9. Sewing Machine Goals

My goal for the month of February is to work on a sewing machine project every day. Even if I can only spare ten minutes, I can still cut out a piece of fabric or unpick a seam.

I mentioned in a previous post of how I’m scared of my sewing machine. By that, I really meant that I don’t much enjoy using it. I think the biggest reason for that is a lack of confidence. I used to feel the same way about knitting with dpns.

I realised that the difference between my knitting now and that of a year ago is daily practice. So my hope is that the daily practice on my sewing machine will have the same effect as knitting with those dpns did.

The bonus to that is that I work through more of my fabric!

This week I have completed an upcycling project in my sewing machine time. I have had these old baskets sitting and waiting patiently to be loved again for quite some time. The fabric inside was stained and pulled and the baskets themselves were looking tired.

I got some spray paint from Wilkinsons and sprayed them outside in the garden. I placed each basket in a large card board box so the spray paint didn’t ruin the patio and waited patiently in between to turn the sides and complete all three baskets on one dry day. The paint didn’t take too long to dry and the colour covered well.

I enjoyed looking through my fabric stash and choosing three different fabrics for the baskets. I cut up the old basket linings along the seams and measured them, adding extra for seam allowances. I will admit to getting one completely wrong and one of my evening sewing time blocks was spent unpicking!

I’m so pleased with the finished objects! It has also given me some confidence with basic sewing. The irritation came from the guesswork involved in the pattern creation but I know as I gain more experience, things like this will become easier. I just had to keep reminding myself to take my time and stop when I’d had enough.

I had a few ideas of what I’d like to tackle next, including a pretty cover for my sewing machine, a laptop sleeve and a tote bag for Faye’s music books as her current one isn’t big enough, but as these all required making up patterns, I decided to opt for a project I already had a pattern for: pyjamas!

This will be a challenging make for me as there are quite a lot of pattern pieces involved and it includes buttonholes which I have never attempted before. I’m not going to rush to get them finished; just a little step in the right direction each day.

Also this week, Faye and I repainted her beloved wooden dragon.

She decided she had gone off the bottle green colour a while back and wanted it to match her purple room. We had so much fun painting this together. I took all direction from her; she concentrated on the face and tail while I did the wings and back. We used white gesso to cover the whole thing first as it was quite dark. We left it to dry overnight then the following night started the fun painting, blending colours until she looked like a mer-dragon. Faye decided to name her Naia of the Sea!

In knitting, I have completed my Worlds Simplest Mittens! The pattern was free from Tin Can Knits on Ravelry and the beautiful yarn is by Amy Florence at Stranded Dyeworks. Aran yarn in the colourway ‘Cornerstone’.

8. Knitting for Mental Health

The first month of the year is complete! I don’t know about you, but to me, January has felt like it lasted a century! My day job has been crazily busy and I’m honestly worn out. It has really made me think about how much my crafts, knitting in particular, make me feel.

I knit every day. Sometimes there isn’t much time, but I still manage a few rows of something. I like my day to start with a bit of knitting before work and I know for certain that this starts my day in a calm way.

On Wednesdays, I start work earlier and don’t usually have the time for knitting and I can always feel a marked difference in the way I feel. I’m quite an anxious person; a worrier. Sometimes, I have to remind myself to breathe. Sitting down with some knitting is a focused activity that can’t be rushed and this means I relax.

If I’m knitting something simple, I find my mind wandering but usually this means I am able to think things through and find solutions to things that are nagging at me. If I’m knitting something more complicated, I have to fully focus on it and this takes all other niggling thoughts from my mind.

I find this absolutely fascinating! What do you think? Do you find craft work helps create a sense of calmness and relaxation?

In Finished Project news, I have my January socks! If you remember, my goal is to knit myself 12 pairs of socks this year. I absolutely love this first pair. I’m using the Basic Socks pattern by Winwick Mum (adapted for my feet) and the yarn is Truly Hooked Sparkle Sock in the colourway ‘Show Yourself’.

I made Faye some mitts using the Homebody Mitts pattern from Curious Handmade’s Knitvent 2019 and knit with Stylecraft Special DK in Gold. This was a really quick project and they are so squishy. Faye has to leave the house really early in the morning to catch the bus for school. It’s still dark and she gets really cold but wanted to keep the mitts I made her in December for best. She always wears her Hufflepuff scarf to school, so these match really well and she can still get her bus pass ready without taking the mitts off.

I have almost managed to knit myself a pair of mittens. These were completely unplanned. I was just scrolling Instagram one lunch time and happened up a free pattern by Tin Can Knits: ‘The World’s Simplest Mittens’ and I had a beautiful skein of Aran yarn from Amy at Stranded Dyeworks in my stash, in the colourway ‘Cornerstone’. It was a match made in heaven and I cast on that evening!

I was hoping to have cast these off before the end of January but it hasn’t happened.

Knitting all these mittens and socks lately has opened my eyes to how comfortable I have become with using double-pointed needles.

I also have another new work in progress to chat about. The urge to cast on has been strong! I have had to restrain myself a bit. This project has been waiting for a while and my lovely mum bought me the yarn for Christmas. I have cast on the Elton cardigan by Joji Locatelli and I’m knitting it in Drops Alpaca (colour 0501) and Drops Kid-silk (colour 10).

I have also managed a bit of sewing and cross stitch but I’ll discuss that more next time as I don’t want to show you tiny bits of progress (or it will get boring very quickly!)

In baking news, I have been focusing my efforts on bread making. I would love to be able to make all our bread but being a novice, I’m very far away from this scenario. It’s very much about being organised (my word for the year!) and sadly, I’m not there yet. I’m trying to be kind to myself about that and remember it’s a process. I’m always telling my daughter not to be hard on herself and that she shouldn’t expect perfection when she starts something new. Skills take time to build and perseverance is key! And even though I know all this, I still find it hard not to be cross with myself when things go wrong or I don’t manage to fit something in that I had planned. I’m working on it though.

My lovely girl drew me a picture of Dory from ‘Finding Nemo’ to put up in my office at work. She said whenever I get stressed, just to look at it and tell myself ‘Just keep swimming.’

Perhaps, it should also be ‘Just keep knitting’ for good mental health.