Faffing about

Published July 22, 2015 by sunmoonstars134

I am remarkably good at this! This past week or so my faffing about has taken the form of “deluding myself that I’m making progress when actually I’m just faffing”. We’ll call it dmtimpwaijf for short. Catchy, right?
I got some fab advice last week on my unfinished blankets, and resolved to take it all on board, power on and finish up 3 projects I’m really excited about 🙂

I haven’t picked up a hook since I posted that :/

I have, however, spent a lot of time “researching” things like blocking techniques, joining techniques and new projects (seriously – I never learn!)

Only to have a stern talk with myself today where I noted that I already know what I want to do, so perhaps the best thing would be to just do it. 

I amaze myself with my brilliant ideas sometimes. 

So, to hold myself accountable, here’s the list to be done by the end of Sunday:

  • Order styrofoam board and skewers (for blocking many triangles in one go)
  • Sew in ends on all remaining triangles 
  • Make remaining squares for BAMCAL (no need to stitch 6″ squares into big squares, but ends must be done)

… Anyone else want to make a pledge with me, we can cheer each other on!

Crochet advice please?

Published July 15, 2015 by sunmoonstars134

I am currently working on 3 blankets…

I’m finding it quite frustrating, as in my 18ish months of crocheting, I’ve not finished anything bigger than a baby blanket, because inspiration strikes everywhere, and as my skills have developed I’ve wanted to move on to new things. 

Blanket #1: The Granny Triangles

 
I think I’m 2/3 of the way to my original target, but there’s probably enough to make a decent size now (64). But the ends… Oh, the ends 😦 (also, I am sad at the orangey tinge to this photo – the mish mash of colours make me very happy, but you can’t really see them properly here)

Advice: will I add much time by switching to the jayg method now by adding another round to everything, rather than hand stitching? Jayg would mean I wouldn’t need to make any more, and I’d get to learn how to jayg, which I’ve not done before (because I’ve never got to the finishing stage before!) Or will stitching be noticibly quicker? (I think finishing something is more important than new learning at this stage.)
Blanket #2: The As-We-Go Stripey Blanket 

Loooved this, up until the moment I took a photo and realised that the edges are VERY uneven. Then I got grumpy and stopped doing anything with it. I still adore it though, and have learned my lesson well: count the stitches!! I had been intending to do a kind of “tube” edging to encase my ends, but the wonkiness has put paid to that, I think. I’ll need to do some drastic evening up instead, so that’s more ends to sew in…

Advice: how best to even this up? Should I do a few rounds where I double crochet around and treble on the skinny bits? Or is there another way?
Blanket #3: The BAMCAL

 
I’m joining in with the very lovely group over at Ravelry, and am making this super duper afghan for my nan. I want to make all squares up to November, then spend December finishing it to give to her at Christmas. I’m trying to be disciplined and block and do ends as I go. I’m a little behind on this, 3 squares to make to get caught up, a few need an extra round to bring them to size and you can probably spy some of my beloved ends there…

No advice required about this one specifically, just an idea of how people tend to prioritise –
Overall advice: what do you tend to do with multiple projects on the go? Do you prefer to put your energies into finishing one, or do a bit on lots of different projects to bring them all to completion a bit faster? Does having plenty of WIPs inspire you or stress you out (as it does me!)

I’d love to hear from you 🙂

My capsule wardrobe

Published July 14, 2015 by sunmoonstars134

Well, this past few days has seen me ill and having to take time off from what is turning out to be a very demanding and enjoyable job!

Sadly the job is why I’ve not been blogging so much of late, but I hope to drop in occasionally over the summer and to be a bit more regular after the summer when things (in theory!) calm down a little. 

Today I have felt better than I have for nearly a week, although my mental health was starting to struggle a little as it tends to do when I’m physically ill – too much inactivity and time alone with my thoughts, combined with anxiety of letting down colleagues, friends and family with cancelled plans conspire against me. 

The quickest way to defeat that, for me, is a burst of productivity. This was not so much a burst as several sputters, as I needed to keep taking breaks for rest and fluids (being ill sucks). It still did the trick though. 

As I’ve been trying hard to declutter these past few months, I have been idly googling “capsule wardrobes” this week, wondering how much it would cost to buy one. 

For those of you who don’t know, a capsule wardrobe merely means a limited number of items of clothing, that can preferably be mixed and matched to create different outfits. 

I found the site Unfancy, which is a great resource for getting started, and so I did! Lesson one was that I don’t need to go out and buy a bunch of new clothes – you probably beat me to the realisation that this would defeat the purpose of decluttering, right?!

This blogger has 37 items in each 3-month time period but says that this is flexible. This didn’t sound like much to me, so I immediately decided that I would use that flexibility to have more pieces. 

