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:

IMG_3545 IMG_3540 IMG_3527 IMG_3522

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.

DSCF7596

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.

DSCF7599

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).

DSCF7600

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?

Advertisements

September craft camp

Last weekend was craft camp and I had been hanging out for it. Things have been a little fraught here. Everything’s fine but just lots of emotional conversations (mostly resolved now but boy are they tiring) and also just normal life taking its toll. I was ready for some time away, out of the ordinary stream of life. Some time with all those lovely women.

Well, I got that but I have to say it was probably the worst craft camp I’ve ever been to. Which is to say, I still had a wonderful time. The bar is pretty high, is all. There was still wonderful food and company and laughter but it was also the election weekend, so that was depressing, and several of us were sick. I had thought I had just shaken something off in time to be fine for camp but either I was mistaken or I got another thing, because I woke up on Friday morning feeling not quite right. If I’d been as unwell then as I felt on Saturday I wouldn’t have gone, and I’m terribly afraid that I’ve infected other people, which is making me feel really guilty.

Anyhow I had no brain at all and basically achieved nothing, craft wise. I was going to go for a couple pairs of pants and muslining some other things. Instead I spent a lot of time staring blankly at the wall or sleeping, and my total FO count was two totally shit potholders. One has wrinkly binding and the other is a trapezoid with wrinkly binding.

Shit potholders
Shit potholders. So wonky.

I did trace out some things, and I sewed up a McCalls 6559 maxi dress that was meant to be a wearable muslin but might just be a muslin, due to super thin fabric and dodgy finishing on my part. It was a $2 remnant so I’m not sorry, because at least it was a successful muslin. I’m going to keep it and see if I wear it as a heat wave dress, even thought the neckline and armscyes are too low. The dress is so simple, just sewing up the shoulders, then the side seams, then hemming the edges, so now that I know what adjustments to make it would take me about a half an hour to make. For the record, those adjustments are tp raise the neck and armscye by 2cm, bring in the sides by 2cm until the hips – so much ease! This size should technically be too small for me but it was in fact too big (except that I don’t want it too clingy on my hips so it can be too big there, that’s fine).

I also did some knitting on my Essential Cardigan and got it over a few humps – you know, those bits where you have to sit down and think about something or sew something or pick up a million stitches or do something else that you can’t do on the bus or in five minutes before bed. I now am knitting on the front band, and have about half of a sleeve left. I reckon taking that as bus knitting this week will polish that off, and then I’ll need some new bus knitting because I don’t really want to lug the whole jumper on the bus. Incidentally, the pattern has you seam the shoulders, the sides and put the arms on before picking up the bands. What? I’ve just seamed the shoulders and I’ll do the rest when the bands are done.

It would be nice to finish it because I really need some more good, basic knitwear in my wardrobe. Just in time for spring?

I’ve done a lot of adjusting of this jumper so I hope it fits. At craft camp I also ripped out 1/4 of a sleeve due to one wrong ribbing row (it would have bugged me) and three rows of the band because of half a row of wrong ribbing (likewise). Worth it, but frustrating.

Oh and I took some nice pictures of clouds from the plane. I guess it wasn’t a complete loss. And I relaxed and saw friends and had fun. Never to be underestimated.

I was actually feeling a lot better by the time I got home (although today at work was a bit rough and I took a lot of cold and flu tablets), so I sat down and instead of unpacking I sewed two new potholders. This time I cut them larger than I needed so I could trim them down to ensure straightness, and I hand sewed the binding. I don’t mind hand sewing, if I have the right needle and there’s not too much, and it was the only way I was going to be happy with them. Definitely worth it. The binding on the astronauts is still a bit weird on one side because I’d come to the end of my self-made bias binding, and it was a bit wobbly.

Less shit potholders
Less shit potholders

Actually the binding could probably count as a craft camp project – I worked out the continuous bias binding method. I’m quite proud. Maybe I’ll pack some bias binding to make, in plain colours, for every craft camp. It was a really good starting project – complex enough to get me in gear but repetitive enough that launching into it didn’t feel daunting before I was in gear. And you can never have too much bias binding in the stash, right?

