I have had to go back and edit this post since I first scheduled it because I’ve now completed a few of the projects I had on here. I have made candles from a leftover block of wax I had lying around, and I’ve also done a cross-stitch sampler and made a lot of headway with my Xmas knitted jumper, so at least there are a few things to cross off the never-ending list.
I am still currently working on my knitted WIP’s (a shawl and 3 jumpers) and want to finish those before I start any new crochet or knitted projects. [LOL, Future me here…I cast on a knitted dog from a magazine free kit!!!]
It’s entirely possible that I might unpick one of the jumpers, if that happens, I think a pair of knitted mittens might be the next cast on project, OR, if I am feeling particularly brave, a pair of orange socks which I already have the sock yarn for. And I also bought half price sock yarn in a bright multicoloured pattern so there will definitely be knitted socks at some point in the future.
I don’t have any plans for any crochet projects at the moment or the near future. I’ve been using crochet lately as a means to use up scraps of leftover yarn.
I also have a few bits and pieces leftover from other projects – lots of shea butter to use up in hand salves and body butters etc., some gouache paints to try and I wouldn’t mind another try at Lino cutting. I have lots of card blanks hidden away under my bed somewhere, so I could try to lino print some cards? Not really a homemade card person but it’s an idea.
I guess what’s really next is to use up materials and re-order tools etc. so that they fit in drawers and boxes better and take up less room.
As Yoda would say ‘Pass on what you have learned!’
Yes, I have taught people to knit and crochet with varying degrees of success (and pain). I have found though that if they aren’t interested in looking up knitting or crochet patterns and ideas for themselves, then they will invariably fail. (Yes, blame it on the students not the teacher).
It is so difficult to try to teach someone how to knit when they don’t like the look of what they have done, when something is wonky and it’s not perfect first time round. You say to them that it takes time and experimentation on their part as well as motivation to stick with it and suddenly they’ve had enough!
I have tried to teach friends and my mother how to crochet. None of them do it still!
What’s the most useful thing I have ever made? Good question! Obviously it is…WILLARD THE WHALE!!
Back by popular demand – I knitted Willard a few years ago from a free pattern leaflet (possibly with Let’s Knit magazine) and was the first toy I ever knitted (that I was happy with the finished product *coughs*).
I mean…look at his cute lil face.
But how is he useful I hear you ask? Well, I think the answer is obvious, and if you can’t see it, I don’t think I’m going to tell you – so there!!
DAY #22 – Specific items or projects I would like to try
I have only ever knitted one sock. Not one pair! Just the one! And it wasn’t as difficult as I had feared…but it took me 3 weeks to do and put me off forevermore.
I would like to actually knit a pair of socks one day! Nothing fancy, just an actual pair that fit my clown-sized feet perfectly! I have two balls of West Yorkshire Spinners 4-ply in an orange colour suspiciously the same as the jumper I am knitting.
I do hate the smallness of 4-ply though – it takes so long to make any progress!
I would also like to do mittens in the round but the charts always confuse me. Skeindeer Knits on Ravelry (you can also find her on Youtube) has a few lovely patterns I would love to try. And The Crimson Stitchery (again on Ravelry and Youtube) has some sweet sock patterns.
Thats’s after I finish all my current WIP’s!!
And of course, have a go at literally everything else there is to possibly make in the world!
I have loads of favourite crafty books for all sorts of crafts such as knitting, crochet, sewing etc. For this post I am going to pick a book that always inspires me because I love the fabrics used and there are only a couple of projects I wouldn’t have a go at (high praise indeed!).
It is called Quilting In No Time by Emma Hardy.
There is quite a mix of home-ware projects in this book such as table mats and coasters, laundry bags, a woollen fabric pouf, hot water bottle cover, curtains, napkins, table runner, aprons etc.
I have had a go at the pincushion on the front of the book and a trivet. I did the trivet out of Christmas fabric and it looked OK, but I couldn’t get the mitred edging perfect so that will need to be unpicked at some point and maybe try again with bias binding strips.
I like the look of the table runner and might have a go at a festive themed one in November/ December later this year.
Day #20 – Favourite Youtube Channels to watch whilst crafting
As I was compiling this list I had a sudden thought. Should I list just crafty Youtubers or include Podcasts I listen to whilst I am crafting? You know what, I think I’ll do the latter!
