Craft Daze

My lovely arty crafty buddy, Karen, hosted a Craft Day a few weekends ago. I’ve never been so disorganised over a Craft Day. To begin with, I’d lost all memory of it. It was only because I went out with some of the crafters a few weeks before that I heard about it (again). When I looked up my emails I found the one inviting me there, but it was dated around the time I had that awful cold, so I suspect I didn’t register it. That shows how sick I was. Me forget a Craft Day? Never!

But then I wasn’t sure what to take. I don’t want to start new projects when I’m going to be moving house soon. I decided to get the baby blankets off the loom so I could attach satin blanket binding and to take the knitters loom so I could finish the leno scarf.

I work on either. I’d also thrown in two projects for the move: make folio bags (large flat bags with handles that hold several folios of bundles of craft paper at once) and pouches for the previous year’s harvest of lavender.

For the folio bags I needed sturdy material. I was going to buy denim, but at the last moment we ducked into an op shop thinking we could recycle an old bed quilt or something. They just happened to have rolls of fabric, including heavy curtain fabric – which seemed perfect for the job.

Except it wasn’t. The plasticy fabric slipped everywhere and the holes made by the needles started to look suspiciously like perforations for tearing. I gave up on that project and concentrated on the lavender bags. For those I cut up an old pair of cheesecloth pants and just sewed ravioli-like squares, stuffing them with the lavender then finishing with zig-zag stitch.

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And that’s all I got through. But I did get a crafty fix and it was a fun afternoon – especially as I got to chat with a friend I hadn’t seen in a while.

The Style You Have When You Don’t Have One

With all this preparation to move house, I’ve been looking at how well our furniture fits together. We have a mix of inherited antique and retro, modern ‘federation’, pine shelving and table, modern black office, and even asian furniture. The ‘new’ house has a white french provincial kitchen. Quite a mix.

I’ve started reading the Apartment Therapy blog via Bloglovin’, and they had a post recently called Ten Signs You May Be a Maxamalist. ‘Your Favourite Colour is Everything’ and ‘You see a white wall as a missed opportunity.’ are both so very me. ‘You Have a Collection of Collections’ is Paul, and ‘You worry less about whether things match than if they’ll fit’ is my reaction to most of Paul’s purchases. They should have added ‘Decluttering is a dirty word’ to that list.

So I reckon our style is ‘eclectic maxamalist’ incorporating lots of what Kevin McCloud calls ‘autobiographical clutter’.

Being the control freak I am, I’ve measured up our furniture, drawn a plan of the ‘new’ house to scale (assuming the advert map was correct) and worked out where most of our furniture will go.

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I could see straight away we’d have problems getting the bigger, heavier furniture into some areas and that our bookcases won’t fit where I first intended to put them, so it’s been worth doing. And, well, fun.

The challenge is to also group furniture that complements each other. We have pieces that we have inherited and want to keep, some pieces we love, some that are practical, and a few pieces we’re a bit ‘meh’ about. We’d like to avoid buying and replacing as much as possible, too.

I’m not keen on matchymatchy furniture. It’s a bit like wearing garments made of the same fabric all over, or a suit while relaxing at home. Yet I’m also not keen on the current fashion of aiming for all decor in the room to be as different as possible, so your house looks like a second hand furniture showroom – perhaps the equivalent of wearing tracksuit pants with a denim shirt and suit jacket.

Taking cues from the fashion analogies, I grouped furniture together of similar quality and mood. The better quality, fancier furniture went with the antiques in the living room and reading nook. The practical pine and office furniture will go in the craft room and office. The lesser quality, more casual living room furniture is for the family room.

Almost every piece found a new home. However, we do want a new bed and bedside tables, which we don’t like. It’ll will solve the problem of having a set to keep in the old house while it’s on the market, too. My first plan was to buy something french provincial as that’s what the current/previous owners have, but it would clash with the asian camphorwood chest and triangular chest of drawers I want to put in there. The room’s paint and soft furnishings leave it open to all kinds of furniture styles, so I figure we’ll get pieces that work with the asian pieces instead.

