Tuesday, 12 March 2019

On being a Grandma

I've always wanted babies, in fact most of my early life they were all I wanted.
During career's interviews at school I lied and said I wanted to be an astronaut or F1 driver, however my memory is hazy, so I probably said something a lot more achievable, but what I wanted to say was that I wanted to be a mother.

In my early 20's I got my wish and had 3 beautiful babies, that grew quickly into 3 beautiful people

These are the yearly photos, this photo frame is one of my most treasured possessions, as it shows how my family grew, it spans from 1986 to 2004. By 2004 I had stumbled on a career path and built my own indie dyeing business, I had ambitions, drove my business and certainly didn't even think about the possibility of grandchildren.

My babies carried on growing and turned into beautiful adults, they still make me proud to be their mum every day.
Then just over 2 years ago my middle baby Daisy told me she was pregnant, even though I was over the moon and excited for her, I felt a sadness that I was now officially old.
As her bump grew so did my love for it, I felt the baby kick and watched it move, memory's flooded back of my own pregnancies. But I was terrified for her, because I knew what she had to go through to bring her bump into the world. As her mummy my job is to protect her and there was nothing I could do to save her from the pain.
As it was she had a horrible labour, much worse than mine, 24 hrs, 3 hrs pushing, a stuck baby that even the midwife couldn't pull out with forceps and an emergency cesarean.
But at the end of it she and Adam were the proud parents of Albert Theodore.

I didn't expect to feel maternal love for anything else as much as I did for my own babies, but as soon as I cuddled him waves of  love poured out for him, it was almost as if he was my 4th baby.

We and his other grandparents are so privileged to live in the same small village as our grandson, Nanny Jo and I are good friends and enjoy each others company. I don't feel jealous of the time she spends with him as I know she loves and nurtures him as much as I do. We are both lucky to be such a big part of his life.

I see Bert most days (especially at the moment) and have watched him grow and turn into a inquisitive toddler. Its a completely different experience than motherhood, with my own babies I was too busy and too close to see each tiny development. With Bert, I can watch him learn, how to crawl, how to walk, how to talk etc He stacks duplo, reads books, plays with balls and loves dogs. This week he gave me a  first hug, a proper intentional hug, which melted my heart.

I have a life when Bert's not with me, I can cuddle him and give him back, so I haven't given up my life for him. I've carried on working and published a book of baby blankets for Bert.
To have a career and a baby to love and cuddle is the best of both worlds, I look at grandparents with different eyes and am happy to be one.

Last summer Daisy became pregnant with Bert's sibling, (the due date is in 12 days time)
She has a gigantic baby bump and is struggling to walk, pick up Bert or do anything too physical. Since she went on maternity leave a few weeks ago we are spending even more time together than we normally do. I am just as anxious for her, probably worse this time due to her last labour, so I'm not really working, I'm too busy helping out with Bert and worrying about things I can't change.

I'm not even doing much crochet, I can't concentrate,  I feel like my life is on hold, sometime in the next 4 weeks it will change when grandbaby number 2 arrives. 
In some ways its worse than waiting for your own baby, at least you know how your body feels, all I can do is watch and wait to cuddle Bert's sibling, who will be loved and cherished just as much as its older brother.

Friday, 1 March 2019

Cross roads

I've come to a crossroads in my life.
Do I follow my career as a designer fighting for success or do I sit back and enjoy a stress free life?

I've been part of the wool world for nearly 20 years. During that time I built a successful hand dyeing business and became an author of several successful books, but even though I've be successful its never been easy I've had to fight every day to earn a living.
We are blessed with 3 beautiful creative children and 33 year old happy marriage, but the rest of life hasn't been kind to us. We've struggled from one disaster to another, redundancy, losing our house, being homeless for a year, another redundancy, moving into 5 different rented houses in 7 years
I've finally reached a point where I have succumbed to mental exhaustion, I've lost my ambition, I don't want to fight anymore.
I think its because I have reached a happy place. I'm live in an amazing, beautiful, unspoilt part of the country in a tiny flat with a tiny courtyard that I love, I have one grand baby and another due in a couple of weeks, who live in the flat above us.

