dinsdag 31 december 2013

Today I am thankful

It's the last day of 2013, and today I am thankful.

It's been a couple of strange last weeks for me. A few months ago I decided to move back in with my
parents again in 2014, so both my boyfriend and I are able to save as much money as possible for future plans. Living in your own appartment is awesome, but not cheap! So my Christmas has been filled with packing boxes, rehoming my cats and the occassional tear.
I'm saying goodbye to some things that have brought me a huge amount of joy and a sense of safety during the last years, and I'm really stepping out of my comfort zone here. Anxiety and stress have been a daily part of my life the last weeks, but I refuse to let my life be ruled by fear. I've said things goodbye, but I'm also welcoming a new and promising year, with many things to look forward to. I am making space for new adventures :)

So, despite some nervousness and stress, today I choose to be thankful.

I am thankful for the (almost) 2 years I spent in my very first own apartment. For years I thought I wouldn't be able to live on my own, afraid I would constantly be annoyed by my well-known old companions Anxiety and Worry. Turned out, it was perfectly well possible to share a house with them. I ám strong enough to send them to their own rooms like naughty little kids when they became too demanding or bothersome. Well...they didn't always listen and sometimes just kept on bothering me...but still, I survived. Ha! 
I made this space into a cozy little environment where I felt perfectly at home, and created beautiful memories in it. I will miss my sunny roof terrace, the cozy wooden bedroom and living on walking distance from my work. My first own apartment will forever stay a beautiful memory :)

I am thankful for having been the 'mommy' of two little rascals of cats. I never thought owning cats be be such a hilarious and heartwarming thing! Franklin and Theodoor have been responsible for many laughs, cuddles and work-distraction. They played an important role in the fact that I felt so at ease living on my own...in fact, I never was alone! I am thankful for their new mommies and daddies. I was able to rehome them to very loving families, and both of them already are adapting to their new environments. They will receive lots of love, cuddles and good care, and that's a relief. They deserve nothing less.

I'm thankful for the hours I spent climbing. Having discovered this sport about 1,5 year ago now, it is becoming an increasingly important part of my life. Climbing keeps me sane, it distracts my thoughts from everything else to focus on just one thing: the route I am climbing. It keeps my healthy and fit, not only physically, but also mentally! Climbing helps me to deal with fear, because sometimes you have to push on and stay calm in a scary situation, with the possibility of a fall. And sometimes, you just have to let go and take that fall! I am thankful for the beautiful places climbing brought me and the new people I met because of it. I can't wait to push my limits further in 2014!

I am thankful for my boyfriend, with whom I just seem to 'click'. Actually, not a day that passes by without me feeling incredibly happy to have him in my life.  I love his smart, wandering and free soul. I love how we shape and complete eachother. I am thankful for how he challenges me in many ways, pushing me out of my comfort zone but at the same time always being there to catch me if I fall. I love his longing for adventure, and how he can make me laugh (or tease me, I'm such an easy victim...). I am thankful that he has a curious mind, just like me! He's not afraid to think for himself, which results in interesting conversations that I cherish. He's might be a little strange, but so am I...compatible in our strangeness, we form a happy, quirky couple.

I am thankful for the hours I spent working. At the moment, there are mány things I don't like about my work, but I ám thankful for the moments I actually was able to help my patients to regain some strenght, fitness or daily functions. Every time one of my patients is happy because something goes better, I am happy too, and remember why I chose to become a physiotherapist. I set up a very successfull group training program for about 30 elderly patients. They were al incredibly enthusiastic and I had lots of fun exercising with them. I am thankful for being able to play a tiny role in their health...besides, I am thankful for the fact that I actually am healthy enough myself to work and earn a living!