As you can see, I’m having a lot of fun planning the decor in my head, and on the computer. Whether it all works when we move in remains to be seen.

Anticipation/Organisation

Less than a month ’til settlement day.
Just under three months until the bathroom reno starts.

Having had a chance to catch my breath, I’ve been trawling Pinterest for moving advice articles in the evenings and making lists during breaks during the day. I’m a compulsive list-maker, and I now have three on the go.

The first is a list of all the stuff we want to move out of this house so it looks good when it goes on the market. The second is of the stuff that will remain. The third shows where everything will go in the new house.

Since the bathroom reno isn’t even starting until two months after settlement, we’ve decided we won’t wait until it’s done before moving in. I also want to get the old house sold sooner rather than later. The land surveyor we got to measure up the new place said there was a rush of work for planning permits, and I reckon this area is going to be full of building sites by summer.

No matter when we moved, and even if we stayed here while the house was on the market, we would have to do two moves. The trick is to get the bulk of our belongings and the heavy stuff shifted by movers, and now that I’ve done the lists I can see the first move will be the big one. The articles I’ve read suggest getting quotes six weeks before, so we now only need to decide when we want the first move to take place.

And start packing boxes. Lots of boxes.

Preparations

I went into list-making, schedule-creating, organising mode a few weeks ago. This involved lots of post-it notes, different coloured pens and a whole lot of optimism. I wound up with these:

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Three lists of tasks: pre-settlement, post-settlement and pre-sale. The idea was to see what we make a start on, work out what order to do things in, and decide what we could safely put off until next year.

The challenge is to stop items in the first list slipping into the second or third one. We have to do as much information gathering and ordering as we can pre-settlement so the post-settlement projects start as soon as possible.

I’m also trying to use the spare time I have now to tidy up, cull or pack. I’d like to take some nice photos of the house, too. Progress has been slow thanks to Paul needing to prepare his mid-year folio, and me catching a cold. Blaarrrgh!

But I’ve make a start, decluttering, cleaning, and fixing a few things in the ensuite, like stripping off the black silicone the carpenter inexplicably left slathered on the rear sides of the bath (it was impossible to remove before, but time has made it dry out enough to scrape off). And we polished up the brass house number so you can see it against the brickwork now – one of those jobs you put off for ages but only takes half an hour.

I’m hoping to get the two portraits I’m doing finished and delivered to the subjects. I’ve finished Rachel’s, and Jason’s should be done in a few weeks. Though by the time I move I should have at least one new one underway, so it may not make much difference to how much I have to move.

When it comes to craft, however, finishing WIPs takes priority over starting new projects. I also need to make sure everything in the workroom can be packed away in easily transported containers. There’s bound to be some culling, too.

In the garden we’ve been spraying the weeds in the driveway – with the warmer weather it’s looking more like grass than gravel – and I’ve started taking cuttings.

And in the evenings I daydream about the new house, and pin a billion things to Pinterest boards.

Extra Post

I’ve not posted many FOs lately, because I’ve not finished anything in a long while. And that’s because I’ve been too busy or tired for crafting for several weeks.

April was a month of highs and lows. Supanova was great but I picked up a cold with a cough that lingered for weeks and weeks – I still get that catch in the lungs now and then – on top of the shingles that hit me the week before. Then the plans I’d made for the weeks after Supanova started to backfire, and I wasted a lot of time on ideas that weren’t as successful as I hoped or took longer than estimated, and wound up putting aside other good ones. I went through a two week period around the start of May feeling stressed, dejected and lacking in energy and enthusiasm.

Things perked up in mid May, though. And at the same time, in one of those ‘did this have to happen right NOW’ moments, we went to a house inspection mostly to divert ourselves and keep learning more about our area and really, really liked the place.

