17 for 2017 – September Update

September has seen several of my 17 for 2017 goals achieved, but the end of the month has been consumed by pattern-writing. Anyway, here’s progress so far:

Seventeen… Love Rocks or other little random yarny/sewn gifts. None this month, although I have one thing to send I need to write a letter to go with it; plus I have one item planned but not started. Total still 8.

Sixteen… batches of homemade biscuits. This goal is complete.

Fifteen… cheeses.  I  didn’t make any this month because of a disruption to the milk supply here at home. We were supposed to be making cheese at the Food Centre Wales in September, but they too had a problem with their milk supply, so it’s going to be October before we can do this. It’s a little frustrating not to be able to make progress with this. The total is still stuck on 10

Fourteen… pairs of knickers. None this  month, so the total is still six.

Thirteen… mends. Target reached in May.

Twelve… letters to friends. Target reached in June.

2017-09-28

There are now 49 items in my shop!

Eleven… new items in my Etsy shop. None this month. I added loads of things to the shop this month – bird roosts made by me, vintage sewing patterns and vintage lace. This goal is now complete.

 

Ten... plants given to good homes. Target reached in May.

Nine… games of Scrabble. Still none yet.

8 Meals 8

A pretty yummy lunch

Eight… meals using only our own produce. I had a lovely lunch of omelette and salad to complete this goal; in addition, we’ve had loads of meals that included our own produce even if they weren’t exclusively made from it.

 

Seven… visits to see “social media” friends. Three this month – a visit to Sue (Going Batty in Wales), the Sixty Million Trebles meet-up plus a get together with the gals from university mean that I have sailed past this target.

Six… Pairs of socks knitted, using at least three different patterns. I still haven’t finished the honeycomb cable socks started last month, so the total is still three completed and one in progress.

Five… book chapters written. None yet, but now the weather is deteriorating and once my knitting pattern is completed (see below), I might settle down to get on with this.

Four… blankets for charity; knitted or crocheted. Target reached in February.

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All this went off to be recycled: 100% paper

Three… sessions in the loft, sorting out some of the accumulated ‘stuff’ up there. Had a good chucking out session at the beginning of the month, so the total is now two.

 

Two… patterns published and on sale. I have been working hard on the second pattern this month, but it isn’t finished yet so I’ve still only published one.

 One… gardening apron. Completed in April. Worn a lot this month!
 So that’s it for now. If you have a 17 for 2017 blog post or an update on your progress, do leave a link in the comments.

Working Wednesday #2

This is my weekly post as I work through the yarn in my “collection” (not stash – thank you Sue) . This is the current state of play with the projects I’ve worked on this week:

  • Golden spikes jumper: back and front complete, sleeves nearly done.
  • Skeleton hat: finished, but I’m not sure it’s quite how I envisaged it, so I’ve started making another one in 4-ply yarn rather than double knit.
  • Fingerless mittens: I seem to have lost my everyday pair, so I’ve just started making some new ones. These should be finished very quickly. I’m using a little Cambrian Wool for the edging plus some fluffy stuff that was given to me by Katy the Night Owl.
  • Bird roosts: all six felted and in my etsy shop.

I haven’t done any sock-knitting this week. I had intended to get the second one of the pair I’m working on finished before the end of the month, but I’ve been so busy with other things it probably won’t happen.

I am finding focusing on getting projects done really enjoyable and I’m determined not to put work aside when it comes to the bits I don’t enjoy (sewing together and picking up stitches for necks/button bands, for example). I’m also happy to be flexible and start new small projects that make use of yarn I already have, as long as I don’t loose momentum with the bigger things.

 

Working Wednesday #1

As I work through the yarn in my “collection” (not stash – thank you Sue) I want to keep track of my progress, so I’m planning to post pictures on (some) Wednesdays of my week’s creations/progress. This is the current state of play with the projects I’m working on at the moment:

  • Honeycomb cables socks: one complete, the second getting bigger after some on-train knitting over the weekend.
  • Golden spikes jumper: back complete, front in progress.
  • Skeleton hat: no progress this week.
  • Bird roosts: six crocheted and ready for felting, before being added to my etsy shop.

