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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Ironing

Ironing is not my favourite thing. Of all the household tasks, I would say it’s my least favourite except that I can at least opt out of ironing. Dishes, not so.

However, ironing is less optional when sewing. My ironing board is fine but it just had the dodgy cover it came with, which kept slipping off, and the foam pad was so thin that I would occasionally get a waffle pattern on whatever I was ironing, from the frame.

It was sad.

I also had to replace my old mattress protector because it had shrunk a bit in the wash, and had generally seen better days. I doubled it over, laid the foam on top as a pattern, and cut it out about an inch wider than the foam. Then I overlocked the edges. Just happened to have blue thread in there and couldn’t be bothered changing it.

The end bit with the iron rest doesn’t have anyway to fold it under, so I kept the fabric even with the board there. I read some tutes where people quilted their mattress pad fabric together but I didn’t bother. The back of the mattress protector was a bit sticky and I made sure I pulled it together when I overlocked it, so I don’t think it’ll be a problem.

I considered folding it over and using cord to cinch it in but I didn’t want more bulk. Instead, I just got some knitting cotton and did a big running stitch around it. Then I pulled it tight, did some fiddling to get it to sit evenly, and tied it off.

Couldn’t get a decent close up of the stitching since it’s beige, but it’s not really photo-worthy anyway. Here’s what it looks like with just the pad. I made sure to pull the cotton nice and tight so that the pad doesn’t slip or pull. I am really pleased with how firm it came out.

That’s my drawer of half-finished projects and my toolbox notions storage behind it, plus a washing basket full of fabric that I am determined not to let become stash. I WILL sew with it soon.

Next, I lay the board down on the fabric I wanted to cover it with – I could have used the original pad again but I wanted to be sure it was right, and the foam was actually slightly the wrong shape. I used some drill I had bought from Spotlight because I loved the print and wanted to make a skirt out of it, but I decided it had too much white in it to be safe. I catch the bus to work and I don’t want to spend too much time thinking about my clothes and what I might be sitting on – not to mention the things I smear on myself while eating, etc. I am not to be trusted with white things.

I left a good length away from the board, I think maybe 5″, but I could have done with a little less. 4″ would be about right, I think.

I turned the edge twice – once as a baby hem, and then a a 1″ hem to be the elastic casing. I just turned and stitched the bit at the end with the iron rest.

Then I threaded the elastic.

This is what I mean when I said I probably left too much overhang. I wanted to be sure it covered the pad underneath but because it’s so far away from the edge it doesn’t cinch in as tightly as I’d like. I might take it off later and fold it over again if I can be bothered. It’s a little bit loose but it’s only really annoying when you fold and unfold the board, it’s tight enough not to affect the ironing. I just tied the elastic in a double knot and trimmed the ends a bit shorter.

Tada! New ironing board cover that actually makes me happy to look at, and a use for some would-be stash fabric. It was a nice,  quick project that took me about an hour and a half all up, including thinking about how I was going to do it.

I read a bunch of tutes for this before deciding it was simple enough that I could just wing it – it really is a pretty simple process. But if anyone wants to ask me for clarification on anything I did, just leave a comment and I’m happy to help you out.

Saturday night in the craft room

These princess seams are fighting me, big time.

The weekend before craft camp I decided that I needed to completely rearrange my craft room. I took all the storage out and remixed it, instead of packing. When I got back I started sorting the drawers out. Had a big chuck-out – so many different bits and pieces for so many different crafts. Today I sorted my fabric stash. There wasn’t too much dross in there, actually, which was pleasing. I have a bit more sorting to do but it’s a vast improvement – and much easier to actually sew in! I still have to get some melamine to make benches out of the drawers, get a better thread-storage solution, and sort out the mending/current half-finished projects pile, which you can see teetering in baskets next to the bookshelves, here:

I reckon I might even have room to put them in a drawer. That’ll ensure that I absolutely never get to them, so that’s good.

