The Lovely Rhonda at www.gapquilter.blogspot.com interviewed me (Me? Why? I don't know...) for her quilty podcasts. You can listen to the podcast here.
Here is my interview in writing... (June 2011)
Hello Sarah. Tell us about yourself, your family and pets.
I am 32, I am fairly quiet and shy in nature, probably a little reserved too. I'd never be described as "the life of the party". More likely I'd be the wallflower (asleep against it anyway). I think I’m developing an alter-ego online… Although I’ve always been a bit of a cheeky bugger with those that know me. I’m very close to my family despite living so far apart from them. They give me so much support and encouragement, and always make me laugh. I think I get my writing from dad and my crafting from mum! I'm sure the cheekiness is ALL dad ;-) I also have the best big brother in the world, who married and emigrated a year or two ago - now I have an awesome sister (in law) too. I've been to the states twice so far to visit, and I only wish I could do it more often. I miss them so much!
Home is with my lovely man, a marine engineer who is away from home A LOT… and my cat - Ellie cat. Thankfully my man keeps me from completing the transition into “Crazy cat lady”. But in my defence, Elliecat is very much my wee buddy as opposed to your typical pet cat. She follows me around the house, she naps with me, and has demanded her own wee space on the shelves in the sewing cupboard.
You are very open about your Narcolepsy. Would you mind sharing a little about that with us? What is it and how it has affected your life.
Narcolepsy is a Neurological Brain Disorder, possibly genetic, and possibly caused by a faulty immune system. There’s a chemical in your brain that acts like a control centre for every single little thing related to sleep, and with Narcolepsy you’re deficient in that chemical. Narcolepsy is a very difficult condition to diagnose as all of the symptoms can be related to many other conditions. However there are various tests that a specialist can do. My symptoms started when I was in my early teens, and they gradually got worse. It wasn’t until I got Cataplexy too that a doctor suggested tests for Narcolepsy… so I was 24 before I finally knew what was actually wrong with me!
Having Narcolepsy means that I don’t sleep properly – people that don't have Narcolepsy get a few hours of restful NREM sleep before they go into REM sleep (which is when your brain is very active and you dream). I go straight into REM sleep. In seconds. So I don’t get any restful sleep. I honestly can’t remember what it is like to sleep for more than 2 hours, or to sleep and wake up feeling refreshed. Cataplexy is a sudden loss of muscle control brought on by emotion. Can be as little as losing control of your facial muscles for a second or two, or as much as losing complete control of your body for several minutes. Sometimes it’s followed immediately by sleep.
Each person who has Narcolepsy suffers from a different combination of the symptoms and side affects, and at different levels. I get all of the symptoms! Fortunately not all at the same time! There is not a cure or medication to neutralise it, however there are various medications that will delay or decrease one or two of the symptoms. I've tried everything and not had any success.
Quick run though of some Narcolepsy joys I experience…
- Excessive Daytime Sleepiness - falling asleep a lot basically, and being drowsy and sleepy a lot too.
- Sleep Attacks - like someone randomly clubs you over the head and knocks you out (only not painful). You don’t know when these attacks are going to happen, they just suddenly do. Aside from being tired and confused and disorientated when I wake up from a sleep attack, I usually feel pretty lousy too, even if it only lasted a few seconds. But every once in a while I wake up feeling a little less tired, so it’s awfully nice when that happens.
- Temporary muscle paralysis (being unable to speak or move) when falling asleep or waking up - still conscious. Scary. Also known as Sleep Paralysis.
- Hallucinations – seeing or hearing things that are not real. Sometimes funny, sometimes terrifying.
- Difficulty concentrating - I get that a lot. That’s why a) I have so many projects on the go at the same time, b) it seems to take forever to get things done! It also means that I get up to do something and within seconds forget what I was going to do and end up doing something else. That happens every day. Numerous times a day. Its definitely one of the more annoying things.
- Restless night time sleep – waking up frequently, having exceptionally vivid nightmares and sometimes being incapable of staying still, involuntary limb jerking…
- Automatic behaviour – when you continue to carry out normal activities, such as talking or moving around, while you are still asleep. You don’t remember what’s happened when you come out of it. A lot of the time whatever I am doing gets screwed up too. Only natural, I was asleep at the time…
Other little quirks - sometimes I look awake but I’m actually asleep. Sometimes I look asleep, and I am asleep, but I can still hear everything… I also get days when I feel so tired it’s a struggle to move.
Now that I’m no longer working, it’s a little easier to cope with. I don’t have to deal with anything when I have bad days, and I don’t have to worry about anyone else, just me. I do get depressed from time to time, but for someone who hasn’t slept properly in decades I’d say that was to be expected!
Yay! Now for the fun stuff!
How long have you been quilting? How did you learn to quilt?
