Friday, 25 January 2013

Crochet: Recently

I've been trying to not start new crochet projects that I won't finish, and making sure I've really thought through an idea before starting it so I don't lose enthusiasm or hit a problem which means I have to completely change the project. Also if I've thought something through I'm much less likely to end up with a load of woolly white elephants and yarn-based regrets. With that in mind I'm trying to finish off already started projects, rip back unloved or unfinished ones, and not start anything new until I'm done with the old.

 woolly items in a ziploc bag

  To rip back: one bizarre hat and two scarfy things. I think these were all started when I had no ongoing project and was just messing around. The fuzzy wool is going to be horrible to undo.

ziploc bag containing green and cream wool and a little red bag

Daisy squares: I learned a new technique and made a sort of mini-blanket for S's birthday, it's completed and currently acting as a sort of tablecloth for her chest of drawers. The little drawstring bag holds my embroidery scissors, knitters' needle and paperclip for stitch marking.

seven small balls of wool in shades of blue, purple and grey

Boy blanket leftovers: The blanket is complete and I've made a little stripey cat to match. I need to assemble some photos of the blanket, the cat, and the daisy squares. The whole blanket is only the size of a single bed currently (more on the long and thin side I think) and the boy has cheekily asked me to buy some more wool and make the other half! I might retaliate by stealing it back.

beige, brown and bright pink wool in a bag

Twin Scarves: The second of the twin scarves is still in progress. I'm almost halfway through but I've run out of brown and will have to go and buy another ball so I can finish it; I'm not sure if this stops it counting in my little stash-busting project but I've already made the two cats and daisy squares from stash yarn so I've reached 3.

Thursday, 24 January 2013

We Have Internet! And Snow!

I'm back in Bristol! I've been sleeping on an airbed and getting things sorted out for a week or so, and today we've got our internet set up. As I'm sure is the case in many other places around the UK and further afield, Bristol has had a bit of snow :)
These photos were all taken last Friday whilst wandering about in it.

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Stash Saving

wool in plastic bags

The other day I turned out my whole wool stash with the intention of checking what I have and re-organising it. Alas I found that some of my wool was disintegrating! I put out a plea on Twitter and was advised that this probably did mean moths. I sprung into action and chucked everything in the freezer for 48 hours and purchased a pack of ziploc bags.

packet of plastic bags
Moth-proof for 80p, well worth it
 On Thursday morning I retrieved it all, sorted it, and stashed it safely in the ziploc bags. Now any lurking moths about the house won't be able to get in, and anything that survived the freezer hopefully won't be able to get out. It strikes me that there's a similarity between moth-prevention and backing up your computer - a simple chore now will save a lot of heartache later.
I turned out my jumpers too and luckily didn't spot any damage but I'm definitely concerned about their safety and that of my woolly scarves, hats, and gloves.
I also want to make some more lavender bags - apparently they repel moths as well as being pretty and making my clothes smell nice. I'm not sure how using felt affects their usefulness but they do still smell despite the thick fabric and it's far easier to sew with. I think one can buy dried lavender fairly cheaply online. Lavender bags are a very satisfying little project, they take hardly any time.

Lavender bags I made earlier
I recently tidied my huge collection of knitting needles (passed on by a Flickr contact who doesn't knit) into this surprisingly perfectly-sized box. It also happens to be exactly the right size for this old Sirdar knitting pattern my Dad found in Grandma's caravan when he was clearing it out. Perhaps one day I'll learn to knit well enough to make jumpers.

Box containing knitting needles and pattern for a jumper

My embroidery threads found a new home in this nice little tin - it originally contained a kit for making a toy bunny which the boy gave me for Christmas two years ago. This is much better than the bag I had been keeping them in and is luckily exactly the right size for the cards of thread leftover from counted cross stitch kits folded in half (not pictured).

embroidery thread in a tin

Have you ever had moths? How did you get rid of them? I'm a bit concerned that they'll still be lurking somewhere so I think I'll be buying more bags and trying to prevent them reaching my new flat. I hate the thought of losing things without realising. Bleurgh.

Thursday, 10 January 2013

Looking Forward, Looking Back


Even though I have my 25 Before 23 project to be working on, I can't help but be inspired by all the new years posts appearing (or resurfacing, as I'm getting through my unread items) in my reader. The fact that I've gone from having The Project continually hanging over me to having virtually no obligations also gives me the time to think about such things, and the fact that I'm in the process of moving into my first "professional" (i.e. non-student) flat gives me food for thought. I almost feel ready to draft a new list for Before 24!
Instead I think I'll write down some of my swirly thoughts here, loosely grouped by theme.

