2013 crafts

It’s been a good year for crafts for me, though I’m aware I haven’t blogged about many.

Selection of 2013 projects

Selection of 2013 projects

Centre: Twinkly Euphrosyne shawl
Top: Crochet coasters
Left: Stoke City waffle scarf
Bottom: Hermione Hearts Cashmerino hat
Right: Soaking up the cables mitts

I’ve been knitting things for both myself and as gifts, and even a few requests. I’ve also learnt to crochet so I’m pleased that I can now do basic knitting or crochet patterns. So what did I aim to do in 2013 and did I do it? According to my blog post from this time last year, I hoped to do the following in 2013:

  • Finish The Snowman cross stitch
    Yes, I finished this around February and finally bought a frame yesterday so it is now proudly dispelled in our bedroom (see yesterday’s Blipfoto) and will come out every Christmas.
  • Finish Regal Tiger cross stitch
    Not really. I did some work on this and all the backstitch is complete but the couching isn’t done yet. I’m still not sure what I’m going to do with it when I’m finished so the motivation to finish hasn’t really been there.
  • Start a Gorjuss cross stitch
    Not yet. I keep intending to though, again, I’m not sure where they would go when finished so no real desire to work on them at the moment.
  • Knit a garment (e.g. jumper/cardigan)
    Sort of. I’ve not yet been brave enough to make a garment for myself, but I did make knit a baby cardigan. It went surprisingly well, so has given me more confidence, but I’ve bought a Craftsy course on Fit to Flatter to learn what styles would suit me before taking the plunge and making a garment for myself.
  • Continue to learn new knitting skills – cast ons, bind offs, colour work, lace work etc.
    I’ve learnt lots this year so am really pleased with progress in this area. Lots of different types of cast ons and bind offs for different types of finish for projects. I’ve also recently learnt fair isle knitting (see this photo for my first attempt) but I haven’t yet used it in a project. I’ve done a couple of shawls with lace sections (red Henslowe and purple Henslowe), and one lace weight shawl which is patterned throughout (Twinkly Euphrosyne). I’m really proud of it and wear it a lot more than I thought I would so intend to do more shawls in future – the different patterns keep it really interesting too.
  • Only buy yarn if I have a project in mind for it (or it’s a MASSIVE bargain)
    I haven’t bought much yarn this year, and when I have it has been for a particular project. The only exception to that is a couple of visits to special wool shops but I was fairly restrained and only bought yarn I knew I would use for a specific purpose but just hadn’t picked out a pattern yet. I’ve received some donations of yarn too so I could do with having a bit of a sort out soon.
  • Meet up with other knitters (this should be happening in January and maybe later in the year for shows)
    Yes! I met up with knitters in London a few times this year which was lovely, and met some knitters when I visited Cambridge too. I didn’t make it to a show (I intended to go to Fibre Flurry but sadly it was cancelled), though to be honest I’m not too sure shows are my kind of thing anyway so meeting up with knitters to chat, share projects, and learn from each other has been great this year.
  • Maybe try crochet again
    I did indeed, and I can now do it! I think knitting has definitely helped here, I’m much better at holding the yarn and getting the tension even which helps with crochet. I’m still only able to do fairly basic crochet, but I was able to crochet a couple of Christmas gifts (some coasters and a catnip mouse) so am pleased with my progress. I’m also finding crochet good for travelling with – far less likely to have a disaster on public transport by accidentally dropping stitches!

If my Ravelry records are up-to-date, I completed 22 different knitting or crochet projects in 2013, and have another 4 in progress. I’ve made 5 pairs of fingerless mittens, 3 shawls, 2 cowls, 1 scarf, 2 sets of coasters, 1 hat, 1 headband, 1 baby cardigan, 3 toys, 2 pairs of socks, 1 card, and 6 flowers (yes, I knitted flowers for Mum and Grandma for Mother’s Day – they were a bit of a disaster but very amusing!).

So what’s in store for 2014? Well, I’m going to break tradition and not set myself any specific goals or targets. I’m trying to live for the moment more rather than do things because I think I ought to or because I put it on a list of things to do. I’ll probably be knitting some shawls, I’ll probably be working on the throw for our bed, and I’ll probably be doing little projects (for myself, as gifts, or for charity) in between too. I’ll probably be knitting and crocheting, I may be cross stitching, and I may even venture into some other crafty avenues. I might even blog about them too. Or you know, I might not. Reckless I know! 😉

Hope you’ve enjoyed the things you have made in 2013, and hope you enjoy the things you make in 2014. Here’s to a happy and healthy year ahead (fingers crossed)!

