A Compendium of Challenges

2016-star-2 2016-star 2016-tree-1 2016-trees-1

These are toppers for this year’s Christmas cards, ready for some shading and colour.





As you may or may not be aware, I’ve been a bit erratic with my posts over the last few weeks and have missed a few Diva Challenges too. I’m recovering nicely from the op now, although I still have trouble drawing, as leaning over the desk pulls at the neck muscles, but I’m getting there. Anyway, it’s time to get back on the bike, so to speak, so this week I’m doing a catch up on the Challenges I’ve missed.

I’d started this post a week or more ago, then had a visit from Rachel and Ben, so it went on the back burner. Below is the post I started, followed by the slightly more up to date stuff.


That’s what my grandfather used to say whenever I  was in a rush to get things finished. (Most of the time…) Well it may be a virtue but I’m still struggling to cultivate it, 60+ years later. (He tended to have a twinkle in his eye when he said it, so I suspect he knew how hard it was for me to wait for things.) And at the moment my patience is sorely tested because I’m not getting better fast enough. I suspect, in medical terms, I’m doing just fine, but it’s not fast enough for me. I can’t bend over my desk to draw for more than a few minutes before I have to go and lie down to straighten my back. And I have to lie down for longer than I was drawing, so every little thing takes too long.

And I forget what it was I was going to do next, so when I get back to my desk, I sit and stare ruefully at the pen,  in the knowledge that I had something in mind when I left the table but it’s floated off into the ether, never to return. I’m behind with my swaps for FB so I really want to get going. Dammit.

And, and, and.. well, it’s time to start making Christmas cards and I’m full of ideas and I’ve probably got all the stuff to make them,  but I need to get the swaps done first.  I mentioned last week that I was reverting to childhood and, as I read what I’ve just written, I realise I’m whining. I can tell that the next thing I say will be “But Muuuuuuu-uuum…”

However, and probably unfortunately, I can sit at the computer and play games. Oh dear.

So I had a look to see what the Diva Challenge was and she says:


Weekly Challenge #281: “Tangle study-ING”

When i was in Providence for CZT training #15 Molly introduced us to the tangle ING – you can see the step outs here

I learned it along with my fellow CZTs and i admit that i haven’t used it much since then.  In fact i’ve only used it once or twice since then – so it’s about time.  I haven’t really wrapped my head around it so that i can do it without looking at the step outs, but i’m working on it.


Now I happen to love this pattern and, since the latest swap is to do a monotangle, I’m going to kill two birds with one stone and do this Challenge for a swap tile. But it may take a while, sigh…

IngsAnd here it is, plain and simple and quite a lot of white space, which I desperately want to fill. It’s taking all my willpower to leave it at that!

LATER, in fact, a couple of weeks later.

I sort of got lost in day to day life and when I surfaced it was two weeks later.

I’ve made the bottom tier of the wedding cake for my son (proper old fashioned fruit celebration cake, fed with brandy and sherry.) I did a practice run for the decorating, with fondant icing and bunting, which didn’t go entirely according to plan. The cake was good – not modest but truthful – but the decorating was awful. More practice needed.

I’ve shortened one of the bridesmaid dresses and have refused to do the other five. Well, dammit, I’m doing the cake; I made the invitations, menus, place settings and some decorations. I still have two cakes to make and three to decorate. Enough is enough.

And, you see, I’m waiting, not very patiently, for an appointment to see the consultant to get the all clear about my surgery. They told me I should see him again six to eight weeks after the op. eight weeks later and they haven’t even contacted me to make the appointment, let alone actually see the great man. Don’t get me wrong, I have no medical need to see him; all is going well and I am back driving and leading a pretty normal life. (Well, normal for me, that is…) But I was under the impression I would not be permitted to travel, i.e. fly, without his say so. Getting impatient, I mentioned this at a routine doctor’s appointment and, after checking the NHS guidelines, she told me, no, as long as you feel OK to fly, you can fly. You have no residual problems and no medication connected with the op. Wear compression socks, take an aspirin and you’ll be fine.

So I went home, told the loved one and within four hours we had a booked our next trip. Wheeeeee! Rhodes, here I come – again.

But before we go, we have another little trip planned, to Stratford upon Avon. We are going to overdose on history and Shakespeare. (I’m not entirely sure the loved one is looking forward to that part of it but…) And, as a special treat, I’m going to the RSC to see, not Shakespeare, but Margaret Atwood being interviewed about her new book. This is sooo exciting. I love her writing; even when I find it deeply disturbing, it is always a good read, I’ll tell you all about it when I get back.