Purpose - I'm quite at ease with having no particular feelings about what I want to do with my life. I could angst away about not having a passion but in the end that won't help me find one. Now at least I feel like the world is my oyster and I'm in the enviable position of being able to do just about anything (so long as it doesn't require a degree I haven't done...). I think I'd like to be kept busy. I don't want to be ridiculously loaded and drink moet in a diamond jacuzzi or anything, but I would like to be comfortable and to be able to afford to do the things I like. My plan is to find something to try, temping seems like a decent option for the immediate future and for seeing how I get on with things. Generally I think writing down what I want to do is a good first step to doing it, especially since my mind tends to be a bit all over the place.

People - Write to them! See them! Enjoy their company! Be good to them! I count myself lucky to not have the sort of anxieties that might stop me from getting in contact with people simply because I haven't done in a while. One can always start up again, there's no rule that says it has to be strange or awkward or that you have to force it if it is. Before Christmas I sent Christmas cards to a few people I hadn't spoken to in a while and got very positive responses which was lovely. I want to write to my cousins too, now that my Granny is gone I'm sure we're all getting significantly fewer letters and I'd like to be closer to them all. My Granny was a great letter-writer and had friends all over the place, including one who she'd met once as a young child on a visit to New Zealand and kept in touch with until she died at the age of eighty. She really was such an inspiration.
Also on this theme I'd like to make sure I'm on top of present buying/making. It's less stressful for me to be prepared and, more importantly, it means people get better presents. I tend to have the best ideas for thoughtful presents at completely the wrong times of year so I will try to either a) write them down or b) buy/prepare them early. It won't cost me much but I know how lovely it is to receive a really good present as my Mum is so good at them.

Things - Downsize. I've really come round recently to the idea of having fewer things. Going through all my possessions has made me realise how much I have that I don't use simply because I have so much that I never get to it. I'd really like to cut down and appreciate and use what I have. I think that my life would actually be fuller for being emptier of stuff. I was  very (and still am somewhat) sentimental and had a terribly hard time throwing things away when I was younger. Coming back home after university has given me some separation from the little girl who is horrified by the thought of throwing things away and stashes everything and I've got rid of a lot of things. There was a lot that was obvious junk or too old or broken or that I'd never use again and now I'm on to the more difficult part - trying to see through more recent attachments to recognise things that I ought to get rid of. I really like the idea of optimising what I have so that everything in my wardrobe, in my bookcase, in my jewellery box, is something that I really love and would miss if it weren't there. Today for example I moved on a top I used to wear all the time which is now too small, and a cardigan I loved that I must admit is too tight to go over anything, bobbly all over, and made of sweaty acrylic.
I love my things, but I know I'd love them more if they were more carefully curated.

Doing - I'm glad I included watching films, reading books, and visiting places in my 25 Before 23 list as it reminded me that I really do like doing these things! I'd also like to go to more local events like Ignite, Girl Geek Dinners, and evenings at The Cube, and to go to gigs. I'm also intending to go to the Café Kino Stitch 'n' Bitch next time I can. The Bristol Flickrmeets have been a bit sparse lately because of group politics but I'd like to get back into that and also to make the most of my last year of Photosoc membership. The Boy and I were given National Trust memberships by his parents again and now that we both have weekends we should be able to make the most of it (public transport / car hire prices permitting). I'm sure I've forgotten other things but there's plenty to start with there.
Soon I'll have my own kitchen and be freed from the restrictions of cooking for my family, so probably my inspiration will immediately dry up and I'll live off soup and bread. I'll try not to though. I want to continue my ploy of making sure I always have lettuce, cucumber & tomatoes and thereby making salad my default option. It might be tricking myself into eating healthily but at least it works! I'm also excited about living closer to Gloucester Road and it's greengrocers, proper butcher, bakery, and asian food shops. I'm sure I won't be living an idyllic wicker-basket-toting lifestyle but I'll make an effort to go and buy my food there when I can.

Making - I've been crocheting up a storm recently (a little secretively as there's a present in the works) and I know that I like to have a project on the go, so I'd like to earmark various bits from my newly-reorganised stash for various things and have a next project lined up after I finish each one. I reckon I'm more likely to finish projects I've thought through and got excited about. My re-organisation involved the ripping back of a few dead-end knitted things and the discovery of possible moth symptoms, so currently everything is residing in the freezer and a box of ziploc bags is waiting to take on moth-protection duty.
I'd also like to have an on-the-go sketchbook so I can give myself time-out to be creative - I really enjoyed my art therapy sessions and valued the headspace it gave me in the midst of busy university life. Alongside this I've got heaps of accumulated stuff to arrange into scrapbooks - I'm in danger of turning this into a terrible chore in my mind. Hopefully the increase in floorspace in my new flat will give me the chance to get it all out and sort it into categories or time periods as currently it spans ages two to twenty-two and is housed in shoeboxes.