But she breaks it down, which was really helpful. Starting with 9 “bottoms”, be that skirts, jeans, trousers etc. 

Given that I live in jeans (I’m not fashion-minded – simplicity is key for me), and I now get to work in casual-wear too, 9 pairs of jeans seems barmy! I went with 4. (I then added 2 more pairs I found in the laundry!)

I figured that as its summer, I’d add a couple of skirts that don’t tend to get worn – either I will wear them out of desperation over the next few months, or I won’t, in which case they are charity-shop bound. 

I also decided that my longer jeans that I wear with heels in evenings can be retired for the summer, in favour of a couple of dresses that haven’t been worn for a while. I love them, but jeans are the easy option. Not anymore! They are not an option for the next 3 months.

Tops were more difficult – I have so many that I like to wear, so I’ve sorted a whole bunch of them and, again, kept some old favourites as well as some that I hope I will be encouraged to wear now. Again, I’m lucky that I can wear most things to work, although as its summer there are a couple of “smaller” items that aren’t work-friendly that I’ve chosen for weekends. 

So, I ended up with: 

6 pairs of jeans

2 skirts

2 dresses

3 jackets

4 cardigans

3 jumpers

8 “work” tops

3 “non-work” tops

8 pairs of shoes

………….

38 items!!

I’m pretty pleased with this, and thrilled with the amount that has gone to the charity shop or bin. It helped a lot to get EVERYTHING out at once – when I declutter a drawer at a time it’s easy to forget about the other load of jumpers in a different drawer. 

Speaking of which, I’m currently choosing to forget the number of jumpers I have stowed away until the time comes to choose my winter wardrobe. Hopefully by then I’ll be a bit happier with paring down my wardrobe and will be able to let a few more go. Either that or I’ll have enough to last for a few years of winter wardrobes!!

So there we go! I’m thrilled with my new capsule wardrobe, and I’ll let you know how it goes 🙂 

  
(The photo shows the edges of the stuff I’m storing, too. Some things aren’t ok to be folded for long periods of time. My options for the next 3 months start at the jeans and end just before the fur-hooded coat!)

Knitting and Crochet Blog Week: Day 2

Published May 12, 2015 by sunmoonstars134

Today’s post is about me!

Day Two (Tuesday 12th May): It’s All About You.
Cast your hooks and needles aside!

This year you are challenged with one of those tasks that some bloggers can find quite daunting: but there’s never a better time then when we’re all in it together, so let’s shift the focus and turn the attention from the things we make to the things that make us.

The important thing here is to remember that you don’t have to go into great personal detail and certainly do not have to reveal anything too personal. You can be as candid or as private as you like, but you can also give your readers a feel for those things that you like to do outside of your crafting.

  • Do you like to walk or keep fit
  • Do you read or enjoy movies – are there any personal favourite books or films that you would recommend?
  • What is your dream holiday destination, job, dinner party guest list?

This post can be about your reality, your aspirations, past, present or future. Enjoy talking about you. If you really don’t want to write about yourself, though, use your creative license and invent yourself an alternative persona, whether you are a spy, deep-sea diver or astronaut (who just happens to love yarn).


So I decided to make a list of things I like 🙂

Crochet
Cooking
Family
Gym
Pink
My rabbit 🙂
Giraffes
Friends
Constructive criticism
My own company
Gerberas
My slow cooker
Books
Psychology
Science
Walking
Real ale
Sunshine
The smell of hops
Silver jewellery
Broccoli
Hong Kong
Trees
Cats
Shoes
Lindor chocolate
Boy bands
Sticky toffee pudding
Weddings
White wine
Semi-precious stones
Theme parks
Delis
Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Knitting and Crochet Blog Week: Day 1

Published May 11, 2015 by sunmoonstars134

Hello! It has been a while, I started my new job last week so it was a busy one! However, I’m back and in style this week – taking part in the 6th annual Knitting and Crochet Blog Week. 

So the topic for post 1 is as follows: 

Day One (Monday 11th May): If You Were Yarn.
If you were a type or brand of yarn, which would you be? Are you a classic pure wool? Is there extra tension but a bit of bounce in you because of your high twist? Would you be more like a high-maintainance, strictly hand-wash fluffy angora or a ‘bring it on’ acrylic, bravely heading into the world of possible baby-sick laundering disasters knowing that you will always come out bright and unharmed?

Spend some time browsing yarns and getting to know their qualities, and decide which yarn you think best matches your personality.

