craft

Growing stripes and Creative Loops

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January 13th and here’s the back of the new project

I’ve been catching up on tv missed over the Christmas season and getting on with the newest knitting project at the same time. I’ve done more than the back but when I decided to snap a photo this was the best I got in the mid afternoon light. I love there won’t be any sleeve seams to sew up (imagine a tshirt shape) but it’s a cardi so there are two fronts, they’ve each a cable, and then there’s the front edge to pick up and rib so it’s not all so simple.

January seems to be a time to catch up with things and to start anew. I belong to a lovely weekly craft group called In the Loop. Towards the end of last year we talked about a joint project, calling it ‘2020 Vision’. We thought about what that actually meant to each of us and the plan was to each create something for a communal display – few rules, mostly about colours and size but no media rules so your entry could be anything you like with anything that meant something to you – be it perfect vision, plans for the new year, seeing what others see and so on. Many of us knit, crochet or sew, others paint, draw, bead and/or enjoy a combination of all and try new crafts. Hopefully you can see quilting, rug making, painting, felting, dorset buttons, a crochet mandala and glass fusion here. My own part didn’t come to fruition and the communal display is already up in our local Southborough Library. I just wanted to share what friends had made and say how proud I am of them (and not of me!).

It was so difficult to get good photos, the display is in a window glass box, just about big enough for someone to get in and pin things up and from outside it was impossible to take photos without getting my own reflection or that of the buildings opposite!

I hope you like my groups talents.

I look forward whilst I glance back

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The start of a new project, with an unimpressed helper! Using DROPS yarn.

Returning from a New Year break in rural France I feel fired up to get on with new projects, tidy up old ones and reflect back on the successes and failures, craftwise, of 2019. A few days in the countryside with added trips to the coast has fed my imagination!

I am still on a journey to use up my stash of wool. I cast on my latest project 24th December, just after I’d finished my final Christmas gifts. Using Nepal and Alaska by DROPS Design and who doesn’t love a stripe or two?!

I was quite prolific last year, although there were gaps in creativity and not everything was a triumph. Luckily I blogged quite bit so there are truths to be told here and I realise some things didn’t even make it the page. I also learned a few things, one of which was a new crochet stitch. I have now made four things with hooks rather than knitting sticks, adding a different dimension to my crafting bow.

A mini summary of 2019 makes is:

Helping a friend with a baby knit project, knitting hats for the homeless, four baby/toddler cardigans, one set of booties, one scarf, one dreadful lacy top, handsewing a big handful of patchwork hexagons, machine sewing other patchwork (part of a throw and three elephants), bunting and Christmas decorations, two hats for a 3 year old, a baby tunic dress in clashing colours, and two crochet blankets (one a gift for MIL, brownie points here!) , and adding a big applique ‘M’ to a little girls’ book bag.

So onwards into 2020 what plans are afoot for all? Crafting – I intend to learn at least one new thing, not sure what it is yet!

A patchwork pig made for a table sale in 2019

The end of the rainbow and a quilt or two too

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I’d like to think there’s always a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. My ‘gold’ or my ‘reward’ is that I now have more time to work on other WIPs. Fellow crafters with mountains (or hillocks at least) of projects on the go may understand just that.

It took a few weeks but at last my mega kingsize crochet blanket is finished. The first photo was taken one morning, sun streaming in, the second one is not the best I admit, but this was taken in the twilight of the same evening and my cats had already dived onto the bed and ruffled it up. Now here’s a question – how do you stop cats padding and pulling on a woollen blanket??? This is not to be a precious blanket, after all it was a project to use up lots of my stash and is to be used, but it might be nice if it wasn’t snagged too much too quickly.

Due to other commitments and a winter cold too, I’ve not been here for a little while. I have had a few trips out enjoying others’ crafts, amongst which was one lovely little Quilting Show in Detling, Kent. There were a smattering of stalls and fabric jumped into my basket (more about that another day, one of my own quilt projects is already nine years in the making ..) but the exhibition showed some amazing skill. If I could have bottled a lot of it I would have, but here is just a little to share.

The Scandi Star was just amazing, enhanced by the simplicity of fabric colour, and the quilting was spectacular,

The more colourful quilts or panels hung as quilts were amazing. The creator made them as memories of places she’d been. You might recognise somewhere yourself, just like I did! My favourite over all was ‘Portugal’ – the tins of sardines! And I hate myself for not taking more details of the person who made these – I cannot scan in nearer and read her name, I obviously was just blinded by her style, I stood admiring for ages before the friend I was with dragged me off to see more. One day, I could be as talented as this (she says, maybe never).

Off to sew now for a little bit. I hope somewhere out there there are other crafters stitching or playing with knitting sticks or crochet hooks or felting needles or glueing with guns or pegging with nails (and so on and so forth) and they share their creations with us.

One Christmas gift looped, charity sewn up and I’m still crafting a rainbow

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The rainbow crochet blanket in my last post has been on temporary hold but it still takes pride of place in my cosy crafting nook and has a ‘turn’ once a day, albeit only a row (all 250 loops). I am determined it won’t be long before it’s finished.

Instead of my usual admission (or despair) that a new project ‘accidently’ jumped into my hands (it’s the lure of new yarn or the rediscovery of yarn or fabric in my stash that tempts me…), I am surprisingly pleased more than one did and I have finished these new projects quickly. So quickly I am having a little show and tell here.

