hasten to add!) , no snow yet but it will come!! I bought some fantastic winter boots with built in spikes so that why we have had one of the mildest Christmases ever here in Finland.
So our life trundles steadily and often at an alarming pace with School, Felting, holiday planning, growth spurts requiring a mammoth shop for new clothes and shoes and yes the inevitable round of x rays and scans for me and the rollercoaster  ride that is type 1 diabetes in a 10 year old boy!
Christmas was family both in Finland and UK - just perfect.
New Years Eve started with pasta and a family viewing on the sofa of the Hobbit, followed by  us catching up with our lovely neighbours with champagne and fireworks - again perfect!
A lazy day now, contemplating the year ahead , planning new felting projects, perhaps learn to knit(!), planning holidays around the winter Olympics and the Football World cup, hoping Crystal Palace can stay in the premier league, continue to tweak basal rates and chase those highs and lows both in Diabetes and life!
No promises to blog a little more frequently but I will try!
Best wishes for a healthy and constructive 2014.........

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Managing 6 days of orienteering with Type 1 Diabetes

As we packed for Scotland, I triple checked my new laminated diabetes check list to make sure we had everything, adding a few extras in for good measure! When we travel abroad I usually allow 1 set and 1 reservoir for each day we are away. Even though we usually change them every 3 days, situations do occur when an unexpected set change is needed - ripped out set, failed set, tubing damage, cooked insulin - all of which were likely as we orienteered our way through the week.
Day 1 presented a big challenge - pouring rain. Aleksi wears a tummietote belt from tallygear. In its three pockets go the pump, his phone and a fruit bar/snack. The heavy rain made the possibility of pump and phone blow up quite possible so these were wrapped in plastic bags before putting in the belt. They stayed remarkably dry and functioning happily. He was a bit high before starting 14.1 so I corrected the full amount. He had a great run and came in second and yes due to the full correction was only 3.1 at the finish. Lesson learnt!
Day 2 was the complete opposite, hot and humid. His blood sugars were also the complete opposite. 3.1 just before starting so juice box and fruit snack were dispensed. As he left to run he was still only 4.9 so another fruit snack as he entered the start. Another good run into 3rd place. He checked himself when he got back as I was still wandering in the woods - 4.2 so he bought himself a large chocolate shortbread but only bolused for 15 carbs.
Day 3 was another warm day  - another low as we got to the event - some slightly over enthusiastic breakfast bolusing I think - so a banana and a nice 5.7 at the start. A fruit snack as he left to run saw a 4.8 when he got back. This time he bought himself a large sausage, bacon and egg sandwich  - as he said he deserved and needed it! A creditable 7th place finish today.
Day 4 was wet again so out came the plastic bags to do their job again. 6.1 at the start so off he went. Not a good run today missing one of the last controls. I came back to the car to find a very dejected young man and even his usual sausage, bacon and egg sandwich couldn't cheer him up. Despite bolusing he ended up at 17.2 not long after - how can you bolus for emotions?- no books or apps on that one yet
Day 5 saw an 9.3 at the start so I did a correction but only half the recommended amount - we the had a 2.4km walk just to the start so I gave him a fruit snack as he left. Another good run coming in 5th with a blood sugar of 8.4 - probably didn't need the fruit snack, but hey this is Diabetes we are talking about here and as we all know the goal posts keep moving!!
Day 6 ,  the final day, was warm and windy and a later start, juggling food and a later breakfast gave us 11.4 and an hour later 14.1 - a correction needed but again not the full amount. He came in 6th with a blood sugar of 7.0. He was very disappointed as a fourth place finish would have seen him finish 3rd overall. As it was he finished an extremely creditable 5th in the M10B class overall.
The promise of his 'usual' perked him up briefly but as we stood in the long queue a little voice said        'Mummy I feel low.....' Not good, I rushed as best I could to the car, fortunately parked close by and grabbed the meter - 2.1 and only 2 glucose tabs in the bag. I shouted at my dear husband about 100yds away, ignoring all those around - ' I need sugar now!'  Juice rapidly dispensed to my little man still standing in line for his sausage, bacon and egg sandwich!  Half and hour later he was 12 and  by the time we got home 19.4 - a classic rebound!
One slightly out of focus sausage, bacon and egg sandwich - so good he took a photo of it!!
So some great days of diabetes management, some days that left me scratching my head and swagging carbs on foods I had no idea about and some days leaving me exasperated at how bloody hard this disease can be on everyone. No extra supplies were needed but you never know.............
Scotland was great and we are already planning our next trip for the Scottish  6 days in 2015!
A close encounter with a Harris Hawk named Hamish on the way home.