Four weeks later, we bid for it and won. So now we have moving house, fixing up a few things in the ‘new’ house, fixing up a few things in our ‘old’ house and selling it to add to a book deadline I probably can’t make thanks to the stuff mentioned at the beginning of this post, and Paul completing the rather full final year of his photography course.

We joked the other day that we have a knack for putting ourselves in stressful situations.

But… the new house is lovely. Not much bigger than this one, but better laid out, single level, bigger windows yet on an orientation that should be cooler in summer. I’m giving up my big workroom for two bedrooms, but I think that might suit me better, as it means craft won’t distract from work and visa versa. We lose a wonderful view, but gain a nice front yard with big trees. And it’s a much, much quieter area of this suburb, especially now that so many units have been built around the ‘old’ house.

Booked Solid

I seem to have completely forgotten to blog about a rather big project Paul and I finished a while ago – the Japan photo album:

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Back in January I decided getting through the backlog of albums was a challenge for this year. This album was the one on which we worked out how we were going to make them. I’d been thinking of Japanese stab stitch binding, but in the end the price of getting pages printed was higher than having an album made and eliminates the time and work in binding them.

It took us weeks and quite a bit of frustration to get this album done, and I have a few busy months ahead, so we’ve not started tacking another album yet. But hopefully we’ll get stuck into choosing and tweaking photos for the Europe one soon.

Heatpocalypse

When the week ahead involves four days over 40 degrees C there’s no point making firm plans about anything. Staying as cool as possible was the priority. Being self employed means I can declare the days a ‘holiday’, though it does make for a pretty unpleasant sort of holiday.

It meant abandoning the upstairs and setting up downstairs. We slept in the guest room and I spent my days crafting, or attempting to, at the dining table under the aircon. I planned to tackle the refashion pile, and even wrote a long post about all the projects on it. But as good as aircon is it’s not good enough for trying on heavier clothing, and after three warm nights not quite cool enough for good sleep, in a less comfortable bed, my brain wasn’t awake enough for challenging refashions.

Pfft to plans, anyway.

On Wednesday I finally got to a Handweavers and Spinners Guild summer school workshop. Since I’ve broken my feet (have I mentioned that I have a pair of strained fascias from all the walking I’ve been doing in order to combat osteoporosis?) I’m not supposed to walk much and pressing the foot pedals in the Mini for long is painful, so Paul drove me there and picked me up later. Thankfully the guild is air-conditioned now. It was a Miniature Tapestry workshop and a great way to make another unbearably hot day pass faster. I’ll write a separate post about it later.

While I was there I succumbed to temptation and picked up one of the guild’s mystery challenge boxes. You grab a little chinese food box full of stuff and have to use at least 50% of it to make something. From the moment I started looking through mine I knew I wanted to make a figurine, and in the evening began sketching ideas.

And I spent half of Thursday staring at the contents in a state of dazed sleep-deprivation, the other half picking up and putting down refashioning projects. I did attempt to felt a figurine body, but that was a complete disaster. At least getting my hands wet did help to cool me down. All I made that day was a very simple leather bracelet.

Friday I was more awake and managed to finish a couple of crafty projects before tackling the mystery box again. This time I managed to make something – mostly by deciding I’d work out how to make a body later and concentrate on the clothes for now.

So I did craft during the heatpocalypse. In a bit of a stupor, and half of it on a completely new project, but at least the days weren’t completely wasted.

The Photo Album Project

This trip to Japan we did over Christmas was 100% holiday, which is, I suspect, why we launched into sorting photos as soon as we got home while photos from the half-work-half-holiday trips to Europe have languished in forgotten directories of the computer. And it’s probably that we were in Japan for eight days, not several weeks. Not long enough to be a little bit sick of the subject.

Another reason we have a bit of a backlog of trip albums is because the last few none were straightforward.

New Zealand 2012
It was a short trip and while we took some photos that would be nice to have printed, there’s really not enough for a full album.

