December was a strange month for me. I was feeling super optimistic when I started drafting my review blog post. I had just got my new job and my life seemed to be on an upswing. Then, out of nowhere, I managed to break another finger. It happened at quidditch training, but it was strange because nothing actually happened. I threw a ball and all of a sudden my pinkie was pointing in the wrong direction. I thought it was a dislocation so it came as an enormous shock when, after three hours in A&E, I was told that it was badly broken and had my whole forearm put into a cast. I guess I must have had an underlying hairline fracture.
Breaking my finger affected me psychologically as well as physically. Having no use of my dominant hand left me feeling pretty helpless as well as unable to do what I normally would if I was ill- knitting. I couldn’t even cook for myself. Fortunately I wasn’t too depressed and managed to keep myself occupied by going to the cinema and reading.
A few days after the injury, I had to have surgery and now I have two metal wires in my finger. Although I was lucky that I had my operation under local anaesthetic (most surgeons do the procedure under a general, and I felt dreadful when I had one a few years ago), it took a lot out of me. I took four days off work, the most time I’ve had off in years. All of the plans I’d made about managing my last three months at my current job went out of the window.
Anyway, I did have some time to think about projects during my extended recuperation.
Current WiPs are my Ripple bralette, cat cardigan and these gloves, which are very nearly finished. I have a trip to southern Africa coming up and I need a suitable project to work on while I’m away. I have two projects in mind, but both will be gifts so I won’t write any more about them for now.
I’m planning to move again once I have settled in my new job, and one of my priorities will be finding somewhere with a sewing space. I’ve had several sewing projects cued up for some time. Hopefully this year I will manage to make my turquoise raincoat, at least one TC1617 blouse.
I’m also going to take my new job as an opportunity to slightly alter my weekday style and wardrobe. Since I’ll be in a more senior position, I think I’ll dress a little more formally. I’ve been planning for years to make a copy-cat version of my favourite pencil skirt, purchased secondhand a long time ago. I’ll use the Sew Over It ultimate pencil skirt as a starting point. I even have a remnant of nice navy blue wool ready to go.
If that works, I will also make a black version. I have a few shirts that don’t really work with navy blue (which is my main base colour). I even have quite a bit of magenta wool left over from my tulip skirt, which could also be pressed into use as a pencil skirt. While I wear the tulip skirt quite often, I’m actually not sure that the style really suits me.
While charity shopping a few months ago, I found a nice wool dress that was essentially a pencil skirt with a cropped boxy top layered over it. I didn’t buy it in the end because it was a bit too big, but I feel like it would be really cute to have a matching shirt for some of these putative pencil skirts. I love the shape of my short- sleeved Linden. I wonder how the raglan sleeve would work in a wool…
From my ramblings I’ve realised that I have the loose outline of nine items I’d like to make this year. I didn’t bother with a #2019makenine but I think I’ll do one this year to try and keep myself honest. I find making basics really boring so I have a bad habit of veering off and working on more fun projects. However, my basics get worn all the time so it’s time to buckle down.
It’s funny looking back on my review of 2018. While I haven’t actively thought about that blog post much, I have actually taken action in many of the areas I wrote about. In fact, I think this often happens to me- I reflect on something, then those thoughts slowly percolate in my everyday life and I make changes without even really noticing.
This year I slowly accepted how unhappy I was in my workplace. While I liked my colleagues and schools, I was generally unfulfilled and languishing in my career. I started putting feelers out and thinking about applying for a more senior position elsewhere. My confidence was knocked a bit when I didn’t get shortlisted for the first job I applied for. So it came as a bit of a shock when I did get an interview for the second job, and even more of a shock when I was appointed!
Fun fact: I realised on the morning of the interview that I must have donated my old navy jacket when I moved. So I wore the jacket I bought for my Joker costume.
Doing all the negotiation to change jobs proved super stressful, which is part of the reason why I have barely blogged in the past couple of months.