________________
When asked what kind of yarn I would be, the first quandary I had was colour. 
I adore colour, the more the better, or at least that’s how I used to feel. While I still love to see different shades and tones mix with each other to make a wonderful mish mash, lately I have come around to the idea of just one or two colours taking centre stage. 
So I guess a year ago, I’d immediately have chosen to be a variegated yarn, partly to avoid the trauma of choosing just one colour, and partly because then each stitch, row and project would allow different colour combinations, resulting in some wonderful surprises!
These days, I wonder if a single colour might be less distracting, and allow a clearer view of the detail within the stitches. 
With that dilemma, I then have to decide on what TYPE of colour. So: brights are my go-to, they make my heart sing! But autumnal colours are what I tend to wear, as they suit my colouring more, and having finally come to terms with this a few years ago I started to experiment with these shades, and now really love them in their own right. 
I think trying to choose a single colour would be too difficult in brights. So if I chose variegated then I would go brights, but choosing just one colour I’d go for something warm and dark and cosy. 
As for texture… Well. The wording in the outline for this post actually talked mainly about the physical properties of the yarn, rather than the colour, which I honed in on. So taking aside the frivolities of colour, choosing my “consistency” was relatively easy, but it’s taken a while for me to get there!
I have lived with depression for a few years now, possibly longer. And when I faced up to that fact and realised that some parts of my lifestyle and my thought processes needed to change, I struggled. Rather than reading into things, making assumptions and ruminating, as had been my nature for years, I had to start being firm with myself and letting some things go, challenging my instincts and tried and tested thought patterns. I learned that “resilience” is a good quality in terms of mental health. And I wrongly assumed that to be resilient meant to be tough, hard, unyielding. 
It took some time, and meditation/mindfulness practice, and trial and error – to learn that my inherent “soft” side is not mutually exclusive to being resilient. That being forgiving, compassionate and loving (to others and myself) are all qualities that enable me to overcome tough situations, difficult conversations and days when my brain chemistry quite simply isn’t right. 
So, once again, my answer a year ago would probably be very different to now. Right now, I would say I am a hard-wearing yarn, wash-and-go. But a yarn that, with a little care (some fabric softener, if you will!) can be a delight and a comfort. Always with the ability to hold firm during the tougher times. 
Well! That was very interesting for me, perhaps less so for you… I hope I didn’t get too deep. I am aware that I haven’t answered the question… But with all my to-ing and fro-ing, I’m hardly surprised!
I am so excited to check out other responses to this topic by viewing the tag (6KXBWDAY1). If you aren’t taking part in this blog week, but have had a flash of inspiration as to what yarn you would be, feel free to comment – I’d love to hear from you!

Playing with ombre

Published April 29, 2015 by sunmoonstars134

Well, it’s been a long time coming, but I’ve been plotting this post for a while…

For those yarn lovers who haven’t heard, Deramores is holding a craft blog competition where a beautiful mountain of yarn worth over £500 goes to the winner. Imagine that! How many suitcases I could fill….
OK. Back on track. To enter, bloggers simply have to write about one of the 6 trends identified by bloggers selected by Deramores, one of which is ombre. 
I have to say, I didn’t know there was a word for this, but I’ve always thought that selecting shades that graduate from light to dark (or vice versa!) can be incredibly effective so I immediately decided to bust my stash for some gorgeous pinks, with a vague idea of making a baby blanket with them. 
I laid all the odds and sods out from light to dark, and set about selecting a set that would show off one of my favourite colours across the spectrum. I was slightly limited by needing to select shades that there was enough of to make the blanket – after all, this was a stash-busting exercise!!
And off I went! This is the largest granny square I’ve made to date, and I loved it! The rhythm is very soothing, and I was excited to see the impact of my colours as each new row was added. 
Would you like to see? 
  
Cuuuute!! I have to say, I think the darkest pink is perhaps a bit of a mismatch, but like I said, I had to go with what I had. And I think it’s turned out very well, just perhaps not what I had in mind. 
Well, after lushing over this for far too long, I went back to my stash to see what other colours I had an abundance of, and this is what I came up with:
  

 

And the best part of all is that I have enough of these colours to make another baby blanket with starting with the darkest and working outwards to light… It will be so fun to see the impact of this (fun for me, anyway… My family and friends give me strange looks when I say things like this so I fully understand that you may be doing the same 🙂 )
Also, for anyone interested, I have popped these beauties on my Etsy shopas we are not quite at the point where friends are starting families, so it will be a while before I will have the pleasure of meeting a small person who might get use out of these.
What do you think? I hope I have inspired you to dig through your stash, and play with ombre yourself – if so, be sure to blog about it and get your entry to the competition in 🙂
Small print: This post is my submission to the Deramores Craft Blog Competition 2015. Deramores is the UK’s number one online retailer of knitting and crochet supplies. Visit http://www.deramores.com for more details. 

January CAL squares

Published April 26, 2015 by sunmoonstars134

A little late, you might say!

