Goodbye 2017

Well, that was 2017.   Apart from this post, it’s been completely blog free and I’m OK with that.   Instead of worrying about keeping up with other people and joining in with every craft-along or instagram photo-a-day, I’ve done my own thing.

I managed to read 20 books and exceeded my target of 18.   Admittedly it was mostly chick lit and Harry Potter short stories, but I made time for reading and enjoyed it, which is what reading is supposed to be.

I have been crafting.   I’ve caught up on some craft projects that were years old, and some craft kits that were only hours old.   I still need to get lots of things completed (or started having bought all the stuff in preparation!), and I’ll try and make time for those in 2018.   I also need to make huge inroads into my scrapbooking, and my Trefoil Guild Bronze award must be finished soon.   Just one clause to go.

One thing that has held back my creativity is the amount of stuff I have.   The clutter means that I don’t have room to create to use up the stuff that is taking up all the room!   I have made an effort to declutter and I’ll carry on.   I just need to figure out what I can do with everything I’m getting rid of.   I’m not going to attempt to Kon Mari my life.   My aim for 2018 is to gain sole control of the office as my craft room, and to be able to contain all the craft materials spread all over the house in there.

My volunteering has expanded this year.   As well as my Guide unit and WI committee responsibilities, I’ve also opened a Brownie Pack.   Towards the end of the year, I was just snowed under with paperwork, running workshops, organising meetings and everything else life threw at me.    I need to get that under control and stop over-committing.

Further changes in 2018 need to be to waste less and accumulate less.   Can I lose weight and get healthy too?

Wishing everyone a fabulous 2018!

Here’s to 2016

Goodbye 2015 (1)At the beginning of 2015, I resolved not to have any resolutions, not to sign up to any social media obligations like photo-a-day or blog-a-week, not to join in with quilt a month, crochet along etc. and not to heap too much pressure on myself to join in and fit in with the crowd.

To some extent I’ve succeeded in this (especially the not blogging regularly part – oops!) but I’m not quite there.

My aim for 2016 is to get organised.   I want to declutter and put systems in place to get my life, head and home in order.   I want to complete ‘to do lists’ rather than keep putting things off.   I want a crafting area that is inspirational, rather than a pile of work in progress.   I want to minimise food waste by planning meals better and shopping smarter.   I want to put my health higher up in my priorities.

But for now, I’d like to wish everyone a happy new year and I hope 2016 is everything you want it to be.

My battle with an Elsa dress

Elsa dress completedDo you ever find that there is something that is stopping you doing something?   I don’t mean something physical like a broken arm or your sewing machine being away for a service for a few days.   I mean something in your head that is usually completely trivial.   A mental blockage.Elsa dress pattern Simplicity S0733Like lots of people, I’ve been enjoying the Great British Sewing Bee on TV and getting inspired to sew.   I have lots of dress patterns that I want to try, and some of them have gone as far as being packed in project bags with fabric and all the notions to complete them.Elsa dress fabrics from Plush AddictHowever, I am being thwarted by an Elsa dress.   Eldest Craftyguidelet wanted an Elsa dress last year, and we couldn’t get one.   Now they are everywhere, but I have all the fabric cut out to make her one.   Youngest Craftyguidelet has hers made already as she went to a Frozen party last year, but eldest is still waiting.   No deadline so no dress.elsa dress in progressI have the fabric and pattern.   It’s all cut out ready and sitting in my craft room.   I’ve already made one so I know what I’m doing.   I’ve even got the basics sorted for my overlocker.   I’m just not making the dress.

Elsa dress overlockerThis procrastination over the dress is stopping me making other things.   It’s fixed in my brain that I have to finish this dress for my little girl before I can start on something else.   All sorts of thoughts are going round my head about prioritising something for my girls over all the other stuff for me, about getting it completed and ticked off the WIP list.   It is totally illogical and is annoying me and I’ve only got myself to blame.

So readers, I’m going for it.   This Elsa dress won’t beat me.   And then I have some Liberty fabric waiting to be made into a blouse…

Craftingspiration – Craft Books

Craft and recipe booksI love craft and cooking books.   They give me inspiration, techniques, ideas, instruction, patterns, recipes, hints and tips.   Some have been recommended to me.   Some are from TV series I’ve enjoyed.   Some are gifts.   Some are swaps.   Some are prizes.   Once they are in the house, I won’t let them go.

I’ve found that I either just use the same couple of pages over and over again, or don’t use them at all after the initial look through when they first come to me.   Looking at some of these afresh, I am determined to use them, and in doing so, I might clear some of my crafty stash as well.

I’ve decided to start with cake.   Ingredients are ordered.   Ready, set, bake!

Are any of these on your shelf?

Dog Under My Desk – Zip and Go Bag

Dog Under My DeskThe VATMOSS fiasco has now come into EU law, and although the UK government has offered some concessions, many producers of digital patterns have simply stopped supplying them.

I had a mini spend up just before the 1st January deadline and picked up a few patterns which I’ll use during the next few months.   However one supplier that I’ve used in the past is still supplying downloadable PDF’s at time of writing.   Dog Under My Desk designs fabulous, practical bags.   Her site is full of free tutorials as well as her PDF pattern shop.Dog Under My Desk Zip and Go Bag PatternWhen you buy a pattern, you get a PDF to download giving very detailed, illustrated instructions, plus the pattern pieces.   I’ve had the Zip and Go Bag pattern for some time now, and I made a Frozen themed bag for youngest Craftyguidelet as well as a more grown up version for a friend’s daughter.   Of course, eldest Craftyguidelet wanted a Frozen bag too, so I finally got round to knocking it off of my WIP list.Dog Under My Desk Zip and Go Bag FrozenThe pattern is very easy to follow, and don’t be scared of the zips.   They are a cinch to put in.   I do end up talking to myself to triple check which order the pieces go together though.   Read three times, measure twice, cut once!

