New Year’s Resolutions

Holy Heck. It’s 2016 now??!

Where the crap has time gone, guys?? 2015 was a good year in a lot of ways, but so many things got away from me, including my blogging schedule. I absolutely hate reading blogger apologies because I kinda think, if it’s hard to write posts, why are you doing this to yourself? You honestly don’t have to. But I love my blog. I love writing to you guys. Between adjusting to a new, post-grief (or, maybe more accurate, middle-grief) life, and a new job (the first one I’ve had in a long time that wasn’t for myself / at home / freelance), it did simply get away from me. Not to mention the last nearly two months with no blogging capability, while my formerly trusty laptop needed medical attention.

So. Yeah. I missed you guys. Is anyone still out there?! I wouldn’t blame you for jumping ship, if you were sick of waiting for me to get my crap together, but I’d be overjoyed to hear from anyone still reading along. Leave me a comment! You’ll make my day AWESOME.

In order to help catch up quickly and get back to business, let’s look at some fabric-y / stitchy stuff that was great about 2015:

Best of 2015

That stuff was pretty good, it makes me happy to see all those pretty things all in a row like that. Stuff I made with my hands. ‘Snice.

But what was missing? Well, there are some things I’d like to do better in 2016:

– Keep to a better balance between my various activities. I’m taking a month or so out of doing anything social (so sorry, real-life friends, I really hope you understand) and try to get my rest / work / sewing / life balance back to something a bit more normal. I miss not being exhausted all the time.

– Get more patterns out there, in the world, published. I’m sure I’ve made this resolution before, but something always comes up that changes how the year goes. That’s just how life rolls, that tricksy jerk, but I can still keep making it a goal. I have some ideas that I can’t wait to work on, so hopefully I’ll be on this resolution’s ass pretty much from the start.

– Sew from my stash more. Everyone says this at the beginning of a year – for most, it’s part of being determined to spend less. Actually, that’s not why I want to it. I like spending money on fabric. It’s pretty. And fun. But then I stick all that beautifulness in the cupboard and it sits there. It wants to be loved! I will use some of those special cuts of fabric in the cupboard and let it get the attention it deserves.

– I also have two secret goals, things that seem a little out-there that I want to try. But I’m not gonna tell you. I’ll keep these ones close to my chest for now, but I promise I’ll tell you once I’ve tried, whether I succeed or fail. Promise.

So 2016. I’m ready, yo. I really hope you’re still with me, and I thank you most sincerely if you are – what are you going to get up to this year??

Finish-along with &Stitches

If you are an &Stitches reader (and I hope you are!), you’ll know that we’re starting 2014 off with a finish-along. A good way to start a new year, I think – tidying up the project basket and getting things done!

My finish-along goal might be a little different than others, because I don’t have one project to focus on, I have a pile:

Embroidery to Finish-along with &Stitches!

This pile is my official entry to the &Stitches Finish-along, because it’s all embroidery. It might seem a bit excessive, but this whole post (embroidery and otherwise) is full of projects that are nearly all at least 80% finished — and I don’t honestly expect that I’ll finish them all. So pictured above:

  • French Knot sampler, with only one partial section left to complete.
  • Orangework Sampler, not quite half done, but this is a fairly small and quick project.
  • Eels lyrics embroidery! Oh, how I love this project so, and am so sad that it got so deeply buried at the bottom of the basket. There’s not much left to do really, but I was stumped by the best way to stitch those teeeeensy flowers and it was put on pause.
  • The cross-stitch pictured is from a kit bought at the Bronte House about 12 years ago. It’s a reproduction of a sampler Charlotte Bronte stitched as a little girl. She must’ve had amazing eyesight, because this has lingered for so long simply because it is so tiny I can barely see it. But there’s only one line left to stitch!
  • And lastly, those blue-gray blobby flowers? Those are updated from a pattern book from 1915 and are something I started a very, very long time ago. I honestly doubt I’ll get to this one in time, but I can give it a sporting try, right? Those flowers are all done in satin stitch, and there’s leaves too, and it’s a slow project – but I do enjoy it a lot.

