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!
An untidy photo… A project I started when I worked in a haberdashery/ fabric shop about ten years ago. I helped customers choose fabrics for their own projects and it was so tempting to spend much of my salary on fabrics for me too. I didn’t get very far in the making at that actual time, a big pile of hexies, a vague plan that I may end up with a patchwork cushion. Then I left the job, I looked at what I’d got and the wonkiness of my attempts went into the pile of UFOs. Enthusiasm took a super nose dive.
Over the next few years I occasionally revisited the pile. It always reminded me of my late Nan who’d taught me English Paper Piecing. She had a penchant for wonkiness! Sometimes purchasing a little fabric if I came across autumn shades with a flora and fauna theme turned the cushion plan into a sofa throw plan. It grew very slowly and only very occasionally. I even blogged about it once. (I am a knitter and a Mum, life just takes over!) .
Lately I dived back into the box of hexies. I realised a reason this project wasn’t one I was desperate to finish – I had all these groups of hexagons and there was one round of hexies that didn’t sit well with the others – so I took it off the pile and new enthusiasm just leapt out at me. With the help of a friend with a good eye for colour I even went and found the perfect shade to (hopefully) meld them all together.
A little progress, reusing greetings cards as templates. I re-enjoy messages sent to our house. Somewhat fitting right now as there are Christmas cards amongst the pile.
Here’s a bit more, with the olive-y shade marrying the larger hexies. I DO know there may be another few years (hopefully not ten!) before I finish this project. Handsewing is very time-consuming, sewing in good light is an issue, finding my glasses sometimes is too (!), wonkiness is definitely a big part (I am learning to ‘wiggle’ the joins where necessary). It is not perfect but it’s perfect for me in many ways. Not only do I get ‘Nan’ memories, I see messages of kindness within the cards and I think perhaps this hasn’t been a total waste of time and money. I may ask for advice here for borders and finishing when the time comes.
There’s an imminent need for a pause to this project again. I have knitted Christmas presents to complete and as that date is immovable (and the children may grow so their gifts can’t be gifted to them next year) I must dash back to those and return to my quilting indulgence right after.
Bye for now.
I have taken a little break this week from lacy knitting and ‘rediscovered’ an ongoing patchwork project which I have been dipping in and out of for about eight or nine years! This started off in my head as a cushion but I actually love making these these carded hexagons (reminds me of my grandmother teaching me how), so it’s progressed to a sofa throw and is now to become a bed throw, though it will be a while before it is finished and that’s totally ok for me. I like organic crafts and a change is as good as a rest. It uses mostly fabric from my stash with a little added here and there. I am sure I will be back to knitting soon.
I visited a friend’s mother yesterday. She has been stitching for most of her 75 years. I envy her houseful of patchwork throws and cushions. She even has one that was her own mother’s. Maybe one day someone might envy my own houseful of handicrafts. Wouldn’t that be a wonderful thing?
Sharing a few snapshots of works in progress by some lovely friends at my craft group – as I can’t share what I’ve been working on until after 25th (current project just finished as a Chrissy gift).
In the Loop meets five times a month. Some of us knit, some sew, some crochet, some sketch. At times we chat and consume refreshments much more than we craft during the two hours! I try and take something simple as I’ve been known to knit a few pattern rows incorrectly and have to rip them back later and start all over again. (Just fondly (?) remembering the time I decided to cast on a new project and counted and recounted stitches so many times I gave up and decided the cake in front of me needed more attention than the wool!)
So, here goes, Krissy’s hexi patchwork bag. She has made several of these, all hand stitched. Patience of a saint!
Jane’s teal shawl, halfway there. The cone is 4 strands worked together, can’t wait to see it finished. One of the other ladies, Susan has a matching cone, so it’s a bit of a competition over who finishes their’s first!
Liz is making a cream alpaca sweater – to us it’s a mystery as there is no photo on the pattern. Liz is one of the fastest knitters I know.
Marianne has been busy crocheting sparkly tree decorations.
As I said a peep into last week’s get together. This week will be our last one before Christmas. To celebrate In the Loop style we aim to all have made one Christmas card in any style of our choosing. They all go onto the table and we all take a card from the same pile (but not our own obviously!). I can’t wait to see what card I am dealt.
Does anyone else out there do ‘Secret Santa’ Christmas card giving ?
