I have to move house again at the beginning of July and I am finally confronting the fact that I own way too much stuff. I am trying to de-clutter in the most brutal way possible. I am tired of having to move this stuff around with me. I have been trying to follow some broad green principles that I’ve picked up from various Instagrammers during this declutter. I know that the whole ‘sparking joy’ thing has become a bit of a meme, but honestly I think it’s a good baseline for deciding whether something is worthy of space in ones life.
I am dividing the things I no longer need into what can be given away to people I know, sold, given to charity or discarded altogether. This requires me to balance different priorities. I have some things that I have been hanging on to because I don’t want to waste them. For example, I have a bag of old t-shirts that I might one day turn into jersey yarn. I am aware that sending old clothing to charity shops isn’t necessary the green solution we would like it to be; apparently some companies still send a lot of items to landfill, while on a broader level second-hand clothing has damaged the textiles industries in some developing nations. On the other hand, I don’t really want to take a bag of t-shirts (which I have already elected to discard) to my new house.
When selling items, I have to balance whether it will be worth the time and effort required. Selling is better from an environmental perspective because you know that the item is going where it is needed or wanted. However, photographing, listing (and often re-listing) and posting items is very time-consuming. In a lot of cases, I have donated saleable items because I am happy for the charity to take on the burden of selling them.
Some of the declutter has been great fun. I decided to donate (pretty much) all of the books that I have read. I posted some stories on Instagram and asked if anyone would like to take the books off my hands. I had a great response and it feels great to be sharing my books with friends. The rest were donated. I buy the vast majority of my books second-hand so I’m glad to be adding titles that aren’t old Dan Brown novels and copies of Fifty Shades of Grey to the shelves of charity shops in the local area.
One of the more brutal decisions I made (that I’m proud of) was to get rid of my old guide books. I have hung on to many of them for years as souvenirs of my travels, but it’s time to let them go now. I am old-fashioned enough to still like physical guidebooks, but it seems unnecessary to hang on to them as they become increasingly out-of-date.
So far I’ve got rid of a couple of big boxes and several bags of items. I plan to list the items above for sale soon. I also need to decide how and where to sell some larger items, including the stand mixer I won several years ago and my saxophone.
Decided to make a little post about this toy clanger, that I never finished knitting, in case it helps anyone else considering using this pattern. Overall I think the pattern is good and would produce a lovely finished item. Here is the Ravelry project page if you would like more information about the pattern etc.
I got quite a way into making this toy a good few years ago. I think I originally started it because my boyfriend at the time liked the Clangers. We split up about ten years ago now so I’m not sure that’s right. But I do know that I’ve been carrying this WiP around for a long time.
I think I got stuck on the pattern because I was a relatively inexperienced knitter at the time. I always thought I would finish it one day, hence bringing it with me on several house moves.
I had a moth problem in one of my previous houses and I’m sure that I froze this project to kill the larvae. However, when I picked it up again recently, I realised that both the yarn and the knitting had quite bad damage and evidence of infestation. I initially planned to keep what yarn I could salvage before realising- if I haven’t finished a project in a decade, when am I going to get to it? Even if I did finish it, do I actually have any need or want for the finished item?
I finally threw poor half-finished clanger the bin. I will now need to freeze the basket it was stored in as well as my mermaid Humboldt sweater, both of which were in the vicinity of the infestation.
Discarding the clanger is part of a wider attempt I’m making to de-clutter. My mother and aunt, probably the biggest female influences in my family, are enormous hoarders. While I felt that I have done my best to avoid following in their footsteps, I can’t deny that I own a lot of stuff (edit: I have denied this many times but I have now accepted the fact). Way more stuff, in fact, than it is reasonable for someone who does not own property to have. Moving the stuff between rental properties every couple years (an unfortunate but necessary part of living in London without familial wealth) is an enormous burden, both literally and metaphorically.
I have set myself a target of getting rid of half my stuff. Basically I am the Thanos of my own possessions. I’m not quite sure how I will actually quantify whether it was actually half, but I will know in myself if I have met my target. I will probably write a separate blog post about the de-clutter, but I will say that the project reflects an attempt in my life to get rid of things that no longer serve me. My relaxed hair, my burdensome possessions, and hopefully some psychological habits too. To the left, to the left.
I was just checking over my scheduled posts when I noticed that I have published 499 blog posts. I don’t know why I never get notifications about WordPress about milestones, but 500 posts seemed like kind of a big deal.
I’ve been blogging for nearly seven years now. The landscape around online presentation has changed a lot in that time. I think I started out when blogging was at its zenith, whereas now it has declined in favour of (mostly) Instagram. While I love Instagram an unhealthy amount, this blog gives me something different. I like the way that the long form lets me keep notes on my previous projects, as well as reflect on what the crafts I am focusing on tell me about the priorities in my life.
I have heard that it’s better to keep your blog to a specific area, but I’ve always wanted mine to reflect my life. I like the way that it demonstrates how my passions and pursuits have developed over the years. I used to have a heavy baking and cake decorating emphasis (indeed, I initially called my blog ‘crafty little baker’). I would never have envisaged that, half a decade later, I would have gone vegan and become so interested in sustainability.
