Channelling my Inner African Queen / Girl With a Pearl Earring!

The sun is shining, and I am feeling good so I wanted to share with you some of the lovely things that have been going on  for me.

Generally speaking, having chemotherapy cannot be described as lovely.  In fact at certain times it is distinctly unlovely and very hard to deal with.  However, there are always silver linings, and if it had not been for the breast cancer I would not have discovered just how many wonderful and supportive people there are out there who care about me and others like me who are going through the Cancer Mill. Thank you One And All.

If it had not been for the chemotherapy I would not have discovered Mindfulness and taken the time to go on a course at the Maggies Centre.

If it hadn’t been for the hair loss I would not have discovered the joy of experimenting with funky headgear.

And if it had not been for the support at Jewellery Maker, I would not have met so many lovely people, especially my fellow Guest Designers who have been sending me fantastic, thoughtful, charming and lovely gifts to keep me going.

Below are the beautiful brooches that Frankie Gaywood, a fellow GD made for me. She crocheted them, and sent me the delightful tag card with them.  There is a lovely little crochet butterfly on the card that I will use at some point too, but I love looking at the card, so it won’t be coming off there just yet.

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They look fab on one of my hats that Erica Thomson and I made together using some absolutely gorgeous hand dyed silk that Ruth Brown of Stonecreek Silks gave me. Until I took this photo I had not thought of wearing all four of them together, but they do look rather good don’t you think?
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From the fantastic stash of scrummy stuff that all the JM Guest Designers gave me I have only just managed to start making things, and below is my first make.  It combines some lovely knitted wire that I think is supposed to go around cabochons to form an instant bezel, but I used it as a base to stitch on some of the lovely yarns and shell beads etc that were in the overflowing bag.Blue-Swag-6As I am sure you know, I have been having fun experimenting with things to put on my head to cover my mangey baldness. I say mangey because, rather weirdly I lost 90% of my hair rather than all of it, and there is still a very sparse little bit hanging on in there, which is in fact growing a tiny bit now.  So my pate is not the shiny ping pong ball of my imagination, but a sphere of widely spaced individual hairs that look a bit like a micro forest after some ecological disaster!

Anyway, I thought the following photos might help others who have no hair for whatever reason, try out some new looks.

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This is a hijab bonnet (like a short windsock) with a really bold scarlet and black scarf tied around it.  Accessorising with bold colour helps me commit to the look.  For someone who never previously wore a hat, putting such boldness on my head was a leap of faith. Once I tried it, I found I loved it.  Make up however, is not something I like putting on too often!

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It is fun deciding what combination of scarves and hijab bonnets or head bands I will wear that day.  This particular combination is an orange headband with a hijab “sock bonnet” on top with a knitted festival band twisted with a retro orange scarf on top.  The lovely scarf was given to me by my friend Jane Wain, a fellow member of Nolitex, the exhibiting group I belong to. I am missing being a part of what they are doing at the moment as we have an exhibition coming up at Papplewick Pumping Station in Nottinghamshire.  I am normally a very active part of the group and would have a number of pieces on exhibition.  This time there is only the one piece that I have managed to do, plus a contribution to a collaborative piece with Judith Burnett, and my drawings are the basis for the designs for our group piece.  If you want to know more about “Engineered”, just visit our blog or FB page.

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Even on less colourful days, rummaging around in my scarf collection yields some fun results.  The white scarf was a freebie with a T shirt I bought last year.  I am also wearing a polymer clay pendant and earring set that I made last year at Polydays. Debbie Bulford was also there making fabulous stuff.

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Have you heard of Buffs?  I had no idea about them until my youngest son told me about them. I went in search of them and found some really fabulous faux Buffs on Ali Express and Ebay.  Absolutely perfect for tying a knot in and adding some height to my round head.

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Layering up again, but the check band is actually the cut off bottom of a T shirt twisted around twice.20150417_141517

Discovering Buffs (and faux Buffs) led me to making some modified versions with Erica.  This is one of my favourites. I found some great material on the market, and with the help of Erica and her overlocker and yarn supply we made a much longer “sock”. I have layered it up with a lace hijab band.

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Now this is my current absolute favourite because I am a sucker for silk.  Ruth Brown’s absolutely-totally-delicious hand dyed silk is simply gorgeous to wear as it is so soft on my head.  She sent me 4 different pieces of silk and I am going to use them all!  Erica had some off-cuts from a T shirt that she had made years and years ago, and there was just enough to make a band.  The colours are wonderful together, and I adore this piece.

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My collection of brooches is growing. Not only do I have the lovely crochet roses that Frankie Gaywood made me, but I have been making a foray into needle felting, and the three brooches on the left are the result (along with some weird flowers and a rather cute penguin!). The brooch on the left is simply stitch on some commercial felt.  I was not following any design with these brooches, I just went with what felt (get the joke?) right at the time.  They all have some stitch on them, and may or may not end up with some beads as well.  I have sculpted them with extra needle felted wool tops on the reverse to give them curved shapes.

Needle felting is actually very soothing and something I can do even when I am not feeling up to much.  I won’t begin to attempt it on the worst days of the chemo cycle though, or I would end up with blood over everything due to my inability to concentrate, those felting needles are vicious!

Next chemo (cycle 4) is this week, so wish me luck as I will be on a different drug and the oncologist keeps telling me how awful it can be.  I am not going to believe her just yet, as the chemo nurse said that some people find it easier than the drug cocktail I had before.  Consequently I am gathering all the positive vibes I can, and hoping that the ride will not be too rough.

See you on the other side of the rough stuff.

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