I made my first quilt when I was about 20 and living in Lisbon. I cant remember exactly why I did it, I think it was either because I wanted a quilt and couldn't afford one, or it was an excuse to buy something from the fabric shops I was already addicted to visiting! Possibly both... I was very lucky to have been raised in a family where making something instead of just buying it was the norm! It was made with the contents of a couple of local remnant bins, (a veritable mix of all sorts of fabrics) a borrowed sewing machine, a spool of thread I found, and, the biggest expense, a bit of cotton backed wadding. It sure is a Fugly bugger, but I love it!
|Fugly First Quilt - cats certainly love it...|
I designed it, I had no books, no lessons, no blogs to follow. I made a second quilt, but then I returned to the UK and had to get a real job. I found that with a job I just had no energy at all to do much else, so I didn’t start quilting again until last year. This time it was down to mum, she bought me a Jelly Roll, and a book on Jelly Roll quilts. I was hooked immediately! Everything I learn now is from blogs and books. Trial and Error. A lot of Error.
Tell us about your blog. Why did you decide to name it Narcoleptic in a Cupboard?
I would need to tell you first of all that the house we live in is an old town house, and has a kinda strange layout. Downstairs there is a very very small room joined on to the kitchen and we jokingly refer to it as “the dining cupboard”. Upstairs there are two bedrooms, one in the attic and one on the middle floor. The middle floor bedroom has two doors in it, each leading through to really, really small rooms - the smallest of which is where I sew. Basically it's a glorified cupboard, it's referred to as the sewing cupboard. But back to the blog name.
It was the first time mum saw the cupboard in action, and she was telling me how impressed she was with my little set up, and what a good job I’d done on whatever it was I’d just made. Cant remember what that actually was, but I was quite chuffed with it, and I said, “yeah, its not too bad for a Narcoleptic in a cupboard!”. We laughed, I wobbled, it stuck.
How long have you been blogging? Is this your first blog? If not, what were your other(s)?
This is my first and only blog, and it started on 27th October 2010.
Why did you start your blog? What are your goals for your blog?
I’ve always loved writing, and for a long time now I’ve wanted to write about living with Narcolepsy. However I was always put off by the thought that a blog about Narcolepsy could be mind numbingly boring… not just for readers but for me too! When I set myself the challenge of only doing homemade Christmas presents last year, it dawned on me that the sewing cupboard could also be something I write about, that people might actually read!
I don’t think for one moment that Narcolepsy is the worst condition to have. I know in the scale of things I’m really quite lucky, but I do find that a lot of people either don’t know about it or don’t understand what it really is. If you type Narcolepsy into google its mostly dry medical fact, and pretty sparse on the details. If you type Narcolepsy into You tube its mostly dogs, and kids taking the piss. Its not just a byword for someone falling asleep and / or falling over. There are many, many little things that go with it. It’s depressing, its humiliating, its limiting, its isolating, maddeningly annoying, and basically pretty crappy. Not life threatening, not terrible. But crappy nevertheless. Anyway… If I can get just a few more people to understand what it really is, I'll be happy. And if I can improve my quilting that’s definitely a great bonus!
You have such a wonderful sense of humor and it seems you suffer from open honesty (as do I) This is what I love about your blog. What are your favorite things about blogging?
First of all, thank you! I’m glad you can have a laugh reading it! I would like to say that what I love most of all about blogging is the sense of purpose it gives me, and the personal record it becomes.
But that’s bull... What I honestly love most about blogging is getting comments, and knowing that someone actually reads it. I like the sense of interaction, and the chance to “talk” and “meet” people without actually having to go out and meet people in real life. Not that I wouldn’t want to meet any of my online friends in real life! That would be really cool.
How much fabric do you have? How do you store it?
How much fabric? Can you really put a quantity on happiness?! I have a few more quilts worth… and a few more after that. I’ll never have enough! I just need a bigger cupboard… And a bigger bank balance… I'm quite obsessed. I have dozens of online fabric shops bookmarked, and I trawl through them every week looking for what's on sale and who's got a discount on. I rarely ever buy full price.
I store it in transparent plastic boxes that have lids so are stackable.
Share the most interesting comment (from a reader) you can remember. No names please.
I love all my comments, each one means a lot to me! One you’d probably consider interesting was from someone with the sort of twisted humour I really love. They had commented on my cataplexy and had said they’d love to hang out with me - “ahh the things one could do to a friend whilst paralysed.” That still makes me laugh a lot!
What are your strong and weak points of the quilting process?
I guess my strong points are that I’m always looking to try something new, if you could call that a strong point. The reverse of the coin is that I have so many ideas and plans and just don’t have the energy to get them done as soon as I want! My favourite time is when I have a stack of cut pieces waiting to be joined together. Oh and binding - I love doing the binding. Its slow and laborious, but I really enjoy it and get so excited knowing something’s almost finished.
My weak points? Hah! Different every time! I do find it difficult to make the first cut, I always think there might be a better pattern for that bit of fabric! I suppose the one thing that I have the most trouble with is basic accuracy… points matching up and stuff. On the one hand I desperately want to have things line up and be point perfect. On the other hand, I don’t really have the energy to keep on re-doing things. I’m doing this because I love it, if things aren’t going well I get to a point where I just say “sod it - move on and try the next bit” I do find basting to be a total pain in the ass. The only area I have that is big enough for a crib size quilt is a mattress - which is not ideal for a quilter, and way too tempting for a Narcoleptic!
