Projects of 2014

What a year! It’s been one of big contrasts and challenges. At the beginning I had enough spare energy and time to take on the HW&S Guild Mystery Box Challenge. I kinda regretted that. What I made was way more effort than the end result was worth.

By the middle of the year my energy and time was all tangled up in buying, moving, fixing up and selling houses. At the end of the year Paul was rushing to get his final year exhibition and folio together and I had a major writing deadline move three times. You can see the impact everything had on my craft output in this summary:

January:
Finished Cat’s Portrait
Updated my New Zealand photo album
Tried Sumi-e
Did a Miniature Tapestry Weaving Workshop
Made a stud bracelet
Took on the HW&S Guild of Victoria Mystery Box Challenge
Refashioned some clothes
Gave a friend a weaving lesson
Wove the Huckleby Hemp Scarf
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Bound the Squirrel Scorpion Book
Turned a broken colour-changing umbrella into a shower cap
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Tackled some Knitwear Refashions

February:
Stitched a diamond necklace
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Wove a Big Blue Blanket and a scarf
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March:
Painted while camping
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Finished the Autumn Fairy for the Mystery Box Challenge
Wove a thick and thin scarf from frogged yarn

April:
More refashioning! With my new sewing machine:
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Including glamming up a 20s costume into an evening dress
Made an photo album of our trip to Japan
Stitched a gift brooch

May:
Finished stitching a skull
Made a cross-stitch clutch
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Worked out how to weave leno with two heddles on a rigid heddle loom

June:
We bought a house!
More knitwear refashions

July:
Finished a portrait
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Sewed lavender bags for the move
Sewed folio bags for the move

August:
Settled. Moved. Prepared old house for sale. Sold it.

September:
Embroidered a vest (though I’m not sure if it’s finished)
Finished weaving the leno scarf
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October:
Repurposed two old frames into ensuite mirrors
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November:
Converted an old kitchen cart into a bar cart
Made a jewellery display pin board
Made jewellery!
Made more jewellery!
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Made shade card pom poms
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Started extensive and expensive landscaping

December:
Finished two more portraits
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Made shorts.
Tried a Kogin embroidery kit and made a bag from it.
Sewed blanket binding around the Double Trouble Baby Blankets.
More refashioning!

By December we were exhausted, my RSI had made a comeback and my physio had raised the possibility of rheumatoid arthritis. But I’ve finished my work and have settled in for a month of rest, recovery and enjoying the new house with friends.

All Zippered Up

The Kogin Embroidery Bag is done:

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I found a great tutorial for making a zippered bag without a seam at the bottom.

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The lining is just a bit of navy cotton. The zip was in my stash of rescued zips unpicked from various things over the years.

I bought the kit a year ago, almost to the day. Took me a while to get around to starting it, so it hasn’t been a year-long project. I liked the style of embroidery, but since it’s effectively the same result as overshot weaving I couldn’t help thinking it would be a lot faster to weave it. A LOT faster to weave it AND you’d get a great deal more fabric.

But who cares about speed and quantity? The method – the journey – was a wonderfully relaxing one and I’d happily take on another kogin kit or project.

The Short and the Long of It

A few days ago, after looking through the refashioning pile, I bought a shorts pattern from Interweave and hauled out the sewing machine. First up I did a test pair using fabric scraps. It confirmed that a US large is bigger than an Aussie large, and the shorts were a tad, well, short for my liking. After a tweak here and there later I was ready to try a refashioning project.

I had this shirt, which I’d bought in the 90s and loved the colour and soft fabric, but it was pretty shapeless:

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I only just managed to get the pieces cut out, and only by patching one corner of a front.

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Instead of the drawstring the pattern calls for, I went for an elastic waist. I reused the pocket, too:

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They’re cool and comfortable and perfect for relaxing at home. I want to make the next pair from an old sarong, this time with longer legs.

I have a little test for the ‘right’ length of shorts. They should never be wider than they are long. If they’re longer than they are wide there’s a slightly slimming illusion. Even more so if the fabric has a vertical stripe or pattern, or they are darker than the top they’re worn with.

Time for a Rest

After missing four deadlines and winding up with RSI and perhaps arthritis, I am finally finished with work for the year.

The news came on the heels of a new book arriving in the post. Artfully Embroidered was a book I had to have in print, and is every bit as beautiful as it promised to be.

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That’s most of the craft books I’ve bought this year in print. I get most as ebooks these days. Aside from the fact they take up no physical space in my now-smaller craft room, I find buying craft books online can be a bit hit and miss and the lower price of ebooks offsets that. Nothing beats being able to leaf through a book before you buy, and know you want to try more than just the project on the cover – and that the project aren’t way beyond your skills or ability (especially important when you have RSI).

