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)!

2012 overview

I’m really pleased that I’m finding more time to spend on crafts – I find it a great way to relax and it’s good to have non-work projects and targets.

Knitting

The big surprise of the year is how much I love knitting. I’ve been sucked in completely and most of my thoughts now revolve around knitting – what yarn to buy, what projects to make, what to work on next, how to work new stitches, etc etc. So the big revelation of 2012 was learning to knit and totally falling in love with it!

According to Ravelry, I’ve knit 31 different things this year (and have 2 in progress). I love the fact that even a novice knitter can make so many things in just one year – so much quicker than cross stitch! I started with a scarf, and some baby booties, hat and mittens for a friend. Then I progressed to cowls, shawls, hats, fingerless mittens, socks and toys. I still haven’t dared attempt a fitted item of clothing yet; I suspect that may be a challenge for 2013.

I seem to have a growing list of projects in my Ravelry queue, and an expanding collection of yarn waiting to be knit, so I’m going to try to be a bit more careful with my planning for future. I have a few items I’d like to make for myself next, as I’ve been mainly knitting for others these last few months. I do also have a couple of requests though – some Malabrigo mittens, and a scarf for my brother.

Cross stitch

I’ve done hardly any cross stitch this year. I still have the finishing touches to make to Regal Tiger, but I haven’t done those yet as I’m not sure where I will put it once it’s finished. Over Christmas I’ve been working on a kit I bought a couple of years ago, based on The Snowman. I’m hoping to finish it soon and find a frame. Once framed it will be going in the Christmas decorations box with my framed penguin cross stitch and will come out each Christmas.

I think I’ll be mainly knitting next year (I have Henslowe and Lacy Baktus high on my list of priorities), but I would like to make a start on a Gorjuss cross stitch – I have two Gorjuss kits waiting to be made.

Crafty aims for 2013:

  • Finish The Snowman cross stitch
  • Finish Regal Tiger cross stitch
  • Start a Gorjuss cross stitch
  • Knit a garment (e.g. jumper/cardigan)
  • Continue to learn new knitting skills – cast ons, bind offs, colour work, lace work etc.
  • Only buy yarn if I have a project in mind for it (or it’s a MASSIVE bargain)
  • Meet up with other knitters (this should be happening in January and maybe later in the year for shows)
  • Maybe try crochet again

Bring it on!

Regal Tiger progress

Over the Christmas period I spent time stitching Regal Tiger, and made a lot of progress. A few days ago I finished the main stitches (some of the very top is not showing on this image as it is around the scroll):

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I’m really happy with how it’s looking so far. I just need to add the backstitch and couching detail in for the outline and the whiskers, and then it will be done!

I’ll definitely be keeping this for myself – I just need to find a frame I like and figure out whether I want to frame it myself or take it somewhere to be framed.

Breast cancer badge

Finished this a while ago but realised I haven’t blogged about it yet. Inspired by a tweet from Cross Stitcher magazine, I decided to follow their pattern to make my own breast cancer badge. The pattern is available online (suggested donation of £2).  
I bought the materials from Hobbycraft…
 

…and in just one night produced this:
 

I really like working on plastic canvas – it’s so easy to work with. Definitely something I would recommend for those new to cross stitch as you can’t use fractional stitches and you can’t put your needle in the wrong place! 
 
I might make some more of these for next October – would anyone like one?

Finding Nemo cross stitch

My sister has always loved Finding Nemo so I thought I’d stitch her something to celebrate her 21st birthday this year. I chose a kit with both Nemo and Marlin – a memorable scene from the film. It uses full stitches for the main image, backstitch for the outlining and half stitches for the background (plus french knots for the eyes).
 
I found a frame for the image but it was a slightly different size to the stitching so I did something I hardly ever do and adapted the pattern (I’m usually a follow each instruction to the letter kind of girl!). I added extra half stitches around the image to extend the stitching to fit the frame. Not much of a change I admit but it’s a big deal for me!
 
This was the original pattern:
 
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This is what the end result looks like framed with the extra stitches:
 
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I hope my sister likes it!
 
I think this is probably my favourite sort of size piece to work on – enough to give detail but manageable to hold whilst stitching and quick to see progress. This kit took approximately 2 weeks which is really quick for me (though that did include some days when I was off work on leave). I like having one large project on the go, but it’s nice to have smaller pieces like this too to have things to complete!

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:

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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!

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