Friday, 25 September 2009

Gearing up for interviews but still crafting

I've been out today and bought my 'interview suit'. The whole finding-a-new-job thing is really moving up a gear: I went on a full day Interview Skills training course last week which was really good. Things have sure changed since I last had to do an interview. I've also got my CV finished now, and am working on my sales pitch. So much work, it makes me tired. And I haven't even started really getting out there and trying to get interviews. I've got until the end of December so somehow it still feels a bit early as many jobs want you to start right away. I don't have much actual work any more for my company as I've handed it over to people who have jobs, although there may be some project work coming up.

I've completed the 1/48th Hallowe'en house apart from furnishing, and here are some pics with my real black cat in the background for scale. This is a Karen Cary Theme House which I purchased from Judith of In Some Small Way here in the UK. I kitbashed it a bit by opening up the space into the porch roof. I will build a ladder for the inside and I am hoping the bedroom furniture will fit up there. It comes with halloween furniture but I haven't made that yet. I love the skirting board which has little black bat cut-outs, and the windowboxes which are full of skulls and witch hats. The kit went together quite well, the only problem was that the spacers used to position the porch roof were a tiny smidgen longer than the porch railing posts, so that my porch railings don't actually make much contact with the roof they are supposedly supporting. The porch railings are also incredibly fragile, I broke both of them while assembling, and broke one again once they were in place. I am trying to keep my hands well away when I handle the house now. It's really cute though.

Further to last week's stash management question (to which I got one reply! thank you. Sometimes I wonder if only three other people read this blog... :) I have now photographed all of my indoor knitting stash which includes most of the UFOs (8), and have printed out the photos, pasted them on recipe cards and written on relevant information like gauge etc. There is loads more out in my knitting shed. I feel more organised, but it remains to be seen whether this will be enough to overcome my shopping compulsion. I can test it at the Alexandra Palace knitting show which is coming up soon. Perhaps I should take the cards with me in my bag.

I've actually been sewing! I cut out a halloween quilt from the novelty fabrics I bought in Hawaii, using the method in the book "9-Patch Pizzazz" by Judy Sisneros. I've sewn my strip sets and cut them, and cut out my focus fabric, just need to put my nine-patches together now.

I've started my second Harry Potter sock, and am almost finished the second Scandinavian pattern sock, just need to do the toe decrease. I've also progressed my Noro Matsuri cardigan which I knit in the round to the armholes in stockinette, with moss stitch front bands. It seemed to take forever to get to the armhole, but now that I am just doing one front, it is whizzing along. I am almost ready to cast off the shoulder. I've even done a bit more on my Sirdar Juicy lace stole, which is about 50" long now.

And I made the next blocks for my Garden BOM quilt that I am doing with my sewing group. The block on the right is this month's blocks: a flower pot and a daisy. I combined them into one block and added a butterfly using fusible applique. The block on the left is the sample for the October blocks, both foundation pieced: a rose on a stem, and an open rose. I scaled down the open rose to match the rose on a stem, and managed to combine them all into one block with a bit of bodging.

Tomorrow there is a knitting party at the I-knit shop in London with Debbie Bliss, I might go up to that after lunch.

Friday, 18 September 2009

Stash management tips needed

Not too much crafting this week as I was on a two-day course in writing skills for work - ironically I am getting far more training now that I am being made redundant than I ever did in the job. All good stuff on the resume and might help me find something else.

I finished the sock I started at I-Knit Day. It is a bit loose in the ankle but otherwise fits well. This is Opal Harry Potter self-patterning yarn - love the colours - and the Regia leaflet sock pattern. I think I will keep this pair for myself.

I haven't really done anything else this week, but one think I have been turning over in my mind is developing some way to have a record of my stash. I have a bit of a problem with over-shopping, in the sense that I have more stash than I can reasonably store, or remember, or ever get to unless I win the lottery and can quit work and craft every day for the rest of my life. And I have stash in several hobbies: knitting, machine knitting, dollshouse miniatures, cross-stitch, tatting, even bobbin lace which I don't actually do (yet).

Part of the problem, I think, is that it is 'out of sight, out of mind' for me. And things that are in sight, like the latest gee whizz shiny new thing at a craft show, just seem more appealing than some mythical stash that I haven't seen for a while.

I've tried all the usual things: lists, spreadsheets, labelled storage boxes/bins of all descriptions, keeping it all together, keeping it all in one location, bagging up all the quilt projects, Ravelry, special storage for currently started projects, but nothing seems to work. I think the only thing that would work for me would be to have all the stash out on display, all the time. And my house is nowhere near big enough.

So I'm thinking now along the lines of photographing every project and creating a physical record for each project, like a recipe card, that displays the picture and some information. Then I could leaf through the card file to see just how much I have waiting.

Although the mind rather boggles at the thought of photographing dozens (hundreds) of stash items...

Any brilliant suggestions from you? How do you remember what is in your stash(es)?