My Top 5 Youtube Channels I like to listen to when I craft (BUT NOT SPECIFICALLY CRAFT RELATED)
5. Simple Living Alaska
I have followed Arielle and Eric from almost their first video and I can see why they have amassed such a huge following in only a couple of years. They are living in a cabin in Alaska with their 2 dogs, have a garden, some chickens, go hunting, basically it’s an Alaskan homestead. What I like about them is that they are down to Earth and make videos with a purpose…some homesteaders will make a whole video about chasing after their cow or shovelling sh*t (I’m not kidding about that last one). This channel makes videos with purpose and their photography is amazing.
4. Ich Koche Heute (That translates into English as ‘Today I’m cooking’)
Yes, this is a German channel but don’t panic (Haben She keine Panik!!) there are English subtitles and a list of the ingredients and methods in the description box below. This is a cooking channel that looks at both German meals and international cuisine, it’s simple, good, food such as; Veggie quiche with kohlrabi and, carrots and leeks; simple cheeseburger sandwiches; Baking mini pretzel rolls with seeds etc. He also does some recipes where he bakes a giant cake version of chocolate bars – see his giant Kinder Bueno cake! Also, he has a very cute black Labrador that is always sleeping in front of the oven!
This is probably one of the most famous Chinese bloggers out there, she lives in the mountains with her grandma and shows a traditional way of homesteading and crafting. She shows how to preserve food, grow food, I think she embroidered a dress in one video, in another she made her own inks and writing sets for Chinese calligraphy. A lot of her videos are basically cooking videos but shown from when she grows a vegetable to harvesting to cooking with it. I first found her when I saw her preserving eggs…that video had my mouth gaping wide open…she’s using WHAT to preserve it? Lol…for a contrast between western and eastern homesteading, this channel is a real eye-opener.
This is a channel that promotes short sci-fi films. Some of them have quite famous names cameoing in them and some are obviously university final exam pieces – there is a real mix. And the topics are all sorts of sci-fi ones such as time travel, outer space etc. But be warned some of them are RUDE!! There is a funny video where they create a dimensional portal thing and they decide to send a man instead of a woman and instead of focusing on the mission to get to the right universe, the man thinks about something men are supposed to think about every 6 seconds or so…and my God is that video rude…short but DEFINITELY for mature audiences…but the average video is quite clever, especially one where the universe is made by a cute little alien. Something for everyone here.
She is very creative in that she is a woodworker/ carpenter with her own workshop and now a huge retail shop/ workshop. She is amazing putting together all these projects (after milling the wood, cutting it, sanding it etc. first of course) and she and her friend Anne of All Trades really got me looking at wood as a potential future material I would love to try. I have never been particularly DIY minded, I could put together an IKEA set, sure, but use a mitre saw? A band saw? Eek no! But she makes me want to have a go. And that walk- in raised bed she made? I want that most of all…I’d be terrified of driving all the heavy machinery though like !!
I do seem to watch a lot of homesteading channels!
Some other channels I like are:
Fran Meneses (Frannerd), Royalty Soaps, Sea Lemon, Baylee Jae, The Green Witch, Mandarine’s, Lumnah Acres (when they are not being so click-baity), Jeremy Jahns and Chris Stuckman for movie reviews and OMG I could go on…
But whilst I am on the subject…Chris Stuckman’s review of a film called Samurai Cop…it’s the funniest thing I’ve seen in ages!
I use both, but usually in a blend of fibres. E.g. 75 %acrylic with 25% wool.
I don’t like the scratchy feel of pure wool and I am not a huge fan of merino wool as everyone else seems to be. I am just not keen on the shiny feeling of the finished product. I know what I mean even if no-one else does!
I have never knitted something with bamboo, I think that would be interesting to see how that is made. And hemp too…that is one fibre that I can’t find in my local yarn shop, I know you can make hemp fabric which is eco-friendly but can you make hemp yarn too? I’m sure I read somewhere that you can.
I usually use acrylics in some form or other. The colours are just so vibrant and a lot of the time they are cheaper to buy. Not always. I love Stylecraft Cabaret DK, it has a sparkly ribbon bit running through it and it is so soft, although the cushion I made years ago went all fluffy with use. I started an autumn coloured jumper in the same yarn, but I will wait to finish the Christmas one I am knitting at the moment fits before carrying on with the autumn one (I did it in the same size and pattern, just different yarn).
