December 2016

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November was an interesting month, everything is looking quite different to how it did 30 days ago. Some of the events are still registering with me so I’ll talk about them later but one of them is that I finally became Dr Shyeni Paul – well as soon as I actually do the corrections and paperwork. I’ve got a post on my PhD work in draft stage because its been a huge project for me and deserves as documentation as much as any of my other projects.

All in all that means that I’ve still got plenty of things on the go and that I should probably put some effort into finishing them up before the year is out.

  1. Christmas cards. These need inserts and then writing and posting.
  2. Fringed Handbag – No Progress
  3. Bead Embroidery Purse – No Progress
  4. Learning Curve Sampler Quilt – No Progress
  5. Weaving – No Progress
  6. Shoulder heat packs –No Progress
  7. Lip balm cozies – No Progress
  8. Knitted partridge  – the body has been done, just wings and beak to go
  9. Some small beaded beads  – I started these for the operation tackle that bead stash challenge but ran out of time
  10. Tipless gloves – these have been really fun to make so far

I’ve got a couple of finishes though:

  1. My lace alpaca scarf/cowl – Its a little smaller than I anticipated but fits nicely and is very warm
  2. My Winter Sparkle themed ATC – although I still need to post
  3. A beaded necklace made especially for my PhD viva
  4. A cute knitted christmas wreath
  5. A couple of simple christmas tree christmas ornaments

 

Making on a budget – Buying Supplies

I have two rules for my own craft purchases: Do I love it and Do I need it?

As a quick aside, there has in the UK been a lot of talk about stashes of craft supplies (often wool with knitters) being hidden in the mainstream media. And then I read a great article by Maddie at Badass Quilters Society, which basically summed up my personal opinions on the need to hide a stash or purchase. The first point is simple, if you are hiding something because you couldn’t afford to buy it, you shouldn’t be buying it. The second is that why should you be ashamed of buying supplies for your hobby. The word stash is always associated with hidden so even if the stash isn’t actually hidden, there is still the connotation of being hidden. Anyway Maddie definitely describes it better than I do,but my takeaway point was that I’m going to try and use the word collection for supplies rather than stash. It implies a little more pride in my supplies and also recognises that they are important and necessary. It doesn’t hurt that ‘a collection’ is often associated with valuable items. I don’t personally know the value of my collection of supplies but I do know it would be well beyond my means to replace it if where lost or damaged.

And back to the topic of buying supplies. I don’t have specific crafting budget, the money I spend comes out of my monthly ‘free money’. Which means if I make a big craft purchase, I can’t spend the money elsewhere and vice versa. So the amount I spend fluctuates a lot but my spending falls into the two catagories mentioned above: love and need.

The latter is actually the key one. I try incredibly hard to only buy things if I am actually about to start a project which will use them. I used to buy supplies if I had a project in mind for them, but I just ended up with small piles of supplies, without the time to actually make them and often I was no longer inspired by the time I got round to it. So now as one project is being finished, I start planning the next one and picking up any supplies I don’t already have. I do also try and start projects that maximize use of the supplies I have.

Modern life means it is very easy to get supplies and pretty quickly. I’m incredibly guilty of using amazon prime to get emergency supplies delivered the next day. I am aware that this doesn’t do actual shops any favours so I do try and be organised enough to buy stuff in advance from real and preferably independent shops (although I still do most buying online).

I personally don’t collection build (formally known as stash building), mostly due to lack of space and the ever looming threat of having to move that haunts every renter. I do have a collection of beads bought over the years and a small pile of fabric but as I am a beginner quilter/sewer who is fairly inconsistent with how much sewing I do, its not really necessary for me to have a large collection. Also while there is plenty of fabric I love and would happily buy given a bigger budget, I don’t know where my sewing journey is going to take me, and don’t want to end up saddled with materials I’ll never use. I also find that with each project I complete, there’s leftovers – from scraps to significant bits of fabric, so I am slowly building a collection. This also provides enough material for an emergency projects.

Which brings me on to the other category of things I buy: Things I’ve fallen in love with. It happens – no matter how good you try and be with planning and deciding what you need, sometimes you just want to own that bit of fabric or wool or colour of bead. My opinion is if you can afford it, why not. If you make something as a hobby its because it brings you happiness and making with a supply you love will only make you happier. If you can’t afford it, then its time to start saving or hinting madly at people who can afford to buy you presents.

Do you have a proper craft budget? or if not how do you control what you spend on your supplies?

 

An update on my beading adventures

I’ve done quite a bit of beading recently, but neglected to mention it on my blog other than in my  monthly  updates.

My journey back into beadweaving started because I got a job at a local beadshop and wanted something to take to my interview, which was perfect motivation to make the ‘gem of a spiral‘ necklace designed by Marcia Balonis (pattern in Bead and Button April 2016). I’d bought all the beads necessary pretty much as soon as I saw the pattern – albeit variations what was suggested. Because I used slightly different beads the sizing is a little different giving my version a more open structure – I think it looks quite spinal.