As far as actual crafting… I need to rest my hands for the next month, but so long as I don’t overdo it I can do a bit of this and a bit of that. I finished the stitching on the Kogin embroidery tissue holder project the other night.

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But since I don’t know where you can buy tissues in packs that would go in one, I really enjoyed the process and I have plenty of thread, I’m repeating the pattern across the middle and will make it a zippered pouch.

I’ve also started a new project, but more on that later.

Shade Card Pom Poms

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Thanks to moving house, preparing the old for sale, lots of unpacking and DIY at the new one, and work, I’ve now got a big flare up of RSI in my hands. And week before the work deadline. Sigh.

I’d been so looking forward to getting past the deadline and finally having time for some craft. Now I’m resting my hands (I shouldn’t be typing this), dying of boredom and my main form of creativity right now seems to be trying cocktail recipes (only one a night, mind you, unless Paul wants one).

Yesterday I tidied up the craft room a little. Looking at some of the stuff in my refashion/repurpose piles, I came upon the leftover shade cards from my Yarn Shade Card Blanket. I got to wondering if I could turn them into pom poms. It seemed like it would be very quick and not too fiddly, so I gave it a go. Lo and behold, it worked.

Two things I found worth noting: cable yarns don’t form fluffy pom poms, and wool yarn doesn’t seem to be as good as cotton at staying in a tight knot.

Not only did I have leftovers, but new cards that had become obsolete (or contain mohair, so I won’t be buying the yarn) since I made the blanket. Plenty to choose from:

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I cut away all the paper except a narrow strip where the yarn was attached:

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Then I rolled it up:

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Into a nice little coil:

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I tied it twice, flipping it over for the second knot, as tight as I could manage:

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Then I pushed the string to the centre and trimmed off the paper strip:

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A gave it a haircut to even up the strands:

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Success!

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But the mix of colours on a Bendigo Woollen Mills sample card tend to divide into pastels and darker colours, which don’t always go together well. I decided to try cutting up the cards and combining similar sets of colours:

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And that worked, too!

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Which is great, because some of the sample cards are of novelty yarns that aren’t going to make good pom poms. I can combine them with other yarns…

… when my hands recover. Even this small, fast project left me sore. I can see a long, boring, craftless summer ahead.

Something Borrowed, Something New

Jewellery-making continued…

Key Necklace:
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A remake of a necklace I made a while back with an old fob watch on it, but never wore it because it was too long and heavy. This is lighter and tidier.

Netted Stone:
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I’d seen something similar, with rough crystals and leather, on Pinterest. I used linen thread. It looked fiddly, but it turned out to be very easy. You don’t have to hold the stone while tying the knots. You just knot a round and test the net for size now, then repeat until it’s big enough. The closer together the rows of knots are, the less flexible the net is width-wise.

Amethyst and Linen:
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Adapted from a necklace in Micro Macrame Jewellery. I used the same linen from the Netted Stone, and amethyst chunks. There’s a lovely weight to this necklace – light but substantial.

After that I was drawn toward back to paper beads. But I found I didn’t have enough of those I’d made previously to do what I wanted to do, so I’ve wound up making and decorating beads instead of jewellery this last week. And resting my hands, as work is stirring up the rsi.

Typical Craft Twitch

I guess it was inevitable…

Friday night: untangled, culled and sorted jewellery
Saturday morning: bought lamp, mirror and materials to make jewellery display board
Saturday afternoon: made board, set up dressing table
Saturday evening: pulled apart some culled pieces and added to jewellery-making supplies
Sunday morning: culled and reorganised jewellery-making supplies
Sunday afternoon: read jewellery-making books and pinterest during work breaks, sketched ideas
Sunday evening: started fixing and making new jewellery, sketched ideas
Monday morning: culled more costume jewellery
Monday evening: made more jewellery
Tuesday morning: blogged about it

… but I’m not complaining. I’m relieved that I finally found my craft mojo again. Jewellery-making has always been an interest that comes in sudden bouts of inspiration, lasts a month or so then ebbs away. It’s good for a quick crafty fix, but it also reaches that ‘I don’t need another x or y” stage pretty quickly. That’s why a cull tends to lead to creating – it ‘makes room’. And the bonus is that I can pull apart and reuse the bits of pieces I’ve culled. This time I’ve taken that a step further, and culled things so that I can reuse components.

What have I made so far…

Map bead bracelet

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Pen nib pendant

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Geometric necklace

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Charm bracelet

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I also had fun taking the photos. Ah, bokeh, you’re almost retro already.

A Bit of Dressing Up

I’ve just finished a little weekend project, which had the added bonus of motivating me to unpack yet another box: a new costume jewellery board.