With the festive season on it’s way I crocheted a Christmas lap blanket for the MIL. I haven’t crocheted much before but after a couple of wobbles I had the pace of shell stitch in the bag. Using James C Brett Marble Chunky yarn made it fast hooking and it self patterns no changes of colour nor ends to sew in (unlike the rainbow blanket, there are lots!).

Then onto a little playing with fabric.

Ready for part of a charity Christmas tree decoration project I sewed some mini bunting and pumpkin pincushions.

In the run up to Christmas our local churches will have decorated trees donated by local businesses and groups and anyone can go along and admire them (hopefully they will anyway). My Thursday morning crafting group (we all take various ‘talents’ to the table) will be decorating a non traditional tree in an alternative crafting style – not necessarily with a Christmas theme as you might be able to tell. I loved making these and an added bonus was that the fabric came from my stash and one of my promises to myself for 2018 was to reduce the stash it helped a little (a very little but still a little!)

So, that’s been my mischief for a couple of weeks. What’s been yours?

Knitting progress over a busy weekend

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Another hectic weekend just done and dusted. There were several hours of gardening and today I ache practically all over! We visited the mother in law too which is exhausting in other ways but I still managed to get a bit of knitting done. A few rows on a car journey and a big stretch one evening. There would be more but it’ been ripped back twice after discovering extra yarn overs in places there shouldn’t have been.

Knitting is my reward – this time making the weekend better after having to do chores. There has been a lot written about the therapy of knitting. Your brain is made to work in different ways, one way to work out a pattern, another to count, it is tactile, physically feeling the yarn feeding through your fingers, hopefully enjoying seeing the colour and shape of what you are uniquely making, to calm you without distraction, to switch off from the thrusts of today’s modern living. All these have been described as being ‘mindful’ or ways of ‘mindfulness’. I subscribe to all these and add ‘to teach you patience’. You sure have to be patient when ripping and reknitting!

I often throw down WIPs in frustration if they go wrong. I have been known to hide them from myself for days, years even. Today I shall revisit at least one and see if I can make progress on it. I will be working two projects together, not giving up on one nor the other.

What’s been the progress in your world, crafty or otherwise?

Despair! Knitting WIP. Lifelines. More holes than a cheese grater.

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Oh despair! I recently started another new project – yes, I know I told myself and everyone here that I would not start something new until I had more finished projects .. there was a good reason for this one though and I used yarn from my stash which justified it.

I had a five hour car journey ahead of me. I thought I’d stretch myself, try something a little different. ‘What could go wrong?’ Ha! Lots it turns out!

My latest WIP had got to the stage of sewing up. Who can sew up knitting in a car? If there is anyone who can, please give me hints on how to keep pieces straight on my lap and not lose marker pins and sewing needles in the footwell – I am all ears. Note, I’d be the passenger not the driver, of course! I chose a new project over the sewing up this time.

I did about a third on the journey

I hadn’t made anything lacy in a very long time and realised early on it’s probably because I prefer simple knits. I am using a vintage pattern but am not using vintage cotton and I am adjusting size and shaping. The gauge is slightly off (it grows in length but the width seems ok). I am making it longer than the pattern says so I did two borders rather than one. I went wrong a lot, ripped it back, reknit it. I did not mark off some rows as I knitted, I counted wrong. You name it, I did it! The yellow lines are lifelines, thank goodness I knew about those and had spare yarn with me (of course, I never travel with the bare minimum, not only in my craft bag).

I am now onto the armhole shaping. I am a triangle, a lot less wide at the shoulder than Mrs Average (who is Mrs Average, by the way?). Therefore narrowing the shoulder line involves more counting. Whilst the main body lace is easier than the border, knitting when weary means another lifeline after going wrong again, missing out a row, losing a stitch several rows back (how did I not notice? possibly a missed YO somewhere). I think this may be one of those projects that will take a long time.

Note to self, future car journeys, knit small and easy! Our final destination was to our house in France. We had a glorious weekend of sunshine and R&R, despite the knitting calamity on the way.

Since then, we had a wedding to go to back here in the UK. These fairy lights are just a snippet of the day I wanted to share here. Fantastic day, lovely party, love a wedding!

Charity hat making is good for the soul – not quite sparking joy – it’s also a delaying tactic

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Here are two more chunky hats knitted for a local homeless charity I can not donate time to the cause but I can donate craft and a hat is whipped up in two or three knitting sessions. It’s good for the soul to give something back in any way I can. I admire those who do more.

This hat making is helping me clear some of my yarn stash too so it’s a win-win situation. There’s a lot in the media right now about clearing and cleaning your life which seems to involve sorting out and tidying up and getting rid of things that don’t spark joy aka Marie Kondo styling. This yarn is lovely, nice colours, great to knit with (Adriafil Mistero) but it wasn’t making me smile a lot as it’s left from previous projects and there was never enough to do anything bigger. It was languishing in a cupboard. I am so glad to have re-found it and hopefully it will spark joy for someone else in more than one way.

However …. as much as I am enjoying the hat making I know I am putting off other things, including finishing knitting and sewing larger projects. It is very satisfying to see something grow quickly and then be gifted. I am talking about my recent baby knits and quick projects. This morning I looked at a few half done/three quarters done/tangled/mistaken projects in my craft room. I looked, then ‘hid’ them from myself until another day. I am wondering if it’s not just my crafting that is being avoided.

For now, it’s time to cast on again. I am thinking this is almost my own version of ‘taking a basket weaving class’ with a slightly more fulfilling end.