Saturday 8 May 2021

Making Lists


...lists for making and the making of the lists.

Lists are good, they hold information so I don't have to rely on my brain to do it. I make lists at work so I can context switch without losing the idea of what I'm doing, and so I can tell myself I have in some sense Done The Thing and it is ok to put it up for review now.
Sometimes the lists make me feel like I don't do enough/fast enough, but that often is a sign that the list isn't varied enough or the things on it aren't broken down enough to be ticked off in a timely fashion. I think it also helps to have the lists to hand but not right in front of me - so I can consult them when I want or need to, but they're not staring me down all the time, reminding me that I have All Of The Things To Do.

Last year, while I was on furlough and faced with a big empty expanse of time during which I felt I should Do Good Things I made myself a sort of Kanban board with post-its. There were To Do, Blocked, In Progress and Done columns (and later a Rejected section) and the post-its were coloured according to whether they were admin-y, creative, household/life, or work-y. That made me feel like I had a structure, but I'm not sure I really effectively did the things - I didn't have the constriction of being in the office for x hours a day and having to do _something_ from the board like I would at work. Things were able to lurk in the To Do column indefinitely, and some things moved back across (especially household and exercise related ones). There's a reason we have sprints and the attendant ceremonies in software engineering - just Kanban-ing forever with no retrospectives means you don't reflect on what you've achieved at all and your sense of time passing stays mushy.
I'm not going to start doing sprints for my hobbies with reviews or anything - I think my 20-something before 20-something posts on here are the closest I'll get to that - I don't want to turn all of life into work. So, if my sense of time is mushy then maybe my lists can be too.

I have a list I made some time in the latter half of 2020 that is essentially a "what should I make next" list containing all the things I felt I should make next at some point in time, and I have almost completed it without explicitly trying. I like that. It lives on the shelf next to my overlocker and I occasionally remember it exists and have a look.
I also have a (Ryan Gosling) notebook which I have used as a general notebook on and off for a while that gets general to-do lists, bits of information, packing lists, recipe notes, birthday/christmas gift ideas etc written down in it. I'd like to get back into the habit of using that, and the making list probably belongs in it.
Making a making list is basically a way of sitting down and turning some swirling ideas, needs, and inspiration into more concrete ones that I can actually act on. Refinement, to borrow another software term. Some people criticise refinement and planning as pointless talking rather than doing, but if you don't sit down and comb through your ideas you might steam ahead and realise they don't make sense halfway through. Or, even worse, in a team environment you might find that everyone has made different assumptions and all your "just getting on with it" has meant you've built a big mess that could have been avoided if you'd just talked through it beforehand.

Other lists I have used include:
- Bits of paper with project ideas (and sketches) pinned to my noticeboard
- Lists and sketches of project ideas on loose bits of paper - these get the ideas out of my head but usually get lost
- Lists of what's in the food cupboards and freezer and their use-by dates to remind me of the more buried things. These are stuck to the fridge & inside the cupboards.
- Lists of non-staple foods that I should get around to using (e.g. buckwheat bulgur, interesting spices), and ideas for what to make
- A sort of matrix of what we have in the categories of fruit/veg, protein, and carbs, split into short, medium, and long life so that I can see possible combinations to use up and tick-off the most urgent things