It has been brought home to me today just one reason why it’s good to use the wool/fabric/craft supplies that we have collected. Poor ItWasJudith has just lost most of her huge collection of beautiful yarn in a fire – how tragic that she never got to turn it into lovely things and how determined I am that mine will be used not lost (to fire, moths, damp or ennui).

17 for 2017 – March Update

I can’t believe another month has whizzed by, but it has, so here is the March update for 17 for 2017. This is where I am so far:

Seventeen… Love Rocks or other little random yarny/sewn gifts. I have managed two contributions this month: hopefully my yarn bombing for Sixty Million Trebles reached a few people, plus I made Petunia vaark who has gone off to live with a new friend in Lancashire. This takes my total to three – I think vaarks may feature quite prominently in growing this target!

Ginger biscuits

Sixteen… batches of homemade biscuits. Four batches in March means that the annual total is already 11. The best thing to report, however, is that we have not bought any packets of biscuits at all, so there has been no palm oil consumption.

Fifteen… cheeses.  One regular hard cheese plus two alpine cheeses this month mean that the total has increased to six. The regular cheese has been waxed to allow it to mature without further intervention, but the alpine cheeses are being washed regularly with locally produced honey ale to control the natural mould growth – these are supposed to be ready to eat after six weeks.

Fourteen… pairs of knickers. Only one pair made this  month, bringing the total to six. However, I have now got some more organic cotton jersey fabric, so there’s cutting out to do.

Oh, darn!

Thirteen… mends. One pair of slippers and one pair of socks have been darned this month. I’m trying to keep on top of mends as they crop up, and this approach seems to be working well so far and I’ve now mended seven garments this year.

Twelve… letters to friends. None written this month, so the total is still six.

Eleven… new items in my Etsy shop. I haven’t added anything this month, but I have sold a couple of items, which wouldn’t have happened if I hadn’t listed them in the first place! The current total is still seven.

Ten... plants given to good homes. None yet – but it looks like I’m going to have plenty surplus as the year progresses.

Nine… games of Scrabble. None yet.

Eight… meals using only our own produce. None yet, although we’ve eaten lots of kale, broccoli, mizuna and eggs from our garden!

Seven… visits to see “social media” friends. We met up with a whole bunch of Twitter friends a couple of weeks ago, taking my annual total to four. I’m currently in the process of organising a visit in April, one in May and looking at a get-together at the end of July. If all three of these work out, then that will take me to my target number.

Stripy socks

Six… Pairs of socks knitted, using at least three different patterns. I made my first pair of the year this month using my old-faithful pattern… I just couldn’t work up the enthusiasm to try a new pattern.

Five… book chapters written. None yet – I’m just not feeling inspired!

Four… blankets for charity; knitted or crocheted. I’d completed this target by the end of last month. I haven’t made any more in March, but various friends have given or are about to give me yarn and squares, so there are going to be more blankets in coming months.

Three… sessions in the loft, sorting out some of the accumulated ‘stuff’ up there. None, although a plan is afoot to increase storage space in the kitchen and then we can have a good sort-out of all the preserves and preserving equipment that’s up there and currently quite disorganised. I have also given away a couple of items, but I’m not being very focussed so far.

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fabric for #1

Two… patterns published and on sale. No new pattern, so just the one published in January – sadly sales of that have been disappointing.

One… gardening apron. Not yet, but the fabric, chambray for the outside and poplin for the lining (not denim in the end – I had a change of heart) has arrived and this is something I’d really like completed soon because I want to use it!

Petunia

So, it’s progressing well – how about your projects this year? If you have a 17 for 2017 blog post or an update on your progress, do leave a link in the comments.

17 for 2017 – February Update

Spreadsheet

Spreadsheet

Here I am again with a 17 for 2017 progress update (where does the time go?). If you look carefully at my spreadsheet, you can see that one of the rows is full! There are still some rows that don’t contain anything, but I’m making some progress, and some is very seasonal anyway. So, here’s where I am so far:

Seventeen… Love Rocks or other little random yarny/sewn gifts. I sent off my first of these just the other day. I want it to be a surprise for the recipient (although she knows it’s on the way), so no photograph just yet.

Sixteen… batches of homemade biscuits. I’ve only made one batch this month, but since I made loads last month, the total for the year so far is a respectable 7 batches

Fifteen… cheeses.  No hard cheeses this month, but one batch of curd cheese.

