Spring-Cleaning the Stash

I always find the Easter weekend to be a good moment to at least begin the annual spring-clean.

The days are lengthening, Winter has hopefully finally been given the old heave-ho, and I’m beginning to feel optimistic and energised about the coming Summer. We did also have a flat-inspection by the landlord just before Easter too, which gave an additional incentive to tidy up.

It doesn’t look much like we’ve had a tidy, though. Not now. Not since I took it into my head to have a rummage through my yarn stash to come up with a new project/see if I have the right stuff for planned projects. Now I have yarns and crochet magazines strewn across the floor.

FreebieYarn

In doing so, though, I have found a new project – the sort which doesn’t take too much thinking, and which can be done in amongst more complicated projects.

One of the side-effects of buying crochet magazines, like with cross-stitch, is ending up with a collection of the freebies. With cross-stitch, these are mini kits. With crochet, it’s usually little balls of yarn.

And because I so rarely make whatever they recommend doing with the yarn, I now have a box of random colours.  Admittedly, some of these are the ends of balls from previous projects. But the new project with my box is a patchwork blanket of granny squares, with the intention of practising different granny square patterns, rather than just doing the same one over and over, though I have already done three of the normal one. Just as a start.

I’m also planning a couple of the Virus shawl, as a light Summer-evening cover-up. But I haven’t the right yarns for them. Not yet..Oh dear…Trip to Hobbycraft required…

Hugo the Llama

I forgot how short February was. I mean, it just sort of sneaked up on me and then flew by, and before I knew it, I was reaching the deadline for my sister’s giant llama.

Hugo the Llama

I’m not going to lie: I was a bit cross when she opted for the llama. I’d given her a choice, you see, for her birthday in January. A matching evening shawl and clutch bag, for which I had found coincidentally matching patterns, or a giant llama, the pattern for which my husband had found while I was looking at yarns for the shawl and bag.

He’d initially coming running up with a road-kill fox rug (not really, but it had the flattened look of road-kill, in the way of such rugs), but I’d thankfully noticed that it was for knitting, and I don’t knit. He went away, disappointed, but came back not five minutes later with a llama pattern. So my sister had a choice.

And she went with the llama. I looked more closely at the llama pattern, and discovered it wanted 10 balls of super chunky yarn (at £5 a ball) and 8 bags of 250g toy stuffing (at £4 a bag). And the finished thing would be a metre tall. Gulp. The yarn wasn’t even on special offer!

I had a look around, and discovered a chunky yarn, on 3 for 2 at £4 a ball, which ought to do the trick just as well. Given that the llama had to get to London, I figured a slightly smaller one would probably be appreciated. Even if she had asked for it in the first place.

 

 

 

 

 

 

I was impressed by the pattern. Once I got going, it was quite easy – the sort of therapeutic pattern to sit of an evening and double-crochet round and round. It’s designed in a large-scale amigurumi style, so you start with four individual legs and then join them up.

The only tricky bit occurred once I got started on the main body and back. It was too large and unwieldy at that point to keep on my lap as I spiralled. I ended first on the floor, kneeling, and then on the sofa, leaning over the neck, the complete the head. His finished height, ears included, was about 65 cm. And he didn’t need 8 bags of stuffing. I think about 2 sufficed. And only 3 and a half balls of the chunky yarn. My husband commented that the llama looked a bit like a dinosaur, perhaps a diplodicus, without the ears and tail, so now I’m making a much smaller one in a green/blue cotton yarn I had in my stash. Maybe with a pink/purple Mrs Diplodicus to go with it.

For the interested, the pattern is a Knitcraft pattern from Hobbycraft, and I used the WI Soft & Chunky Merino/Acrylic in Cream, which I’ve just realised isn’t machine washable. Oops. Never mind.

And So Life Goes On

Can I still say ‘Happy New Year’ this late in January? I mean, it’s nearly February…

Thinking about it, I think this is the perfect time to start a New Year.  January is such a grey and depressing month, but February is the end of Winter and so nearly Spring and sunshine.

It’s been a while.  I regret I’ve had nothing to say and done so little in the way of crafting – mostly because of life, but also because of writerly distractions. And of course Christmas.

Since then, though, I’ve been planning my year and my goals for 2018, not really being one for resolutions.

My scrapbook of cross stitches from last year is still going.  This year, my goal is to complete the large collection of mini-kits. I’m also beginning a new scrapbook of mythological beasties and beings, which will entail creating patterns too…

I have a few crochet projects planned too. Well, one. A giant llama. No doubt other projects will suggest themselves as the year goes on.

And my last goal is to plan, almost completely, the story currently distracting me from most things and write the first part.

These goals, however, mean that I will probably not be writing here as often as I have done previously, although hopefully not as infrequently as in the last few months. At least once a month, I hope.

Rabbits, Blankets and Camping

Well, that was a longer break than anticipated! In the meantime, I’ve also scrapped an awful lot of what I had planned…which isn’t all that helpful, when you think about it.

However. I have managed to return to both cross stitch and crochet, though to none of my current or other planned projects.

Instead, I have started small, ish, and simple. A rabbit kit from a magazine, and a granny square baby blanket. Both just right for helping my brain make sense of the mess it has made in planning a 5-book series…

Bunny and blanket.jpg

How Thick is a Piece of Wool?

Answer: How long is it? Although, you’re more likely to receive a definitive answer about its thickness than about its length.

I began my crochet journey with normal, standard, double-knit yarns and 4-5mm crochet hooks. Since then, I’ve played with Chunky yarns, and 6-7mm hooks, and 4-ply sock wool, with 2mm hooks.

ProjectBag

As you can see, I currently have two crochet projects on the go – one in the 4-ply, and one in the Chunky.

My preference, I have decided (and it wasn’t a difficult decision, I’ll be honest), is for the thicker yarns. I find them easier for counting and for hooking through the stitches and for generally crocheting.

Titchy-witchy 4-ply wool and attendant dinky hook – frankly, just too fiddly for words. There’s probably an art to it which I simply haven’t worked out yet. Or you need thinner, more elegant fingers than I have. Especially when it comes to making the limbs of these monsters. I’m a bit further along than this photo suggests, having completed the body of the 4-ply monster, but I’ve been having trouble with the first limb. It’s the 12 stitch tube for the arm. I keep adding extra stitches as I go around. (Fingers crossed I’ve finally worked it out – but it has taken me about half a dozen false starts!)

I don’t have these problems with the thicker yarns. Okay, I probably have the adding in extra stitches one, (but don’t we all?) but it’s much easier to find the extra stitch and head back to remove it.

 

P.S. – I’ve decided that my craft weeks will likely be just the one post, and that I really rather like writing about chocolate, so I’ll probably talk about that more than just for one week a month. Probably Life will become somewhat more chocolatey. This is a good thing, I feel.

 

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.

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.