Wednesday, January 01, 2014

2013: In Review

I was not intending to spend a year away from my blog.  The longer I spent not writing, the harder it became to know where to start!  So I've decided to do a quick overview of 2013.  There's no way I can cover everything in one post, but at least I'm posting again!

At the beginning of the year, I was spending my knitting time working on little jumpers and cardigans for my best friend’s baby, who was due in March.  



In February, I spent a lovely long weekend in Amsterdam, my first visit to the city, which was beautiful.  I didn’t visit any yarn shops, but I was only a few minutes away from a big market with at least ten fabric stalls and shops! 


Ketna’s daughter Maya was born in March and I was able to give her the pile of garments and blanket I had knitted and sewn.  I love these little sweaters; it must be time for me to knit something for a new born, although I don’t know anyone who is expecting! 


In April, my Dad was treated for stomach cancer and I sewed my first garment for myself, Tilly’s MietteSkirt.  It was a challenging month on many levels!


May saw me move back home for a few weeks as my flatmate’s boyfriend moved in and they wanted the flat to themselves.  I was lucky that my parents welcomed me home while I looked for somewhere new to live and even luckier to find a fantastic house share in a great location which I moved into in July.  In June I was struck by cupid…more on that later but suffice to say there is now a Mr In Stitches J

In August, my friend Becky got married.  I was honoured to have been asked to make her wedding shawl. 


I think this is the most beautiful thing I have ever made, a very delicate lace Ishbel, with black seed beads in the edging to match Becky’s wedding outfit.  She loved it!


In September I had a really enjoyable week off work, split between Edinburgh and a visit to my Aunt and Uncle in Devon, where I worked on my nephew’s Christmas jumper (I was trying to be organised!)

The Autumn was less eventful, with personal time spent working on Christmas presents and a busy period at work.  My job relocated from Surrey to Central London, so that is a big change that will really hit home when I go back to work next Monday.  I suppose with 2013 summarised it sounds like a busy year, with a new home, wonderful man and change of job.  It’s certainly nice to have slowed down over Christmas and New Year.

I really missed not spending the time taking proper photos of knitting and sewing projects last year.  I spent a lot of time reading other blogs, eager to start sewing and blogging my own garments and quilts, but never quite managing it!  I have a few recently finished projects and a few more that are almost finished that I will be able to photograph and blog over the coming days and weeks. 

It's good to be back in this space again!

Tuesday, January 01, 2013

So...2013



“Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?” 




I saw this quote over on Soulemama's blog, and after googling it came across a range of inspirational quotes and poems by Mary Oliver.  This extract really sums up how I felt during 2012, a year in which I made some big changes.  I will carry this forward into 2013:


...there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do --
determined to save
the only life you could save.” 


This poem feels particularly poignant at the start of this New Year.  A year for which I have so many dreams, so much hope.  


“When it's over, I want to say: all my life
I was a bride married to amazement.
I was the bridegroom, taking the world into my arms. 
When it is over, I don't want to wonder
if I have made of my life something particular, and real.
I don't want to find myself sighing and frightened,
or full of argument. 
I don't want to end up simply having visited this world.” 



Above all, I want to do three things this year: Imagine, Create, Record.  All the resolutions I could write here would fall into that simple three word list.  Happy New Year!

Sunday, September 02, 2012

Approaching Autumn

 I love September.  Even though it's a few years since I finished studying at university and a long time since I left school, September still feels like a time for new starts and fresh thinking.  A definite change of seasons and more to look forward to that January.  Cooler weather, beautiful colours in nature, a desire for cooking comfort food, pots of soup and home baked bread.  What's not to love?!
I started knitting this cardigan a while ago, knowing that it would be worn in late Autumn and now that it is finished the colour is just perfect for this time of year.  The yarn and pattern combination were a joy to work with, so much so that I was thinking about knitting another even though, for the first time in a long time, I had no pregnant friends.
All that changed today though, when I received a call from my oldest and most cherished friend, to tell me she is 12 weeks pregnant, expecting her first baby in March next year.

Ahh September: a time of new beginnings and making plans.