I love the colour of natural yarn and natural dyes. There is a shop/ Youtube channel called Woolly Mammoth Fibres, she is also on Instagram if you are intersted. Anyway, this lovely lady natural dyes a range of yarns herself and is on my to buy list once I make a little room for a new stash!! The natural colours are perhaps more muted than the usual brights of acrylics, but they look amazing knitted up into Fair Isle jumpers and cardigans. You should definitely go have a look 🙂
I would like one day to make a jumper out of undid natural wool in greys, browns and creams, that would look wintery and snuggly and cosy, I think. And a pair of mittens from the same…with matching hat and cowl of course!
If only I had a flock of sheep I could spin, dye, weave and knit my own wool…that’s the dream! (Imagine if you dyed the sheep before you sheared them – that would be an awesomely coloured bright sparkly flock!!)
I don’t have much space to keep a lot of my crafty tools and materials out on show all the time. In the same breath I have to admit I love having all my crafty things around me. I guess Minimalist Hoarder could kind of describe me?!
I have a plastic set of drawers that I use for crafty purposes as well as a huge plastic tub full of wool, homemade creations, bits of fabric, kits/ sets ready to work on like a linen top that I have mostly got all cut out and ready to sew.
However, everything is sort of sorted, even though they might look like they have been chucked in the tub or drawers haphazardly – there is SOME evidence of order in the chaos! The knitted projects on the go are all in their own tote bag or wallet – patterns with fabric, crocs-stitch pattern printed off and placed in a folder with Aida fabric and threads ready to go etc.
I have a project bag I bought from a haberdashery section of a local shop quite a few years ago and that has all of my orange balls of yarn and needles and pattern for my orange jumper. Which then got chucked into my wardrobe…
The top drawer has needles and crochet hooks, a random embroidery hoop, Tunisian (Afghan) and extra long crochet hooks, some bag handles that I have never got around to either knitting or sewing a bag for, crap like that. Second has my main fabric stash (with some in both the top and bottom drawers) as well as interfacing, wadding, tracing paper for patterns, embroidery threads and old cross-stitch designs at the bottom. And a random tea towel. And the bottom drawer has things like resin colours, safety glasses, stamps and inks, hot glue gun…you know, the boring stuff you never use but you never know when you might need!
I think part of the mess is having so many bags of stuff around me. But that’s not such a big problem anymore as I am slowly getting through my WIP’s. At least now, there is room to shove things in a drawer and have things out of sight.
So, am I messy or neat? I think both. Of course, you have to make a mess to make anything homemade, but over the past year or year and a half or so, I have definitely got a lot tidier. Part of that is to do with a midget shift, where I just decided one day that enough was enough and to get rid of wasn’t serving me any more. Yes, we all want to make a patchwork quilt out of our fabric scraps but will we really? I got rid of all the fabric pieces that I didn’t like anymore or just simply wasn’t going to undo anything with and that freed up so much room.
Sometimes you try your best and no matter what you do or how well you follow a pattern, the finished product just doesn’t look like what you imagined in your head.
The examples below are not the worst ever…I don’t have pics for the pj shorts I sewed up last month that wouldn’t pull up one my fat thighs or the cami top I sewed a few years ago that burst when I put it on!!! 🙂
The bunny below was a free pattern/ kit with a magazine, possibly Let’s Knit I can’t remember the exact one.
I think an image here will speak louder than a hundred words.
Pic below what it SHOULD look like. The one beneath that what it ACTUALLY turned out like…lol!
I think it’s the dog nose that makes it weird…yeah it’s the dog nose! Or maybe the eyes…
I went on an intro to mosaic course last year before lockdown started and I managed to complete a large tile (maybe for a trivet) and 2 smaller coasters. The coasters are fine, although they all need finishing somehow on the edges as the glass shards can be quite sharp.
It’s the big, yellow trivet that is the problem. It looks like a pirate skull, no matter which way you look at it, it looks like a face.
It’s supposed to be a monstera deliciosa (cheese plant) leaf!!
I’ve done worse than these two things in the past – thank goodness I dont have any pics of an Alice in Wonderland free knitted doll I tried – she looked like a zombie 🙂
I love the process a lot of the time, rather than the finished product.
In the last year I have made quite a few finished objects for charity. That sounds commendable, but actually it was nice to have something to do and at the same time make a bit of room by using up so much of the wool and yarn I had gathered over the years.
Last year with the pandemic though, I had to be careful how much I was making and where I was sending to, as well as thinking about what exactly I was going to create. I mean, only sending useful things. Since most charities were having to slow down and social distance and everything, I sent only to charities who I knew had the space to store items and the staff to sort through them.
I ended up sending 2 adult and 2 baby blankets, several adult hats and a few baby/ doll hats. I loom knitted a couple of cowls and hand crocheted a couple as well as a couple of scarves.
