29 September 2017

Under The Walnut Tree


I've been seeing a counsellor for the last few months.  She knows about my blog and that I've been wanting to return to it for a little while.  She also knows that I've not been quite sure how.  Is it actually as simple as cropping back up with prettily-staged pictures and woolly waffle; making no mention of what's happened in the last seventeen months?  Can I honestly do that?

She doesn't ever tell me what to do.  Instead, she cleverly steers me to answer my own questions and make my own decisions.  So I have.

* * *

Exactly two weeks after I opened my little pink shop doors to the public, D, my husband of 18 years and my lover of 23, told me that he was having an affair.  An affair with a very ordinary woman twenty years his junior, with whom he'd worked for eight years and never previously given a second glance.  An affair that he said had been going on for six weeks.  Right there, in that single moment, it felt like the bottom fell out of my world.  When I asked him "why?" all he could say was "I don't know".  He described it as being something he felt he "just needed to do".

I'm not naive.  I'm fully aware that people fall in and out of love.  I think if he had told me that he simply didn't love me anymore, I could have accepted it far sooner.  But he didn't.  He did the opposite.  He told me that I was and would always be the love of his life and he promised that we would be stronger as a result.  For now though, he needed some time to "see this through".

The wonderful, kind and proud man that I had shared my life with for so long seemed to have metamorphosised, almost overnight, into the complete opposite of his former self.  He was hard, selfish and cruel.

He never actually moved with us to the four-bedroomed house that we had chosen and rented together as a family.  Instead, he moved in to his girlfriend's ready-made home across town.  Temporarily, he said.

At that stage, he didn't want to let me go and we carried on having a relationship.  An 'affair' I suppose.  We snatched moments together when we could.  We constantly messaged each other, spent nights in hotels, even went on holiday to Spain together.  After each rendezvous, he would drop me and my broken heart at my front door and drive back home to her.  How surreal is that?  A husband and wife having an affair behind his girlfriend's back.  Our children knew.  Both our families knew.  My friends knew.  But his girlfriend didn't.

When I tried to talk to him about what he was doing, questioned him or got upset, he would get extremely angry with me.  I couldn't understand why, when he said he loved me, he was hurting me so much.  He couldn't understand why I was so hurt.

Reading this back, I'm struck by how utterly mad it sounds.  I was being devoured by depression, anxiety and grief, and couldn't think straight.  All I knew was that the emotional highs I experienced when we were together seemed to make the pain just about bearable.  I so wanted my children to know that you didn't give up on a marriage.  You did whatever you had to, to make it better again.

I knew it was all wrong though.  My desperate search for some sort of explanation led me to this website and this one.  They're about the midlife crisis.  Suddenly, right there in front of me in black and white, written by strangers on the other side of the world, seemed to be a script that my husband was following to the letter, without even realising it.  It's up to you whether you follow the link or not.  All I will say is that both sites, and various others, have given me a lot of comfort.  They have made sense out of something completely and utterly nonsensical.

Our physical relationship ended on 15th October last year.  I went off the rails and had a breakdown.  I couldn't take anymore.  Christmas and the beginning of this year were also particularly low points.  My husband and his girlfriend proudly announced their new relationship on Facebook which is why I had to withdraw from social media.

I had tried throwing myself into the running of my shop but I just couldn't do it.  As I said in my last post, I could no longer sustain it either emotionally or financially.  Starting a new business when you have been a stay at home mum for 17 years and you have the support of your husband is hard.  Starting a new business when you are suddenly very alone and fighting to just get through each day is impossible.

* * *

I have finally manage to detach myself from the journey my husband is still on.  I'm now concentrating on my own.  And my children's.  I have no idea what he has told those friends and family members who have either chosen to turn their backs on us or simply not ever reached out.  All I do know is that people who are suffering from a deep midlife crisis rewrite history to justify their actions.  I don't think it's malice.  I think it's fear and desperation and a form of deflection.  I think they are suffering every bit as much as those they are hurting.

However, when you have shared your life with someone for almost a quarter of a century and they suddenly walk away in such a public and painful way, aside from the hurt, it's quite the most confusing, terrifying and lonely feeling.  You question your past.  Your present is broken.  Your future stretches bleakly ahead and there is no safety, no support, no structure.  It's frightening.

I barely see my husband or communicate with him now.  I think he holds me responsible for all that is wrong with his life.  He still sees the children from time to time.  I have begun divorce proceedings because I've had to.  It's like starting all over again.

* * *

Five months ago we had to move again, the children and I.  This time to a rented two-bedroomed victorian terraced house.  It's small, cosy and slightly quirky.  I think you'd like it.  I've made it as colourful and pretty as I can.  There's no room for clutter but frankly that's not a bad thing.

