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.

French Cancan

This is a beautiful pattern from Mademoiselle C. It used only two skeins of Orange Flower Merino Silk DK in Meteorite.

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The edging makes it look difficult, but actually its a very simple repetitive cable pattern which gives an impressive result. I must admit that 50 repeats of the edging pattern did get a bit boring at times, so this took me a while to finish in between other projects.

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I blocked it with blocking wires which really helped make the picot edging  even.

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Happy Street KAL

Happy Street KAL by azmiat
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!