HAPPY NEW YEAR to all my lovely IG / Twitter / Flickr friends! You guys rock the most! :)

So, it’s 2013, eh? I have very mixed feelings about this new year, and the one that just passed, so I hope you don’t mind if I get a little semi-serious up in here, just for a day. I promise it won’t stick!

My gut reaction is to say ‘good riddance to 2012’ and do my best not to look back. I’ve had a bunch of years like that recently. But if I really think about it, I mostly come up with good things that happened in the last 12 months. I still have so far to go to be who and where I really want, but still, I have to contradict my gut on this one and admit that 2012 was a pretty good start.

– I made some damn awesome friends this year, online and in real life, and felt my existing friendships grow substantially. That rocks so hard for me, because I’d allowed myself to isolate myself a little too much in recent years.

– We opened a business! And another one! Ok, little tiny businesses, but I made things up with my brain (and co-made things up) and people paid for them! That still kind of blows my mind.

– Very much unlike this time last year, when I felt like a goofy duckling eavesdropping on the cool kids, I feel like I’m gradually becoming part of this awesome crafty community. I’m so lucky to hang out with such talented people.

– I joined the &Stitches blogging team and have been allowed to contribute to their wonderful stitchy ‘zine as well. I keep waiting for them to come to their senses, but I seem to fit pretty good over there!

– I had a piece of embroidery hang on a wall in a Gallery. That’s absolutely In-Sane. (It’s still there, just for another couple of days, if you happen to be in Milton Keynes. If not, I’ll be sharing more about it soon!)

– I have blog readers! ME! Thank you all so much for stopping by, sticking with me, commenting and generally just being there. It means so much to me.

– And I made this stuff, among others (click through to Flickr for details on each project):

2012 retrospective

I didn’t make official, blog-published resolutions for 2012, but I think I did much more than I expected – if I’m totally honest, this may be in part because I didn’t think to expect anything of 2012. I had some basic stuff I wanted to do, but didn’t really think beyond that. Maybe it turns out that’s the way to go.

So what’s next? I have NO idea! As I said, I didn’t really expect to get this far even. So here’s some things I’d like to work on this year:

– I’d like to get something published. In a magazine, in a book, online – I don’t care. I don’t even know how to go about that really. Other than submitting a knitting pattern to an online magazine, I haven’t taken any steps towards that sort of thing yet, but it’s time.

– I want to post a tutorial or similar on this here blog at least once a month – I know I have loads of ideas I’m bursting to share. I can’t think of any off the top of my head, now that the pressure’s on, but I’m sure they’re in there somewhere. Please never hesitate to shout if you see something you’d like me to go into in detail!

– This one I’ve already announced to some of my family-based public: I need six months to myself, crafting-wise. I will gradually finish up those things I’ve started and owe people, but if anyone else is hankering for some handknit goodies, etc, they’re going to have to wait until July. I’ve seen a lot of resolutions like this on the blogs in the last few days. So many of us seem to feel like we need to claim back some selfish crafting time! In my case, I don’t necessarily want to make things for myself so much as I want the time to explore ideas I just keep adding to never-ending lists. So the next six months are for that.

– My daily time is becoming more organized starting now. I have already set aside specific time every week to work on knitting patterns, which normally get pushed aside for other things and linger for ages and ages. And it’s already working well – I have two patterns in progress now and I’m absolutely loving them!

– I’m not sure if there’s anything else specific, but here’s my general personal goal for 2013: Be More Positive. I tend to dwell on the negative and I don’t want to do that anymore. I could go into more detail, but let’s just keep it simple: Be More Positive.

So bring it on, 2013. I’m ready!

A bit of housekeeping …

You know how it is, the end of the year and you want to do a little clean-up, finally get to some stuff that keeps getting away from you. In that spirit, I’ve been trying to use this last bit of time before the holidays to check off a few things that have been on the list forever.

