Somewhere I can let out my inner crafter without being labeled as even more insane.

It’s been a while since I’ve done a post about optimisation, my little work for the year. But it has been hard at work behind the scenes.

This time, I’m going to be talking about time management. I suck at it, so I’m hoping by getting it out here, other people might have some good ideas about it all.

The problem is that I have too many hobbies, and not enough time to do them all *sigh*. It’s a wonderful problem to have!

I currently (or at least want to) knit, crochet, make Dorset buttons, cross stitch, take up embroidery, read, play computer games, sew, and spin. (Yes, spinning is decidedly new! I learnt the basics yesterday, and I’m definitely looking into getting a drop spindle soon!)

And then, on top of these hobbies of mine, I have a PhD to complete, and next academic year I’ll also be working towards a teaching qualification, which will also be fairly time-expensive.

So, something has to give. And I really don’t want anything to give (except the sleep, which isn’t exactly optional!).

For a while, a while ago, I used to have a little time-table for my day. Just something quick and dirty, like this:

10:00 work

12:00 lunch

13:00 work

15:00 break (knitting)

16:00 work

18:00 finish (cross stitch)

19:00 dinner

20:00 free time (generally knitting and watching tv)

Unfortunately, it stopped because it was too awkward keeping track of the teaching I had on different days, and that’s going to start again in September. But maybe next time, if I’m used to this routine I’ll be able to think of something to help it work.

Also, I think I need to stop trying to bury my product side of crafter- I want to see results dammit! So, in future, I’ll take more pictures of what I’ve done in a day. Even if I don’t post them (and I probably won’t!) it will let me see that I’ve made progress every day, even if it doesn’t seem particularly visible.

So, how do you stay on track? Any other tips you can think of for me?

The first is just my sister’s graduation card, finally put onto a card!

graduation3

I’ve also finished socks

socks!

and more socks!

socks!2

I also knitted myself a cover for my earphones

earphones2

That was very annoying, and I hope that I don’t break these earphones any time soon!

And finally, a set of pyjamas ready for Winter. They’ll be living in Salisbury, and so next time I’ll be going home is for Christmas, so I needed to finish them. Ta-da!

pjtoppjbottom

Since these pyjamas are a big thing, I’ll be continuing my habit of discussing what I learnt from this project.

  • Sewing machines don’t like sewing over 4 layers of fleece!
  • If something doesn’t seem to be running right, stop and figure it out. Don’t keep going until it becomes a big problem!
  • Gathers aren’t so bad. Sewing them is a right pain, however!
  • If a gather seems rather large, stick a finger in the middle of it and scrunch it down into a few smaller ones
  • Fleece doesn’t fray. Which is wonderful when the machine decides it’s tasty and makes a hole :(
  • Mums are magic! I can’t remember what mine fixed for me this time around, but still, it’s always worth mentioning!
  • Pins don’t hurt, so stop moaning about it!
  • Don’t sew Winter clothes in the Summer, when it’s a right pain trying them on!

I think that’s everything this time!

Finished!!

Just a quick picture for now, but my sister’s graduation card is FINISHED!!!!

graduation2

There will be more photos when I’ve finished it up as a card. I just need to get a card first!

So, you’ve got most of the sock finished, all that is left is ribbing (so the sock doesn’t fall down during the day!) and casting off. The ribbing is fairly basic- choose whatever ribbing and get to it! Just don’t skimp on it, you want at least an inch and probably closer to 1.5- I use 1 but am planning on switching to 1.5 soon, as some of my older socks aren’t staying up so well any more.

After the ribbing, it’s time to cast off. Casting off normally isn’t going to cut it for this, it just isn’t stretchy enough. I use a cast off called Jenny’s Surprisingly Stretchy Bind Off (it’s decidedly not mine!). You basically do either a yarn over, or reverse yarn over between each stitch so you have more y6arn length used to make it stretchier.

I use a 2×1 ribbing for my socks, and they look like this when I’m about to cast off:

IMGP0274I just knit the first stitch, rather than do Jenny’s trick, so, for this tutorial, we will be beginning with the second stitch.

IMGP0275

On the knit side, you need to do a reverse yarn over, so you bring the yarn over from back to front, and then under from front to back ready to knit the next stitch

IMGP0276Knit the next stitch as usual, and then cast off the first two stitches, so only the last stitch is on the needle. In the beginning, it is easier to do this one stitch at a time, but as you get more experienced, it becomes quicker to do both stitches.

