Four Quarter Stashdown

We recently moved house. It’s great! I will hopefully blog some actual house stuff at some point, since I will be doing curtains and the like. For now, let me just say, it’s bigger, cleaner, lighter, and near the beach. This beach:

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So that’s pretty amazing (I still can’t quite believe it). Also, I have a craft room again! The king bed fit perfectly in what was the last owner’s nursery. So all that’s in there is the bed, side tables, and the built in wardrobe. A couple of people have expressed surprise that the biggest room isn’t the bedroom, but that seems like a real waste of space to me, since for sleep hygiene purposes I don’t like to hang out in the bedroom.

Instead, I scored the big room. Mwhahahaha! I do have my/the spare bed in there.We always like to have a spare bed since both of us snore, usually mildly but if we have a cold or it’s very pollen-y it gets worse. So it’s nice to have somewhere else to go when that’s an issue. Plus we have pretty different body clocks, so it’s nice to be able to pass out without someone keeping you up if they aren’t ready for bed yet. At the moment my sister is home – she’s come back from Ireland to study in Melbourne, and she’s spending a couple of weeks here first. So she’s got the use of the room and the bed. Very nice to be able to host people easily!

Before we moved, most of my stash was in the shed for six months or more. I did have crafting space but I gave most of it up for general living space, since the last house was so cramped. It was much better for everyone but it meant organising to craft was a big palaver. I know having designated crafting space at all is a pretty big luxury, but it was hard to adjust to not having any after having a whole house to myself.

In the summer holidays, our task was to unpack all the shed boxes from the last house. We’d unpacked the everyday stuff but stuff from the last shed just went into this shed. I knew if we didn’t get to it soon it would just be there for the next five years. It included the majority of my stash, and I wanted it. So I got to the task of finding it a home.

You guys… I have a lot of stash.

I am ok with having a lot of stash. I use it. I like it. But it’s a bit unbalanced and poorly planned and used. I have a lot of random crafting supplies that I’ve been hanging onto for years. I have nice materials that I am afraid I’ll ruin. I have a WHOLE BOX of plain black fabric. I keep buying it because I think ‘oh! I need some more plain black work skirts!’ and then I don’t sew them, and then the next time I see appropriate fabric and it’s nice or on sale I think ‘I DO need some work skirts. This is a sensible purchase!’.

I have no problem with having stash, but I want to use it. I want it to be useful. I want it to be small enough that I know where everything is, and it would be nice if it were small enough to fit into my room! Or at least mostly. At the moment I have:DSCF7595

Drawers of my sewing table have mostly bits and pieces in them, since this is the most sensible way to store this stuff. There is a drawer for things I use while sewing, like pins and scissors. A drawer for projects I am working on and have put aside for now. A drawer for interfacing, one for knitting needles, one for computer stuff, stationery, you get the idea. I have more of these drawer units but I’ve put them in the shed because I want the legroom more.

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This will eventually be my cutting table. I mean it IS my cutting table, perfectly functional as is but it’s not finished – I need to paint the wood and attach it and put castors on it so I can wheel it away from the wall and get all around it for cutting out. (also, say hello to my purple terlet). Those bins hold a whole lot, which is nice! This is where my fabric is, and it basically all fits, with a few exceptions. I also have my patterns in a big IKEA box in one of the cubes. They all fit, but just. Books obviously are on the shelves above the desk. I need to re-sort the bins so they are logically organised, and maybe label them.

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Half the linen closet. Ok, it’s a big space and we don’t have that much linen but really I would prefer to not have filled this up as much. It’s not an ideal use of the space, and if I AM using it, the stuff in here isn’t very well arranged. There’s a lot of misc. crafting stuff here – beading stuff, tatting, candle making stuff that I ordered and never used, quilting, vintage sheets that I want to use for crafting that don’t fit in the other room. Notebooks that I’ve never used but they’re cute and I don’t want to throw them. I just realised I bought most of them in China, which means they are 10 years old. What is wrong with me? That was rhetorical, thanks.

This is the bit I am the most unhappy with. It’s just not what I want to be using this space for, and it’s not organised in a way that I can access the stuff anyway. It’s basically just shoved into a cupboard to be forgotten about. (Soap making stuff is in the laundry cupboard and can stay there, it fits nicely and it gets used).

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One third of the wardrobe in S’s study. S has the third bedroom as his study, although the plan is that when G moves out in a year (or so) S will move into the external bedroom – it was the garage and the last owners refinished it to be a room, and added a carport instead. When that happens the study will probably just be a spare bedroom, but the details are still in flux. In the meantime it’s S’s study/private hangout room, but he kindly volunteered the wardrobe for misc. storage. Most of it has things like board games and winter coats, but this side holds my yarn, in four fabric bins. I have been pretty brutal in culling the yarn, to be honest. I don’t want to have stash yarn I am not excited to knit with, since knitting takes so long. I do not knit at the speed I used to!

