Friday, 31 December 2010

FO Friday

So if Wednesdays are for WIPs, Fridays are for FOs! (that's finished objects, for anyone out there not 'up' on the lingo). As time goes on, we'll get a nice trickle of projects developing through WIP Wednesday posts, to eventually appear in a FO Friday post (hopefully to much fanfare and delight).

Unfortunately, I'm rather new to all this blogging about stuff, so for today, I shall just show off some of my favourite FOs so far. (for those on Ravelry, you can of course look at all my projects there)

This was my first ever attempt at crochet. I'd dabbled with knitting, mostly scarves, but never seriously. Then the future MiL sent me a crochet pattern for a bag she thought I would like. She'd tried to buy me one already made, but it was sold before she could return to the shop. So sending me the pattern was the only other option, really. I dutifully thought I might as well have a go, since she's gone to all this trouble.

Well we can all see where that led! I am, pardon the pun, totally hooked.

That was back in May; I finally got around to showing her the finished bag last week, when we saw them on the day after Boxing Day. She was very impressed. Very neat, she said. And I think she is right.

And this is my first attempt at amigurumi. Deciphering the pattern was tricky, as English was not the first language of the lady who wrote it. But I got there in the end. I also learned valuable lessons about avoiding the necessity for sewing bits together - I could easily have crocheted those legs direct onto the body and saved myself a lot of hassle sewing them on afterwards. A lesson I followed with my second amigurumi project, the blue lobster.

Well those are the FOs I'm sharing. Hopefully next week I'll have a current one to show you (maybe that tiger will get a face!), but for now, head over to Tami's Amis to see the other FOs posted up today!

Thursday, 30 December 2010


The trouble with having a lot of hobbies, particularly hobbies that require an awful lot of tools and so forth, is that you take up a lot of space. It's very easy to let stuff accumulate and spread; before you realise it has taken over your entire house. This is problematic when you live in a small house, like we do. We keep buying storage solutions, keep meaning to properly organise things and put stuff away, but it is difficult. Especially when we spend all our time in one room.

We get into the habit of forming "nests" around our chairs. Furniture and floor alike would get buried beneath boxes of Warhammer miniatures, cross stitch kits, computer game boxes and anything else we had lying around from a project picked up and then put to one side. To combat this creeping tide of mess, we bought bookcases. And boxes. Lots of them. We have a whole room upstairs which is only used for storing things. All of my sewing and dressmaking things live up there, along with a large collection of Warhammer miniatures (as yet untouched). Board games, computer games, the main computer. All of my art materials. The double bass, cello and violin. Basically, most of the stuff we don't use very often!

But none of that organisation helps the mess in the living room. It's where we spend most of our time, and we like to engage in crafty activities while watching TV. So Jamie's side of the room becomes a nest of Warhammer models, paints and modelling tools, while I create a nest of yarn. The Warhammer nest was solved with the judicious application of a small, wide, deep bookcase. It slots neatly under the stairs and has so much space on it for all the things we need to keep to hand.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the room, I was spreading further and further out, yarn and half-finished projects all over the place. I'd completely taken over the spare sofa, and was rapidly extending my territory until I was, at one point last week, occupying at least half the room with all of my crochet stuff. Despite arguing many times that we just don't have the room for one more bookcase (at last count, we had nine in our two-up, two-down terrace), I managed to convince Jamie that we had the space for another one. And here it is:

Look at all that lovely space for my stash! I'd best get buying more yarn! Alright, at the moment it's hidden behind a Christmas tree (we had to pull it out to get the new bookcase in next to the other one), which makes accessing it tricky, but that's only for a few more days and then we're back to normal.

Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Wednesday is for Crochet blogging

For my first foray into blogging about my all-consuming crochet habit, I present:

So the point here is to post up every Wednesday with my current works-in-progress. Happily, I have three to share today.

First up, a small amigurumi Tiger, from this free pattern on the Lily Sugar'n Cream website. I started this on the 18th December, the start of my drive to use up my bright orange Sirdar Bonus DK yarn (more on that later). I finished all of the crocheting, stuffing, sewing together in one evening. But I didn't have beads for eyes, and it was too late by the time I was done to be embroidering on the face. So it has been put to one side, and ignored in favour of other projects.

I've got as far as adding black beads for eyes, but not the nose/mouth/whiskers bit. Hopefully he'll turn up in a FO Friday post before too long!

Secondly, my clown fish amigurumi, from this free pattern on Ravelry. I'm sure you'll notice again that this is a project using predominantly bright orange yarn! I'm probably about halfway through, having completed the body and eyes, I just have many fins to make and attach.

As you can see, at the moment it looks more like a demented Vermicious Knid. I started this on the 20th December, but got annoyed with the pattern for the fins, so put it to one side and haven't picked it up again yet.

Lastly, my current favourite project, although I intended it for a fall-back project to do when I didn't have any amigurumi to work on. But I've been working on it almost non stop since I started it! It's a rectangular granny square, using this pattern from fellow blogger Erin Lindsey.

No bright orange in this one! But only the green and purple are new yarns for this project, all of the other colours were needed for my Christmas gift to the future MiL, a holiday penguin (free pattern from

So why am I desperately using up bright orange yarn, I hear you cry. Quite simply, because I have too much of it! I bought it for my tiger striped starghan project, which was a gift for a friend's new baby:

Now before buying the yarn for this project, I searched high and low through all the FOs listed for the pattern on Ravelry, trying to get an idea of how much yarn I might need. Not helped by the fact I was substituting the Sirdar Bonus DK for the recommended Red Heart Sport Baby Pompadour yarn (my first real foray into substituting yarn properly). I got really frustrated because the pattern simply states "keep going until it's big enough for you", and all the FOs on Ravelry don't have the details of how much yarn was used, or how big the finished item is. So I had to wing it.