Friday 27 January 2017


Temporary desk set-up pretending to be a bookshelf
Ignoring the general state of the world and sticking my head in some kind of fluffy glittery sand (which I'm sure is partly composed of privilege), I had some post-Christmas thoughts about possessions. While I was trying to summon up the will to write thankyou cards - I want to thank people but hate doing it - I was considering what my & the Boy's family had given me. Their presents were all just right - things that I can enjoy having and using. There's a book of knitting patterns that I'd previously been intrigued by on Roobeedoo's blog. There's a book of recipes the same as one we had as children. There's a Nigel Slater book which I plan to read all of - he's someone who can inspire me to cook interesting things with words. So many recipe books are all shiny pictures and then lists of ingredients, but NS manages to evoke an atmosphere in each recipe. I'm already imagining cosy weeknight evenings making some cunning concoction following an aspirational visit to The Better Food Company. (current reality has me staring at a CostCo multipack of pancetta cubes after a cold 9.5km cycle ending in a steep hill).
But what I really mean to say is - each of these presents represents a bit of something I'll enjoy doing and encouragement to do it. The givers have thought about what I like to do and given me almost an excuse to do it. I say excuse because there's the ongoing saga of The House. What one should be doing at any given time is something, anything, towards decorating. (we hadn't anticipated not having unpacked after a year of ownership and 10 months of living here) Purposefully doing anything enjoyable with one's time at the moment feels like a great luxury, and a bit naughty - I need excuses to indulge myself, despite knowing that not doing so will only lead to stress and mental disarray (and I actively encourage Boy to do things he enjoys).
Anyway, one of the feelings that all these nice things evokes is the feeling that they are treasure to be cherished; this got me thinking that it'd be nice if I felt like that about more of my things. I am someone who buys the cheap option or waits for a sale, who doesn't buy herself big fancy things if she doesn't need them, who used to have real trouble indulging herself. I've got a bit better at that, but I would like to develop a filter.
Yesterday I took a set mixing bowls back to Debenhams. I'd bought them in a fit of excitement shortly after Christmas, and then realised that they were not dishwasher safe. Given that we regularly have a weeks' worth of dirty wooden spoons sitting on the side in the kitchen I thought that this was not desirable. (I kept the set of small bowls with tupperware-style lids that I bought at the same time and it's just occurred to me that one of them went through the dishwasher this evening and seemed fine. Oh. Oh well) But the point is - I was excited and bought myself something - which is good given I don't excite easily - but it wasn't something I was properly smitten with (not so good) and it wasn't quite right. There's a place for things I'm not super-passionate about - especially if they are useful - but so as to not fill up my physical place I'd prefer to, ahem, curate* a special selection. And really, I barely ever need anything so this is not any kind of deprivation.
And then I'd also like to use my nice things - make things with the wool and fabric I have stashed away, wear my nice clothes, have baths with bath bombs, serve food on our nice plates, drink my birthday gin. Fulfil their potential. Or something.
Back to good old William Morris:

"Have nothing in your houses which you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful"

Right, back to the grim real world. Sometimes when I feel paralysed by everything being terrible I make a donation to Shelter, Refuge, the British Humanist Association, the Red Cross or whatever charity seems pertinent - at least that way I'm somehow being useful.

* possibly knobby lifestyle word of the decade

Tuesday 5 January 2016

Things To Do In 2016

En Route
  • Write more letters & cards - at least one a month. I used to write so many but I'm completely out of the habit. My younger sister has been really into sending post recently and it's lovely. It also makes me feel more connected with my late Granny who was a prolific letter-writer.
  • Feel at home & in charge. I don't do stuff in the evenings and at weekends. My instinct is to wait to see what boy is doing & react to that. If I'm going to enjoy myself I need to get out/on & do things more and reclaim some of my independence. I also need to remember that this is as much my house as it is his!
  • Get over my dislike of cutting out pattern pieces. I think the height of our coffee table is a big contributing factor in this but it's definitely partly mental too.
  • See the world! Go somewhere. Anywhere. Get away for a bit & enjoy it. Mexico was good but it was all about family. This ties back into independence and getting on with things. I should book myself a weekend somewhere and explore.
  • Learn. I have a terrible habit of making do when I don't understand something & making a mental placeholder to keep up with what's going on, but I never go back & replace that with proper knowledge. E.g. I have heard of something and heard opinions about it and possibly know enough to ask the right questions when someone mentions it. But I don't necessarily know what I'm talking about. Films are probably the easiest example of this. Star Wars -  I know who Luke's father is & that that's a big deal, but I don't know anything else about who Luke is or why that would be a big deal. With the new film having come out I feel more & more like I should catch up with the rest of the world - I do enjoy watching films, I just don't get round to it.
  • Sew from my stash. Every sewer on the internet and their dog is making this resolution, but it's always a good one. I won't punish myself for not doing so or pass up irresistible new fabrics, but I will try to get my pretty things buzz from doing the creating rather than buying things to create with. There are plenty of things I'd like to make but I need to squeeze out the time and space to do it.
  • Eat well, gym often. Avoiding cake at work and going to the gym even when I don't feel like it are the keys to this. Time at the gym is never time wasted and makes me feel good, and I always regret eating extra, so this is just sticking to what I already want. That doesn't make it easy but it does mean I can feel smug when I manage it. Plus boy is now a gym member and is keen to eat less naughtily so we can try to keep each other on track better. So far we're unofficially doing dry January.
  • Go on days out. Before we moved in together boy & I definitely went on more adventures to National Trust properties, the seaside, nice bits of countryside. We should do more of this, use weekends properly, and take photos. I bought myself a nice new camera just before Christmas and it could do with a proper outing.
  • Move house & make home. This will make some of the above harder and some easier, but in the end I'll have a more solid, reliable, and adaptable basis to be living my life from. There will be more working on projects with boy and less frustration at unchangeable aspects of rented housing. There'll be new responsibilities too and a stronger tie to working full time, but we're trying to meet those things head on and think about the implications.