It’s also nice to be reminded of how far I have come as a maker over the years. My knowledge and skill in knitting has increased steadily over the years and my sewing is coming along really nicely. If you’re wondering whether I’m exaggerating how much things have changed, feel free to check out the first knit and first sewn garment I posted about.
My output has declined a little over the years, which I’m happy about. In part, this is due to my increased focus on taking the time to make a few high-quality items rather than bashing things out that I may or may not be satisfied with. In fact I made a cheeky graph to show how my knitting output has changed over the years.
As I’ve said in my previous posts reflecting on the blog, it’s great to have a record of the things I have made over the years, especially since I make quite a few gifts, or upcycle previous makes into new ones. Who knows whether this blog will make it to ten years or 1,000 posts, but I will continue it until it is no longer a net positive in my life.
I decided to sit down and reflect on the year since my last attempt turned into a post about future intentions. 2018 has been very much a mixed bag for me. Work has been mostly very challenging and I need to put some serious time into considering the next steps in my career. It’s hard for me because my mother really hammered into me the belief that a woman must have her own source of income. I have worked really hard to have a decent job that pays quite well. Although one of my core beliefs is about the importance of excellent universal free education- it was the route to independence from dangerous families for both my mother and me- this job is simply not my passion. While I don’t mind doing it, I’m not excited to get out of bed on weekdays. What does get me excited is the things I write about here- making things and reducing my impact on our one and only planet.
It’s been a funny year in my craft life. My output has decreased every year, but I really see this as a positive. I want to focus my time on making a small number of items that are of the highest quality I can achieve, that meet the demands of my everyday life, and that last.
This year I sewed seven items. They are also a mixed bag and as follows:
The two Lark tees… meh. I have definitely learnt to stop buying jersey online. There are big variations in quality and that is the main issue with both of these tops. The cloud version does get worn sometimes but the black one is in the big bag of items I have that will one day be cut up into t-shirt yarn.
The Lindens… also meh. I love the look of the boat Linden but unfortunately the discrepancy between the weights of the fabrics did tell and the neckline has started to pucker. However, it has reminded me of how much I love pattern- and colour-blocking so I imagine there will be more of that in my future. The other Linden is nice enough, but just a bit boring. I don’t wear it much.
The olive blouse I was so proud of making does get worn, but I want to replace it with something better. The mistakes I made- especially sewing the neckline facing wrong and making a hole in the button band- mean that this is not going to be a garment that lasts for years. It was intended as a wearable toile, so I guess it served its purpose. While I really like the sleeveless blouse I made, I am very annoyed with myself for using cotton even though I know that I don’t like cotton tops.
The biggest win of the year was my corduroy trousers. Which is quite funny because it took me so damned long to make them. I guess it’s a reminder that projects that aren’t much fun to make can be great fun to wear. I adore these trousers.
So I guess that one of the main takeaways of the year has been to be super mindful about my fabric choices. I am very happy with my choice to state the costs associated with every make. It’s helpful for me to be clear about what I spend on craft. I wonder if it’s also interesting for non-crafters (though I’m not sure how many still read since Facebook links stopped working). People have definitely commented on how ‘frugal’ I must be since I make my own clothes. Of course they wouldn’t say that if they knew that my handmade coat cost over 600!
Especially when fabric comes out of stash, it’s easy to see it as ‘free.’ But of course, it isn’t. I believe someone has started a hashtag wherein she documents all the time it takes to make things too. I think that’s an interesting concept but I’m not sure if it would work for me. For sewing, yes. But knitting is generally something I do during ‘dead’ time such as travelling and watching TV. It would be logistically challenging to document.
I have spent time both on larger-scale alteration projects- such as unravelling two unworn jumpers to make a new one– and small-scale repairs that extend the lifespan of clothes I love. I have also made a few things in my zero waste journey, like my produce bags and dishcloths.
I have only finished one major knitting project this year- the sweater that took ten months to make. Again, I am happy to take more time to make better items rather than churning out loads of things of which I’m not that fond.
It’s been a good year for me physically. I only ended up achieving one of my three fitness goals, mainly due to breaking my finger. However, I know that I am stronger, faster, and better able to endure than ever before. I keep wondering when I will reach my fitness ceiling. However, my body continues to amaze me with the things I am able to do. This year I ran my first 10k.
Some of my fitness goals
- Lift over 100kg in lower body compound lifts
- Lift over 50kg in upper body compound lifts
- Unsupported handstand
- 5 pull-ups
- Enter at least two more races, aiming for sub-25 5k and sub-50 10k
Finally, I started bullet journalling this year. I like the way I have been able to record some aspects of my day-to-day life. However, I have really struggled with the planning/future logging aspect, which is actually what would be more useful for me. I was also hoping that the bujo would be a creative space, but I haven’t realised this wish.
