Sydney Frocktails 2022

After a 3 year hiatus Sydney Frocktails finally made a comeback and I had to be part of it. If you are unfamiliar with the term Frocktails it is basically a party for people who make their own clothes to come together for an evening of hanging out and chatting about all things sewing. It is the only time that you can go up to random strangers and start feeling what they are wearing without getting arrested for it! I actually heard the phrase “It is like the Oscars, so who are you wearing?” It is a fun night, you can go up to anyone and just start chatting about patterns and fabrics.

Frocktails is a weekend for me and not just a night. It is always held in the city so Womble and I go into the city for a couple of nights as a mini holiday, I take a day off work, we go in Friday and come back Sunday. It makes it more enjoyable and at the end of the night I only have to jump in a taxi back to the hotel instead of trying to get back to western Sydney where we live. This time we stayed at a new hotel for us. It was our first time away in over 3 years so it was actually a weekend I was looking forward to from August when Frocktails was announced, and tickets went on sale.

For my outfit this time call it cheating, call it one I prepaid earlier, I wore what I originally had planned on wearing to Frocktails 2020. After I made my outfit I then decided not to go as it was close to when were about to move but Covid cancelled the event anyway. It was a Cashmerette outfit of the Cedar Dolmain top and Turner Skirt (hack of the Turner Dress) I did actually make a couple of accessories to go with my main outfit so I did do a little Frocktails sewing. I didn’t have a suitable bag so I made a Mini Day Tripper by DUMD patterns and Burda cape. Both items I have made before and will do details posts on them in the future. An hour before the event I found myself at the hotel hand sewing the ear loops of a black reusable masks I brought for the event as it was too big for me when I tried it on prior to leaving.

Normally at any event the introvert in me takes over and I have to leave after a certain time, I did have a moment where I had to step away from the main crowd as it just got too much for me. I went to a quieter area, ended up chatting to someone I know from Instagram but had never chatted to before, someone else joined us and we had a really insightful conversation about textile production and sewing. The time out just made me at ease again so that I could go back to the crowd. I did step out of my comfort zone a little mingling more than I normally do. It was really enjoyable night. The night was 5 hours and I stayed for over 4 hours which is really good for me. For the last 2 nearly 3 years as we’ve all had to stay isolated as such, you became closer to those online, as really they were your contact to the outside world. If you followed people of Instagram or were in a Facebook group together, you got to know them a bit more. At an event like Frocktails you were having real life conversations with people you have connected too online for so long, you were meeting your online friends in real life. Many people made the comment “I haven’t talked this much in 3 years”

As an adult it is fun to get a “goodie bag” as you leave a party and all attendees got the best goodie bag ever. It was filled with some many treats it was hard to photograph. Some of the items included

  • 1m of fabric from Lush Fabrics
  • 2 sewing patterns
  • Pressing cloth
  • Tape measure
  • Christmas decoration
  • Nail file
  • Sew In labels
  • Point turner
  • Seam gauge
  • Discount vouchers
  • Fabric swatches

Each bag contained a different piece of fabric with a note saying what the fabric was. I got a black rib knit DTY. It is lovely and soft but I’m not sure what I will make with it yet. The Style Arc pattern looks interesting so I might venture out of my comfort zone and give it a try. The labels I know I won’t use so I plan on contacting an Instagram buddy to see if she would like them. 

The date for Frocktails 2023 has already been announced and I have told Womble we’re away that weekend. It should be fun. Now to start planning on my outfit.

Cassiy

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2022 Charity Bags

Each November we put together 3 charity bags for the annual Share The Dignity “It’s In The Bag” campaign. It is really simple idea fill a bag up with essential items that a women might need such a toiletries and period products. The bags are dropped off at Bunnings for collection and distribution to local shelters and refuges. This year the collection dates are Nov 18th – 27th so there is still time to donate or you can always sponsor a bag if you don’t have time.

