Sunday Stitches: WIP Update.

Being determined to start the year by getting on top of some of my works in progress has been good for me. I do get irritated by having half finished projects under the bed but I get distracted so quickly. It’s terrible. First to find itself no longer half done is the Dartmoor pillow, which was begun in a Debbie Abrahams workshop on knitting design in the summer.

Daytime shot. I love this side. #DebbieAbrahamsworkshop #JohnLewis #RowanYarns #DartmoorInspiration #knitting #share

Daytime shot. I love this side.

I was full of optimism for this and planned it all out on the day of the workshop; it is 8 different squares (all 50 stitches or so across in 4 ply) but by the time I came to being 3/4 done, I wasn’t happy. Quite a bit of it got knitted actually on holiday, which meant I revisited lots of Dartmoor colours as we walked and realised how much was missing. PLus I fell in love with the felted tweed and regretted some of my yarn choices.

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I’ve ended up making it up with my less happy squares on the back and Josie has taken ownership of it. I’m gonig to remake it in 9×9 smaller squares, all felted tweed and with some yellow and rust added and I think that will be better. I fancy making another version in crochet too.

The plan for this piece of rainbow knitting had been a summer blanket for Bene as he grew but he woke up about when I started, plus it was unwieldy and ‘not fun’ to knit. The now discontinued aran weight Debbie Bliss Eco Cotton split terribly so even though it had a gorgeous drape, I just lost heart.

Love my rainbow . Now to turn it into a bag.

I managed to get an extra ball of the red, yellow and green which allowed me to make up a trim in small granny squares to attach to the top and bottom plus a strap. A friend has passed on some red wool (HH, don’t forget to tell me the cost!) to go into the inside as a bag liner and strap back for it and I think it will do nicely as a rather hippy shoulder bag.

As a rescued project, I think it works. Was a blanket, now a bag. Just needs the lining and strap attached crochet  knitting wiprecovery UseUpYarnYear share

As a rescued project, I think it works. Was a blanket, now a bag. Just needs the lining and strap attached.

It’s far from perfect because of course it wasn’t originally intended to be a bag and the sizing isn’t spot on – but I like it and it’s another nearly ticked off project (I need to dig out the sewing machine to complete it).

And then, the never ending Lang Tosca scarf. I picked up this wool in Devon and I do love it, but first I frogged a lacy knit and then I got into a muddle with this pattern from Simply Crochet.

On to my 3rd wip. This one is going to be ongoing I think. Itching to start something new but not sure what. crochet

On to my 3rd wip. This one is going to be ongoing I think. Itching to start something new but not sure what.

Ive not idea why, but it was shrinking :( plus extremely annoying to make. Frogged again. I’ve got two new ideas for this now, one being a small granny square something using one ball of it as the centre for squares that will be surrounded by my frogged Bergere De France yarn and another as a similar to the previous scarf but in a peephole chevron stitch. It grows nice and fast! Hurrah!

Frogged the lace and restarted a #UseUpYarnYear granny and an open ripple scarf. Much happier. #LangYarn #BergereDeFrance #crochet #share

Frogged the lace and restarted a #UseUpYarnYear granny and an open ripple scarf. Much happier.

This has kept me company today while the boy and I have felt very poorly, along with Stephen Fry and Pocoyo ;)

These are probably the worst wip offenders so I shall fell much better once they are signed off. Onward through my #UseUpYarnYear

What have you been stitching?

 

 

 

A Year of Yarning Frugally. #UseUpYarnYear

Like most avid knitters and crocheters, I have a yarn stash that would see us through WW3… if only it were edible. My King Sized bed is mainly propped up by boxes of yarn bought for projects that overran or overspilled or never got started or became a work in progress. There is a sizeable heap of my favourite chunky blanket yarn – because it is discontinued and I bought a lot to hoard – and plenty of ‘that’s a good deal’ back up in bundles of Rowan that won’t let me down when I need it. (IF I ever need it).

Under the bed doesn’t even house the cheap pom pom yarn and naff early days buys I know I’ll never use for anything nice now.

I can live with the backups and the box of ‘bargains’ but the pretty yarn for projects I fancied or whimsical buys really bother me. And I don’t feel as if I did anything very beautiful or creative last year, so it annoys me even more to know I have costly beauty under the bed.

In order to avoid woe filled self flagellation, I did a quick look back to see what I actually did make last year. And considering the business, the half running a gym, the 5 high maintenance children etc etc, I think I did better than I feel like I did.