Pattern: 'Mignon' from Loop in London
Yarn: BFL light DK from The Uncommon Thread; colour: 'Golden Praline'
Needles: 3.5mm Addi Turbo and 3.5mm bamboo dpns

Thursday, January 05, 2012

I'm very excited to say that I am one of the first members of the 'London Modern Quilt Guild', part of an international network of Modern Quilt Guilds. You can find more information about how to get involved here.We're currently working out the best time for everyone to get together for our first meeting, which should be in central London in the next few weeks.
The new Guild is starting at the same time as a new magazine, 'Modern Quilting', is being launched by the publishers of 'Sew Hip'. It's about time the UK had a contemporary quilting magazine. I'm working on some proposals for features at the moment. Exciting stuff! This quilt was made last year for a colleague's baby. I had a fit of inspiration and sewed the quilt top very quickly, then it sat for many months waiting to be sandwiched and quilted. Story of my life!I love the effect of the dense straight line quilting, but when I was sewing it I thought it would never end! I think though, in the end, it's my favourite of all the quilts I've made. Although I do seem to say that every time I finish one.

Monday, January 02, 2012

It's been a funny old day today, the last day of my Christmas break before returning to work tomorrow. This has been the first Christmas in four years that I haven't been ill with some kind of chest infection, flu or sinus infection. Nice! I've had the laziest ten days in a long time which I must have needed, because I usually feel guilty if I'm not sewing, or knitting, or planning. I've done so little really, just a lot of eating (oops!), sleeping, watching television and knitting, mostly at my parents' house. They only live a half hour walk away so I've been there most days, being waited on!I only knitted one Christmas present in the end, a scarf for my Dad, which I need to photograph. Having said yesterday that I want to knit more for myself, the only thing I'm currently knitting is a 'Puerperium' cardigan for my parents' neighbours, who are expecting a baby in March. The cardigan in these photos is the version I knit as part of my nephew Ethan's 'welcome wardrobe'. I absolutely loved knitting this cardigan. Mum asked me to knit a version for her neighbours, in a pale greeny-blue. I'm hoping I can get some of my favourite polka dot buttons for it. It should be a lovely little cardi for a wee Spring baby.I've got some peppers roasting in the oven at the moment, stuffed with new potatoes, feta and pesto. The recipe is from my current favourite book, 'River Cottage Veg Everyday'. The flat smells amazing right now!

Sunday, January 01, 2012

2012...Pleased to meet you.

Ah 2012, I'm so glad it's here! I don't want to dwell on 2011 as it was a really tough year with a mixture of health and work related problems which left me emotionally exhausted by September. I've been ready for a New Year for several months!

I've got so many 'resolutions' this year that I'm bound to mess a few up, but it is definitely time for a bit of a life overhaul, so here goes:

Knitting:
1. I'd like to knit myself at least a couple of garments this year. I have a tendency to knit for the babies and little people in my life and I think it's time this year to put my knitting skills to a more selfish use!

2. When I am knitting for the aforementioned little people, I will try to knit patterns that I haven't used before, to keep learning new skills.

3. I have some beautiful yarn in my Stash (Tosh Sock, I'm looking at you!) and this year I want to spend time knitting it into beautiful items to be worn, rather than it being hidden away in my stash box.

Sewing:
1. I want to sew garments for myself. I've been blog stalking a few garment sewers this year and have developed a slight obsession with Colette Patterns. It's time I started to try actually making one of these garments, instead of just reading the patterns all the time!

2. I want to make some pretty things for the flat I live in: new cushion covers, a table runner and possibly a quilt for my bed. I got a lovely quilting book for Christmas and am feeling very inspired.

General Life Stuff:
1. I need to eat more healthily and exercise. A year of comfort eating, hormone treatment for endometriosis and a total lack of exercise have had a disastrous effect on my weight and fitness. I need to lose 4 stone (56 lbs). I doubt it can be done in one year, but I am ready to start working on it.

2. The elusive work/life balance. This is a big one for me, I really don't have any balance at all and will drop everything for the sake of my job. I need to put myself, my health, my friends and family first, or at least give them the same attention I give to work.