I am thankful for the travels I made last year. I've have spent a wonderful time in the Dolomites (Italy), the Sierra de Guara (Spain) and at the Cote d'Azur (France), together with my boyfriend. Oh, and we went a couple of times to Freyr, a beautiful climbing area in the Belgium Ardennes! I love that we both like active holidays and want to stay as far away as possible from touristic consumerism. Climbing, canyoning and snowboarding/skiing brings you to places where people usually don't go, close to nature. I treasure those moments and am thankful for every beautiful view I could take in (and snap a quick picture of ;)). Traveling opens your mind and teaches different lessons than those learnt in daily life. Actually, I can't wait to pack my bags again!

I am thankful for my parents. They have their quirks (like every parent :P), but they love me no matter what, and that is what's most important. My decisions challenge them, it's not always what they had in mind for me. Still, they work hard to support me and help me where they can, while also letting me go.
They thought they finally got rid of me two years ago...but here I am again, moving back in with them...mwuhahaha! Just kidding, of course they had to adjust to the idea, but they've been very welcoming (except towards Theodoor and Franklin, grrrr....). Both helped me a lot with moving, I couldn't have done it without them. I am thankful for how they both can make me laugh in their own way, and how they help me deal with my difficulties. I will treasure that forever!

I'm thankful for books, I can't imagine my life without them. I've read dozens of interesting, heartwarming and exciting books in 2013. I've discovered new authors and started new series. I even got my own Kindle for my birthday! I'm still a sucker for real, paper books...but the reason I finally gave in for an e-reader is its convenience while traveling. Plus, e-books are cheaper! Oh, and don't forget the fact that I don't need my Iphone's flashlight anymore, when I read out loud in the car (I often read for Mark during long drives...we have special 'on-the-way-books', that we both like).
In a way, books are like traveling, they open your mind for new things and can teach so many valuable lessons and interesting stuff. Besides books, I'm also thankful for movies and series I've watched...another way I love to spend my time. Offering distraction, insights and an escape from daily life, they are my highly treasured companions.

I'm thankful for every minute I can spend crafting. I need crafting in my life like I need air, love and books. I love to create pretty things...and obviously other people love them too! My little Etsy store saw a rise in sales this year, which brings me a lot of joy. I'm thankful for every person I've met through crafting, and I'm thankful for new creative techniques and skills I learned this year. I've really developed my spinning techniques, and learned how to dye natural fibers. I discovered I lóve playing with colors (I'm still a little girl by heart, yes... I know :)). I like my hands to be busy, and I enjoy the fact that, in a way, I can be self-sufficient when it comes to clothes, yarn, socks, decoration, etc. Even though (thankfully) I'm not in a situation where I have to rely on such skills, it feels good to be able to.

I am thankful for my friends. I'm not really one for an elaborate social network with dozens of friends and acquaintances, but I dó have a couple of close friendships that are like treasures for me. Each single one of them is unique in their own way, and I'm thankful that they want to share their time, thoughts and tea with me. They offer me comfort and wonderfully cozy afternoons. It's great to be able to share a passion with someone else, it doubles the joy! To me, the possibility to exchange thoughts and ideas in a completely honest and transparent way, knowing that the other won't judge me (but will speak her mind when necessary!) , is incredibly valuable. Girls, you know who you are...you are all such a lovely and beautiful addition to my life!

Above all, I am thankful to be a treasured daughter of a Heavenly Father, Who loves me far more than I will ever be able to understand. He is the Giver of my blessings and the Receiver of my thanks. I'm thankful for getting to know Him a bit better this year. In his extraordinary and abundant love I learn to live unashamed and free...free of guilt and free of judgement (of myself ánd of others).

dinsdag 3 december 2013

Blythe reroot tutorial - part 1: preparing the scalp

Okay Blythe folks, here's the first part of a series of (hopefully helpful) tutorials on how to do reroots.  I've been doing them for years now and gained experience in using alpaca, mohair, (thermal) saran, the lock-loop method, the knot method, thatching, washing, etc. There were some disasters on the road, that learned me even more (about what nót to do!). Other members of the Blythe-community have always been helpful when I needed some advice, sometimes through direct answers on questions, sometimes by just posting very clear pictures of what théy did to achieve a specific result. Right now I think I have collected enough knowledge and experience to share some helpful tips myself (although I will surely keep learning new things, I expect I might have to adjust and update these series of tutorials in the future!). I hope it will motivate you to pick up your own reroot...maybe for the first time, or maybe that scalp you once started on but threw away in frustration. I'll make the steps as easy as possible, so you'll see it's not such a daunting task as it may seem!