And I sent a few balls of yarn and other bits like crochet hook sets etc.
I find that making blankets with either lots of little granny squares or one big one are great ways to use up yarn scraps and ball ends that you dont know what to do with.
In the UK there are a few charities you can send to such as Knit For Peace, Woolly Hugs etc. Maybe the UK Hand Knitting Association or the Linus Project would be good places to start as well.
Sadly not many UK knitting or crochet charities seem to have Ravelry groups or they use the Social Media platform that I don’t (even the ones I do have an account with, the charities don’t always seem to keep up with them even in normal times). So, it can be hard to pick one you want to knit for. I’d always thought about knitting for a local maternity unit, baby blankets, cardigan sets, hats etc. but now (with the ongoing pandemic) isn’t the time for that, especially when you have to quarantine packages.
There used to be a few places where you could send squares that you’d knitted or crocheted. To be honest, I always thought if you’re going to go to the trouble to knit 50 squares, could you not just spend an extra half hour either crocheting or sewing them together? Much easier for the recipients I’m sure!
Now that my stash is down to next to nothing, I’m concentrating on knitting for myself. I won’t be starting anything new for anyone else, including charities anytime soon. But I will definitely do some more knitting and crochet for charities in the future. But my sweaters are my priority now 🙂
I’m incredibly boring and pathetic in that I like the basic stocking stitch for knitting and a basic granny square for crochet.
I know, I know…such a vanilla crafter!! But there is nothing so beautiful as a swatch of stocking stitch…
Last year I knitted my first ever baby cardigan and a baby blanket for a friend who had a baby, using the same yarn (I can’t remember, was it a Stylecraft yarn?) and I completed my first ever C2C (corner to corner) crochet blanket at the same time.
I love the way the stocking stitch turned out in this yarn – too bad I hadn’t quite mastered mattress stitch at that point so the sewing up of the cardigan was a bit wonky.
I also love the combinations of different textures you can make with only knit and purl stitches.
I have always been interested in the environment and sustainable living, long before it was as cool and ‘on trend’ as it seems to be now.
I used to help my dad at his allotment when he had one, I have recycled, re-used, repaired and re-purposed as much as I can. I have boycotted shops and companies. I have used a tote bag for shopping, in fact that was one of my first ever online purchases bag in the day – a mini book about allotments and a tote bag!
I have done litter picks and bought loads of books about one-planet living. I have cut up old clothes and repurposed scraps of yarn and fabric.
But, crafting and hobbies do seem to get left behind when discussing the environment and they are definitely not talked about as much as food, fashion, shopping, energy etc.
Here’s a few thoughts about eco-crafting.
I could write for pages and pages about the textile industry. I mean, where do I even begin with that?! I do a lot of knitting and crochet and have started sewing in earnest in 2020. I also do the odd bit of cross-stitching (but not for ages) and I have tried macrame with spare t-shirt yarn, and even made a leather handbag last year (if you could even call that textiles).
So, let’s look at yarn. I use a lot of acrylics, mostly because I like either the colours, the feel of the yarn, or both. Also, acrylic and man-made fibres seem to be cheaper, not always, but most of the time they are not as expensive as natural fibres.
Over the years I had amassed a HUGE stash of yarn, which got used up in it’s entirety last year. Now, I just have a few balls of yarn for the projects I am working on.
So, in future, I will be more specific and intentional when buying yarn. No more impulse buys. No more buying yarn because I need to have it in my drawer and the world will end if I don’t.
I will buy from small, independent businesses, or local shops where possible. I will try to buy natural fibres, or natural fibre mixes, preferably naturally dyed.
And I would love it if the organic wool came from British sheep, was spun in the uk by an ethical company, was naturally dyed in the UK, and didn’t have many air-miles.
The same with fabric, but that is harder to find eco-friendly fabric in your local craft shop. The fabric will have been made in China, Bangladesh, India, Taiwan, or even Turkey, which I was quite surprised to discover exactly how much of a big industry textiles was in Turkey, and how much of my favourite yarn brands used manufacturers in Turkey. Turkey is certainly closer to the UK than any Asian manufacturer…but am I right in thinking there is a reason that Turkey is not part of the European Union (oh the irony coming from someone in the UK) and that reason is to do with Human Rights Violations? I could be wrong…
What do I focus on with fabric? Conditions of the workers? The materials and processes in manufacturing which are harmful to the environment? The air-miles needed to import the materials into the UK? Vegan? (I’m obviously not vegan if I am making myself a leather handbag…)
There are organic cottons out there. And you can look out for hemp, flax, linen, bamboo.
