Minimalist Crafting

I’ve had a busy time over the last few months with having the house redecorated and rethinking how to manage our rather cluttered home. Although I am definitely more magpie than minimalist, I have started to rethink what we keep and whether it has value in our home or not. For ages, I have tried to keep things organised with more storage but have realised that stuff expands to fill the space available! And then I read something which made complete sense – you can’t organise clutter.

Since then, I have eBayed, Freecycled, and given away a number of possessions but still have a long way to go with craft items. I have been reading the Miss Minimalist blog, however I think her philosophy is a little too extreme for me – I think of a home as a warm, comfortable place to come back to; I  like lots of books to flick through and be inspired by, colourful piles of yarn and fabric, pictures and photos that remind me of good memories. At the same time, with stashing comes guilt. Recently I’ve been occupied with a crawling (now walking) baby, going back to work, and decorating, and there has been little time to sew and knit (besides the small problem of the sewing machine being in the room the baby sleeps in).The boxes of yarn and fabric have become something I ‘should’ use up and another source of clutter. I also worry about finished objects becoming part of the problem too, I mean who needs the worry of shawl clutter on top of all the other stresses in life!

I went to the London Modern Quilt Guild meeting yesterday and feel inspired to get back to sewing, but at the same time I’d like to keep the stash in check and at a level I am comfortable with. I revisited the Slow Stashing article on Knitter’s Review and think it is a great way of making sure the stash is a ‘happy place’. I have decided on a few ground rules for now which should help me to keep my crafting more minimalist. 

1. Knit/sew from stash – sounds obvious, but it is so tempting to buy just the right print for your project instead of using something you already have. Sewing or knitting from stash is doubly gratifying – you’ve made something beautiful and cleared space in your house. I also find it wasteful to keep buying when I already have so much and have felt less and less tempted to splurge recently.  

2. Sell/give away what I don’t intend to use or feel uninspired by. What can’t be sold can always be given away – I have previously not wanted to part with things I’ve paid good money for, but there is a pleasure in giving away things to people who really appreciate them. I gave away a bundle of embroidery magazines to an old lady who shared them with a group of elderly/disabled people and she was so grateful and appreciative. 

3. Approach Pinterest/Flickr with caution – there is a lot of scope for inspiration, but also the temptation of ‘oh I can make that!’ and before you know it, you’ve bought the yarn/fabric and added to the monster stash! 

4. Reduce the number of crafts – I now have scrapbooking, knitting, and sewing supplies, as well as small amounts of jewellery making supplies, yarn dyes and beads. I don’t enjoy the fiddliness of jewellery making and beading so it is probably time to let those go to a good home. 

5. I have more patterns than I have time to make them. So it’s ok to let go of the ones that are so far down the queue that they are unlikely to ever get made. 

6. Have only 1 or 2 projects on the go at a time – this reduces the frustration of never getting anything finished, and reduces clutter as there are fewer half finished bits of fabric hanging around. It also minimises the chance of said bits of fabric getting lost and having to dig out the pattern and cut the piece out again. 

7. Have a dedicated space for crafting which is available when I am free. This is going to be in the living room which has now been divided into two areas. That way I can sew in the evenings or when the baby is asleep. 

8. Make things that can be used and appreciated by others. Sounds obvious, but I often like making shawls, and don’t know anyone who wears them so don’t feel I can give them as gifts! Mittens, scarves, children’s hats, sewn items like aprons, potholders, table runners, pillowcases, bags and pouches are all useful and more likely to be used. 

I think that’s it for now! I’d love to hear your ideas for minimalist crafting or at least keeping the stash under control!

Book Review : Labour of Love

I have recently purchased Lullaby Knits by Vibe Ulrike Sondergaard, after seeing Labour of Love at Loop last year. Labour of Love caught my eye with its beautiful cloth bound cover and vintage style photography, and most importantly, wonderful patterns.

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The patterns are mostly intermediate to advanced, although there are a few simpler patterns that an ambitious beginner could try.