Even though drop off is in November collecting and making for the bags begins from when we drop off the current bags. We put together 3 bags each year. We are on limited income, so I budget $20 per bag and try to stay under it.
Items in our bag this year were

  • Shampoo and Conditioner (essential)
  • Deodorant (essential)
  • Body wash (essential)
  • Toothbrush and toothpaste (essential)
  • Pads and Tampons (essential)
  • Moisturiser 
  • Tissues
  • Stockings
  • Lip balm
  • Brush
  • Washing powder
  • Nail brush
  • Shower puff
  • Nail file
  • Perfume samples
  • Beanie
  • Scrunchie
  • Toiletry bag
  • Face washer
  • Face masks

The charity askes for all the essential items to be included but after that it is up to your discretion as to what you add in. Food, medications and contraception items are not allowed. I came under budget by 32c. Some items were handmade so that saved money, handmade items are allowed you just need to say who made them and they must be made from new supplies (not upcycled) All the bags are inspected by volunteers who collect the bags from the store and distribute them to the different charities. I put a note in each bag saying about the homemade items.

I’m part of Facebook group for those who collect for the bags. There was some discussion late last year as to what “extras” to put in as you can easily get carried away when putting together the bag. I tried to look at it from the point of view “If I was homeless or in a shelter with limited space what would I want in a bag” I tried to keep it to just practical items but admittedly some items such as the nail brush and shower puff weren’t. I don’t want the bags to be too heavy or bulky to move about with. 

So now the collection next year starts. On my phone I have of items for the bags with some prices so I know if I’m getting a bargain or not. I’m always on the lookout for freebies to add as extras. I have a few items on my list to make. I enjoy the year round process of these bags. 

Cassiy

Remembrance Day Display

At the end of September I found out that the Sydney Eye Hospital had put out all the call asking people to make poppies for their Remembrance Day display. I knew straight away it was a project I wanted to be part of.

On the hospital’s website was a link to a couple of patterns but you could use any pattern. The poppies could be made from any media but I opted for knitted ones. I used one of the patterns on the link but did it a little different.

Basic Pattern using straight needles
Cast on 52

Rows 1 – 6 knit 2×2 rib in red yarn
Rows 7 – 9 k2tog in black yarn
Cut yarn, thread through remain stitches and pull tight

Seam up side seam of poppy

I used the same pattern but instead of using straight needles I used a circular needle, joined the stitches in the round and knitted them magic loop style. It was similar size to knitting the cuff on a sock. Using magic loop eliminated the side seam at the end, I’m not good at doing seams. The poppies were really quick to knit up.

When you do the magic loop method if you do knit stitches every row all your knit stitches appear as pearl stitches every row, it does my head in how that happens. For the first poppy I made when doing the decreases I alternated each row doing k2tog on the first row, p2tog on the second row, k2tog third row. By switching between knit stitches and pearl stitches each row it creates a garter stitch pattern. As the black section was only 3 rows long from the second poppy on I didn’t bother changing stitches each row as you couldn’t tell. It made the pattern super easy to remember – 52 stitches, rib 6 rows, decrease 3 rows, end off

For the yarn I used 8ply acrylic yarn that was in my stash. In the end I managed 36 poppies in around 2 weeks of knitting.

By chance we were in Sydney on Remembrance Day and were able to visit the display. It was lovely to see the field of poppies. I’m proud that I was able to contribute to it.

Cassiy

Book – 101 Ways To Go Zero Waste

Borrowing books from my local library is something that I should do more often. My library has an online catalogue that you can view and reserve books ahead of time so that they are ready for you to check out when you get there. I was actually borrowing another book when I looked up zero waste books and came across 101 Ways To Go Zero Waste by Kathryn Kellogg and decided to borrow it as well.

I didn’t read anything up about this book, I had no idea who Kathryn was. When I first opened it and discovered she was American I’ll be honest my first thought was this book isn’t going to be of any use to me. I thought it would be referencing shops or practices that they do in the US. I have Erin Rhoad’s books, Erin is Australian, so I have local books that reference eco-friendly options near me. By reading the name of this book you would think it would be 101 tasks to do to live a “zero waste” lifestyle like swap this item for this item, it isn’t, instead it is 101 concepts or ideas to change your habits or actions therefor making relevant to anyone no matter which country they live in. It is similar to Erin’s book but at the same time different which made it enjoyable to read. Like with Erin’s books Kathryn’s tone isn’t that of a lecture but more of an explanation of the benefits of changing your habits, the book isn’t full of green washing guilt.

In Australia we have always recycled. I can remember collecting aluminum cans when I was a kid for my school who would get money for them. Kerbside recycling where the garbage man would come in special recycling trucks to collect paper and bottles started in the early 90’s. You can recycle a lot more now than you could before in your kerbside bin, different shops take back other items which can’t go in the kerbside collection. You can get cashback per back per item if recycle bottles and cans at special collection points, which is great if you a car to get there but not an option for all. Recycling is really pushed now, which is great that there are more options and more people doing it, but it isn’t the magic solution that is implied to be. That is the biggest message I took away from this book. Recycling is great but we need to think reduce and reuse more with recycling being the last option and not the first.