I could do with some more potholders myself, so I guess I’ll keep the dodgy ones. The less-dodgy ones are destined to be part of a birthday present for my sister, who loves space. Her birthday was last month. Whoops. I also want to sew her some bags so I better get on that.

If nothing else, camp did jerk me out of normal life a bit. I’m hoping to use that to get out of the rut of spending my spare time doing things like reading the whole internet or playing computer games. Things I like and I am not giving up but, really, small doses would be fine and they mean I never get to the bits that make life feel really satisfying. This is my constant battle (as you probably know, having read about it before on the blog), getting out from in front of a screen and doing those things. It’s always worth it but sometimes it’s just too hard. If I’ve got no brain it feels too difficult to sit down and sew, or make decisions about things, and I sit down in front of a screen as a transition activity and just never get up. Plus a lot of my friends live inside those screens, so it’s not like I’m not making connections and doing useful things when I am on the computer. It’s just that the balance is off. I’d like to set it up so instead of defaulting to the screen I spend at least a little time each evening doing some sewing. I think it’s a habit that will be tricky to build but would be worth it if I can pull it off.

Juniper pants

Last craft camp I made some Colette Juniper pants and I am just now blogging them, because it’s taken me that long to find a time to take photos when it is light. It’s not easy to photograph black pants, you know.

These are made in a cotton linen blend from spotters. Giordano used to sell some cotlin pants that I first found when I was living in China and for several years afterwards I bought a pair a year and LIVED in them in summer but of course they invariably wore out in the thighs so I never kept any for very long, and they weren’t so cheap. Then the store in the city closed down so I could never get there and now it seems like there actually aren’t any stores in SA and besides I’m probably too fat for them now. I still have a pair of them, in natural linen, sitting in the stash. I am pretending that I will use the fabric for something eventually. It is very nice fabric, but to be honest it’s more sentimentality than thriftiness. All that to say, I had those pants in mind when I chose this fabric.

I’ve been wanting wide legged pants for a while. I was apprehensive, though, because I wasn’t sure how they would look on me and I couldn’t find any in stores that would fit well enough for me to get an idea. And I’d auditioned another pair of palazzo-type pants, from OOP Simplicity 3870 which I bought in an op shop and they were… not good. They were definitely not drafted for my particular shape, and there was too much going on for me to know where to start adjusting them. Pants are complicated. But then Sue generously gifted me the Juniper pattern, which I’d been eyeing off ever since it came out, so I thought I’d give them a go.

I was very nervous about making pants. There’s a lot to pants, and a lot to go wrong. But from the measurements it seems like Colette is drafted pretty much for my shape as well as my personal style, so I set out to have a go. I made a muslin and took each step slowly and carefully, making the proper markings and doing tailors tacks and EVERYTHING. It took me pretty much the whole weekend but I am really pleased both with the pants and with my own sewing progress. Slowing down and doing things properly is hard work for me, but it’s just so worth it.  It did take time but I think it would have taken much more time if I’d had to do more ripping back. And I might not have ended up with a pair of pants at the end!

I have to say that the little instruction booklet was so helpful with this. Each step was clear, and having them on separate pages helped me to not rush through things. There was also plenty of room to write notes to myself for later reference. I really loved the way it was presented. I have several Colette patterns on my wishlist and haven’t pulled the trigger because postage is so expensive, but I really think getting the booklet is worth it. I think I might buy a few as a birthday present to myself.

I initially thought I was going to have to do some adapting, since according to the measurements my hips are at the largest size but my waist is a bit bigger. I looked up a tutorial on how to properly grade the waistband up, and adjusted my muslin. It was fiddly and tricky because I had to tape together the pocket pieces and the pants to make them one pattern piece, cut and spread that, and then extract the pieces back out. But then it was too big – exactly as much too big as the adjustments I had made. Turns out that my problem is not overall size, but where the size is. See, I have a swayback, and a corresponding stomach-sticking-out issue, not to mention a reasonable amount of extra stomach. So I took out a triangle at the back waist – an half inch at the top tapering in – and ended up adding a bit of a frankenstein extension on the front. When you’re making the pattern you actually have this bit longer, and trim it back to fit under the top flap, so next time I will just not trim it and I think it will be perfect. Perhaps a little grading to sit flat.

