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.

 

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….

FestivalBracelet.jpg

…and a trip to Hobbycraft….

Kingfisher.jpg

…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.

TakingFlight

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.

TimeToStitch

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

The Simple Things

With my life being so busy at the moment – I feel I hardly have any time to myself – I’m taking great pleasure in the little things. In the things which take little energy or effort. The Simple Things In Life.

My favourite recipes are quick and easy; the sort which can be committed to memory after one or two attempts and can be adapted without trouble.

As an example, chocolate truffles. The basic recipe I use can be adapted for all sorts of flavours and types of chocolate, and these days, can be made in about 5 minutes. 20 if you include the rolling out. And I suppose there’s the 3 hours or so waiting for the mixture to set.

RaspberryTruffles.jpg

I prefer to use dark chocolate – it seems to handle the melting and mixing process more happily than milk or white. In fact, unless absolutely necessary, I don’t use milk chocolate at all.

White chocolate is so-so. The fat tends to come out more with white chocolate which gives the mix an odd appearance, but doesn’t affect the taste. Might just be the cheap chocolate, of course. On the other hand, it’s better for more delicate flavours than dark, which can overpower.

The above truffles are raspberry and coconut. With a splash of mango vodka.

 

The Life of a Crafter

My plan for today’s post is uncertain. It says “Easter card?”.

When I was planning this revamp, and deciding what to write about and when, I decided that I have four general topics – cross-stitch, crochet, chocolate, and Life – and that each week two posts would be written. Nice theory, not sure about the execution, especially given my current, busy life. That, and, especially with the crafts, there are only so many posts which can be “Look! Look what I did – aren’t I amazeballs? Clever me to make this!”

Thus – the Life of the Crafter. This crafter, specifically, but no doubt there will be some universals which apply to all crafters.

My crafting life has been sporadic. I stitched as a child – I like hand-sewing items, more so than machine-sewing – but in fits and starts.

Pooh's Thinking Cushion

I started cross stitching in earnest about four years ago, with a Mouseloft hedgehog, and then a Winnie the Pooh and Piglet cushion cover. And that was that. I was caught.

I’ve extended my crafting repertoire to crochet since then, though my sewing machine remains sadly neglected. I have plans to change that, eventually – I received a quilting kit for my last birthday, primarily to help with cutting straight edges for cushions, but at some point I will also learn to quilt.

Stitching in Springtime

SpringGarden2

The beginning of April has brought with it sunnier, more optimistic weather. I’ve seen humble bumbles and many many ladybirds and the flowers are making their presence seen.

I don’t blame the kitty for trying to hide in the daffodils. Now is the time for sunshine and daisies and enjoying the weather and looking forward to summer.

The only problem, I find, is that the longer evenings make me feel like I should be doing something other than curling up on my sofa, cross-stitch or crochet in hand, not being outside in the evening sun…

 

Changes Under Foot

A couple of weeks ago, I talked of dreams – of making those which I dreamed a bit more real. I’ve spent the last few weeks working on the plans which will do that. I’m hoping I’ve got them down.

In between whiles, I’ve also been having fun juggling full-time work with the beginnings of freelancing. I’ve been busy…I’ve also decided that I quite like working from home. Even the last few Saturdays, when I’ve been sat in front of my laptop, working. It’s been nice; I’ve felt efficient; I’ve even – dare I say it – enjoyed the work I was doing (which wasn’t, it must be admitted, particularly glamorous or exciting work). But I’ve liked being sat at my laptop, desk covered in stuff, just getting on with it. It’s been quiet and peaceful. And made me more than ever determined to become a home-worker. Especially when compared to the full-time office job…

But my plans! The changes under foot are not precisely changes; at least, not drastic ones. Simply that I will be spending this Camp NaNo working on being a more regular writer here in my Cocoary and over in my Library, and that there will be more structure to my weekly posts. My plan in the Cocoary is to write two posts a week, with each week having a different ‘theme’: Cross-Stitch, Chocolate, Crochet, and the Crafter’s Life (or just Life…). That should fill the average month. I might even manage to get at least some of them written and scheduled in advance.