Sunday, 12 October 2014

Ponderings on Learning

I have been working on a test pattern recently. Slowly as I've been sick, that utterly exhausted and slow brain kind, ugh. It seriously shouldn't take 2.5 hours to cut something out. But when you lay the fabric on the ground, then have to take a breather to get your energy back, you know you aren't well (also, I didn't like the taste of even chocolate, but I don't like to dwell on that).

While I was making this garment, I was learning how to do new things and new ways of using my machine. I didn't realise I had a straight stretch stitch. Sure, it uses a heap more thread and takes longer to do a seam, but I really like the result I get from using it.

It meant I started thinking about how/what I learn. When I got my machine, I didn't go and work out everything I could do with it. I just kept using it how I usually would my old machine. Except for bottonholes, I love my one step bottonholer. I used to just avoid bottons where at all possible. I'm still a bit scared of them, but I'll go for it after doing several practice runs.

I don't go out of my way to find something I don't know and decide to learn it. Part of that is you don't know what you don't know. Instead, I tend to decide that I want to make something, then learn how to do it if I don't know. I like doing it that way, as it gives me the motivation to learn something new, and also the practical practise in doing it, rather than doing something for the sake of doing it.

That was it, just a little ramble on my crafting learning style. Curious as to how others decide what they'd like to learn, and how they learn it. Care to share?

Friday, 10 October 2014

Christmas Crafting already, I feel organised

I realised last week that it was October. For the past couple of years I've done '31 Days of Unfinished Projects'. I didn't even realise this year. Mainly I think because I'm no longer following any blogs that do it, so no reminders. I'm happy about this. Even though I do enjoy that yearly plunge into my UFO cupboard.

I'm working on Christmas crafting instead. Which is just crazy. Like I've got a little notebook, and have started writing in it what I'm planning to make for people for Christmas.

The main reason for doing this is I made a Brickless (seriously, I love this pattern, and I can say this even after frogging three times in the current one, once frogging 10% of it, half of what I'd done, for a mistake made 2 days earlier) for a friend after she commented on my one. I really should get around to finishing blocking them and actually writing about them. Anyways, she asked if she could commission me to make some for her as Christmas gifts. I said yes. Maybe I'm crazy, but she's a good friend, the one who always gives of her time to help me declutter and organise. Plus I needed a simple project for after dinner crafting. Bonus was I had the yarn for two of them already in my stash, yarn I'd been offered, said yes to because it was so pretty, but had no idea what to make into. So stashbusting for the win.

The other bonus of doing this, was I realised I really should work out what I'm going to make people for Christmas, so that I could make sure I had enough time to do everything. I really dont' need last minute stress this year. I've had enough stress this year to last me for ages.

We do 'secret Santa' in my family for the adults. It's not so secret anymore, it used to be, now we just work out who's doing who and go for it. My husband has my Mum, so I'm making something for her. Plus a sister commented on the Hungry Caterpillar Dress, so I am making her daughter a couple in that style for Christmas. Already have the fabric for one, even have it prewashed and ironed. By the time I add in my mother in law and aunty in law, that's a bit of crafting. I guess I like making things for those I know will appreciate it.

I kind of can't believe I'm talking about Christmas in October, but I'm still of the opinion that the only shops allowed Christmas stuff up before December are craft shops, because crafting takes time.

So I'm going to go enjoy the quiet that is currently my house, curl up on the couch with some tv and keep working on my Christmas crafting. Who knows, I might even get it all finished before the last minute....

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

The WSBN Post-Winter Sewing Room Tour

It's been rather awhile since I last posted. I haven't stopped crafting, or telling people about what I've been doing. Life has just been full on and I've been doing things in real life and had barely an online presence. 

But Gemma of Sixty Six Stitches had the fantastic idea of a WSBN sewing room blog tour. I said yes , and promptly forgot about it till I was reminded a few days ago. It was awhile ago, at least, I think it was awhile ago, I wasn't quite so busy then.

Warning: This is a photo heavy post. 

So I have a sewing room. It's the biggest bedroom in the house, just, but it's also the one that gets the least natural light. Which is why it isn't used as a bedroom. Unfortunately, it means the lighting in here isn't the best. I have been known to move my machines to the dining table when I'm planning to spend a decent block of time working on a project. Also makes it easier to interact with a small one in the lounge. It has various names, sewing room, craft room. But usually it's just my room. It's my space. I keep my things in there, to attempt to keep the rest of the house uncluttered for the rest of the family.

