Sunday, 14 August 2016

Summer Holiday Crafting

I thought I would have hours and hours to spend on crafting this summer. I was going to make four new cushions on my sewing machine with fabric from vintage sheets, I was going to make a macrame plant hanger, I was going to sort through my fabric stash and start making hexies for a quilt....not a chance. But I did manage to renovate a mid-century plant stand, and I will show you that soon.

I have been working on items I already started, crafts which - once planned - require nothing of me, but just offer hours of relaxation. And isn't that just when crafting or making something is at it's absolute best; when, once the thought and planning is done, you just have the pure pleasure of building something beautiful with your hands while your brain wanders from here to there and your state of mind goes from overflowing and frantic to calm and quiet.

I have worked a little more on this cross stitch sampler (available from here), completing two more motifs. 

You can get a sense of the overall balance of colour and pattern here. I am taking this on holiday with me and am looking forward to lots of time with this sampler, with a cold drink next to me, maybe a bowl of olives, while John cooks dinner on the barbecue and the children amuse themselves for hours on end and don't need endless applications of suncream (let have my dream).

I am also working a little on Angus's blanket, here and there. I am starting to feel a little more warmth towards it now, perhaps because it's starting to grow a little.

It is about the length of a scarf, a very wide scarf. I keep wrapping it around my neck, and it gave me an idea for something I'd like to crochet myself this autumn; a very long, very wide woollen scarf in the granny stripe stitch or something similar, very soft and drapey, the sort of thing you can envelop yourself in and wrap around your neck at least twice, and in shades of grey with maybe a little colour. It needs to be really good wool, soft and with a beautiful, subtle depth of colour, and of course I would need a lot of yarn for something so big, so I reckon this would be an indulgent kind of scarf to crochet myself, something quite luxurious. I don't know if I'll do it yet. 

The other project I am working on is a crocheted bag to hold my yoga mat. With chunky yarn and a 10 mm hook this has been a speedy and enjoyable project.

I wanted to address your wonderful response to my post In need of inspiration last month. I moaned about how nothing was grabbing me, craft wise, and how I was stuck in a rut, and you all came to my rescue with so many excellent ideas. I've tried to summarise them here. 

:: Crocheting clothes and bags. Yes, this is something I really want to do. I've made a poncho, but I think my skill level is up to something like a sweater now, and I even have a couple of patterns put aside. I daydreamed about making a cotton sweater this summer but it's too late now, but I definitely want to hook myself a pair of socks and a new hat this autumn, and maybe a bag too.

:: Sewing clothes. I really would like to think that making some simple machine sewn clothes isn't totally an out of reach dream for me. Especially dresses. Being tall, I have a long torso and often find that the waist on shop-bought dresses sits one or two inches higher than I would want it too - being able to create some simple shift style dresses which take into account my shape would be wonderful. Also, embroidering clothes - it never occurred to me to do this, great idea!

:: Patchwork. I loved that so many of you said "you have to try patchwork!" with so much enthusiasm. Whether it's hand or machine sewn, English Paper Piecing, applique, embroidering on the squares, hexies, diamonds, there is defintely something here for me, I just need to figure out what. It would combine my love of hand sewing with my passion for making things for our home. (I really love the idea of making a memory quilt of special items of clothing, but think I really should have started this a long time ago, given that my wedding dress went to the charity shop when we moved, and I gave away most of Bella and Angus's baby things.)

:: Sashiko quilting. Thank you to the person who told me about this. It's a Japanese craft of stitching a repeating pattern with white cotton onto indigo dyed fabric, traditionally to repair or reinforce worn clothing, but now as a decorative craft too. I just adore the look and simple aesthetic of this craft. There is so much scope here, particularly when I think about denim, but I don't know yet what to do with it all my ideas.

:: Items for the home. So many possibilities. Cushions came up a lot - they are a versatile item and with quilting, tapestry, canvas work or crochet there are lots of options, although I think John might argue the need for more cushions in our house, we do have quite a few already. Also, table runners or table cloths and dish cloths - all very practical but open to all kinds of crafty ideas.

:: Christmas. Practically my favourite crafting theme ever. Decorations, a Christmas tree skirt, stockings - I really want to do all of these things. Especially the tree skirt.

You suggested Ravelry as a resource. I do browse this site sometimes, but find the scale of it and the number of patterns overwhelming. Also, Little box of Crochet. I didn't know anything about this until recently; it's a lovely idea, but currently there are no boxes available.

Anyway, THANK YOU for your ideas and enthusiasm and support and for just being good people.

I will be away from here for a couple for a few weeks but I'll be back soon, and hopefully with lots of sunny holiday photos to bore you with. 