Although, honestly...rerooting is for people with a bit of patience. If that's a word that gives you shivers or makes you freak out already, you might just decide to commission someone else for that reroot. There are plenty of rerooters in the community, so don't worry ;)

In this first part I will show you the work that has to be done before you can actually start rerooting. It's nasty work that hurts your fingers (unless you are lucky enough to have an original Takara scalp), but it has to be done anyway...so let's get that done before we get to the better stuff (where actual hair/fibers are involved :P).

Let's start with the tools you will need (not all of them are already necessary for this first part, but I included them anyway).

  • A scalp. You can use an original Takara scalp of course. Probably one you're tired of, don't like or of a disappointing quality (for example, the Factory Blythe scalps are not always superb, especially in terms of hair density). You could also use a coolcat scalp though, if you don't have an original Takara one. Coolcat scalps can be ordered here, and I believe you can also find them on Ebay. Personally I prefer the soft PVC scalps over the soft rubber ones. The PVC scalps resemble the Takara scalps better in color and material. On the other hand, they're harder to penetrate. If your hands and fingers are aching easily, you might want to go for a soft rubber scalp. It's totally up to you, both will work just fine!
  • Needle, with a point as sharp as possible. I prefer working with a long needle, because it offers more grip. You might also want to use a thimble!
  • Fine comb. I really love the one included in my picture, because of it's pointy end, which is very helpful in making thatches!
  • Crochet needle. I use a 1.00 mm, but a slíghtly smaller or bigger one will do as well.
  • Scissors, just in case. 
Optionally, you can also add acrylic paint to the supplies list, if you want to dye your scalp before rerooting. We'll get back to that part later.

Okay, here we go. The first thing you need to do (unless you have an original Takara scalp, then you can skip most of this first step) is to make tiny holes in the scalp, preferably in a specific pattern. 
The Coolcat scalps have a 'B' and an 'F' on the inside, to indicate the front and the back. On the picture below you can see the B, if you look closely. 

Now, remembering where the front and back are, decide your pattern. It is important to remember that if you want to reroot in the lock-loop method, your pattern has to be a spiral.
If you're doing a knot-method reroot, a spiral is fine, but closed circular rows will work just as well. Actually, for the knot-method any pattern of holes will work, because the single plugs are not secured into each other!

I decided to show the spiral pattern, because that one is the trickiest. I drew the spiral onto my scalp for this tutorial just to make it as clear as possible, you don't have to do that yourself (I never do this, normally!). Unless of course you like having a guideline for where to punch your holes...but please be aware of the fact that dark lines might show through a very light (for example blond) reroot! 

Note how I started in the middle, slowly working my way to the end of the scalp (follow the arrows to see the direction of the lines). In my opinion, best is to leave about 0.5 to 1 cm between your lines, depending on how thick/dense you want your reroot to be. 

Now, regarding the thatch. There are several options:
  • No thatch at all. In that case you can let your (imaginary) spiral just continue round after round, without the turns I made to leave space for the thatch.
  • Middle thatch (the 'B' on the inside of the scalp indicates where the middle is!).
  • Side thatch (left, or right).
I made a side thatch on this reroot, on the left side. I always make 4 rows for a thatch. This will result in a beautiful, full thatch line in the end, without any 'skin' (scalp) showing through.
The lines are very close to each other, with only 1-2 mm's between them. Note that I also drew this sideline actually as one long, spiraling line!