What’s your all-time favorite quilt pattern?
That’s one that I’ve not done yet, the spider web block. I really love the look of it, and WILL be trying it one day but I’ll need to build up a healthier stash of scraps first. And maybe get a better iron - all those seams!!
Smallest quilt ever made? Largest quilt ever made?
Smallest - does a mug rug count? If not then probably the Brit Quilt Swap which I'm working on now. I think it will be about 24" square.
Largest? The second quilt I ever made, it’s a big king size. I didn’t have a clue how to quilt it, so I started tying it… don’t think I actually finished tying it (now that I come to think of it), but its been through the washing machine many times and its still okay! Well, when I say okay, some of the cottons have gone really bobbly and tired looking, its stained, its got a burn hole in it, its permanently covered in cat hair. It looks knackered to be honest, but none of that is due to my not finishing tying it! Wont be tying any more quilts though, really didn’t like that at all.
Do you have a “disaster quilt” you can tell us about?
Probably the one that required the most unpicking, the most re-arranging, changing fabrics, fixing puckers, a nightmare to make…everything that could've gone wrong did. The 60’s Beatles quilt. I actually liked it when I finally finished, and I’d have to say, of everything I’ve made I’d be willing to bet it’s the most cherished - it was for my brother and sister in law. They love it, they use it all the time. It's just big enough for two to snuggle on the sofa. I used a super soft & furry double sided fleece for the back and a deluxe cotton batting in the middle, so it is really soft and ultra cosy - perfect for a cold winter! I will never stop feeling amazingly happy every time I hear of them using it- which is normally every time we speak on the phone! So, from disaster quilt to the one that brings me the most happiness.
What about a favorite quilt?
The Next One. Always the next one! I currently have 3 on the go, and 2 ready to cut! A favourite of someone elses is also easy, Lynne @ Lily's quilts’ Penguin Books quilt. Love love love that quilt. I want to make one!
Tell us about your quilting space. Please provide pictures if you can.
Ooooh my beloved Sewing Cupboard! Mum helped me decorate it which was a huge job for such a teeny tiny room. The walls had about 5 layers of wallpaper to remove and were also full of big holes we had to fill! My brother put the lights up, my man built the shelving system which takes up half the cupboard, and my granny’s table takes up the other half! It may be a cupboard, but at least I can pretty much reach everything from where I’m sat… As much as I’d love a bigger area with a bigger table, a long arm quilting machine…A bigger house… I still absolutely love my cupboard. What can I say, it really makes me happy.
Are you participating in any current Bees or Block Swaps? If so, tell us about them
Well, I’m in my very first Bee (Brit Bee) and I’m in my very first quilt swap (Brit Quilt Swap). All down to YouKnowWho…! I’m simultaneously crapping my pants with nerves, and bouncing off the walls with excitement. Ewww, messy. I’m not the most confident of people, nor the most creative, nor the most skilled! Hopefully my enthusiasm and desire to please will make up for it ;-)
Now for the important question, do you listen to a quilty podcasts? If you do, which ones do you enjoy and what do you enjoy about them?
Errrm… sorry Rhonda, you’re the first and only… but I love listening to your pod casts. You do make me laugh sometimes, and its great to feel like we’re getting to know you. Its like having a friend come over whilst you sew! And when I heard you were a "sloppy quilter" who said (of FMQ) "its just fabric, whats the worst that could happen?" I just love it!
One final – very important – question. What is something about you that would shock your readers?
I know I would never make it as a smuggler…
Ok, now for the marathon, one-word questions. There is no need for an explanation. People in different parts of the world consume things differently, this is your opportunity to take a stand for “what is right”.
Tea or coffee?
Tea. But I love my espresso machine too... If I save coffee for only once in a while I get more of a caffeine hit from it, and that comes in handy!
Coke or Pepsi?
Diet Coke, but not very often, I'd rather have a cuppa (tea)
Sweet or Un-sweet Tea?
Sweet tea? Yuck! Strong as possible with a little milk please… In a chunky big mug. I'm rather fussy about the mug...
Muffin or Cupcake?
So long as its chocolate, either.
Burger King or MacDonald's?
Neither - I’m veggie and they're evil...
Biscuit or Toast?
Cant live without toast. Seriously. I've tried. I CANT.
Jelly or Jam?
That confuses me. In UK Jelly is a wobbly dessert made with Gelatin (which isn’t veggie) and Jam is the fruit preserve. So in UK terms Jam all the way.
Pancakes or Waffles?
Both. Any day! (With or without chocolate)
Cats or Dogs (not to eat of course)
Both. Well, cats really. But my cat has all the loyalty, affection and “follow you everywhere” -ness of a dog.