I really love this pattern, so I filled it with Groovy and added a little Finery. Fun, fun, fun.

I really love this pattern, so I filled it with Groovy and added a little Finery. Fun, fun, fun.

Weekly Challenge #287: “UMT – Dreamcatcher by Daniel Lamothe”
And now here we are, the first Monday of October, so that means a Use My Tangle challenge (UMT)
 where we try our hand at one of tangles that you’ve created

I feel like Daniel’s tangles are coming up quite frequently by the old random number generator – but i’m super happy this one popped up.  It’s really quite beautiful, and easy, and looks amazing! i will most definitely be using this tangle again.



So, having only caught up with two Diva Challenges so far, I’ll say farewell for now and I’ll try to get back into the swing of things. Hopefully, I’ll be back next week, but, until then world, be good -ish.




A Tangle in Time


A scratch card bauble ready to start the first Christmas cards.

A scratch card bauble ready to start the first Christmas cards.

Have you read “A Wrinkle in Time” by Madeleine L’Engle? If not, why not? I read it at College and have loved it ever since. I won’t bore you with the details, you can read it for yourselves and make your own decisions but it is a fun and thoughtful, not to say thought provoking,  semi educational book with a science background, overlayed with fantasy. And it involves manipulating Time. Capital T.

Anyway, having recently re-read it, I was taken with the idea that the shortest distance between two points is not necessarily a straight line. It’s the tangling that does it. Some days, I go into my craft room and pick up a pen. I tangle and shade and go all over the place in my head  and then it’s lunchtime and I don’t know how we got there. But I’m relaxed and at peace with the world and, on occasion, I’ve produced something worth looking at too. And, and you’ll like this, I believe it slows the ageing process. We go into a sort of stasis and don’t age while we’re tangling. In fact, I sometimes wonder if I’m reverting to childhood… (It’s something the loved one has suggested on more than one occasion.)

Last night, a couple of neighbours came round for a drink, a natter about holidays and a bit of supper. Now anyone in the UK will know that when a Yorkshire person offers “a bit of supper” it really is inadvisable to eat for two or three days in advance. In a desperate attempt to avoid over catering, I didn’t shop until the morning in question and then bought DIY pizzas. That was it, a couple of pizzas. So, when we got home, I set the table and made a cake. (Apricot and walnut cake.) Well two cakes, actually – stem ginger cake too. And half a dozen Danish pastries. And a Greek salad and some humus and home made aioli and soda bread.  And sliced, grilled chicken breast. Thaaaaat’s better.

Now this was for four of us. And you know what? It almost all disappeared. Over catering? Pshaw!

I mentioned a couple of  weeks ago  that I’m taking part in a FB swap with England’s green and pleasant land as my theme. I’m hoping to finish them this week, although 12 ATC’s is more of a challenge than I thought. It’s because of sticking with the theme  and I’m finding it a bit limiting. But, of course, that’s the point. I’ve completed a couple more ATC’s since then and used some new to me patterns. May I recommend Up n Down, by CZT Kathy Barringer, it has a lot of mileage in it, I find. And K-Leesi, from Sharon Robinson, which reminds me of a couple of other patterns in method but is unique in the end result.

I’m also doing one based on monotangles and have been practising ideas with just one pattern, to see which patterns lend themselves to filling a whole tile with variations on the one theme. So far I’m thinking Dragonair, Betweed, Dooleedoo, Yful power and K-Leesi. I’m interested in what patterns YOU would go for. (They can all be one pattern or a different pattern on each tile but only ONE pattern per tile.) The focus pattern on Square One was OKE, which I don’t use very often but I tried it on scratch card and I quite like it.oke scratch card

And then it was diva Day. I wasn’t going to do the Challenge this week, as drawing is still quite uncomfortable and the results are rather iffy at present. In addition, the theme is the Rio Olympics:-


This week i received a text from my fellow Saskatonian CZT Margaret Bremner, suggesting the olympic be the theme of this week’s challenge – and i thought HECK YES!