European Tour 2011
I’ve not been able to decide whether to combine or separate the photos from book events and holiday snaps. Also, since we snatched a few days for looking around wherever the tour took us, it’s mostly big batches of photos in cities dotted around Europe, with lots of photos of things in museums and galleries that I took mostly as reference shots.

Mini Tour 2013
Ditto – except this time we spent ten days driving around the south of England so the non-work pics are mostly of that time.

Getting all these albums sorted was going to be a big project, so I’ve broken it down into smaller tasks, starting with a small one: the New Zealand photos. I decided to simply add some pages to the end of the album I did for our 2008 trip.


Which works except for that big “08″ on the cover. Maybe I’ll make a new cover.

I love that this album can be added to so easily – which gave me an idea that could sort out our album situation not just now, but in the future.

Why not have one album for each region or country rather than each trip, and then keep adding to them? I’m bound to do more of these work trips to Europe for work and I’ll just insert more pages in the album each time. We considered the Japan trip a ‘taster’ and intend to go back in a few years so we can add more photos to that one when we do. This also gives me a reason to print all the nice photos from the short holidays and day trips we’ve done locally: they can go in an ‘Australia’ album.

However, what I don’t like about the New Zealand album is that on the pages that contain several small photos I have to mix and match pics. Large pages cost more to print so if I have one photo that won’t fit or doesn’t match the rest I leave it out, even if it’s a good one. One photo per page makes the selection easier as nothing needs to match. Like in these albums I made for our Canada trip:

Which are great for when you’re showing people the photos, as four separate albums means four people can be looking at the same time.

To keep them together, the Canada albums live in a box. The New Zealand album has one, too, which gives me somewhere to put the bits and pieces I collect – brochures, tickets, etc. That led to me hitting on an even better solution: a box per country or region.

Now I have the best of both systems. I’m going to make A5 albums with one photo per page (two fit snugly side by side in the box) that I can keep adding to, and keep everything to do with trips to that country or region in one box, including my trip diary.

I got the pages printed for the New Zealand trip and added them to the album before I thought of this idea, so that album will stay in the large format. The rest will be smaller. I’m going to tackle the Japan album next as the pic selection is nearly done. I have a Photoshop template ready, I just need to figure out what to make the cover out of. Something flexible that doesn’t need glueing, as book cloth is a faff to work with and anything glued needs to spend ages being pressed while drying.

2014 House & Garden

What does the future hold for Chocolatetrudi Mansion?

Replace Carpets
They were visibly worn when Paul first moved in over ten years ago and now there are strips of missing pile and stains that won’t budge, as well as who-knows-what growing under the bits that were affected by various floods/leaks. I wonder if there’s anything cat proof out there…

Paint Exterior
Well, maybe not all of it. The rust on the old part of the verandah needs dealing with, and all the paler areas changed to the one colour.

Driveway
We’re still considering getting it concreted as the lilydale topping creates a lot of dust. It would be easier for Paul to move his cars about and onto the trailer with a smooth surface, and it would reduce the weeds considerably. But if we do it, I want to use an eco product.

Doors & Locks
A nicer security door would be great, with a lock we don’t struggle with. And a new lock system on the kitchen door that doesn’t occasionally lock you out would be nice, too.

Guest Room Bed
I want the coasters on our current bed replaced with taller legs so I can put under-bed storage beneath it. Either that or buy a base with storage.

So lots of major work to the house in there. I’m analysing what can be put off and for how long. The driveway is the most put-off-able as nothing is deteriorating because of it. The paint could wait as the rust is only surface rust at the moment, but it and the mismatched light paint colours do look ugly. The carpet isn’t going to affect the integrity of the house construction and replacing it will involve moving more stuff than I want to think about, but it’s getting to the point where rugs just aren’t hiding its condition any more.

I have a big deadline in September and there’s weather to consider with at least two of these house fixes. That means they’ll have to happen in the next few months or in the last quarter of the year.