First, my door. For my 30th, a friend made me this image for my door. I don't know if any of you know the game Munchkin, but it's based off that. 

To the left inside my room I have my wool cabinet. There are drawers under it (an entire one of trims, ribbons and elastic), along with various other assorted things. Most of my wool is in there. But there is a sweater lot of bottle green possum/merino and a 1kg bag of undyed 8ply on top as well. I love having the glass front so that I can see all my pretties. It's mostly 8 and 4 ply, because that's what I love. I think I'm heavy on the 4 ply currently, as it's migrated over to the right hand side, having overflowed the left. 

My worktable, takes up the entire centre of the room. I could make it a little smaller, but I love the space. It often gets covered, but always makes me smile when it's tidied, which I may have done last night before taking photos, I wanted to be able to see the table in them. This table is pretty special to me, it's one of the bits of furniture I got of a very creative favourite aunty. I used to have a table cloth on it, as I was worried about scratching it. Then it got pointed out to me (I can't remember who by), that I could always refinish it. Cloth promptly ended up in a donation box, and while it's got a few scratches now, I always love looking at it.

Box of things I need to do something with. Including a hip scarf for belly dancing, some cotton a friend spun for me and a shawl I finished knitting early in winter and haven't worn as I haven't yet blocked it.

Pretty sock wool reminding me to hurry up and finish my current almost-brainless knitting project so that I can start playing with them. 

Moving further across the table, but also into the near future planned projects. Table seems to be a good place to keep them. Beats the UFO cupboard, more on that later.

Dark purple linen that I got several years ago in Christchurch and have been trying to decide what perfect garment to make with it, as I love it. Some of it is getting made into a dress to wear to my little brother's wedding, which is next weekend. Guess what I'll be starting on tomorrow night.... The polka dots are a partially made gathered ruffle skirt for Guinevere. I've made two already, not for her, so I think it's time I made her one.

So this wedding of my brother's, it's steampunk. These are bits that are getting turned into accessories. A wee bag from that same aunt, which is getting turned into a belt pouch, random bits and the top of my wedding boots which I wore till the soles fell apart.

My sewing machine. 30th birthday present from my husband, Best Present Ever.

Love that my sewing desk has this bit for a jumble of threads, chalk, pins, quick-unpicks and all those other essentials.

Cupboard, good for holding up ironing board, looks tidy.....

Yeah, not so much, kinda full. Linens and calico on the bottom, knits one shelf up. Pinstripe (yes, that stack of black that takes up nearly half a shelf is all pinstripe), beading and box of cross stitch patterns next shelf up. Top shelf is cross stitch kits and fabrics, knitting equipment, calligraphy, coloured pencils and buttons. On top is a box of patterns and a basket of leather.

Little wardrobe unit. Drawers are full of paper, stickers and tape.  Cupboard is full of, well, I can't believe I'm actually posting this online....

This is my UFO cupboard. All of it. All of the cupboard, not all my UFO's. Unfinished projects. I'm much better at starting things than finishing them. One day I dream of having it emptied of all but a handful of projects to rotate between to prevent being bored. 

Top of the wardrobe is my mother-in-law's spinning wheel. Also makes a fantastic hat stand. You can see my iron, which I love and my sewing scissors. Actually, I think they rival my sewing machine for best present, and they're Singer as well. Thanks for those Dad.

 Computer desk. Actually tidy. With a wall of things that make me smile and inspire me.

More shelving. Magazines up the top (spin off, thread and various cross stitch ones). Shelf of knick knack type things, but all things with meaning and that make me smile. Most of those ones are up there to keep out of reach of small hands, like the glass blown Christmas bauble, or my Phantom of the Opera snow globe.
Next two shelves are mostly cotton fabrics, which a bunch of other ones thrown in as I just don't know where to put them. Bottom three shelves, I know, I can barely see the bottom shelf and I know it's there, it's mainly filled with a 10m piece of green so dark it's almost black velvet. Full of fabrics I really like and love. Like the velvet, like the red silk my Mum brought me back from somewhere overseas, it was years ago, sorry Mum, I don't remember where from.