3. Do things that are outside my comfort zone. I've just turned 31 and should not be spending every evening sitting at home watching TV. I need to get out and socialise, whether that's with friends, my knitting group or at a gym class. Despite my anti-social, shy exterior I actually love meeting people and seeing friends, so I need to do more of it, instead of hibernating on my own.

Finally (phew!), this quote is my inspiration for the new year, courtesy of Eleanor Roosevelt:
'You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. Do the thing you think you cannot do'.

Oh, and obviously I'll be blogging more this year, starting with the 2011 makes that remain unblogged!

Happy New Year, I hope 2012 is a great year for you.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Finished! Christmas Stockings (4 of 53)

Well, this regular blogging isn't going very well is it?! Christmas crafting is going slightly better, although not fast enough!
I have finished making a few gifts on my list so far, although the list of things to make seems to be getting longer rather than shorter. How is that possible?! Perhaps because I keep thinking of things I was to make. I think I'll need a rest by the 25th.
I did finish my Christmas stocking commission this weekend. They're on the way to Molly and Aloise in Kent just in time to hang up for Father Christmas to fill with presents. I hope the girls like them!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Autumn Kimono for an Autumn Babe (3 of 53)

I'm an Auntie again! My lovely new nephew Ethan James was born on Thursday evening. I had a feeling early on that this baby would be a boy, but my sister-in-law thought it might be another girl so I tried too use fairly neutral colours when knitting for the baby. I was inspired to chose colours that I thought would suit being worn in Autumn/Winter.
I've had one skein of beautiful Dream in Colour 'Classy' in the colourway 'Chinatown Apple' for a few years. I bought it at Stash Yarns in Putney, and have been saving it for a special one-skein project. The colour is perfect for an Autumn baby.
I saw this pattern on Yarn Harlot's blog a few months ago and knew that it would be a great project for this precious single skein. It's a top-down raglan so no seaming! Sewing seams didn't used to bother me at all, but the older I get, the more I'm coming round to the idea of seamless construction!
I found the perfect button in Creative Quilting, one of my favourite fabric shops in East Molesey opposite Hampton Court Palace.

I was at my parents' house yesterday morning before visiting my brother, sister-in-law, Megan and Ethan in the afternoon. It was a beautiful Autumn morning, crisp and cool with a clear blue sky so I grabbed the opportunity to photograph all Ethan's knits (plus a little something for Meg) so I can finally post all these projects I've finished over the last few months.


Tuesday, November 08, 2011

A Christmas Commission (2/53)

I was recently commissioned to make two stockings, one 'pinky purple' and the other 'blues and turquoise' for a friend's daughters Molly and Aloise.

I've been sketching designs for a couple of weeks, piling up fabrics on my dining table, buying embroidery threads and my favourite polka dot buttons to match. I decided to keep the design simple, piecing strips of fabric in varying widths from 1-2.5 inches, interspersed with strips of white fabric, which were then embroidered with the recipient's name or stars, or embellished with a row of buttons. I love how the fabrics are all working together, and the freshness that adding the white strips, embroidery and button detail brings to the design.These still need a bit of work: I need to make and attach the linings and add hanging loops, but I'm really pleased with how they look so far. I hope the girls like them too!


A Challenge. (Or 1/53)

Over to the right of this page near the top of the side is a list of the posts I have blogged this year. I have just noticed that I've only blogged 23 times this year. That's terrible isn't it?! I'm really pleased with the things I've created this year and yet many sadly remain unblogged and in some cases haven't even been photographed!

I'm setting myself a challenge for the remainder of 2011, which I hope will encourage me to rediscover my writing/blogging voice, let me celebrate the things I'm really proud of (and show the things that didn't turn out so well!) and share the people and blogs that have been inspiring me this year.

I've tried in the past to say I'll blog every day for a certain period of time, but life (usually work and resulting tiredness) has a habit of getting in the way. And yet some days I know I could write more than once. So the challenge is a post for each day for the rest of 2011, but not necessarily one post per day. 53 posts between now and 2012. Whew, wish me luck!

Sunday, October 23, 2011