Another huge thing that has happened this year is finally embracing my natural hair texture. I cut all of my hair off in April and I’m so happy I finally took the plunge. One day I will write a full blog post about it.
Shall I mention craft now? As last year, my craft output has continued to decline. Part of the reason for that is practical- I don’t have a sewing space where I’m living at the moment. I finished sewing one dress in January, and that’s it for the year.
I do need to re-repair both of my pairs of jeans, so I plan to visit the Sew Over It sewing café soon. I will try and get a few repairs done but it may be a while before I have the opportunity to sew another garment.
Knitting-wise, I completed four projects. Three were gifts and the other is my Mermaid Humboldt sweater, of which I am very proud.
I’m proud to say that my purchasing has taken a huge downturn as well. This year I have bought three items of clothing new- a bikini, a cotton wrap and a summer dress. To be honest, I regret buying all three. I didn’t really need them and they were impulse buys. While I am comfortable with adding things to my life in a mindful way, this is not what I did with those items. It’s not something I’m going to beat myself up about, but I do want to keep learning and working towards living in the most sustainable way I can.
It doesn’t help that my craft time has been so significantly curtailed. Aside from the stress of changing jobs, I took on a trainee in September so my role was busier than usual anyway. In fact, I bought a skirt (secondhand of course) that didn’t fit properly and I took the decision to get it altered by a tailor rather than attempting to do it myself. Since I have such limited time, I really need to allocate those resources carefully. Deciding to outsource a tricky alteration means that I can use that time to do something else. It’s so funny to notice the change in the relative importance of time and money over time. I am in the privileged position of being able to choose to pay others to do some tasks for me, and I am so grateful for that.
This leads conveniently into sustainability, the other area in which I have taken significant action in my life this year. While I’m still more plant-based than fully vegan, I am proud to say that I have not cooked any meat in 2019. I’m not sure whether I feel the need to be a strict vegan or not. I like to have a bit of flexibility in my life in general, and give myself the freedom to choose non-vegan options occasionally. At the same time, sometimes I feel bad when I cave in, or at least I don’t enjoy the food as much as I would have thought. I guess this is just something for me to continue to explore and reflect on in the coming months and years.
The international feminist craft swap is done and dusted! I have to say it was such a lovely experience for my first ‘proper’ craft swap.
I knitted my second Funkopop pussy hat. As I mentioned in my last post, the colourway is also called pussy hat. Here it is being modelled. I believe that Deidre is planning to customise this pop, so I’m really looking forward to seeing how she turns out. I didn’t even know that people customised pops because I am super behind the times as always.
Now we come to the really exciting part- my fabulous quilted items.
I think the Serena-inspired pillowcase came out beautifully. I haven’t purchased a pad for it yet- partly because I feel it’s too lovely to use. I really can’t wait until the day I have my own house so that it can take pride of place in my favourite crafting swap.
Deidre also surprised me with a bonus gift- the cute mug rugs emblazoned with the sentiment create the things you wish existed; create the world you wish existed. I will certainly try my best to do my small part in fulfilling that mantra.
You can check out more of Deidre’s amazing quilting over on her blog. I look forward to continuing our relationship through our blogs. This swap has reminded me of the amazing side of the internet, in opposition to the more scary and disturbing side.
I’ve been quite paranoid about my bike being stolen and my fears were partially realised when I returned to my bike one morning to find my waterproof seat cover gone.
The person must have really wanted it, since it was tethered to my bike seat. It hadn’t really occurred to me that someone would bother to take it. I was actually rocking a double seat cover situation. When I bought my bike secondhand around eight years ago, I was given a seat cover. The thief left the old one in the gutter.
To be fair, I can kind of see why.
Since it is now my only seat cover, I decided to give it some TLC. I like buying patches but I never know where to sew them. I used them to cover up some of the biggest holes.
I just hand-stitched them on.
The whole area at the bottom that encases the elastic is quite badly worn. I considered undoing it and appliqueing some ribbon over the top, but in the end that seemed too much work given that my sewing machine is still in a box following my house move. It doesn’t seem worth spending ages repairing an object I don’t really like all that much.
