How has your crafting December been? Did you have a chance to sit down with a favourite creative activity? I did although not as much as I would have liked. I started knitting a scarf in to replace all the ones I have lost over the past three years. I am probably about 2/3s there. Knitting can be done in a small space. With the extension finished, I took the first opportunity - Boxing Day - to sandwich Sam's quilt the way I like sandwiching my quilts: Stick the backing on the floor with masking tape, smooth the batting over it and finally, layer the quilt top over both. I use curved safety pins to hold the layers together, starting in the middle and working my way out slowly, making sure all is smooth and flat. I think mine are a bit blunt. Then I trim the back and batting to a manageable size (I always start of with a slightly larger size for those). Ever since Boxing Day I have been sitting with the quilt top on my lap, stitching away. There is something comforting and soothing about hand stitching that I cannot explain. It is a repetitive and simple task but tremendously relaxing.
I recently bookmarked Florence's review about hand stitching needles for English paper piecing, you can find it here. I was intrigued, having never thought about needles much before. I used the first quilting needle that came into my hands, a Clover size nine gold eye quilting needle. I really liked them for my last quilt but with this new quilt, it is a tad more strenuous to push the needles through the fabric and I get pins and needles in my hand quite quickly. I thought it was worth the effort to test some other needles. I ordered a selection of John James needles. I had never heard of this company but the selection of needles on their website is mind boggling. There is a needle for any purpose you can imagine. I tried milliner needles in the sizes 9 and 10 first because I thought I might like slightly longer needles more. I don't, I realise now that there is a reason for quilting needles to be very short. Then I tried the quilting needles in sizes 9 and 10. I prefer the size 10. These are teeny tiny but easier to thread than the Clover needles, which I cannot thread without a little threading tool. They easily slide through the fabric layers but they are a bit less rounded at the thread end and I have pushed them into my thumb a couple of times, which is painful. The needle testing was an interesting exercise but I am not sure if could tell the candidates apart in a blind test so it is probably not worth worrying about. Prices are comparable. I can be quite generous with replacing slightly blunt needles now because I have so many.
I have been thinking about my 2016 making year. Most of my maker's energy was spent on sewing, I made one and half quilts and I made several tops for myself. I also took a fitting class to learn more about my body and how to fit garments to its lumps and bumps. Previously a prolific knitter, I have knitted very little last year: I have a half finished top and a scarf in my project bag but progress is slow. Crochet is never going to be my great love but I started a crochet blanket in the summer, which has been confined to a dark corner because the sheer sight of it makes me yawn. Its fate is still undecided but I am not optimistic. I dabbled quite a lot in soap making and moved from simple plain soaps to rather pretty ones. I enjoyed that.
Despite all these projects, I have not made anything that truly challenged my skills. I am almost always tired, too tired to challenge myself. I'll be able to reduce my working hours to 0.8 FTE in March so maybe things will look up. Until then I hope to finish my knitting projects and Sam's quilt and I'll keep on ignoring the ironing. A wise woman has to prioritise what matters :-)
I have no firm plans, just some ideas for this year. For myself, I want to make a dress for the summer and maybe a pair of shorts. Shorts are not very flattering when you have my body but maybe fitted ones will look ok. Must remember to remove the winter fur before modelling. I really would like to make a yellow 1960s winter coat with a Peter Pan collar. I also fancy making a classic button down shirt, which would be a real challenge for me. I have some funky knit fabric which I hope to turn into t-shirts for James and Alistair and I would like to make Annie a couple of t-shirts, too. She is really tall and needs women's clothes but still has a young taste. I can help out I think. I want to knit a Hitofude cardigan and also a Boreal jumper, or maybe a Mailin jumper. The latter two would be ideal for camping. I sat too close to the camp fire last September and have no leftover yarn to fix the damage in my current camping jumper. I thought of designing a new sock pattern but socks bore me at the moment so I probably won't. I want to make some really twirly soaps, too. And of course I have Annie's quilt to make.... It is going to be a busy year! I'll probably roll my eyes in wonder when I next think about this paragraph.
I have linked this post with Jennifer's Winter Project Link Party. Thanks Jennifer for hosting this linkup, it it always really inspiring to see what other people make. Jennifer is working on some beautiful classic granny squares. Be sure to stop by and admire all the projects linked!
Thanks for stopping by and saying hello. xx