Monday 1 June 2015

Me Made May 2015 Part II

Here's part two of my Me Made May round-up & some wearing notes

16. Shapely boyfriend cardi at the Moor Brewery - still goes with everything!
#mmm15 day 16 - shapely boyfriend cardi   & RTW dress for an afternoon of beer & @berthaspizza at Moor Beer

17.Green Simplicity 2451 skirt - I think I need to make a smaller version of the longer view with a bum adjustment - there's more to this pattern than I'm getting. And this is the wrong fabric!
#mmm15 day 17 - my first Simplicity 2451 for a Sunday morning cat-feeding mission

18. Drapy cowl-neck Renfrew. Good for hiding on a rainy day. Not so good for telling if the pattern fits as this fabric is so stretchy and heavy!
#mmm15 day 18 - the UK went back to winter this morning so I wore my cosy cowl neck Renfrew & a very old skirt & stompy boots

19. NL6154 - Comfy and spotty! Shame the fabric isn't great quality but at £6/m I can't complain much
#mmm15 day 19 - spotty NL6154 skirt with pockets

20. Sparkly short-sleeved Plantain tee. Bit snug in the chest - I think I underestimated the importance of stretch percentages
#mmm15 day 20 - sparkly grey plantain T-shirt, RTW skirt & cardigan

21. Purply boyfriend & Paisley Pastille - A good basic cardi but could do with higher buttons and/or more chest width. Dress is alright but armholes have ripped a little - I think I have a broad rib cage!
#mmm15 day 21 - purply boyfriend & A-line-ed Pastille

22. Cord NL6154 skirt - realizing that this is nicer to wear than I thought. Feels a bit homemade-in-a-bad-way but I don't think my colleagues notice or care.
#mmm15 day 22 - corduroy NL6154 skirt & the jumper N got me for Christmas

23. Scoop/a-line Pastille mod - still feels like Wearing A Nice Dress, which is good. Should figure out front darts/width and make another. Facings are an arse, maybe bias binding next time?
#mmm15 day 23 - off cheese shopping with N in my modified pastille

24. Cheaty day - I made the zippy pouch for my knitting accessories & it turned out just the right size. I ought to make a giant one or two for carrying projects in - A4 size maybe? They're from the Flossie Teacakes tutorial.
#mmm15 day 24 - cheatily not wearing me-made but making socks and using my zippy pouch of knitting accessories

25. Miette cardigan - the more dresses I make the more this will go with... I rather like the length with a dress
#mmm15 day 25 - #andisatterlund Miette cardigan & RTW dress

26. Purply boyfriend & red NL6154 skirt. The skirt is great apart from the zip that likes to come undone and the hem trim that flips out because I stretched it the wrong way while sewing it... lesson learned.
#mmm15 day 26 - wore my red NL6154 to work then my purply boyfriend cardigan for post-gym cooking & lounging

27. Shapely boyfriend yet again :)
#mmm15 day 27 - shapely boyfriend cardigan + RTW T-shirt & skirt

28. Spotty NL6154 again. Photo effort minimal
#mmm15 day 28 - spotty NL6154, Sherlock & pizza

29. Stripy Coco top in Ikea. Fabric is surprisingly nice and thick and drapey for a Fabricland number
#mmm15 day 29 - stripy Coco top and a visit to IKEA on my way home

30. Lacey flower brooch - made from gathered trim - at a barbecue with proper rustic cider :)
#mmm15 day 30 - Lacey flower brooch at a friend's birthday barbecue with proper cider :-D

