Yarn Diaries

Making good lists

I respond well to lists – there must be some deep seated, school based reason – but lists work well for me. I am not obsessive. I can function without them. In fact most of the time I do function without them. But if I really need to get something done – a good list is ideal.

Just before going back to work after Christmas I made a very prosaic list – you know boring stuff like… put away clothes, put away Christmas decorations, clean fridge, book hair cut. How ridiculous – all these things were staring me in the face, but to really get them over the line – the physical list had to be made. I don’t know about you but there is something about a line going through the task which helps and I need to balance my tragic sense of achievement with an inner rebelliousness and procrastination. There is the nub.

This year I am not in the market for a New Years resolution – some years… Yes. Not this year. But a list seems like a good idea. But in addition to the practical ‘to-do’, I’m going to make a good list.

  • Laugh more
  • See more friends – actually do the arranging
  • Arrange a holiday
  • Hug my son – even if I have to surprise him
  • Hug Stanley the cat more
  • Go on a walk – weekly
  • Read more books
  • Design and dig the new bed in the garden

That’s enough to be going on with – those are life lists and to be fair if I managed all of these – and indeed more of these past the first few months of the year that would be excellent.

But what about the creative lists? Well yes, there will be one of those, but I am trying and aiming to not give myself too much ‘to-do’ on the old designing front. I have designed ALOT in the last year. You can see a correlation between my blogging activity and my designing/writing. When I am designing a lot then I go very quiet on this space. There is not enough time for both. But what am I thinking for the first few months? Well here is my mini-list:

  • Finally write up the dolls pattern (sorry Ida… I know you have been wanting it)
  • Work out which of the blanket designs in your head you want to do
  • Design 1 blanket in 2024
  • Actually TELL people about the books you have written
  • Publish some of your Christmas designs you have never published (they are stuck in a wardrobe)

So there you go that’s it – finally. We will stick to those too lists and any more is a bonus. Have you made a list this year? Or a resolution? Do you make a crafting list? I would be intrigued to find out – or do you find it annoying and does it cramp your creativity. Honestly I would like to add ‘blog more’ to my list but don’t just dare at the moment. We will just leave that there and make it a very, very secret aspiration.

Have a lovely weekend.

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Noodling about and the issue of what to pack

Packing for a journey has always been a bit of conundrum and at worst a tad stressful. I would adore to be one of those people who just throws 6 things into a hold-all and magics out 14 different outfits using a sarong and well chosen jewellery. ‘Oh yes, hiking in a downpour followed by a surprise cocktail party… I have just the thing!’.

I am not that person.

I have evolved into being a lighter packer and I might even suggest that I am the lightest packer in our household. There are several reasons for this:

a) Age – I think I am less hung up about what is right or wrong sartorially.

b) I chose one colour to wear when away from home.

c) I need more space for yarn.

(c) is the biggest driver for this evolution.

On our recent trip away for the half term holiday I took 2 substantial bags dedicated to knitting and crochet. ‘This is a ridiculous amount woman!’ I hear your cry.

No my friend, no! It is mostly because I need yarn variety and all spice it can throw at me. The projects I took split into three.

I took a fairisle cardigan knitting project and additional yarn. Just in case.

(Top packing tip – I photocopied the pattern instead of taking the pattern book).

I also took enough yarn to start sampling my dolly pattern – various colours and types. I had edited the colour selection but in some cases I took two balls of a colour. This also meant I needed to take toy stuffing. Also in the bag is the obligatory note book, tape measure, various sizes of tapestry needles, various sizes of crochet hooks, small scissors, buttons… Ok the full notion bag.

That’s quite a lot of stuff isn’t it? Two hobbies, knitting and crochet. This enables me to switch from one project to another as the mood takes me. Having spare yarn also enables me to start dreaming an inventing new designs. This week I had a desire to revisit old cupcake patterns (there is a reason). Oh my word. I had so much fun – new cakes kept popping in to my mind.

That is where the real rest and relaxation resides for me. Moments of whimsy and hilarity. Silly noodling about with yarn – because time and headspace allows.

For that reason alone it is worth making space in the suitcase. I am not sure how other hobbyists fare. I imagine that for embroidery, patchwork, drawing… its all fairly containable. I have known people take guitars on their holiday. Plus we all know that avid readers are delighted by the invention of the Kindle which allows that to take a full library with them on their travels. But what about more cumbersome distractions. Pottery for example…woodturning…? Well if you have any top tips or stories of sacrificial packing I would love to hear.

For my next trip away from home I am wondering if a jumpsuit and a toothbrush will suffice? Oh and a bin bag of DK yarn.

If you enjoy reading my ramblings – can you help me with a little thought – if I blog regularly would you prefer the post being uploaded at a regular time each week – and which day would suit you better – a Friday, Saturday or Sunday morning? Your thoughts and suggestions would be appreciated – please comment below.

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December Diaries – last minute gifts

chocolate - orange- cosy- emma -varnam

This should be the ultimate making month don’t you think? Yet time again I rush headlong in crazed list creating and catching up.

I imagine myself curled up on the sofa … fire blazing and carols faintly heard in the distance. The perfume of the Christmas tree catching the air in waves.

More likely I finish work – later than planned. Despair at my lack of menu planning and scrabble to make something half decent for tea. When all is scoffed – plates are left aside while I hide on the spare room floor wrestling with sticky tape and paper. This year we have the extra frisson of wondering if parcels will be delivered on time. My word what a pickle.

So while December should really be the key making month of Winter. In reality November and January seem far more productive.

If you are a seasoned maker and sickeningly organised, then your gift making might start in August. Seriously?! Yes seriously. Nowadays I don’t always make crochet or knit gifts. But there are a few patterns that are a good standby.

Chocolate Orange Cosy

Every year I say I won’t make more of these. Yet every year I am tickled by the idea and remember what a great mini-gift they are.

The Chocolate Orange is a stalwart of the UK festive season. Zingy little segments of zesty infused milk chocolate. Classically you were taught to ‘tap and unwrap’ the solid ball in order to prise free the first segment. In our house the chocolate orange is a MUST in the Christmas stocking. A revolt would ensue if it were not there.

First segments are eaten before breakfast. Cheeky, sickly traditions. In the old days, after all the segments were eaten a central core of chocolate would remain. We christened it ‘the bark’. This added bonus was seen as the final eating honour. Whilst you might have generously offered others one or two segments. The ‘bark’ belonged to the orange owner. Stealing such revered chocolate would be criminal.

Don’t ask me why – but this welcome design fault has now disappeared. Shame I say.

The milk chocolate chocolate orange is adored by the boys and I prefer the plain chocolate version. I drop heavy hints to Santa in the run up to the big day to ensure he hasn’t forgotten.

A few years ago I saw a chocolate orange covered in a crochet cosy – disguised as a Christmas Pudding. This idea appealed to my sense of humour. I created my own pattern and for more years than I care to count have made them as teachers gifts and small gifts for friends and colleagues.

I always use oddments from my stash. Sometimes I purchase red buttons to create a holly berry other times I make a bobble using yarn.

This is my link to the jotted down yarn recipe. Use it if it is helpful. But get a wiggle on… I can hear sleigh bells


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