Have a good day. Hope your own Christmas preparations are going well. x
I feel like a jetsetter. Visiting my son in Barcelona this weekend, I walked more than 30 miles, taking in the sights and sounds – a weekend just wasn’t long enough – there is so much to enjoy. My fave part was a half day at Park Guell, high up above the City. It’s not just a park with beautiful views, though that was amazing, particularly arriving almost at the highest part and looking out over town towards the sea. Zigzagging downhill between palm trees,
there was a band playing to the crowd, wonderful architectural structures, then you come to the Gaudi buildings themselves! If you get a chance I’d really recommend a trip.
I can’t wait to go again. Today I am thinking patchwork, which could be seen as ‘mosaic’. You cut and snip and then put it all back together again, sometimes a mismash but it works all the same! Time for a little sewing I believe, though I could never match this fantastic style I can dream.
I often feel my life swings from one crisis to another. When did it all start? (Crises that is, not life!)
Childhood was happy and simple. I would love to be able to thank my parents properly but sadly they both passed a few years ago. I was kind of able to say thanks when I spent some time with my mother in her final days but it was not enough and time was short. I hope she had the same happiness with parenting that I had with childhood.
Perhaps for most people childhood is rosy! I hope I have been able to give mainly happy memories to my own son. At the moment I believe my husband and I are deemed as slightly demented, crazy people who were ‘never young’, dare I say the usual thoughts of a young adult these days about anyone over 35!
Perhaps the appreciation of your own parents only comes into it’s own as you age yourself. I think the first time I truly reflected on parenting was on my wedding day. I had already left home and was living with my fiance but it still felt like leaving the fold of my first family to join my second.
Recently there has been another very sad passing of a dear family member. The final illness was quite lengthy which was dreadful for the sufferer. However, the weeks gave each of us time to say our goodbyes and remember good times. I am still deciding in my own head whether this long drawn out end of life was cruel or kind. It should not be a shock, but it still feels like it.
This passing came a little time after a career crisis for me, followed by a new job offer, accepted under pressure. During the same period a family member’s plans to return home gave way and a move for that person to go abroad for a year came to the fore. A new baby in the family was born safely and on time, after several weeks of anticipation of an early and problematic birth. Husband has a very pressurised job, which recently meant more time away from home, more long working hours, distractions from the business when at home too. We had a major job done on the house, with builders here for a few weeks and a major job done at our holiday home so lots of decision making done remotely, which is stressful in itself. Our usual holidays at Easter and May Day were deferred due to the happenings about us. Finally we had three nights and four days away last weekend and that’s when this latest sad crisis occurred.
Of course, now is the time to be there for each other, look after each other, a funeral to get through and the weeks after.
We will survive, but feeling a little battered and bruised.
Still crafting occasionally, a little ‘therapy’ and me time. Projects on the table: a patchwork and applique runner for a craft fair (see post a couple of weeks ago for Countryside ideas), ongoing English paper piecing hexagons patchwork throw (see post a few weeks ago!), newly cast on cotton summer top (knitting), almost finished knitted summer vest (just fixing errors on the neck pick up which originally was a disaster), more felt doughnuts to sell …. loads more projects but they are in hiding right now. No photos to share at the mo but there will be.
Signing out for now.
Over the Easter weekend I was poorly, but I did get a little stitching in before the weekend and a lot (a lot!) since then. I’ve been having a sewfest (if there is a word – or if there isn’t one, there should be). It’s been like an obsession. Whenever I could I sat and stitched, pieced fabrics together, played with design, patchworked, quilted, sorted fabrics, etc. I’ve made mistakes, undone the mistakes, restitched, rejigged old patterns, browsed sewing books and so on and so on. It’s been total indulgence in my crafting world.
I started with the beginnings of a bright green and orange quilted playmat, the cutest nursery prints, mostly fabrics donated to me by a very good friend. She heard I was sorting out my stash and thought she would add to it. It was so much fun chopping up fabric and piecing it back together. The top went well and I was on a roll! In fact, we sat and quilted together. The backing was not quite as successful… more later.
Next I undid a peg bag I had started two weeks ago – I wasn’t pleased with it, slightly skew on the measurings.
Then I was sorting through some more of the fabric from the same friend. I found the beginnings of a baby patchwork quilt – I asked what she might have been making and for whom – she couldn’t remember! There were random sized strips stitched together – the prettiest designs in pinks and yellows. I turned it into a bag, lining it with dotty pink fabric from my stash (so I did get to use some of my fabric after all). I tried to follow a pattern in a book – which presumed you knew a lot about making bags – well, that was fun (sarcastically said, there was more than one attempt with the lining and a lot of frustration!) Still, you learn a lot as you go sometimes, and I learnt a lot this time!.
