Monday 30 July 2012

50 Squares of (mostly) Grey

This weekend I have discovered that the Olympics is going to be quite bad for my productivity!

I am getting some work done from the sofa - replying to emails on my laptop, etc. - but honestly it's all just so distracting, especially when team GB are in a final (the gymnastics this afternoon was especially gripping). This is one of the perks & perils of being self-employed, I guess :)

It has helped me get (almost) caught up with my sky blanket knitting though, and I'm now just 6 days behind... but I've still got a lot of catching up to do when it comes to sewing the squares together. Once I get those 6 missing squares knitted I'll have a massive 50 squares to sew onto the blanket.

Here are the 44 I've finished so far...

...  most of the missing squares are grey ones. Over 30 of the last 50 squares have at least one strand of grey in them thanks to all the rainy, gloomy days we've been having this summer! They're not in date order in the photo as I've been storing them in a bag while I've been catching up, so they've got a bit muddled, but they'll all get sorted out when I come to start sewing as I've got all the colours recorded on a calendar for easy reference. Knitting is the perfect craft to do in front of the TV, so with any luck I'll be up to date by the end of the Olympics!

With an ongoing project like this it can be quite tricky to keep up the momentum and enthusiasm as the months go by. A lot of the excitement for me has come from seeing the blanket itself grow week by week, so having not added (sewn) any squares to it for so long has definitely made me feel a bit demotivated and has made me neglect the project a bit (though hurting my hand & not being able to knit for a bit hasn't helped either).

Hopefully that enthusiasm will come back again when I get sewing, but in the meantime I've been looking at photos of all the awesome sky scarves over on Ravelry for a bit of inspiration (if you're not on Ravelry, there are also lots of sky scarf pics on Flickr). I'm really looking forward to seeing how the blanket - which still looks like this - will look with those extra 50 squares added to it.

Thursday 26 July 2012

Colourful Secrets

I'm working on a couple of things I can't share at the moment - it's always so frustrating to have to keep stuff secret, but that's the way it goes sometimes. Oh well.

I can however share this snap of some of the supplies I'm using:

Lots of happiness-inducing colour!

Monday 23 July 2012

Something New

At the weekend I went hunting through some old sketches looking for a bit of inspiration, and ended up sewing this...

... I'll let you know what it turns into!

Friday 20 July 2012

July Bits & Bobs

Hello there! Things continue to be a bit quiet around here as I'm still suffering from creative block (ugh), but I've got a few snaps to share of things I've been up to lately...

My shops are all still open, so I've been keeping up my usual routine of parcel-packing and posting a few times a week. I like listening to Agatha Christie audiobooks while I'm packing up my orders and I'm currently 3/4s of the way through Dumb Witness. I'm so familiar with the plots of these books, and they're so light and gentle-paced that I can half-listen to them easily while I'm focused on writing customer addresess, etc. 

I have been doing a little bit of sewing here and there despite my creative block - I finished a batch of small poppy brooches earlier this week. The poppies have always been one of my favourite designs to sew.

Unfortunately I hurt my hand a couple of weeks ago and had to stop knitting for a bit, so I've fallen a bit behind with my sky blanket. I'm still taking careful note of the sky colours each day though... there continues to be an awful lot of grey!

I've been trying to switch off the laptop as much as possible when I'm not working, as part of a wider effort to develop more regular & less workaholic-y working habits. Being self-employed it is all too easy to get into the habit of just working all the time and not properly "switching off" from work, but I'm trying to make a determined effort to stop work at a set time in the evening & take proper days off (just a small bit of emailing in the morning and evening on my days off, which honestly can't really be helped when you're running an online business which is "open" 24/7).

So instead of reading blogs I've been reading stacks of library books, and instead of writing emails to friends I'm doing my best to send them cards & write them proper letters. I'm currently reading Philip Pullman's Northern Lights (a.k.a. The Golden Compass) which is just ace. I am a huge fan of novels like this and read soooo many of them as a teenager, that I am completely amazed / slightly baffled that it's taken me so long to get around to reading the His Dark Materials trilogy! Mmm... lovely books...