The tacked on waistband expansion.

As you can see, the waist fits pretty well but the hips are HUGE. I don’t mind, it’s super comfortable, but I think next time I will go down a size for the leg portion. I measured out the excess and I could probably go down two sizes but I’m not sure whether I want that little ease. I’ll make another pair and see! I’m also considering grading them down a bit to be ever so slightly less wide in the leg, possibly on the inseam. Perhaps going down a size will do that enough. I want to keep the swooshiness but I also feel like, starting with such a wide hip, these are VERY wide. Looking at the ones in the flickr pool, the smaller sizes have much smaller legs (obviously) and I think that’s a more reasonable size and proportion. I love the width of these, it makes me feel like a fancy lady from the 40’s, all Katharine Hepburn styles (without the lithe grace but still). But maybe I don’t need more than one pair of pants with that wide a leg.

An attempt at showing the width of the leg. They are 72cm around at the hem.

So these fit me well enough to be happy with, pretty much straight out of the packet! Lucky me. Although there’s always something to tweak. I also am thinking I might grade the crotch a bit to give me a bit of arse room. They fit fine but I can feel them tugging just a little bit at the crotch seam, and I think I could do with just a teeny bit more ease there.

I haven’t worn these much because they’re not very warm, being linen and also having such wide legs. Very breezy. Also, I snipped the wrong place on the fly when I was setting it in and forgot to go back and reinforce it. Since it’s a point that gets a lot of tension, it ripped a little. I’ve darned it up but to be honest I don’t know how long it will last. I also suspect that the thighs on these will go in less than a season of wear – the linen is a little rough and because of the extra fabric they rub a bit. I wore them today (this weather is GORGEOUS) and by the end of the day my thighs were a bit chafed. I think maybe bringing the inseam in to reduce the excess fabric and patching with something slippery might be in order. I considered reinforcing them when I was making them but didn’t get to it. Something to consider next time. Has anyone done this kind of pre-emptive patching before? But really, I’ll be happy to get a season out of these. And I can always make another pair!

It’s not at all neat at the waistband, due to last minute adjustments there, so I won’t wear it with shirts tucked in. Which is a shame because I like this look with the wide leg.

I am in fact planning another pair – another two pairs! That’s my craft camp project this time around. Hopefully it will be quicker and easier than the last time, having worked out some of the bumps.

Sewjourn

I wrote the draft for this right after I got back from camp. I didn’t publish it because I needed to hem and photograph some stuff. Obviously it took me until the Easter long weekend to get around to that. Whoops. So please excuse the jumping back and forth between then and now, if I try to make it more consistent I’ll procrastinate and then it’s never going to get published. Please also excuse angry face. I just cannot work the self timer AND manage a facial expression at the same time.

Like a bee on a cactus flower

I got back from another craft camp on Monday evening. It’s Thursday morning and it already feels so far away, like a dream. I think it was my favourite camp yet. Not the most exciting or thrilling but the one that I have most constantly, solidly enjoyed. And probably my most productive. Not the one with the biggest highs from that feeling where you make a new friend or cross some border of intimacy. But more comfortable and sweet in that way where you don’t have to think about it because spending time with these people is just so easy and as effort-free as being in a space with other people will ever be, for an introvert. And the food, oh my lord.

I don’t know that I have much to say about it. It was just really really lovely. I continue to be so grateful for these people and these pauses in my year. Chances to reflect and take time and really get into the making. Such a refreshing thing. This weekend I flew in on Monday and out on Friday so I had most of those days as well as the whole day on Saturday and Sunday, and it was just blissful. I need to figure out ways to make my normal life just a little bit more like camp.

It was also the camp where I went through the most thread. I think I sewed almost every seam in every garment twice, and I came home with a couple of things unhemmed because I was out of matching thread.

I flew in with a suitcase that was 100g over the weight limit. Then I bought stuff at the op shop. With some rearranging of my carry-on I managed to fly home with a suitcase that was only 200g over. Phew.