So here’s my tile for this week’s challenge!  I read that the 5 olympic rings symbolize the continents Africa, Asia, America, Europe, and Oceania 
I added a laurel crown of Flux, and then tangled the background using Gold, Silver, and Bronze Sakura Gelly roll metallic pens. 
This week let the Olympics inspire you!
Have FUN!
I’m not a sporty person. I believe I have turned sedentary into an art form. I dislike organised sport and am suspicious of the dishonest way members of the Olympic ruling body have behaved. (And as for FIFA, don’t get me started.) In fact, as you might guess from my comments on patriotism a few weeks ago, I’m not keen on international competition, which is nationalistic and therefore potentially dangerous in my eyes.  However, if people want to run, jump, swim, throw etc for their country, it’s a damn sight better than wanting to kill or die for your country. So I’d have the Olympic Games in preference any time.

I tried drawing the rings and it was laughable so I decided to download them and use them as a string. Typing in “Rio olympics logo” I got what you see below. So I traced it, coloured it and patterned it and, you won’t believe this – I like it! Wowser.


I didn’t get it at first but it’s three people in a ring. (I thought it looked like a baby’s dummy!)

So that’ll do for this week. It’s been a slow and steady week for me but my neck is improving and I’ve even been out. But I’ll tell you about that another time. So, until then, world, be good – ish.





For the next swap - monotangle Dragonair, which I really enjoyed. It was done before the op so the wobbles are just the norm for me!

For the next swap – monotangle Dragonair, which I really enjoyed. It was done before the op so the wobbles are just the norm for me!

Aha, I hear you cry, it’s the new Star Wars robot.

A prototype car, perhaps?


Nope. It’s me. Or rather, it WAS me two weeks ago.

Neurosurgery ward 2  bay 4, bed D  at the Royal Hallamshire hospital in Sheffield.

Clearly a big event in my life, since it has kept me from both blogging and tangling for two weeks, so I’m going to tell you aaaaalllll about it. Alright, I won’t, I promise. Just the amusing bits.

It begins a week before the op,  when the loved one decided we should do a recce ready for my admission. The hospital is close to the city centre and the university, so traffic is gruesome and parking is a nightmare. Since I was to be admitted at 07.00 for surgery at 08.30, we decided that he would just drop me off at the door and go home to await news when I came out of theatre. So, on a quiet Sunday morning, a week in advance, when traffic would be at its quietest, we did a practice run to find the right entrance and see where he could drop me off.  And it went like clockwork – Road B, Day Surgery Entrance – easy peasy.

Come the day, we left home at 06.00, allowing a full hour for the journey,  because we were determined not to be late. The journey took 25 minutes because there were hardly any cars on the road but, since they don’t open the doors for admissions before 07.00, and you can only park for ten minutes because it’s a drop off only area, we wandered around until we found a side street where we could park and sat trying to think of things to talk about that wouldn’t be medical in any way, shape or form.  We redesigned the garden of the house we were parked in front of, criticised the paintwork on the one across the road, which had been somewhat neglected and discussed what the loved one would have for his evening meal. (Beef stew, by the way, home made, of course.) I tapped my fingers a lot and slyly checked the clock.

At last we set off up the hill towards the hospital but, to my surprise, instead of turning left at the junction and taking me to the exact spot where he had dropped me before, the erstwhile love of my life turned right along the bottom of the hospital, then left and left again, to approach from the opposite side.  I’m sure he had his reasons. I got out of the car looking around me a little bewildered because it didn’t look the same but how could it not be? Must be my memory or my state of nervous tension. I waved him off, took a VERY deep breath (I took a lot of them in the next few hours, believe me.) and walked across to the door, which not only was not open but was piled with chairs and cobwebs and clearly had not been used in a long time.  All it needed was tumbleweed… Was this a parallel universe? Nope. It was a parallel road. This was Road A and I wanted Road B but none of the doors were open because it was still before 07.00, so I couldn’t ask.

Eventually, not quite hyperventilating by this point,  I found a sign saying Theatre Admissions and followed it to a desk, behind which sat a very nice man who told me I was not on his list. More deep breathing. He did find me on someone else’s list and gave me directions round to Road B and off I went, panicking now because it is 07.03 and I am technically late. Finding the correct desk, I joined a queue, much relieved because you can’t be late if you’ve been waiting in a queue can you?