 Bookshelf. Top shelf is stuff that has no where to go in the bathroom/bedroom. Two shelves of books and more magazines. And another two of fabrics. The bottom one has a stack of pinstripe shirts a friend gave me to refashion, I have a thing for pin stripe. And some pretty fabrics I got given for my daughter, like skulls :) The bookshelf by the door has an entire shelf of notebooks, another unfinished project (which doesn't fit in the UFO cupboard). One day I'll finish the dressing gown for my husband.... Also two bottom shelves are for Guinevere. She knows she can put her toys on them, or play with whats there. Makes it much easier when I'm working/playing in here.

I also have 6 x 60L plastic tubs of fabric and another large box full downstairs...... There is also two blanket boxes of spinning fibres, stuffing and medieval dresses. 

My favourite makes are my underbust corset, which I have plans to blog about, seeing as how I finally finished handsewing the binding on. The scarves I made for my nieces/nephew. There were 6 of them, I was a little bored by the end, but they're loving them. My wedding dress, which I really need to refashion as small one resulted in body shape changes. My Brickless, you saw it further up this post, it's waiting to be blocked and blogged about. 

I love my sewing room. I love having a space that is mine. Chaotic and cluttered, but one day it won't be. In the meantime, I'm just going to enjoy it. 

That's the end of my photo heavier, and wordier than I expected ramble. Tomorrow we have MaryLouise over at Thanks! I made this myself! Enjoy the rest of the tour :)

Sunday, 20 April 2014


Life has been a bit busy lately, so I haven't been spending as much time on my computer as usual. This isn't a bad thing, I've been getting things done around the house. Slowly sure, but progress is being made. I've also been spending more time knitting. For some reason I'm on a knitting binge and don't really feel like sewing much. It's a shame for the partially finished projects that are waiting around for me to find my sew-jo again. But my yarn stash is looking much happier for it.

A friend and I went through my stash earlier in the week. Except for one box of sweater lots that I'm trying to make a decision on, it all fits into my designated yarn cupboard. The box is awaiting a decision as it's mostly 5 ply, and I tend to be an 8 ply or 4 ply girl. I loves me some sock yarn.

The best thing about going through my stash with someone who knows me, knows crafting and knows my crafting style, she really asks the hard questions, but accepts that sometimes 'cos I love it', is a good reason to keep a yarn.

27 balls of yarn later, my stash was looking much happier. I feel I should point out that I went through on my own a couple of months ago and got rid of about that much then as well.

In the interests on honesty, I should also mention that during this process I added 3 balls from my friends stash into mine. I feel absolutely no guilt over this. I got rid of a bunch of stuff I wasn't going to use anytime in the near distant future and stuff that I didn't like or only kinda liked, and made way for three skeins of sock yarn that I love. Well, two that I loved and one my daughter loved. She kept cuddling it and saying 'mine'. I think I'll be making her something with it. Thankfully it goes with another skein I've got, so I have options.

I've found a project for 2 skeins of yarn that my Mum bought me years ago, which I'll blog about when I finish it. Shouldn't be too far away, in 2 weeks I'm halfway through it. I've also found a project for 2 skeins that I'd bought earlier this year for another project, that I didn't end up doing. Halfway through that as well, and a third (partial) skein is also being used in it. I've knitted over 100g of 4 ply in the past two weeks.

This is one of the projects I'm currently working on:

Sunday, 23 March 2014

Hungry Caterpillar Dress

A few months ago I finished The Hungry Caterpillar Dress for Guinevere. But I realised I never actually posted any pictures of her wearing it. Which I do like doing, as I send the blog links to Mum, so I can share with her what I'm making.

So, today I got Guinevere to model the dress for me. I think she had fun....

After I took the last photo she said to me, "there you go Mummy, all done." And hopped off the couch to go back to her playing. 

Sunday, 9 March 2014

Stripy Jumper

A while back I agreed to knit a shop sample for Made Marion. Maryanne picked out a gorgeous little stripy jumper pattern, some absolutely scrumptious yarn, and told me to knit it in a size that would fit my little one come winter.