The garden is narrow and home to a huge walnut tree.  Sitting in the dappled light underneath with my thoughts and a cup of tea, while the squirrels play and gorge above me, is one of my favourite spots.  Another is my bedroom.  It's airy and white with a high ceiling, painted floorboards and an ill-fitting french blue door.  Both places are where I feel the most calm.

I have a part-time job which I'm enjoying.  Will you smile when I tell you it is at Cath Kidston?

Today, I officially end ownership of my shop.  I'm to return the keys tomorrow.  I couldn't face going in for a long time.  The second I stepped over the threshold, I would get a tremendous pressure in my chest, start shaking and struggle to breathe.  It has eventually become easier.  Necessity has overridden emotion.  The end of September was the soonest I was able to extricate myself from the lease.  I feel like a big weight has been lifted from my shoulders.  I've been having to pay the rent, insurance and utilities every month which has taken every last penny I had, and more.

I have listed most of my yarn in my Etsy shop, here.  I'll list the rest as soon as I can. My love for all things yarny remains.  It has, however, taken a bit of a back seat.  I have barely crocheted or knitted in six months.  I know the desire is slowly returning.  I can feel my fingers beginning to itch.

I still have the occasional difficult moment when everything feels a bit all-consuming but I'm starting to move forwards again with hope in my heart.  Hope for a bright future after all.  Hope that, one day, I will find love again.  I'm not a solitary type, I want to share my life with someone special.  I have been blessed with a lot of support from a handful of people in particular.  I am also so incredibly grateful for the unconditional love of my children who have had to witness my distress while dealing with their own.

* * *

It's been very hard to write this post.  It's been borne, not from an unstable need to 'air my dirty linen in public', but from a desire to return to blogging again.  When I first started my blog nearly eight years ago, I made myself a promise that I would always be honest and true.  With myself and with anyone who chooses to read it.  I have never broken that promise.  Life isn't all prettiness and colour.  Life can be shit.  We all know it and we all have different ways of dealing with it.  Rightly or wrongly, my way is not to hide it or hide away from it.  Mine is to openly acknowledge it when I feel able to and face it.  That is my choice and my right.

I have faced it and should really like to move on now.  Because I have to.  To prettily-staged pictures and woolly waffle, perhaps.

If you'll have me of course?  How have you been?  I've missed you.

xxx

Please know that both of my children read and approved this post before I pressed 'publish'.

4 February 2017

I Did My Best


It is with a very heavy heart that I inform you I am closing my little pink yarn shop with immediate effect.  I have done my very best in circumstances which have personally devastated me but I simply cannot sustain it financially or emotionally any more.  So much has changed since I signed the lease exactly one year ago.

I will be gradually listing all of my stock in my Etsy shop over the next couple of weeks if you're interested.

The time has also come for me to disappear from here indefinitely.  This hasn't been an easy decision to make as this space has been so incredibly important to me for the last seven years but I now need to let go and find my way through the next stage of my life's journey in relative anonymity.  I have decided to leave my blog up so my crochet tutorials and patterns will still be available for anyone who would like to use them.  There are also some very happy memories documented here which are very precious to me.

I have, however, deleted my Instagram account.  I will be deleting my Facebook page this afternoon.  Social media has caused me quite a lot of distress recently and I'm desperate for a break.

I've often felt a bit of a fraud and have regularly wondered what you've seen in me!  I'm just a slightly quirky 45 year old woman who speaks from her heart, makes frequent mistakes, and loves colour.  I promise I've always meant well though.  Your kindness and support have helped me through both happy and sad times and have enriched my life more than you'll ever know.  Take care of your little selves, won't you?

Thank you so much for being my friends.

Happy hooking.

Much love,

Heather
xxx


Edited to add: Thank you for your kind comments and messages on Facebook.  I carefully read each one and they meant such a lot. xx

31 December 2016

Looking Forward

















Christmas is a funny time of year.  It's a time when everything seems amplified somehow.  If you are at one with yourself and surrounded by those that you truly love, it's a magical time.  A day of happy togetherness.  If, for whatever reason, all is not well with your world, it's a real toughie.

We had a quiet one, my children and I.  It was a fitting way to see off a rather tumultuous year I think.

On Boxing Day morning I awoke and felt what I can only describe as a surge of relief.  A 'thank chuff that's over' kind of relief.  High on this welcome lightness of spirit, I de-Christmassed and cleaned like a woman possessed!  Oh but it felt good.

I'm not going to do my usual look back over the year, this year.  There has been far too much sadness which I don't want to dwell on.  Instead, I am choosing to look forward and focus only on the good things that I shall be taking into 2017 ...