The nitty gritty. The book has a small introduction section and then is broken into 10 chapters

  1. Change Starts Here – Beginner Steps
  2. Kitchen and Cooking
  3. Bathroom Products and Personal Care
  4. Cleaning
  5. Becoming A Conscious Consumer
  6. Work, School and Out To Eat
  7. Travel and Transportation
  8. Special Events
  9. Zero Waste and Beyond
  10. The Big Picture

Some of the chapters are based on areas of the home whilst others are situations you may encounter. The book addresses how waste can occur in each area or about issues you may not have thought and what ideas you can try to overcome the waste issue. In chapter 9 it even discusses options for burials including an item called a reef ball where your ashes are mixed with concrete then placed in the ocean to build a habitat for fish. I had never heard of that idea but it is fascinating, it is available in Australia I have since discovered.

Each of the 101 ideas are on a separate page so you can read them in bite size chunks. Some ideas are only a page long whilst others are like mini chapters themselves for example 89. Gifts Ideas is 9 pages long. It is really easy to read and once you start you want to keep reading. I read this in just over a day in between doing a heap of chores around the home. I’d pick it up and read a couple of ideas and then think about them as I was doing my chores. 30 mins before I needed to start dinner so I sat and read instead of watching tv or playing on my phone. As the book is more ideas or concepts based it got your brain thinking of how you could incorporate that into your life.

Prior to reading this I thought zero waste living was putting as little in your rubbish bin as possible. I now understand it is more a lifestyle which intertwines with minimalism, sustainability and even to a point frugalism. It is about being more conscious of the decisions you make. The book acknowledges that you will never be 100% zero waste, it is impossible. It encourages you to be more mindful in your actions and habits. Instead of looking at dealing with waste product at the end, how do you prevent it from happening at the start. Look at how you consume products from big things to little things.

Before I had even finished the book I knew I wanted a copy for our home so I ordered a copy of it from my local bookshop. It is a book that I want to reference back to in the future it. There is a lot of information in it. Reading it the first time I had ideas pop into my head of changes I could make. I have started to change things. Over the weekend instead of tossing out the serviettes that came with our takeaway dinner I kept them aside to use if we need a paper towel. We don’t use a lot of single use paper towels these days as we use reusable ones but on the rare occasion that we do, we can grab a servette. I accidently broke my phone charger (it got sucked up in the vacuum cleaner) My phone has had a cracked screen for months so my first thought was ok time to get a new phone but by the time I reached the shops I’d thought about it and only purchased a new charger. The crack isn’t impacting my phone, it is still very functional, so I only purchased the item I really needed instead of replacing the entire thing.

I’m not pretending to be perfect, I still have a lot of single use products in my life that I am trying to find solutions for. This book is another tool to help me.

Cassiy

2022 Charity Face Masks

Once again I’m including face masks in with the charity bags.

I took a different approach to selecting fabrics for this years masks. I use knit fabric ties for the ear loops instead of elastic. They are more comfortable and stand up to washing really well. Last year I had some faulty grey fabric which I couldn’t sew with as it would fall apart on the fault lines but I could cut up between the faults and use as ear loops. I started with my ear loop fabric and hit my stash. Earlier this year I pulled out a grey floral fabric in my stash that I was going to use in another project but never did. I set it aside and came across it again when making the masks. It was perfect, the fabric was a thick quilting cotton which I like to use in masks. It has a purple colour running through it. After cutting out another project I had a leftover piece of lilac fabric so I decided to use that as the inside of the masks. It wasn’t the same colour as the purple on the outside but it was purple so it did look like a theme. I used lilac thread for my top stitching to match it all together.

I’m really happy with how these turned out as it was a very sustainable sewing project. I was able to use up some faulty in a practical way. I used up a leftover piece of fabric. I was able to make useful items to add in the charity bags.

Cassiy

New Washing Machine

Did I ever think I would blog about getting a new washing machine? Are you kidding me! Who would blog about that? Getting a new washing machine isn’t just a simple task and here is why.

