Friday, 1 January 2016

My Crafting Year in Review - 2015

Mystery making himself comfortable in the Go Wild quilt.
Near the beginning of this year, I resolved to get the renovations completed in my basement crafting studio, so resolved to spend less time and money on crafting materials and supplies and more on getting the studio finished. I couldn't do any quilting to speak of, with the studio in disarray and most of my supplies piled up in the living room. But I could still crochet and knit. And somehow, I really couldn't stick to my resolution to forgo the pleasures of crafting in favour of renovating. It's not that I'm not capable of renovating. It's just not my forte. With some help from my ex-husband, I got started on the drywall - all the corner bead and taping and the first coat of mudding. With the renos stalled due to inertia on my part, I decided to hire someone to complete them. Big mistake. My daughter and grandson live with me, and it seemed every time I got home, my daughter had some new horror story of something stupid the man I had hired had done. It was taking him forever just to finish the drywall. It didn't help that he decided to use a power sander to sand down the mudding I had already done. I got the impression that he was offended by the job that I (and my ex-husband, who, by the way spent a large share of his life working in construction and his drywall technique is impeccable) had completed and intended to erase any traces of my work, nearly removing the wall and the tape in the process. Not to mention the fact that I have an open concept basement and the studio only takes up one end. He didn't bother to hang any barrier between the studio and the rest of the room or to cover up the central vac, which is on the wall in the studio, until after he had done the power sanding. He also had to borrow at least one of my tools and my Shop Vac. I specifically told him to let me know if he needed anything more and I would pick it up, but he went and bought some things on his own anyway. I finally told him to just finish up the drywall and that was all. After telling me what a perfectionist he was in finishing drywall, I discovered what a perfectionist he wasn't when I did the painting. I had some pre-mixed mud and apparently that wasn't enough, so he went and bought some powdered stuff and mixed it himself. There were lots of pinholes from the air bubbles in the mud. He also slopped mud in many places, including liberally on my Shop Vac, and never cleaned it off. And there were spots where he had slopped it on the wall and hadn't sanded it down properly. <sigh> And for this I paid him a considerable sum of money! Never again. I got professionals to install the lighting and flooring and my niece's husband put in the baseboard. I'm still waiting for the ex to put in the window casing. In case you're wondering why I didn't get my ex-husband to do the whole job - I would have gladly done so because I know the quality of his work, but he now works as a long haul truck driver, seldom home and no time for my renos. Anyway, in spite of the imperfections in the drywall, I am quite satisfied with my studio. Except that I still have more stuff than I have room for, and the room remains a mess waiting for me to sort everything and decide where to put it all. It didn't help that my daughter and grandson moved in with me this year, so my space is a bit tighter than it was at the outset of this year.
The painting is finished.

DriCore subflooring stacked and waiting installation.
After the flooring was installed, Sophia and I assembled the storage units.
Beginning to fill the storage units, fabric to the left and yarn to the right. Notice the baseboard has been installed.
I mounted the pegboard and hung my quilting rulers and rotary cutters.
The room is mostly set up now, but still needs some serious tidying. Eager to begin crafting again, Sophia dove in with the serger. 
I waited anxiously for my map rail to arrive from so that I could hang my design wall. 
This will be my crocheting/knitting/designing corner. I have since added a vintage storage ottoman which is, of course, full of yarn.
Waiting to get my renovations done, I just couldn't continue to abstain from crafting, so that's when I got out my crochet hooks. I had enrolled in a course in Bavarian Crochet from Annie's some time ago and decided to give that a try and finished this headband and gave it to my niece. 

 I also joined a Mystery CAL (crochet along), bought the yarn and looked forward to a beautiful afghan. However, in my opinion, the blocks just kept getting uglier.

 Not being a quitter, I was determined to see it through, but after finishing only one of the above blocks, I decided not to waste any more time and yarn and found another project for the yarn I'd purchased.

This one is still a work in progress, but hopefully will finish it in 2016. The following afghan, after lanquishing for several years, was finally completed and gifted to a new great nephew, Seth. 

