Tuesday, September 27

Time

Probably one of my fave Prince songs, it seemed appropriate for this blog post.

People often ask me how come I get as much stuff done as I do. I work full time, so I'm only free after 5pm in the week. Wednesday nights I'm usually at the Coventry Knit Wits and every 3rd Thursday I'm in Leicester at the Manor House MK club. At least once a week I try and get a nordic walk in; Monday nights is housework night, and Mondays/Thursdays/Fridays are often gym nights too. So my schedule is pretty packed! Online I moderate a big Rav group, I maintain the Manor House website plus my own needlesofsteel website. So, how do I do it all? Well, sometimes I'm not entirely sure myself! My theory is that all of us are on a "tourist pass" in this life, so I fully intend to do and see and learn as much as I can, whilst I'm on the earth.

Last night was fairly easy - G had made spag bol on Friday, so I just had to cook some pasta and reheat the leftovers (he's getting leftover barbecue chicken tonight, I reckon that trumps bolognaise as long as he doesn't give himself salmonella!). I get home, feed the cat, fix myself some dinner, eat whilst surfing the 'net on the tablet. Then I baked a batch of fairy cakes - this is unusual but it's for a MacMillan coffee morning we're having at work on Thursday. Whilst the cakes were baking, I started the ironing, and then finished that whilst they were cooling down. Then I iced the cakes - nothing fancy as I had nothing fancy in - just plain white icing, got changed for the gym and went and did a work out. Came home and read for a bit before bed. I clock-watch a lot - do I have time for that/this - and if it's important enough (like the baking) it goes in my smartphone calendar so that it happens. If I've an hour, I think, what can I fit into that hour? Knit a swatch? Clean something (bah!)? Sew something? I've been working on some xmas gifts and am just doing little bits as and when I get time. I need to embroider one more design and then finish up the items and they're done, bar the wrapping. I do tend to prioritise craft stuff over boring stuff (hello dishwasher!) but most household chores can be squeezed in somewhere along the line.

Don't have time? If it's important enough to you, you'll make time. Use your diary. Book things eg classes. Book "me-time". Plan how you can efficiently make a start on a project. Plan to group similar tasks together eg pinning stuff ready to sew up, ironing in batches etc.

But make sure you have a cut-off - mine is 10pm. After 10pm it's quiet time for me - reading in bed or something. Otherwise I swear I'd be hoovering gone midnight and I'd run myself ragged.

So there ya go. My theory on time management. It's not much of a theory, but it's mine, and I'm sticking with it!

PS the craft room is almost done, now it's just deciding where to put everything and how best to organise it. The best part I think! :)

PPS I tried and failed to get a decent sample of the Passap E6000's version of card 3 at the weekend - patt 1004, tech 133. Kept hanging on the colour changer end, awful mess. Will try again at the weekend. Need to knit a hat for a competition and it's the only machine currently up apart from the CSM.

Current mood: determined

Wednesday, September 21

Not only but almost...

...with apologies to whomever I stole that title from and mangled. Think it was a comedy thing?

Well, we finished up the painting last week, and Sunday was spent getting some new shelving up and getting some items into the attic and general reorganisation. It's not finished yet - I didn't realise just quite how much stuff I'd accumulated in the last twelve or so years, so two more 4x1 shelves will be required, hopefully to contain "bins" for smaller items such as WIPs, oddments of yarn, sewing stuff which is currently in the living room. But I'm really pleased with it!

Didn't, alas, account for how much space a stack of six knitting machines take up (and there's a punchcard, plus its ribber, still in the garage, my "workshop" machine). Tried to explain to the Cog why I need all of them last night. It sounded somewhat lame! He seemed happy enough as long as they are all out of his way. So I am thinking maybe I only have the room to put up ONE Japanese machine, now, not the two I've had set up. So then of course, the next question is, which one do I choose?!

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Ordered this folding table from Amazon, 3 heights although this is the highest at 74cm and I can't imagine I'll ever require a crafting coffee table! Nice and light though, could easily take it camping (which is what it is sold for).