The weekend before last our washing machine started to play up. I noticed it when a load that would normally take about an hour to wash took nearly 3. I wasn’t paying attention to the time until it had been on for nearly 2 hours. I was washing a king size quilt cover and it was when the machine went off balance during the rinse cycle a couple of times I realised it was taking too long. The sensor wasn’t picking up the load was done and it would start another rinse cycle. I cut the power to it in the end. I tried the machine the next day and the same thing happened. I had suspected we would need a new machine at some point. Earlier this year I had a repairman come out to service it and replace one of the hoses. I asked him how long washing machines last these days, I didn’t expect them to be like the old machines which would last over 20 years. He said about 10 years and advised me not to spend anymore money repairing this one. Our machine was 11 years old, I didn’t want a situation where the machine broke when it was half full of water. With the sensor failing it was time to replace it.

I have had new washing machines before, this is number 4 for me. My first 2 machines I got rid off because they were too small or I wasn’t happy with how they were washing; the clothes just weren’t clean. I have always purchased washing machines without any thought. When we lived in our old place the lack of thought process came back to bite me as I ended up with a machine that was too big for our laundry. The dimensions of the machine itself fitted but I couldn’t open the lid up fully as we had a dryer attached to the side wall which came out past the top of the machine. I’d hold the lid up with one hand and handle the laundry with the other. When not in use I would have the lid wedged open with plastic container for air flow. I did this for years. I was excited at the new place to finally open the lid.

When it came to deciding on a new machine this time I paid attention. Our laundry is tiny, it has a sink, dryer (which we have never used) and small space for a machine. Our previous machine was 10kg capacity. For 2 people it might sound big but I wash queen and king bed size linen. I think a king is about 210cm x 210cm. At times I wash metres and metres of fabric. I need a machine that can handle that. We can only have top loader machines; front end loaders are too difficult for us to get items easily in and out of as bending low and forward is not our friend. 
The important things in the new machine were

  • Physical size of machine
  • Water temperature 
  • Load capacity
  • Energy efficiency
  • Water efficiency
  • Price  

Unfortunately, we didn’t have the dimensions of our machine to see how big it was. We tried measuring it but we didn’t know how accurate we were. 

I went online to the Bing Lee website. Bing Lee is a chain of electrical stores which have been operational since 1957. The foundation store, headquarters and warehouse are relatively close to our place. We’ve brought lots of stuff from them over the years. On their website I was able to look at a range of machines, I was surprised that some machines don’t have the option of washing with cold water. We were able to compare 3 machines and could see their features directly side by side. Out of all the machines it was only the LG brand which had both the heights of the machine with the lid closed and opened. That was important to us after experiencing for years what it is like if you don’t take that into consideration.

In the end we decided on a 9kg machine. It is 1kg smaller but that shouldn’t make that much difference. It was the same energy rating as the 10kg and 14kg. Admittedly the water efficacy wasn’t as high as the 10kg however we knew it was going to fit. Our biggest issue was space. We couldn’t afford for it not to fit. I do all the washing and I’m pretty good in terms of only washing when there is enough for a full load. One feature of the LG machines is they sense the weight that is put in them and adjust the water accordingly. Unless you choose to manually change the water capacity and put it at full setting it won’t fill the machine up to capacity so there are ways to save on water. I was able to ring the warehouse and purchase the machine over the phone. I don’t know what the shops are like now but for a long time it was hard to get big electrical items due to Covid and lockdowns. By contacting the warehouse directly, I knew if there was stock available, they would have it. Delivery was only $59 which included the removal of the old machine as well as all the packaging. That is great service for anyone but for someone with mobility issues that is perfect. I arranged delivery for the Saturday when I was home, by 8am my machine had been delivered, installed and the first load on.

For future reference (not that it will be any time soon) the dimensions of the machine are
Width – 632mm
Height – 1020mm
Lid Open – 1390mm
There is some room at the sides and above with the lid open so we could have gone a bit slightly wider and taller but never mind I’m very happy with the one we got. It is much quieter than the last one, I guess things change in 10 years.

Next time you need to buy a washing machine take the time to do some research and think about it. If you live in an apartment or rental property it is really important to think about the size or potential size of your laundry. Think about the existing items in your laundry and how your machine will fit in with those. Don’t forget the lid, it adds height to the machine. Consider how much it going to cost to run your machine in terms of power and water. Can you use cold water, or will you be forced to only wash in hot? What impact will that have on your power bills not to mention the items you are washing?

Buying a washing machine wasn’t as simple as I thought.