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The pattern on the right is my favourite in the book – the textured yoke and rows of cabling are time consuming but will result in a stunning piece of work that will be treasured.

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The cardigan below is also beautiful, the lace pattern and edging are delicate but it still looks warm and practical. The little model is sweet too!

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This feather and fan jacket is also a pretty piece which would look lovely and work up quickly.

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There are several shawls in the book as well including this mohair scarf.

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Not all the patterns are to my taste however, such as the loopy waistcoat and a couple of the skirts, but overall this book represents amazing value for the quality of the designs and the presentation. It would be an ideal gift for a knitter with a little girl. My only reservation at the time was that the patterns were sized for 3-8 year old girls, so it would be a long time before my daughter would fit into anything! Lullaby Knits is therefore perfect for me at the moment as the patterns are for babies up to 2 years old.

Happy Street KAL

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Happy Street KAL, a photo by azmiat on Flickr.

This is my yarn for the KAL over at The Uncommon Thread Ravelry board. The pattern is going to be Happy Street by Veera Vallimaki.

The yarns from left to right: Lioness Arts Exquisite fingering in Thoughts, The Uncommon Thread Heavenly fingering in Grit and Posh fingering in Envy.

I’m slightly overextending myself this month as I’m also taking part in Mad May – a month of Madelinetosh knitting with prizes along the way. I don’t expect to win anything but I do find it motivates me if I’m knitting with others. The weather is too nice to stay indoors and sew at the moment, so I can sit outside with my knitting while its sunny!

Brand New Knitting Group in Penge

I am really excited about our brand new knitting group in Penge! The idea came about after I enquired about local groups, and although there are several in the vicinity (Bromley, Croydon, Crystal Palace), there were a few knitters in Penge who were interested in setting something up closer to home. I had recently looked at the Alexandra Nurseries website and thought it sounded like a lovely venue, and another Raveller kindly offered to go down and have a chat with Sarah who runs it.

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Alexandra Nurseries is a beautiful independent garden centre, gift shop and cafe in Penge

Thankfully, Sarah was enthusiastic about the idea so I visited myself soon after, and thought it was wonderful – beautiful vintage china, quirky gifts and of course, an amazing selection of plants! The upstairs space is a relaxed setting which will be great for informal knitting, tea-drinking and cake-eating.  We have decided to start off the group on Sunday mornings every fortnight and see what happens. So if you are a knitter, please join us for the first meeting this Sunday (17th March) at 10.15am! If you’d like to join the mailing list, please email se20knitters@gmail.com for updates.

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Even if you’re not a knitter, if you are in the area its a great place for a gift or a leisurely lunch.

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I love the furniture and vintage tins, and have my eye on these little packets of seeds below!

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As an aside, it’s really great to see so many new independent shops and cafes in Penge, as well as interesting events like the SE20 Craft Fair on 7th April. I would love to have been there but will unfortunately be away that week. It sounds really good, and is a 5 minute walk from me! I hope I can make the next one, and perhaps even have a stall there.

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WIP Wednesdays

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Pattern: Camomille shawl 

Yarn: Viola merino lace and Viola Fancy Sock, both in Dew Drop

This pattern is so far much simpler than I expected – the very fine merino lace is difficult to knit with on 5mm needles but otherwise it is straightforward. The yarn is beautiful, my camera refuses to capture the colour but it is a pale sea green with pops of copper and turquoise.


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I’m also really excited about making a super bright colour block cowl for spring! The yarns are Pigeonroof Studios Cassiopeia fingering in Tansy and Sweetgeorgia cashsilk lace in Raspberry. It will just be a simple stocking stitch shawl with garter borders to prevent rolling.

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I think the colours are fantastic together!