I need to stop looking at my contemporary's and their successes, which will stop me feeling like a failure the whole time. Reading about everybody's CAL's and exciting crochet ventures makes me feel inadequate, so I need spend less time social networking.
Looking at photo's of yarn shows makes me sad because I'm not there. I used to love shows, spending time with our woolly friends and  meeting our lovely customers, but I hated the worry of whether we would sell enough yarn to cover costs, breaking down after the show, being exhausted from standing on your feet for 9 hours, so really I don't miss them at all.

Over the years I have been repeatedly told not to worry about everyone else's success and concentrate on my own, its very good advice if only I could of put it in practise.
I want to put it in practise now, and only do the things that make me happy.
I will never stop obsessively making art (blankets) and creating books which are a part of the process.
But I want to stop feeling guilty because I'm not social networking every day, chasing publicity, chasing wholesale possibilities, trying to compete with the competition.

So I've chosen to take the path to relax and enjoy what I do guilt free, sit in the sun, drink cocktails by the sea, play with my grandbabies and run my dogs on the beach.
I have a new motif project planned for later in the year that I'm so excited about. Once my grandbaby is born I can get a bit of head space back and do some serious designing and planning.

Friday, 8 February 2019

2018 Books

2018 was my year of the book.

After deciding to start self publishing my books I thought I'd better do a test run before I published a new book.
So I re-wrote, edited and formatted Madder Triangles which was originally published as an e-book for The Natural Dye Studio in 2013, I even gave it a new name because search engines have no idea what Madder Triangles are, so it became Crochet Madder Triangles.
Producing the manuscript for a book to be printed was a huge learning curve, but worth the effort, its nothing like producing a pdf pattern and takes a lot more work and attention to detail.
I published it in May 2018 and am proud of the result, I learn so much in such a short space of time and it was amazing to see it in print as a proper book.

It features 8 crochet patterns, 3 blankets, 3 scarves and 2 shawls and you can find it HERE on Amazon either as a paperback or the kindle version.





The second book is Bert's Crochet Baby Blankets and was published in December 2018.
I'm so proud of Bert's book, I learnt even more about producing a manuscript, there are a few things I would do differently, but it's almost perfect, no doubt when I publish my next book I will look back on it and find mistakes, but for now I'm happy with it.

Bert's book contains 8 crochet blanket patterns, plus size and colour variations giving you 80 designs to choose from. You can find it you can find it HERE on Amazon either as a paperback or the kindle version.





Wednesday, 30 January 2019

Re-post Anxiety & Depression

Originally posted in December 2018 on my website blog, which has since become a news page. https://www.amandasperkinscrochetblankets.com/blog 
I feel this is an important post to re-post before I delete it from my website as it charts a couple of years of my journey.

This is a cathartic outpouring that a need to write so I can move on, so you can stop reading now if you don't want to read doom and gloom.
I'm very anxious, but excited at the same time, I invest a lot of time and emotion in my books and have come to realise writing books makes me anxious and depressed.

July 2015
I cried for the last 6 months of writing Rainbow Crocheted Blankets, at the time I thought it was due to having to shut NDS and found it very difficult working with an editor who made changes to my manuscript I didn't like, I felt out of control as I was powerless to do anything about the bits I didn't like as the editor had the last say. Don't get me wrong she was a lovely girl and doing the best she could with a difficult author and produced a beautiful book, but it wasn't exactly the book I would of published.

December 2015
The day the final manuscript went to print was the day the world became a better place and I stopped crying. After the experience I vowed never to write another book.

I self published a couple of booklets of blanket patterns and in October Rainbow Crocheted Blankets was published, it was a huge success, by this time I'd forgotten how depressed I'd been and started thinking about a new book.

January 2017
I was approached by an agent and started making blankets, the new book was going to be called Watercolour Crochet Blankets and focus on the colour blending technique I used in my blankets.

May 2017
A couple of publishers weren't interested, but a third publisher was really enthusiastic and I went to a meeting. The meeting was fantastic, the publisher was excited and keen to work with me, she wasn't keen on the watercolour idea, said I should make blankets I want to make rather than try and stick to a theme, so the new version of the book became Circles Crochet Blankets. I came away feeling rejuvenated and full of new ideas. The only down side was the final decision would be made by the US office and they wouldn't have a commissioning meeting until September.

September 2017
Bert was born and my life took on new meaning.