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I also whipped up a pair of matching earrings. I’ve had so many compliments on this necklace – it is quite an eye catching piece. And yes I got the job, which is an added bonus. When I was putting the findings on the necklace and earrings, I also got out some lampwork beads I’ve had for years. I bought them in New Zealand about 12 years ago, and originally had them all strung on a leather cord together. But while I loved the beads, I never wore the necklace so a couple of years ago I took it apart and kept the beads. I had an idea to do something simple so I simply strung them on some chain, its a style of necklace I wear a lot. And I’ve worn both necklace more than once since making them.

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Then I moved on to another beadweaving project of sorts: a beaded chainmaille necklace. I was fascinated by this project and decided to make it in a classic cream colour. I only made the chainmaille section and attached chain to fasten the necklace. This was pretty fun to make even if making all the hoops at the beginning at the beginning was a little boring.

When I was doing the findings for this necklace, I had recently been given some very cool disc beads by a friend at my craft meetup. So I took the opportunity to turn them into a necklace as well. Initially I was going to use all the discs in one necklace but all the black discs made it quite heavy. So instead I used some simple glass beads as spacers so the colours really shine and used the spare black discs in a second necklace.

I also bit the bullet and attached chain to my bezelled seaglass necklace. It looks really stunning on.

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I’m starting to learn what style of handmade jewellery I actually wear:  Mostly I wear simpler pieces in fairly neutral colours, as I have a pretty bright wardrobe. I’m trying to keep what I make on those lines and mostly these pieces are successful in that regard.

 

November 2016

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I did much better with my blog posting this month, managing to tell you about my socks and how I make do to save money. I’ve also managed to make quite a few things or at least put some good hours in – it’s felt very satisfying to have some me time again.

I’ve got quite a few things going on at the moment but that’s ok.

  1. Christmas cards. I’ve started early in a bid not to be stressed by them
  2. A winter sparkle ATC. I’ve signed up again and I was pretty inspired by this one.
  3. Epp Cushion. I’m adding to this one slowly.
  4. Fringed Handbag – No Progress
  5. Bead Embroidery Purse – No Progress
  6. Learning Curve Sampler Quilt – No Progress
  7. A lacy scarf – I’m nearly done
  8. Weaving – I did a tiny bit more then put it away
  9. Shoulder heat packs – I’m making these as presents and have cut out the pieces
  10. Lip balm cozies – these are destined to help my sister and her fundraising and again I’ve cut out the pieces

Finishes:

  1. My Socks
  2. A beaded chain maille necklace
  3. My bezelled Seaglass necklace – I finally bought the right coloured chain to put this together
  4. Some simple necklaces with some cool glass beads I’d been given
  5. Snowflakes – again for my sisters fundraising

Hopefully I’ll keep up my good work and carry on posting this month, I definitely want to tell you about all the bead weaving I’ve been doing recently.

 

Sock knitting and the trials of learning something new

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I’ve been learning how to knit socks for the last couple of months. I chose a couple of free patterns and some yarn back at Easter time. It was another month or so before I actually started trying to knit a sock.

The pattern I started with was title ‘Socks for Beginners’ but was very much not written with beginners in mind. Specifically there was no description of any terminology, and knitting has a lot of terminology and abbreviations. Fortunately there is a wealth of information on the internet and I more or less figured out the instructions.

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3D Knitting – My first time knitting in the round

I really enjoyed knitting the socks. I liked the 3D nature of the socks and seeing the object appear felt very accomplished. However the sparse nature of the pattern caused another problem – the fit of the sock. I have small feet and not particularly slender ones, but the sock from the first pattern was so short and stubby – it didn’t look like a sock. It also had a really narrow heel – only 3 stitches for the middle of the short row heels. The lack of instructions meant I didn’t feel comfortable altering the pattern myself. I was also a bit disillusioned that it looked nothing like the socks I was used to.

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Even my child sized feet are not that short and fat

So for the second sock, I used a different pattern. This one had more size variations and considerably more detailed instructions. I still turned to the internet occasionally (picking up stitches), but I finally had a sock looking sock.

 

The main thing learning to knit socks has actually taught me is how to unknit, i.e. undo something smoothly so I can go back a specific number of rows etc. I’ve had to do it quite a few times over the course of the three socks. I’ve also since starting the sock discovered ravelry, which has considerably broadened my access to patterns and different sock construction techniques. I can now see how store bought socks differ in construction to the heel flap and short row heel method of construction. I love my socks but I think I will definitely investigate other construction methods in the future.

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A Comparison of the two socks 

My finished socks aren’t perfect but they keep my feet warm and are a pair. One is slightly in smaller than the other, so the gusset stitches stretch a little. And I couldn’t get the kitchener graft to work on the second sock, I tried three times and then called it a day. I’ll try again next time.

Making on a budget – Making do

I’m trying to get in the habit of posting regularly again and be a bit more connected with other bloggers. So I’m planning on doing a series of tips about ‘making on a budget’ and linking it up with the tuesday tips and tutorials link up that quiltingjetgirl and late night quilter are running.

