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A little sparkle can continue into the New Year

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For many people the start of any New Year is difficult. Loved ones are missed and despite good intentions, new plans can be challenging to make. 2021 is harder than ever for some. The coronavirus pandemic has affected people in different ways, some of which are truly devastating. Whilst we all continue to try to stay safe, we stay home and socially distance when out, we try to look forward to the end of all the restrictions and traumas around the world.

As we know here in the UK, January can also be a dark, dull month. Today it hasn’t stopped raining for hours, the second in a row. The Christmas decorations have been packed away, we’ve eaten or given away all the extra treats we had in, we’ve thought about diet and exercise plans (thought about, not always activated). However there can still be room for just a little bit of sparkle, can’t there?

Trying to keep busy, my next knitting project will be with these. I reckon if I finish the jumper I can wear it all year round. Glitter is not just for Christmas!

The sewing machine has to come out too. A family member is soon to have her 2nd birthday and I am working on a gift for her. Here’s the start of a quilt for a little rag doll. I’ll show and tell when both have been finished, if they come out well. I think I am better at sewing small projects right now (and always to tell the truth), my knitting successes are definitely more satisfying.

I enjoy reading about other people’s current crafting. What’s everyone’s next creative plans? Am here to admire and be in awe!

First knit of 2021

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Carrying on my intention of getting rid of/using up my yarn stash, I started this cowl just before Christmas and finished it a few days into 2021. I love the yarn (Drops Nepal and Drops Karisma, it knits up quickly on 6mm needles). It was in my stash and apart from striped hats or cushion covers I couldn’t think what else to do with it. The cowl is worn as double thickness, the ribby bit snuggles next to your neck on the inside. I had thought perhaps I could in a chilly emergency pull it more to a tube and wear it up over my head – it looks ridiculous and would indeed need to be an ’emergency’ ! I popped out today at lunchtime and wore it as you can see it here – the weather was freezing, barely above zero – and oh my, it was so hot I was gasping to take it off when I fell back indoors! So, it works then.

I already have another new project on my needles, again using up my stash, but I have already given into the January sales and bought more yarn. Currently counter-balancing this with putting a few lots of yarn I will never use on a popular auction site. Life feels woolly in 2021 already.

I decided as 1st January arrived not to think about New Year Resolutions or Intentions. Life around the world is so unstable with the Covid 19 pandemic it is enough to get through each week, each month and there will be goals along the way anyway.

What are you other crafters up to? Anything finished in the first 7 days? DO show and tell!

Revealing knitted gifts

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I waited until after Christmas to post pictures here of gifted knits, in case recipients saw them before 25th.

I now realise 2021 will be the year I sort out a better phone with a better camera (prompted by my son who telling me mine has been out of date for a long time!). I may also take myself to task about becoming more organised next year. I didn’t take photos of some gifts when they were actually finished, thus you may see the odd woolly end that hasn’t been sewn in, which was, before it were wrapped and gifted.

The blue triangular wrap is now with my Mother In Law. She seemed please and despite her being an octogenerian I had to call it a ‘wrap’ rather than a shawl as I know it would make her feel elderly!

The next two photos are a mega chunky cowl made for a friend I have known since we were little children. It is actually a lovely green, like the middle of an avocado. I made it as she has dogs she walks in the the early hours of morning, often through local woods. I almost didn’t gift it as I like it so much I wanted to keep it!

The red and pink cowl was made for a good friend’s birthday which happens to be the same day as Christmas Day. The pattern called for one strand of chunky yarn, supposed to be knit as a long scarf with pockets and tassels. However, I used 2 different coloured strands of double knit, joined it as a cowl, added the fringe for a nod to the original pattern. I also made similar fingerless gloves but didn’t take a photo of those. Oops!

So those, alongside four glittery baby/toddler hats were my knits for gifting in December. I blogged about the glittery hats in October – they were very well received. I was even sent photos of two of the little ones playing in the snow wearing them today – the first snowfall of winter where they live in the Midlands.

Other knitting already on the sticks – to show here another time.

Not much show and tell ’til after Christmas

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It’s not that I haven’t been making. It’s just if I ‘show’ this time of year then someone may see something here before they are gifted it. Thus my absence from blogging for a while. I have had a busy season present making and fiddling about with existing craft materials. I have loved most of it and have often been happy filling long, sometimes tedious, days trying to stay safe. It hasn’t been plain sailing every day of the pandemic, ups and downs, but crafting is something that keeps me sane(ish, some might say) and encouragement and enthusiasm from my crafty friends and family has been fantastic, albeit at a distance. There has been a lot of Zooming – thank goodness for the internet and thank you to those who haven’t already been thanked.

