Making (slow) Progress

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I’ve got a busy weekend of Woolfest ahead so I’m writing and scheduling this in advance. If you went to Woolfest – I hope you had a lovely time! I’m sure next Sunday’s blog will be Woolfest themed.

I realised that it’s been a while since I updated you on what I’m making outside of work…the reason being that I haven’t had much time outside of work!

I’m still sticking to the one project per category rule that I set myself in a blog at the beginning of the year and seem to be halfway through lots of projects at the moment.

Knitting
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My Jamie cardigan is getting there. I’m only finding a couple of hours a week to work on this so it’s slow progress – but I’ve finished the back and reached the armhole shaping on the fronts. I’m very excited about the pockets!

Crochet
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I started a chevron blanket at the Frank & Olive Crochet retreat – but it wasn’t working for me so I started again and now it’s more of a ripple than a chevron. This is a lovely project to dip in and out of so it’s perfect for knit group and destined to be a baby blanket for my friend’s new baby.

Sewing

I traced and cut out the pattern in brown paper for my Merchant and Mills coat. And now I’ve sort of abandoned it! The sewing bee is getting me all fired up to do some sewing! I just need a bit of time to concentrate.

Patchwork
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I really want to make a hexi patchwork quilt – so I thought I would start with a cushion to practice the paper piecing. I definitely needed the practice! It’s nearly done and I’m hoping a good iron will sort out the lumpy bits.

Garden
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I’ve been busy with day to day gardening jobs and have even managed to encourage a hedgehog into the garden! The big job for this summer was to build some steps to create a seating area – and that is currently on hold. Unfortunately my dad hurt his hip so we won’t be bricklaying for a while – but it’s not really been the weather for sitting out in the garden anyway! I’ve made temporary steps from wobbly piles of bricks so that I can get to the garden bench – and the cats are enjoying the mound of soil!

I hope all your WIPs are going well! x

Spring Cleaning (my goals!)

DaffsSpring and Autumn are definitely my favourite seasons so I’m in my element at the moment. The daffs are blooming, the cats are managing to get out and run around (Noodle is scared of weather) and Monty Don is back on the telly!

I know it’s only March, but I thought it would be a good time to look back at the goals I set myself in January. I actually think that spring is a much better time to set goals, think ahead and get focussed – so it’s a good time to re-check my list!

I only set myself a few goals for the year and they were-

  1. Allow myself more time to wind down in the evenings so I sleep better. No working after dinner (unless I have a deadline!), no looking at my phone after 10pm.
  2. Divide projects up into categories (ie – garment knitting, gift knitting, decorating & DIY, sewing, quilting) and only have one project on the go per category. Focus!
  3. Give myself a holiday allocation and try not to feel guilty about having days off.

Number one and three are going okay, but they are things that I always need to remind myself of. Getting enough sleep and taking time out is essential for all of us!

Number two is where I really need to do some spring cleaning. I have added a few categories to the list, but I think they’re all essential! What do you think?

One: Garment knitting (ie, garments for me).

I’m doing really well with this one! I’m sticking to one garment at a time, which means that I finished knitting Wave and I’m well on my way towards finishing Brona. I’m not always in the mood for knitting dark blue fluffy 4ply so Brona is going a bit slowly as I keep drifting off to other categories. But hopefully I’ll be showing you the finished jumper soon.

Two: DIY

Again I’ve been pretty focussed with this one. I’m decorating the bathroom at the moment and I just need to make some hooks and a new shelving unit then I can move onto the next project – putting up shelves for yarn storage wherever there is wall space!

Three: Sewing

This category is currently dormant! I got as far as tracing and cutting pattern pieces for my Merchant & Mills coat, but haven’t taken scissors to fabric yet.

Four: Quilting

I started a new patchwork cushion! It’s looking rather wibbly and has come to a bit of a standstill, but it’s lovely to do when I want a rest from knitting Brona. I’ll show you when it’s finished!

Five: Crochet

I didn’t put this on my original list of categories but I think it’s acceptable to have some crochet on the go alongside knitting? I crocheted and felted a bathmat for my newly decorated bathroom and I’m thinking about starting a chevron blanket.