31. My basic ribbed socks & purply boyfriend cardi for a day at home doing tidying, hoovering, & sewing.
#mmm15 day 31 - lounging & hoovering in my knitted socks & purply boyfriend cardigan. Not a leaving the house sort of day

So... there's been a lot of cardigan wearing, despite the weather being pretty nice recently. A good, slightly woolly, cardi is a very useful thing to have in the UK when you're going out somewhere and don't know if it'll cool off or get windy later.
Most of the me-made garments I've worn this month have been made with fabric from Fabricland or Goldhawk Road, or with wool from eBay. My second Pastille-hack is made with more expensive fabric from the lovely local shop called Flo-Jo (stockists of Liberty and Alexander Henry fabric, Colette, Sewaholic, & Anna Maria Horner patterns, and holders of knicker-making workshops!) which perhaps indicates a bit more confidence? However all my recent purchases have been from Regency Rags on eBay who are really *really* bargain basement-y.
I finished the purply boyfriend (adding buttons), finished my first knitted socks, re-hung some earrings, and made most of a Colette Hawthorn. Unfortunately the Hawthorn in its current form is not terribly flattering and the long, long hem is somewhat daunting. Hopefully I'll try it on again and find it's magically got better? I think I need to shorten the shoulders somehow - not easy with lots of facing in there :s

If any of this catches your interest, have a peek at my Fabric StashFabric Stash Used (where pins go when the project is finished), and Things I've Made boards on Pinterest.

Right, enough of that. Today is June and I've worn my red NL skirt & another Plantain t-shirt that I made yesterday. I might do some sort of t-shirt round-up post as I've made a few different patterns now.
The weather here is atrocious today - lots of wind and rain - and Boy and I have had a cheeky curry for supper and are going to get an early night. Ciao!

Friday 15 May 2015

Me Made May2015 Part I

This year I went in boldly with my pledge:

'I, Sarah of, sign up as a participant of Me-Made-May '15. I endeavour to wear at least one handmade item each day for the duration of May 2015'

...and then I went to Spain and forgot to consider Me Made May while packing. I only missed out two days in the end, but it felt like more at the time. If I had remembered then they'd probably both have been pictures of my Shapely Boyfriend cardi.
My packing strategy was all dresses all the time to keep things easy and minimize wasted packing (Easyjet handluggage-only). I think that worked out pretty well as there were only two things I didn't wear - a jumper and a long-sleeved t-shirt.
Anyway, Me Made May seems to be going alright thus far. Some days I've found it almost too easy - I gravitate towards a couple of me-made skirts for work anyway - and some days I've felt the restriction. I've had two days counting only on jewelry but they coincided with a particularly loungey Sunday and dreaded ladytime, and where's the fun in getting dressed up when I don't want to? The loungey day would have been more Me Made if I had been able to find my £1/m jersey dress. I think I put it away in a fit of optimism during the warm latter part of April.

On to the pictures!
I'm afraid this is coming in list format because balls to HTML...

1. At the alcázar in Segovia in my scoopified, A-lineified Pastille/Truffle dress. Photo by my sister.

#mmmay15 Día uno: Colette handbook mash-up dress - bodice based on pastille, skirt on truffle - at the alcázar in Segovia

2. Up the tower of Segovia's cathedral in my drapey black first Plantain t-shirt

#mmmay15 día 2 - up the tower of Segovia cathedral wearing my first plaintain t-shirt over a RTW dress

3. By the acqueduct in my first Pastille/Truffle dress, photo by my sister again

#mmmay15 día 3 - Colette Pastille with full-behind-adjusted Truffle skirt y el acueducto de Segovia

4 - In Spain, run out of me-mades
5 - In Spain & travelling back

6. Red stretch-cotton New Look 6154 with Simplicity 2451 pockets

#mmm15 day 6 - back home in my New Look 6154 skirt

7. Tilly & The Buttons Coco t-shirt in what Fabricland calls "pirate stripe"

#mmm15 day 7 - off to vote in my pirate stripe Coco top

8. Floppy teal cord skirt - this was the proof of concept for the red one above

#mmm15 day 7 - photo hampered by my phone camera refusing to work but here's the gist of it. Teal cord New Look 6154 with pockets, rtw t-shirt & cardigan

9. Newly finished purply boyfriend cardigan - I shouldn't have procrastinated so long with the buttons! The placement is a bit iffy but they're on there now.