Here are the things that I made:

A Tiramisu dress, which will get its own post shortly.

I also half-made a blank canvas tee out of this same fabric.

I will discuss the fabric in further detail when I post about my Tira, but basically, it’s a bastard. It’s super stretchy with not much recovery. So the shirt is fine, if a bit… fine (read: nipply) but the binding was droopy. I was going to redo it but I ended up just folding it under and zig zag stitching it. I think this will just be an around the house shirt, sadly, and I won’t bother hemming it. But as a wearable muslin I’d call it very successful.

Another one of those Ottobre skirts that I like to churn out. This one in camel coloured sateen from Spotters. Crinkly stuff, curse it. I did back pockets on this one which turned out a bit dodgy but oh well. I neglected this one in my photoshoot so this is the only photo of it. If I can find some camel-coloured drill I might remake it in that, but all the brownish stuff I could find was muddyish colours which I didn’t like.

A red Kasia.I wear my blue Kasia all the time because it’s comfy and simple but not boring and also it has pockets.

The spots in the pockets are a Robert Kauffman quilting cotton that I bought ages ago for a project that I now cannot remember anything about. You need so little of the contrast fabric for this, it’s great. The main fabric is stretch drill from Spotters.

The last time I made Kasia I graded it up and then ended up taking out all the extra width. This time I just cut out the biggest size, which was then too small so I spent ages taking it apart and putting side panels in, and then it was too big. So I took the panels out and sewed it with just a 1cm seam allowance and it’s perfect. It was initially a teeny bit tight on the hips but it’s stretched out enough that it’s just spot on. I omitted the front fly shenanigans, and put in a back zip, as well as borrowing a pattern piece from a Lisette pattern that Sue had brought, and making a little kick pleat at the back.

It sticks out some, but oh well. It makes the skirt much more functional. Another time I would make the whole pleat from a thinner fabric, which would also give it a seam to fold along. I hemmed the red one a bit shorter at the pleat than the rest of the skirt, and it sits flatter vertically, because of that. As in, the pleat doesn’t stick out the bottom of the hem, although it does stick out horizontally still.

I wish I’d remembered to take out the pouchy bit at the back, though – the pocket panels are mirrored on the back and it’s puffy in the thick drill. I should have made the facings out of a lighter fabric, too, cos it’s bulky. But it’s perfectly wearable and I love it. I brought it home unhemmed because I ran out of thread. I also wish I’d done an invisible zip – it is actually an invisible zip, but I don’t have an invisible zip foot at camp so I just set it in like a normal zip. Oh, well.

Another Kasia, in black stretch drill, also from spotlight. Back zip for this one too and no pockets, I couldn’t be bothered mucking around and I just need something real simple to be a wardrobe standard. I just laid the pocket pattern pieces on top and cut it out like one piece, nothing complicated. I used a scrap from Jenny’s intimidating pile to make a sneaky kick pleat, though. (Which sticks out, too. Sigh.)

I might need another black pencil skirt with more interesting pockets. This one probably took me 2 hours ish, without hemming. When I did hem it this weekend I just sewed with a straight stitch because clearly I wasn’t getting around to the blind hem that I had intended, and I couldn’t find my blind hem foot anyways, or figure out how to deal with the kick pleat when blind hemming. So that took me all of ten minutes, plus I had to re-top-stitch the yoke because the poplin I’d lined it with isn’t as stretchy as the drill and it had gotten all wonky when I sewed it the first time, and I had puckers.

And I finished my blanket! Which has been to several craft camps now. I blogged the finished product here.

Such a lovely time. Thank you all for your company, and your food, and your stories.

Sunbreak

I finished Sunbreak.

Ravelry tells me that I started it on July 19, 2011. I remember starting it at a Craft Camp. I used one of Kate‘s stitch markers for the centre and ended up taking it home with me. I returned it on the next camp, don’t worry. I think I finished the centre bit that camp, because I remember frantically making up little bobbins to do the rays, as everyone was packing up to leave.