This is one area I think I need to accept doesn’t have an easy answer, it is an area I need to look into more. I don’t think there are many UK based companies selling UK woven or knitted fabric made out of eco-friendly materials and dyes, that sell direct to crafters and consumers at such a price to make it worth the swap for me as consumer. In my experience, eco-friendly is not cheap.
There are British companies out there, don’t get me wrong, and yes, we should pay a decent price for quality hand made products. Maybe if I had to pay extra for good, local stuff, then I would be more purposeful with what projects I chose and would possibly take better care of the finished object? I like to think so.
I think it is a part of crafting where I have to say ‘I can’t have it all’.
Textiles, in particular fabric, is an area where my personal focus will be on the buying from local, small businesses, rather than the actual materials at this time. Hopefully, as people become more aware, it won’t be as hard to buy UK made fabric.
If you buy a crafting tool, chances are it has been made in China. That’s thousands of miles away, so there’s a lot of carbon emissions just to get you your knitting needles, crochet hooks, stitching pony, knitting loom, punch needle kit, needle-felting supplies, spindle etc. Even your scissors and rulers and pens will most likely have been made in China.
It’s OK to think about your material’s eco-credentials, but what about the tools?
What kind of wood are your tools made from and where are they made?
If you could get a unique, local, hand-crafted wooden spinning wheel made, wouldn’t it be worth it to spend a few extra pounds or dollars to commission one? I know so many of our everyday things are made in China, but from now on I shall try to go local as much as I can.
You could give yourself a complex trying to find the ultimate eco-friendly craft and its tools and materials. Do what you can and don’t sweat the rest.
One random way of being ‘eco-conscious’ has been magazines with freebies. I don’t buy knitting and crochet magazines if they have free tools anymore for a few reasons: 1) because I have no room for so many extra tools (like crochet hooks and knitting needles) 2) they are of such crappy, inferior quality that they either break or don’t get used at all and 3) because they are all cheap and naff, made in a Chinese factory yucky plastic that’s why!! 🙂
More is not always more. Sometimes less, really is more!
Here are a few ideas of how you can be more eco-friendly with your crafting:
Think about the type of craft you are doing – I tried resin in 2020 and I loved it. But, I’m not sure exactly what the resin is made from and if it can be recycled, so until I do more research, then I am not going to be doing any more.
Research companies and new crafting trends
Use materials that are derived from natural sources and that can be easily recycled
Use natural dyes with plants from your local area/ your country
Make practical makes – I have lost track of the amount of times I have made something, then thought to myself ‘but there is nowhere to put it and I’m never going to use it’ and eventually thrown it away – be more intentional with making and creating
Give away unwanted craft materials to your local school, often thrift stores and charity shops will take old balls of wool etc., but they won’t always sell so could get thrown out, better to give to your local school who may not have the budget for arty and crafty things
Instead of buying metres of denim from your local craft shop, try buying a few cheap pairs of jeans from your local charity shops and up-cycling them into a denim blanket or another item of clothing – cheap and sustainable
Use recycled paper and card for your projects
I could go on but you get the idea. And for project ideas?
I have started to make my own body butter bars and hand salves from natural ingredients. Fun, and since you choose the ingredients, they can be as eco-friendly as you want (of course, I still use plastic containers for a lot of my bath/ body/ beauty makes but they get recycled or re-used).
Crochet or knit face cloths and make-up remover pads. Or sew some.
Make cards and tags out of old craft paper. Make Christmas decorations from old, yellow books you were going to recycle…fold into origami or hanging decorations.
Save old ends of yarn and fabric scraps to use as filling, save longer scraps of yarn and crochet a scraps blanket…
Give handmade gifts or courses/ workshops for birthday and Christmas presents.
One thing I did do last year was donate a lot of my unwanted full balls of yarn, as well as some knitting and crochet supplies (including freebies from craft magazines!) to a charity that works with knitting groups in youth centres etc. I also crocheted and knitted blankets last year that I donated to a charity that works with different groups around the UK and abroad and collects knitted and crocheted items. I think it was something like several hats for adults and a few for babies/ dolls, cowls, scarves, 2 shawls and 4 blankets. Something like that.
There are lots of things you can do. I think, personally, the most important thing when creating and making is not to get into the mindset of buy, buy, buy. You can make a surprising amount with what you already have. You don’t need what you don’t have!!!! 🙂