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The yarn and fabric stash (most of it in shot, ha!)

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Yeah, I'm an addict. Was going to be one tall pile until I realised it might well fall down and kill me, if it didn't bring down the floor first - that is NOT a supporting wall!

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The Passap and hifi corner. Yes, I still have the hifi I bought at uni in 94-95. Tape deck is still functional too I think! No DAB or AUX IN but otherwise a great little hifi!

I did a little bit of sewing last night on my new table, just to try it out, and it's sturdy enough I think. Might turn it around though as there's a strap that hangs down at the front and I'd rather hide that at the back. I made a rather rough drawstring bag from a scrap of fabric. Didn't think about construction order, so the drawstring casing ends are raw, need to pink them I think. Oops. Oh well, it is just for my wonderclips so it doesn't really matter.

The Cog is just pleased that the landing is now 30cm wider again, it's been the home for a spare machine and ribber for too long now. I do need to source some new curtains, I must have washed the current ones (a white jacquard fabric) because they have shrunk by a good 5cm. Alas so far I've been unable to source any ready-made ones with a 120cm drop. I will keep looking!

Current mood: happy

Wednesday, September 14

Sewing - not!

Yep, it's happened again. I was really looking forward to starting Saturday morning sewing classes in Coventry - only to come home to a returned cheque last night. Not enough people. I don't get this - Abakhan was packed out all weekend, in fact there was a queue waiting to get in. The Big Sewing Weekender sold out before I even knew about it (although I may have been double-booked that weekend anyway). So clearly there's demand. But you know what? I give up!

When I first did my OCNCE in machine knitting, it ran concurrently with a two-year sewing class run by the Butts technical college, run above what was a butcher's in Coventry Arcade. Had the course not folded when I completed my machine knitting - in fact, I had to pay £600 for the "pleasure" of not attending the second year of the MK course and had to take precious days off just to hand in courseworks - I would have enrolled on the sewing machine course toute suite. Of course, it had run for years for very little and I knew not of its existence, being, at that time, not inclined / too hard up to take advantage.

In 1998, I took a few lessons with Mum. No offence to her, but she had a tendency to take the work off me and do it herself - I seem to recall the only part of the skirt I did do was insert a zip. Then my sister announced her impending nuptials, and lessons were off the table whilst Mum made two bridesmaids dresses and a wedding gown - and the lessons were never resumed. She's more recently admitted she preferred making children's clothes anyway and had never heard of a full bust adjustment nor pre-shrinking the fabric.

There were the massive classes run in Coventry at the "new" college in Hillfields circa 2008 - which ended up moving to Coundon Court school, on a Wednesday night, the one night I can't commit to (what with running the Coventry Knit Wits). Good class but so big I could easily wait an hour for the teacher's attention. There was a suggestion I move to the Asian Sewing class instead, but I didn't really want to learn Asian sewing, whatever that might be!

Then there was the disastrous two terms with Warwickshire College in 2009-10 ish (I lose track of dates, it's down all in the blog somewhere), at Radford Semele. Only thing I learnt there was to bite my tongue every week, as I found the teacher unhelpful, rude and disorganised. There were a list of subjects, but it turned out she had no intention of teaching us anything unless it was piecemeal fashion. Alas, she's nowhere near retirement age (I think she was probably younger than me), so I assume she's still running her little sewing club (because that's all it amounts to - some of them had been going for YEARS) throughout my county. Complete waste of my time and money.

There's a class in Rugby, but it's full, and anyway I'm now too late to enrol (and again, it's a Wednesday night. What IS it with Wednesdays?!). There were two other classes in the Rugby area but both have closed. Of course, this news came AFTER I went online and bought two sewing bags, one for the overlocker and one for the sewing machine. I'm wondering if I can return or sell on the latter, I don't really need a sewing machine case as mine has a hard case, it would just be better for car transportation.