So, that is what is there. It is too much, not proportionate to how I use it, and poorly organised. But that’s ok! I have a plan!

I almost didn’t blog this because I want this to be pretty loose, and not to set myself up for (inevitable) failure. But I think I need to put it out there and make it solid. You’all won’t judge me if I proceed to not do any of this… right?

I am going to do a fairly casual quarter based stashdown. I need a bit of a push, I think, to get back to crafting as a default activity. I just totally got out of the habit when I didn’t have designated crafting space. I am trying to not look at screens after I get home, which is actually going ok now, after a rocky start. Not a strict rule, more a guideline to get me to stop frittering away my time – I’m on the computer in the evening now, for instance, but I’m DOING a THING, not just checking Instagram every five minutes. But I often find myself at a loss without a screen, and I want to use that time to craft instead of looking at my craft room and thinking ‘nahhh, no time’ and then staring at the wall for an hour. (Ok not exactly but you know. Not doing anything that couldn’t be put off or done quicker).

I was going to start this from January but obvs that’s almost over, and my sister will be in my craft room until start of Feb. So I’m starting it for myself Feb 1st, which also means the last quarter will get some of my regular summer break in it. It also means the first three quarters all get a craft camp in them – whether I go or not, there’s an extra push there to prioritise crafting. Here are my aims:

Q1 (Feb-April) – Basics

Gonna get through that tub of black fabrics. Gonna sew some things I know will work and get worn, and some new things that fill specific needs. Gonna pump up my wardrobe which needs some gaps filled (I was going really well and then dropped the ball).

Q2 (May-July) – Non core crafts

My main crafts are sewing and knitting. I also have, as you have seen, random craft tools. Some of those are useful and worth keeping. Some are crafts I regularly dabble in. Some are… not ever going to be my thing, not unless I retire and have far far more time I need to kill. So I would prefer to use the space they are taking up. This quarter will be about getting some of those crafts out, having a go  If I reach the end of the quarter with a particular craft untouched, that means I am not into it and the supplies have to go.

My main focus in this bit will be quilting, though. I’ve got most of a quilt cut out that I started in my honours year. It’s flannel (mmm snuggly!) in autumn colours (uuugh) because that’s what I could find at the time. I don’t love it. But I am pretty sure S will! I need to take it out and assess if I want to finish making it. If not, out it goes. If yes, I would like to at least get a good way through piecing the top. I also have some random jelly rolls etc that I’ve been given over the years, it would be nice to make a mini quilt for the living room, and maybe one for the spare bed. Not that I think all those things will happen in this quarter, but aim high, right?

Q3 (August-October) – Knitting

Wintertime! Crack that yarn out! As I said I was pretty brutal with the yarn but there are some jumper’s worths of yarn that could be knit up or gotten rid of. I would actually like to accumulate some MORE stash yarn, more yarn I am excited about, but I want to clear the space for it first. I’d like to keep my yarn stash essentially the same size, but with more good stuff in. I don’t anticipate knitting several jumpers, but winter is a good time to concentrate on the pointy sticks and get some movement happening there.

Q4 (November – January) – No pressure!

Back to sewing. I have things in my stash I am scared to sew because they are too nice. Or clothes I want to wear that I am putting off sewing because they are fiddlier and harder, like fitted shirts and shirtdresses and a dress out of that butterfly fabric I bought two years ago, and a By Hand London Anna dress with proper bust darts and maybe that Sewaholic maxi skirt with the pieced hem, or a Colette pattern or two. This is the time for them! Possibly setting myself up for failure at the tired end of the year, but it’s got to be some time.

 

My aim in this is to focus on those themes in those quarters, but not exclusively. I particularly want to be knitting and sewing basics throughout the year. The stashdown doesn’t only mean using things up. It also means assessing the stash and passing it on where it doesn’t suit my needs anymore, or is unlikely to get used in the next five years. It also means no acquiring new stuff until I at least START to make some headway. Unless it is perfect and/or on sale. No, wait! Not even then. If I’m not sewing all of these things I have the supplies for and am really excited about, then I’m not going to sew whatever it is I want the new fabric for. I’m not making strict rules for myself about when I am allowed to buy stuff again, just going to try to be a bit sensible about it.

Ideally, I would LOVE to be able to fit my yarn stash into my craft room, and the linen press stuff into where the yarn is now. Even getting close to that would be great.