Six: Gardening

This really needs to be separate to DIY doesn’t it? I can’t really plan that many projects for the garden because the garden dictates what needs to be done. Monty Don said something about a garden not being a place – it’s a journey. I think he means it’s not something that you can finish, it will always be travelling/changing. This is the beauty of gardening – there is always something new to enjoy! My big garden project this summer will be to build a raised seating area with steps – I’m really excited to get started!

Seven: Gifts

In theory, this could fit in with some of the categories above – but I decided it needs to be separate! I just found out that both my partner’s sister and a close friend are expecting babies in September, so baby knitting is on!

So that’s my categories spring cleaned! If you catch me working on more than one project per category at a time, or trying to add in a cheeky extra category – please feel free to reprimand me (work knitting doesn’t count by the way!).

Do your new year goals need a spring clean? x

Back to Reality 2016!

Knitting

I do love my job – but getting back to reality after Christmas is always hard work! Mainly because when I have a week off I slip in to my natural night-owl rhythm and feel sort of  jet-lagged when I have to get back into routine.

I decided to look back at my blog from this time last year, and it was very similar to the blog I was planning to write today. I talked about not being very good at just sitting and relaxing – I like to be making, decorating or doing something, but at Christmas I find it difficult to settle on one thing and get things finished.

I posted six pictures of half finished projects and I’m happy to say most of them are now done! I finished the second mitten just before Christmas, Beardie’s scarf was done in time for winter (although it’s not been cold enough) and my Captivate cardie was finished earlier in the year. The granny square which I planning to use as an arm cover for my sofa ended up becoming a cushion and I’ve decided that the hexi blanket will stay the size it is!

The major work in progress is still my never ending rag rug! I’m actually getting close to finishing – so hopefully I’ll be blogging about that soon. Why I decided it needed to be two metres wide is beyond me! I am somewhat over-ambitious apparently.

So this year I don’t mind too much that I didn’t actually finish anything during my time off – because I did get a lot done and I know that everything will be finished at some point. I started decorating the bathroom, painted two sets of shelves, sorted out all my frames and pictures, spent a lot of time rag rugging, re-watched Star Wars episopes 1 to 6 (don’t bother with 1-3!) and saw The Force Awakens three times.

Alongside that I also found time for some knitting! I’ve neary finished my Wave cardigan by Kim Hargreaves – I just need to pick up and knit the neckline and sew it up. I’m looking forward to steaming it as it’s rather crumpled. I finished the back of my Brona jumper and started the front. And I impulse bought some faux-fur from Knit Nottingham and started a scarf!

Hopefully this time next year I will be able to say all these projects are finished!

In last years blog I also set myself three goals for the year:

  1. Do a bit more ‘nothing’. My new mindfulness book and weekly pilates lessons should help with this.
  2. Don’t start any new selfish making projects until I finish some. Focus!
  3. Give myself a holiday allocation and try not to feel guilty about having days off.

I’ve mostly stuck to these – apart from the not starting new projects until I’ve finished some! The third one remains the same but I’m going to tweak the first two:

  1. Allow myself more time to wind down in the evenings so I sleep better. No working after dinner (unless I have a deadline!), no looking at my phone after 10pm.
  2. Divide projects up into categories (ie – garment knitting, gift knitting, decorating & DIY, sewing, quilting) and only have one project on the go per category. Focus!
I hope your first week back to reality has been good? Most people seem to use this time of year to re-asses and make plans. This is great but can also be overwhelming. We’ve got a lovely shiny new year ahead of us and I’m sure all the important things we want to do will get done. At some point! x

WIP’s

Most makers and knitters who I meet have lots of projects on the go at once. I occasionally come across a knitter who just does one project at a time – finishing one project before starting the next (imagine that!), but when I dig a bit deeper I normally find that they have other creative projects on the go alongside their knitting.

I thought you might like to see my WIP’s (works in progress) – and maybe you can make me feel better if you have a similar number of unfinished projects?!