Cassiy

Emoji Pillows

I do love a simple project and these pillows fall into the simple project category. If you are wanting an easy gift to make for Christmas this year these pillows are perfect.

There are a few YouTube videos on how to make emoji pillows but I used the free Patterns For Pirates pattern as my inspiration. You purchase the pattern by adding it to your cart from their shop but you don’t actually pay anything during checkout. I “purchased” the pattern and had thought I’d printed it out but when it came to making it I couldn’t find it so I’m thinking I never printed it. This is one toy which you don’t really need to print the pattern, I just traced around a dinner plate for the circles. I’ll discuss the facial features a little later. The pattern doesn’t come with instructions but there is a tutorial on how to make it here. If you are new to toy making the tutorial is good to follow, if you are a seasoned toy maker like myself you’ll easily work out how to make it.

The pattern has the pieces for the heart face but the crazy face I just made up myself. I found myself studying emojis on my phone to see how it was. For the hearts and white eye circles I used my Sizzix Big Shot to cut the pieces from scraps of wool felt. The mouth shape I drew out on a piece of trace and toile. I made the crazy mouth a little smaller than the mouths on the heart pillow. In my “study” I saw that the mouth is smaller on the crazy emoji. For the tongue and black pupils I just free hand cut shapes from wool felt scraps. I attached all the features on by hand. Originally I used a running stitch but after the first face was done I didn’t like it so I unpicked it all and used a blanket stitch instead. I used a double strand of embroidery floss as my thread.

To stuff these I used a mixture of hobby fill and leftover yarn scraps. One thing I did learn is that if you stuff a pillow/toy with something other than hobby fill such as threads or yarn either make sure the fabric you are stuffing is dark or that you place threads/yarn in the centre and not near the fabric otherwise you will see them. I placed a heap of scraps in before the hobby fill then had to shift them into the centre of the pillow as you could see them through the yellow. When you only have about a 1″ gap open to stuff your item it can be very tricky shifting things around inside. 

These will become 2 Christmas gifts for this year and one birthday gift for next year. Finishing these in July is the earliest I’ve ever made a gift for the next year. It was easy to make an extra one at the time of making these as everything I needed was already out right in front of me. Sadly this Christmas will be the last time I make gifts for 2 of these kids. The kids are getting a little bit older now. Sewing for girls is easier as you can keep doing bags of some description, boys are tricker. They get to an age where they are out growing soft toys and there is only so many pencil cases you can make for them. They will get presents in the form of gift vouchers most likely from now on as it isn’t fair to make for one child and not the other. I’m going to miss making gifts for them as I have had a lot of fun over the years making their stuff but it is time to stop. I’ll still be making gifts but that is 4 less gifts a year I’ll be making. 

Cassiy

Our Balcony

I have mentioned our balcony on here a couple of times before in different posts. I was planning on starting regular posts about our balcony and the garden we have created as it has grown from 3 plants when we first moved into now having a variety of plants and colour. Mr StitchNSew aka Womble is the gardener in our house but I’m starting to take more of an interest about what happens out there. I am clueless about plants and how to take care of them, I thought you just tipped water over them and that was it they grow. By complete chance Womble decided he wanted to start a blog about our garden, so I helped him set up Womble’s Balcony Garden. Even though I only have to look out the window to see it all I’m enjoying reading his posts as he has a natural talent for writing. I have decided I’m still going to start writing regular posts about our balcony adventures, our topics might crossover, but our writing styles are different.

The balcony is north facing and is very functional. The design mimics our apartment in the form of a rectangle. It is covered on top by the floor above and has walls at either end. The size is roughly about 5m x 2m. Although it is a relatively small space the rectangle design allows you to make use of the space effectively as there are no odd angles or wasted space. I think of it is a small space but compared to other balconies in our development it is on the large side. Last week Sydney broke record for wettest year ever but we do get a nice amount of sun on the balcony when it isn’t cloudy or raining. They are building a new development in our street, we are hoping not to lose too much sun from that once it is complete.

With the balcony undercover it gives us a place to dry our clothes outside on a clothes airer. The airer is low profile and you can’t see it above our balcony railing. The airer is a big money saver as we don’t need to put things in the dryer, in fact I have never plugged in the dryer which came installed in our laundry. Having the clothes airer outside saves precious space inside the apartment. There are only a few longer items and dresses which don’t get hung on the airer, I have a spot inside for those on an over the door airer. All the sheets, towels, even lengths of fabric are dried outside. It does take a few days for things to dry and you do have to plan your washing but we have enough clothing and linen that we can afford the time. Some items do dry in a day if it is windy or it is hot but most things take a few days or more. I’m guilty of not checking if things are dry and just leaving them out for the normal week but I really shouldn’t so to prolong the life of our items in terms of exposure to light and heat.

