We survived the holiday. Operation 'Pretend the House is Always this Clean' went off very well and the in-laws really enjoyed themselves apart from arriving with colds and feeling a bit ill for the whole visit. We bought them a 1000-piece jigsaw puzzle so that kept them busy in between meals and cups of tea. I did a lot of knitting while keeping them company. I've turned the heel on my second Christmas barf yarn sock and knit most of my Secret Garden Shawl which is turning out to be quite big. Mine isn't looking like the picture on the kit because my variegated yarn is shading in a different way. So mine is more yellow (the picture had more pink instead of yellow) but I still like it - and I really like this yarn (Scheepjes Secret Garden).
Before the guests arrived, I finished the two Christmas baubles I posted about last week, I'm pleased with how they turned out. I think they look a bit luxurious. Tobias and The Angel sell their baubles for £35 each, mine cost nothing apart from buying the polystyrene ball as I had everything else in my stash.
By the time DH took the in-laws home, I'd been inside the house for almost four days. I tottered out to the mall like some kind of convalescent with rubbery legs to see what was on sale. Nothing much of interest in our small shopping area, apart from Wilko have some useful Curver storage baskets on sale which are a good size for fat quarters.
Although I couldn't do much craft apart from knitting while we had guests, I did escape to the sewing room several times for bouts of cleaning and tidying. I've given the whole room an overhaul - starting with installing a longer blind cord so I can actually open the blind now and admit daylight. Sadly the daylight revealed a lot of cobwebs and filth so there was a fair amount of hoovering and cleaning to do. I've gone through all the glory holes where I'd shoved back project leftovers over the years, pressed and re-folded a tonne of fabric, sorted through my fat quarters, and thrown out some upholstery fabric and hand-me-downs that I have never used and will never use. The whole room feels so much better now to me. The only downside is the depressing amount of fabric I have discovered. I could probably make 25 bed-sized quilts before making a significant dent in the stash. I feel guilty about all the money tied up in the fabric and also a bit sad about the unrealised dreams. Some of the projects have been waiting so long that I don't think I want to make them any longer as my tastes have changed. Hopefully I will get to some of the others - if not now then perhaps when I retire.
I also have to decide what to do about this elephant in the room:
Re-energised by the cleaner, brighter sewing room, I've actually managed to sew four blocks for my 30s Sampler Quilt since the guests left!
I checked my seam allowance accuracy and it was indeed out. I tested it a few times on scraps to work out where I need to set the needle position for an accurate allowance. Although that didn't help with the Spools block above which required set-in Y-seams. I couldn't use my quarter-inch foot for those as I needed to stop and start on an exact point, and I couldn't see the point using the quarter-inch foot so had to switch to a clear foot. Now that the seam allowance is more accurate, the rest of the blocks have come out much better. The bottom one is still a bit wonky but I think that was cutting error. I think my sewing machine needs a service: the thread cutter barely works now and there are various other issues. I've had it serviced since we moved but it's probably a few years ago now.
Also since the in-laws left, I've built and installed the little shingled roofs for the most recent porch on my Japanese dollshouse.
And I've stained/painted the pieces for the final porch and assembled its inner wall (aka the gluey octopus). Once again I had some gaps but I've managed to fill them either with glue (for the small gaps) or an inserted filler board for wider gaps. I feel heartily glad this is the last of the four porch walls, three of which were a nightmare and only one of which went together easily.
Did you receive any crafty gifts for Christmas? M-i-l gave me a nice half yard of red flowery fabric with a reproduction feel which will fit nicely with my stash. And the in-laws paid for a book I bought myself on Floral Bucks Point Lace by Alexandra Stillwell which was recommended by my teacher at Knuston. I've had a few more lacemaking sessions on my Bucks Point hexagonal edging as I am still trying to get it finished but I've still got another corner and a few more inches to go. And my dollshousing friend in France sent me some cute little house models (one china and one resin) and some laser-cut 1/12th scale paper doilies. I hope you got some nice things too.
I've made a few more bookings for our trip to Japan in the spring: I've booked the rental car; we went and got our international driving permits at the post office and I've got the exchange vouchers for the Japan rail passes. I'm sort of looking forward to the trip but at the same time a bit terrified at the scale of the venture. I've booked the whole trip myself so I just hope it all works the way it's meant to. A long time ago I read some good travel advice which went something like this: The only essentials are your passport and credit card, the rest is gravy. I always tell myself that on the way to the airport when I am obsessing about what I've forgotten. Are you looking forward to a special holiday in 2019?