Although not officially tied to the &Stitches finish-along because it’s not embroidery, I’d also love to see this pile finished:

Knitting Projects to Finish-along

Again, all projects nearly done, it’s just silly that they’re still lingering. The magenta is my Henslowe shawl, which only needs blocking. The white is a secret thing that may possibly become a pattern – with very little knitting left to do. The camel alpaca project is a new shawl for my now-home-from-the-hospital mother. To be fair, this has only been on the needles for about a week, but I’m already on the edging and I don’t want it to linger, so I’ve included it. And the mustard colored project is a sock for my brother (the second of the pair) which is perfect for train travel and my upcoming visit to Amsterdam.

EPP project to finish-along

And lastly, this set of English Paper Pieced pillow covers, a gift for my mother now over a year late. Yikes. EPP is slow going, which is why I like it, but it is admittedly very unlikely to be finished quickly. However, one top is already finished and the other is about halfway, so it’s worth mentioning it here and hoping for the best.

These are, sadly, not all of my UFOs, but they are the UFOs that I: a.) definitely want to finish. There are one or two I’m not convinced about continuing, so they aren’t taking part in the finish-along, and b.) are far enough along that quick completion isn’t a pipe dream. Long-term UFOs like my Grandmother’s Flower Garden quilt don’t count, those are meant to be ongoing. I tend to only get frustrated by projects that linger unnecessarily, and that brings me to my one and only crafty resolution for 2014:

Less projects, more often.

Because I start too many projects at once, they all take for-ev-ar to finish, which means I’m totally sick of the sight of them by the time I get near the end, which means I let them pile up to this point I’m at now but I really don’t want to work on them anymore! This year, I want to have fewer WIPs going at once, so that I finish them and move on to new things faster. Shortening the cycle, as it were.

And the best place to start? Clearing out the basket. Let’s go!

Checking in, halfway there

Get Me A Pony! cross-stitch

Pictured above, a slightly random never-blogged project: a little cross-stitch made a while back as a semi-housewarming for my bestest pal back in Amsterdam. This is a little something we like to say on the type of occasions where you might smack your knee, such as: ‘You say you just won first prize for your perfectly formed homegrown pumpkins? Well, woo-eee, get me a pony!’ Etc. In case you’re wondering, the phrase originally comes from one of our favorite songs together, “N.Y. Pie” by Brakes.

Now that it’s just past halfway through 2011, I thought it might be nice to check in with the Crafty Resolutions I set at the beginning of the year. It’s nice to do a little assessment around this time, have a think about how you’re getting on and see if you need to adjust your approach(es) in order to achieve the goals you’d wanted to reach. So here goes, point by point:

One: Submitting projects. Well, I totally haven’t done that yet. But not because of fear or anything like that – the truth is that somewhere along the way, it became clear that I was aiming to sell patterns myself, at least as a starting point. A whole collection of what I think are pretty wonderful embroidery patterns are on the way – not too long now, actually! – made by myself and my crafty-partner-in-crime, my mother. We make a swell team. I’m pretty freaking excited about that. I’ve also made a tiny start on a wee collection of knitting patterns which I hope will be ready in time for fall / early winter, but that’s only just started so we’ll see how it goes. I never really made the choice to go for it myself consciously, it just kind of happened, so I guess there’s nothing to do but work hard to finish things up and then wait and see if people like them!

Two: Refashioning clothes. Nope, nothing. I haven’t done this at all, I suck! Though I have to admit I don’t feel the pull to do so anymore, I’m not sure why. I do really really want to make this adorable top by Sweet Verbena when I get some time – I even picked up the cutest tiny-gray-polka-dots jersey at the Birmingham rag market a little while ago that would be perfect for it. But even though I haven’t done anything with clothing, I have been much better about looking for potential in charity shop bits and pieces, looking for things I can salvage trim from, or buttons, or sweaters good for felting – anything, really!