What do I want? A structured class where each week I learn something eg piping, or a lapped zip - and then we can all get on with our sewing projects. A course that runs any night except Weds, or at the weekend. If I could quit the job for two years and take such a class at uni, I would do.

Apparently, that's too much to ask of karma. Karma hates me.

Craftsy it is, then... Sigh... I'd much rather have a live, interactive person! One cannot ask a video questions, clear as it may be!

I was SO annoyed last night I went straight upstairs, put my painting t-shirt on (I no longer own painting trousers and anyway it was too hot for clothes really!) and painted the front bedroom. Then after a quick dinner, himself did the cutting in whilst I amused myself doing some more machine embroidery for a secret project. This morning I am still finding yellow emulsion everywhere, I look like I have a weird rash.

Current mood: annoyed

Sunday, September 11

Dream Week 2016

Had an excellent, if tiring, week at Metropolitan Dream Week. Lots of old friends and new faces! Alas, my first mistake was to leave my DSLR camera on the sofa, where I had been checking batteries - so I didn't take many pictures of anything I'm afraid!

I had fun with lace edgings with Clair Crowston, did some knitweave with Elaine Cater, had a workshop with Iris Bishop, and saw some lovely double bed samples by John Blakeman. I also got to play with a Passap E6000 for an afternoon. I really do need to play more with that machine, it is such a nice machine! The week started with a talk on flower pounding, rust printing and cyanotypes (look it up, it's fascinating!) and ended with a talk by Carol about wearable art and then ideas for Christmas (see below).

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My sleep was poor as usual (waking too early) but at least I got a bit of early morning exercise and saw an amazing sunset over the hotel, Hunters Lodge, who were all lovely. I've written up a fuller report for the Guild magazine; when it's been published (or should they choose not to publish it) then I will post a more detailed report here. It was very warm all week so although I did have a quick go in the gym, it meant having to wash my hair which is a 25 minute investment I didn't really have time for! I'd rather have a leisurely breakfast (to chat with the others, of course!) and a quick bit of internet catch up in the morning.

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I won £60 in vouchers which was immediately spent on my new favourite yarn, Yeoman Grigna, four cones - two plain colours and two mixes with white. Pretty sure I've a Clair Crowston pattern from a few years back that will work with the pink mix to knit a smart top.

After a terrible night in a boarding house in Liverpool - alas, there was a bunch of lads staying there who confused the place with student digs and treated it as such, leaving water everywhere and generally acting like 15 years olds let loose with drink for the first time. They delighted in waking the whole house at midnight, 4am and 6am, and daring each other to parade past me in very little (with a stolen bra from one of the girls they brought back). I was polite, whilst inwardly fuming. Typical Englishwoman! So I gave up on sleep and toddled off to Abakhan for a day's shirt making technique course. The tutor Celia was excellent and the shop, of which I again failed to get pictures, is two big floors of fabric, offcuts by the kilo, haberdashery and yarn. I thought I'd died and gone to heaven! Alas my nearest branch is Stoke I think, a good hour's drive away. A day trip may be in order if I can just find a spare Saturday.

We did collars, button bands, and two kinds of cuffs:

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That last one was a masterpiece of fabric origami. If I've any complaints, it's that I'd've done better doing the complicated one first because I was running out of brain power at this point. The pink thread is deliberately so I can see what I've done. It was a very tiring drive home, I desperately needed sleep and/or coffee.

Alas, this is half of the contents of my knitting room:

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And this is the room itself:

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If you look closely at the second photo, my Passap is surrounded by stuff. The only thing that's currently accessible (out of necessity) is the tumble dryer. The painting is going slowly as it takes hours to cut in (lots of corners in this room) and G has run out of paint for the second coat.

We were both shattered yesterday as G is still working on doing up his flat, so I suggested we had a day off and visited some local heritage sites. Once the weekly food shop was done, we visited Chesterton windmill:

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Turns out it's a folly, built by some rich landowner and on the cross roads of various routes - he had to pay a miller to actually use it. We then popped to see the tiny church in Hunningham (so tiny we drove past it the first time, as it's hidden on a bend behind the old bakehouse) and had a quick drink in the Red Lion pub.