  1. I've been dreaming of crocheting a tree skirt for years now. I really hope I get around to it someday. Your cross-stitch is coming along so nicely and I love the colors in Angus's blanket. They're very natural and peaceful together, I think. I also want to make a scarf like you describe. I have a bunch of superwash wool that I want to find a use for so it will probably be the scarf. Have you ever seen the free pattern for a granny stripe scarf that Purl Soho offers? That's the one I plan to use when I make mine. Now I just need a reason to wear a wool scarf. :)

  2. Ah a tree skirt, I see now. I have a christmas skirt in my mind as something I want to make for myself to wear! I hate Christmas jumpers with a passion and was dubbed miserable last year for not wearing one to Christmas drinks so I want to SEW a skirt in Christmas fabric to wear with boots and thick tights this year as a bit of a poke in the eye! I did pop over to the the crochet in a box site - very lovely. I always think I have loads of time in the summer holidays but I have learnt that I never have in fact I asked Minerva to send by kit stuff for the next three months before the hols started so I could get ahead of myself. Happy crafting Jo x

  3. Firstly, I'm afraid men are not allowed opinions on cushions, John needs to be made aware of this at the earliest opportunity. The need for many cushions is deep in a woman's DNA and should not be messed with, it is a dangerous area. Secondly, I completely understand that dream of having crafting time on holiday. It never seems to happen for me though. But if you do get the chance, then watch the olive oil on that gorgeous linen. Speaking as a clumsy person I have to be very careful with crafting snacks. The blanket is looking gorgeous, love, love, love those colours. I've had the odd glance over things on Ravelry lately. Might be a late-August thing, the beginning of a little more interest in all things yarn. Wishing you a good week. CJ xx

  4. I agree with CJ - what is it with men and cushions?! Love the sampler and the colours of Angus' blanket; it will be a perfect project for autumn. Enjoy your holiday and I hope you get to fulfil your dream of crafting with a cold drink and occupied children - I took some socks on holiday to knit but, sadly, they didn't progress much. xx

  5. Your X-stitch is coming along nicely and don't stress about crafting. It will come, but just now enjoy holiday time and you never know what will fire the imagination whilst away. Can't wait to see the plant stand. It is good to have a list of what you'd one day like to try, but if some things don't happen that is OK. You achieve so much anyway, a lot more than some people. As for sewing, dresses for you too high waisted and me too low waisted, so we would make an interesting combination if we ever stood side by side.(giggle) I'll always be here to give tips for patchwork if you ever want to try it. Enjoy that holiday with family, take care and huggles.

  6. The samper is very nice and I can't wait to see it complete! Also, I am curious about the plantstand you have mentioned.
    I am sure your holiday will be wonderful - just don't expect too much of yourself in terms of crafting :-) Sometimes it is nice to just do NOTHING...

  7. They all sound wonderful ideas. I joined an EPP block of the month club last year and have thoroughly enjoyed it. It is run by Sew and Quilt and I think it is on for next year too - The Patchwork of the Crosses. It has also broken down what would be a large project into manageable proportions. I bought a crochet pattern for a tree skirt a couple of years ago which I have yet to make but this year will be the year! It was by Sandra at Cherry Heart. I love the colours of the blanket you are making for Angus and yes it would make a perfect scarf. I keep on stocking up with Rowan yarn from Hobbycraft while it is on 3 for 2. I subscribe to a Little Box of Crochet and while it is a beautiful box to subscribe to Amanda and Jenny's story is a desperately sad one. Enjoy your holiday and I hope your dream does come true, for a few hours anyway x

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  9. beautiful colours in the blanket, and I love the idea of a scarf in soft shades of grey! x

  10. I love all your crafting, especially the yoga mat case. Definitely give clothes making a try. I'm getting better at it so it can't be impossible! x

  11. So love your cross stitch sampler! And also your blanket....both inspire me! Happy holidays! The best part of summer. Our school holiday ends in a couple weeks so I am making the most of the last days. Some more time at the cottage and an anniversary visit with hubby to our honey moon destination...Quebec City...we haven't been there in 30 years! Godspeed!

  12. It's been lovely to catch up with your last few posts Gillian. Your kitchen looks AMAZING, and I love the wall colour in your dining room. I too thought I would have a lot of time to craft in the holidays. I'm not sure what has happened really! Why do the days seem to fly past the older you get? My crafting this whole year has been limited, and I am only just picking up a blanket again after it being in a basket for 5 months. I really do hate that. I'm not very good at picking stuff up again after a long while.

    I'd love to see how a macrame plant hanger turns out when you do one. It's on my list of things to get done done also. Your sampler is lovely. I went through a stitching phase a few weeks ago and churned out 5 hoops (which I couldn't get enough of), but I think I'm stitched out now. My eyes seem to be wandering to loom buying...EEEEEK!

    Have a beautiful rest of a Summer Hols!

    Vanessa xxxx

    p.s Loved your shelves with your cookbooks on. Colour organising is defo the best!

  13. Love those cross stitch kits from Alicia P. I wonder what yarn you are using on Angus blanket. Wool? Very pretty colors!

    1. Hi Angela,

      I'm using a mixture of DK yarns, some acrylic and some a wool/acrylic blend, and a 4 mm hook.

      Gillian x

  14. Your cross stitch is beautiful. Did you finish it on holiday? I really love sashiko. I bought a special needle and some fabric at a stitching show a couple of years've really inspired me to get it out again! Angus' blanket is gorgeous too. i'm loving the idea of your scarf too. Hope you had a brilliant holiday Gillian. xx

  15. Ravelry is intimidating, a bit like being in a changing room with Olympic swimmers in their speedos when your costume is stretched out elastic and fraying. Just no use competing, and now way you can just dive in.
    I do like the cross stitch. How's it going?

  16. There is a lovely little book called Patchwork loves Embroidery by Gail Pan which combines small useful patchwork projects with embroidery - not cross stitch but backstitch. Hope your holiday was great.

  17. We all lose our creative mojo from time to time but wow I am fizzing with excitement and possibilities with your list of suggestions xx Beautiful stitching work x


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