December 2017
September came and went, October came and went, November came and went, all without a decision. The US office had the meeting in December and loved the book, the UK office started planning photo shoots and layouts, but still no decision.
During this time my beloved Billy cat died, I was heartbroken and retreated into myself a little.

January 2018
After long negotiations with my agent the publisher decided not to go ahead with the book because even though I'd sold over 30,000 copies of Rainbow Crocheted Blankets the numbers didn't add up and they weren't prepared to pay me the price I asked for.

February and March 2018
My agent approached several more publishers including my existing publisher, they were all keen and made offers, BUT none of them would improve on the deal I already had.
This left me feeling worthless and empty that no one considered that my book was worth investing in. But I was not prepared to work for a pittance to pay for some else's skying holiday while we struggle to make ends meet, so I turned all the offers down.

April 2018
I decided to self publish on Amazon, I did a test run with Madder Triangles, which I renamed Crochet Madder Triangles so the search engines would pick it up. I wish I could say it was a huge success, but it hasn't been, so even though it didn't fill me with joy I was really happy with the book its and proud that I produced it on my own. So I started work on the manuscript for Circles Crochet Blankets.

May 2018
My beloved Loki dog died and we were/are still devastated, I still can't look at a German Shepard without crying, his death has broken us all. I didn't realise it was possible to grieve so much for a dog, but like Billy he had been with us through all our trauma's of the past. Probably the worst part was watching Tinks grieve, she didn't understand and had lost her life long companion, she stopped eating, playing, didn't run anymore just lay on the sofa and sighed.
We were told our house was going to be sold and couldn't afford to buy it so needed to find a new home, this broke me even further, but I kept writing the book, often through tears and anxiety that we wouldn't be able to find somewhere new.

June 2018
We found and moved into our new flat and even though I miss my big garden its perfect for the 2 of us and has a south facing courtyard, my mood lifted a bit and I enjoyed the summer.

July 2018
I watched Bert trying to pick the circles up off one of the blankets and realised that I should be making a book for him. So Circles Crochet Blankets was split in 2, I only had 8 blankets which wasn't enough for two books, so I chose eight of my existing patterns (four for each book) which fitted with the themes of the two new books, which are Bert's Crochet Baby Blankets and Moorland Crochet Blankets which will be published next year.

August 2018
We brought home Oberon (Ron) our new lurcher puppy, Tinks hated him, 3 months later she's still not that keen, but when she's not snapping at him they play and run together and best of all she isn't grieving anymore. Ron has brought new energy into our life, he'll never be loki or Billy, but he helps fill the gaps they left and given us someone new to love.

November 2018
The Beast my beloved land rover died. I know most people won't understand why I feel sad about a car, but I've always loved driving and my cars are an extension of myself, plus the Beast was one of the few things I had left of NDS.

By this time I'd almost stopped social networking, I haven't talked to several close friends for nearly a year, I've buried myself deeper and deeper in my pit of self doubt and depression.
I have nothing new or interesting to say, why would anyone want to buy the book? I'd decided to publish Bert's book and the Moorland book and then give up writing patterns completely, maybe edit a few of the old ones, but quietly fade into obscurity, no one would notice.

December 3rd 2018
Today is the day I upload the manuscript and press submit on Bert's Crocheted Baby Blankets, I can already feel the world is a brighter place, even though I'm on my second attempt at uploading the file, the first pdf writer I used corrupted the file ....grrrr
Maybe its helped writing this blog post, maybe I've cried all the tears I have left, maybe its because 2 years of disappointment and heart break are over.
I feel the fight is still within me,
I have at least another 2 books in me after Moorland Crochet Blankets, I need to rewrite and re-publish Desirable Crochet Motifs and Bert is going to be a big brother in March so I will need to do another baby book for my second grandchild.
Moorland Crochet Blankets isn't going to be anywhere near as  big an emotional roller coaster that Bert's book has been.
In the past year I've watched Bert grow from a tiny baby into a naughty but charming toddler,
I've always been surrounded by my loving family,
I have naughty Ron to love and cuddle (even though he's all legs and going to be a lot bigger than we thought.
I have a tiny flat I love and am really happy in.
And we've got another ridiculous car that drinks petrol, this one doesn't have a name, but goes very fast and is totally unsuitable for life on the moor