Romeo & Juliet: Act I, Scene V

So, I wanted to let you all know that we’ll be removing our Romeo & Juliet: Did My Heart Love Till Now embroidery pattern for a while – and when it reappears, it will be in the shop / newly packaged with another pattern we’ll be working on soon. Which, as you may have guessed, means it won’t be a freebie anymore – but never fear! We won’t do a thing until the 1st of January 2013, so there’s nearly 3 weeks to go grab it for free. When it re-appears, it’ll have a color guide and stitch guide and all that jazz, but maybe you don’t even need that. It’ll take only two seconds to download, go grab it now!

In other news, I’ve opened up a Folksy version of our Little Dorrit & Co. pattern shop – just in case there’s folks who’d rather shop in British Pounds or whatnot. I haven’t finished listing all of our patterns yet, so if you would rather shop there and have a pattern in mind, it should be up within the next few days or so.

And if you do stitch up one of our patterns, why not add some photos of it to our brand spanking new Flickr pool! It’s just me around there for the moment, but I’d love it if you joined in!

Housekeeping announcements done for today! As you were!

Giveaway Day Winner!!!

Oh, man – it has to be said, my commenters are the best commenters *ever*! Your versions of what happened next to the Tortoise and the Hare have been cracking me up all week! I love the thought and creativity you put into your answers – way, way beyond what I ever thought you’d do, and an absolute pleasure to read!

Also, there were way more entries than I dared to dream of, which is enormously flattering to our new pattern designs. Thank you all, so so much. We can’t say how much it means to us.

But now I’m getting all sentimental. Ahem. Sorry ’bout that. You pretty much just want to know who won the goods, right? Well here goes …

(drumrolling … )

(drumrolling … )

(erm. drumrolling … )

Number 77, out of 77 entries! Who says first and last comments never win?! So Jo of The Hungry Crafter, C’MON DOWN! About the Tortoise and the Hare, Jo said:

I think the tortoise would take a nice long victory nap!!!!

And really, who wouldn’t? Winners always deserve a good nap. Jo, I’ve sent your patterns to you now (please let me if they haven’t arrived to you safely) – we hope you love them!

I’m sorry we can’t give away patterns to all of you, but I do want to point out some of the answers that really made me laugh the most.

The tortoise would live a long, long life and retell the story so many times that his offspring would roll their eyes every time he started in again.
(from Angela)

I think the rabbit eventually moves out of town because he can’t handle the constant reminders of his failure. Once he leaves, the outsiders tell him that there’s no way the tortoise could have won even if the rabbit was being lazy about the race. The rabbit realizes he’s been taken and sends one of his new rabbit friends back to the forest to challenge the tortoise again. This time, while the race is taking place, the rabbit watches the turtle in secret. Sure enough, rabbit catches the tortoise on film hailing a cab (driven by the snail) to get ahead. When the rabbit reveals the tortoise’s deception to the forest, this time the tortoise is forced to leave (and reliquish his winnings from both races). The rabbit becomes mayor and despite having been vindicated in the end, he still remembers his lesson and never slacks in his job.

So that’s how it ended.
(from April in Autumn of Without A Map)

They have a brawl about the contest but make up during a drunken karaoke singalong and become friends, till the next contest…
(from Natali)

Full of shame, the hare runs off never to be seen again. the hare’s son grows to maturity with this spot of shame on his family name and vows to get revenge. While training to follow in his father’s footsteps, he falls in love with a beautiful tortoise. But his world and everything he knows is turned upside down when he realizes that he is in love with the daughter of the tortoise who destroyed his family.
(from Nadine B of Nadine’s Nook)

You guys are too much! Really, I urge you to read all the suggestions, they’re all wonderful. Thanks again, all of you, for such an awesome giveaway experience, and I hope you liked what you saw here enough to stick around with me for more crafty adventures!

