Poking Around the To-Do List

After returning from a long trip away I usually find myself in a creative funk, and this time is no exception. But it’s always a temporary thing. A week after getting home my interest is starting to revive. Through the week, rather than waiting for my mojo to return, I’ve been tidying up my craft room looking at WIPs, checking my to-do list, reading back through old blog posts and noting which projects make me go “ugh” or “I still want to make that”.

Photo albums
“Ugh” was my first thought, despite having found quicker and easier ways to make them. It’s the choosing of images that takes a long time. That, and captioning them. Still, Paul is working on the ones from this trip (I left it to him and didn’t even take a camera) so maybe that’s one album I won’t have to worry about.

Weaving
My first thought on entering the craft room was that I could happily jump on the table loom and finish the collar. And that once I got over jet lag I would be ready to tackle the place mats. Sure enough, I had warped up the rigid heddle for another four before the week was up.

Dyeing
Yeah, well, most of the dyeing I want to do is to improve existing objects and that doesn’t make me leap to the pots. However, the idea of dyeing yarn for weaving a colour gamut blanket is attracting me.

Papercraft & Printing
Oddly enough, I’ve had a bit of an itch to do some printing for a while now. Even while I was on holidays. However, I think I’m officially over bookbinding now. I’ll happily do it in order to make something, but not for the sake of doing it.

Sewing & Refashioning
Cold weather usually dampens my enthusiasm for garment sewing. (All that getting changed to test the fit.) I’m a bit sad I didn’t get as much done last summer as I’d hoped, and there are a few winter weight and non-garment projects on the to-do list, so maybe I’ll whip out the machine soon.

Machine Knitting
I found a reference to thinking about selling the Passap knitting machine on my blog from last August. Hmm. I bought it in Feb 2012. I don’t think I used it after August 2012. Perhaps next August, if I still haven’t used it, or have used it and thought ‘meh’, I will sell it. The Bond doesn’t take up as much room, so I’ll hang onto that.

Embroidery
I’ve been enthusiastic about embroidery for pretty close to two years now, though I seem to have reached that point I get with a hobby where I start questioning what I’m doing and why. I’m still figuring out what works for me and what doesn’t. And the cat. It has to be something I can stitch while the cat is on my lap.

Jewellery
I’ll always be interesting in making jewellery, but the kind of jewellery is what changes. I’m over beading and macrame. I’d like to try that metal clay kit Paul gave me for Christmas a few years back.

Other
There are some whacky ideas on this list. I have an mini fan I bought some years back that barely makes a draft, for all that it buzzes around noisily. I’ve wanted to try making a paint spinner disc since seeing an artist playing with one on a doco. Entirely for the fun of it. I have no idea what I’d do with the resulting artwork! I also have an itch to make sand candles out of some leftover candle-making supplies I’ve got hanging about. That’s where you press an object into sand to make the mould, and the grains decorate the outer surface.

Yeah, the crafty brain cells are definitely waking up.

Turn at last to home afar

A long time away usually has me seeing my home life in a different way, on returning. I notice bad habits I’ve fallen into, or let go of things I don’t really want, or see a different way of doing things. Perhaps it was jet-lag, but I mostly wanted to get back to my old routine this time. (Not the routine I had before I left, where I didn’t get weekends.)

I did see all the small messes around the house that I’d got used to ignoring. The ones made up of possessions that haven’t yet found a home since the move. All the boxes are unpacked (if we ignore those waiting for the new garage to be built) but some of their contents are still sitting in piles, waiting for shelving and cabinetry to be built or picture hanging systems to be created.

The trouble is, at the end of last year I decided that this year I’d concentrate on finishing what we’d started and not begin new house projects. New shelving and picture hanging systems are new projects. Still, there are messes we simply haven’t got around to tackling.

Of the projects to finish, there a lot more outside than inside. No surprise, then, that these are the ones I’ve focussed on first. I’ve missed the ideal planting time, at least for natives, but I can see now that I would have been getting ahead of myself anyway. There’s a great deal of preparation to be done first before planting: weed removal, soil improvement and stabilisation, drainage and mulch.

A great deal of that has to wait until the planning permit comes through for the garage which, while a bit frustrating, at least shrinks the to-do list to something more manageable. The two main tasks left are weeding and drainage. The not-fun parts. But necessary.

So we’ve been spending an hour or so a day getting dirt under our fingernails. Nothing like a bit of sun to help reset the body clock, too.

Ball & Change

For the first two to three months of last year I had to stay off my feet thanks to a bout of plantar faciitis. Fortunately it settled down enough that I was able to move house in the second half of the year with no new flare up. However, the sprained ankle has stirred up the plantar facia again, because when I was limping more force went into the non-sprained side, which was the most prone to pf.