2014 makes

There were a lot of hats, it would have to be said. But a blanket put together and a blanket done start to finish and a beautiful garland, a huge pillow and much more. I might feel like I did nothing but it isn’t true. And this doesn’t include the unfinished wips under the bed too, which all urgently need dealing with. Nothing worse than unfinished yarny projects. All the pain, none of the gain.

However.

I’m on a budget, I have a hoard of beautiful yarn and a need to use some of it instead of sleeping on it and stroking it looking at it.

So I came up with a year of yarning frugally.

Something that would turn this…

Okay. Each bag has everything from between 1 and 3  in it. I'm on a mission.

… bags full of half finished works in progress….

and these…

Argh. This is why I need a  These aren't the wips or the stash of random purchases. These are the intended projects I bought but didn't start.

… my most recent yarn buys or gifts…

into pretty things and an emptier under the bed.

Happy, frugal and decluttering all in one, see?

I'm getting ready to put this together into a bag   I tag

I’ve made a start on this, a blanket for Bene that never happened that is becoming something else.

And I’ve been enjoying getting out the yarn and looking at it and seeing what I have that I could do nice things with.

I’ve been doing some ripping.

Rip it, rip it.

And enjoying the opportunity to look afresh at things in a new context while taking better photos. Next up is getting out magazines and books and planning projects.

Inspiration from the stash. Putting yarns together.

The rules (my rules) are simple. I’m aiming to buy no new projects this year. Max may buy me a birthday present or Xmas present but I won’t buy new, except to finish off a project that starts in the stash, if necessary. No point adding to the wip pile for the sake of a few quid and inflexibility.

And I’m going to post about my makes more often by getting back to my Sunday Stitches posts. Feel free to join me, if you feel the need.

Festive Food Treats with Tesco.

A couple of weeks ago I got the most fantastic (and unexpected!) hamper of gifts through the post from Tesco Food. Since budget really don’t leave much money for foodie treats, I think it is safe to say we were all pretty thrilled. The kids did a quick audit to make sure Max and I didn’t snaffle anything without them knowing, and I cheerfully tucked into the chocolate liqueur drink, which arrived at an extremely opportune moment ;)

Such things as Salted Caramel Truffles, extremely posh chocolates and Pig in Blanket crisps were particularly fabulous as Max and I fought our way through one of the toughest work Xmas seasons in a good few years. We really loved having something to just cheekily nibble on without budget guilt. A long time ago a relative used to send us a hamper each year; more recently suppliers did but austerity has stopped all that so this was a splendid treat!

Last week I visited the Peterborough Serpentine Green branch to partake of their #TescoChristmasTasting event. Armed with Maddy for assistance and my new camera on my new phone, off we trotted to see what festive nosh is all about. We are an alarmingly bad family for Xmas food. Running a toy shop means we are all always too tired to think about it all and tend to flop and eat ordinary food. We had bacon and eggs for Xmas lunch a couple of years ago!

This year, it might well be different.

Teeny weenie all butter mince pies. Small enough to not feel guilty about. Unless you eat 4.

From the opening gambit of impossibly yummy all butter mini mince pies (3 is not enough!)

I honestly didn't realise they sold so much yummy stuff

To ready decorated cakes that could pretty much pass as wedding cakes too.

So I was told tonight this chap is the most passionate baker in the whole of Tesco. About his bread, of course.

Bakers (the top Tesco baker in the country, no less!) who seem to live and breathe the products they make. This chap got seriously passionate about making Panettone, which they are creating fresh every day for the princely sum of £2 a loaf. (It’s worth it, trust me).

As for their bread selection… there must have been 20 varieties of them all sitting there for us to try. It was gorgeous and they are so proud of what they make.

Honestly, suddenly I have an urge to do a huge Xmas food shop. We never do that. In fact, 2 years ago we had bacon and eggs for Xmas lunch!

The sweeties and puddings are all very delicious, whether made in store and sold fresh or prepackaged (there was the MOST divine salted caramel sauce for pancakes and croissants on offer) but Maddy and I fell most in love with the savouries.

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Gorgeous olives… oh how I love olives. I could probably eat nothing but for the rest of my life.15863614909_787c113a9f_z

The Mexicana cheese was incredible; seriously spicy and totally delicious. And don’t start me on the Dolcelatte. Max and I met working on a deli-counter… did you know that?16048858932_a729df4cae_z

Marvellous meats. Really, really marvellous meats.

