Friday, January 22, 2016

Post-Christmas present round up and resolution scorecard

Absolutely the worst thing about crafting presents is being unable to show them off until after you've gifted them. Sometimes, if the recipient is either very young or a Luddite, you can share it early, but not when the gift is (for example) for your sister who follows you on every social media platform. (As I do her, to be fair!)  I have been BURSTING to show off some of the gifts I've made this year and now I finally can.

But first....
My scorecard.
Back in April I made a resolution that, apart from gifts for my husband and geek exchanges, I'd have 75% of my gifts handmade, and 75% of those be made from stash or edible.

So how did I do? Not so well. Only 33% were handmade.
However a further 18% were second hand or were books bought with store credit earned from trading in culled books. Another 10% were bought edible, which while not consumery good at least won't be cluttering up the recipient's house for long.
I did much better on the secondary goal, as 88% of the handmade gifts were edible or made from stash.

I'm going to make the same resolution for next Christmas, at the same levels, and see if I can achieve it this year.

Onto the pretty pictures!

Daffodil brooch

I crocheted a brooch for my mother, a small cluster of daffodils. Done in a variety of stash yellow and green embroidery floss, and sewn onto a green felt backing, I adapted a magazine pattern but changed it slightly for each flower.
Such cheery daffodils for a Welsh winter

Cthulhu heat pad

I bought this fat quarter from Spoonflower a few years ago and this year I finally made it up into a gift for my sister-in-law. This was a design in one of Spoonflower's weekly design competitions. Filled with rice to be microwaved and heated, she can take it to work and display her geeky credentials even more.
So cute!

Pizza pendant

This year I participated in Chronically Vintage's Vintage Secret Santa exchange. My target said they liked quirky jewellery like hotdog earrings or ice cream brooches, so I thought that as well as the items I bought for her I'd make this crocheted pizza slice. Made from stash embroidery floss, and adapted from a full size pattern, I attached a clip so it could be put on a chain to use as a pendant or used as a key ring or bag clip.

Fancy a slice? The finished pizza.

Crocheted feature buttons

I made several gifts for my sister including these crocheted buttons. As I only made one in each design, they'll probably be used as a feature rather than as a closure, but that's up to her! Both yarns were bought in a vintage sale, and I crocheted to fit over self-cover buttons.

Last year I downloaded a dozen or so free craft e-books. Many were ... lame. One that stood out was Quirk Books D.I.Y. Gift Guide  which is a sampler of projects from 8 or 9 books published by Quirk. My favourite was these mini-books from their book Microcrafts
The signatures (groups of pages) are sewn together and the covers made around card. They are tiny! Fiddly but fun.

The sewn signatures and the cover waiting to be assembled. 
Top down view. The coin gives scale. 
The finished books. 
As it happens I also made a hat for my sister and in line with tradition totally forgot to take a photo. I'll do that in a different post.

Overall I'm very happy with all my homemade gifts this year (I made a lot of edible gifts that I didn't photograph, and a few other little sewn items) and with how they were recieved. (Although I have no idea how my #Vintagesecretsanta target felt with my gifts!)
But I am disappointed that I didn't meet my 75% target, and sadly aware that part of the problem is giving too many gifts!

Friday, January 1, 2016

New sparks of joy

I wrote earlier this year about my KonMari inspired decluttering. While I generally focus on what I'm getting rid of (470 books! Umpteen CDs and DVDs! 2 bags of clothes! Etc), I thought the new year was a good time to reflect on things I'm keeping.  The main criteria for keeping or discarding most items is whether or not they "spark joy". 
Now, let's be honest. I've kept things that don't entirely make the cut. Clothes that are ok but I can't cull till I replace or I will own no jeans, swimwear or coats.  Items which bring me joy as part of a system (my crochet tools as a whole bring me joy) but not themselves (my stitch markers are cheap green and pink plastic ones I got free with a magazine and they do not bring particular joy). But there are some things that really make me smile every time I use them, and in honour of New Year's Day I thought I'd make a list of things which have entered my life in the last two years that definitely spark joy.

La crueset tea for one set
Just lovely.
A Christmas present from last year, I adore using this.  It gets used for leisurely tea. It feels lovely in my hands and as a bonus looks awesome with my new kitchen's colours.

My new laundry
I never thought I'd wax lyrical about a laundry.
There are many things I love about the post renovation house, but I get a little burst of pleasure every time I go into my laundry. Tiles. TWO SINKS. Two. My huge IKEA Pax wardrobe as linen cupboard. Did I mention my two sinks?

My snap press
Mid nappy making
There is something incredibly satisfying about using this. Not just because the snaps look amazing and professional, but in the actual physical process too.

My tea necklace
Tea accessorises all outfits, correct?

There's a story behind this. Last year for a geek Christmas exchange I had a target who is a massive Star Trek, and Picard in particular, fan. I contacted the wonderful Cassie at Femmecraft and we brainstormed two designs, finally deciding on a general Trek focused "To boldly go" custom design (now available as a regular option). This design was the other, but we decided not to go ahead with it for a few reasons. Then in November this year I saw her at a market and she'd made it anyway and I could not resist. I'd been considering buying a Femmecraft necklace for myself and knowing that my custom order inquiry sparked this design's existence makes it extra special. 

My new watering can
It looks at home in my fledgling garden
When I was given this for Christmas this year, I pronounced it the Rolls Royce of watering cans. It is amazing.  Beautifully balanced, stunning colour, vintage looks, and a generous rose. Perhaps too early to make this an addition to the joy list, but I don't think so.

Everything in this outfit

The shirt is from Redbubble, the shoes I honestly can't recall (purchased while "baby/sleep deprived brain was still a thing)  and my talented sister made the green skirt. This photo was taken at the Powerhouse museum cafe on a day that Sydney got to a stupidly hot 45 degrees, actually to show evidence that I was wearing the skirt.

As a result of the decluttering, and thinking about what sparks joy, I'm feeling remarkably privileged and lucky, recognising the lovely things I own. This seems like the best time of year to reflect on making the most of what we have that gives us joy. So what makes your list?