#mmm15 day 9 - purply boyfriend cardigan & RTW dress for an afternoon of dumpling-making

10. Plastic bead earrings, plus newly-finished Rugby Fan's Bobble Hat

#mmm15 day 10 - modelling a hat I've made for someone I'm pretty sure isn't on Instagram and some earrings I made a few years ago

11. Navy polycotton Mimi blouse from Love At First Stitch. Polycotton is definitely sweaty & the fit on this is not great.

#mmm15 day 11 - a terrible photo of my first #loveatfirststitch Mimi Blouse with a RTW skirt. Cheap polycotton is not a good blouse fabric and I am not Tilly-shaped - needs more chest & sleeves and less waist & lower back. Shoulders are alright but don't

12. Navy truffle & Miette cardigan - got a bit hidden by free company t-shirt but was comfy all day

#mmm15 day 12 - all blue in my Miette cardi & Truffle dress for a certain large Finnish tech company's 150th birthday

13. Black mystery remnant Lilou/Truffle dress. Too tight above the bust, bum darts wrong, zip undoes itself.

#mmm15 day 13 - black Lilouffle + RTW cardigan

14. Ceramic bead earrings redeem a "secret pajamas" outfit

#mmm15 day 14 - bit of a low effort day with homemade earrings & RTW clothes but it's a grey & rainy Thursday and comfort was called for

15. Loud floral rectangle t-shirt reverse-engineered from Pattern Runway Harvest Top. Will make more, possibly with smaller/narrower backs & different neckline (this one may just be stretched).

#mmm15 day 15 - rectangle T-shirt reverse engineered from the Pattern Runway Harvest Top. Could have drafted my own but this gave me the armband size.

That's about half the month down and another half left to go. I feel as though I've got plenty of me-made items I haven't worn yet and I may finish a couple of knitting projects and a couple of sewing ones before the month is out. I'm posting these to instagram as I go and Flickr when I remember - you can click through on these photos to see the original captions from Instagram imported into Flickr.

So far Fabricland is the most represented source of fabric. This isn't terribly surprising as they're local, cheap, and I don't feel the urge to save things I've bought there or fear ruining them. The frontrunner for wool is eBay, which is also unsurprising as my skillz are not well-developed yet & the cheapskate instinct is strong.

Happy remai(y)ning May!

Sunday 18 January 2015

Becoming A Competent Knitter (in a year!)

Lest I lose track of what great progress I've made in my knitting I'm going to document some of it here.
At the beginning of December 2013 I could knit only wonky rectangles. I asked for Learn To Knit Love To Knit for Christmas and had bought Debbie Bliss's How To Knit after borrowing it from the library. Over Christmas - my first one without coursework in four years - I spent lots of time curled up in chairs and sofas, teaching myself to knit in the round and to increase and decrease. After Christmas itself I embarked on a pair of the armwarmers from Learn To Knit Love To Knit, and two more pairs quickly followed for friends with January birthdays. (Ravelry pattern page, pair two, pair three)

Pair #1
Pairs #2 & #3
 After this I was more confident that "real knitting" was just lots of little techniques joined up (like many apparently complex things). I had seen lots of Miette cardigans about on the internet (including Lladybird and GKs Agenda's KAL) but lacework seemed a bit much still - I wanted something plain but not a baggy, shapeless thing or a tiny shrug I'd never wear. Kristina of Little House By Hand posted about her Shapely Boyfriend cardigan - her first knitted cardigan - and it was exactly what I wanted. The pattern is free and is on Ravelry and on the Knitty website.
I bought my circular needles in Lidl (and they work fine for now, maybe I'll go deluxe and get interchangeable ones one day) and got to work on a tension swatch. I extended my tension swatch and tried out the increases and decreases plus a few practice buttonholes. My Ravelry notes have more detail, but suffice to say I got gauge with my cheap 30% wool yarn (via eBay) and set off. The cardigan is knit top-down in the round so I was able to see it taking shape and try it on once the arms were off the rigid stitch holders.

#mmmay14 Day 31: Going for broke on the last day of #memademay . Waitrose won't know what's hit it.