For a purl stitch, you need to do a normal yarn over. So the yarn goes over the top of the needle from front to back, and then under the needle in preparation to purl

IMGP0277Again, purl the next stitch, and cast off the other two stitches on the needle. Repeat this all the way around, and finish as usual. Darn in the ends, put your foot into the sock, and admire! Or take the sock and wave it around in everyone’s face to show them that you made a sock!

The main trick with this technique is remembering which yarn over to use. The way I remember is by thinking that before whichever stitch you’re doing (knit or purl), you want to bring the yarn under the work (so front to back for knitting, or back to front for purling). The the yarn over has to work with that!

And that’s that! All done. Next week there might be a post about mending socks, if I can find any damaged ones to mend to show you! If you’ve been following along (either as I’ve been posting these, or afterwards!) drop me a link to some photos, or something! I’d love to see more socks!

The Big C Word

Christmas. There, I said it.

At time of publishing (02/06), we are 205 days away from Christmas. For some strange reason, this currently feels like plenty. I must be coming down with something.

This Christmas, I’m planning on keeping things simple.Mostly. I am planning on completing NaNo again this year, this time with a cross stitch project for my parents. (Joan Elliott’s Green Man). Don’t worry, I have a decent back up plan if (when?) it all goes wrong. Playing it safe here!

But for the rest, I’m playing it safe. Knitted dishcloths and hand-made soap. I’m even planning on using the easy method of soap making (buying it pre-made and just adding scents etc.) And, I know how I’m planning on presenting them (wrap them up in relatively plain paper and tie with some of the yarn for decoration.)

I’m not even planning on stitching gift tags this year! WildOlive has some really cute camels from a while back which I’m using. See, simple! I might make some Christmas cards, there are some wonderful ones in one of my cross stitch books with dangling legs. But they’re hardly necessary!

I just…can’t get started on them. I don’t even want to look for suitable yarn yet. It’s like I’m in a rut and I haven’t even started!

So, my lovely readers, this is where you come in. What yarns (that I can easily get in the UK) are good for dishcloths? I know that cotton or cotton blends is the best bet, but other than than, I have no idea. Which ones are really good? Which should I steer clear of? The local shops here don’t seem to have any, so I’ll probably have to order online, where’s the best place to go? Ravelry has lots of patterns, so unless you know an awesome one, I think I’m good on that front! Thanks for any help you can give!

So, after completely missing last month’s WIPocalypse post, it swings back around again.

The question this month: Are you more productive with stitching in Summer or the Winter?

Umm, I have no idea. I’ll have a look at finishes and things in a moment, but first of all, a guess.  I think I’m more crafty in general in the Summer, because I’m a student, and in the Winter I like knitting because it can keep you warm… maybe?

What does my history of stitching actually look like?

Summer stitching

Stained Glass, tetris shapes (September totally counts as Summer, right?), flower fairy card x2, half the butterfly.

Winter stitching

Butterfly outline, love is, friends were flowers card, roses card, Christmas cards, coaster Christmas presents.

I didn’t include the OUAT sampler, because that was mostly worked as soon as it came out, so about the same in Summer and Winter. So, this basically told me what I already suspected- the weather doesn’t really affect how much I work on things. Maybe if I went back further, I would be able to spot more of a difference, but I think this is enough analysis.

So, onto the interesting part… what work has been done in the last two months?

Well, I haven’t done any on Stained Glass. I pulled it out a few times, but couldn’t be bothered to actually do any work on it *sigh*.

I did make my dad a birthday card

daddy2And I’ve started work on a graduation card for my sister

graduationBut that’s really been it :/ Instead I’ve been busy knitting, and writing up a tutorial for knitting socks, which took wayy longer than I thought it would! I take my hat off to those who do it regularly!

See you all next time, I guess!

 

As in, confetti stitching of actual confetti. It’s a right pain!

graduation

But it’s for a good cause…it’s going to be my sister’s graduation card. Now, while e and my sister don’t get on (she machine washes bed socks, what can I say?), graduation is a massive day, and so it totally deserves something special. So, I’m stitching her a card.

And this one makes particular sense for her- under the balloons is a teddy, and the caption ‘The sky’s the limit’. Once upon a time she wanted to be an astronaut, and so this card out of the set caught my eye, and so I started it without really looking at what was involved. *sigh*. Lesson learnt, that won’t be happening again! On the other hand, it’s going to be pretty awesome when done, even if I do say so myself! Let’s see how long it takes

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