♥  My little pink yarn shop, of course, is a very good thing.  Going from being a stay-at-home mum and wife to starting a new business was far harder than it ever should have been I suppose because it coincided with devastation in my personal life.  In all honesty, had I known I was going to have to do it entirely alone, I'm not sure that I would even have entertained the idea.  However, I didn't know, I did do it and here I am, a bona fide yarn shop owner!

♥  Friendship has meant far more to me during 2016 than it ever has.  I'm not normally a great one for turning to other people for emotional help but this year I have felt the need to and those friends have showed me nothing but love and support.  I've also made a lot of new friends this year, some of whom are already quite dear to me.

Talking of friendships, I just had to show you the beautiful patchwork hot water bottle that Jooles made for me.  I cried when I opened it.  I also received a pair of gorgeous crocheted wristwarmers from Sandra.  I adore both girls and their gifts mean so much.

♥  Now this last bit is going to sound very self-congratulatory and I do hope you'll agree that I don't make a habit of blowing my own trumpet but, for once, I feel it is justified.  It has been a difficult year but I'm proud of myself for keeping going when I really doubted whether I could any more.  I'm proud of myself for maintaining my dignity at the times when I could quite easily have not.  I'm proud of achieving what I have despite the odds being stacked firmly against me.  Most of all, I'm proud of the fact that my children are both proud of me.  So you could say I'm pretty proud of myself!

I guess it's true, you really don't know how strong you are until being strong is the only choice you have.

That said, I shall personally be giving 2016 my middle finger as it departs and turning to welcome 2017 with open arms and hope in my heart.  Better things are coming my friends, I just know they are.

So, from the bottom of my heart, thank you for your encouragement and kindness over the last twelve months.  I wish you all a very happy, creative and sparkly New Year.

xxx

3 December 2016

Jules Slouch Hat



I crocheted myself a slouchy hat.  A pale pink one (naturally).  Just because I wanted to and just because I could.  I look a bit of a bugger in anything too close fitting so favour the more flattering softness of a slouch.  My mum admired it and asked for the pattern.  Then Jayne, a lovely lady from one of my crochet classes, asked the same.  Then a kind customer also asked.  So I made another two, one slightly bigger than the other, and wrote the pattern up.

I used Debbie Bliss Rialto DK (I completely love that yarn).  Approximately 70g (150 metres) in total.

Once you get into the rhythm, it's a quick make and ideal for beginners comfortable with the half treble (half double in US terminology) stitch.

If you fancy making your own, I've popped the (free) downloadable pattern here on www.lovecrochet.com and here on my Ravelry page.  It's for you, with love from me.  Do send me a message if you have any problems at all.

xxx

PS.  Forgive me.  Where are my manners?  Please let me introduce you to Polly and Irene.  They're my new employees.  They don't say much but they're hard workers so I can't complain.

12 November 2016

Six Months














Six months ago I opened the door to my little pink yarn shop for the very first time.

I had every intention of sharing the experience with you dear friends but unforeseen events thwarted that particular plan.  I don't mind telling you, the last six months have been a bit of a bugger!  The most difficult of my entire life.  You see, just as my foray into the grown-up world of work and retail began, the bottom fell out of my personal world.

My blog voice has been all but silent.  I'm so sorry about that but there are just some journeys I guess we have to take alone.  As you know, I battled through quite a hefty period of depression back in the summer.  Since then, it has taken me a while to rebuild my confidence and find my feet in this new and uncertain world of mine.  But find my feet I have and I can finally feel the sun on my face again.

As for the shop?  Well, I've made mistakes (still am) and have had a lot to learn (still do).  I'm definitely not a natural business woman, will never be a millionaire and am still completely poop at organising my time!  But you know what?  I get to spend five days a week surrounded by yarn, talking about yarn, and doing what I love!

I really wanted to give you some sort of explanation for my absence without going into too much detail.  That and to thank you so much for all your support.  I honestly could not have done this without you.  I was quite nervous at first about the prospect of my real and online worlds colliding and, yes, it is still strange when someone visits me in the shop and tells me they've been reading my blog for years or following me on Instagram.  Strange but nice.  I have been completely staggered by the number of you who have visited, sometimes from quite far afield.  Hardly a day has gone by when I haven't received the hand of kindness from one of you in some way shape or form.  I really am so fortunate.