I always have a lot of projects on the go at once, I’m normally quite good at just working on one garment at a time. But not at the moment! I started Wave from Kim Hargreaves Echoes, and although it’s looking lovely – I’m finding it a bit annoying to knit. Being a pit knitter (I tuck my right needle under my arm), I find circulars a bit slow and awkward, but try to do some of my knitting on straights and some on circulars to help with RSI. I find large sizes particularly awkward, and knitting on one 4.5mm point and one 9mm point just adds another level of fiddlyness!

I’m wishing I’d done it on straights and needed a rest from it, so I got distracted by my Brona jumper in Mohair Haze. It’s so soft to knit with and 38cm of st st with no shaping was perfect to work on whilst at the Knitting & Stitching show, on train journeys to visit friends last weekend and on a couple of lazy days this week whilst recovering from having my wisdom tooth out. I’ve nearly finished the back already!

I also have a large Christmas pressie on the go – but obviously can’t talk about that just yet. Hopefully I’ll get it done in time!

And then there is always the chest of shame. Some of us have ‘the back of the wardrobe’ or ‘behind the sofa’ – I have a wooden chest full of half finished and planned but not started projects. This currently features a lonely mitten, a random granny square which might become a cushion, yarn for a felted bath mat, Some Bow Slippers that need another bow, yarn for wash-cloths and the obligatory half sock. Maybe sharing them here will inspire me to crack on with them!

And of course there are also my sewing projects which I talked about in last weeks blog and my rather epic rag rug! I started it two years ago when I decorated my living room and on a whim decided to rip up the carpet and paint the floorboards – despite it being the coldest room in the house. I do love the floorboards but I’m desperate to get this rug finished as I’m sure it’ll warm up the room a bit. I regularly share close ups over on Instagram (#sundaynightisragrugnight), but I thought I would show you the whole thing so you can see how much is left to do.

ragrug

It’s about two metres wide and I started working from the centre out, but when I started to get disillusioned I began working from the centre patch to the edges so that I felt like I was getting more done.

I spend about two hours each week (well – most weeks) on it and it’s taken two years to get to this point – encouragement please!

Patchwork Cushion

 When I sorted out my work room, I discovered that I have a ridiculous amount of lovely fabric scraps!

My friend Steph recently completed a beautiful paper-pieced quilt and I felt inspired to have a go. I want to do a double bed sized hexi quilt – which will probably take decades! So I thought starting off with some patchwork cushions would be a good way to give paper-piecing a try.

wpid-img_20150111_184353.jpgI really enjoyed making the cushion. The main reason I like knitting more than sewing is the fact that sewing often needs more equipment or requires digging my machine out from under a pile of fabric. But hand stitching is rather relaxing! I used a Prym fabric glue pen to stick the fabric to the paper pieces so I didn’t have to fiddle about with tacking – it did the job and rinsed out easily after removing the paper.

My list of to-do’s for the living room is gradually shrinking. I’m mostly keen to finish the rag rug because it’s amazing how much colder the room is now I’ve taken up the carpet! I could just buy a rug but that would be too easy wouldn’t it?

I’m happy with the results for my first try and I’m planning to make another with the same fabric but with hexagons rather than triangles.

Then I can start planning the long term quilt project!

Back to Reality!

It’s always a shock to the system getting back to work in January, but it certainly feels a bit different now that I’m self-employed! I’ve got lots of projects to work on over the next few months (sorry I can’t tell you yet) – and I’m really excited about getting 2015 started.

I don’t want to make you jealous, but the transition between Christmas holidays and back to work was pretty easy as I just had to get up and go to my lovely little workroom at home!

But there are downsides. When you work at home, it can be difficult to just shut the door and switch off from it. There is also a certain amount of guilt in not working when there is no-one to authorise your holiday (and no holiday pay). I often end up going a bit crazy with the diy and personal knitting, because if I’m busy doing something else I can justify not working!

My Christmas break was no different and I did a lot of bits and bobs but struggled to settle on one thing. As a result – I have one mitten, a stitched edge on a very unfinished rag rug, approx half a cardigan, an unfinished hexi blanket, an unfinished sofa arm cover and a bit more than half a scarf which was meant to be my boyfriends Christmas present (oops).