Three: Participate more. Yes, I’ve been quite good with this one. It’s still hard to break my natural tendency to just lurk on other’s blogs and the like, but I’ve been working very hard on leaving comments, reaching out via Twitter, posting on Ravelry, just generally being more outgoing amongst the crafty folk. I’ve even made a few lovely internet friends, joined the local Embroiderer’s Guild branch and made some new friends there, and helped to create the most awesomest weekly-meeting group of knitters ever, and feel so lucky to count them amongst my friends now.

Four: Deal with hiccups better. I’m paraphrasing my own bit there, but that’s basically what I meant. And I think I’ve done really well here as well. I have kept in mind that goals are not set in stone, but more like written in crayon. Sometimes they have to shift and change and that’s just the way it is. Maybe the goal wasn’t really what you wanted after all, maybe it just needs a tiny tweak to be realistic, maybe your priorities have changed. I think that maybe this is my biggest achievement, resolution-wise, so far: learn better how to go with the flow and not get too tripped up by details when you only need to remember why you wanted the big picture in the first place.

Not too shabby, for only halfway-ish through the year, right? Well, get me a pony!

Crafty Resolutions 2011

Coming Soon ...

For the first time, I think, ever, I made a proper written list of New Year’s Resolutions for 2011. Over the last few weeks, I’ve realized that a lot of the flaws of 2010 come down to one basic thing: stop wimping out. Just generally. If you’ve read fellow crafty blogger Scrapiana’s excellent post on resolutions, my little 2011 mantra there will sound familiar; I was also struck by her use of ‘wimping out’ since the same phrase had been running through my head. It’s just so appropriate and boils whatever specific issues you / I might be having down to the very basics: Julie, stop getting in your own way, dammit. Or to put it another way: stop pretending excuses are real reasons.

And what struck me most about Scrapiana’s post, whether she meant it this way or not, was the way she said she will (paraphrasing) jump at every chance “’til I find my dream”. That felt so familiar to me because I feel like that’s why I often end up going around in circles, in my head at least. I don’t even really know what my own dream is, so I don’t know what direction to aim myself in. I kind of know what neighborhood it lives in, but I too often get myself lost trying to pin it down. So I too will resolve to just give everything I can a try; no one ever got anywhere interesting by not bothering to try in the first place.

Specific to crafting, I do have a few sub-resolutions I’d like to keep in mind for 2011. Hopefully having them here in print will help keep me from wimping out on them.

One: Submit projects / patterns to … um … places. Websites, magazines, whatever. Ok, so clearly I don’t know yet how that all works, so that’ll have to be part of it. I have a million ideas floating around in my head and some might turn out stupid, but some might turn out awesome – you never know! – and there might be somewhere that wants to publish one. Or maybe not – maybe I’ll end up publishing and selling them somewhere myself – but I’ll never get anywhere or learn anything about the process without trying. (Speaking of, pictured above is a sneak peek at the start of my very first knitting design, coming soon!)

Two: Learn more about refashioning clothes. This one is a bit randomly specific, but it’s something I’ve been wanting to try more of for a long time now and I always figure I’ll try something ‘later’. I tried some clothes sewing projects back in high school / beginning of university and I even came out with a couple of wearable things. But generally, it was too expensive and too hard to succeed for me to continue. I’ve not given up on sewing clothes forever, but I’ll start slower this time – all I want is to be able to recognize potential in charity shop clothes, for example, or learn how to improve things I already have that I’m not entirely happy with.

Three: Participate more. I tend to be a lurker when it comes to other people’s blogs and forums. I guess I’m a little shy, a little afraid I’ll say something totally dorky (and not in a good way). But then I always wish I was more involved in the crafty community. I need to make an effort to get over any dumb shyness and just join in!

Four: Remember that resolutions are about starting a process. A funny thing about New Year’s Resolutions, as opposed to just regular goals, is that we all tend to act like they are an all-or-nothing venture. Resolved to lose weight but ate too many cookies on the 2nd of January? It’s all over, it can’t be done! But in reality, they’re going to be difficult and they’re going to be hard work to fulfill. And there will probably even be small failures, but we have to remember to just get over them and keep moving forward.