So a snippet of what’s been going on chez moi. The box at the top of this page was a little decoupage project using some beautiful handmade papers in my stash. I used to enjoy papercraft but I hadn’t dived in for a while. No plan, it just evolved, very therapeutic tearing up paper and sticking it randomly on something – including my fingers. Hubby remarked it looked kind of Christmassy so it has been on the dresser in the dining room ever since. The candy cane was an origami project. It wasn’t difficult but the paper was too stiff really – my plan to make several finished after making one!

Then there’s been a fair amount of cooking and baking (and eating and overeating). I don’t post food pics often but I was rather proud of last weekend’s yorkshire puddings – these were leftovers – in our house they go quickly.

Of course there has been knitting – there’s always something on my sticks. A dear friend had sent me a lovely bundle of yarn a while ago which I recently turned into a poncho. These are not flattering pictures of me, but you can see the yarn and it is lovely and warm. Funny enough it started as a poncho for a four year old and as it grew I realised she’d have to grow an awful lot to fit it. I liked the yarn so much I wanted to keep it so knitted it longer and added a rolled neck to fit me! Lucky little four year old will get her own poncho in little girl colours next year. She is already getting a different hand knit this Christmas.

One of my resolutions for this year was to use up more of my yarn and crafting stash. Here’s the start of a new little knit project. It will be a cowl. I’ve made this one before in a plain beige years ago – never wear beige now – so it’s a dinky pink and purple this time. Hopefully to be finished over Christmas/New Year and I can ‘show it off’ in a January blog post.

Last but not least I am sharing a lovely handmade Christmas card from my talented sister in law. The fabric is stitched into the aperture. I sometimes think the more simple the project the more effective it is. She is a clever woman.

So for now, all that’s left to say is to wish others A VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS. I sincerely hope you can all celebrate, be with loved ones in person or via a phone call or video link. This year will be very different to others for many. Stay safe. Be kind to one another.

Fruitless or Fruitful?

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Readers of my most recent post may have wondered if my last few weeks have been fruitless, craftwise. I am happy to say not completely. There has been a large smattering of thinking about doing stuff. There have been some unsuccessful moments. There hasn’t been much completion but however, there has been some tinkering.

I first mentioned this quilting project in summer 2018. Since then it has hardly been touched, till last week. So a little accurate cutting out, a little dismay at previous patches, some stitching together, a day or so with a dining room floor covered with design plans. I am a little further along. It has grown. It has far to go. However, there IS progress. When it ‘grows up’ it will be a quilt for a single sized bed.

There has also been a little knitting, a Christmas gift, a shawl for MIL. I actually enjoyed making this, and it is finished, the threads have been tidied up. An aran weight cotton mix yarn with sequins. Sadly, the photo doesn’t show it off as well as in reality.

There is also WIPs on other knitting pins to be shown another time. I hope others are out their crafting too.

Autumn arrives beautifully, and important things

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Mabel, a friend’s dog, enjoying autumn too

There’s been a bit of a gap since I last blogged here. I think the dullness of the pandemic stemmed my online flow of words and I have been a little self-absorbed. On the other hand, perhaps I was just lazy not to share and didn’t think anyone would be interested in what I was doing. Are both ‘excuses’ or ‘symptoms’ of one another? I believe so. Now back on track and what a wonderful autumnal day to lift the spirits. I hiked around a local country park this morning, so so pretty, golds, reds and greens, I love this season before all the trees become bare and the days too short.

Today I read an article online in Psychology Today by Leon F. Seltzer about being self-absorbed, how focus can become narrow and vision blurred, self-criticism, unhealthy rumination, how one can compress life into something beyond comfort (his words written in my layman’s terms, not a direct quote here). So interesting once having read facts, that some of these ‘negatives’ can be turned to ‘positives’, how being narrow visioned can be good on occasion, how rumination can be specific thinking and how you can be kinder to yourself.

A few years ago I may have thought this was all mumbo jumbo, hogwash, claptrap. Not now. The pandemic, for me and others, has allowed focus on things of importance. Many things in my current life remain important. Some things I have let go. My walking buddy this morning told me of a book she’d read, Spark Joy by Marie Kondo (I had previously dipped into this but only reorganised my lingerie drawer!). It’s about organising your ‘things’ and only keeping those that make you happy. Perhaps that has happened in many homes since March 2020.