For a while after that it looked like this

I couldn’t really knit it on public transport, so I watched a lot of Qi and That Mitchell and Webb Look while knitting this part of it. This part was sometimes hair-pullingly complex, but I can genuinely say (at this remove) that it was fun. I would do it again, no matter how lacking in calm wisdom I sound in this other post.

The reason it was so tangly was that I didn’t want a lot of floats behind the rays. Because the yarn is crepe ply, not wooly, they showed through and it was hard to keep them neat. So I basically did intarsia. Each little section of colour was its own bobbin. I remember getting very frustrated at how lumpy and imperfect it was looking, but I decided that a bit of bumpiness was ok. Eventually I got to the end of the short rays and it did get a lot easier then.

And then you knit each corner to square off the shape. It’s been long enough that I can’t remember the details of this, but I remember thinking that it was very elegantly designed. I remember a few head scratching moments of confusion, but I trusted in the pattern and it worked out lovely.

Then you block the middle bit like lace. It’s knit on fairly large needles, so it spreads out a lot. I didn’t get exactly the recommended size, so I just blocked it till it was even, and a nice proportion.

The centre is 76cm x 110cm. Flickr tells me that I blocked it in early February 2012. I started knitting the border, although after a whole blanket I wasn’t super excited about that. I decided to knit the longest sides first.

Then, on March 30, disaster struck. I know it was then because that’s the date of the email from me to the Clean Person at the hairpin, saying ‘HALP! I have ink on my knitting!’ A pen leaked on my bag and there was a splodge of ink, right at the beginning of the longest border edge that I’d almost finished. Clean Person Jolie was very helpful but although the ink was reduced, it was still present and I knew it would always bother me. So I ripped it out.

Then I didn’t knit anything at all for almost a year. I picked it up again in January this year. Because a summer of repeated 40 degree heatwaves is clearly the best time to knit. But also, I started it when I found out that my best friend was pregnant. It’s not for her kid, it’s for her. But he’s about to turn one and I thought it would be nice to have it for her by then. Not to mention that I intended to knit something for her 30th which was in February but obviously I am working on a year’s delay here.

So anyway. I turned up to craft camp this time with the blanket, two long edges, and half of a short edge. I finished the first short edge that first Friday there, and sewed on everything I had, so I only had one short edge to go. I was DETERMINED to finish it.

On the Sunday night I had the edge about five rows from completion when I gave up and went to bed. On Monday morning I steam blocked it and sewed it on. And then we had a little photoshoot.

I am SO pleased with it. I love it. The border gives it a nice heft, and it’s as snuggly as you could not-want in the heat we’ve been having. I am so pleased to finally be finished, and I’m really pleased with it as a piece of work, and proud of my own skill.

With the border it is 93cm x 120cm. I lost track of the amount of yarn I used, because of the shenanigans with the bobbins, but it weighs just over 900g, so I’d say I used 4 and a bit balls of blue (Bendigo Woollen Mills Classic in Tasman), and maybe a quarter of a ball of the yellow, which is an unknown yellow in Classic that I bought at their mill. Which is a shame because it’s a lovely colour, unlike all the standard yellows they offer which are palid and sad.

I’ll be giving it to its owner this evening and I hope she likes it.

Ravelry link.

On the weekend

I made some things.

I saw the idea for a fabric sensory play box here. My bff’s kid is really into everything but still not mobile, so he’s easily frustrated. Plus, like any kid and also Eeyore, he likes trashing things taking things out of things and putting them back in.

I bought a cheapo gift box (this was the only one without flowers) and cut a hole in the top with a stanley knife, on my self-healing mat. I was going to stick the lid on with double-sided tape but it didn’t work very well so I used some electric tape I had lying around, which worked excellently. Then I went through my scraps and stash and cut out reasonable sizes of fabric. I tried for a range of colours but obviously, since they were scraps, they’re stuff I tend to buy. Lots of different textures, though, from satin to velvet to drill to flannel.

Almost all of this is scraps and leftovers. A couple of the whispy things are deep stash that I cut a corner off of. I tried to keep them about the same size, but wasn’t too fussy. I cut most of them with a rotary cutter because it’s easier, and then I edged them with a rolled hem, on my overlocker. I would have pinked them if I had pinking shears, but I was working with what I had.

