Sunday, 24 June 2012

Great expectations...

At the beginning of June I decided I was going to be very strict with myself about finishing craft projects once I’d started them. I discovered when I was making a little pair of shoes for a friend’s new baby that there was more satisfaction in starting, working on, and finishing a project in a couple of weeks, rather than my usual project timeframe of months! 

1 t-shirt with mark and some fabric scraps
My plan was to start with another small project, which would take maybe a week. I’d recently purchased some second-hand clothes for Izzy on ebay, and one of the t-shirts had a slight mark on it. “What better small project to start with than a bit of appliqué?”, I asked myself. So, having decided on a Cath Kidston flower motif, I sat down one Monday evening with my fabric stash, some bondaweb and a steam iron, and proceeded to cut out and arrange my flower. Except, once I’d started, I got a bit carried away. A single flower became a layered, decoupage affair using a mix of two fabrics (a cotton and a felt). The single flower became a more pleasing arrangement of three blooms, each layered, and to be finished off with a decorative button from my button pot.

Use an iron to activate the glue
Hmm. The first stage was misleading in its simplicity. Trace motif onto bondaweb, iron bondaweb on to fabric, place motif on t-shirt, iron again. But then I came to the embroidery part. Satin stitch is a pretty time-consuming stitch, if you haven’t ever dabbled in the fine art of hand embroidery, involving creating lots of little stitches, placed very closely together to cover an edge. In this case, I had 7 edges to apply the stitch too, at some points working through four layers of fabric: the thick organic cotton t-shirt, two layers of cotton fabric and one layer of felt.

The three flowers ready for the embroidery
Needless to say, this one week project became two. Then three. Then four. As I haven’t done any embroidery for quite some time, my first flower looked a little shoddy, and so when I’d finished I had to go back to cover up the gaps and bits of the first layer where I’d sewed too close to the edge of my patterned cotton fabric and it had started to fray a little. I got a blister on my finger from forcing the needle through the work and strained the muscles in the back of my hand. 

But the most important thing? Even when I really, really wanted to just put the project aside and move on to a new one for a bit of light relief (I’ve got a lovely little knitting project lined-up), I didn’t. I persevered and although it may be a small thing, I’m still quite proud of myself. 

Finished, at last!

Sunday, 17 June 2012


Today I'm feeling a bit unravelled as our dd kept us up for half the night with her latest teething/cold/who-knows-what extravaganza. So what better way to spend the quiet time whilst she was napping this afternoon than by experimenting with unravelling something else?

I've been on a bit of a declutter kick since reading Miss Minimalist by Francine Jay a couple of weeks ago. If, like me, you'd understood minimalism to be a term applied to a relatively dull design concept (think white rooms with no furniture), then think again. Minimalism is, or can be, an all-encompassing way of life - for the eco-conscious, it also provides some useful guidelines, or timely reminders, for how to live life more lightly, without using unnecessary resources or falling prey to the twin powers of capitalism and consumerism. If you want to know more, I'd suggest you read the book (I, appropriately, bought the Kindle edition, to avoid adding another physical book to my existing collection).

One of my decluttering goals has been to minimalise my wardrobe down to a single closet and a single chest of drawers, rather than needing to bring out and pack away a summer/winter wardrobe each year. Having looked at the clothes I actually wear all the time, the clothes I'd lost under piles of unworn things and the clothes that just don't fit or flatter, I came away with 4 large carrier bags-full. 1 bag of clothes from the upper end of the high street, all in excellent condition (the perils of sales and impulse buying) to hopefully be sold on to our local clothing agency; 1 bag of clothes in completely tatty condition to be recycled; and 2 bags of clothes destined for the charity shop.

And it was whilst looking at, in particular, some of the perfectly serviceable men's woollen jumpers (shrunken hand-me-downs from WH) that it occurred to me to wonder if I shouldn't be thinking about salvaging some of this yarn to reuse in my own knitting projects, rather than forking out on virgin yarns every time. Top of the pile was an off-white, GAP over-sized cardigan, which was much-loved one particularly chilly summer, but washed and worn so often that it completely lost its shape. So this afternoon, I sat down with this particularly useful blog post, some scissors and the item in question to see how difficult it would be to unravel myself some yarn.

And the answer? Surprisingly easy. Although also, surprisingly messy! Still, one fair-sized ball of yarn just from unravelling one sleeve is pretty good work for a sleep-deprived mummy on a Sunday afternoon!