Mindful Magpie Makes: 2020 week 1

If you are anything like me, understanding and maintaining your self worth can be an ongoing struggle. I am generally in awe of other people's achievements but dismissive of my own, being future focused and "turbulent". I am always thinking of new things, and then beating myself up that I don't manage to do a fraction of all the things I have thought about doing.

This year, my brother gave me a gorgeous A5 Kraft paper notebook, and I decided I would note down my making activities - so that whenever I doubt myself, I can look back on this notebook and see what I have actually achieved. I know there are many ways to do this, both analogue and digital, but I find something so satisfying about this physical object - I love the brown paper. I have also punched holes in the paper (it is quite thick!) and I can tie in samples of the wool I am using for each project, so I have a really tactile record.

The Making journal is a simple record of what I have done, but as I continue my mindful journey, I also wanted to regularly reflect on my makes, what the actions of making mean to me, and how I feel about each project I am working on.

29/12/2019 to 04/01/2020

This week, I have worked on three projects. I like to think I can be single minded and focused on one thing at a time, but my magpie mind craves variety too, so in practice I generally end up working on two or three projects at once. I find that different projects (mostly sewing or knitting to date) suit different moods, so it's always useful to have something to hand that is in step with the way you are feeling at the time. It will be interesting to see how this pans out over the year.

#1 - Party Bunting Socks (knitting)

My first attempt at making socks - this pattern was released at Octobers "The Knittea Retreat" in Cardiff. I started in on Boxing Day, with Mum holding the skeins as I wound the cakes up, and my brother reading the pattern and muttering about "soothing plain vanilla" socks - he's not a knitter!

The first new technique for me in this project was the welt - making a raised bump by knitting together stitches from the current row, and stitches from the sixth row previous. Big tick as I love learning, trying out and mastering new techniques (it doesn't matter how tricky or simple they are, not when they are new!)

The bunting is stranded colourwork, I haven't done this for ~40 years, but if Brownie Girl Guide me could manage it, so could (cough) the middle aged version of me.

The heel flap and turn were also new techniques, some anxiety as I changed from magic loop to an assortment of circulars & double pointed needles (as I didn't have enough of the right size); it took me a while to work out where my new rounds started, and where I needed to pick up stitches but everything worked out and I had a convincing sock shape at that point

Finally, googling how to Kitchener stitch the toes together - I am not sure I mastered this technique in the 10 toe stitches, but will get another chance of sock #2. I finished the first sock on the 30th of December, and cast on the second on the 2nd of January. Full of cold for the weekend, so hopefully I will be able to report progress in next weeks update!

#2 - Practice piece (weaving)

On New Years Eve, I finally got around to a project I had been intending to do for all of 2019. My Grandad had made a loom, some 25 years ago, and after he died, it was stored in Mum's loft. I brought it home with me early in 2019, thinking I would learn to weave while I had some extra spare time, but it was not to be.

I opened the bag and looked at the loom a few times, it was warped with string for a planned project, and looked extremely complex. At first, I wasn't even sure if the string was an integral part of the loom, or whether it was a WIP, when I realised it was my Grandad's last project on the loom, it made it impossible to remove it without a project of my own in mind. Cutting off his strings was too emotional a thing to be done for just playing / experimenting.

So on the final day of the year, with the help of my friend Angela who also wanted to try out a loom, I finally cut off the warp strings and started my own weaving experiment. I've not used all the bits and pieces that came in the bag with the loom, but set up with a simple frame loom as my introduction and hope to progress to the more advanced techniques - it's a matter of tying strings to rods to lift up sequences of warp threads - but for now, I like the soothing effort of actually weaving the stick (stainless steel ruler but who's checking!) under and over the threads.

#3 - Sparkly Mermaid Blanket (knitting)

I can't remember exactly when I started this project, some time in October or November 2019. I saw a turquoise/grey ombre mix yarn, with green glitter in it and thought it looked like a good option to try to crochet a shawl. I did attempt a few trebles - it has been again around 40 years since I last attempted to crochet something; again the thought that if mini-me could do it, I should be able to do it now. The yarn is a bit fuzzy, and it was hard to see the stitches. I didn't have a pattern in mind, I was just trying it out, and for whatever reason, my heart just wasn't in it.

However, I popped back to the shop a few days later (as you do...) and there were other toning colourways available - turquoise with cool greys and pinks, vibrant jade with reds and purples, and a creamy dusky pink mix - all with the green glitter thread running through them.

I was in the mood for a simple project - I had been working on a jumper that had gone wrong a couple of times through lack of concentration. - and so I ended up starting another mitred square blanket. I am making it in blocks of 16 squares (each square is ~8cm). I'm on block #5 at the moment, and on New Years Day, I added another 4 squares - soothing knitting as I was tired and slightly hungover.

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