Anyone else out there have too much stash? Don’t lie. Anyone else have exactly the right amount of stash, but needs to use it? Want to play along, with mine or your own goals?

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September garden

Here is what happens when you mulch the garden beds and then don’t go outside in daylight for the next three months.

It goes mental.

Here’s what’s happening in this photo. In the foreground are some brassicas – purple brussel sprouts and sprouting broccoli – that started out in a garden bed to the left. This bed gets pretty much zero direct light, so I don’t know why I bothered planting in it – it’s great for lettuce in the summer but that’s about it. Anyway, because it gets no light the brassicas did nothing for three months, then escaped the beds to find some sun. Now they’re actually sprouting and I haven’t the heart to pull them up because they are finally doing something.

There’s a raised garden bed at the back of this photo. Behind all the seeding rocket. Also, three mostly-clear beds which you can’t see because they’re behind weeds.

(Please excuse the horror in the shed, and the drying washing looking for some sun)

In the ongoing battle with the three cornered jacks, if it’s not a three cornered jack, or in a place where I want to plant something else, it gets to stay.

I was going to just mow the weeds this weekend, but I’ve come down with some horrible disease (feeling very sorry for myself at the moment)  so the most I managed was this:

Hypothetically that’s a herb bed. There’s still some sage, and a parsley bush going mental – those are big stalks of parsley that I hacked off and used as mulch, at the front. There’s also a tonne of self seeded silverbeet, which is excellent. I’m mostly going to plant tomatoes and leafy stuff this year, since that’s mostly what I eat, and it’s also hard to buy good quality greens etc. I will eat pretty much 100% of all tomatoes and leafy greens I grow, so it’s a lot of bang for the gardening buck.

Tomatoes are stupidly expensive at the moment because of the Queensland shenanigans – I went to a farmer’s market on the weekend where there was a single stall with non-blemished tomatoes. They were $8 a kilo which is actually pretty good (it’s up the $12 in the supermarket near me) and there was an absolute scrum to get to them. I just bought blemished ones at $4 a kilo and they’re very nice, thank you. But not the same as home grown ones.

I’ve given up on curcurbits, even though I’ll eat all the zucchini I can get, because something nearby has powdery mildew – I blame my own and the neighbour’s frangipanis – and I just can’t fight it. Besides, they’re cheap in season and pretty easy to buy good ones. So I’ll concentrate on silverbeet, lettuce and rocket, all of which I’ve grown with great success. See: massive rocket weeds above. The flowers are very pretty, I think. They WERE moderate, bushy plants before I just went inside for winter, so these ones’ll come up but the next lot which are springing up now can stay, and I’ll see how they taste. And I’ll plant more from seed. My problem last year was that I got excited about all the different things I could grow and over committed. If I have leafy greens, a decent herb garden, tomatoes and maybe an eggplant and capsicum bush, I’ve always got dinner. That’s enough commitment while I’m working full time. If I’m sensible about it I might be able to plan it well enough not to need to bed it all down over winter.

I made it slightly further down the bed. Jeez, look at those weeds. Just ridiculous. I wasn’t kidding about not having been outside in daylight for the last three months, you know. In weeding this bed I found THREE secret chicken nests. Sneaky buggers. Who knows where they’re laying now. They’re so small they just look like shadows, and I just can’t see them when they’re hiding. They love the weeds, but were equally pleased with the grubs uncovered and the straw to muck about it.

Lunchtime, doubly so.

Jesus, they’ve changed the format of wordpress AGAIN? I can’t keep up. Shows how neglected this poor blog is.

Anyway, I just sort of accidentally signed up for a Make it In May skirt thing at Curlypops. I blame Tanya. Also, my need for more winter skirts. And my desire to go fabric shopping. This weekend is a free weekend, mostly, and I want to do some sewing. I need to take in my craft camp skirts – they’re wearable, just, but big enough that they actually work their way around sideways if I’m doing anything active. I also want to make another couple of the same skirt, maybe in corduroy, because winter is looming and I only have jeans, really. Not too many skirts that work with tights or stockings, and keep me warm. I also need some more footless tights, and the one pair that fits isn’t sold anymore, so I’m thinking of using it as a pattern. Plus, I have searched high and low for a fleece jumper that is thick enough to keep me warm, but not $1 million, so that I can wear it around the house doing things. No go. Nada. Zip. I’m pretty sure I can make one that’s daggy enough to get flour or soil all over it.