I usually regard the thatch as a different part from the main spiral, so they are not attached. This isn't impossible though! I just don't like them attached, because I prefer first rerooting the thatch, and then starting on the main spiral, working my way from the inside out. 
A last little warning regarding the thatch: it's important for the lines/holes to be close to each other, but not tóó close. You will notice - once rerooting - that holes that are too close to each other will easily tear and form one big hole. You don't want that, believe me ;)

Now, what if you have an original Takara scalp, that has no thatch, or a side thatch while you want a middle thatch, or the other way around? No worries! It's perfectly possible to make an extra thatch in the area you prefer, as long as it's not too close to the original thatch. That nasty thing I just mentioned, about separate holes tearing together into one big hole? That has often happened already with Takara scalps. So be careful, also when you decide to use the already existing thatch. Inspect it beforehand, to see if it's still useable. Even when the holes are still more or less separate, remember that you have to pull a plug of hair through it with a crochet hook. Even this small force might already cause it to tear. So you might actually decide to play it safe and make a new thatch line. 

On to the next step (the most annoying one): start punching the holes!

This part will cause your fingers to hurt/cramp, I often find myself doing just a couple of rows at a time, for example when I have 5 spare minutes left.
In the picture below you can see how much space I leave between my holes. In the main spiral, I leave about 5 mm's between every hole...but again, this depends on how dense you want your final reroot to be!
On the thatch line, you have to punch the holes as close as possible to each other. Remember (again, I'll keep warning you...those teared holes are such a drama, especially when you're a beginner at rerooting!), not too punch them tóó close. Leave about 1-2 mm's in between them. The same counts for the last (outer) line. This line is the actual hair line, which will be quite visible in the final result. It would be pretty ugly if there'd be 4 or 5 mm's between those holes huh? So just punch them very close together, just like the thatch lines.

On the picture above you can see part of my holes. They appear a bit grey-ish, that's just because of punching through the black guidelines I drew for the tutorial. Note the distances between my lines and holes, and also note how close the thatch holes are!

Punching the last row of (close) holes can be a bit of trouble. I usually punch about 3 mm's above the edge of the scalp. Notice the rim on the inside of the scalp, you want to punch júst above that. Every now and then I accidentally go through the rim instead... You will notice this soon enough, because it's twice as thick a layer of plastic to go through!

Now it's time for the final - and optional - step of this tutorial: painting the scalp.

Personally, I often don't dye the scalps I reroot. I like to make dense reroots with lots of holes, in which case it's not really necessary to dye the scalp. It will be just like a human head full of hair; if you look véry closely...yes, than you can see a bit of skin, but that's only natural, right?
I know that a lot of people use lesser holes though, to save a bit of work and time. Nothing wrong with that! In those cases it might be a good idea though to dye your scalp in the color of the hair you'll be using, to cover up for too much 'skin' (scalp) showing in between the plugs.

I find acrylic paint easy and simple to use. Thin it a bit with water or even better: a special paint thinner. To prevent the paint from dripping all the way down to the edge, you can put a line of tape over the edge, completely around the scalp, just up to the first row. Now start adding a thin layer of paint and leave it to dry. The plastic scalps (at least the soft PVC Coolcat scalps, I have no experience with painting the soft rubber ones!) are not very absorbing, so you might want to add another layer after the first one has dried. 

I will be using dark chocolate brown alpaca for this reroot, so I painted the the scalp in more or less that same color. It didn't became very even, but that's okay...it's just for covering up, in the end!

That's all for part 1 of the reroot tutorial! After these steps, you will be ready to start rooting the hair, which will be covered in the next part of these series. 
I really hope you guys enjoyed this tutorial and that I have explained everything in a clear and understandable way. Please comment if you have any questions, improvements, or additions. I'd also love to hear suggestions for what you'd like to see explained in the next part(s) of these reroot tutorial series!

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