Well, given that I started on this CAL 11 days ago and am massively playing catch-up, I thought you might like a whistle stop tour of my squares as I work through the backlog 🙂

So here goes: 


I am making life difficult by making 4 of each of the 6″ squares to make a larger block as shown. Unfortunately the square on the left is looking darker than it does in real life, but the others look fairly accurate 🙂

Here are the photos I took as I finished each square:


The patterns for the squares can be found on the Ravelry pages, and I will update with my squares as they are complete (it’s taken me a while to get around to this post, so February’s squares are almost done!)
Anyone else doing a CAL? This one or another, I’d love to hear 🙂

My latest project

Published April 24, 2015 by sunmoonstars134

Despite my previous post opening my eyes to the sheer number of WIPs I have (they keep cropping up, incidentally… I seem to have stashed them all over the flat for a healthy dose of shame wherever I go!) Anyway – despite this, you may have wondered what that lucious package at the end might be for…



Well this is for my first ever CAL, which I am starting a little late, but I decided this might hold my interest more… Being limited to a little at a time might appeal. In addition, I have some impetus to finish this as its for a particular person at a particular time. And I will deal with the other WIPs another time (by which I mean, I will metaphorically stick my fingers in my ears (and eyes!) and shout “LALALALALALA” and ignore them. Feel free to judge me.)

I have decided to make this blanket for my nan, who is perpetually cold (a trait I have inherited!) and is in ill health, and her quality of life is being affected by it. I really feel for her, she is of sound mind but cannot do much of what she would like. I see her a lot less than I used to now that I’ve moved up north, but I want her to know I still think of her. I am so looking forward to giving her this blanket for Christmas, with all of the squares up to November (giving me a month to finish… I hope that’s enough!)

The colours I have to admit I shamelessly stole from the lovely Betsy Makes as I adore her cushion in the same shades, and they will work nicely with my nan’s decor. 

I am using Stylecraft Special DK in Plum, Grape, Pale Rose, Cream, Silver and Grey. 



Stay tuned for the first batch of squares!

Support group, anyone?

Published April 13, 2015 by sunmoonstars134

I stumbled across this blog post recently, on the hilarious Laptop on the Ironing Board blog. Here, Kate very bravely shares her yarn problem.

I thought “ooh, doesn’t it look lovely all laid out like that. Maybe I should do the same… It’d be nice to see what I have, and I’ve been stash-busting for a while so it won’t be that bad”

So I did. Oh, readers, why did I do it?? I feel like a terrible human. I don’t know if I should share with you, but we are all friends, right? Ok.

Gulp.

Now, having emptied the suitcase onto the floor (suitcase… How could I have thought that was a sensible amount of yarn!) I was feeling very ashamed, but thought that while I was facing up to my issues, I should open the drawer. This is where projects go “to be finished later”. Now this drawer has been playing on my mind for a while – I’ve had a half-hearted sense that I should go and have a look and maybe finish off the one or two projects loitering in there.

I must say how proud I am of my capacity to delude myself. One or two. Hmmm.

This is bad. Very bad.

My sense of shame was increased by this little face. How judgemental is he looking?!

As I write, I wonder if there might be someone out there thinking, “that’s not so bad, don’t worry, you can work with that.” I like you. We could be friends. But you won’t be quite so tolerant of me when I show you what arrived this morning…

My name is Natalie, and I have a yarn problem.

Pink crochet

Published March 31, 2015 by sunmoonstars134

Hello!

I am on the mend and feeling very upbeat today – I got a job offer yesterday for a really exciting role working with young people. My career has never reflected my passion before, so I took a chance with this role in the hope that the voluntary work I’ve done with young people would be enough experience, and it was 🙂

I’m not sure why it took me so many years to figure out that if there are paid jobs that reflect what you choose to do in your spare time, that’s probably going to be a winning combination! The start date is a few weeks away though, and I’m itching to get started, but if that’s my biggest problem today then I’m pretty much ok with that. 

Anyway, the main reason for posting was to share this amazing art project being planned by Amy as part of her degree, which aims to showcase the strength and individuality of women. Many more details can be found on Amy’s blog. I can totally get behind this, and so I have made my own vine – keep any eye out for it, Amy!



I also like it all curled up like this:





And here it is ready to be taken to the post office:



I love the thought of hundreds of these beauties being crafted across the world and making their way to someone with the creativity to really showcase the colours and styles of them. I can’t wait to see the pictures of the installation, I’m sure they will be stunning. 

To any crocheters or knitters out there – there is still time to make and send your own vine – there are patterns for knitted and crocheted vines on Amy’s blog, although she seems open to people having a play and coming up with their own pattern if you’re the creative type 🙂