Notes On Procrastination

Craftwise, 2016 hasn’t been a great year.

That might be an unfair statement; I have been crafting away but I seem to be failing to finish a project. Actually, that’s not so true either. So practised is the fine art of procrastination in me that I managed to actually finish something before getting around to writing this. Seriously, if putting things off was an Olympic sport, I’d probably put off participating til next time.

Anyway, this is the finished project; a crochet scarf that hasn’t been blocked yet. It’s off the hook but in this house that’s as finished as it’s going to be for a while: Charmed Forest made with Rico Superba Poems. If you were wondering, the yarn is terrible. It goes from as thin as lace to almost unspun clumpy stuff :-( The colour is what attracted me and I think it looks good, but I wouldn’t work with it again.

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Also, on the go is this Volcan Modular Scarf from Stolenstitches book Short Row Knits. I’ve been at this one since the book launch in This Is Knit last October. I fell in love with it when I saw the sample. I’m using Townhouse Yarns Grafton 4-ply in Antigua and Malabrigo Sock in Caribeno. Two fantastic yarns to work with :-) Initially it worked up quite quickly. I’m on the very last wedge but seem to be stuck, for no reason really, just slow to move on. It’s so big that I can’t get the whole thing in a photo. However, as I so easily do, I got distracted, by other things.

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One of those things was finally finishing a (second) Flowery Cushion for my mother-in-law. All I really needed to do was sew on the leaves, but it had sat in a bag for nearly 5 years!! Even I am appalled at that! That’s still only 2 FO’s so far this year.

I also have a Magrathea on the needles. I started this in February as a quick project having inherited the beautiful yarn from a friend. I started it twice – the lace bit got the better of me a couple of times and it turns out unknitting lace is something only those with guru-level knitting skills can achieve. I have 19 more rows to do – that last charted section. I’m all ready to put in a lifeline and everything but I think my nerves got the better of me. I’m so close to the end I don’t want to mess it up.

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Lastly, I’m crocheting a pair of fingerless mitts to use up the yarn leftover from the crochet scarf. So these haven’t been on the go too long and I do need a simple and mindless ‘handbag project’.  But now that the kids are on summer holidays I can really knuckle down  and focus myself to progress these projects. If you don’t hear from me for a while I’m trapped under WiPs and I’ll knit my way out!!

XoX

Sewing It Up!

With all the crafts I learned in primary school – knitting, sewing (by hand), crochet and embroidery – the one thing I never learned was how to use a sewing machine. For the longest time I kept saying how I should go take a class but, of course, I never got round to it. A good few years ago my mother decided that the only way to get me to try my hand at machine sewing was to get me a machine. She picked up one of the Lidl sewing machines and gave it to me saying: ‘Now you have no excuse not to!’ Little did she know the depths of my procrastination!!!

IMG_3013I’m embarrassed to be admitting how long that machine sat in the spare room almost completely untouched (my husband has actually used it a couple of times for small jobs!). Last year I even crocheted a couple of bags, that I wanted lined, so that, once they were made I would have to learn to sew, so I could line them myself. Simples!! They have sat in a bag for a year. It was clearly not the incentive I thought it would be. But recently, as life has gotten quite a bit busier I have found myself putting more effort into making ‘Hilly’s Crafty Time’ (TM pending, take that MC Hammer!).

One Monday morning while the kids were at school I watched the instruction DVD, I filled a bobbin and I sewed on a practice piece of fabric. Then I felt ready to start the main event. I used this tutorial from Alice Merlino (a.k.a. futuregirl) and it made the whole job so easy. There’s a handy little worksheet that you print out and you fill in with all your measurements, then you just follow each step. I mean, I managed it!!

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IMG_2983The first bag was a simple granny square bag that I was making, partly because my daughter wanted a bag and partly because it would use up scrap yarn. To add some depth to the bag the strap continues between the front and back panels. The bag is lovely as is but really does need a lining so that things don’t fall out the ‘holes’ in the granny squares. The lining I used isn’t a perfect match to the bag but I had it going spare, and I think it’s fun. IMG_3014This is the finished lining ‘pocket’ I made and then it just hand-sewed it into the bag.

