Monday, 23 June 2014

A Blog Hop




I am very excited to be taking part in an around the world blog hop today. I had the privilege of being invited twice, by Kate from Just Pootling and Sarah from A Little Happy Place. Thank you ladies, very much. I will answer four questions about what I make and why, and then pass the baton on to two more bloggers at the end.

So, to answer the first question, what am I working on?


A blanket. (I've written about it here and here before.) I started it in August last year and I would like to finish it this summer. Maybe. This is the first really large blanket I've made and I do find it hard to keep the momentum going, I have to admit. It did me good to get out my blanket basket yesterday and lay out the completed squares, just to remind myself of how much I've actually done. I've finished 140 squares. When I say finished, I mean finished, ends darned in and everything.


I want the blanket to be big enough for a king size bed which means I need 225 of these in total, so that I have a 15 x 15 square. I have another 20 almost done, but that still leaves 65. Yes, 65 flipping squares... I am worried that the overall use of colour is too dark, and want to make sure the remaining squares have very bright or pastel third rounds.


Only one project on the go, that doesn't seem right, does it? But I've learnt over the years that too many works in progress annoy me. I'd rather unravel something than have it sitting in my project basket, taunting me. 

I do have three other projects which I have mentally committed to, but not begun yet, if that makes sense: a child's t-shirt with a monkey appliqued on it, ordered by a mum at school; a whole bundle of crocheted cotton face cloths - some will be given as teacher gifts, with a nice bar of soap, others will be donated to a stall at the school summer fair; a summer embroidery hoop, to complete my seasonal embroideries. 



2. How does my work differ from others of its genre?

Honestly, I don't really know, I'm not sure that I sit in any genre. I can crochet, knit and sew, but would say that embroidery or hand sewing and crochet are my strongest areas, and the crafts I take most pleasure in. Knitting does not come easily to me, but I persevere. Likewise, machine sewing is the least relaxing thing ever, but I love what can be achieved with it. When I look back over what I've made this year I see crochet, zigzags, items to be worn, items for the home, items to be used - but maybe there is a muted palate in there which are "my" colours.


I would say that the things I make are mine and, while I might use patterns by other people, or draw influence from other things I've seen, my choice of colours or yarn or fabric will always make it slightly different, will make it my own. I am often frustrated by the overly fussy, feminine look of so much handmade work, and the things I find most inspiring are when someone has taken an old craft but made something really modern and fresh with it. 


3. Why do I create what I do?

For three reasons: to relax, to save money, and to decorate the house. 

I find having a project in my hands while I'm watching tv or listening to the radio enormously relaxing. It just soothes me. I think it's good to have different projects for different moods. Clearly, when I'm in relaxing mode, I don't want anything that requires too much concentration, just something I can half concentrate on. This throw was just that kind of project.


Last Christmas we were watching our pennies very closely and so I set out to make as many Christmas presents as I could. Some of them are shown in the image below. A couple were tricky and time consuming, many pushed me out of my comfort zone, but we spent a fraction of what we normally would on presents last year. If you have the time, then making your own gifts can be cheaper. Although take care not to use very expensive yarns and fabrics if you want to save money!


I've always loved interior design and playing around with colour and pattern in the home is just another kind of crafting to me. I want to make our home look as nice as it can. It has to work hard - it's a three-bed semi with zero kerb appeal and not a lot of space, but that just makes it all the more challenging and all the more rewarding.



4. How does my creating process work?

I'm a bit of a magpie. I'll see something in a book or magazine, or on a blog or pinterest, and stash that idea away. It might be a whole project, like a quilt or cowl, or it might be the gilmmer of a beginning of an idea, just a sense that I like a certain colour or the way it was made. I'll jot it down in my notebook and I might start it the next day, or I might think about it for a year. Currently, I am very keen indeed on making a hexie, or English paper piecing, style quilt. I want it to be very mis-matched and homely looking, but I need to make sure that my choice of fabric and colour stop it being too shabby chic, too country in style, but keep it lighter and fresher. I have a huge stash of fabrics in small amounts, and I think this project would be an excellent way to use up some of that fabric.

So, now I must pass on the blogging baton and I am nominating two bloggers, both of whom will be posting their blog hop posts next Monday, the 30th June. 

Jennifer, of  Thistlebear, lives in New Mexico with her husband and children. I like to think we'll meet up some day as she is a kindred spirit. Her passions include homemaking, crochet, cooking, sewing and photography. She has chickens and she lives in the dessert and drinks possibly as many cups of tea a day as I do.