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Back at the last house I kept my costume jewellery on two pinboards I bought and covered with calico:

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There’s no convenient alcove to use as a dressing table here. Initially I wanted to put a shelf in the walk-in-robe, but there wasn’t room for it. The next choice was having an actual dressing table in the bedroom. Using the old Singer sewing machine table seemed like a good option as it’s small and cute and it means we don’t have to buy another piece of furniture, so I put it in position… and covered it in unpacked boxes of bags, shoes and jewellery.

I had a table, but what about a place to display jewellery? For a while I flirted with the idea of turning my old printer drawer into one, but most of my costume jewellery is necklaces and the compartments are the wrong size.

So I eyed those old pinboards. They were the wrong colour for the bedroom, so I’d have to sand and repaint, replace the fabric, and make two new holes in the wall to hang them. Or I could take that old metal poster frame with no board or glass that’s been hanging around in the garage, buy a new board and come cork squares that happened to be exactly the right size to fit 2 x 3 in the frame…

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… then glue the tiles, assemble the frame and hang it up by a chain to a new nail in the existing nail hole, stick some pins in it, unpack, cull and hang the jewellery…

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The end result looks great and was pretty quick to knock together. The cork and black frame match the sewing table wood colour and cast iron base. I also bought a lamp and mirror on the same trip to get the tiles and board. And I’ve moved my make-up and perfume into some decorative boxes.

The old pinboards are going into the craft room, where I’m sure I’ll get plenty of of use out of them as inspiration boards.

And speaking of inspiration, I now feel the urge to make some jewellery…

Taking a Sickie

Sometimes I think it’s better to be properly sick than have some nagging not-quite-rightness that isn’t bad enough to excuse taking the day off work. Last week I had nausea, headaches and a sore back for day after day, chipping away at my resolve and ability to concentrate. On Thursday after pain killers weren’t making any difference I gave up at midday and called the day a sickie.

It’s amazing how a decision like that can make the situation brighter. While I wasn’t well enough to do anything that required energy or concentration, I could muddle away in the craft room for the first time since the move.

At first I did a little tidying up, to see what project idea might grab my attention. The first one was small and undemanding:

I tried out nail polish marbling. According to the blog posts I’d seen, you put a couple of drops of nail polish in water, then dip something in. Keeping it small, I chose to dip a couple of beads. I used a black and a pale apricot nail polish so the contrast was strong. The adhesion of the nail polish didn’t seem that good, so I painted the second bead with the apricot colour before dipping. That just resulted in a completely black bead. Too much adhesion. In the meantime the first had dried, but was a bit unevenly coated, but after a coat of apricot on top to smooth it out, I found I liked it.

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Next I decided to finish the Double Heddle Leno Scarf. There actually wasn’t much left of the warp to go. Instead of unweaving it to fix the uneven width, I figured the silk was slippery enough that I could narrow the wide part at the start by pulling the weft thread tighter at the sides. I was right – it worked a treat.

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So that was one new project tried and one WIP finished. Not bad for a sick day.

WIP-lash!

As the trials an tribulations of pool ownership continue, investigation commence into how to prevent the neighbour’s back yard washing into ours next time there’s a storm, and the excitement of the ensuite/WIR renovation extends a week longer than scheduled, I’ve been dipping my toe into crafty waters. Just one toe, and not very deeply, but it’s a start.

So I thought I’d do another bloggy exercise to get those crafting brain cells firing: the WIP update.

Alan’s Portrait:
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Just the arms to do. I’ve not gone to art classes for two weeks, and probably won’t make it this week, so hopefully I can get back to it next week.

Double Trouble Baby Blankets:
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Still waiting for me to add the binding, but not that the craft room is tidy I have room to set up the sewing machine.

Grey Vest:
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I got this far before moving house. Not sure if I should add more and/or if I should put some of the same stitching on the matching skirt. Part of the reason I’m hesitating is that I’m not sure I like how I’ve finished the stitching at the back. The ends kept working their way out again so I’ve knotted them, and it looks messy. But who cares what it looks on the inside, eh?

Two Heddle Leno Scarf:
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Haven’t touched it since the move. I’m not liking how it’s wider at the beginning and I’m thinking of unweaving and starting again. I’ve not had trouble with weaving pulling in at the edges this much before, and I’m guessing it’s because the yarn is slippery silk.

The Art Necklace:
What art necklace?

Kogin Tissue Cosy:
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I’ve worked on this little kit three times now, and it has proved to be a good interesting-but-not-too-challenging project for evenings of post-house move/reno exhaustion.

Eye:
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My travel craft project. Went to Brisbane with me.

Inkle Band:
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Another travel project. Not on the WIP list in the sidebar because I always have one on the go.

Finishing these projects seems achievable now that I’ve spent a little time thinking about what I need to do. I just need to make time to do it – and not get distracted by new project ideas and gardening.

Have to say, being stuck on ADSL internet speeds makes blogging about craft a test patience.