 

 

 

 

The second IMG_3029bag is the Starling bag designed by Alice Merlino. I made it in Debbie Bliss Pure Cotton (which I think is discontinued now), in green, cos I’ve always wanted a green handbag! It is very quick to workup and it took me no time at all. I IMG_3046got the fabric in Vibes & Scribes craft shop, and of course I got way more than I need because it was too pretty not to! Again, once the worksheet was filled out with measurements, I just followed the very simple steps to make the lining. This time I decided to be brave and I sewed a slip-pocket for the bag. I followed this tutorial which made it very straight forward, and I sewed the slip-pocket onto my bag lining just before I sewed up the sides. For no particular reason, except whimsy, I added some pink ribbons to the bag and then sewed the lining in.

IMG_3038My only problem with this bag is it is quite floppy – from looking at the other FO pictures on Ravelry I expected it to be more stable. I’m not sure why its not but maybe its the yarn I used? Or the lining fabric? I am happy with it, because it is pretty and I made it, so I have a great sense of achievement here. But I have not satisfied all my bag needs with this one, so there will be adventures along this theme.

 

XoX

A Different Kind of Hook!

At the end of last year I decided that for 2015 I was going to try my hand at some jewellery making. I like looking at pretty beads and an ever-growing Pinterest habit inspired me to think I could make pretty things with pretty beads. My new goal was supported at Christmas when I got presents of 3 jewellery books, beads, tools and findings – I am wondering if I went on about my new desire a bit too much :-/

The books I got were:

Spellbinding

This book has some really beautiful pieces in it but I think they are on the more advanced end of the jewellery making scale. There are some big pieces like purses and TIARAS – what grown-up girl doesn’t want a tiara? There are also smaller pieces like bracelets and earrings, but they do (at least to me) seem very complicated. It certainly gives me something to aim for.

 

 

 

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As the title suggests this book is all about earrings. Earrings seem to be a good way ‘in’ to the whole jewellery  making thing as they can be quite simple. The books broken into beginner, intermediate and advanced sections, so you can step your through to being an expert. It also gives a good introduction to the tools needed and some techniques.

 

 

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I was really excited about this book because it combines my favourite ‘old’ hobby with a hopefully new hobby. I have tried a little wire crochet before, its tough on the hands but it does look really good. I definitely want to try more and this book as inspired a bit already. It doesn’t focus on just wire crochet though, there is a good mix of projects that are wire or yarn-based.

 

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So far in my jewellery making adventures I have made earrings – they are quite easy but of course I started with wire, which isn’t that easy.  This is the first pair of earrings I made. I had a very limited selection of colours in my bead box at the time but I thought they came out ok. The wire wrapping is obviously poor but I’m hoping with practice that it gets easier and starts to look better.

PinkEarringsInspired by the Crochet Jewelry book, I made my second pair of earrings. I used the Dublin Dye Company lace yarn leftover from my Freyja shawl to crochet the big ‘beads’ and I had some spacer beads that matched. They’re not perfect but I’ve gotten some nice compliments on them and thats good enough for me.

 

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My latest pair of earrings were inspired by too many hours on Pinterest (I think this is going to be a running theme in my foreseeable future!). I saw button earrings and thought, I can do that, right!? So this is what I came up with – buttons, jump rings, a Swarovski bead (for good measure) and a little bit of wire wrapping. The wire wrapping is still not perfect but i think it has improved a bit.

 

So that’s how far I’ve gotten with jewellery making. I have lots of ideas for more sparkly projects and I may even branch out to bracelets. Ooh, steady on!

I would love to hear if you have experience in jewellery?

XoX

 

Turning to the Dark Side?

Having gone and found a clever crochet-related name for my website here I am publishing my second knitting post. I feel like I’m betraying my roots, or something :-/

As I said in my last post my Crochet Mojo has been an infrequent visitor and I am letting myself be distracted by other things. One of my distractions, amazingly enough, has been knitting! Getting back to crochet after last years shoulder injury didn’t go according to plan, as I could only crochet in short bursts before I got lots of pain. Knitting didn’t seem to cause the same aggravation and since my Color Affection experience had been so good and I have been wanting to try some more knitting, I started to look at knitting patterns. 