I really had no idea how much I would need, but reasoning that my white stripes were thinner than the orange and black I got less white than black. In total I bought three skeins of black, three of orange and two white. As you can see from the finished project on Ravelry, I used up just over one of the white and orange, and about a skein and a half of black. White and black leftovers didn't bother me, but what the heck was I going to do with pretty much two whole skeins of bright orange acrylic!

Luckily it didn't take too long searching the pattern database to find a few amigurumi projects to use up the yarn with. I've still got loads left, so I may have to make a few more orange things and give them away (otherwise I'll be drowning in small cute animals, which wouldn't be good).

The trouble with projects to use up yarn, though, is you end up having to buy more yarn because you need a different colour to finish something off, and then you're left with a whole new skein of yarn to use up somehow! It's how I've ended up doing my granny rectangle. I had to buy red and yellow and pale blue to make Howie the Penguin (I didn't think the orange would work on the beak and feet), so while I was in the shop getting those I picked up the red and purple, knowing I already had the granny rectangle in my pattern queue that I could use them on. Hopefully, I will be able to finish off that blanket at a point where I have very little of the yarns left, so I don't end up in this position again!

So there you go. Happy WIP Wednesday!

Tuesday, 28 December 2010

My 2011 Photography Challenges

Vicariously stolen from a fellow blogger I present to you the photography challenges I will be attempting during the next twelve months.

Timed Challenges
  • Take a photo every week for 52 weeks [52 photos in total]
  • Take one photo that captures each season [4 photos in total]
  • Take a photo every day for a whole month, on the same theme [28-31 photos in total]
Objects to Capture [34 photos in total]
  • sunrise and sunset on the same day [2]
  • the moon [1]
  • 5 different buildings [5]
  • cemetery [1]
  • church [1]
  • doorway [1]
  • window [1]
  • road [1]
  • vehicle [1]
  • candles [1]
  • flowers [1]
  • waterfall [1]
  • bridge [1]
  • barn [1]
  • rocks [1]
  • leaves [1]
  • a city at night and during the day [2]
  • railway tracks [1]
  • wheel [1]
  • balloon [1]
  • a lone tree [1]
  • many trees [1]
  • ice [1]
  • snow [1]
  • fire [1]
  • a river/stream [1]
  • a pond [1]
  • clouds [1]
Some rules! I'm not going to let myself get away with using the same picture for different challenges, so for example in the month I do my one photo a day challenge, I will still need a different picture for each week. Plus the object pictures will have to be separate to the timed challenge pictures. Yes, that may make things tricky, but if it was easy, it wouldn't be a challenge, would it! I also can't cheat, and use photos already taken, they have to be new.

I don't have lots of fancy camera equipment. I take all of my "good" photos with my Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ7 (I have a red one). Mostly I use the intelligent auto function as well, which I guess makes me a very lazy photographer! But I don't really know much about the technical wizardry behind taking photos, and to be honest I don't really care about it either. I just like taking photos. Using the auto function means I can concentrate on taking the photo, and only need to worry about things like composition.

Anyway, on to the challenges. For I have already begun!

To start me off, a shot I took two days ago on Boxing Day; we were out at about 9.30am, trying to get the car to start so we could drive to Wales. Temperatures were approximately minus five, and there was a thick layer of ice on the outside of the car. We scraped it all off the outside, at which point I realised there was ice on the inside of the car as well! One of the back windows was open a crack, which we think is what caused it. But it was incredibly pretty. A proper Jack Frost moment. Here is a shot I took from inside the car, looking up at the sky through the ice crystals.

Windscreen interior

This for me perfectly describes Winter. Crisp, clear blue skies, ice and bitingly cold air. So this is going to represent Winter in my Four Seasons Challenge.

All of the photos I will be taking for the challenges can be found on my Flickr stream, where you can also find the photos I've already taken which I think are worthy of sharing.

Sunday, 26 December 2010

New Year, New Projects.. Time for an introduction!

Hey there, internet land. I thought it was about time I jumped onto the blogging bandwagon, so here I am.

It's been a bit of a bumpy wagon ride so far though; I almost fell off at the first hurdle. What should I blog about? All the advice on the internet out there seems to say that you need a shtick, a hook; something specific to blog about that makes you stand out and be cool. So you can think of a punchy and clever title that links to your shtick, and helps people find you.

Well I don't have one. There is no one thing I am better known for than anything else. No one thing that occupies me and consumes my hours enough that I could fill a blog with it and nothing more, and make it exciting. I am the opposite. I have far too many hobbies. I don't have the time to devote proper attention to most of them. I tend to focus on one for a little while, then get bored of it and move on to the next. Eventually I cycle back to the first one, and pick up where I left off.

This works well, when the hobby can be easily picked up and put back down, say crochet, drawing, painting, photography. Not quite so helpful when it is something like playing the piano, which requires an awful lot of dedication and practice to maintain standards. Nevertheless, I persevere with them all, despairing constantly at my lack of time and lack of progress, but always enjoying myself along the way.

Hopefully, writing this blog will help keep me on track and keep me focused, as we head into 2011. Come with me, as I try to become the ultimate jack of all trades, the master of a thousand things.
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