Handmade Baby

The blog was on the blink for a few months due to the general apathy of late pregnancy. I did manage to muster up the energy to sew and knit some pretty things for the baby, so here they all are:

 

The Sewing:

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Here’s our little Rosie wrapped up in her Anna Maria Horner voile receiving blanket. The reverse is made with cozy  flannel in the yellow diamond mine print from Folksy flannels, and the bias tape is made with pink voile. The headband is made using this tutorial. I made several more as gifts for family members with baby girls, they are really cute!

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The shoes were made with a Joy Folie pattern and I embellished them using a silk scarf from a charity shop (for the flowers), some beautiful organza ribbon from this shop on Ebay, and green felt for the leaves. The fabric is from a piece of Ikat silk handwoven fabric I bought from Uzbekistan on Ebay and the lining is felt. I also made a smaller pair in grey which need to be finished before she grows out of them!

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These flannels were made for my sister, but I made 8 of these for myself, and they are incredibly useful! The reverse is bamboo fleece and very soft and absorbent. They also wash very well and are made with all my favourite prints from a variety of designers.  It’s handy to have enough to keep one in each room as they’re always needed!

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The Itty Bitty baby dress – I sized this up slightly by enlarging the pieces on the photocopier, it still only just fit at 3 days old! Sadly she didn’t wear it again, but it was a very easy and satisfying project so I will probably make her another one in a bigger size soon. I think the main problem was that the sides were too narrow, so increasing the width by an inch on the bodice piece would probably have made it fit for longer.

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The Ice cream dress using an Oliver + S pattern. This is made with Nani Iro double gauze and is very light and soft. Again, the pattern is straightforward, but this is sized quite large (its a 6-12m size). I hemmed about 2 inches up after finishing it as it seemed very long.

The Knitting:

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The piece de resistance – a Purl Super Easy Baby Blanket made with Dream in Color Classy and Malabrigo Rios – very soft and cozy, and BRIGHT! I knew the acres of garter stitch would take forever, so I started it 6 months before she was due, and finished 2 weeks before she was born.

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December baby booties  in a peach angora blend fabric. I think I’m allergic to angora as it made me sneeze a lot, but the finished product is fluffy and very sweet!

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Newborn baby hat – she wore this in the hospital and it still fits now (she’s 4 weeks old). Its made with Rowan Purelife Organic cotton DK.  I don’t enjoy working with cotton but this was quite soft.

There are a few more projects to show but this is already a mammoth post so I’ll save those for later. I’m now enjoying doing some selfish knitting for a change 🙂

FO :: Lacy Baktus

I made this Lacy Baktus  for the Orange Flower KAL. I used just less than two skeins of BFL DK in Helios, I wanted it to be fairly substantial and warm. It was a bit of a slog to get through, and I ended up frogging my first attempt as I kept mixing up the right and wrong sides and increased on the wrong side. The second time I pinned a brooch to the right side so I knew it was the right one to increase on.

 

(Warning: A large number of gratuitous photos of my son follow.) He was being a bit tiresome today so I decided the least he could do was pose for some pictures, which he did with gusto.

“I want to make an ugly face!”

Textured Shawl Recipe

This is one I’ve been meaning to make for ages. The combination of the stocking stitch and pattern stitch is very elegant. I used Louisa Harding Thistle, which is a suri merino blend, and very soft and squishy. It also doesn’t seem to shed much, though I deliberately chose a darker colour just in case.

I did one extra repeat of the stocking stitch and pattern, resulting in a larger shawl – there were a huge number of stitches in the end so I cast off a few rows early (It was snowing and I wanted to wear it!).  I used 4 skeins in total.

 

I’ve also nearly finished my Baudelaire, which is turning out very pretty. The dinner bell ruffle is fascinating to knit, as it just looks like it’s not working, then all of a sudden you have a row of beautiful ruffles! The only issue is, no one at home is convinced by the ruffles at the back, so I’m not sure if I should frog the back and do it again without ruffles. And if I do, I might run out of yarn which would be a pain as I bought it from Webs (and got hit by customs! Grr).  I wonder if Loop have it – I noticed someone on Ravelry has planned the project with yarn from Loop.