This series is definitely a series of tips. I’m a postgraduate student living in a rented flat in one of the world’s most expensive cities and while I’m happy to spend some money on my hobby, I don’t have much to spare. When I’ve looked for tips on saving money on craft or sewing blogs, the tips are fairly repetitive. There are tips on budgeting, shopping sales and to collect stuff, and this is fine and useful but not necessarily appropriate especially if you a renter or live in a small space. So I’m going to curate some of my tips on making without space and money.

 

Making do with what you have

My first tip is to use what you have, especially for tools and notions. This is especially true if you are beginner. While having the best tools will make the job easier, there’s often a work around. This gives you time to decide if this is the technique or skill for you before spending money.

When I took up sewing properly, I was in the lucky position that I had been beading for a long time so had a collection of things of needles and thread that could be used. However I often find reading peoples advice that fairly specific thread or needles are required – but realistically what they mean is it will make it easier. So use what ever you have at least until it isn’t working – then its time to buy the better product.

And this becomes even more true when you stop talking about basics but more specialist tools. I have two main examples, one from beading and one from quilting. When I started bead weaving, I needed something to store the beads I was about to pick up. And there are many different types of trays and mats and pots that are sold for precisely this but I was very young, had a small amount of pocket money and it was pre-internet shopping so didn’t have access to specialist shops in the small town where I grew up. So I ‘borrowed’ the mini tray from my mothers tea strainer (I still have it well over 10 years later so stole may be more accurate). Its nicely shallow but has a lip to stop the beads escaping and even though I now own some specialist trays and mats, I still use the little tray.

The other is when I started quilting, I took a course and among some of the other recommended tools were clover clips. I spent money on things like rulers, rotary cutters and cutting mats but clover clips were too expensive for me to justify at the beginning. I’ve done some quilting since then but less than I planned originally. However on both projects I have finished, I’ve had to put binding on. At first I tried pinning the binding but it was really tricky, so I looked around for something like a clip and found paper clips. They do the job fine, at least for the small projects I am currently making. Actually I use paperclips for all sorts of things, holding fabric together, to hold paper and fabric together when basting for english paper piecing, binding and as stitch markers when knitting and beading

The motto of my stories is that there are other options for most tools, especially modern ones. If makers have made do for centuries without that tool, then you can probably finish your project with an alternative. So don’t wait but give it a go.

Here’s a list of my current make do’s:

  1. Paper clips for holding down binding on quilting projects
  2. Paper clips as stitch markers when knitting
  3. Prittstick (Asda own brand) as a water soluble glue for EPP basting
  4. Cotton wool or make up pads as a stuffing for small toys or ornaments – These can be very cheap when bought at discount shops or on offer and I’ve used them for all sorts of things
  5. Using my beadloom for weaving – yeah this is a pretty specialist make do but I was really interested in trying weaving and by rigging my bead loom up a little differently I have a close enough approximation of a weaving loom to let me do small pieces.

 

Hopefully this gives you some ideas of places you can save some money at least until you are sure you really need the proper thing. Do you have any make do’s to share?

 

October 2016

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I’m so nearly done with my PhD. The thesis has been submitted and I’m waiting to organise my viva. It is such a relief to not be working on my thesis anymore. I’m still pretty busy with other things but my head is feeling much clearer and I’ve managed to start a few new projects and put some hours into others. I’ve even started a couple of draft blog posts. I’m hoping to get back to a more regular posting schedule.

One other thing I’m planning on doing is to participate in the ‘tips and tutorials’ link party that Yvonne from quiltingjetgirl and Stephanie from Late Night Quilter are hosting. My posts are definitely going to fall into the tips category but knowledge is a good thing so I’ll put them out there anyway.

September was pretty sparse with crafting time, I pretty much only knitted so heres my works in progress:

  1. Socks – The new pattern was considerably better and i’m 3/4 of the way through the second sock
  2. EPP Cushion – One diamond was added
  3. Fringed Handbag – No Progress
  4. Bead Embroidery Purse – I did a couple of hours work on this at social beading group
  5. Learning Curve Sampler Quilt – No Progress
  6. A lacy scarf – I ended up restarting this scarf as it is knit in the round and had two twists in it. I’m now on my second ball of wool (again)
  7. Weaving – I started a new piece in order to make a tablet case
  8. Beaded chainmaille necklace – I just started this but its beautiful

And finished objects:

  1. Oven gloves – I finally got round to sorting the binding and they’ve been in use for a couple of weeks.
  2. A beaded necklace – I made the most of some time off to finally make up a necklace that I’d bought supplies for back at Easter.
  3. I did some bead stringing and used some gorgeous lampwork beads I’ve owned for 10+ years. Hopefully now I will actually wear them.

I’m feeling a bit more inspired at the moment and I’m trying to make the most of my free time, so hopefully you’ll be seeing more of me.