I finished Shapely Boyfriend in mid-April and wore it *loads* during Me Made May - it was definitely a big factor in my being able to exceed my Me Made May target - this blue-grey really goes with everything. There are a couple of cons to this cardigan - the bust could do with being a little wider and the back drapes over my bum in an unflattering way - but it's still very wearable and I had an idea of how to deal with these in future makes.
After Shapely Boyfriend I still had an absolute tonne of the yarn I used so I thought I could safely try out Miette and not be wasting anything if it went wrong (there's my can't-have-nice-things instinct again). Again I swatched and practiced the increases and decreases (different ones) and got going very soon after finishing Shapely Boyfriend. My Ravelry notes document some of the difficulty I had forming the neckline (new technique) and counting right on the sleeves. I finished it on a rainy day in Cornwall. I was a little sick of it by that stage but I made a point of finishing it and it looked pretty cute with my navy truffle (now semi-retired due to fading).

Ruffle-less truffle & Miette

This Miette re-confirmed that cropped cardigans aren't a thing I wear a lot - they look really odd & unflattering with hip-level skirts, so this is reserved for wearing with dresses. My next Miette - and there will be more, the stitch pattern is lovely and the bust fit is great - will be a longer version with longer sleeves. The advantage of knitting such a popular pattern is that there are heaps of helpful Ravelry notes, tips, tutorials, and instructions on how to lengthen and adapt it. It's also convinced me that I ought to buy another Andi Satterlund pattern -the difficulty is deciding which!


I then embarked on a second Shapely Boyfriend, a shorter version. This version suffered a bit from lack of inspiration - I was more excited about sewing and socks - , the need to make Christmas and birthday presents, and my newfound gym habit. Shamefully I started the poor thing in July and have not actually completed it yet. It's been awaiting buttons since mid-November but I don't have any that are quite right - I need to take it shopping with me! I used some very very cheap wool from a local Draper's and could have been more excited about the colour so I think that hasn't helped me get up the motivation to finish it.

Three of my most recent complete projects - if you ignore the yarn tails & lack of buttons... #bpsewvember

The length is just about ok - I think I could have gone slightly longer. Once the buttons are on I'll be able to tell if it rolls up when done up - the ribbing might be a bit much for such a slopey part of my body. I don't think it looks toooo much like an overgrown bolero...

4/5 days of black and white photos - knitting in low light. Tagging @llewsah if she'd like to join in
Raglan increases on the Shapely Boyfriend
Next it was Christmas knitting time! This year, giftwise, I knitted one and sewed a few. This was probably about right in the end although I could have started the knitting earlier - I might have managed to get a completed photo of my sister's cowl that way! I made her a variation on the famous GAP-tastic cowl. I searched all over for the right shade of H&M mustard, had a false start with some cotton DK from eBay, and eventually struck warm-toned gold in Wool in Bath. Wool is a nice little shop full of the kind of good quality wool that makes you want to buy it all and roll around in a big pile of yarn all day (as opposed to the apathy-inducing neon or pastel acrylic that does for yarn in some shops). Anyway, I bought King Cole Merino-blend aran and it's lovely. There was a slight *cough* design feature *cough* in the finished cowl - it ended up twisted round twice, but by the time I'd noticed it was too far along to go back and the whole thing is long enough that the twist just adds cose.

Mustard Cowl
Cose in the making, cose in the wearing
So - that's all the knitted items I've completed. My current ongoing project (ignoring some crochet blankets that are languishing slightly) is my first pair of socks! I've been excited about these since I bought the yarn at Tiger in August but I only let myself cast on after the purply boyfriend was finished. They're Wise Hilda's Basic Ribbed Sock pattern - available on Ravelry and on her website.
I started off while sitting in bed with ice on my sprained ankle, got a good chunk done waiting for my x-ray, and started turning the heel over Christmas. I hate picking up stitches along edges so I've stalled a bit currently. I'm starting sharing lifts again this week so I should get some more knitting in soon. I don't know yet if they'll actually fit but since I don't really like wearing socks this was always more of an academic exercise. I just love the colourway of this yarn - maybe I should get some more and make a shawl? Not when I have a huge stash!

First sock!
Dark, but you get the idea
Speaking of that stash I think I'll have a look at it and try to come up with some projects - I have a few in mind already, both for myself and for presents.

Here's to another year of self-taught new skills, steady progress, lovely knitted things, and enjoyable knitting!

