Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Plans and hopes

I'm not huge on New Year's Resolutions. Actually, the holidays we get around winter time aren't hugely important to me anyway. Christmas is a holiday I have a lot of ambivalence about, and last New Year's Eve, Mr Handmade and I fell asleep at around 10 o'clock and were awoken by my sister at about ten to midnight so we could come and see in the new year with my family.

This year, we're doing New Year's Eve very quietly, at home. We've had invitations from several directions, but I've come down with a terribly nasty cold in the last 24 hours, and we'll stay in, drink tea, maybe watch something on Netflix.

I do like how reflective everything gets at this time of year, though. I saw New Year's Resolutions described as 'a to-do list for the first week in January', but it's still nice that people think at this time of year about how to make their worlds better. It's nice, in some ways, to think about how things are compared to this time last year, and to think and wonder and hope about how things will be this time next year.

Compared to this time last year, I'm much happier. I'm in a stable job, not a student any more. I live in a nicer place, closer to family and slightly more convenient for visiting friends and family north of the border. Mr Handmade and I were talking about how 2014 has been a tough year for both of us, and it has - but it's ended stronger than it began. I have a really difficult job, but it's really rewarding. I have some really great, really inspirational coworkers.

Although I don't have resolutions, I have some goals for the coming year. I'd like to read more short stories - I only read one short story collection this year. I have Stone Mattress by Margaret Atwood lined up to read, and I have my eye on one or two others, like Drinking Coffee Elsewhere by ZZ Packer, which I've been meaning to acquire and read since we read the titular story in a creative writing class I took during my undergrad degree.

I'd like to finish the two fleece-backed quilts I'm working on at the moment. One of them has the top pieced and just needs basting, quilting and binding. The other has around half of the blocks made. They're a top crafting priority for me.

I'd like to make a traditional log cabin quilt. I have a mini-charm pack of midwinter red, from moda, which I plan to use as the hearts of the blocks. I want to use the traditional dark/light division and play with layouts.

I'd like to try a little free motion quilting. I'd like to knit a few more pairs of socks for myself. Mr Handmade needs new gloves and deserves another pair of socks. I'd like to finish my cardigan that's stalled halfway up the body. I'd like to make a few more skirts.

I think that's enough goals for the year ahead. What do you hope will happen in the next twelve months?

Saturday, 13 December 2014

Fire the rockets!

Just needs basting now.Things have been moving slowly. Everything's winding down for... you know... the C word. But all systems are still running here. This particular spaceship (UFO... get it?) has been hanging around for years. I made these blocks when I was 21 or 22, in the second half of my first degree (I have 3). The blocks moved house with me at least five times, without being sewn together. I got them out earlier this year, ironed and starched them, then did nothing else with them.

A few months ago I bought the fleece for the back, expecting to have another row of squares; as you can clearly see in this picture, there's no space for another three blocks added onto that. Three blocks were culled from this quilt (they'll find good homes in other things) and eventually, today, I got around to sewing this top together. I have no real explanation for why it's taken so long for me to do anything with this one; that's just how things are sometimes, I suppose.

One of the reasons is probably that I haven't had a dedicated sewing space of my own before. Now I have the space for it, I've taken the decision to just make my living room into a sewing room. I live alone and keep one end of the table free for things like eating, but I can keep my sewing machine set up and my ironing board available at all times. It's so much easier when all you have to do is sit down and SEW - no messing around, putting things out and having to put them away again when finished.

Anyway, I'm ready to knock this spaceship out of the sky. It needs basting, quilting and binding, and then it can go to its new home on the back of my sofa or my rocking chair. I need to pop out tomorrow and get some curved safety pins (it's about time I stopped stealing my mum's and just bought my own).

It's funny - even the blocks I don't actually like on their own, I like in this mix. It's come together in a way I didn't dare to hope it would. And even if it was the ugliest quilt known to man, it would still be warm and cosy to snuggle under, and it would still contain my first ever quilt blocks. 

Saturday, 6 December 2014

Random saturday

1. The worst part about finishing book 1 of a series in early December is that I don't dare buy book 2 in case someone's already got it for me. I'd hate to ruin someone's carefully planned gift idea. The book in question is The Name of the Wind, by Patrick Rothfuss. It's pretty standard anti-hero-ish slightly gritty epic fantasy - the main character's a special genius, but at least he doesn't have a special destiny. There's a mysterious woman who he desperately admires. He's the best in his field at whatever he chooses to do. It's pretty well written, though, and has some interesting adaptations of standard fantasy tropes. I'm planning to read the second book.

2. I've done very little knitting of late. I finished an adapted Tilting Tardis cowl in DK Blue-faced Leicester in Something Herbal from Old Maiden Aunt. I've made one Snapdragon Mitten but haven't yet cast on for the other one, in the same yarn.
3. I've pulled three quilt blocks out of my scrappy quilt and have used one so far for a cushion cover. It looks pretty good on my sofa for now, but it has a different home in mind in a few weeks' time.

4. I'm hopelessly behind on my reading goals for the year. I've read 37 books so far, but I'd rather be averaging somewhere around a book each week. I'm reading MaddAddam at the moment, though, which is wonderful and I'll probably finish this afternoon.

5. I've finally got central heating and cooking facilities back in my house. It feels so good to be able to take a hot shower again - living without heat is no way to be in the autumn/winter.

6. I'm taking full advantage of having cooking facilities back to cook a big batch of spaghetti bolognese this afternoon. It's a little sad how excited I am to cook real food in my own house again.