Tuesday, 11 September 2018

All the crafting

Hello! Thanks for your tips and advice on housework. I am going to do a proper round up type post soon, because it's one of those funny subjects which seems really dull at first glance but which people (myself included) quite like talking about and especially finding out how other households tick and make it work. Thanks to those who recommended the TOMM method. I am familiar with it and have had a good look at her website and videos, and like a lot of what I see, although having said all that I don't know if it's for us as a family and household. 

It's suddenly turned a lot cooler here and there are WIPs everywhere, and I know that the seasons are definitely turning as I plan more and more projects for the colder months. But, if I'm honest, I'm just not feeling it. I'm too tired, too busy, too distracted. Between the new job and new routine and the chaos that is the downstairs of our house, I am not feeling remotely inspired. Please don't tell me that all crafting will stop until October half term, I will definitely go mad. Some nights even the thought of getting out my crochet basket is too exhausting to think about but, like exercise, I always feel better afterwards. My malaise is not helped by the fact that I spent all day yesterday sewing the Merchant and Mills Camber dress and while 90% of it is good, better than good actually, the darts around the bust are all wrong and I feel like screwing it up in a ball and throwing it into the spare room until I am calm enough to sort it out. 

Anyway. Moving on.

I don't know if I ever showed you a photo of this blanket I made for my friend and colleague Donna, who left us to move to New Zealand. She asked for grey and heather tones, and it was a pleasure to make something in colours that I wouldn't usually choose. Actually, this is the kind of project I feel like working on at the moment; something solid, cosy, easy. No decisions to make. 

For those who might like to know details, I used the standard ripple pattern in treble crochet and it measures 90 x 120 cm. The Yarn is Drops Eskimo (five balls of white #01, four of grey #53, four of dark grey #14, four of camel #13 and four of heather #65) and an 8mm hook. Using such chunky yarn, I discovered that it is - just - possible to crochet two colleagues blankets in three weeks right at the end of the summer term, but I wouldn't advise doing so in a heatwave.

The hexagons are growing nicely. I reckon I've done about a hundred and twenty by now, although nothing since the holidays.

I usually cut out three sheets of 3 inch hexagon templates at a time, and then choose the fabric and cut pieces roughly to size using a 4 inch hexagon. I try to cut my paper hexagon templates as carefully as possible, as the lady in the yarn shop said the accuracy was really important when sewing them all together. Then I hand baste in batches of ten or so, and iron them flat whenever I happen to have the ironing board out. I know that I will never use up all my fabric scraps with this quilt so I am prioritising the ones I like best, like the Liberty print and the Nani Iro, and choosing the colours and patterns which I really love. I want a lot of white in this quilt too to offset all that colour and pattern, so I am using plain white cotton for quite a lot of the hexies too. Those ones are really boring to make.

I started a new blanket on holiday. I found myself with a lot of aran weight cotton yarn (Drops Paris) left over from a project earlier in the year, a baby blanket for which I kept ordering pink yarn until I found the right shade, but couldn't face returning all the yarn. I have a very distinct picture in my head of how this blanket is going to look and I have to trust myself here as I don't have a pattern and it's join as you go, so no chance to lay out all those squares of colour before crocheting or sewing them together.

My squares are all on the diagonal, and there will be waves of colour that gradually move through the grid but not in a rainbow way, much more random than that. I know this corner is very pink but that's because that's all I had on holiday. The subsequent two rows are much more grey, white and beige, and I have all these colours here too:

I can't really tell how this blanket is going to turn out and go through phases of loving it and hating it. 

I also have plans to make this jumper, in time for the cooler weather hopefully. 

The pattern is from here and I decided to make it in the colour featured as I don't have anything in this rusty orange colour, and it seemed perfectly autumnal.

I bought this book from Foyles in London during the holidays and am now determined to get out the as-yet-unused loom I bought about a year ago. 

Part of the appeal is that is seems the perfect way to use up odd amounts of yarn which have long since lost their labels, and I am planning a small wall hanging for our hallway, when it is ever finished. October maybe?

In the meantime I am very inspired by the designs in the book and have lots of ideas about the colours I want. 

This is the autumn I finally get to grips with weaving! Oh, and juggling work and family life, sorting out the living room and hall (John is laying the flooring this weekend), working on all my WIPs, remembering to feed the children and dog, not fall asleep on the sofa every night at 9pm....not much then. 


  1. Lovely crochet squares Gillian, I'm looking forward to seeing the overall look. Many women do work full time, I hope you find peace in it all soon - balancing work and housework to craft hobbies. Take care, Cathy x

  2. love your creations! wonderful Autumnal colours on the first blanket. I still must finish my daughters memories blanket that i started with pieces from little 'fav' dresses she wore when she was little. Its only taken me 4 or 5 years? eeekkk!.Must organise my time better. Your house sounds as busy as ours lately, all the new routines and finishing off jobs. good luck with the D.I.Y X

  3. Loving your hexies, I am seeing them all over IG too at the moment, they are satisfying to make, it makes me want to do some too! I admire you cutting out your own templates, I am lazy and order mine. I am sure whatever you make with them will be beautiful X

  4. You have so much going on! I don't think anyone could blame you for not wanting to craft at the end of the day, but it's incredible to see how much you're getting done anyway. I love the sweater, how beautiful. I've never worn that color myself, but I like it. I also hope to do some weaving this winter; my husband and children gave me a lap loom two years ago for my birthday and I've never even opened the box. I am resolved to make time for it soon.

