Learning About Time

Unfinished projects are the bane of my life. Not just crafting projects, of which I have, um, more than enough, but writing projects, life projects, development projects: basically, anything which demands of my time; anything which requires energy in the planning, and then in the doing. Anything which takes longer than, well, my attention span. I mean, how long is a piece of string?

Some projects can keep my attention and energy for months (I’m also looking at a writing project which will take years, and so far *touch wood*, I am not filled with dread); others maybe half an hour. Of course, things like bills also demand attention, and far more persistently than most of my projects, rather like a small, screaming toddler, which cuts into the project-time.

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However, I have learned that half an hour, here and there, can get any project done. Perhaps not immediately, but just half an hour a day, or even ten minutes, and it’ll be done sooner than you think. Certainly sooner than if you wait for an entire afternoon, or day, or week, or however long you think the project will take.

Of course, the trick with a stitching project worked in this fashion is simple: make sure, if you make colour changes to your project (or if it’s one you’ve designed yourself), that you make comprehensive notes about the thread-numbers. I found myself with a spare hour to finish this one (minus the outlining, which I’m still trying to work out), and a fair proportion of that was spent in remembering which threads I was using…

 

Colour by Stitching

When I was revising for my A levels, I completed an entire colouring pad. It was one of those My First Colouring books, with large pictures of flowers, cats, scarecrows, etc. I’m not sure how much it helped, revision-wise, but I was happy and remained stress-free, so it was good for something.

I colour in less these days. I calm my troubled mind with cross stitch and crochet, but I like the pictures you can get these days for colouring in. I’d like to have a go at embroidery colouring. I like the thought of having an image picked out with big black lines and just cross stitching it in whichever colour I fancy. Like colouring in.

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I couldn’t resist this bag when I came across it in Hobbycraft, supposedly for fabric painting. Some of it might have to be stitched in something other than cross stitch, but I’ve been meaning to learn other embroidery stitches for a while, and this seems as good a project as any to practise with. Of course, I have had this bag for a while, and not yet made a start on it, but the intention is there. It has been since I first found it. I need to unpick the seams first – I’ve tried stitching on an already made up bag before: complete nightmare, I can tell you!

Down the Rabbit Hole

When I was growing up, my local shop for crafting supplies was a fabric factory shop. It was, and still is, an Aladdin’s cave of all things fabric-y, with a supply of wools and yarns for good measure. I grew up in sheep-country, where the local economy in years gone by was built on wool. I loved going to this factory shop, and I’ve built quite a stash from my trips over the years.

BUT. As might be deduced, it caters to a select handful of crafts: to quilters and dressmakers, to embroiderers and cross-stitchers, to knitters and crocheters. All things fabric and yarn, in fact.

Now, I’m generally fine with this; I am primarily a cross-stitcher, with occasional crocheting and dress-making thrown in.

Leaving home, though, meant that I had to find a new supplier for my crafting needs. And so I found Hobbycraft.

 

Hobbycraft, if you don’t know it, is less an Aladdin’s cave, more a rabbit-warren of crafts. Chances are, you will find what you need, and then, getting lost on your way to pay, you will find other things. Things which glitter and sparkle, which call to your crafter’s heart, sing out a siren’s song, and you will find yourself walking out with a whole new craft to start.

Me, I have started dabbling with papercrafts; with scrapbooking, in particular. I’ve cross-stitched a few cards in the past (it’s a nice way to use up small kits and patterns), but otherwise stayed out of the paper aisles. I mean, I’ve always like notebooks (love Paperchase!), but otherwise paper doesn’t inspire me like fabrics and threads.

Until earlier this year, when I got myself a scrapbook to do something with those small cross-stitch kits which come free with the magazines. I wasn’t turning them into whatever they were suppose to be; I was just stitching them and tucking them, out of sight, into a Projects Drawer. Which is a bit of a waste, when you think about it.

And now, when I go into Hobbycraft, I find myself wandering the papercraft aisles, looking at the pretty papers and the stickers and the sparkly pens. I’ve even started looking at scrapbook kits on eBay.

I can resist, sometimes. I mean, I have other projects, and not enough time to spend on another craft, but oh the paper’s so pretty, and it wouldn’t take all that long, would it? It’s just arranging things artfully and sticking them down, right? And it’s not like I’ll be worrying about Proper Layouts – mine’s just for my cross-stitching.

 

To-Be-Stitched: Keeping Track of Future Projects

I have the same problems with cross-stitch patterns that I have with books: Quantity and Time. My TBR list is longer than my arm, and I have a box full of cross-stitching magazines and a drawer full of kits. And not enough hours in the day.

I don’t help myself, either, buying a new magazine each month, usually full of many patterns which I want to stitch. And then by trying to design my own patterns, too.

About ten magazines into my collection, though, I came to a decision. I was marking the patterns I liked by folding down the corner of the page, but I wasn’t really keeping track of them, for suitable occasions in the future or just-becauses. So, I did what comes naturally to the planner.

I began to note each pattern down, in a notebook, complete with the edition it was in, the length of time it supposedly took, and a complete list of all threads and fabrics required to complete the pattern. My Project Notebook. I also make a note of potential recipients.

And when it’s made, it gets ticked off the list.

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Do you have a To-Be-Stitched list? How do you keep track of it?

Birds of a Feather

For a few months each year, I have a lull in birthdays, and I get to spend some time working on other projects. Projects for me.

Fortunately, my lull in birthdays happens in consecutive months through the summer. Of course, the summer does bring other distractions in the stitching world. For one, it is wedding-season, after all; for two, it’s about time to start thinking about Christmas cards, if they’re to be done in time to make the post…More on them anon.

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This year, though, I’m combining a wedding-project with something I’ve been umm-ing and ahh-ing about for the last few years. Well, OK, in my hunt for a suitable wedding-gift, I came across a pattern I designed back when I worked in a card-shop. I never did anything with it, beyond sketching it out and making a stab at picking colours. With a little adaptation and personalisation, I think it might be just right.

As I go along, I’m making changes to the original colours, for the better, but no doubt I won’t really know until I’ve completed it. It’s not going to be a huge project; in the 16-count aida I’m using it won’t be more than a 6-inch square. But I have ideas about mounting it on a sort of quilted background. We’ll see.

The Crafter’s Holiday

I had a week off this week. Nothing special, just a week at home with plans to crack on with various projects and to catch up with TV series and generally to have a lovely, lazy time.

The projects took a hit though.

One new magazine….

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…and a trip to Hobbycraft….

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…and my other projects lie forgotten in my project bag. Oops.

On the other hand, I’ve found these few cross-stitches to be very meditative and I remember why I took up stitching in the first place. I also think I might have completed the festival cuff in the time the pattern suggested. For the first time ever.

Projects Almost Done: Spring-Cleaning the Craft Room

Every crafter has them. Not just projects abandoned half way through, but projects which are basically finished and just need framing or mounting or the outlines orĀ somethingĀ to actually complete it.

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For me, it’s normally the outlining which gets forgotten. But in my tidying and trying to find quicker crafting tasks, I’ve come across several projects which just need those final touches – a mount, a frame, in one case clock hands – to complete them. And since my flat came with picture hooks already on the walls, this seems an excellent motivator to finish off those projects. I’ve even, finally, got the clock mechanism for something I otherwise completed two years ago.

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It might even be put together before the end of the year.