At this point all the admin process began and I was OK because things were happening.  One or two surprises – you don’t need pyjamas because you are in a theatre gown but you do need a dressing gown, which I don’t possess. And you need slippers, which I never wear so I had sandals which they didn’t want me to wear because they were out door shoes in a “sterile” environment. And they give you thick white compression socks to prevent DVT and you have to be measured for them. Measured for socks. Wow.  Eventually, after a tussle with said socks, which were resistant to the idea of being worn on chubby little legs like mine, I was walked down to theatre by a twelve year old who turned out to be Theatre Sister.

At this point I really was pretty much hyperventilating and more than willing to make a run for it as per Butch and Sundance if the chance arose. And then they started attaching wires and tubes, which doesn’t worry me all that much, it’s the scalpels that bother me. One thing I have noticed about anaesthetists over the years is that they have a dry sense of humour, which helps me a lot. So, when they asked me “Do you know what you’re having done today?”  I  replied that I would like a tummy tuck, a little collagen round the upper lip and a Mac n fries.  One of them replied that anyone wanting a Mac n fries at that time of day must be really sick and could he refer me for counselling afterwards? I liked him.

Done before the op for the Green and Pleasant Land Swap

Done before the op for the Green and Pleasant Land Swap

And that was that for three or four hours. I came to in my alter ago of N24D shortly before midday, with 22 staples in the back of my neck and off my trolley on various opiates. The loved one appeared for evening visiting and sat with an irritating grin on his face because I kept falling asleep mid sentence.   However, he brought me strawberries and cubes of melon, which, since I couldn’t sit up to take a drink and had oxygen tubes up my nose, giving me a mouth as dry as Nevada in July Sorry, had to use Nevada as nowhere in England is ever that dry, not EVER.) , were absolutely joyously received. I forgave him for dropping me at the wrong door that morning. I may never stop reminding him but I have forgiven.

Agreeing that he would return the following evening with some different clothes (for me, not him) and more fruit, he left to wend his lonely way home to an empty house, calling, it transpired later, at the pub on the way. Missing you already? Huh!

Patriotic swap 1

Also Done before the op for the Green and Pleasant Land Swap

Because of the drugs, I didn’t have a bad night except for one surreal experience, which I wondered the following morning if I had dreamt. I was gazing vacantly across the ward at some point in the early hours when I  focused on frantic movement in the cot/bed diagonally opposite. (There were four beds in the bay, three occupied.) There were limbs waving about all over the place and odd mewing sounds now and then. In my dazed state I had trouble identifying what limbs were where and suddenly realised that they were mainly legs, one over the side of the raised cot bars and one across the pillow. As I watched, they waggled about in my direction, revealing far more of the lady in question than I was prepared for. It was at this point that, even in my drugged state,  I realised there must be something seriously wrong and rang my buzzer for the nurse to come. I wasn’t quite sure how to explain my problem when she arrived but I managed to point mutely across the room. With one bound, she was across the ward, closed the curtains (much to my relief), called for another nurse and did whatever was needed.

Also Done before the op, for the Green and Pleasant Land Swap

Also Done before the op, for the Green and Pleasant Land Swap

She reassured me the following day that it really had happened and the lady in question had accidentally dislodged her intravenous pain relief and was, in fact, writhing in agony, unable to find her own call button, as it had slid down the side of the mattress. All I can say is, I’m glad I didn’t imagine it – I would be worried about an imagination like that!

And that was the end of Day 1. I’ll leave it there for now, although you may be getting hospital tales for weeks to come, as my sense of humour was tickled quite a few times. I’m hoping that I may be able to manage to hold a pen effectively by Monday and have a go at the Diva Challenge. Until then, world, be good – ish.

The first one I did for the swap.

The first one I did for the swap.

To be used as one of my Green and Pleasant Land Swap ATC's

To be used as one of my Green and Pleasant Land Swap ATC’s


And I CAN hold a pen, though not well, so I have an excuse for wobbly lines this week. I shall milk it for as long as I can. And the Challenge? Well, I did it, using the pattern Knightstar and thoroughly enjoyed it, only to discover that that was LAST week’s Challenge. Anyway, here it is and I shall add this week’s attempt when the painkillers kick in.

And it’s a tricky Challenge for me, as I find Meer a struggle. Why? You tell me, it ought to  be simple but I get the angle of the lines wrong. Anyway, for what it’s worth, just to get back on track, here’s my offering for Challenge 279. DC 279 2



Revisiting Lost Loves

One of several drawn in transit, in this case, on a plane.

One of several drawn in transit, in this case, on a plane.

