WIP #blogjune

Yesterday’s maker space post drew some interest from craft fans, particularly regarding what I was making…

It’s the back of a circular cushion cover, and this is the front.
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The insert of the cushion is one which had been sitting on Miss BG’s bed for some time, featuring members of a popular boy band. Miss BG’s fondness for One Direction has waned (cue sigh of relief), and an idea for a project presented itself. As the project also involved using up yarn from a previous project, it was a win win situation :).

I’ll be taking it with me on my next work trip, which is tomorrow!

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Being mindful- 2013 scorecard

At the start of 2013 I resolved instead of having specific goals, to be more mindful. This mindfulness was to take form in a variety of facets over the year

  • Watch what I eat, keeping track via an app on my tablet. But it also means, savoring and appreciating what I have, and trying not to multitask (read, check my phone, go on the PC) while I eat.

This one came in fits and starts. The monitoring of my food via tracking did fall by the wayside, but towards the middle of the year I invested in a fitbit to monitor my steps and calorie expenditure, and at the end of the year I had enrolled in the Michelle Bridges 12WBT program.

I have found this to be a great incentive for focusing on my food, trying out new recipes and being more accountable for what and how I eat. I will admit that since Christmas it has been a struggle , but I am exercising more and feel all the better for it. My kids have also been very supportive along the way, with Miss BG throwing herself enthusiastically into the role of personal trainer. I think it was just an excuse to get a whistle to blow :).

  • Spending less time in front of a PC mindlessly surfing and being constructive with my time at home and at work

Once again a fits and starts kinda thing. Admittedly working full-time on Ballarat has meant more time at home and more time with the family- also with everyone wanting the computer it can mean less time for me! I have had to be more constructive with my time, especially keeping on top of the dreaded laundry (which is never an easy feat in the depths of a Ballarat winter), and I haven’t been blogging as much.

  • Finishing what I start

There is a great sense of satisfaction in this task, and I think finishing off a couple of craft projects that had been hanging around for ages were one of the highlights of my year. I am currently halfway through knitting a cardigan, which is my only craft project on the go, rather than being one of a myriad of unfinished items. I have projects lined up to do, but I am determined to do one at a time.

However if you read the next item, I wasn’t always entirely successful. I also started a MOOC about the Hyperlinked Library and did not see it through. When I initially registered for this I hadn’t envisaged it would coincide with a job change and a move to full-time hours and it was a ball I had to drop. The lesson is to know what you can achieve and to be mindful of what to accept to do.

  • Reflecting on the day, by taking a photo a day #2013PAD and by extension, a photo of what makes me happy #365happy. So no matter how flat or craptastic I may feel, I will always have at least one thing to feel good about.

This exercise was a struggle for me, for a number of reasons. I would get to the end of a day and feeling flat and uninspired, would take photos of my home life. Home did indeed make me happy, but it felt I wasn’t spending enough time there! Commuting was taking a toll on my home life and I was finding no joy in work. Retreating to my online life wasn’t helping and after a while the pressure of documenting part of my day online and trying to be happy about it was too much and I stopped. I took photos when I felt like it, blogged when I felt like it and felt much better. I learned you can still reflect upon the day without sharing it with the entire world of Flickr or Instagram, and that it’s okay not to be happy every day.

  • Be mindful of where I shop, shopping at local supermarkets, butchers, and fruiterers rather than Coles or Woolworths.

I am lucky to be within walking distance of a local IGA and a good butcher. There is also a great fruit and veg shop in Ballarat and with the exception of a visit to a Woolworths in Leongatha and a visit to Coles around Easter, I didn’t visit these stores all year.

BUT I did visit Kmart, Target, Myer, Big W, Dan Murphy’s , Bunnings, all of which are owned by either Woolworths or Wesfarmers. The duopoly that exists with these two entities over nearly all aspects of our shopping is really scary, and it is something I really need to continue to be mindful of.

Christmas was also different this year. Instead of a mass of toys for the kids, they got

  • something to wear
  • something to read
  • something they want
  • something they need

They got presents from the rest of the family and there were also chocolates in their stocking, but it was different to last year.

We spent our first Christmas at home, and not on the road travelling from one family to another, and that was peaceful and relaxing. The kids loved the dinner, mainly because they could scoff all the miniature Yorkshire puddings they wanted!

Other things I did try to be mindful about were about what I read. I took part in the Australian  Women Writers Challenge for 2013 and once again immersed myself in excellent women’s fiction. I think though my favourite book for this year was Tracy Thorn’s autobiography, and she is English :). I have avoided using Amazon this year, and my local library, Readings and airport bookstores have been getting more of my custom!

On the whole it has been an interesting exercise and a great way to learn more about yourself. I am hoping that 2014 will bring more mindfulness in other ways as well!

My creative space ( or What’s in my bag)

I read and see a lot of beautiful photos on Pinterest and blogs about people’s creative space. They’re so wonderfully arranged and tidy (though I suspect there has been much tidying up beforehand :))!

It would be great to have, but with a cosy home and four people vying for space, it’s not really an option. So my creative space is a bag. This bag to be precise.

What's in my (craft bag)

It’s a bag Mr BG bought in Berlin in 2010 when we went to the inaugural Indie Pop Days Berlin, and it refers to the group who organised the  festival.

The black yarn is for Master BG who wants handwarmers for school. I made a bright pink pair for Miss BG from a pattern I found on Ravelry by Olivia Kent. The pattern said ‘one size fits all’, but my 5 yr old daughter has tiny hands and I found myself having to modify the pattern a little. It’s just in double crochet (or single crochet in US parlance), but I think it has worked well.