There is a photo of the design here. I'd take a photo of the copy I have. But it got rather, um, loved by Guinevere when she had a look at it to inspect what I was knitting. Plus I was knitting it while out and about, so I gave it a bit of loving too.

The wool was Rare Essentials, an alpaca/merino blend. So lovely to work with. It's seriously one of the nicest yarns I've ever knitted up.

Now to show you the photos I took of Guinevere wearing it. Unforunately the light isn't great, but you can get a good idea of what it turned out like. I tried to put her in some non daycare pants. But she's at that age where she wants to pick her own clothes, and wasn't having any of it.
It always amazing me how many facial expression this little girl can go through in such a short space of time.

And some of teddy modeling it, with close ups of the roll cuff and collar. I didn't get a close up of the hem, but it's done the same way.

Close up on the roll neck

Close up of the roll cuff

Teddy feeling nice and warm on top of Guinevere's clothes shelves. 

I'm really happy with the top. I love the colour blocking on the front, even tho it meant I had so many ends to weave in, which isn't my most fun part of knitting. I love the roll collar, cuffs and hem on it. It's big enough that Guinevere has some grow room in it, or can fit a couple of tops under it. Plus there is a good amount of grow room in the sleeves without them being too long. 

I wish I'd taken a photo of the side seam, as I was so proud of that. I lined up the stripes beautifully, and you can barely see the join at all.

When I'd taken the photos of Guinevere wearing it, I tried to take it off her, so that I could a)put it away before she got anything on it, and b) so that I could get her to try on something else I recently made her. She clutched at the front of it, twisted her body away and stated, 'Mine!'. Girl's got taste.

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

New and Improved Sewing Room

I'm never quite sure what to call my sewing room. I tend to alternate between sewing room and craft room. While I do more sewing in here than any other craft, I do store all my other crafts in here. Sometimes it just gets called my room. I'd love to call it my studio, but it just doesn't work in my head for this room, as studio calls up images of windows and light. I have one window, not large, that doesn't get much natural light. So I've always got the light on when I'm in here.

I know I've called this post 'new and improved', but it's not really new. I'm in the same room. But improved, has it ever!
I don't know if you know this about me, but I'm not naturally an organised person. This makes it challenging for me to get my space organised, as I'm never quite sure how best to do it, and do it in a way that makes it simple for me to maintain.

One of my friends however, is a born organiser, and she loves it. She came up last Friday and while our daughters kept each other amused, we spent 4 hours sorting my room out. So 8 hours work, and it was transformed. There is no way I could have done this on my own in 8 hours, not even if I didn't have my little one with me while doing it.
We rearranged furniture so that the room appears more open. Put things into big plastic tubs that I'd bought. The table has been cleared. The floor has been cleared, and vacuumed. A space has been cleared to put objects that make me happy.

I need to go through the drawers, cupboards, shelves and boxes in here, to remove items I no longer see myself using, and put them all in proper homes, fold fabrics, that kind of thing. But the room is completely usable. Plus because it is so tidy, pulling the contents out of one drawer or off one shelf to sort them isn't the massive task that it would have been a week ago. It also makes it easier for me to put things away, as I know where I want them to go, and it's the work of a minute to pick things up and put them away.

So my room is totally usable, inspiringly so (according to spellcheck, that isn't actually a word, but it's the only one I can think of to describe how my room currently makes me feel towards my crafting). I've managed to keep it completely tidy since Friday. I've finished one UFO, made progress on another, cut out and partially sewn a skirt from stash fabric (using all of it too) and found about 70 things that don't need to be in here.

We didn't take a before picture, and I'm kicking myself for that. But picture a table piled with stuff, on, under and around it. There was a walkway to my computer and sewing desks, but really, that's about all the usable/visible floor space there was.

This is what it looks like now:

View looking in the door

Yarn storage and drawers that need organising

Giant stack of plastic tubs

Usable worktable, currently there is even less on it

Sewing table, with two boxes of yarn beside it

Cupboard with fabric and random craft bits, smaller cupboard is (full) of UFO's

Computer desk/workspace

Shelves of fabric and books and bobs

I've got quite a large space, and there is a lot in here. I would like to make it a bit more open. But I now have some wall space to put up posters I've had nowhere to put for 4 years. It just feels so much more peaceful in here. 

I should stop raving about it, I just can't believe how good it feels.