I had a lot of non-working downtime in which to recover from the operation and seek out answers for other problems that flared.

Work projects

Teaching was not feasible, with the commute, hours standing, a lot of preparation, and a fixed schedule that has no wiggle-room for fluctuating health.

I was happy to pick up a new photography contract, and sold over 90 photos to fulfill requests. Happily, this project is still chugging along nicely.

I’ve drafted ten group project exercises for language classes, a la “What if you won a medieval village?”. I need to write a few more before sending them out to business and conversational English teachers for testing. It’s not a finished project, but I’m proud of the progress I made.

Language learning

Although learning a language is really not a project with an end, I made huge progress with my German, thanks to the hospital stay and doctors visits. I’m much more comfortable chatting to people both in person and on the phone now.

Finished courses

I must always be learning or studying something, in addition to a language. Having something to keep my mind busy was a must for the recovery time.

  • Ramit Sethi's Success Triggers course, to combat my procrastination tendencies and build better habits, gave me many insights into how I work, and what holds me back. I revisit this course and the exercises regularly.
  • Jeff Goins' Intentional Blogging got me writing (if not publishing) more regularly, focusing on more helpful topics.

I can highly recommend both courses, both as a prompt to get moving on projects, writing or otherwise, and to help you analyse your own patterns and habit and make them better.

(note - the links above are not affiliate links, I’m just a happy customer)

Books read

As a child, I read through libraries of books. I was always reading, at school, at home, at night when I was sleeping. But that dropped off. Last year, I set a challenge to read at least 20 books, and I succeeded!

GoodReads tracked the books I read in 2015. Cookbooks count right?

Other ‘projects’ like piano, cross stitching, cooking/baking and even gardening had to be put on hold because of ganglion and inflammation that happened after it was in a bad position during my operation in February.

A new hobby - crochet

Half-way through 2015 I decided to pick up crochet. I had a cheap bamboo hook and some cheap cotton I had picked up in a 100 yen store when in Japan, and hadn’t done anything with them for over four years.

When my wrist got a bit of mobility back after a short course of cortisone, I thought crochet might be a good therapy, gentle movement encouraging blood flow and healing. I was right! As long as I didn’t crochet all day long.

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Starting out - I needed to learn the basic stitches, and to follow patterns. So my first projects were dish cloths for the kitchen and face washers for the bathroom. I tried a bath puff, but that absolutely didn’t work, so I let it dry, frogged it (pulled the wool out), and turned it into another dish cloth.

At this point, I realised I was having fun with crochet. So I invested in nicer wool and some hooks that promised to be easier to hold than the straight bamboo for people with rheumatism or other hand/finger problems.

The Addi Swing crochet hooks have been a fabulous investment for me. I have much less pain and tiredness as I don’t hold as much tension in the fingers when I use the swing hooks. Although, if I hook the whole day, I can still easily develop tendinitis. Moderation in everything, including crochet!

I was intimidated by the twist möbius, but in fact, it’s the best thing for someone who doesn’t count consistently - you just stitch around and around, no counting past the first couple of rows. It was good not to have to worry about the edges not being even.

The wool felt a bit scratchy when finished, but after wearing for a week or so, became gorgeously warm and soft.

Next was a basic triangular shawl, using merino sock wool. The colours looked awesome when in the balls of wool - purple is one of my favourites.

Unfortunately, the patches of black and white joined across several rows, so that when finished, it makes the one wearing it look like a Milka cow - purple, with black and white spots.

It’s lovely and warm, so I’m happy to wear it around the house. But next time, I’ll use this colourway for socks.

I felt confident enough to start on presents for mum - another möbius cowl, but this time with a sequin yarn. Not pleasant to stitch with, but  I was happy with how it turned out. Although, mum is convinced the colour is brown and not purple - it’s purple I swear!

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Then a couple of hats - a chemo cap for winter for my mum, and a more summery sun hat with the same cotton yarn and a new stitch learnt. Unfortunately, I’ve discovered that hats are difficult - it’s easy to make a hat that doesn’t fit. These will probably be sent back to me (from Australia!) to be frogged and turned into dishcloths. If I make hats in future, they will be floppy, not at all fitted.

As the weather became cooler, I started wearing my original möbius cowl full time, so decided it was time to make another möbius cowl.

This time with a softer yarn, and not following any real pattern, with a couple of rows of the cable stitch I learnt for my favourite face washer above.

It looks like I’m addicted to möbius cowls!

Unfinished crochet projects started in 2015

  • Inspired by Michael Nobbs from Sustainably Creative and his granny square blanket, done in 20 minute blocks of time, I started a summer blanket with a collection of colourful cottons.
  • Attic24's neat ripple design for a warmer blanket, using a chunky merino/alpaca/yak wool mixture in dark jewel tones.
  • Venetian cowl with a lighter weight merino and Celtic knotwork buttons.
  • Another möbius cowl for mum, following no particular pattern. This time with a very light weight summer wool. Finished in January 2016, before the Australian summer ends.

What did you finish in 2015?

I’m battling several chronic illnesses and have very limited energy, lots of pain, patchy concentration, and operations/hospital stays to recover from.

Looking back at the various things I finish or goals I reach each year means I feel positive and accomplished. This, in turn, helps lighten or prevent depression that so often partners with chronic illness.

What projects did you finish in 2015?

What helps or encourages you to finish projects?