Sunday, 13 September 2009

Busy weekend

I have had such a busy weekend, full of crafting and craft shopping. Plus I survived my in-laws' Golden Wedding anniversary.

First up was the I-knit Weekender, back for its third year, once again at the Royal Horticultural Halls in London, and this year over two days for the first time. I had to go on Friday because of the Golden Wedding anniversary on Saturday, and I had a lovely day from my arrival at 10:00 am right through until I left at 9 p.m. Just to prove how long a day I had: I cast on for this sock in Opal Harry Potter yarn (I love this yarn! the self-striping colours and patterns are fabulous) while waiting for the London train at my local station Friday morning, and had this much knit by the time I got home - turned the heel and everything.

I had a wonderful day, although it was certainly much quieter than the last two years, I am presuming because a lot of people were at work. I expect the Saturday was much busier. First of all was lots of lovely shopping, and within minutes of my arrival I had scored more than 20 vintage 'Vogue Knitting' magazines from the 50s and 60s. They were priced individually, but when I offered to buy them all, the stallholder gave me a wonderful deal on them. I love collecting old needlework magazines, I love the photographs and the ads. I look forward to reading through these. Other purchases included some pure cashmere yarn from Knitwitches and a scarf pattern to go with them, pure silk yarn in the Knitwitches bargain bin at half price and a shawl pattern to go with that, some Debbie Bliss Fez to knit the xmas stocking in this month's Simply Knitting calendar, some Artesana Aran yarn in two colours to knit the argyle slippers (also in the Simply Knitting calendar), two bargain pattern books (one for Freedom Spirit yarn of which I have a sweater's worth, and there is a great slipover vest in it, and one for Debbie Bliss cotton yarns). I got this cute mermaid from the Lifeboat fundraising stall who are planning an underwater knitted scene and seeking knitted contributions.

Then I went upstairs for a great presentation by Karen Black on knitting through the decades, to launch her new book Knitting in Fashion. I went straight out of that into a Speedknitting class with Miriam Tegels, the Guinness record holder at 118 stitches a minute (check her out on YouTube). She was a lovely lady who also showed us some yoga postures (she is a yoga instructor also) and slowed down her knitting to show her modified continental style. I enjoyed the class, but I wasn't really able to copy her as she didn't really give us a detailed breakdown of how she was holding her needles, feeding the yarn etc. I went straight out of that into a presentation by Alice Starmore of the Shetlands, famous for her fair isle and other patterns. She showed tons of beautiful slides of her islands, showing how they are the nispiration for her yarns and her work, plus gorgeous photos of her designs. I am totally in love with 'Marina', a fair isle design, and would love to knit it. Alice's book with it is out of print and totally unavailable (over £200 on Ebay apparently) but I have sent off for a much cheaper British book that had the charts in it - Ravelry says there are some mistakes but that you can figure them out). Afterwards I bought an advance copy of her reprinted Fair Isle book and she signed it for me. We also got to watch her cut a steek in a throw which she had knitted in the round, then cut open in preparation for knitting the edging.

By that time I was starving, so I popped out for some Fish and Chips, then dived back in. I went back to one booth to look at the KnitPro interchangeable needles I had seen in the morning, just in time to hear the stallholder exclaim to his wife that this was their last pack as they had had a run on them. So I added that to my load as well - what is severance money for if not to stock up on supplies for future crafting? Now exhausted and spent out, I took up station at one of the knitting tables near the catwalk, and started chatting to my neighbours until the fashion show started at 6 p.m. We had an entertaining 30 minutes of amateur models showing off garments and accessories from all the stall holders (the most amazing being a mini dress knitted from giant yarn the diameter of a broomstick handle). The bar was now open so I indulged in a glass of wine with my new best knitting friends, and we kept on knitting and chatting. At 8:30 p.m. the most amazing singing group took the stage: "Gaggle", described as a 'sci-fi riot choir', an alternative a cappella singing group whose style is a cross between African chanting and West End musical. Our favourite song was one they adapted to the venue, with two girls yelling out tunefully "I like cro-chet" and "I like Knit-ting" as a sort of rhythm track while the rest of the girls sang the lyrics. At 9 p.m. I decided I had better go home or I wouldn't get home, and thanks to London Underground suspending trains in both directions, I almost didn't. But eventually I made it home just before 11 p.m., tired but happy, and weighed down by purchases.

Saturday morning I was double-booked, as it was my Saturday sewing club day, yet we had to be down in Hampshire for the golden wedding thing by 12 noon. So I went to club and got them all started off, handed out the next block of the month patterns, had show and tell, and kicked off the Bring and Buy sale. I had taken along loads of old stash priced to sell at £1 a yard, and did a fairly good trade. However, I somewhat negated the de-stashing by buying up other member's stash. My best score was a pouncing block with powder, originally £16.95 but I got it by swapping a few yards of unwanted fabric for it - result! I haven't done much sewing lately, but I have made two covers for binders using the Moda Bakeshop pattern - here is my first effort covering a lever arch-file. It sure improves the look of my quilt file.