I’m off overseas again soon, and my old multi-purpose mary janes aren’t going to cut it. I needed shoes that were not just going be robust, able to be worn with a skirt, nice enough for an evening out and taken off quickly at airport security gates, but they had to be supportive and impact-absorbing. I went to Gilmores, a local shoe specialist for people with problem feet, and the only shoe that came close to filling my requirements were, well, not exactly pretty.

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Paul calls them ‘old lady shoes’. I think they’re just boring.

This moccasin style of shoe usually has a few more features. A buckle or bow across the top. A thin leather cord tied at the middle. A bit of leather fringe. Heck, I’ve seen them in a street fashion photo with fur and a chain. Looking at the website of the shoes’ brand, there are plenty with these embellishments, but perhaps only this one had the extra-good-for-plantar-faciitis internal structure.

Still, this did mean I ought to be able to decorate my shoes without it looking odd.

What to do, though? I experimented with all of the above, cutting up bits of leather and experimenting with buckles and cord. I realised that if I could somehow attach some loops to either side of the shoe I might be able to switch around embellishments as I pleased.

So I got stitching. A bit of black leather and waxed thread later I had the loops on.

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After applying a bit of boot polish to make sure they blended in with the rest of the shoe, I considered all my decorations and settled on the simplest: a chain.

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I figure if I get the time between now and leaving, I’ll make some more embellishments. Maybe some black bows. And I rather fancy a strip of leather with studs in it. Hmm.

Twist & Shout

I had this unrefined plan in the back of my mind that when I finished with work I would do a whole lot of gardening. And craft. But gardening most of all.

An hour into the first day, stepping from the paving onto the grass, I rolled my ankle. I heard and felt a snap. When it stopped hurting like hell I managed to get on a chair so I could elevate and ice it. And like a proper modern woman on social media, take a photo:

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The doc at the hospital said something about the x-ray showing no bone damage only ligament tears. I’m not entirely sure, because though I wasn’t in much pain they insisted I take enough pain killers to make me a little high (it doesn’t take much). He was more excited about the heel spurs I have from plantar faciitis, but suggested I ice and elevate it, and see a physio.

A couple of days later it looked like this:

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With a smaller bruise but just as dark bruise on the other side. The physio, my regular, was most impressed. The good news was I could get rid of the crutches and start hobbling around, because moving is better than being stationary. The bad is that I’ve done a good job of it and have probably completely severed a ligament or two and torn the rest.

Permanent damage. Just from walking on grass.

Still, it’s not quite as dramatic as the last gardening accident I had, where I stuck a gardening fork in my foot. That was back in the 90s. That’s one gardening accident every 20 years or so. Not so bad when you think of it that way.

Craft Ennui

Paul and I have a bit of an ongoing discussion about the pronunciation of ‘ennui’. He says it’s supposed to be “on-wee”. I’ve always thought it was “en-you-ai”, and definitely not “en-nu-wee”.

But I really can’t be bothered finding out how it’s supposed to be pronounced.

I’m suffering from craft ennui this week. After three weeks of saving my hands and back for work, only ignoring that to plough through bookmarking craft links and then deleting boards on Pinterest, I’d expected to be diving for the looms and embroidery projects.

Nope.

Paul has had a virus for a couple of weeks. I had food poisoning last week and it’s taken some time to bounce back. This week has been all about catching up with domestic and work stuff. I did repot some plants, though.

Maybe it’s the humidity. Maybe it’s the always intimidating prospect of starting a new book.

Maybe my subconscious knows my body needs a bit more rest before I launch into anything.

The Last Post About Pinterest, I Promise

The last week and a half has been really interesting. And annoying. And frustrating. And ultimately good for me, I hope.

I had no idea how addicted to Pinterest I was.

It was more of a habit than a physical addiction, of course. Though really, the brain is bit like a big chemical factory so everything mental is physical anyway. Pinterest was probably working on my brain as a pleasure-reward feedback loop or something like that. I hate being bored, and the sort of images I got in my ‘feed’ satisfied a need for constant idea-related image stimulation. But the moment that feed was disrupted, Pinterest didn’t satisfy the need any more. My interest in it was switched off instantly. And then I became creeped out by how much I’d been sucked in by it.

I set myself the huge task of saving pins and their links to this blog. That kept me busy during the withdrawal period. I soon realised that it would be faster to simply save a pdf of each board to take screen grabs of later, and then make bookmarks in Safari of the links I wanted to keep. I spend a couple of evenings going through pins during ad breaks to delete anything I wasn’t interested in any more, and check the links. I pared them down quite a bit.