Col, of Hello Olive. lives in South Africa with her husband and two young sons. We've been blogging buddies for as long as I can remember and I always admire her style and eye for excellent design. She spent some time living in Scotland before recently moving back to Cape Town where she balances motherhood with her graphic design work. Her style is colourful and fresh, with strong mid-century influences and you can see her Etsy shop here and her Society6 shop here

38 comments:

  1. Just two words as it's late. Loved reading this post! I made a baby blanket in Rowan pure wool last year. I washed it before giving it away and was very surpriced to see how much it 'grew'. Just to Sayers that you might be somewhat closer to your goal.

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    1. Say not Sayers of course. My auto correct does not love English.

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  2. I loved reading this, Gillian. Yours is one of the first blogs I ever came across that really grabbed me and made me want to read along as well as maybe try blogging myself. I think there are two reasons: you make beautiful, unique things and your life is so much like mine and you value the simple, mundane moments as much as I do. Thank you for passing the award onto me, I'm looking forward to doing it too. I'm glad to see you did collages because I want to do the same and I wasn't sure how it would look but it looks wonderful here. I owe you an email too, I won't forget. Thanks for a great read.

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  3. Your blanket is looking lovely and so colourful Gillian - such a lot of work goes into those projects; it was interesting to hear of your planned projects too - a nice variety to keep you busy for a while. I love the Christmas gifts you made, they are gorgeous, and I also love your pics, they're always so clear and fresh and, combined with your writing, make for a lovely blog! Happy week to you, xoJoy

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  4. Dear Gillian,

    Wonderful post as usual. I loved seeing all the photographs of your projects. And I'm impressed by your blanket and all of those squares. Such perseverance... I generally stay away from such long-term projects; I don't have the patience for them. Bravissima to you.

    Slán go fóill,
    Giselle

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  5. This was so interesting to read, Gillian !
    Your christmas presents were sooo pretty - I would prefer to be given one of those in stead of a shop-present anytime !!! (Ps the little dog in the first picture of the christmas set, where have i seen that pattern ? Was it in Mollie Makes ?)

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  6. Hi there Gillian... I haven't posted for almost a whole month now as we have moved and I'm trying to get our lives back together and some of our things organized and unpackaged. However, I have been trying to visits as many friends as I can... Not as often as I usually do , bit I'm trying to get back on the swing of things. Really, really love your blanket, so much so that I think I'm going to try to make one just like it for my bed ... I'm so excited I'm going to look for some yarn.
    Beautiful! R

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  7. I'm very pleased for you, Gillian! And what beautiful stuff you have created - wow.

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  8. What a great post Gillian!
    Crikey you have been a busy bee ..... it's great to see all of your makes together like this ..... so many gems!
    Your blanket is going to be incredible, i remember making a granny square blanket (smaller than yours, i might add) it felt like i was NEVER getting to the end, made me go bonkers. Keep up the good work x
    love Jooles x x x

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  9. A fab post as always, I've loved seeing the collages of all your lovely makes and getting a wee insight into your creative process. Thanks for the links too, I love Jennifer's blog already and as an ex-Capetonian with Scottish heritage, I'm popping over to discover Hello Olive right now :-)
    Happy Tuesday, xx

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  10. Lovely to learn more about you Gillian. I love your blanket...It's going to be so gorgeous :-) A hexie quilt, how exciting!
    Tracey xxx

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  11. I love, love, love your blanket!! It looks so colorful and happy! Do you choose the colors randomly? Greetings from austria, Emma

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    1. Hi Emma. I know this must make me sound like a control freak, but I find it hard to be random in my colour choices, it really stresses me out. So I try to roughly balance it out so that there is an even distribution of colour. I wrote about the process here:
      http://www.talesfromahappyhouse.com/2013/10/a-blanket-in-progress.html
      And then when all my squares are done I will spend hours moving them around trying to get something that looks both random and balanced. Madness! x

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  12. An interesting and inspiring post Gillian, it's so nice to see how other people's creative processes work. And I love how you've made your home such a lovely place to be. Zero curb appeal here too, so I like to be inspired by a kindred spirit! What an amazing amount of things you've made, it's fantastic to see them all together. I particularly like the colours in the ripple blanket. I'm sure I'm getting closer to making one... CJ xx

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  13. So lovely to read more about how you work Gillian and to see how all of your squares are progressing, they are a lot of work aren't they! I am over two thirds the way of joining mine, although I am doing 14 rows of 15, so slightly different than yours, and then a border to go round. I don't think that I will do anything that requires as much end sewing in as this needs, as it is a lot of work, so very well done on all of yours!! xx

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  14. You have a lovely home and I can't wait to see that blanket completed!!!!
    Love
    AMarie xxx

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  15. Another lovely post Gillian and nice to read a little more about why you do what you do and I love that huge granny square throw so much!

