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Stitch Shape and Bristol Fashion

Crafting in the West Country

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quilting

Money Makes the Yarn Go Around

Having a hobby is great! Having to fund it is not. It would be quite easy to over hear parts of a conversation with a crafter and assume they were talking about drugs, with their stash and hunting for needles, they do go missing a lot… And another similarity that could be drawn is the issue of needing to get the money together. So, what to spend money on and what not to?

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The only reason my house is not full of wool is due to monetary constraints…

Cable needles are a huge waste of money in my opinion. The concept is great, but honestly, you can do the same thing with other needles. For me, I actually find them more annoying than using my own techniques. Its simple, slip the stitches onto a spare needle (it doesn’t even need to be the same size, relatively similar though) hold in front or back, knit your next stitches, slip the stitches back, knit and continue! Occasionally, you do come across a technique where you’ll need to knit off the other end, so dig out your double pointed needles in that case.

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My most recent cables and what it was achieved on.

If you have something it’s worth keeping ‘in stock’ because you use it so much, buy it when you see it cheap. My mother is the master of this. She knows she will always use black and white fabric, so if she sees something of a high quality and cheap, she will buy it, even if she’s not going to use it immediately, because she knows she will eventually. Whenever there’s a trip to Ikea, she keeps an eye out for reduced duvet sets, because quilts always need backs. Having a small stock of them also means she can pick one that compliments the front.

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Having a duvet day?

Know your local craft shops. There’s one that’s a national chain near me where everything is sold at the RRP. I know I can get most of these things cheaper elsewhere. However their offers can be pretty good. Their yarn seems to be permanently 3 for 2, so when I’m stocking up for a big project, as I seem to be doing on a monthly basis this year, I know I can get a new jumper for a third cheaper than I might do otherwise, which isn’t a bad saving.

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Wowie! Bowie jumper made with a third off the yarn!

Sometimes a local craft shop just isn’t an option, so it’s time to think outside the box. When I was a student I was living in the outskirts of London and walked everywhere. Unfortunately, I never found a local craft shop, and the price of transport shot up not long after I got there. There was always good old Ebay and such, bringing things straight to my door, but you can’t always trust the quality (or speed). A surprising number of shops do sell cheap crafting supplies, so if you’re not looking for something special made out of mohair, you can do pretty well on the high street. The Works, Wilkinsons and even the pound shop can keep you crafting in desperate times.

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One of my most infamous WIP’s. Knitted on yarn that’s £1 a ball!

See you in a week guys!

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Stuff, Stuff Everywhere!

One of the big problems with crafting is, where do you keep all your supplies? I’m lucky enough to live in a house with a dedicated sewing room, but that doesn’t make it easy. The house is being decorated, I plan to make myself a little crafting corner in my bedroom. In light of this, we have been discussing how we are going to use the space sensibly and what already works for us. Here’s some of the best bits.

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Yes, it is a tip, but it will be sorted… eventually…

Small Space Storage

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This Ikea laundry bag has done me well!

When I was at university, I was living in small rooms, moving regularly and only just delving into my knitting addiction. After some careful thought, a large laundry bag seemed like a great idea to keep my supplies in. It’s compact and squashable. A bit of a pain to find stuff in, but easy to move about and would sit at the end of my bed without taking up much space.

The Stash of Fabric

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Every once in a while, there’s a big sort out and it’s all organized by colour!

My mum read a great tip online a couple of years ago about how to store stash fabric, and it has done her well. Fold it around the cardboard used by comic book collectors and it is so much easier to organize and view. (If anyone knows where this tip originated, would love to be able to share the link.) The card isn’t terribly cheap, but once you use that piece of fabric, you can use the card again!

Works in Progress/Unfinished Objects

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The Liberty bag is one of my prized possessions.

Getting distracted from your project by a new idea, it’s something I’m getting better at not doing, but I don’t think I’ll ever be completely innocent of it. How I stop myself getting to confused by returning to a project after 6 months is by keeping all of the yarn and notes and everything together in a nice plastic bag. Next step, I plan to buy some plain tote bags, which I can then make notes on in fabric markers to help me identify what’s occupying it.

Knitting Needles

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The vase would only have cost me about £2

At some point I decided there should be a home for my needles to return to, but I knew trying to organize them by size wasn’t going to happen. A moment of inspiration came and I decided to buy a vase to keep them in. This was only a cheap one to see if it was a worthwhile plan, and it turns out it was! I plan to buy a bigger, prettier one in the no too distant future.

Make it Pretty

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Storage being proudly displayed in the living room

A huge issue for me is having to go through a whole process to get out and put away something I use regularly, because I’m trying to keep it hidden. By spending an extra few pounds to make a storage feature a decorative feature, it could actually make the whole process of crafting much less frustrating.

Once everything’s done in the house, I’ll do a follow up post and let you all know how it turned out. But that may well not be for quite some time…

 

Technocrafter

While crafting can be a way to find solitude in the 21st century, away from mobile phones and the Twitterati, the Kardashians and selfies, it can also be an incredible tool to help you with your craft, without interfering with the process.

The biggest thing I’ve noticed is how it helps me monitor my cross stitch progress. This happened by accident. I started out by taking pictures of what I’d done to see if my friends could work out what it was going to be. A really fun game if you’ve never played. It tended to be about one a day and I noticed that I could see what I’d done each day. When do something as focused as cross stitch where you can sometimes get bogged down in not making much progress, it actually really helps.

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The month of Bill Murray.

Having photography as an instant form is useful for so many things really. I often photograph my knitting in case anyone asks me what I’ve been doing. Patchwork has an incredible application for this, arranging your blocks. This is my mums domain, and she’s always done it, even when you had to go and get film developed! (Although a little less frequently then) If you arrange your blocks in different ways and then photograph each of them, you can look at the different arrangements easier and decide which you like best much quicker. Plus, you don’t have to remember how you had them before, and get frustrated when you can’t remember how to recreate it. You have a reference picture!

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Mystery quilt! my mum had no idea how it would turn out. Now property of her mum.

If you’re anything like me, you keep track of where you are in your knitting with endless scraps of paper covered in tally marks. I haven’t completely said goodbye to this method, but I now often use my iPhone to make keep track instead. A well organized note conveniently titled is much harder to loose than that back of an envelope. Bonus feature when you’re making something big you can delete the notes that you’re done with, minimizing any confusion over which set you were using

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Tally Ho!

Last year, my huge Game of Thrones scarf got over 25 likes on Facebook, with a disclaimer it was not going to be knitted again for anyone (still didn’t stop people asking!). IMG_0062The lying down next to it was to demonstrate the scale. Apparently I look dead. Later in the year I reveled this flamingo jumper. This was the second customization of this pattern, which I am completely in love with. The response online? First time I broke 50 likes on Facebook! I don’t think I’d ever got 30 on one post before.

IMG_0061The jumper I finished this week, much less fantastical but got 40! Very grown up knitting by my standards indeed.

IMG_0060I don’t make things for likes or external gratification, I make things because I enjoy the process and out come. But boy, does it feel good for other people to acknowledge the skill, time and process that went into the piece.

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