Rambling in the time of Covid-19

Lockdown Thoughts. Old but New Hobbies. Hoping for Happiness.

A blog where I let my mind wander.

I wish this blog had a happy ending; that it had a positive message to make you feel better but I don’t think it does.

There are spoilers to the end of Star Wars: The Last Jedi. They are at the very end of the post, I tried to be as vague as possible but warnings none the less!!

I’ve been sewing for the past few weeks. This is the first time in a long time I’ve done this. I don’t think many people have realised how big this has been for me. In all honesty it’s taken a while for me to come to terms with how big an event this has been for me too.

After a conversation with my therapist where I cried over noticing the details of the costumes in The Last Jedi** she made the point that with mum’s help I could try using sewing as a hobby. This was a new idea for me; it’s been an extremely new experience for me.

It’s been a common note in my biography over the years to explain that I learned to sew when I was 8, by the time I was sewing in Home Economics at high school a few years later I was so advanced that my teacher kind of trusted me to do my own thing. By the time I was in 2nd and 3rd year of high school I was trusted with making some of the costumes for the school shows using my own designs and ideas. By the time I was 16 and heading towards my standard grade exams and starting to consider university, my main thoughts were of art school and fashion design. An exhibition on “The Art of Star Wars” in early 2002 in Edinburgh changed the direction to costume design and I knew I had to have films or television in my future.

The idea of sewing as a hobby had been lost so long ago that it’s such a foreign concept for me now. I mean, what do I sew now? What do I do with the things once I sew them? Can sewing ever be just something for me now?

Unless you’ve been living completely off grid or in a cave recently you will know we’re currently living through a worldwide pandemic so bad it’s being compared to the Spanish Flu in 1918. Me, mum and dad are currently self-isolating based on the advice from my specialist nursing team. We’ve been socially distancing for over 2 months now. Due to our various autoimmune illnesses and other health issues we decided to essentially lockdown our house about a week or 2 before the official government announcement. I could make a joke about pandemic hipsters here that we locked-down before it was cool.

This has meant that apart from a couple of doctor appointments and walks with the dog in March/early April I haven’t really left the house at all – I haven’t gone beyond the front gate in roughly a month and a half. If this had happened 2, even 3 years ago, I would’ve maybe seen this as an adventure: suddenly locked inside with all my sewing supplies; piles of books and a novel to edit. But it’s happened now: at a time that I’m still adjusting to being chronically ill, I’m just starting to understand how to come to terms with losing my sewing and my novel is stuck in the corner of my mind that’s busy telling me everything I have written; am currently writing, and will ever write is terrible. I still have my piles of books but due to a side-effect of the aforementioned chronic illness I’m finding it hard to read anything right now.

Needless to say, I’m struggling right now. I’d love to say repeat all the amazing advice I see online that this lockdown is not about proving how “productive” you can be. That you don’t need to have learned 6 languages or how to play a new instrument or even taught yourself how to make bread during this lockdown. That this situation is completely unprecedented; that no -one really knows what’s happening and that just getting out of bed can be an achievement.

I’d love to remind myself of all of this; I’d love to say these ideas are helping but they are not helping as much as I would like.

I feel guilty that I haven’t finished editing my novel yet; that I can’t bring myself to share my writing, even with my friends.

I’m a reader who has lost the ability to read

I’m struggling that, before this pandemic I had reached the halfway point of my Goodreads challenge and had somehow managed to read 40 books by March; but now I’m barely making it through 1 book in 2 weeks and despite doing my usual practice of continually buying books I have no idea what genre to try, let alone which of my new books to pick up next. For the first time in a very long time I can’t seem to want to read right now; regardless of whether it’s politically relevant non-fiction or escapist fantasy.

I feel bad that, despite having all the materials for refreshing all my knowledge of Russian I haven’t glanced at it since pulling them from a box under my bed.

I keep giving myself hard time that despite having fridge magnets as alphabet reminders; and finding brilliant comprehensive YouTube videos I still haven’t become fluent in BSL.

I started this blog talking about sewing. Through my therapist’s suggestion mum and I have sourced all the materials and half-finished projects needed to make an 1840s gown to fit me. The Victorian era, and this style of gown specifically was a gown I had never managed to make before I had to give up. This was going to be my very first sewing as a hobby project.

Before that though, we decided to make some face masks. There are quite a few countries now that have made wearing a mask while outside mandatory so it was easy to find patterns; and as I have mentioned I have a huge stash of fabric stock and materials waiting to be used. We realised that along with our various illnesses/health issues it would make sense to have some masks. We also realised that surely our Government would catch up eventually and make masks mandatory too.

After making a few tests and prototypes we mentioned to friends and family that we were making masks. So a couple of weeks ago we finished and posted off roughly 30 masks for close friends and family. Last week, we finished a couple for us; on Tuesday I had a MS nurse appointment; my first venture outside for over a month so we decided that I needed a mask too. A mask I now have.

Making these masks hasn’t felt so much like a hobby. It’s the first time in over a year since I sewed anything, (the last being a wedding dress for my wonderful friend Jenna.) It’s now been a year since I went into hospital and things changed in my life more drastically than I really understood at the time. Making these masks has been closer to my old job of sewing something for someone else and posting it off, hoping they’ll love it. But maybe making these masks will work as a stepping stone for me from professional to hobbyist.

Maybe I’ll make these masks and I’ll still be struggling. Maybe even after making that dream gown with my mum I’ll still be struggling. Maybe the darkness that’s overtaking me right now is something I can’t fix. Maybe I just need to struggle for a while.

Maybe all I can do is keep buying books and crying at Star Wars films.

All I can say for now guys is that I hope you stay well, I hope you stay safe and as always I will –

See you in the future



** It was the last 10 mins as Rey continues her search for Luke. All I could focus on at the time was all the intricate embroidery than adorned Rey’s outfit. I cried because it reminded me why I wanted to be a costume designer in the first place; why those tiny details mattered to me – mattered to the character. I cried because I could still only see those details in a film full of space crafts, battles and lightsaber fights; all I remembered was the details on Rey’s sleeve.

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