Speaking of soil, I need to get into the garden. I’ve decided to let it go fallow again over winter – I just don’t get any light during the week, and my weekends are usually too busy. So I’m going to revamp it and mulch it and bed it down. Maybe plant some things that can grow without too much attention – some lettuce and spinach and the like. My zucchinis keep getting terrible, fast onset powdery mildew. One day they’re fine, the next, irrideemable. Which is upsetting because I will eat all the zucchinis I can get. I suspect the Fragnipani tree which has suspicious white leaves. Another reason to pull the damned thing out (I hate it). Maybe when the tamarillo in the front yard is a bit bigger and can provide summer shade – if it doesn’t fall over, it’s leaning dangerously and I have yet to find time to stake it. And I need to prune and stake some other trees. Which I meant to do last winter, and didn’t find time to.

Time is mysteriously thin on the ground around here. There should be heaps of it, really, but there never seems to be.

Dreams

Dreamt about packing for craft camp last night. Dream me is more organised than real me. On the plus side, it was nice to have decided what fabric to bring without having to take time out of my day.

I realised the other day that Sewjourn is my happy place. Specifically the driveway. Ok, that sounds weird, let me explain. I can picture myself here:

Or here:

It’s a liminal space – in between, a gateway, a crossroads. There’s not much going on, so I can create it well in my mind’s eye. It’s quiet, and clean, and bright. And whichever way I’m going, I’m on the way both to and from something lovely. I’m heading back from the studio after a morning of making and chatting and laughing, to a delicious meal, or a quiet contemplative bath. Or maybe I’ve been reading in the house and I’m heading back to be with my crafty family. There is joy and love and comfort waiting for me. Probably I am still chuckling about something someone said as a parting shot as I slipped out of the studio, or I have my head down thinking about what I am going to make when I get back there.

If I am in my real life, and I need a breath of fresh air or a moment of calm, that is what I picture. This view:

Or this one:

I’ve needed it this week, too, that dose of calm, that deeper breath. There have been several infuriating meetings and the like. Good thing I’ll be back there soon, to restock my supply of calm.

I also dreamt that I went to the fat fashion swap in Melbourne. When I found out about it, I seriously considered flying in for the day to go to it. I am not going to do that, but maybe some of you would be interested. Here is the facebook page with the information.

In less literal dreams, I finished Abby’s blanket that I was knitting for my bestie’s child.

I did, of course, make an error in the lace. I got off by a few stitches, for a few rows, and didn’t notice for a while. I set my chin and refused to tink back, because I was on a deadline, and my bestie is of the ‘that’s how you know it was handmade with love’ school of thought. I kind of wish I’d fixed it. Or at least taken close ups of a different part of the blanket.

It’s actually quite hard to spot in real life – I’m not fooling myself either. While it was blocking I looked for it so I could fret over it, as you probe a sore tooth. It took me a good minute to locate it.

Blanket ravelry details here.

Said baby was due on Sunday, as I was blocking the blanket. It’s still not here, and I’d appreciate it holding out a little while longer. I finished a matching Puerperium cardigan on the bus this morning. I brought needles and buttons to work and I’m going to finish the finishing at lunch, and then drop the two of them over tonight.

I requested that the baby not come this weekend, while I am away. On reflection, though, that would be fine – the respective families are going to descend and wouldn’t get a chance to smuggle the much awaited brie into the hospital for a while, anyway. So this weekend is fine, just… wait a few more hours, baby. The knitting is not ready yet.

Try again

Oh, dear.

I wrote out this whole post about how I haven’t been around because I’m tired, and then wordpress ate it. (And also this one, which I’d cleverly written in Word, first. It seems it didn’t like photos being included?)

Probably for the best – it got a bit maudlin. Well, it is Monday morning, after all. Only three weeks till holidays, though. I am looking forward to them.

I sort of accidentally volunteered to organise the family Christmas. I’m not hosting, it’s at Grandmas, but I’m doing the running around and herding cats organising family members. Mostly just telling who to bring what. But it’s good, I’ve been trying to involve myself more with my family. There were a few thing this year that I felt left out of, and while part of it probably was certain family members not thinking of me, a good part of it was that with most of my cousins interstate or overseas, my contact with the general family is limited. So I am trying to rectify that.

I anticipate that family Christmas will be painful but good. We had a big family birthday/reunion type thing a few months ago, after which I was really upset for no particular reason. I think I need to do some more processing – which is good, because it means I am in a place where I can actually do that. Progress, emotional continence, etc. In the mean time, though, it’s leaving me a bit limp and faded. I was just describing it to a friend as it feeling like my emotional bones are aching. I feel physically fine, but keep catching myself walking carefully, and holding myself as if I hurt. Keep having vivid, confusing, emotional dreams, too, that I can’t remember but mean I wake up completely un-rested. Only to be expected, really, as we head in to December. I’m fine, though. Taking it easy on myself, and I could be better, but all in all, totally fine.