I think we’ve all had our grumbles with Tesco over the years; I know I have. I think it is important to remember that these places (and having worked as a manager on a deli counter I have some understanding) is that whatever a corporation is going through, they are made to work by people. People who care and are passionate about their jobs and who have lives to live and a living to make. What really shone through at this tasting evening was how much they cared. They had worked so hard and were really nervous about how we would feel and if we would like it. All the departments had knowledgeable staff on hand, many of them greeting well known customers by name as they circulated. They knew about their foods and the fresh food service they were providing and they wanted us to enjoy what they could do with it. They smiled, they joked and they showed off some great festive treats and an even greater in store community spirit.

Well done Peterborough Tesco. You nailed it. And you know what, I’ve scraped together a little spare money to pop by next week and pick up a few tasty treats too. You got me ;)

Making Christmas.

I don’t really want Christmas this year. Not in the same way that the last 4 Christmases have been their own tiny version of hell (I can’t believe this is our 5th Christmas without Freddie any more than I can believe it 3rd Christmas with Bene) but in a glum way, a dissatisfied with what it means way.

I hate the religious side of this festival and I’ve worked very hard at bringing season and renewal and thoughtfulness and gratefulness into it in the last few years. I don’t want the Christian layer, I prefer the light and dark and hunkering down to focus on family, on our core.

And it is very hard to get that when there is so much rushing. Since my grumpy post I’ve been trying very hard to find some joy. I’ve tried very hard to ignore Christmas until the last minute these last few years, sidle up to it, get through it, get on and past.

This year the present piles will be lean and unimaginative. The big girls have few wants or needs and the little girl no time to do things with anything she gets. And I can see that the frenzy of unwrapping and oh and ah will be paltry.

We need to make it family. We need to find our core again. We need to find the joy.

It must be Christmas.

Today we played a board game all together, with carols in the background and sweet smelling candles and naughty treats and laughing and decorations creeping in to the edges of the room.

I didn’t think I would ever be able to do this again.

The first decorations have come out if the garage.

Samwise like, I am sitting and thinking of him in my joyful moments. I won’t pretend it is easy, but I am getting there. I am beginning to make it. I read Circus Queen and her tree post today and realised I needed to stop trying to be perfect – or totally happy – and just fake it till I make it. And so I am trying to do so.

I haven’t decided whether to start on the happy pills again yet. I’m trying to make time to heal myself a little first and see if I can swing it back. maybe I can. I’m not being very kind to myself at the moment and I need to do better.

Maybe I’ll make it.

I am making significant festive effort this year.

 

Part of it is letting go enough to be amused by works of art in my normally grown up living room. I love this santa.

Dragon on the wagon

I’ve even been managing to make myself giggle at times.

It’s all progress.

Fake it till you make it. Then make sure you mean it.

I think perhaps Christmas will be okay this year. Fingers crossed.

Christmas Craft #1: Family Fun Wish Labels

I’m optimistically going to try and do at least 20 crafts for Christmas over the next month. Quite how, I have no idea, but I think I need a goal to make myself work at.

All of us are feeling like our family time has gone horribly wrong over the last few months and we are aching to do some things together that make us feel like a unit again, so I came up with this, which is a twist on the advent calender we hang up every year, made with items from our Bostik Family Craft Blogger box.

There are 24 old fashioned luggage labels, in festive colours, in the basket, each one decorated with an assortment of pretties, mostly stuck on with our Bostik Glue Dots. The backs are blank and each day of advent someone will fill in some simple family activity that they would like us to do together during our precious 2 weeks of family time together. (No panto! Yay! I put my foot down this year.) It can be anything we can actually achieve (not ‘go to Lapland’) and everyone has to think of 6 different things to write (so we don’t end up with more than 6 films to watch).

Josie decorated our paper bag with pretties and through December our bag should fill up with lovely things to do together during our holiday. It’s something to look forward to.

advent activity with our   box

Here are some other ideas for advent calendars.

Box Calendar - simple and beautiful

Advent Gingerbread House – I don’t reckon it would last the month!

Baby Socks Stocking Calendar – gorgeous and much easier than crocheting them!

Pretty decorated canvas bags – gorgeous!

My own crochet advent calendar from last year.
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And a rather fabulous set of toilet roll holders!

My Christmas craft Pinterest board is as popular as ever:-

Follow Merrily Me’s board Christmas Crafts on Pinterest.

And I have extra ideas on Simple Crafts and on this site.

We are part of the Bostik Craft Bloggers network and the link to buy glue dots is an affiliate link.