On my days off I've been enjoying the slightly unseasonal pleasure of curling up with lots of blankets, reading books or watching DVDs. The "day bed" in my studio is covered in comfy cushions and cosy blankets, including the giant granny square blanket which I crocheted last year. The double-bed sized blanket was my very first crochet project, and a huge amount of fun to make. I finished sewing in the ends just before I suddenly moved house last autumn & it's been packed up in a box ever since... it's very nice to finally be using it, and I think it looks rather snazzy with those vintage florals! I must remember to try to get a photo of the full finished blanket in all its stripey glory sometime :)

I've also been going on some day trips - yay! I'm currently living a mere hour and a half from central London so I'm trying to get up to town as often as possible for trips to galleries and museums and to meet up with friends and some of the lovely folks I've got to know through Etsy over the years. I've been buying a postcard or two from each place I've been to, as a little memento of my travels...

... with so many great galleries & museums (almost) on my doorstep I'm determined to visit as many of them as I can while I'm living here! The Natural History Museum is next on my list, and then after that I'll be giving London a miss for a few weeks while the Olympics are on and going to places like Oxford & Windsor instead. You can see Windsor Castle from my parents house on a clear day, and as local residents we get free entry (yay!) but I haven't been for at least 15 years. I am quite looking forward to it.

UPDATE: My poppy design is now available as a sewing pattern! Visit my shop to see all my printable PDF patterns

Wednesday 11 July 2012

Updating my Working Wardrobe

One of the great pleasures of being self-employed / working from home is that you can wear what you like to work. There are no office dress codes to worry about when your office is in your house and you're your own boss!

I'm not a fan of working in my pajamas (apart from when I'm ill or working on a crazy deadline) but I do like to be comfy. Most of my old t-shirts were getting a bit past it so I decided to treat myself to a few new ones from Etsy for wearing "to the office".

Here are a selection of shirts from some of the fab Etsy shops I discovered while going on my t-shirt hunt (I've bought some of them & have my eye on others). Etsy is great but it can definitely take a while to hunt through all those search results to find stuff you like, so I thought I'd share my finds in case any of you guys also fancied some t-shirt shaped additions to your wardrobe (working or otherwise).

Fox t-shirt from Gnome Enterprises:

 Lion t-shirt from New Duds:

Cassette Tapes t-shirt from Crawlspace Studios:

& Rock & Roll Casette Tape t-shirt from Last Earth:

Moth / Butterfly / Dragonfly t-shirt from Friendly Oak:

Moon t-shirt from Blackbird Tees

Owl t-shirt from Zen Threads:

I like a lot of Zen Threads' shirts, especially this ship t-shirt:

And as an English Lit grad I love love love these literary tees... Robert Frost t-shirt from Neena Creates:

& The Importance of Being Earnest t-shirt from Aoristic:

(P.S. If you're a fellow book lover, you might also want to check out Out of Print Clothing who sell t-shirts printed with old book covers. Ah how I wish their Maltese Falcon t-shirt came in women's sizes!)

Friday 6 July 2012

Lots and Lots of Simple Squares

I've mentioned before how I've been gradually working my way through my stash of "random" balls of yarn leftover from other projects, and knitting blanket squares.

Well, this is all that's left of my yarn stash now!

I've got a crate full of big blanket squares (in two sizes)...

... and a stash of about 150 mini squares:

The next job on my crafty to do list is to sort through all the big blanket squares to see how many extra squares I'm going to need to make them up into proper finished blankets. Then I'll be going yarn shopping to find some extra colours - I'll be planning this shopping trip as carefully as possible to avoid ending up with a big stash of leftover yarn again!

P.S. I continue to be deluged with nasty spam comments in my inbox every day so I'm afraid the anti-spam word verification widget has made a comeback. Sorry, folks.

Wednesday 4 July 2012

A Very British Biscuit Tin

Gosh, it's been a while since my last blog post!

Things have been quite quiet here over the past couple of weeks. I've mostly been doing things like slowly catching up with my filing & accounts, and watching a bit too much TV.

I have also been eating far too many biscuits thanks to the purchase of this gorgeous biscuit tin from Marks & Spencer:

It's got a map of London on the top and then each side is illustrated with stuff from each country in the UK.

I did quite like the trio of square Diamond Jubliee -themed biscuit tins M&S were selling, but it was this one which stole my heart. Once all the biscuits have been eaten (which won't be long now, at the rate I'm getting through them) the tin will be put to good use holding in-progress craft projects or sewing supplies, I'm not sure which yet.

Talking of Diamond Jubilee stuff, I also recently treated myself to this "Royal Tea" tea towel designed by Charlotte Farmer (image from the Tate Gallery shop). You know how I love a nice teatowel

Have you bought anything as a "souvenir" of the Jubilee?