Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Life's Selvedge

Selvedge (also Selvage)

Definition - noun
1.  an edge produced on woven fabric during manufacture that prevents it from unravelling. 
2.   Geology a zone of altered rock, especially volcanic glass, at the edge of a rock mass.

Despite having an O'Level in Geography (and boy do I age myself with that qualification), personally the only definition I'm interested in is (1).

Things have been really busy, barely manageable busy, and my sewing time has been a big, fat zero.

This is no good for me.

I need to do creative stuff, it's part of the very fabric of my being, the selvedge that stops me unravelling. 

But time has been really short and I'm rubbish at sewing in short bursts - I know the '15 minutes a day' method works for some people but not for me - I've just about gathered my wits and decided what I'm going to make in that time!

So I needed a fall back, something I could happily pick up in 5 minutes windows of opportunity.

Guess what I decided to do first ... knitting.  This is what I planned to make:

Fab isn't it? 
This pattern is available free at www.skiffvintageknittingpatterns.co.uk
Big mistake, I'm a pants knitter.  Don't get me wrong, I can cast on like a good 'un, knit and purl, cast off, sew up neatly, even cable.  My tension's fine too.  I can't do that clever kind of flicking the wool over thing like a proper knitter, I have to hold both needles in one hand and use the other to wind the yarn around - it's not elegant but it works. "What's the problem?" you ask - and it seems like a reasonable question.  Well, I can't fix it when I make a mistake - and I make plenty. Seriously, I know it's gone wrong but have no idea how to go about putting it right.  In crochet I can 'see' it but knitting stitches look like scribble to me.  Here is a real example ...

I love to make homemade gifts.  I have, over the years, knitted things for my kids.  They understand this means I love them bigger than the whole world - there is no bigger deal, unconditional love.  Knitting is torture for me.  2 years ago I decided to make my boy a scarf because he's at Uni in a very cold, damp place.  Week before Christmas I was in bed with 'flu - I needed to finish it so I struggled on.  I dropped a stitch and it started to run - I had absolutely no idea how to fix it and was desperate because my only option was to unravel the lot and start again!  There was crying (I did have 'flu so it was not my finest hour!). 

My daughter took it and drove to my Best Friend's house (20 mile round trip) so that she could fix it and then brought it back for me to finish.  True story.

So that is why my current knitting project looks like this:

Yep, I unravelled it!  But let me tell you the cast on and 20 rows
of rib were perfect - if only I hadn't started the pattern all would have been fine!
It's not going to beat me, I am totally determined to crack this knitting business but, in my current fragile state I was pushing my luck.  And, perhaps more importantly, my Best Friend is in Egypt on holiday so it wasn't practical to take it to her for fixing!

So, I've gone back to an early, crafty love and I am cross-stitching.  It is just the ticket, soothing my mind.  This is a gift I am making for my brother Yoda and his partner:

The Princess Bride in cross-stitch - genius!
My whole family are PB fans - don't quote from the film unless you're prepared to endure 10 minutes of scene re-enactments!  You can find the pattern here http://www.etsy.com/people/weelittlestitches

I came across the patterns on Jo's blog (www.sewmuchchoice.wordpress.com) - I was lucky enough to be paired with Jo during the IHOP nautical swap earlier in the year.

If you are a geek (or have a geek in the family) then you have to check out the rest of Jacqueline's cross-stitch patterns - suffice to say what you see here is the tip of the iceberg for me, I am beavering away trying to make some super secret Christmas gifts for my family.  I mean who doesn't need Doctor Who (all 11 of them) and his Tardis in the medium of cross-stitch?

Oh, and if you fancy making something super brilliant (Star Wars cross-stitch anybody?), then I've found a really great UK supplier of threads here - I bought DMC threads for half the price I could buy them anywhere else.

P and I are going away for a week, we fly on Thursday - I am so looking forward to the break.  It got a bit 'iffy', we thought we weren't going to be able to get away because of family stuff going on but now it's all organised.  We're off to Lanzarote for a week (neither of us has been before) and my wonderful OH booked a hotel right next to a bi-weekly craft market - good job we've got a generous luggage allowance!  I figure cross-stitch might not be ideal for the 'plane so I've sorted out some wool and a scarf pattern to crochet - perfect, I can practically do that in my sleep.

Finally (I will stop rambling eventually), I happened upon Barbara's blog, I have no idea how I haven't come across it before.  She is wonderful - I have literally gone back to the beginning and read every single post - I have laughed aloud, sat and nodded in agreement, and shed the odd tear.  If you don't follow her blog already I would recommend it wholeheartedly.



  1. ah, I am coming out of a similar place-too busy to sit down and spend enough time to get into any of my creative crafts. Thursday I will get my first knitting lesson!!

    1. Hi Mary, best of luck on Thursday, I think I need to get some more lessons. There are so many wonderful knitting patterns out there - and I am not short of yarn! I hope you get some more time to craft soon - it's amazing the difference it makes :)

  2. Cross stitch simply doesn't get any more wonderful than that... Princess Bride - genius! My sister and I could quote that entire film as teenagers :)
    And I think you're entirely right to turn to a stress-free love while life is busy!

    1. Isn't it fab - the recients will be delighted, we got them PB wine for the 25th Anniversary of the film which is a prized possession! :)

  3. I can't do sewing in short bursts either. Love the Princess Bride cross stitch. I've just visited Wee Little Stitches shop and now want all the Dr Who designs, especially the one of 10 and Rose. I really don't need another project! LOL!

    Also, I'd like to come and kidnap Ernie. He's a handsome boy.

    1. I've bought 7 charts so far - they're just so brilliant. It's a pretty quick project - I've nearly finished, just waiting for 2 colours. I have a box of threads from years ago but hardly any colours I needed - I've had several deliveries!
      Even the vet thinks Ernie is a handsome boy but he is into everything! He was from an unwanted litter - total sob story so A rescued him :)

    2. I found a Pride and Prejudice one as well now! I can definitely see me doing some of these although not sure what I'd do with them once completed.

    3. It's a truth universally acknowledged that a woman in posession of crafty skills is in need of a Jane Austen cross-stitch kit! :)

  4. Oh.. I so understand how you feel.. We have been fixing our house to put up for sale, working on hubbys deer cabin- to live in while we build a house. trying to sort through new house plans..
    so sewing is just not happening very much.. I miss it so much.. Hopefully soon, both of our lives will slow down..ha

    1. Good luck with your house sale - I hope you get some sewing time soon :)

  5. Hi Jacq - I've just unravelled a few months of knitting as well :). Funny you talk about not being able to sew in short bursts, because this week I have tried to do just that - I've had some time this year to sew, but that is ending soon - so I've tried to fit it in - it's stressful, and not enjoyable. I'm trying to work out how to manage sewing and life -more on my Sunday post. I think we do have to make space - how many of your immediate family have some time to do their own thing while you support them all? Yep, that's what we women do- I do the same. We've got to take a sewing stand!

    1. Hi Sarah Liz, I'm glad I'm not the only knitting unraveller. And not alone in being unable to sew in short bursts - I think that's partly because I cut out in the dining room, have my machine in my craft room etc, so it's harder to leave stuff out mid project. I actually have some of the charity dresses cut out - maybe I can work on those if I get a little time. Good luck managing your new schedule, you're absolutely right, we do need to take time - my OH isn't managing to find time for his hobby either (golf) and we're both missing the benefits. Thank you - you are always so positive :)


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