Why did I iron a worn and torn sheet?

So that it would be easier to remake into pillowcases, hankies and reusable kitchen wipes, that’s why! I hate waste and I’m all in favour of reusing, recycling and upcycling before buying new. Not that the sheet itself was new in the first place – it’s one of nine that cost 50p each from a charity shop a few years ago.

They are 100% cotton ex-hotel bedsheets which were being sold off as dustsheets for decorating – shockhorrorgasp! Well, I had to rescue them didn’t I? I much prefer the soft, slightly textured feel of old cotton to the slippery tissue paper feel of modern sheets. Old sheets aren’t see-through either – not until they are very old and worn anyway!

I’m still using some of the sheets regularly as bedding, some are squirreled away for the future, one has been recycled as a summer windscreen cover and this one is being remade into smaller items. I like to have lots of pillows on my bed, so lots of pillowcases are essential in this home.

I’ve been vaguely thinking I should stop using kitchen paper and tissues for ages, so the sheet tearing gave me the motication to turn intention into action and provide myself with reusables. I only ever buy the cheapest household paper goods, but with prices increasing all the time reusables should save me a bit of money as well as being better for the environment.

The kitchen wipes I’ll probably wash by hand every few days, then sterilise in the microwave. They won’t look pretty, but they will be clean. Hankies will go in the whites wash and can also be micro-sterilised if necessary. Don’t shudder – it’s what we did before paper tissues became “normal”! Well, not the microwaving, obviously, the old-time way was to boil up the hankies in an old saucepan, but micro is quicker and cheaper.

I still have a lot more sewing to do, but it’s giving me a nice warm “make do and mend” glow as I stitch. I’m going to use the most worn and soft part of the fabric for the hankies and I think I’ll hem them by hand. Sewing a rolled hem is a pleasantly meditative activity for a winter’s eve.


WIP – tweed bag fail

I’ve finished making the tweed bag I started before Christmas and although it would serve its purpose as a tote for the junk I lug around with me, it’s just not “right”. I know I’ll never use it, so it’s gone straight in the charity shop pile.

I’m a bit disappointed that it didn’t turn out as I hoped, but it was an experiment using (mostly) recycled materials, so the main loss was my time. At least I gave it a go and you learn as much, if not more, from failures as successes.

I must find myself a new bag soon though – my old one is embarrassingly shabby and has been for some time!

No longer a work-in-progress

It took a bit longer than I hoped, but at last I’ve finished my sister-in-law’s socks. So that’s one thing off my work-in-progress list. I’ll start on another pair for myself as I have the yarn waiting and it’s nice to have some knitting on the go for those moments when I need to twiddle my fingers. Might as well twiddle productively!

I fancy a change from knitting though, so I’m going to get my sewing machine out this week and tackle one or two of the sewing projects on my list. Finishing the bag I started just before Christmas should be a gentle start and I’ve got a pair of trousers to take up (that’s not on the list, but it still needs doing and won’t take long once I actually get started).

WIP – progress

OK, so at an average speed of about eight rounds a day I’m not exactly making fast progress, but as long I actually do eight rounds a day I will finish my sister-in-law’s socks before the end of the month. I hope to finish them by the end of next week, but I’ve only committed myself to doing “some” each day – yesterday it was just one round!

The plain bits usually progress quicker than the complicated bits, because I’m liable to make mistakes when I’m over tired. Sometimes I have to back-track several times on one heel because I forget a decrease or do too many if I insist in carrying on when my brain has shut down.

Mind you, I can mess up the easy bits too if I’m really fuggy, so I have to try to think tortoise rather than hare when I’m knitting and not mind that I can’t knock off a sock in an evening like expert knitters can. Slow and steady, ignoring all distractions is the way to do it – if only I wasn’t a hare by nature!

The list.

Not really a New Year's resolution…

… because I quite often decide that I will not start any new sewing or knitting projects until I’ve finished all work in progress, but it’s nearly New Year, so I might as well recycle that objective (again). My current list includes the following:

Finish socks for sister-in-law – started early December. One done, second just begun.
Finish tweed bag – pattern devised, cut out and ready to sew.
Make 3 pairs of trousers – fabrics bought at least two years ago. Complicated by wanting to make the pattern for them from an old pair of trousers that are too small for me.
Make 4 pairs of socks – yarn bought autumn 2010.
Knit cardigan – yarn bought summer 2010.
Make blinds for kitchen – materials at least 3 years old.
Remake curtains for living room – curtains from last house (I moved 5 years ago!) need relining and shortening. Need new curtain track.
Make proper door curtains – use materials from stash.
Make 2-3 cushion covers – use materials from stash.
Make up cross stitch card kit.
Make owl mini-tapestry.
Make completed mini-tapestries into pin cushions.

So, ignoring the loud guffaws issuing from my dearest friends who know only too well my talent for procrastination, I will focus on two things. Firstly my budget plans for 2011 require utmost restraint on the “buying things on a whim” front, secondly I have already made some progress lately on the “getting things finished” front by making myself do 20-40 minutes work on something (almost) every day.

Doing a bit every day is relatively easy when it comes to small portable projects like sock knitting. It’s not as easy with bigger tasks such as curtain-making because I don’t have a dedicated workspace and it drives me nuts having stuff all over the kitchen table if I’m ill for a few days and progress falters. Still, it will be interesting to see what I can achieve if I keep on doing about half an hour’s work on the list every day.

Socks and sunshine

I finished my nephew’s socks today, so they can be packed and despatched tomorrow or Tuesday. Next on the needles is a pair in fiery red yarn for my sister-in-law. I love watching the pattern emerge as I get into a new yarn.

I’m still moving at a very slow pace, but I did get out in the sunshine today for a short walk to take advantage of the (relatively) milder weather. After the days of snow and frost it felt deceptively spring-like, but that might just have been wishful thinking on my part.

"You can turn a heel!"

Exclaimed the owner of the cafe, sounding impressed. I was doing a bit of stitching whilst enjoying tea and cake with a friend the other day – she also seemed impressed by my ability to knit a sock. It was nice to be reminded that knitting is regarded as quite an accomplishment by people who haven’t learned how.

I’m far from clever or quick at knitting and it took me ages to finish my first pair of socks with lots of help from online tutorials and forum friends. But I CAN do it – I learned how! And I’ve now got to the stage where I can almost do without a pattern and I hardly make any mistakes that need extensive unpicking…

The current pair on the needles is for my nephew and will be finished well in time for Christmas. I’m also about a quarter of the way through a pair for my sister-in-law. Whether I get them finished by Christmas is a bit less certain (my hands hurt if I knit too long in one session, hence my slow pace), but thankfully she’s not the kind to pout if a pressie is a bit late.

If you can already cast on and do plain and purl and you’d like to impress friends and strangers with your ability to turn a heel it’s not too difficult to learn how to knit socks yourself. These links may help:

Sock knitting tutorial – with LOTS of pictures which I used to make sense of the free pattern which came with my yarn
Long tail cast-on tutorial – Long tail or Continental style cast-on gives a more confortable stretchy top to the sock cuff
Forum help and a tutorial for Aran weight socks at Downsizer