The other yarn is a granny square scarf, also for Miss BG. Once the squares are all done I will do a massive sewing in of all the ends (it’s the job I hate the most :)).

The beauty of this creative space is its portability. It comes with me on the train, to the couch where I can listen to the TV and glance up occasionally, and then gets packed away to the bedroom (or packed away to the dining room table).

I also did a What’s in my bag in 2010.

Bag Lady

Looking at that, I realise I STILL have that pattern and yarn for a scarf to do- another piece of unfinished business :).

Finished Business – The conundrum of the crocheted cardigan

Sunday crochet #happy365 #2013pad #unfinishedbusiness

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I had been making a cardigan for Miss BG, but it had been somewhat of a learning curve for me.

I was using a 4ply cotton yarn from Lincraft, called Amalfi. It is the most gorgeous colour, though the strands are not the easiest of yarns with which to work. The cardigan is worked with the back and fronts all the one piece, with a shoulder seam, and two sleeves.

Initially the tension was too loose, so I ended up starting over and switching to a smaller hook to get the tension correct.

I had nearly finished the body of the cardigan and measured it up against the little recipient. One little problem…she had grown, and it was only going to be worn a couple of times.

I was making this pattern in the largest possible configuration, and I could measure up my daughter and make it even larger. Another little problem… I only have enough of the yarn to do it in the current size and drumroll…the yarn has been discontinued by Lincraft, and my local store only had the yarn in a BLUE. Bugger.

A Ravelry member had some of the yarn for sale, but she never replied to my message. So I unravelled again and did it in a smaller size, exceedingly grateful that I have a little niece who will wear it one day :).

And hopefully that day is today, because I have finally finished it, after starting over two times. All ends are sewn in, the button has been affixed and I am off to Geelong today to present it to my sister. Another piece of unfinished business finished 🙂

Baby cardigan #happy365 #2013pad #unfinishedbusiness

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Finished business no 5- scarf

I had started knitting a scarf for myself, but I kept losing myself in the pattern, and after a while just gave up.

I decided to rip it out and instead of knitting a scarf for myself, I decided to crochet a scarf for Mr BG.

The yarn is Jo Sharp and the colours were green and grey, with similar tones that quite complemented each other.

I crocheted stripes, lengthwise, using double crochet and a 4mm hook. I would alternate the colours, sometimes doing a double row of a particular colour.

Scarf for Bart #finishedbusiness

The finished product is quite dapper. Mr BG likes it as it’s nice and long, and will keep him warm walking to work when the weather gets cooler.

In other unfinished business news, I also dropped off more of my yarn stash (the remainder stash of my blanket) to a local retirement home. It was part of my operation Clean Up My room which saw me fill a couple of bags of clothes, and tidy up my underwear drawers and remove books from beside my bed to somewhere more appropriate, like a bookshelf :). A good clean out is quite cathartic and makes me feel better.

Finishing the unfinished

Polyxena asked me about the projects I was determined to finish by the end of the year, and for the most part they were done

  • 1 amigurumi doll I have to sew up- DONE
  • 1 scrapbook of a week in the life from 2011- DONE
  • 1 crocheted cardigan for Miss BG that when finished, will not fit her – RIPPED OUT and restarted to fit my little niece
  • 2 crocheted bibs for my niece-DONE!
  • 1 crocheted washer- DONE!
  • 1 half finished cardigan for myself- I lost my count doing a sleeve-RIPPED OUT SLEEVE and restarted
  • 1 half finished scarf – RIPPED OUT and restarted
  • 1 granny square blanket which needs to be sewn together after I finish putting the final trim around the squares- DONE!
  • Several pieces of fabric begging to be made into dresses, skirts, capes for the kids.- I have started on a dress, and will have some spare time in a week or two for some serious sewing.

Along the way I also

  • Framed 7 prints and posters that we bought overseas

From where I live-in my yellow hallway! #fmsphotoaday

  • Made a fez for Master BG- my first attempt at millinery

Fezzes are cool #drwho #halloween #madeitmyself

In my year of Being Mindful I want to finish what I start. One thing I never started last year was a ripple blanket; I ended up donating the wool to a retirement village in Ballarat for residents to use to knit toys for disadvantaged children. One of the ladies had a knitting machine and ended up using the wool to make teddies!

knitted teddy bearsI have a few balls of yarn left over from my granny square blanket which will be making their way to them very soon :).

Finished Business No 4- Granny Square Blanket

When I first started crocheting, I was taught the granny stitch and when I began crocheting again, I practiced by making granny squares. Over and over again. I would do them on the train, do them while the kids were doing their swimming lessons, in combinations of navy, pale blue and white. I had a vague idea of putting them all together for a blanket.
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Then I decided they were a bit too bland and they needed a bit of extra colour, like a dash of red. So a bit of red was added, but then they languished beside my bed, mocking me for their incompletedness. The main reason? I hate the sewing in of the ends, and the sewing together was why I kept putting it off.
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With the end of the year looming, I was determined to finish it off once and for all. For pretty much all of Saturday and Sunday, I threaded, and looped, and snipped and tidied. And finished it!
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The kids love it, especially for snuggling under on the couch. I am in no real hurry to start another one, but I am glad it is no longer mocking me 🙂 . This was a large piece of unfinished business, which gives me the confidence to tackle the rest after a long break.