I was looking back on some of my very oldest blog posts recently and I remembered how much I used to love making cards. I haven’t made a card in years, though I suppose I have also largely stopped giving cards. My craft life has exploded but this has been at the cost of my more artistic side. When I was at school, I spent hours and hours every week drawing and painting (I did art and graphics GCSEs).
It’s tough because there are only so many hours a day. I already work full-time, undergo psychoanalysis, play quidditch, go to the gym, knit and sew my own clothes, cook almost everything I eat, live a low-impact lifestyle, travel as much as I can and maintain a blog! That’s not even to mention socialising, life admin and rest/self-care.
However, as my weekly screen time reports attest, I do somehow manage to spend hours a day on my phone. I want to use the hours I have well.
I started out thinking that this post would be a review of 2018. Perhaps I will write that post elsewhere, but as I thought about what I have sewn this year, I found myself reflecting more on what I hadn’t sewn.
I would like to make 2019 my first official year of mindful making. I have loads of projects that I would love to make (and, importantly, I have all the resources) but they continually get bumped down the queue when something shiny catches my eye. One of my intentions for next year is to unsubscribe from all fabric shop mailing lists because I am a weak human being and when I see beautiful fabric I can’t resist buying it.
1. Kelly anorak
2. Pencil skirt wearable toile
3. Day dress
4. Monstera shirt
These are all garments that would fill very real gaps in my wardrobe if I would only sit down and actually make them.
While I have enjoyed taking part in the ‘make nine’ challenge for the past two years (2017, 2018), I will certainly be letting go of the aspiration to make an arbitrary number of items.
Something else I will be reflecting upon is the idea of ‘using up’ stash, i.e. king things with the primary aim of ‘getting rid of’ fabric or yarn I already own. While I think it’s important to use what you have before buying more, it is also important to use the right equipment for the job. I know all too well that a poor fabric choice is often the reason for a garment going unloved. Therefore my focus will be on using materials that will give the best chance of a great final product. Where I have stash (which fortunately has always been something I have generally avoided), I will simply accept that the item is in my life and wait for the right time to use it.
As examples, I have been planning to make a shirt with some of my Liberty fabric for a while. This would ‘get rid of’ some of the tana lawn I bought a few years ago in one of their sales. However, most of the shirts I love wearing are made from drapey fabrics like silk or viscose. If I make a cotton shirt, I’m not sure I will wear it as much as I would like. So I will now take some more time before deciding what kind of shirt I would like to make.
Similarly, I had planned to ‘use up’ the sweetie-print fabric I bought in that same sale as the lining for my Kelly anorak. The two fabrics don’t go that well together but it’s a way to ‘get rid of’ something I don’t have an immediate use for. After a re-think, I have decided to use whichever cotton I like best as the lining. The RTW raincoat that they Kelly will replace has been in my wardrobe for well over seven years. I want to look fondly on my Kelly each time I wear it rather than thinking that the lining isn’t quite right.
I’ll write a separate post about my knitting since this one is rather long already!
I have been using the same cheap(ish) watch for over four years now and last week the buckle broke. I don’t know if people are aware that Swatch offer free battery replacement for life on their products, but they also offer free replacement parts.
Having my watch fixed took me on a bit of trip down memory lane. I can see why watch manufacturers get celebrities to wear their products. In at least half of the pictures there are of me, you can see my watch. In fact, the watch must have the lowest price per wear of anything I own!
I couldn’t even remember the original of the thingy that holds the end of the watch strap down- you can just about see in the above pic that it was light blue.
I feel like the Swatch is a product that is at the same time disposable and sustainable. I think it’s wonderful that such a big company does something so simple yet revolutionary as offering free replacement parts.
At the same time, the man in the shop commented on the age of my watch when I took it in. I guess that reveals how few people take their watches back there. There is no inherent reason a plastic watch shouldn’t last for years. But I imagine that the relatively low price point encourages the idea of getting a new one quite often.
I myself look at the Swatches every time I am at the airport and have nearly replaced my model several times. In fact, I even bought a new Swatch two years ago only to have to return it.
Before I thought to ask if the Swatch shop had free parts, I had compared the models available online and chosen a replacement. It was quite hard to walk away from the watch I’d chosen to buy. While my current watch will eventually fall apart, I really don’t need a new one. But I would quite like one.
I commented in a previous post about how I naively used to deny the impact that capitalism and fast fashion have had on the way I think. I’m glad that I this is something I’m becoming more aware of.
Almost a year to the day after my thumb sprain, I have managed to break my left ring finger.
I broke it in the semi-final of Southern Cup and I have to say that I have very few regrets.
This injury has been a reminder of the importance of context. Had we lost the bronze medal match, I would probably be devastated and depressed about the finger. But since I broke it in the service of my beloved team finally achieving a podium finish (something we’ve been working towards for the whole three years I have been playing), it feels worth it.
That being said, I do have to accept some new limitations now that I only have eight fully functional fingers (the broken finger is buddy taped, which means I basically have one massive finger that I can’t bend). I haven’t been to the fracture clinic yet so I’m not sure how long my finger is likely to take to heal, but at the moment I’m estimating a month. I’m trying hard to eat well and rest to give my body the best chance to heal quickly.