I hope you’re not expecting salacious accounts of middle aged romance.  If you are, prepare to be disappointed. The lost loves in question are the patterns I first learned three years ago when I started tangling. Three years. It’s hard to imagine a life without tangling now. God that sounds sloppy, but it has taken up a lot of my life and, although I’m rarely satisfied with my drawings, I know they are improving and they give me enormous pleasure to do. The tangling community is amazing too.  There are quite a few people across the globe who I now regard as friends, some of whom I have never and probably will never meet, the distance being too great, but others, Suzanne Fluhr and Lynnell Harlow in particular,  I have met and found to be as likeable and funny in real life as they are on screen.

Another one drawn on a plane but this one feels incomplete to me, so I may be adding to it - when I have given it a bit of thought.

Another one drawn on a plane but this one feels incomplete to me, so I may be adding to it – when I have given it a bit of thought.

Another thing I am finding highly satisfying, and challenging, is the sharing with other people. The Diva Challenge is the first and best but I am also a member of several Facebook groups and one of them is for swapping work. The swap I am currently working on is a patriotic one, to do ATC’s which symbolise your love of your country. This is a tricky one for me. Having been brought up in the 1950’s and 60’s, I was inoculated with peace and love at a very impressionable age, when we were encouraged to see the world as a “Melting Pot” (Blue Mink), that boundaries and borders were what caused wars and that nationality came second to humanity. The corollary, of course, was that patriotism led to jingoism which led to war. So patriotism doesn’t come easily to me. Continue reading

Diva Challenge 275

I'm sending this to Michele Wynne as a little mini swap. I tried hard to echo her style with muted colours but I haven't got it right yet.

I’m sending this to Michele Wynne as a little mini swap. I tried hard to echo her style with muted colours but I haven’t got it right yet.

Well last weeks’s Challenge  didn’t suit me at all but this week is just the opposite. My friend Suzanne Fleur is standing in as Guest Challenger and asks us to “Give peace a chance” and, as John Lennon’s daftest but most devoted fan, I will join in with enthusiasm.  I haven’t decided what to do yet but I’m looking forward to it.

And I’ve finally got a date for my surgery -July 25th. In spite of the fact that I have every confidence in both the surgeon and the efficacy of the procedure, I find myself looking at everything as if for the last time; going to places and trying to fix them in my memory; even trying to be reasonably nice to people, as if I want them to remember me well. Personally,  I blame Lucy Maud Montgomery.

Continue reading

On the Road Again, Again..

Sunset over Lardos.

Sunset over Lardos.

By now I had expected to be recuperating  from my neck surgery but no such luck. When they said June, they meant to whole process would start in June, tests and appointments and so on. The op is now scheduled for August. Dammit. Don’t want it but want to get on with it. Anyway, the loved said a just the right thing;

“Well, we could probably fit in another trip if you like”

If I like. I mean, honestly, if I  like. So we’re off to Rhodes in the morning. Wheeeee!

It’s a bit hectic, as I needed a haircut and some waxing and to pack and… But I will fit it all in somehow. Continue reading

Family Matters

Yes it does. In spite of one or two annoying little habits they may have, my family are the best. You may think yours are better but that’s because you haven’t met mine. Last weekend we went to the coast to meet up with our son, his fiancee and their daughter, who were having a short break by the sea so that he could then spend his birthday present from us on a trip on a steam train on the North Yorks Moors Railway. He’s something of an enthusiast for railways – we don’t call them trainspotters in our house.

Image result for north yorkshire moors railway(http://www.nymr.co.uk/)  https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=uEv6S6Iga5E

Isla making a bid for freedom.

Isla making a bid for freedom.

So we met them in Scarborough, right down on the seafront and Isla, the two year old, couldn’t wait to run down to the sea, first with Mummy and then with Grandad and Daddy. I assumed the role of official photographer, as my current spinal condition leaves me a bit rickety for running on the sand chasing two year olds who can outstrip me in moments. Needless to say, she fell in the water and Daddy had to run in after her, getting his shoes wet. Served him right, I thought, the daft lump should have taken them off as soon as he hit the sand. (They had spare clothes for Isla but not for Daddy. Ooops.)

We strolled along the sea front, trying not to buy ALL the grockle in the souvenir shops – just a few sticks of rock, a toy elephant, a hammer that makes squeaky noises, a map for the car and a plastic toilet which contains a type of putty that, when you squeeze it, makes farty noises. The epitome of good taste. Continue reading