Monday, 8 June 2015

Sometimes Things just Don't Work Out

It's ok, I'm not breaking up with you! It's just that lately a lot of my projects have gone a bit skew-whiff, which has made me feel a bit skew-whiff (and subsequently un-bloggy).
I read a lot of make-y blogs and oddly one of the things I like to see is not just the recipes / projects they're sharing, but the mishaps they have. I like blogs where people break stuff, their kids are tearaways, and their crafting area is the living room floor with the furniture pushed to one side. I mean, I'm happy if you and Jesus are such good pals, if your husband hails from Stepford and your children from Midwich, if you have a huge, supportive, and loving family and a craft room that Martha Stewart would kill for.
I just don't identify with that.

I have no husband (hoorah!), my family is small and distant, and Jesus and I barely tolerate each other.

This is my craft room:

I call it my mixed media room. Friends calls it the junk room.

It will be a mixed media room, one day. I shall have a sewing table, and a Robert's radio in a fashionable duck-egg blue, and a cosy chair in which to sit and read overly-wordy craft books.
As if!
But hopefully it will one day be a bit tidier, a bit prettier, a bit more inspirational.
One day.
And I really would like that cosy chair. Unfortunately the dog seems to have bagged that.

Anyway, in the spirit of things Just Not Working Out I thought I would share a couple of my skew-whiff's with you, and what I did to un-skew them.

This is a crazy project I started with huge enthusiasm several years ago.

Quilted Curtains.

Quilted Curtains.

I actually thought that would not only be a good idea, but would look good too! After doing about 90% of the work I realised what you probably did as soon as you read those two words - it was a terrible idea! So I folded them up neatly, stashed them in a bin bag and pretended to myself that I would come back to that project one day.
Fast Forward a few years, to last month actually, to a warm spring evening when it occurred to me that the dinosaur summer quilt I had made for my six year old son probably ought to be retired now he's 14 years old and six foot tall. I pulled the buttons and header tape off one of the Quilted Curtains (I just can't stop saying it, as if repetition will make it sound like a slightly less crazy idea!) and removed the wadding, then bought a cheap (£3.50!) duvet cover set from Ikea. Insert wadding, hand tie at 30cm intervals and stitch the bottom closed, et voila!

An actual usable item that I can actually use! And I still have the other curtain to pull apart if I want to make another quilt. The hand tufting is quite subtle, but you could always use a contrasting yarn for more pop. And the beauty of using a pre-made duvet set is that it comes with matching pillowcases for no extra effort!

The next project that didn't quite work is another bedding-related item. I wanted a hand-crocheted blankie to throw over the back of the sofa, something warm and cosy to snuggle under on a chilly evening. I found the loveliest pebbley coloured yarns, and a simple and pretty shell pattern to work from, and I set off.

It was obviously going to take me quite some time, each row took well over an hour to complete, but I loved the pattern and the combination of colours and figured it would be worth it in the end. But after a few months I realised I was putting less and less time into it, and I knew what was making me uncomfortable - it was way too stiff. It looked beautiful, but it was far from snuggly. I found myself starting other projects all the time, anything to keep me from putting in any more time on the blankie, but finally, after at least 18 inches of work, I admitted what I'd been trying to avoid - I needed to unpick it.

Unpicking crochet or knitting is always a sad thing to have to do, but when you've put in months of work it's even worse. It took hours to unpick, and I got quite tangled at times, but once I started the blankie again on a much bigger hook I realised I'd made the right decision. Not only was it working up lighter, softer and more fluid, each row was only taking about 20 minutes to complete!

In only a few short weeks I had a finished blankie, ready for snuggling under just as the weather turned a bit nippy.

I was gutted when I started unpicking all my hard work but it really did work out perfectly in the end, and I used half the amount of yarn I expected too ~ there's enough left over for a couple of matching cushion covers now.

After I finish this cup of tea . . .