So here I am, a little more worldly-wise but sense of mischief restored, sashaying my way back into Blogland.  I've missed this little space of mine.

xxx

14 September 2016

Pink Milk Palette



Quite often someone will wander into my shop, attracted purely by the colours.  They can be quite apologetic about the fact that they neither knit nor crochet.  When I've pointed out the error of their ways in no uncertain terms (not really!), I'm quite happy to let them have as much of a colour fix as they'd like.  Apparently sweet shops can have the same effect on even those with a strictly savoury tooth.

One day I'll write a blog post about a typical day as a yarn shop owner.  I think you'll find it really interesting.  I have the privilege of meeting some fabulous people, believe me.

Anyway, I digress.  I'm currently working behind the scenes on my big girl's online shop.  Amongst other things, I shall be selling yarn packs which I am thoroughly enjoying putting together.  A lot of them will be based on my own previous makes.  I do hope you'll like them.  Some packs will include patterns, some won't.  Some may include a little surprise extra, some won't.  Just know that I will personally be packaging each with my love and care.

As a bit of a taster (and because I'm an impatient creature), I thought it might be fun to write a blog post introducing you to my eponymously named ...



Weight : Sport
Blend : 55% Extrafine Merino Wool, 33% Acrylic, 12% Cashmere
Length : 125m Per 50g Ball
Hook/Needle Size : 3.25mm
Washing Instructions : Cool Machine Wash

❤️💛💚💙💜

Doesn't that just fill your heart with joy?

I've always been very vocal about my love for Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino.  It's one of my favourite yarns.  If you've followed my blog for any length of time you'll already know this.  I've used it for many of my patterns and makes.  I'm frequently asked which colours I use.

Why is it a favourite of mine?  Quite simply, it's an absolute pleasure to work with; knitted or crocheted it creates a soft fabric with wonderful drape, and it comes in a wide range of beautiful colours (60 in total I think).  Finished objects are easy to care for (machine washable on a cool temperature) and wear extremely well (no bobbling or fluffing).

The recommended hook/needle size is 3.25mm but I rarely opt for anything smaller than a 4mm.  In fact, using a 5mm hook creates a lovely light fabric that puddles into soft folds.

My Pink Milk Palette is a pack containing my ten 'go to' favourites.  They're the shades I visit time and time again.  I love each colour individually but I especially love all the different delicious combinations of any two or more of them.  For example, try and picture Peach Melba, Amber and Candy Pink together.  How gorgeously striking is that?  I have a huge soft spot for the pretty mix of Baby Pink, Duck Egg and Silver, and I'm currently a little bit fixated on seeing how Amber and Lilac stripes look.

What could you do with a Pink Milk Palette?  You could make numerous pairs of mitts in an array of different colours for gifts, you could hook up (or knit) several cowls, you could make a couple of January Sucks Infinity Scarves or even a small blanket.  Ooh, wouldn't a ripple in these colours look glorious?  I't's the perfect paintbox for all those little projects like flowers and embellishments.  Failing any of my suggestions, you could just arrange it prettily in your stash and allow your heart to skip a beat every time you catch a glimpse, until inspiration strikes.

I have an idea for a pattern floating around my head.  It involves all ten of the colours and I'm itching to set-to with my crochet hook and see what happens.  If it turns into fruition, I will, of course, share it with you.  I've already chosen its name.

I have a limited number of Pink Milk Palette packs available for immediate purchase if you're interested.  Payment is processed via Paypal but, to my knowledge, you can also pay by debit or credit card without having an account.

UPDATED TO ADD : NOW AVAILABLE IN MY ETSY SHOP HERE.

UK Only
£48.00 plus £3.50 postage

Europe
£48.00 plus £7.00 postage

Outside Europe
£48.00 plus £11.00 postage


Whilst I always obtain proof, all postage rates are only standard.  If you would prefer the more expensive traceable service, do send me an email prior to purchase.

Any customs charges will be your responsibility.  I am afraid I am unable to mark parcels as 'gifts'.

I aim to dispatch all parcels within 2 working days of sale.


I do hope you don't mind me doing the shameless self-promotion thing.  I was excited!  If nothing else, feel free to enjoy a colour fix with my pleasure. :-)

xxx

22 August 2016

In Response




Believe in yourself and all that you are.

Know that there is something inside you that is greater than any obstacle.

I wanted to take a moment to thank every single one of you who commented or sent me a message after this post.  I responded to very few of you, I'm sorry.  I didn't feel able to at the time.  It's not been sitting very well with me that I haven't properly and gratefully acknowledged the time you took to contact me.

I will continue to talk very candidly about depression.  It is something I am not ashamed of or am willing to hide.  I am extremely passionate about doing my own tiny bit for bringing the subject out into the open.  It's far too important and affects far too many people for it not to be addressed.

You are so very precious.

Never let anyone or anything make you think otherwise.

xxx

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