Then I still had some of the same fabric left. I pieced it, backed it, quilted it, chopped it, added a zip – and voila – a fabric pouch. I based this on a previous project, which I still use as a make up pouch. However, my own one had nasty raw seams inside. This one, has posh french seaming. Having only done french seams once before I was quite proud of myself. Now who wouldn’t be happy to have this for girly bits and bobs such as hair accessories?
You can see a few things went well. Back to the first project, that baby quilt. I attempted the backing, totally off kilter – I was still feeling under the weather. I should never craft when I am poorly. Whether it’s sewing or knitting, it just does not go well! So, off came No 1 backing. A trip to a fabric shop later (why is it sometimes your stash does just not have the right fabric for the job?) and No 2 backing was perfect. Just to add the quilt padding, stitching the opening and then maybe hand tying, or maybe not – when finished it will be on show here.
As for what’s going on around me the rest of the week? We are currently having a new roof on our house. There is noise and chaos surrounding me! I am squirrelled away indoors. Occasionally I step out of the front door, look up for falling debris, before offering the roofers more tea and biscuits. A happy builder is one full of tea and biscuits I find! So far, so good. Two skips full of 80+year clay tiles, one wasps nest discovered.
Bye for now. Back to creating.
Image Posted on
I haven’t decided what it’s going to be yet!
I just discovered this draft blog post from a while ago – I was ‘cleaning’ up things on my laptop – I can’t believe I missed posting this. I guess at the time my blogging practice was poor or the internet signal failed and I just didn’t remember to press ‘send’ . What a fail!
Well, this lovely piece of patchwork turned into a sewing machine cover. I have been sewing quite a lot over the last two weeks and every time I reveal my machine it brings me a little delight.
I have a Juki HZL-e80 machine purchased a few years ago from World of Sewing in Bromley, Kent. https://www.worldofsewing.com
Yesterday, whilst sewing with a friend – a lovely day spent together quilting – more to follow on my next post about that – we were chatting about what we like about our machines and why we bought them. For me, it was several things – the automatic needle threader, thread cutter attachment, the use of a stop/start button as an alternative to a foot pedal, the fact you can slow the sewing speed down (from hare to a tortoise!), the selection of embroidery stitches, the weight of the machine – at the time it was a huge leap up from my second hand old Singer which had been struggling on for eons! I guess, you can make more with the correct tools. I was so fed up with my old machine grabbing the thread around the bobbin spool and it was clunky and so heavy to move from the cupboard to the table.
I am so inspired by what I see friends make and from the online world, either through blogs or Pinterest (there’s how to lose a few hours!). I have been loving my latest creative weeks – there are not enough hours in the day to sew and to knit! I am between ‘real’ jobs and it’s been marvellous to just enjoy creating and trying to use some of my fabric and yarn stash.
I love to see what others make – even considered eventually opening my own Etsy shop, but that’s a long way off.
At a recent trip to a local craft fair – a recce to see what sells (!) – there was a fantastic textile exhibition. I loved one person’s work in particular, which included a mini hexagan patchwork quilt (no photo here), embroidery of the most colourful kind, and other embroideries on reclaimed antimassacars ! Adding just a few photos – on this occasion real snapshots only.
I hope you like what you see here.
I investigated my fabric stash at the weekend and discovered I have too much beautiful fabric to leave it sitting in the cupboards and not being shown off. So, I made a bag! I wouldn’t say I am a very confident sewist (I blogged on Saturday about saying ‘sewist’ or a similar word, ‘stitcher’ was a good suggestion for someone who sews too). I am not a very competent one either, however I now have something I am proud of. I won’t be showing the finishing off to too many people, “admire from a distance”, I shall say, but one project down and many more to go. I used a pattern called Sea Of Flowers in ‘Patchwork Bags’ by Search Press (their Love to Sew range of books). It has turned out kind of how I thought it would but I think the writers presume you know quite a lot about sewing already, and it’s classed as an easy project (one ‘heart’ in difficulty, rather than 2 ‘hearts’).
To the detriment of my usual hobby, I have neglected the knitting for a few days, although I did a few mini triangles in lime green and white whilst I was being driven to London on Saturday afternoon. I shall be putting them together to make something very soon. What’s the latest project?? You shall have to wait and see. I have carried my bag of knitting into work for two mornings but it just went along for an outing as I didn’t knit at work at all. I was at my ‘non’ knitting job but thought I might get in a few rows in a break. There was no break – it was all hands to the deck both days. Oh well ..