I was very busy doing bits of everything but didn’t finish anything! I don’t have new years resolutions as such – but I’m going to try to do the following –

  • Do a bit more ‘nothing’. My new mindfulness book and weekly pilates lessons should help with this.
  • Don’t start any new selfish making projects until I finish some. Focus!
  • Give myself a holiday allocation and try not to feel guilty about having days off.

How was your first week back to reality?!

Rag Rug

When I decorated my living room last year I took up the carpet and painted the floorboards with some beautiful Farrow & Ball floor paint. I love it and the room feels so much bigger- but floorboards just aren’t that cosy!

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I decided that the best solution to create a warm and cosy floor would be a handmade rag rug. I was inspired by a sample I saw in M&G designs in Louth, where they are running rag rug classes. I’ve chosen neutral colours- picking out the lighter tones from my curtains and sofa. The light colours will mean the room still feels spacious- but I’m hoping that the mix of colours and textures won’t show the dirt!

I had an old tweedy skirt that I’m also cutting up to use, but most of the fabric comes from incredibly cheap curtains and blankets from Ikea. I used pinking sheers to cut the curtain strips because it does fray a bit. The ideal fabric for this is fleece, because it doesn’t fray- so if you can get the colours you want in fleece blankets, they’re perfect.

 

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I’m new to rag rugging- but it’s such an easy craft. I watched this how-to, bought a tool and some sack fabric on ebay and got started. I’m whizzing through my crafty to-do’s at the moment. Although I think it’ll be a while before I’m ticking this one off the list- it’s quite time consuming and I want a big rug!

It’s just about big enough to fit both my feet on so far- and it really feels lovely underfoot so I’m very excited about getting it finished in time for winter! And don’t you just love it when the back of something looks nice? I think this looks like pebbles.

 

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Have you tried your hand at any new crafts recently?

Fine Art Scarf

I have finished another crafty to-do!

Whatever else I’m working on-I always like to have at least one project on the go that’s simple and doesn’t require much thought. At the end of a long hard day, the last thing I want is to tackle something complicated. I also do a lot of my knitting in the pub with friends- so it’s important to be able to chat and drink wine at the same time!

 

final border

 

 

My lovely friend Amy regularly inspires me with her knits and she had recently finished an asymmetric scarf using a variegated yarn. I had three  hanks of the beautiful Rowan Fine Art sock yarn screaming out to be knitted and I decided this would be the perfect simple project for over Christmas. I hardly used any of the third hank so you can definitely make a decent length scarf with just two hanks.

I cast on three stitches and increased on each alternative row until I was happy with the width and then started to increase and decrease on each alternative row (as I am with my mood scarf). When it was almost as long as I wanted, I started just decreasing until three stitches. Simple!

What’s next on your crafty to-do list?!

Yarn provided by Rowan

Mum’s cardie

I’ve finished one of my ‘crafty to-do’s‘!

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For a while now, my mum has been talking about knitting something. She even got as far as borrowing some needles and a ball of yarn from my stash! She had a bit of a play- but I think I left her disillusioned when I pointed out that she works into the back of all her knit stitches, thus twisting them.

I tried to re-ignite her interest by buying her some beautiful Rowan Lima and Sarah Hatton’s 10 More Simple Cosy Projects book as a Christmas present in 2012.

wpid-img_20140308_143820.jpgI’ve recomended this book to a lot of new knitters or people returning to knitting after a long break. It has lovely simple patterns and they’re all written out in full rather than knitting abbreviations so it’s perfect for gaining the confidence to tackle a garment.


Unfortunately my plan failed and the yarn and book were still sitting in the box a year later. So on Christmas eve 2013 I started knitting the Wanderer Cardigan myself! Despite being really quick and simple, I managed to make a few little mistakes through lack of concentration- but the odd mistake just adds to the charm doesn’t it? Finished in time for Mothers day- and if she doesn’t like it- it fits me!

I’m still keen to get my mum into knitting! Does anyone have any tips or tales of successfully inspiring someone to pick up the needles?