Wednesday, August 21, 2013

The dilemma of decluttering

I love reading about de-cluttering. I love the idea of getting rid of all the stuff that's clogging up my space and my energies. But I also love the idea of being ultra-frugal, of avoiding waste and getting as much use as possible out of something before passing it on or disposing of it. And these two often come into conflict. Add into the mix that I am by nature a MASSIVE hoarder, and struggle to let go of the most mundane, useless, impersonal things (say, a packet of noodles that's several years past it's use-by date), and you have a constant inner battle over what to do.

A classic example of this is my craft pile. Consisting of half-finished projects, fabric and wool bought for things I've not yet made, and numerous scraps and old clothes which I am holding on to in case I ever take up quilt making, this pile spreads through three cupboards, the wardrobe, under the bed and most recently, a growing pile on the sofa. Hardly ideal!

So I'm slowly trying to work my way through my project pile and my stash, as this is the only answer for both frugality and decluttering. My latest achievement: an oven glove! This project was started quite recently (I ran into issues with insulation) but is pretty frugal - the main part is made from a tea towel I picked up in a flea market in Finland (isn't it gorgeous?!) for a tiny sum, and the mits are cut from odds and ends of previous projects. I did buy the binding and the insulation, but there's plenty of insulation left for me to make further oven gloves as gifts. (Although one way of looking at this is: I have added more to my stash than I used up in this project...)

Honesty compels me to admit that I did get the main panel on the other side (hidden in the photo) the wrong way round but after four and a half hours, I couldn't face unpicking everything. The stitching is also a little messy as I had to sew over the bias binding several times to catch all the edges, but this is the first time I've used bias binding so I'm pretty happy with the way it came out. And it works!!

Thursday, August 15, 2013

My very first skeins

So it turns out I shouldn't have set the yarn before plying it. Anyone have any good projects involving singles yarn?

This is my very first spindle-full of yarn. It makes me hoppy-skippy-happy to look at my lovely skeins. I split the yarn in two, because there's a very clear point about halfway through the spindle-full of yarn when I suddenly 'get' the whole drafting thing, and you can see that the two skeins are very different in thickness, evenness and, shall we say, use-ability?

As this involved digging my spindle out of the Bottomless Pile of Craft Stuff, I couldn't resist starting on another yarn, this time to be plied before setting! It seems that whatever secret I suddenly discovered at that half way point has been lost because my new yarn is a bit slubby and the drop spindle keeps, well, dropping. I'm sure I can rediscover it, though! All the bloggers I read who spin say that it really comes down to practice.

Monday, August 12, 2013

One loaf is not enough

Yesterday I finally tried out A Girl Called Jack's soda bread recipe. She calls it 'airy fairy easy peasy soda bread' - and it's by far the simplest, quickest, easiest bread I've ever made. It came out beautifully tasty - so much so that one loaf was not enough, and I made another one.

 It's so quick! From start to stomach in an hour. My second loaf was lighter and I reckon I could get it lighter still with time. Both were utterly delicious. I just can't get over how easy and quick! It's a loaf I can make after work that's ready in time for supper, and the ingredients are all things I have in the cupboard/fridge all the time so no planning or shopping is required. It's so simple that I didn't even have to refer to the recipe second time around. Thank you Jack!

Sunday, August 11, 2013


Do you get these periods? Maybe it's just me. I periodically seem to sort of 'switch off' for a week or so. I don't really engage with anything, and all I seem to want to do is reread old books and rewatch old movies that I've read/seen a million and twelve times (roughly).

I know this is not ideal - this is very much a retreat from the frontier of life, and it's extremely unfair on my boyfriend who starts wondering if he's annoyed me somehow. It says a lot about my lack of self-discipline that it takes me so long to pull myself out of it. But I'm out again now! And trying to catch up on the housework that I allowed to pile up.

During these detached, unproductive and undisciplined moments, I find myself re-reading books by LM Alcott and similar, in which the characters openly discuss their battles against their weaker instincts in a journey to be 'good' human beings, with value not just through their jobs or their material possessions but through growth and relationships. There's something ironic about reading rather than living this kind of life, and I find myself thinking 'what would Darryl Rivers do?' (She certainly wouldn't be inside blogging on a day like this!)

I am now enjoying once again the lovely feeling of being lazy and productive at the same time. Thank you, oh thank you industrial revolution! for giving us the washing machine. Is there a better feeling in life than curling up with a cup of tea, smug in the knowledge that the laundry is being washed and the bread being baked while I sit and relax? 

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Has anyone ever made an oven glove?

I'm trying to make a pair of oven gloves. I have a lovely Cath Kidston pattern from her book Sew! and I've cut out all the fabric and batting, but before I make it up, I am testing the heat-proof-ness against a cool-ish iron - and it is utterly failing to withhold the heat for more than about three seconds.

I've got two layers of batting, a dressmaking cotton both sides, plus tea-towel-type thick cotton on one side, and it's still not working. What is the problem? Is it the batting? (Cotton quilting batting, the only cotton kind in the shop) or the fabric? Or have I not added enough layers of either fabric or batting? Should the batting be wool rather than cotton?

Any thoughts or suggestions most welcome!


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