Creativity in Lockdown

New skills learned, old skills revisited 

milky way, stars, astrophotography, night sky
Searching for the Milky Way

I started working from home due to the COVID-19 situation on 18th March 2020, thirteen weeks ago as I write this. During that time I have not driven the car, I have not been into a shop and I have not travelled on public transport. What I have done is continue to work (my IT job is easy to do from home), catch up with jobs around the house (redecorating the utility room) and keep on top of the gardening! (no easy task...).

I have also brushed off some old skills and used them creatively and, at the same time, I have been trying out new skills too.

The old skills I'm referring to are sewing and knitting. I used to make soft furnishings and curtains for the home but the last thing I made before lockdown was probably about 20 years ago! 

The weather here has been hot and sunny for most of the last few months and I decided that part of the garden needed some shade. I was looking at things like sails to tie up over the pergola but the sizes were not quite right so I cast around and found a stash of old aprons and a couple of deckchair runners that had never been used. I cut down some bamboo canes from the garden and threaded these through the deckchair fabric resulting in the first shade which I hooked up on the frame of the pergola using cup hooks! Then I cut rectangular pieces from the aprons (keeping the apron ties attached) and sewed them together. This shade is then tied up on the pergola using the apron ties! Works a treat. Now, don't get me wrong, these would not win any style awards, but nobody is visiting so I don't mind!

shade, awnings, creating shade
Creating shade

Next came the knitting. I used to do lots of knitting in the past but have only made occasional items such as sleeping bags and cardigans for the new members of the family - it is very rewarding making things for babies, they don't take too long to make and look so cute!

A good friend of mine knits too and she introduced me to the Drops Design website where there are some great patterns to download for free.

I have boxes and boxes of yarn that I have accumulated over the years, all filling quite a large part of the shed.  It seemed the ideal time to select some of this with a suitable pattern and get knitting. 

I picked a jumper pattern called Sandy Shore and some yellow cotton yarn and away I went. It is an odd pattern as it starts at the neck and works downwards (done on circular needles) but it turned out well and is perfect for summer evenings.

knitting, yellow yarn, circular needles
Summer jumper

Now that this is finished I found a stash of black cotton and another great pattern from Drops Design. This time it is a more complex pattern using twists and cables so I won't get bored! Here is the pattern I'm using, it's called Champagne.


knitting, cables, twists, black yarn, pattern
A little more difficult

So far so good...

Now for the new skills.

I have been taking a fantastic photography course over the last year called A Year With My Camera (AYWMC) now this isn't new with lockdown but I have been able to make the most of my time in really understanding the tips and techniques shared in the course.  It is run by the inspirational Emma Davies and I would recommend it to anyone wanting to learn how to improve their photography. It is a free course with weekly emails and homework and a supporting book if you want to buy it.

In one homework I published a photo book made with the images I created during last year's trip to Tuscany.  You can see many of the images in these blog posts:

48 HOURS IN PISA - TOP 5 TIPS


THE ESSENCE OF TUSCANY: BUONCONVENTO TO MONTALCINO


THE ESSENCE OF TUSCANY: MONTALCINO TO SAN QUIRICO D'ORCIA


THE ESSENCE OF TUSCANY: SAN QUIRICO D'ORCIA TO PIENZA


I am really pleased with the finished book, it is a super memento of the holiday and I'm so glad I made it.


self publishing, photo book, photographs, travel memories
Walking in Tuscany book


I also did a series of printed cards of images I made during the first weeks of lockdown on my daily walk around the village.  This was another homework exercise, to create a temporary display of your photos.  I pegged the cards up in my kitchen and they are still there, looking great.


heritage cards, photographic display, hanging cards
Lockdown images on display

I printed some greetings cards too, I used inkifi to print all these cards and can recommend their work.

greetings cards, photography, cards in packs
Greetings cards

Still on the photography skills theme, I signed up for a short course on Milky Way photography run by Kristine Rose Photography. I now know how to find the Milky Way, when is the best time to photograph it and what settings to use on my camera. I have had a couple of nights outdoors trying to capture this amazing sight but, due to lockdown, I haven't been able to travel far and the local towns generate quite a lot of light pollution which makes it really hard to get a clear view of the Milky Way. At least I know what to try when I can get to a dark sky area. Kristine is really enthusiastic and knowledgeable and is an inspiring teacher, so follow the link above if you want to try out her courses. 

milky way, night sky, astrophotography, stars, light pollution
The Milky Way


Another new skill I have acquired over the last few weeks is that of sourdough bread making, as you may have seen in my previous post:

I'm happy to report that the sourdough starter is still going strong and I have made a few more tasty loaves and pizza bases since that post.


sourdough bread, loaf, home baked bread
My latest sourdough loaf

sourdough pizzas, home baked
Homemade sourdough pizzas


What next? well there are storms forecast for this area so I've been watching a video on photographing storms and I'm going to try to capture a lightening strike from the safety of my home. Wish me luck!





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