Saturday 10 January 2015

Top 5s of 2014

Top 5 2014 #sewingtop5

Oh yes! I'm very belatedly jumping on the bandwagon with Gillian's Sewing Top 5s so I'm going to put everything into one post.

My best make - no surprise. Its my TNT, my most worn work skirt - and my most instagrammed - and I need to make more in other colours. I had a very definite vision when I made this and I bought the fabric especially. I didn't expect to buy stretch cotton

Top 5 Hits: What have you worn or loved the most?
I'm going to put these into chronological order since my sewing really has moved on in leaps and things that were hits earlier in the year are no longer. I'm including knitting as well because I can.
1. Navy truffle - my first completed wearable dress, the fit wasn't perfect and the fabric is crappy but I wore it to work quite a few times
2. Shapely boyfriend - my first completed knitted garment. It's been worn a LOT thanks to the simple shape and versatile colour. Since the yarn is nothing fancy it's looking a bit worn and bobbly but apart from that it's stood up to washing pretty well.
3. Red stretch cotton skirt - has become a go-to garment. Slight stretch makes it super comfy - more so than my later black & white spotty skirt. I had a very clear vision of what I wanted and I made it. With pockets :-)
4. Purple bird dress - Fitting effort met forgiving fabric, resulting in a fun and comfy swooshy party dress.
5. Black plantain - First knit bands, flattering shape, soft fabric. Yes - I can make t-shirts!

Truffle, Truff, Truffou, Lilouffle - the road to decent fit is paved with muslins #bpsewvember
Top 5 Misses: What went wrong or never got worn?
1. Coral truffle #1 - too big, too see-through but a good exercise and a high note to end Me Made May on
2. Teal corduroy skirt - fabric from hell was stretchy, slippy, moulty and the resulting skirt was strangely floppy. Worn a couple of times for MeMadeMay but barely ever since.
3. Black & white spot skirt - Cute but I really do need a full bum adjustment - the CB seam is stretching out. The fabric is fading a little too but at £6/m I can't really complain.
4. Miette cardigan - really cute but I don't wear cropped cardigans, at least not in winter. I'll give it another chance this year and have plans to make a longer version.
5. Dress muslins - so many odd ones. Wearable muslin of Lilou was a mess - it went through a stage of having strange fabric n*pples!

Fun - meeting other sewists at #NYlon2014 and being happy & comfy wearing things I made to friends' weddings #bpsewvember

Top 5 Highlights: Tell us about 5 non-sewing highlights of your year!
My sewing highlights are all my firsts - knits, dress, etc - , Me Made May (part1, part 2), the #NYLon2014 meet-up, and #bpSewvember. I'm much better at Instagramming than blogging...
1. Celebrating friends getting married - two lovely couples had two lovely (and very different) weddings and I wore my purple bird dress to both. I also got to go on accompanying hen and stag weekends which were both experiences to remember. I fulfilled my goal of visiting a pop-up restaurant, learned to make fascinators, met friends-of-friends I'd heard so much about, and discovered the delights of padron peppers.
2. Boy got a new job! One that means we're not planning to leave Bristol any time soon, mostly to our relief - I like the idea of living somewhere else for a bit but the reality scares me a bit. Hopefully having this more settled and the new job being more strictly 9-5 will mean we manage more adventures next year. He'll have some work trips which I probably can't/won't tag along with for the most part as they're more serious than academic conferences.
3. We didn't know at the time, but we had what is probably our last Cornwall holiday in the cottage we usually go to. We felt like we'd "done" Cornwall pretty thoroughly but there's always more! We finally tracked down Botallack mines and the image of St Agnes from all the postcards. Our plans for this year aren't formed yet but we've thrown around ideas including: find another Cornwall cottage to rent, try Norfolk, drive around Scotland, go somewhere warm.
4. Stockholm & Norfolk - two rather different but exciting holidays with friends. A weekend walking around Stockholm, enjoying being somewhere new and different. I'd like to go back to Stockholm, probably in the summer. A weekend boating on the Norfolk Broads with a lovely group of friends. We somehow packed a lot into one weekend but also felt super-relaxed, Erica is an excellent hostess.
5. Owning a car - This has made a lot of the above possible. I have been sharing lifts to the office and gained almost 2 hours a day by doing so. We took my car to Cornwall. I've been able to take off home/to Southampton/to Bath/to Norfolk/to London and be on my own terms. Christmas at home was much easier knowing I could escape when I wanted!
6. Cheeky bonus which kind of incorporates number 5 - I did grown up things. I finally got registered at the dentist and had fillings done, I had an eye test and bought new glasses, I bought a car, I signed up to and went to the gym (though a sprained ankle has stopped me for a while). Now I need to make that smear test appointment... (all women in the UK are invited for one when they turn 25)