In 2020 I wrote when we first got a couple of chairs for the balcony, we have since gotten a 3rd chair. We couldn’t get the same style as the chairs we had, it is heavier and therefor is harder to move about. I’ll admit it isn’t as comfortable as the other chairs either, I plan on making cushions to solve this problem. The chair is still functional at the moment for when we do have to use it.

In Storage Solutions for Apartments, I mentioned the Ikea cupboard we have at one end. The cupboard is part of the Kolbjorn range, in July we got an additional storage unit from the range which sits beside it. This time we chose an enclosed cupboard with shelving at the top. I now hang the washing basket off one side of the shelves using a S hook. Even with the mobility issues we both have the unit took no time to put together. The range is waterproof making them idle to use outside or around water. These units are great for balconies as they allow you to store the items you would normally store in a garden shed or garage, again freeing up precious space inside the apartment.

Our table is now covered in pot plants. In the last 16 months we haven’t eaten out there as much as when we first moved in which has allowed the pots to take over. We still use the table when needed as there is a small corner free. I want to start eating out there more as I used to enjoy it.

The other big thing on the balcony is our old BBQ which we turned into a raised garden pot last year. Womble has already written a post on this but I still plan on writing my own post in the future. I say we did it but it was really Womble who did all the work.

When we first moved I spent a lot of time out on the balcony but in the last 12 months or so I haven’t, I am starting to go out there more than just attending to the washing. At the moment my gardening skills only extend to pouring water on plants but I’m interested in learning and doing more. Sustainability and self-sufficiency is important to us both. We’ve grown tomatoes and strawberries. We aren’t herb fans but do have Rosemary. I’d like to look into what other edible plants we can grow. We plan on getting a worm farm so that we can reduce some of our household waste by putting in kitchen scraps and even our shredded paper. The worm tea and castings produced by the farm will be good for our plants too.

I’m looking forward to writing about our balcony adventures.

Cassiy

My Beanie

Long before I even contemplated doing a wardrobe stocktake a black beanie was something I knew I wanted to knit as I didn’t have any beanies. Years before I tried to knit one with leftover yarn from my magician’s cape but I couldn’t get the pattern right so I abandoned that one. Just after we moved in 2020 I again attempted another beanie but I think at the time I struggled seeing the yarn so not long after it was cast on I put it in the naughty corner and later pulled it off the needles. This year I was motivated to try it again. I am sensitive to yarn so I’m actually glad years ago I never made the beanie with leftover yarn as I wouldn’t have worn it. I’ve worked out I can wear wool or acrylic yarn providing it isn’t touching my skin directly. A beanie would get hot and itchy on my forehead.

For this beanie I used 4ply cotton yarn from Bendigo Woollen Mills. The pattern used was Sockhead Slouch Hat. This is my go to 4ply beanie pattern. It is an easy pattern to follow. I made the largest size as I didn’t want a tight beanie to avoid any chance of skin irritation even with cotton. I have used this pattern many times before and its is a very quick knit taking less than 2 weeks. I worked on it a bit each day. I took it as my project for the Knit In Public outing. I wanted mindless knitting to take to it so that was my motivation to get it started the weekend prior. It is funny thinking back 2 years ago I struggled to knit it but this time around it flew off my needles.

Beanies suit some people but I’m not sure if I am one of them but I don’t care. I wore it a few times this winter and it served its purpose. My head was warm, I was warm and that is all that matters

Cassiy 

Do You Want A Chocolate?

Despite the name of this post I’m not going to offer you a chocolate in the sense that you know it. Further on I will explain the chocolate reference. This week’s post is honest one about an event in our lives that Mr StitchNSew and I are both going through, we are attempting to stop smoking. If you read this post please no judgement, this is just our story. Prior to writing this I did ask Mr StitchNSew as it is a personal story and I wanted to make sure he was comfortable about it.