Another pair

Another pair

Fourteen… pairs of knickers. Three more pairs completed this  month bringing the total to five. I’ve getting better with the overlocker, so they are getting easier to make.

Thirteen… mends. Three this month: the knees of Mr Snail’s work jeans patched again; a hole darned for a friend and a pair of my leggings mended.

Twelve… letters to friends. Just one written this month, but that’s ok because I only have to average one a month to reach my target.

Eleven… new items in my Etsy shop. I’m delighted to say that there are now seven bird roosts listed – some felted and some made with woollen twine. I haven’t sold any yet, but it’s early days.

Ten... plants given to good homes. None yet – it’s still too early in the season.

Nine… games of Scrabble. None yet… we seem to have been so busy.

Eight… meals using only our own produce. None yet, although we’ve eaten lots of omelettes, making them partial meals from our garden!

Seven… visits to see “social media” friends. I’ve managed two ‘big’ visits – first to Manchester, where I saw a whole load of friends who I know via Twitter, as well as my dear Sarah, who I’ve known since I was 18 and my niece Alex; second to Birmingham, where I got together with lots of permaculture friends, most of whom I communicate with via FaceBook.

Six… Pairs of socks knitted, using at least three different patterns. None yet… it’s all been about crochet recently.

Five… book chapters written. None yet, although I may have persuaded a friend to contribute to the book.

Max quality-controlling the final blanket

Max quality-controlling the final blanket

Four… blankets for charity; knitted or crocheted. All four done… I will make more later in the year, but I’m having a rest for a while.

Three… sessions in the loft, sorting out some of the accumulated ‘stuff’ up there. None – it’s still too cold to venture up there yet!

Two… patterns published and on sale. I did one last month, but nothing further this month.

One… denim gardening apron. Not yet, but I will try to sort out the fabric in the coming month.

So, it’s progressing well – how about your projects this year? If you have 17 for 2017 blog post or an update on your progress, do leave a link in the comments.

Three Things Thursday: 12 January 2017

Inspired by Emily of Nerd in the Brain (note her new self-hosted web site) here are my Three Things Thursday. As she says…

*three things that make me smile: an exercise in gratitude – feel free to steal this idea with wild abandon and fill your blog with the happy*

First, our local library. I haven’t been a member of a library since I resigned from the university, but last Saturday I finally got round to calling in to our local town library and joining. Since I spend all day editing, I don’t read many fiction books (I listen to audio versions, which the library also stocks – yay), but I do make lots of use of non-fiction books. So, here is the first one I have borrowed:

Some inspiration when baking for my gluten-intolerant friends

Some inspiration when baking for my gluten-intolerant friends

Second, boro. I’ve been meaning to have a go at Japanese visible mending for a while. I’m quite pleased with my first attempt, which I wanted to be subtle in case it turned out badly! There is substantial reinforcement on the reverse. This is one knee of a pair of Mr Snail’s jeans.

Boro: visible mending

Boro: visible mending

Third, my first pattern sale. It’s taken me ages and a lot of hard work to finalise my bird roost pattern, but it was very gratifying to make my first sale of it from my etsy store. This little boost is encouraging me to get on and finish a second pattern that I’ve been working on – knitting this time.

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A roost made to test the pattern

So, those are three things making me smile this week – what about you?

Great crate

Fifteen years ago, when we moved to Chez Snail we had almost no furniture, having managed with very old items that I inherited from my nan. They had served us well in our little cottage, but the new house was bigger and some of the old stuff was completely beyond repair. We had some things that were good – our bed, a dresser, a coat cupboard and gate-legged table, plus lots of bookshelves. But furnishing a whole house is expensive and so we hired a van and made a trip to Ikea, where we bought pretty much everything we needed.

A well-used table

A well-used table

And I’m pleased to report that almost all of it is still going strong. As I’ve mentioned before, I’m currently re-covering the sofa in crochet, but the actual piece of furniture certainly doesn’t need replacing. The only things that have finally started to break apart are the triangular side tables that we bought for £5 each. Over the years the surfaces have got damaged, but now structural cracks are starting to appear and the end is in sight. And so, with my recycle and re-use hat on, I sought replacements, although the old ones will still get some use in the limery I think. I thought about buying a second-hand nest of tables, but I really wanted something a bit more modern… and so to Etsy I went….