Then it was off to the Golden Wedding anniversary, which to be honest I was not looking forward to. My m-i-l has loads of cousins that I don't know, so out of about 50 people in the room, I knew about 10, and I really hate being trapped and having to be smiley-nicey for hours. At one point I had really had enough, and escaped downstairs to hide in the bar with my knitting - I got 15 minutes of sanity before dh phoned me (twice) to tell me people were looking for me. We finally got home at 8 p.m. and I was absolutely exhausted (again, but not in a nice way this time).
No lie-in today though, as we were up and off to Newbury in Berkshire where my DH and DS were going to a wargaming show, and my friend Eileen and I were attending a dollshouse show in the same venue. Eileen and I had a pleasant hour or so going around the smallish fair: I picked up several things for my various houses including some resin figures to be shoppers in my quilt/knitting shop, and a lovely little knitted teacosy for the knitting shop. Then we went into the wargaming show, which was three times as big and spread over three floors. Pretty amazing stuff - Eileen (who is in her 80s) had never seen it before and was absolutely fascinated. It was pretty funny watching a gaming geek (who looked just like Comic Book Guy from the Simpsons) explaining to this little old lady how the zombies were attacking the human refugees in his game scenario and how the rules worked. After some lunch, Eileen and I went into Newbury and enjoyed a walk around the town centre, before back to collect the guys and head home.
So lots of spending and looking and crafting - and I think it is time now to consolidate my gains and try to tidy up. One thing I need to tidy up is a dollshouse project which is occupying one end of my kitchen table while we dine on the opposite end: a Karen Cary 1:48 Halloween themed house kit. I started building it last weekend and have continued off and on all week. It is taking shape and I should be able to take a photo soon.

Friday, 4 September 2009

Shazam! It's Autumn

And just like that, the weather has turned and it is now fairly chilly. The Bank Holiday weekend was a bit of a swiz, it was overcast and very windy and didn't get sunny until after we came home from our camping trip on Monday. We had a neat location this time, in the middle of a deer park with a herd of deer grazing in it and even coming up to wander around the campground. There was a stag with antlers and about 15 other adult and baby deer.

Lots of pics this week, which is kind of a pain because Blogger will no longer let me drag photos off the screen - the text simply won't scroll. So I can only drag them one screen at a time, which takes forever. If anyone knows how to fix this, please tell me. I can't cut and paste them either. Well I can cut them, but then they are gone and won't paste. I tried cutting and pasting the html code, but it was just too fiddly.

I finished the urn of geraniums, and added some strands of ivy coming out one side.

I made some more ivy strands, and filled these two wall pots that I bought at SIMP in Paris - they will go on the walls of the ground floor room of the French tower, which is like a courtyard in between the arches.

I painted the tables and chairs for the workshop area of the quilting shop - you can see them here with the plaster sewing machines on them. This floor is still in progress, I need to work on the furniture on the back wall, and accessorise it all. And I came up with a cool solution to the problem of turning this house around. As it is an American house, it opens at the back. But I want to display it with the front showing. I did have it on a normal turntable, but as you have to pull the house forward to get sufficient room to pivot its big base, the house kept coming off the little turntable. Then I spotted this in the Lakeland mail order catalogue, on half price. It is on sturdy casters and meant for heavy plant pots, so it carries the weight of the house with ease. Now I can 'drive' the house around on the counter top to pivot it easily.

I wanted to get DS a plain masculine tote bag to stop having to lend him my quilty ones (turned inside out so he doesn't have to be embarrassed by an AQS logo) but couldn't find a masculine tote anywhere. I did find a really naff (stupid) tote at Claire's Accessories which was plain black on one side. It was on sale for £1 each, so I bought two and cut off the plain side of each one. I cut a gusset out of the naff logo which I used inside out so the bag is all plain black on the outside, and stitched it back together - hey presto, a big sturdy tote.

And it's the Big Knit time again, when thousands of knitters churn out hundreds of thousands of tiny hats to adorn bottles of Innocent smoothies, to raise money for the charity Age Concern. I was a little more adventurous in this, my third year of contributing. Instead of the standard hat with pompom, I tried out a few ideas in sock yarn. You will see I have once again added the 'hatometer' to my blog, so we can enjoy watching the little hats pour in. I posted my three contributions off today. The decorated bottles will be in store from 4th November, so I look forward to knit-spotting at my local Sainsbury's supermarket then.

And lastly, I have finally knit enough of the Gull's Wing lace pattern on my Pi Shawl to take a photo of it. I have to say that for all the work this has been (knitting 574 stitches on a row now), I am disappointed with it. It doesn't really look like much. I think I am going to stop after 24 rows (six repeats) and switch back to plain stockinette. It's not worth having to do all the work of keeping track of the pattern for so little result and I'm not enjoying it so I haven't been knitting on it much.

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