  5. Your blanket has such lovely colours in it. When I am super tired I sew in the ends.
    The colour for the jumper looks very autumnal, just lovely.
    Good luck with the housework thingy. I used something very like the TOMM.
    Mine went
    Monday- Kitchen and batheroom
    Tuesday- Dining room
    Wednesday- lounge and hall
    Thursday stairs and bedrooms.
    Friday- what ever needed doing again, usually the kitchen
    Saturday- weekly shop and wash the pesky school unoforms and work clothes.
    We all find our own way. Being tidy is the key I find, then tis easy to clean.
    And of course the dust will still be there tomorrow...

  6. The problem with the classroom is that you can't switch off for 5 minutes! It does get easier I promise!

  7. Did you manage to sort out your bust darts - I really hope so! Or are you leaving it for a while? Do let me know how you got on.
    On another note, I love your hexagons. I'm cutting scraps into 2 1/2 inch squares for a postage stamp quilt but now I'm resisting the urge to turn them into tiny hexies instead... I'm also loving the colours in your blanket - so calming.
    Fingers crossed things will be less new and tiring soon. Working full time is exhausting, and it's easy to underestimate how much being in the classroom all day takes it out of you. I work in one too... the first few weeks of a new year are the hardest. X

  8. You have a lot of beautiful projects on the go, considering that you don't feel very inspired :-)
    I use pre-cut hexagons that I ordered on Ebay. They are super accurate and quite cheap, not much more than the cost of thick paper and your time. Your hexagons look very very lovely, the fabric choices are perfect. I am a bit obsessed with hexagons at the moment and no matter how exhausted I am, I still stitch a few together every evening. I even take them to work for the 30 minute lunch break.

    I had a quick look at TOMM and I must say, it made me shudder. My approach to housework is huffing and puffing, the odd tantrum and spurts of frantic activity in between...

    I hope you find time soon to pick up one of your lovely projects xx

    1. LIKE: My approach to housework is huffing and puffing, the odd tantrum and spurts of frantic activity in between...

      First laugh of the day - thank you

  9. My very first EPP project I cut all my hexie papers myself! I quite enjoyed the whole process. I'm now working on a 60degree diamond EPP but bought the papers! Your projects look great and I hope you get your craft mojo back soon.

  10. Grrr, just lost a long comment. I'm not really feeling it at the moment either. A lot of listless picking things up and putting them down again. And I can really relate to the screwing up of something and throwing it in the corner when it doesn't go right, that is exactly what I do. I love your new blanket, beautiful soft colours, it's going to be gorgeous. I have a blanket on the go as well, it's always nice to have one to do when anything else is too much effort. Also some new yarn for a scarf and some other new yarn that I'm testing out to see if I can wear it as it's wool, although reputedly soft as a cloud. We shall see, just as soon as I muster the energy to find the right needles. CJ xx

  11. Hi Gillian ,I'm in my sixties now and have three daughters all married with families of their own .I was a nurse and worked night shifts with little sleep so I felt tired most of the time ,I did little bits of housework everyday ie i would clean one cupboard every week and wipe round the bathroom everyday,hoover every other day , andleft the jobs like hoovering behind things cleaning the oven until I was on holiday ,I changed beds every fortnight and had bed sets ready to go .I would do an online shop ,that would save you a Cple of hrs ,when I was on holiday I would batch cook lasagnas ,bolognaise ,stews ,chili's ,quiches etc ,then teas aRe easy for you .,make everything as easy for yourself as you can ,it's hard being a working mum and my one tip is " make time for you " 1 HR Saturday and Sunday with no interruptions just for you ,your a great mum ,wife and btle washer Gillian ,look after yourself x

  12. Thank you for sharing the struggles as well as the inspiration of your WIPs. It matters to this working mom across the world and gives me a little boost.
    The color themes you work with inspire me to stretch a bit - made a couple pairs of wrist warmers from Lucy Attic24 this weekend in new-to-me color combinations to just try them out. Success! The teen grabbed a pair as he left the house. Happiness.

  13. I keep reminding myself that we are only the second week in to term, so everything is still new... Lovely projects (I am so tempted by that jumper, and love the colour) and darts are the worst. Particularly when they don't do as they should! Sigh

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  15. You have some lovely projects on the go Gillian. Have I ever mentioned the temporary glue pen to you for gluing your hexies? You can get them from here: https://www.sewandquilt.co.uk/products/sewline-fabric-glue-pen-refills. I used it to make my star quilt. You just glue on the fabric (it stays temporary for weeks) then after you have sewn them together you just pull out the papers. I buy ready cut papers too. I want to get on with the sewing not the prep!! TOMM frightened me - I popped over. Just don't sweat the small stuff I say. Jo xx

  16. The jumper looks great, and so does the blanket you made for your colleague; wonderful colours and pattern.
    I am not "craftsy" at all but admire the creativity and patience in others very much. You always make the most wonderful things - my all-time favourites are your needlework holiday diaries and the fox and deer you made for your children some years ago.

  17. Lovely crafting Gillian & we all have times when too busy to have much motivation, but it will come back. I'm finding housework very boring as I age, though it's something we need to do to keep clean & tummies fed. You can reward yourself with a bit of me time when done & indulge in craft & relaxation. Take care.

  18. As ever, all of the crafting skills here are completely beyond me, but I can empathise entirely with the too tired to do anything and trying to ignore the mess! I also adore that burnt orange colour, it looks beautifully seasonal x


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