Not much to show…

This time of year is always tricky for craft bloggers as they are often working on Christmas gifts that they don’t necessarily want to show publicly in case the recipient comes across it. I’ve been working on a birthday gift too, so the last few weeks has been spent working on projects I can’t really blog about yet.

Here’s a sneak peek of one though:

20111110-000739.jpg

I don’t have much to report on the crochet progress either. I’ve been watching lots of videos but I haven’t been practicing and I still need to get used to holding the hook and thread correctly. I’m struggling with the left-handed issue too, so today I ordered a crochet book from Amazon that has diagrams for both left-handed and right-handed crocheters. Fingers crossed this will help me – it’s got great reviews!

I’ve been slipping into bad habits of working into the evenings again recently (one of the difficulties of working from home is that it’s hard to actual stop working!), but I’m determined to get back to crafts in the evenings – I really enjoy it and it definitely helps me relax more which has got to be a good thing. I’m struggling to sleep at the moment and am my own worst enemy – I’m lying in bed after midnight writing the draft of this blog post when I really should be going to sleep or at least trying to. Any tips for switching off and relaxing would be greatly appreciated!

Popping my crochet cherry

My lovely friend Emma sent me a couple of cute crocheted cats a while ago and ever since then they have sat on my desk. I’ve always wondered how on earth you actually do crochet (or knitting), and now that I think I’ve got the cross stitch thing sorted, I thought it was time to learn something else.

I bought a magazine a few months ago which came with free yarn and needles, and I started trying to learn to crochet on a long haul flight over summer. It didn’t go at all well! I’ve been looking at pictures and trying to follow videos, but it’s a lot easier if you have someone watch what you’re doing and help you with what you’re doing wrong. Fortunately, being a librarian means I know a lot of crocheters (is that even a word?!) and knitters. Last weekend I attended Library Camp UK 2011 and we set up our own Crochet Camp when we got tired – look, that’s me crocheting!

Crochet Camper

Crochet Camper (it's me!)

The lovely Sarah had already offered to help teach me to crochet so we found ourselves a table and got to it. I was still terrible, but thankfully Sarah has the patience of a saint and persevered. I’m left handed which complicated things somewhat, so I tried to learn right handed instead. It didn’t feel totally natural but at least this way Sarah could check I was doing it correctly. I made lots of mistakes and ended up getting cramp in my fingers, but I did produce my first ever bit of crochet:

Library Camp crochet
Library Camp crochet

As you can see, I need a lot of practice – just this few stitches took about an hour! Fortunately I recently found the perfect tool to help me with my practicing – an online crochet course. I’ve subscribed to the blog and am hoping to be able to follow the course over the next few weeks. I’ve watched the first few videos which are really useful and clear to follow. There are even left-handed versions which I think I’m going to follow as it does feel weird to hold the hook in my right hand. I’m going to add the crochet school badge to my blog and I’ve joined the Flickr group to record my progress. How exciting!

I’m at a bit of a stumbling block at the moment however – the crochet hook supplied with the magazine is a small one, and not great for beginners. The yarn is also not great for beginners as it keeps splitting. Sarah advised getting a bigger hook (I borrowed one of hers on Saturday) and some soft baby yarn to begin with. Based on my poor attempts this evening, I think I’m going to have to visit a craft store sooner rather than later if I want to progress – I can barely do a chain stitch with my current hook and yarn.

Watch this space – hopefully I’ll be able to master some crochet stitches soon. I’ll share any progress on the blog. Wish me luck!

New kits ordered and new skills to learn

I treated myself to a couple of new cross stitch kits from my favourite online shop, Sew and So. I had promised myself I wouldn’t buy any more until I’d done some of the ones I’ve got, but I had to make an exception for a discontinued kit and one for a gift.

The first has been in my wishlist for ages – I love The Snowman and really enjoyed making some decoupage cards a couple of years ago. Since then I’ve been lusting after a cross stitch kit and over the weekend I discovered the kit I really like is being discontinued and there was only one kit left, so I ordered this beauty:

James and The Snowman hug

James and The Snowman hug

The second kit I ordered I’m hoping to make as a gift so I won’t spoil the surprise by sharing it, but it’s a Disney one which I’m also really looking forward to.

Whilst I was browsing Sew and So I also found a great crochet kit of The Snowman. I’m hoping to learn to crochet at the weekend (lovely Sarah has offered to teach me!), so if it goes well I might try this little guy for Christmas.

The Snowman crochet

The Snowman crochet