I know that the new setup makes it easier to sew because I’ve BEEN sewing! Shocking, I know. I finished off the black dress I started at camp, and a pencil skirt of the same material – in fact, it’s just the skirt part of the same dress. I took in the yellow skirt and now I’m plugging away at that polka dot dress. I thought I’d sorted the fit at camp but the neckline was just too gapey, so I’ve had an evening of taking the princess seams in, incrementally, by about 3cm. I’m trying to avoid making it actually tight, because that’s less comfortable and my bust fluctuates a lot. I’m at the lowest ebb at the moment, if that term is allowable, so I don’t want to take it in too much. But I do want it to not be gaping or pulling. I think I’m there but I thought it wisest to take a break before final assessment. I know too well that if I try to push on I’ll end up with something not-quite right. That’s what happened to this dress the first time around. Besides, I really want to nail the fit because there’s lots you can do with a princess seam bodice that fits well.

Blues

I have a couple of long sleeved jersey shirts from Kmart, one black and one white, and I’ve worn one or the other almost every day this winter. I’m going to try to copy them and make some extras, but in the meantime the white one was looking a bit… dingy. So I soaked it in some sard stain remover stuff. Unfortunately I put it in the same bucket as a teal dress that I’d dropped some lunch on (I’m classy like that) and the teal bled. I’ve never had blue things bleed before! Especially not ones that have been washed multiple times. But there you go, it did, and it left a blue streak on one of the arms.

So I dyed it. I had this other top that I bought ages ago that was a minty green colour, with ivory lace. I loved it but didn’t wear it lots because it was too close to pastel for my tastes, and then the fabric got a bit sun damaged and faded, patchily. I’d bought some blue dye for something else, so I bunged them in together. It was Dylon hand dye, ocean blue. I’ve only dyed stuff in the washing machine before, so I expected this to be tricky for some reason. It totally wasn’t, but I think I’ll stick to the ones you can bung in the machine, in future, if I have a choice – I’m not neat enough, I’d rather have it all contained in a machine. I neglected to get a before, which makes this whole thing less interesting.

Dunno how well it’s showing up but the lace is still quite contrasty – it’s the same colour as the long sleeved shirt but the top is more like a light petrol blue.

Pretty pleased with my adventures. Don’t know how much I’ll wear the lace top, since lace is not really my style these days, but at least it has a chance. And if it doesn’t get worn, I can donate it to the op shop without it becoming rags. And I will get a whole lot more wear out of that long sleeved top.

And here is a photo of my living room, just because it’s neat, and looks like I want it to. This is rare enough that I took a picture. Feeling really pleased at how I completely accidentally lined it up so you can see the babushkas on my mantel, in the mirror.

Colour theme: consistent. Also notable:

  • I won’t be seeing S for a while, which means I can buy flowers. He’s allergic, and considering that he puts up with my cat to which he is also allergic, it seems only fair to forgo them. But I do miss having flowers around.
  • Pile of presents, for S, not only ON TIME but actually well before his birthday. He is so hard to buy for it’s ridiculous. Hopefully they are a sucess.
  • I found Blue (oooh, also consistent with the theme! It’s the book propped in front of the dollhouse), after months of looking. It is excellent and you should read it all online for free here and then buy it (Dymocks has it).
  • That sparkly blue Mary is a money box.
  • The empty cubby hole is for my cat to hide in and ambush me from.
  • I feel like I am having trouble ending these posts. I guess most things don’t have neat, narrative endings. So I guess this post will just finish when it stops.

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.

FOs for the year

Here are most of the things I’ve knit this year. A few things weren’t big enough to photograph – mostly a huge stack of dishcloths.

1. Garter kimono 2, 2. Aviatrix hat, 3. Mr fox, 4. June 015, 5. Cowl, 6. Paired, 7. Pair, 8. July 059, 9. Hanging out, 10. Cowl 2, 11. FBS, 12. Cloths

It looks small, in that little mosaic. And the fox stole seems over represented. Only one (adult) jumper. I knit about three more, in ripped ones, though. Oh, well. Two on the needles at the moment, but I’m trying to churn out that baby blanket (it’s huuuuuge).

I’d love to show you some of the sewing I’ve been doing, but don’t have photos. Might have to have a shoot. Not today, it’s yet another 40 degree day out there. Yeesh. Only 35 tomorrow. ONLY THIRTY FIVE.

On the plus side, I did get the drip watering system in, in time to save my poor drooping plants and also to squeak in under the cut off for the State Government rebate. I win that one.