Re-trying-on I conclude that this might be OK if I add width to the front. A good 4" but I hadn't FBA'd and have a big rib cage. Interestingly front length is almost right. Guessing I can widen the gathered edge, waistband, and skirt fairly simply... Mayb

Top 5 Reflections: Looking back, what have you learned about sewing or yourself?
1. I already knew it, but I'm a self-impeding perfectionist. I definitely need a few fitting adjustments from standard-shaped patterns but I also need to let myself settle for "good enough". I don't want to waste/ruin my nice fabric by making something that won't be great from it so I'm in muslin limbo, forever thinking I need to make more muslins to get the fit better before I cut into good fabric.
2. I've tried to give away stashed things that I won't realistically use for myself and have enjoyed doing so. I think that I maybe have a fear of things being wasted - it's much easier to give things (all things - clothes, mugs) to someone who I know needs them and/or genuinely is excited about using them than to just send them away to a charity shop or put them in the bin. I feel like if I don't know what's happening to something then it's being wasted and that is somehow very scary. At least I've found a way out of this.
3. I'm not great at finishing stuff, but I've got better. Finding that balance between giving up in frustration and killing the fun by slogging on too long on something that isn't working is tricky. I've got a few UFOs and half-fitted patterns that need sorting out but for at least one of them (above) time and distance (and improved skill in the meanwhile) has showed me that it's not as bad as I thought.
4. I'm not fearless, I just expect a lot of myself. I will merrily start trying to do a new technique and be annoyed with myself for not doing it well. This is stupid. I am not some kind of wonder seamstress. Some part of my brain expects me to be able to do everything I've heard of and I retain information well. I can give you tips on all sorts of things that stem from reading, not from experience. This is the wrong way around. I should go slowly and highlight new techniques to myself and practice them rather than steaming ahead and then getting frustrated when it doesn't work. Princess seams are a good illustration of this - I just tried to go for it. Nope.
This is probably the reason for number 3 - if I've half ruined things it feels worse to fully ruin them than to just do nothing. This is also nonsensical.
Gosh. That all got a bit heavy and psychological.
5. My best projects have been the ones I've been excited about. I've stuck at them and enjoyed wearing them. If I'm not so bothered I lose interest while sewing and am more likely to give up when stuff goes wrong. If I have a clear vision and am excited about wearing an item I'm more likely to end up with something that I love. The red skirt is an example of this - I had a very clear idea, I went to Fabricland and bought specific fabric, and I've worn it loads despite the zip coming undone all the time.

Technique: stabilising knit seams with ribbon for #bpsewvember  #plantaintee instructions have you incorporate the ribbon in the seam (which I didn't get on with last time), Tilly's #sewingcoco has you apply the ribbon before sewing the seam, and Sewaholi

Top 5 Goals: What do you hope to achieve in 2015?
1. A nicely decently fitting bodice and skirt - possibly a block to compare to new patterns
2. Better stitching on knits. At the moment everything is stretching out a lot when I sew - maybe a walking foot would help? For now I'm just going very slowly.
3. Finish items, reduce UFO heap, reduce mending pile.
4. Use time well. I have lots of little pockets of time - 30mins or so - and I tend to slump on the sofa with crochet/knitting/internet rather than making concrete progress on a project. This should change.
5. Make things I'm excited about and enjoy the process. Stop setting myself mental deadlines.  Boy always says I sound so unhappy when I'm sewing and it seems like it's always going wrong. This is supposed to be a hobby! I need to stop expecting perfection from myself and just make progress.

Thanks Gillian - this has been really interesting. I didn't know what I was going to write beforehand but it's really spilled out and I've learnt things :) I've also realised, as always, that I've done far more this year than I thought. Hurrah for that!
I've really enjoyed reading everyone else's Top 5s over the past week or two.
Happy 2015 and happy sewing!