And then I unceremoniously shoved them in there. Took me about an hour, all up, I think. It would be quicker with pinking shears.

And it’s a hit!

I also made this cake from Posy Gets Cosy, because Bek said the icing was great, and I wanted to try it.

I didn’t double layer it because I was too impatient to get it out of the pan and one of the layers crumbled. So I stuck it back together and that one’s mine, and I took this one to my friend’s house while I hijacked her baby and took him to the park for a couple hours so she could have a break.

It is as delicious as advertised. Not too sickly sweet, and a lovely texture, both cake and icing. Yum!

Sailing

I’ve been making up some Oliver+S sailboat pants/top sets. I am completely in love with the pattern and would like several sets in my own size. Since that’s unlikely to happen, I’ve been indulging in sewing for small people. It’s a good break to have in between wrestling with other things (fitting is hard). Sometimes I need to be convinced that I do actually know how to sew, so this is helpful, plus they take less than a metre of fabric each, and it’s a nice excuse to use adorable prints. All the fabrics are from spotlight, and I serged everything together as far as was practical.

This first set is for the 1 year old son of an internet friend. I could not resist the pirate monkeys. The buttons on the pants were bought for my Kasia skirt, and then I lost them. Then I found them, the day after I bought new buttons. But nevermind, I really needed six for Kasia and I only had four – perfect for these pants. The stripe fabric in the pocket is leftover from Kasia, too, although I bought the drill new. I also made velveteen pantaloons for this kid.

Because what kid doesn’t need velvet pantaloons? I know I need some. I used the tute from Cirque Du Bebe, which was where I saw the pattern in the first place, and the pantalooning was the reason I bought it. (That and it is too freaking adorable.) I think next time I’ll make the cuff thinner, and it would have been nice to have an actual leg to measure but oh well. The cuff is a bit dodgy since it was quite thick, and really small, fiddly place to sew, but it’s for a toddler so haute couture is not really necessary.  I’m pretty delighted with the buttons, though, also from my stash.

Perfect.

This set is in the smallest size, for my best friend’s baby who is just on 8 months.

I wish I’d been more thoughtful about the placement of the dinos in the pocket. This one turned out pretty nice, by accident.

I didn’t want to do buttons, partly because my sewing machine can be a bit temperamental about them but mostly because who wants to button up a super squirmy 8 month old? NO ONE. And this kid is squirmy as all get out. I had a bit of a hissy fit about not being able to find snaps anywhere, since spotlight only had silver and pearl ones, each sold in packs of 6 with an applicator tool. It’s an expensive way to buy them, and anyway I wanted coloured ones. I looked into snapsource and a few other places like that but postage was just stupid, so I ended up buying them from Mr Walrus on etsy. They were super quick and helpful, I am planning another order because snaps are GREAT. So many colours – and I might need some of these for my own garments. So much easier than buttonholes, especially since my sewing machine only likes to do reliable ones on thick fabric. It was ok on the pirate top because I only needed one buttonhole on each side so I could get away with them being unpredictable lengths and heights, but that’s not so great down the front of a garment. I’ve ordered special pliers for them but really, I enjoy the opportunity to hit things with a hammer.

These outfits were really quick and fun to make – the first one I made of each took me a while, but once I figured out what was going on I am averaging about an hour on each garment. The Oliver + S instructions are really clear and sensible, and their printable pattern was nicely laid out, with a minimum of taping and cutting to be done. I definitely recommend them.

Last night I cut out a bunch more so that I have something to sew when I just have a few minutes. There are plenty of small people in my life to sew for.

I’m trying to be more deliberate with making, because I know if I don’t make something every few days or so I start to get a bit twitchy. I haven’t been knitting much, since my hand is sporadically a bit sore from a bung shoulder and I’m just not really feeling the urge lately, so I’ve been sewing more. It’s much easier now that I’ve rearranged my sewing room and I’m more likely to be able to sit down and get sewing without having to move piles of stuff.

There’s a moral in that. Unfortunately it hasn’t seemed to have any affect on the rest of the house.