I think what I’ll do is wait until the brown part is beyond repair and then look into covering up the top (checked) part and replacing the whole brown section with some new fabric. I always hated the colour of this seat cover- brown is not my thing- but put up with it due to laziness/inertia.
To be honest, what is most likely is that I will buy a new seat cover next time I am in a bike-friendly city. I have so little crafting time and I want to dedicate it to passion projects.
However, it is nice to display some of my patches. The non-quidditch ones I picked up from a market in India. However, I really should stop buying patches because I still have quite a few for which I have no immediate use.
Last week I received a really exciting comment on the post I wrote about making a pussy hat for a Funko pop. I was inspired to write up a quick pattern when someone on Instagram told me that they made a hat for one of her own Funkos after seeing mine. Deidre, the commenter, didn’t feel her skills were up to making the hat herself, so she reached out to see if I would be willing to make one for her. Once I saw her amazing quilts, I was completely sold on the idea of a craft swap.
My half of the swap was knitting up a hat. I used this yarn I purchased from Ysolda a few years ago. I just noticed the label says Belyse kit, which is a pattern for some fair isle fingerless mitts. I have a feeling that the kit didn’t come with the pattern and I didn’t fancy paying for it separately, so the kit has been in my stash for a while. Since I bought the kit purely because Ysolda named the colourway pussy hat, this project feels as if it was meant to be.
I wound the yarn and cast on.
I quickly realised that this hat seemed smaller than my original. I used the same needles, so I wondered if I’d become a tighter knitter, or if the original hat had stretched after years of being on Arya Stark’s large bonce. I counted the stitches on my original hat and realised that I made a mistake in the cast-on numbers in my pattern.
My second version of the hat seems a better size.
Although the pussy hat moment feels like it has passed**, I’m considering trying to write this pattern up properly. Although I have technically published a couple of patterns on Ravelry, I don’t consider them ‘real’ patterns as opposed to glorified blog posts. Maybe I could test the water by writing up an easy pattern in a more formal way.
Deidre offered to make me a small quilted item in exchange for the hat. I love quilting and it’s something I’d like to get into one day. To keep with the feminist theme, I asked for a cushion cover inspired by my female icon, Serena Williams. She came up with these three lovely designs for me.
I went with design three. I’m so excited to see what the finished
Pattern: Funko pop pussy hat
Yarn: Ysolda Blend no. 1
**Update: I wrote that last sentence last week, without really thinking. Today it occurred to me how topical it feels to have scheduled this post on the day that Boris Johnson takes office as prime minister. This is a huge blow for people who want to remain in Europe and for the left-wing in the UK in general.
I work for local government and I’m scared that another five years of conservative leadership will have irreversible negative effects on our society. It feels really important to be clear about my feminist and anti-racist views at a time when it feels like some of the freedoms we have come to enjoy are at risk.
I finished knitting the modified spindrift shawl I’m making for my aunt with the yarn I picked up at Countess Ablaze when I was in Manchester last year. I decided to omit the eyelet rows because I didn’t want the shawl to look busy. I think the yarn speaks for itself. However, it did mean that knitting it was unbelievably boring. I just don’t like knitting stocking stitch flat, but I do really like the way that it looks.
I took these pictures when I was at Hampton Court Palace for my embroidery workshop.
I ended up doing quite a few rows of garter stitch for the border since I had quite a bit of yarn left. I didn’t want to risk running out of yarn but I needn’t have worried. I actually finished the knitting and cut the yarn in Finland, before realising that I didn’t have a darning needle with me for the sewn bind-off.
I have no recollection of how I did it the last time. I’m fairly sure I used this technique on my Bad Day shawl, since I got the idea from looking back at the boneyard shawl pattern. I used this technique. It took HOURS.
Anyway, I hope that my aunt will appreciate this gift and get a lot of use out of it.
Pattern: Spindrift shawl (modified)
Yarn: Viscount of Spark by Countess Ablaze in Bienvenue