    S x

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  16. Your blanket looks fabulous, I plan to do a blanket with granny squares outlined in white I just wish I had started one before the two I am crocheting now! It was lovely to read a little more about you, I have a three bed semi 0 kerb appeal too, love the description!

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  17. Great post Gillian - I enjoyed reading about your inspirations, processes, and reasons for crafting, since I aspire to be more crafty myself! Hopefully I will have more time as the little babe gets older! I love the dolls and stuffed animals that you have made for your children - they are beautiful "toys" that I am sure they cherish.

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  18. Just catching up and enjoyed reading your latest post. It was extremely interesting and certainly gave me a little more insight to your character, craft favourites and style. Take care.

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  19. Feminine and pretty are legitimate choices for those who want to make them. Why is that not modern? Does only ugly and plain equate to that, I don't understand.
    Sandra

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    1. Hi Sandra. Thank you for commenting.

      Yes, of course feminine and pretty are legitimate choices, I was just giving my personal opinion. I don't think that styles that aren't to my taste are therefore illegitimate, and I certainly didn't mean to give that impression!

      I like pretty things as much as the next person. By "overly fussy, feminine" I meant the way that often, in crafting blogs, pinterest and magazines, so many things can be over-embellished in a way which I find heavy and uninspiring. By "modern" I meant a style that is lighter and perhaps where the combination or pattern and fabric is less busy. Having said that, I love some busy, retro fabrics! It's just my personal opinion, in a post where I was asked about my taste. I don't think modern equals ugly and plain, and do hope I didn't offend you. Thank you for making me stop and think.

      Gillian

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  20. Very interesting. Thanks for sharing so openly.

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  21. I love this post. Very interesting. I love your blog, it is a rich one. I love your craft, all your projects are lovely. I am very fond of your embroidery.

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  22. Lovely post Gillian. You are so talented - you should really thinking about selling your work more often! So pleased to part of the Blog Hop - thanks for asking me :-) x

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  23. Brilliant post, love those photos. Keep going with the blanket, it looks amazing. Do you have a pattern for wash cloths or make them up as you go? xx

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    1. Hi Niki. I used this pattern:
      http://www.yarnspirations.com/assets/files/pattern-files/pdf/Bernat_HandicrafterCotton015_cr_dishcloth.en_US.pdf
      which I found on ravelry but it's basically a granny square type shape, crocheting into the top of each stitch. Hope that helps. x

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  24. That blanket is very impressive. I wonder if that's the finished layout or if you lay the squares in a different pattern each time. Quite frankly, I'm impressed that you still have enough yarn left as I'd have seriously underestimated.
    My parcel arrived today! Now I need to clean a wall so I can put it up.

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    1. A different pattern each time! I will probably spend about a week agonising over the final layout when they are all made...

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  25. All these pictures of your beautiful makes are so lovely and inspiring. A crochet blanket is a dream of mine but I haven't mastered the art of crochet quite yet. I have started making hexagons for a paper pieced quilt. I know it will take me a long time so I am determined to enjoy the process!

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  26. Loved Loved Loved reading all of this...also finding two new blogs I hadn't heard of before xx

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  27. Oh Gillian, I've loved this post (your birthday cake ones made me dribble a bit too!). It's been lovely watching your blog grow and develop, I love all the things you create, bake, make....and how you capture what's going on through your lens. I've missed blogging.....looking forward to when life settles down and I can get back to it! Have a lovely day Sweetheart :) xxx

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  28. That was a really satisfying blog post with so many images to store in my brain for future inspiration. Thanks x.

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  29. I love your aesthetic and that you have a confident (or so it seems anyway) sense of what's your style

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  30. Love that you focussed on your creative pursuits for this blog hop and such a great round up of all your gorgeous makes. I love that dog, I think he's my favourite thing, as well as the hoops :-)

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  31. I love this post. It's good to get to know you more via your creative processes. Your embroidery is beautiful. I love how your blanket is coming together. Maybe one day I'll be able to have made a blanket too...I got a 'learn to crochet' workshop for my birthday...here's to learning a new skill.

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Hello there! Thank you so much for taking the time to leave a comment. I read them all avidly and I always try to answer questions.