Where I discovered JB Wood Designs, a company making furniture out of, amongst other things, reclaimed apple crates… and I couldn’t resist. So, we are now the proud owners of not only two new side tables, each with a built-in shelf, but also a coffee table/storage unit on castors that will be so useful.

So, no more mass-produced furniture for us – I’m loving being able to support a small manufacturer, plus I now have more space to store yarn!!

A change of plan

For ages now I have been telling you that I’m going to set up an etsy shop; or, rather, that I’m going to stock the etsy shop that I set up last year. The time has finally arrived for me to start doing this, but… I’m not going to!

Rainbow bag

This will be in the shop

Prior to embarking on the work needed to create a good shop, I decided to do some reading round (here, for example) and as a result I discovered that etsy is no longer the platform it used to be. Originally (as I understand it), it was set up to act as a marketplace for craftspeople – a one-stop-shop on the internet where you could go to sell your lovingly-created items and where buyers would understand the ethos and value. Alas, this is no longer the case. You can now sell anything on etsy, even acting as a third-party seller for cheap mass-produced stuff. So, rather than a forum for crafters, we have another ebay just without the auctions. It appears that many genuine crafters have seen a significant drop in sales as a result because buyers are swamped with choices and find it difficult to distinguish between the origins of the different goods on offer as well as the discrepancy in prices.

A bowl of bath puffs!

There’ll be bath puffs too

I acknowledge that my products could be considered expensive when compared to what you can buy in the supermarket, but generally my buyers understand why this is… from the raw materials to the time taken to design and make the items on sale. I can’t compete with Superdrug on the price of a bath puff, but that’s not what I’m trying to do. So, I turned to Folksy – a British website specifically dedicated to handmade items. It has lower ‘footfall’ than etsy, but at least visitors will only be comparing like with like. Thus far I have set up the shop, but not stocked it. This weekend, I will be photographing my stock and hopefully there should be items for sale by next week… ooh it’s all rather exciting.

 

Building stock

I just thought you might like a quick preview of one design of bag that I’m making for sale. I’m planning to open an etsy shop in the autumn, so I’m spending some of my time now building up stock… Anne tells me that the recommended number of items is 100!  I’m unlikely to reach that heady height, but I see she currently has 44 items in her lovely etsy shop so she’s nearly halfway there.

Anyway, I thought some especially eye-catching items would be good, so I came up with this idea:

I think it’s likely to grab attention. I love the bling string bags, but they don’t draw the eye so much in a photograph. What do you think?

Bubbling over

A few weeks ago I went to visit the lovely Jo at Mill Cottage Soap, to buy supplies for my woolly wash balls. I came away with four different soaps: naked (no scents, just soap), orange and cinnamon (a glorious, rich scent, but not overpowering), mandarin and lemon (a zingy refresher) and bergamot and patchouli (requested by all you old hippies out there!).

Soap blocks curing prior to use

Soap blocks curing prior to use

Jo makes her soaps on a relatively small scale in her kitchen, so it really is a cottage industry. As a result she doesn’t always have all the varieties available, but I was still spoilt for choice. When I visited, some of her soaps were still ‘curing’ in big blocks… two of these were varieties that I was keen to have, so I returned home with slabs cut specially for me that I had to promise not to use for several weeks (not a problem with my busy life).

Orange and cinnamon woolly wash ball: 100g of soap in a felt coat

Orange and cinnamon woolly wash ball: 100g of soap in a felt coat

However, the naked soap and the orange and cinnamon were ready for immediate use and so those are the ones I have been experimenting with. By using only the soap that goes in the centre of the wash ball, the whole article becomes permeated with the appropriate scent and is perfect for immediate use. So far, all my trials with Jo’s soap have been with Blue Faced Leicester wool, and both the fibre and the soap are lovely to work with. To aid identification, I am colour coding the wash balls, so orange and cinnamon ones are being embellished with orange and yellow. I didn’t entirely think this through, because I’m not sure what I’m going to use for mandarin and lemon…perhaps yellow and red.

Now I just need to sort out my labels and some cellophane packaging and I will be ready to open my etsy shop!

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