Then later, as I went through the pins again to save the links something strange happened: some of them now brought up spam warnings or linked to unrelated pages. As if the links had been hijacked since I checked them.

Another night I saved a whole lot of bookmarks to Safari on my iPad, only to discover that since the recent update of my desktop computer they aren’t being copied across when the iPad synchs.

I’m really over it all now. It’s tempting to just delete everything in the last few craft-related boards and if I ever want to find a tutorial or product again see if I can find it with a Google Image search.

Ultimately I think this has been good for me. I will miss having something to browse of an evening, but I still have Bloglovin’. Though I am wondering if Bloglovin’ will be the next nifty website to stuff up the user experience by fixing what wasn’t broken.

In the meantime, I’ve finished the edit and can start crafting again. Yay!

Inevitable Startitis

At first, when my ‘holidays’ started, the desire to craft was strong. I managed to tick several projects off the to-do list, including some WIPs. But I also had six months worth of new ideas brewing, and that brought about a bout of startitis. Also, my weaving session with Donna led to the stash review which led in turn to me warping up both looms. So here are some of the new projects on my WIP list.

Ribbon Scarf:

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I had the idea to turn a handful of ribbon scraps of varying sizes rescued from a costume that went in the rubbish and a scrap of gauzy fabric into a scarf by sewing the ribbons on in strips. The basting is a good tv watching craft activity.

Jacobean Kit:

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Wanting to explore embroidery more, I figured the best way to learn more is to try a few kits. So far a bit of unpicking has happened, as the instructions are probably not aimed at a novice and the photo is a bit too small for me to work out what I’m supposed to be doing. But I am enjoying it.

Stitchy Shirt:

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I’ve been loving the look of blankets and clothing covered in a kind of freeform running stitch and sashiko that I think is called ‘boko’. This vest was originally a man’s shirt that I refashioned to fit me, then bleached. I liked the blotchy look, but not the sleeves so I recently removed them. The stitching doesn’t require much brain-power, so this is one I turn to when I’m too tired to tackle the kit above.

Memory Yarn Scarf:

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I bought this yarn to try out on the knitting machine and have decided to weave it instead. It is fiddly to work with mainly because you use two strands together. I’ll be glad when this one is done.

Paua Shell Scarf/Collar:

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I’d always intended to put a collar on the Paua Shell Ruanna, but it took me so long to weave that I couldn’t bear the thought of warping up again in the same yarn. Now it feels like an easy, quick project I can knock off the to-do list, and the yarn is lovely to work with.

Mental Cull

A little while ago I had to go to Ravelry to check on the meterage of some yarn. I visit less and less these days, though it is still a very useful site. Sometimes, though, the sight of knitting makes me sad. (Which is a bit unfortunate when well-meaning friends send me pics or links to articles about knitting, not realising that it can feel like rubbing salt in the wound.)

Looking at my queue, I decided to delete all the projects I’d lined up for knitting machines. Then I culled the favourites back to patterns I’d made or projects I’d seen that I still thought were amazing. Then I trimmed the friends list – some I no longer recognised, some I only followed for the knitting, and some whose blogs I now follow in Bloglovin’ instead. The forums were next – down to a handful of weaving and machine knitting ones. Finally I took out all the books I’d given away from the library.

Basically, I had a big mental cull.

At the same time, I marvelled, as I always do, at how great Ravelry is. It’s still a useful and fun place to be even though I’m only weaving now. I really admire how user-friendly and intuitive the interface is. The creators did – and are still doing – a brilliant job.

Test results came through a few days ago and I’m immensely relieved to learn I don’t have rheumatoid arthritis. I don’t have the symptoms for carpal tunnel, either. But the RSI is bad enough all on its own. I’m supposed to be back at work next week, and I don’t feel I’ve recovered nearly enough for it. It’s going to be… interesting.

2015

New Year is my favourite holiday. It’s the time of year for reflection and anticipation, and while I always acknowledge the bad I tend to focus more on the good. I don’t make resolutions, but I do like to come up with a list of things I’d like to achieve, without being overly determined that they must happen.

So, in 2015 I’d like to:

Do no major interior house improvements, just lots of smaller DIY ones
Support Paul in getting the new driveway and garage in
Have a pool fence installed (already booked)
Have the landscaping finished and continue sorting out the garden
Finish hanging our art around the new house
Get another photo album made
Read
Paint four portraits
Do more embroidery
Weave
Either use the Passap more or sell it
Recover from this latest bout of RSI
Keep my hands, feet and back healthy
Work at whatever pace doesn’t counteract the above two

We have one overseas trip planned, and I’m planning to enjoy both the work parts as well as make sure we have plenty of holiday time.

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.