Phew. I'm not making any resolutions as I have my list, and I don't want to set myself up for failure. I know my lifestyle is going to be all over the place for a while before it settles down and acquiring a job will obviously severely limit the time I have for other things but I'm glad I've written down my good intentions. Hopefully I'll remember to refer back to them when I'm wondering what to do with myself!
How do you fare at making & keeping resolutions? Do you find that writing things down helps? Any other tips/tricks?

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Coffee & Revision

Stokes Croft . Tea Chips

...looks a bit like this at Café Kino.
All these are Pentax ME Super camera + Rollei RPX 100 film and date from August 2011 - one of my 25 Before 23 items is to clear my Flickr uploading backlog.

Saturday, 5 January 2013

25 Before 23 - January Update

Wicken Fen, Cambridgeshire

I've finally got the project out of the way, after staying up so late it became early working solidly to get it finished and getting two hours sleep. I took a train up to Bristol to print it and hand it in but ran into print credit problems (credit balance wasn't showing, extra credit I'd bought the day before just in case didn't go through, machine wouldn't take my coins) and ended up getting it printed, bound and posted to the department by Mailboxes Etc. It definitely cost more than it would have otherwise but making it go away was definitely worth it.
After all that stress and with a couple of hours before my booked train to Bedford, my shoe fell apart. Luckily I was carrying another pair so I was able to change them and dump the broken pair in a bin, but it felt almost farcical given the day I was having and my tiredness level! I treated myself to a hot chocolate and a bus to the station and got my train with plenty of time to spare.
As I was on the way to stay with him, I spent the journey trying to finish crocheting the boy's christmas present. I didn't manage it as I was just not awake enough for speed crochet but I finished it over the next few days staying at his parents' house.
We visited Bletchley Park, Stowe Landscape Garden, Wicken Fen, and St Albans, as well as spending new year's eve in Cambridge with friends, scrabble, excellent stilton, vesper martinis, and party poppers in a pub at midnight. Over the week Boy and I did plenty of relaxing, talking to a visiting cat, playing Carcassonne, and eating his parents out of cheese and returned to Bristol fairly well rested and probably rather fatter.
Yesterday I saw my old flatmate L, bought a few things for the flat, put together a chair, and sort of helped S construct some of her enormous Ikea delivery. Now I'm back home with my parents thinking about what's next and facing the mess that is my bedroom.

25 Things

  1. Finish my final project - done and submitted for 03.01.'13. was stressful but I threw money at Mailboxes Etc and they made it go away! Had confirmation from department & marking will happen soonish.
  2. Get a job - Hoping to hear back from one, need to apply for more. I dislike writing cover letters.
  3. Move to Bristol - Moving in slowly, need to acquire a bed! Boy's parents generously gave me some dining chairs and he's lent me his record player as he has nowhere to put it :)
  4. Sew a dress - Simplicity 2451 skirt still needs seams finishing,would pinking shears do?
  5. Make 10 of my recipe bookmarks / pins
  6. Send parcels to far-away friends - Scarf to send is now my main crochet project
  7. Go to Southwold at least once
  8. Get rid of my Flickr backlog - in chronological order. Currently: film - September '11, digital - April '12
  9. Get a grip on my finances - Need to develop a management system - something I can do regularly to keep an eye on everything.
  10. Sell my eBay pile, swap my swap pile - It's still sitting, staring at me & taking up floorspace. I've warmed to the idea of cleaning out and optimising what I own so there may be further culling of clothes.
  11. Mend & alter my mending & altering piles - Now I have some time to do this :)
  12. Read a newspaper regularly - ditto
  13. Weekend away by train - I want more!
  14. Buy good shoes - Bought new walking boots and lovely smart Hush Puppies in MK. Boots would be nice but I'm not holding my breath, the combination of big wide foot and large calf makes finding them very hard
  15. Crochet 3 items from stashed wool - 1/3 Made S's little green cat, working on a scarf
  16. Get a new phone
  17. Read 3 good/classic books
  18. Print more photos - Printed some for gifts, need to start a "to print" folder
  19. Watch 3 good/classic films
  20. Exercise regularly
  21. Scrapbook - Bought PVA, earmarked old diaries for scrapbooking. Made some cards from old calendars
  22. Have a picnic - Possible housewarming? Not going to count sneakily eating homemade sandwiches in the corner of the café at Bletchley Park!
  23. Visit a city farm - S is pining for fluffy animals so I said I'd take her
  24. Visit my sister at university - Need to get plotting
  25. Cycle from Bristol to Bath - need to buy a helmet, still
I've been enjoying reading people's new year's resolutions (or reasons why they're not making any) and it's given me plenty of food for thought, especially about the future of this project which I sort of regard as my version. It's nice to see some of the principles I used to make my list being validated, and to find new angles on the idea of resolution-setting/goal-making.
I hope everyone has had a relaxing and peaceful Christmas and new year and is feeling positive about 2013 :)