A day for revelations.

‘Easy’ little crochet made me a little crochety

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On a mission to use up some of my yarn stash and recently inspired by a successful completed crochet project I decided to go for a new project/new stitch. In a magazine I found a lovely selection of ‘new’ square crochet samples and chose some that were labelled as ‘easy’, thinking once I’ve done those I could move onto ‘intermediate’. I wasn’t kidding myself that I’d be on the ‘advanced’ ones for a while though I did get carried away looking at crocheted lamp shades and toilet seat covers much to the horror of my non-crafting hubby (which look fun but will never actually be my style). However, I was stumped again. Reading a crochet pattern does just not come naturally to me. Maybe learning more crochet will just take time – is what I said to myself after Version #1. Versions #2 and #3 made me crochety, stick and cotton yarn being cast aside for a few days …

But Version #4 I stuck with and eventually I had 9 samples of #Version 4. I have no idea what am I going to do with my new piece. Perhaps it’s a mat for under a plant pot or fruit bowl? It’s not perfect, need to work on tension but the stash of my cotton yarn is now less at least! It’s a learning curve this crochet lark. I admire the skill of all the crocheters out there.

Walking and crafting in blue

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Out walking in a local country park last week was a very pretty experience. I was surrounded by swathes of chicory. I’ve never seen it before and it was a different vista to the one other time I’d been to the park only two weeks before when there were only pretty green fields and trees.

Then back at home I finished knitting another baby knit, coincidentally in blue. Although this was very sweet to knit, I’d procrastinated over the sewing up (not my favourite part of making garments). Luckily I persevered though as the family baby arrived on Saturday, a month early! This little boy could be in blue for a while. I’d already made a preemie size waistcoat for him (in case he came before time) and then this was a 0-3 month size knit. For once, gambling on making a preemie garment worked out. In the past I’ve made preemie size items and then babies have been born already too big for them, but the right size for newborns.

I have been taking advantage of some great summer yarn sales and now have a new pile of projects to add to the pile I had in progress! I keep telling myself crafting is therapeutic . I’ll be in ‘therapy’ a long time then. Back again soon …

I’m a hooker

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I’ve dabbled with granny squares and decorative flowers. I’ve made a heavy weight simple blanket which I was quite proud of. But I’d never crocheted anything for myself to wear – until now. I looked back briefly and realised I’d mentioned the start of this coral top early in June, a project just started. Since then I’ve unhooked (do you say ripped as you do with knitting or unhooked?) twice totally, patient this time rather than frustrated and hot tempered. I loved the way the bamboo/cotton yarn handled, the rhythm of a hook and the way it grew quickly. However, the construction of four squares onto shoulder straps didn’t make sense on paper, probably my fault not the pattern designers. Obviously reading a crochet pattern is a challenge to be overcome, especially US vs UK terms.

So, I decided to ‘design’ a loose t-shirt style top instead . Two squares joined at the shoulder and side seams with a border around the bottom. I’m very happy with how it turned out. I wear it with a strappy top underneath for modesty and hope not to be caught out in too much sunshine without sunscreen therefore avoiding an all over dappled sun tan!

Now back to a previous and a new knitting project. Never have just one craft on the go!

What are my crafty friends out there up to?

A very little post

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I think the title of a blog post is the thing that catches someone’s eye. It’s a bit like the cover of a book – if it looks interesting you might pick it up. So now I’m wondering if you are reading something from me for the first time what you thought this might be about. Enlighten me if you wish!

A letter in the post? A friend this morning stated that since Covid lockdown she thinks she is receiving less post and rarely sees her postman. Unlike a different friend who is receiving a lot more as her internet purchases increase and she almost feels sorry for her postman when he arrives some days staggering behind the latest stack of packages.

Maybe you thought this might be about an interesting looking post coming out of the ground somewhere. I myself love a bit of metalwork designed to be pretty not just functional, usually gates or fencing though. Sorry not this kind of post.

Then there could be a ‘post’ about the after of covid, what might be different, what might be the same. There’s food for thought and something I am sure many of us have thought about.

My very little post is only this – my latest tiny finished knit. We have a new baby boy due in the family next month. Just in case he arrives early I made a preemie waistcoat so he’ll have something nice to wear. It will only fit a preemie or a teddy! It was fun to make. I had already made a larger size hoodie but I just wanted something smaller just in case. Still using my stash so feeling a little smug and who doesn’t love a quick result?! Still working on other things, knitted, crocheted and sewn.