I found the Drag1-P1040827onfly Wings shawl from Boo Knits. I love dragonflies, so I felt this pattern was calling out to me (yes, I’ll say anything to justify a project decision). I chose some Blue Moon Fibre arts yarn that I had from Liz’s (of Reckless Knitting) destash. The colour is Watermelon Tourmaline and it turned out to be 2-P1040828just perfect for this shawl. The pattern looked easy enough with a little lace edging. I had to learn lots of new things to do the shawl, like:

  • garter tab cast-on –
  • m1l/m1r
  • cable cast on at the beginning of the row
  • lace stuff; yo, ssk, s2kpsso
  • purlwise cast-off

I also need to re-block it. It has a tendency to roll at the edges or maybe I’m not being aggressive enough in my blocking. Anyway, I do love this shawl and I’m very proud that I managed it with only a few mistakes :-)

That was June ’14. At the start of this year when my crochet mojo was nowhere to be found I started looking at knitting patterns again. I was trying to find a simple 1 skein project but most of those are shawls an5-P1040831d I wanted to do something else. Then I noticed 3 skeins of Malabrigo Lace sitting there in my stash!!! A quick search led me to Adrift by Carol Feller – a beautiful lace-weight cardigan, that looks simple enough for even me and could be made just in time for summer. So here I am a few weeks later and I’m making good progress. I have just finished the raglan increase for the shoulders (I’m making shoulders!!!), and I’m about to divide the sleeves. This cardigan is worked top down and seamless, so there is no danger it will lie in corner forever waiting to be sewn together.

I’m really excited about this as I NEVER thought I’d be knitting a cardigan. Never say Never!!!

XoX

 

A Little DIY Project

I recently rediscovered my jewellery. It is generally in a box, in the bottom drawer of my bedside table and I have noticed that because I don’t see it everyday I tend not to wear jewellery everyday. This has not always been the case and the realisation made me sad. Especially as one of my New Years Resolutions was to make some jewellery for myself. Since the start of the year I have made 2 pairs of earrings; not a huge amount but I am quite proud of the start I’ve made. (And more on that in a later post.)

The stuff

The stuff

Faced with this problem, I did what any self respecting crafter would do. I found myself on Pinterest looking for ideas for organising jewellery. As expected I was spoiled for choice. The simplest idea I found was a framed mesh that would hold french hook-style earring as well as necklaces and bracelets. I sketched something simple that even I, with my limited DIY capabilities could throw together, and off I popped to my local suppliers. Here’s what I got:

  • 1 wooden frame
  • a tin of furniture paint (Rust-Oleum Chalk Effect furniture paint)
  • a sheet of wire mesh
  • a pack of screw in hooks
  • a pack of picture hanging hooks

At Christmas I got a hot glue gun and I finally got to use it here. I also used a sanding square which I already had at home.

Frame - painted

First thing was to sand the wooden frame a little. The frame I bought had been lacquered/varnished. I wanted a more rustic look for my frame and also, as I was going to paint it, I wanted better absorption of the paint. So after sanding was done I gave the frame 2 coats paint, to give the frame a more distressed look after painting I could have sanded it again, lightly.

 

IMG_2959Once the paint was dry I cut the wire mesh to size. So I measured (twice!) and then set to work with my wire cutters. I glued it into position in the frame and left the glue to dry for a bit. All that was left was to screw in some picture hanging hooks on the back. I went for 2 that I could tie string between as I felt this would make it easier to balance one I started hanging things on it.

 

Lastly I screwed in some hooks on the front of the frame for hanging the necklaces/bracelets and tied the string at the back. And there it is, on the wall, and I’m so proud! I’ve already discovered that I can make something similar for my daughter so she can organise her hair grips, etc. So next DIY project already sorted.

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Happy days!

XoX