This time I have been smoking since July 2020. I had stopped in the January of that year because of the costs of cigarettes and getting the upcoming mortgage I freaked out and just stopped. It was easier for me to stop rather than Mr StitchNSew so I was the one to do it. To stop smoking the smoker really needs to want to stop doing it, be ready to stop or they will fail and return to smoking. I went cold turkey (used no quit smoking aids) I had gone from being a heavy smoker (every 30 mins at home) to nothing overnight and the withdrawal symptoms were horrible, muscle aches, shaking, mood swings. In July Mr StitchNSew had surgery and during it I picked up a cigarette and it started again. I wasn’t really ready to stop smoking at the time and in a way used his surgery as an excuse to start again.

Hiding a cigarette behind my back during a blog photoshoot

Starting up again was stupid but not even as stupid as what had happened before that. I had actually quit smoking for 10 years… yep 10 years. In 2008 I decided to stop. I can’t remember why I was stopping but both Mr StitchNSew and I were going to do it together but unfortunately he didn’t last more than a couple of days. I don’t remember what withdrawal symptoms I went through back then, I’ve blocked it out of my mind. Through passive smoking I was still getting a hit as such. Over the years I had a few rough/stressful times including the death of my mum but I remained smoke free. In 2018 I was going through a lot of stress at work, I had pain in my knee and feared it might dislocate again. I gave into the stress and started smoking again. I know it was the most stupidest thing I had ever done.

Since starting up again in 2020 I kept telling myself I would give up. I would say a date and when that rolled around I would try but give in. I told myself I’ll stop when I get Covid but when I got it I kept smoking. I’m not smoking as much as I was in 2020 when I gave up so I kept telling myself it was ok. Due to circumstances out of our control at home we smoke indoors with all the doors closed. Trying to stop became that much harder as there was no escape from it, you had the smell and the reminders such as the ashtray and packets of smokes on the kitchen bench. You can’t get away from the smoking.

Mr StitchNSew has been smoking for 60 years. Nowadays starting at the age of 8 sounds shocking but it was normal in the 1960’s for kids to start that young. Quitting for him is no easy feat. Finally he is ready in his heart to stop so, now is the time. I’m ready too. For him the motivation is improving his health. My motivation is a little different. It is part control and part wanting to live more freely. I want to control what I do, I don’t want an addiction to control what I do. Living more freely, I want to have all the doors open all the time in our place, I don’t want the items I sew or knit to smell like smoke. I want to create a new normal and that is a smoke free one.

Mr StichNSew and I work great as a team and we are quitting as a team. Smoking is an addiction to nicotine and not just a choice people make. To ensure we stop smoking which we will! We have reached out for support. I contacted the Quitline for advice. We had made a start before we reached out for help by starting to reduce our smoking by going longer between cigarettes. Instead of going cold turkey we are have both started using smoking quit aids. We contacted our doctor and have both started using nicotine patches which give a small dose of nicotine to the body. For heavy smokers you can still smoke a bit while on the patches, but you reduce your smoking over a period of days and weeks. The patches come in different strengths which you start on the highest and ween yourself down to lower strengths as you go along. We are have started to follow the 4 D’s of quitting

  • Distraction – Keep busy
  • Delay – Put off having a cigarette
  • Drink water – Drink fluids
  • Deep breathing – Stop and breath when you get the urge

At the moment we aren’t really getting cravings, I know they will start once we fully stop but we can use quit aids such as inhalers or gum to help. At home I get jittery after about 2 hours without one, I know it is habit as I can go 8 hours at work without one. We moved our ashtray so it isn’t a constant reminder in the middle of the loungeroom and keep the packets of cigarettes in a cupboard.

Neither of us like chocolate so we now refer to cigarettes as chocolate. We are trying to create a negative feeling about smoking hence the chocolate reference. We understand that a lot of our smoking is a habit or behavior issues so a big part of it is changing our routines and habits. Stress does play a big part but we are trying not to reach out for a smoke during times of stress, that doesn’t always happen but we are trying.

The best advice I got from contacting the Quitline is don’t be too harsh on yourself. If you have slip up for example, don’t push out the time between smokes or grab one when stressed, it is ok. It isn’t a complete failure. Next time in that situation, maybe try one of the 4 D’s to help you during that time. A slip up doesn’t mean you’re starting from scratch again.

Becoming smoke free takes time and it is hard but you can do it. Doing it together we will. We are experiencing the same things together and can talk about it, even little things like “was your patch itchy when you first put it on?” We are each others biggest cheer squad and support. It is going to take us weeks, maybe even months for some of the cravings to stop but in the end we will do it together and become smoke free. 

Cassiy