As frustrating as this time of year business is, it does mean it has a time limit. Three weeks till holidays, when I can sleep all day. Then trauma week. Then festivities, then one more week of holiday to enjoy the summer. Not so long, really.

Anyway, long story short, I’m around, although some days even logging in to leave a comment just seems like too much effort. I am looking forward to being less tired, so I can sit outside in the twilight, having drinks with friends. And I am grateful for all the company and metaphorical cups of tea and cocktails that you internet people provide me with.

Productivity

At the risk of jinxing myself, I am going great guns at the moment.  The last few after-work evenings have been very productive.  I’ve been out in the garden, weeding and sorting.  The three cornered jacks are back, but in smaller numbers, and I reckon I’ll have them cleared out by the end of the week – it would have been earlier but I was waiting for them to be big enough to weed easily.  I went to Bunnings the other day for miscellaneous supplies (why is it that I always remember something ELSE I needed, as soon as I’ve gotten home form a Bunnings trip…) and they had a whole bunch of sad-looking seedlings selling for $1 a punnet.  I whacked up some dodgy temporary fences around extra garden beds, so that the chickens couldn’t maul them, and whacked them in.  Now they’ve perked up and I’m sort of hoping some of them won’t make it.  Because I have seeds I planted in pots coming in, and if all of the Bunnings seedlings I got thrive, I won’t have anywhere to put them!

Well, maybe I’ll get the front yard mulched and then I can put some out there.  It is to laugh, I think I’ve been getting ready to mulch the front yard for about 6 months.  I even got halfway through before I ran out of mulch and oomph.  Still, I have something like 5 cubic metres sitting in my back yard, and if I do’t get a wriggle on, it’ll all turn to compost.

No photos of all this productivity, I’m afraid.  I feel like a post is so boring without photos, but I haven’t cracked my camera out for ages.  Might try to do that tonight.  I had a peep at my rav projects, too, and decided that some of the photos are inadequate.  Don’t you hate it when there are no good project pictures for something, despite 100 people having finished one?  So I’ll have to have a photo shoot session, perhaps.

Speaking of knitting, also going great guns.  I finished the FBS – barring one seam and the buttons.  S was over on Saturday and feeling poorly, so we basically spent the whole day on the couch.  I took the opportunity to power through, and I knit all of it from the sleeves down in one day.  For some reason I felt like this project took forever, but I only started it on the 2nd, so it took me just under 2 weeks to knit, including time where I didn’t touch it because it was making me feel pouty.  I think because the top bit with the yoke and the sleeves took so much mental energy to figure out, I felt like I was over halfway done.  So when it PURPOSEFULLY CONTINUED not to be finished, I lost patience.  I am feeling quite pleased with it, and it would already be seamed etc except after two hours of weeding an evening I somehow don’t feel like I can come at mattress stitching, even if it is only for an inch.  But I think there will be more of these – at a family do on Sunday my grandma gave me some leftover Luxury in a lovely purple.  It’s not enough to make an adult sized thing, and I don’t really wear purple, but it’s PERFECT for FBS or other baby things.

I am knitting Riding to Avalon like crazy, too.  I’m almost done the increases, almost up to the shaping for the sleeves.  Zooming along. I’m sure it will slow down when it’s too big to be bus knitting.  I’m also making progress on Phyllo, but it’s a bit slower, because it’s knit back and forth and I am slower purling.  Plus, I just don’t like it as much.  Purling, that is.  I did consider knitting this in the round, and I wish I had.  But now I’m 9 inches in, I don’t feel like ripping it.  Given that that 9 inches has happened in about 10 days of intermittent bus knitting (only when it has been too hot for wool), I think this will go fast enough that I don’t get too annoyed.  But from now on, I think I’m going to knit in the round whenever it’s not too hard to convert. It’s just faster, and funner.

I am considering doing something like that 12 jumpers in a year challenge that some people did last year.  I feel like I maybe said something like this last year (or maybe the year before?) and it never happened, (or was that sewing) but… I was thinking that baby stuff would count.  Given that I already have one thing off the needles and another one halfway there, I don’t feel that it’s too over ambitious. I’d like to be more deliberate in enhancing my wardrobe, this year.  I want to knit to the gaps in my wardrobe, and knit things that make me feel eager to wear them.  Or perhaps I could make it a 12-wearable-things.  I’m not making any solid resolutions because you know how these things go.  But maybe an unofficial challenge to myself?  I’d like to have enough FOs to make a lovely mosaic at the end of the year, at least!