Another decision in the earlier part of this year was that I must either get back into knitting or get rid of my knitting needles. I searched online for a short and relatively easy project and found Red Heart's monthly "Learn a Stitch, Make this Cowl" program and determined to make every cowl in the program, using them as Christmas gifts for my daughter, my 5 sisters, my 3 nieces, my sister-in-law and my only remaining aunt, with one left over for me. Towards the end of the year, I still had 5 cowls to make and knew I wouldn't have time to finish all of the cowls in the program, so substituted some of my own selection. I posted pictures of them all to facebook and requested the recipients to respond with their favourites, so I had a better idea of which one to give to whom. One of my sisters, one of my nieces and my sister-in-law never responded, so I had to assume that meant they didn't want one. I can't really fault them for not wanting one as, by the time I was finished, I acknowledged what I had really known all along: what a ridiculous piece of apparel a cowl actually is, and decided I didn't want one either. However, I will fault them in being too rude to respond at all. My aunt also passed away before Christmas. So 5 cowls ended up in a donation box for a homeless centre. Honestly, I think Aunt Isabelle would be very happy with the fact that her cowl ended up with a homeless person. And I'm still proud of the fact that I was able to complete what I ended up calling The 12 Cowls of Christmas. Candi's Checked Cowl (knitted) was my first cowl and it was given to my sister Cindy.
I then decided to try another knitted one, but was never happy with the Lovable Cowl and instead I referred to it as the Unlovable Cowl. This one went in the donation box. This was the first time I ever used Red Heart Boutique Unforgettable yarn. Beautiful colours, but the experience really was unforgettable.
The Twisted Cowl (crocheted) went to my sister Nancy.
The Drop Stitch Crocheted Cowl went to my niece, Tara. For this one, I needed a large knitting needle, but couldn't find the correct size locally and didn't want to wait until I ordered it or got to the city to purchase one, so I ended up using a wooden dowel. So this became the Dowel Cowl.
My daughter, Sophia, loves bright colours, like me, so she chose the Drop Stitch Knitted Cowl.
Le Papillon Cowl was supposed to be made from Unforgettable yarn but that just wasn't working out for me, so I switched to a Red Heart Super Saver in Monet and switched up the Bobble stitch so that I liked the looks of it better. My sister Judy chose this one. 
Really liking the colourways of Charisma yarn, I made the mistake of using it in the Entrelac Crochet Cowl. It was much too bulky and stiff for this pattern and it ended up in the donation box. 
I started the Love This Lacy Cowl (knitted), but set it aside to pursue other projects, and, as I said, by the time I got back to cowls, it was less than 6 weeks to Christmas. Meanwhile, I had picked up some round knitting looms at a thrift store and some clearance yarn at Michael's, so grabbed a bulky yarn and my largest loom and produced this Basic Loom Knitted Cowl. I actually really like this one as it's the most practical design - keeps the neck warm without a whole lot of excess bulk. But I found it too scratchy against my neck. It ended up in the donation box.
Having purchased a book on Tunisian crochet in 2014, I next decided to make the Tunisian Sorbet Cowl out of a dollar store blanket type yarn. It, too, went for the homeless. 
I then attempted to restart the Love This Lacy Cowl. I really have a hard time keeping track of my stitches in a knitting pattern that uses a lot of psso, k2tog & ssk and my pattern doesn't line up properly and I end up with too many or too few stitches. This was one of the problems with the Lovable Cowl as well. So I ripped this one out and made the Crocodile Cowl from a pattern in my Annie's course on Crocodile Stitch Crochet. My niece Julie got this one. 
I then went back to the Bavarian stitch and made the Bavarian Dragonfly Cowl from the Unforgettable yarn I had purchased for Le Papillon Cowl. I think I'm beginning to figure out how to manage this yarn. This cowl went to my sister Janet.
When I first bought the knitting looms, I was googling for patterns and found this seed stitch cowl on youtube. Done in Bernat Blanket Harvest colourway, I christened it the Harvest Seed Cowl. This one ended up in the donation box. 
Many of you may remember those toilet paper dolls, whose full and elaborate dresses were used to conceal a roll of toilet paper. In amongst one of my yardsale finds was a set of patterns for these dolls and the dresses are quite pretty. Not having ready access to the original (and rather ugly) dolls that were used for these, I resorted to using a Barbie doll. 
As you can see, this outfit won a red ribbon (which is 1st place in Canada) in a local fair. I entered several of my craft projects in a couple of local fairs and took home quite a number of ribbons. (You can see my blog posts about them here and here). Unfortunately, this Barbie was sitting on the back of my toilet in the basement bathroom when my not-so-handyman decided to power sand the drywall and she ended up liberally coated in drywall dust. I tossed the outfit into the dryer on the air only setting and it came out good as new.
Sometime this year, I discovered Argylle crochet and bought the ebook. I finished a potholder. Really, it's too tedious a method to finish much of anything else, though it looks really nice. 
Perusing a crochet magazine, I found the pattern for the Vivaldi Throw and decided to make it, eventually giving it to a friend for her 50th wedding anniversary.
As my grandson loves trains, I made him the Choo-Choo Train afghan. It was quite tedious having to sew on all those train cars, wheels and windows individually. I'm really glad it's finally finished.
Also for Damian, I made this child-friendly cut, sew and stuff Nativity Set. Rather than cardboard, I reinforced the bottoms of the figures with plastic canvas.
Damian and I made this sock snowman together. In the background is the afghan my daughter crocheted for her best friend for Christmas. Sophia decided to get back into crochet and quilting this year and has taught herself knitting as well. Her WIPs are beginning to rival mine in number. 

On Christmas Eve, I stayed up till after midnight to make this loom-knitted hat for my ex-husband as he was coming for dinner and I didn't want him to not have a Christmas gift. 
I finished his scarf on New Year's Eve, without having to stay up late. It's still on the blocking mat. The odd thing was when I washed it before blocking, the blue colour ran. I washed it on the delicate cycle in cold water with my other delicates and a couple of previously white items are now slightly bluish. And this was Red Heart Super Saver = 100% acrylic! I can't figure that one out... 

Also, during the course of the year, I discovered Sophie's Universe, though she's still a work in progress. 
Other works in progress include the Feileacan Shawl for my daughter 
the knitted train cardigan for my grandson,
the Happy Holidays Tree Skirt (just have to finish the motifs, work in the ends and sew them on and this one's finished),
the Ocean Breeze Tote,
the Sweet Dreams quilt, 
and the Evening Snowfall quilt.

I updated my Ravelry account and found I have 9 WIPs, plus at least a couple that I haven't added yet. And that's not including all my quilting WIPs. So my New Year's Resolution is to complete my WIPs before starting any new ones, or buying more yarn or fabric. Of course, I have to allow for projects for special events like births, weddings and anniversaries...
Happy New Year to all!