Current mood: tired but happy

Wednesday, August 31

FO: Scrunchie

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Just to prove I *was* actually doing some MK this weekend. Hoping the weather holds, because this shot was taken about ten minutes before I realised that the vest top, seen crumpled on the machine, had boobs level with my belly button, and rather deep armholes, so needs a re-knit. Oops.

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I've also been making these out of leftover scraps of fabric. Yes, hair scrunchies - found the instructions here.

PS Becca, thanks for the lovely comments and info re the carpal tunnel. I should definitely look into Portuguese knitting I think. Pity there's not such an easy fix for crocheting. Regarding the carpal tunnel, I've been told to wear splints at night and mine's not bad enough to qualify for surgery. Wore the splint too tight one night and part of my left thumb went numb and has stayed that way. It gradually seems to be healing but I've left the splint off for now, because a numb hand doesn't seem like much of a trade-off! Also have been recommended tennis ball exercises so must look into that. Oh well, at least the cross-stitch is romping along. It doesn't thrill me though! I don't really need more samplers in the house.

Current mood: frustrated that I have mk to do and no craft room to do it in, and a deadline. Argh.

Monday, August 29

Upheaval

Well, I've been saying for ages that I need to pack up my knitting room, so that it can be decorated. The other half finally talked me into getting started this weekend. Boy, what a lot of stuff I've collected since I moved in. I need a thorough sort out I think! Currently everything is piled in the middle of the room; some of it is piled up in the office; and some of it is in the garage. I picked up a lot of MKM magazines when I collected the SK840 back in 2005, and I had started separating out all the patterns (into womens, mens, children/baby, misc) and putting them into folders. This is fine, but if anything, the magazines take up even more space, and I got fed up part way through so haven't even touched the mags for years. I think I might have to consider putting them up into the attic for now until I can decide what to do with them all.

So of course, now that I've only really got access to the Passap and the CSM, everything else being packed away, I absolutely HAD to machine knit a top to match the skirt I made on the Tony Bennett course, and it really had to be on the KH881 demo machine which lives in the garage, because I know what tension I get with this yarn on that machine. Luckily today turned out to be a lovely fine day, so I was able to get the machine out on the patio and knit a sideways top. Despite lots of calculations, the top came out a bit weird in that I seem to think my boobs are down by my tummy button (they're NOT!), and to be fair the armholes are a bit big too, so although the rest of the top came out ok I need to knit another one before the end of the week. With nowhere to set up the machine. Ho hum!

The plan is to fill some cracks, paint the room, and then get some proper shelving, so that I can finally get all of my craft books in one room and filed by subject. Hopefully there'll also be space for the yarn stash. I'm trying to decide whether to splash out on a proper sewing machine table (the kind where the sewing machine drops down underneath) or whether to just try and source an ordinary folding craft table. Decisions, decisions. On paper it looks like a reasonable sized room, until you realise that almost half of it is under an eave so is not full head height. I have asked himself if we couldn't swap bedrooms so I could have the master but the answer's definitely in the negative. Pity.

Some pictures of the messy room as it was - I think you'll agree, a bit of a mess!

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Dumping ground for yarn, weaving loom table, CSM on corner

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The midgauge and loads of books

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The KH950i

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The passap under wraps

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The DAK corner

Current mood: tired

Monday, August 22

Ravellenic medals

Not a great haul this time around, I keep having to drag my mind away from dressmaking and towards knitting. The verdict on the carpal tunnel was "it's too mild, we won't operate, try wearing the splint at night for at least 8 weeks". So no handicrafts to be done, unless I can figure out a way of handknitting or crocheting in a different manner. Sigh.

MEDAL-garment

MEDAL-SOCK

MEDAL-HAT

LAURELS-machine

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And one that Selvedge kindly designed for the machine knitters:

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