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

My therapy weekend

Nothing out of the ordinary I assure you, just a glorious weekend of felting with like minded folks. I did a course in Helsinki last month, the idea to make a bag. Not something I would normally consider making but it was really good to test my skills and as always it is amazing what you learn!!
Tip number one was using a much thicker resist than I had previously. Normally I use double bubble wrap or similar but this time used an old camping mat, much thicker and firmer and so much easier to work round.
Next tip , which I have seen but never done, take an old juice bottle , stab a few holes in the top and use to sprinkle hot soapy water over your project! So simple but so effective!
Finally don't use white wool and green wool together! I didn't have enough white wool to make a thick enough back for the bag so used some green Finn wool and blue merino for a smoother finish. Bad idea , green dye came out and was taken up by the silk and white merino I had used on the front. Not too bad but won't do that again!
My workplace for the weekend!

Much thicker resist really helped.

Note the slight green tinge!

Large button for show and have added an old brown belt as a strap.
I had tome on Sunday to make a second bag and it so happened to be my Mum's birthday round the corner so lightbulb moment - a bag!!
This one was much smaller and simpler and came together really quickly. I had made a long handle ages ago as was able to use it for this project.
Again a thick resist and it was much easier to notice the shrinkage. Once it was holding well I cut the resist out and firmed the edges. Once dry I sew the handle/strap in place to make sure it stayed. I have not had much success felting handles on, definitely need more practise on that!

Sprinkler juice bottle!

Cutting out the resist.

Handle firmly sewn on, button for prettiness!

A fun weekend and great to learn new stuff as always. I am now contemplating 10 weeks of school holidays and seeds of ideas are forming for Christmas. With luck I can sneak in the odd hour or two of felting in the summer, perhaps a bigger project whilst I have two assistants to help with the rolling and fulling, or perhaps not.....

Monday, 22 April 2013

Raw fleece

My new favourite! Over the last year or so I have been slowly gathering up a wonderful collection of raw fleece - in it's full smelly glory! ( it is a bit like insulin - either a smell you love or hate, but I digress!)
Through Sara and her fleece club I received an amazing selection of fleece from sheep I had never heard of and they are all amazingly unique and such fun to felt with.
I made a variety of seat pads with the fleece, needling them onto a prefelt base to keep them in place and then wet felted them. I had better results keeping the curls and texture if I felted them in their  original state rather than washing them first. The water came out quite brown after the first wetting and rolling!!
Here are some of the results....
Lleyn and Zwartbles in a cowhide pattern!

Manx, Ryeland, Cotswold and Finn
A few varieties of Gotland
A mini fleece created from all sorts of white locks
Massam, BFL, Teesdale amongst others
I have also been playing with some merino tops, carded merino and merino prefelt and made some purses. They have made me brush up on my basic sewing skills, my blanket stitch is almost as good as I used to do at school!!
Reindeer horn buttons just finish them off.

I also did a felted bag course last weekend in Helsinki - it was so good to be amongst fellow felters! A post full of bag making goodness to follow soon!

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

What to make?

I am very rarely stuck for ideas for felting projects but it is nice to get a challenge every once in a while! I was thrown this one last week with a deadline of about a week and we were just off skiing for 4 days. Have wool will travel so last minute packing included needles and foam plus grab handfuls of various colour wools. I put the needles in the case as the thought of having to discuss the pro and cons of felting needles in the aeroplane was pushing my luck when we already had a bag full of diabetes supplies, an insulin pump and a tin hip to contend with!!

Minecraft TNT
Minecraft Creeper( well the head anyway!!)
Well I met my deadline in time for my son to take these as a gift for a friend's 10 year old birthday party last night.

Apparently Minecraft is the best game ever( if you are a 10 year old boy!) and guess what I have to make for all his friends birthdays now!!