Mid-Week Break

Hello there! I know, I’ve been quiet since the Great Map Extravaganza ended – working on that 38/7 really put me behind on, well, pretty much every thing else everywhere, so I’ve been trying to catch up. Mostly on a new set of embroidery patterns – yup, another one! These have been in the works for a while, interrupted to work on the Christmas patterns and the map and other stuff, so now I’m trying to finish them up and get them out in the world. They’re really anxious to meet you! So I better get back to work – enjoy these lovelies until I return!

Mid-Week Break -- 28 November

1. sampler, 2. Brioude’i pitsikeskus, 3. green flea market fancy strip quilt, 4. Christmas-y stuff around our home. That is out all year…, 5. DMC spiral 02, 6. darjeeling, 7. Coasters Guirlanda Floral Azul…, 8. puzzle twister coaster, 9. Lisa the Fox, 10. Helene Kuma niplispitsid Amandus Adamsoni ateljeemuuseumis Paldiskis, 11. Tri-chem 0667 p. 05 b, 12. Dipped Infinity Scarf, 13. cotton bags, 14. Untitled, 15. pigeon on navy embroidery, 16. Dragon Fly

D.E.A.R. Time: The Casual Vacancy (plus bobbin lace FO)

D.E.A.R. Time

Way back when I started this here blog, I intended on writing a regular D.E.A.R. time feature – not really every week, but as I finished books I was reading. Just to go over my thoughts about it, suggest a book if I loved it, rant about a book if I hated it. You know, that sort of thing.

What? You don’t know about D.E.A.R. time?! Well, I’m not sure if they still do it, but American kids of an, ahem, certain age, will remember having an hour of classroom time per week (if I remember right) set aside for quiet reading time. Drop Everything And Read. It taught us about the joy of getting lost in a book, everyone just silently sitting at their desks, reading away. In retrospect, it probably gave the teachers a nice break as well.

Even though I am, historically, a voracious reader and even studied literature at university for a whole bunch of years, I have been going through a really serious reading drought lately. I used to go through books at an alarming rate when I rode a lot of public transportation, but I don’t do that anymore so much, and I’m always staying up late to finish off some knitting or stitching, rather than ending my day with some quiet reading time.

So I’ve had to set aside Monday night for D.E.A.R. time, when the house is pretty quiet. Although it will take me a long time to finish a book this way, at least that ensures that I’ll get a little reading in every week. I’ve missed it so much! I’m going to try to enforce reading lunch-breaks too, and I just bought a second-hand Kindle from the super-duper-awesome Holly of Beans and Toast, which will allow me to knit simpler projects and read at the same time.

But I’ll finish J.K. Rowling’s The Casual Vacancy first – I’ve purposely avoided all reviews and comments about it, so please be nice and don’t say anything yet. Opinions are too easily swayed by other opinions, and I want to decide what I honestly truly think about it before I go finding out what everyone else thinks too. So far I’ll only say that although I don’t find it super unputdownable, I am absorbed as soon as I pick it up. Rowling so perfectly pinpoints the tiny things that make people human, the little feelings that most people don’t say out loud. Magic is nice, but I think that a big part of what makes the Harry Potter books so wonderful are her real, imperfectly human characters. I’m not very far into The Casual Vacancy yet, but I have already passed several paragraphs that I’ve had to re-read a few times, just because they so beautifully describe those tiny things that make us us – things I’d never have been able to put my finger on myself, but had me nodding in agreement.

Anyway, more on the book when I finish. But while we’re talking books, here’s the bobbin lace bookmark I finished at my lesson this weekend:

Bobbin Lace Bookmark FO

I’m so damn proud of this! As I was working on it, I was so annoyed that the red fan curves along the sides weren’t curves so much as 3-sided shapes, but my teacher swore that it wouldn’t look like that once I took it off the pillow. Turns out she was right, I guess the contrast of the paper beneath the lace (which you can see here, if you weren’t here when I posted about it last time) is enough to notice and magnify every tiny flaw. I’m so proud that it looks so neat and tidy!

By the way, I did have a lovely photo of the whole bookmark against a page, then realized that of course I managed to randomly choose a kind of dirty page that I thought not everyone would want to read. Whoopsy!

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