The fabric needs to be cut in a certain way along the grain so it doesn’t stretch which is all dealt with in the instructions.   I’m a bit stingy with fabric so I didn’t fussy cut the bag to give a perfect Elsa orientation in the centre of the bag.   I knew the girls wouldn’t mind as long as someone’s face appears somewhere.   Perhaps next time I’ll get to make one for me, although I don’t think pink is my colour.

Have you got a long list of things to get made this year?

That was the year that was ~ 2014

photo (82)It was a great year for the shop.   Craftyguider had it’s best year yet, and I raised a nice sum of money to put into the Guide accounts.   I get to meet Theo Paphitis soon to collect my #SBS (Small Business Sunday) award, and I featured in Guiding magazine and the local press.   However, I didn’t manage to launch a presence on Etsy, or learn about taking better photos.

photo (74)I managed to make enough Christmas cards for friends and family, and sold handmade Christmas cards and tags in my shop for the first time.   However I didn’t start in July as planned, and had a few late nights before craft fairs frantically making stock.

yellow and grey bunting-001I handmade a few Christmas and birthday gifts this year, however I didn’t make as many as I’d planned to.

Q and A a DayI kept up to date with my Q&A a day diary (if you count the odd catch up sessions when I missed a couple/few/several days), however the Craftyguidelets didn’t do theirs.

book bag tutorial title pageI blogged more than usual, however I didn’t get into a rhythm and get all my ideas off the ground, especially more tutorials.

IMG_8261I worked hard to keep my local Rainbow and Brownie units open and helped to recruit new leaders, however I didn’t manage to get new units to open so that all the girls who want to join, can.

robin snowflake kitsI have completed quite a few magazine kits this year, but not the one a week I wanted to.   I have also tackled the magazine mountain and now say to myself that buying more magazines doesn’t make me happy, and the clutter makes me sad when I’m standing at the magazine display in the supermarket.   However, the magazine hill is still there.

I haven’t learned how to procrastinate less, I’m still carrying some extra pounds, and the office is a bomb site.

I have learned an important thing this year though.   I can’t (and shouldn’t) do everything.   I don’t have to fill every available minute in the service of others or dusting the bannisters or attending meetings or making things for the shop.   I need to prioritise my girls, my husband, my family and me.   All the ‘howevers’ above have occurred because something else came up.   A craft session with the Craftyguidelets, making Elsa dresses, going on family holidays, extra time at the park after school, a day out on my own to a craft fair as a customer, not a vendor.

Have a wonderful new year everyone, and I hope 2015 is everything you want it to be.

Louise x

Dear September


Where did our time go September?   30 days and it was all over!

You gave me glorious weather (mostly!) and lots of time in the garden appreciating the wonderful flowers still blooming their socks off.   Considering that from February to April it looked like a muddy mess, now it’s landscaped and lovely.autumn garden 3

My little Leprechaun turned Imp now has her Brownie Gardener badge for the hard work she put in sowing seeds, thinning out, weeding, watering and finally clearing away.   Hopefully she’ll help again next Spring, and her grandparents want to hire her for her skills with a seed packet.

simplicity 2828 finished dressI achieved things, September.   This pretty dress for Rainbow Craftyguidelet, some cards, some bunting, and even a tutorial for the book bags I made for the Craftyguidelets’ music lessons.   Sales have been picking up with Craftyguider following a bit of promo work, and the big push to Christmas starts now.   The Christmas shop is now open.   I just need to fill it up a bit more!christmas tree decsMy Guiding life has started again.   Guides and Rainbows are back, and once again I am juggling admin, trying to get as many girls as possible off the waiting lists and into units where they can join the fun, and trying to encourage more volunteers to come forward and help this to happen.IMG_8261I have also started Trefoil Guild which is like the WI for Guiding types.   It was so lovely just going to a meeting for grown ups, not being asked to do anything, not being responsible for anything, not feeling guilty for not doing more.   I just enjoyed the talk on the fabulous work of Guide Dogs and the puppy walkers.   Finally something just for me to enjoy!Harry Guide Dog 1WI planning has started again for our Handmade Christmas Craft Fair on 16th November.   I need to get a shifty on for my stall!photo (59)

But then just like that it was over September.   30 days of full on busyness and then phwoomp!   October happened.

Autumn is here and I’ll be joining in with Miss Beatrix’s #BashSAD challenge to banish the blues of the shorter days.   I’m also attempting to complete a whole month of the Fat Mum Slim #fmsphotoaday challenge on Instagram.   My house is finally gaining some order after a summer of neglect, the kids are settled at school.   Let’s do this October!

What was that?   Half term at the end of the month?   *sticks fingers in ears and pretends not to hear*

What are you up to this month?

Simplicity 2828 – WIP Finish

simplicity 2828 title dress2 years ago (or was it 3?) when Craftyguider was still starting up, I made a duffel bag for eldest Craftyguidelet’s PE kit at school.   One of the mums at school saw it and asked if I could make one for her daughter.   She wanted something in a dark fabric that would be quite hard wearing, so off I popped to the local habby and found this.
simplicity 2828 fabricI love this navy corduroy with the embroidered flowers on it.   I bought some for the bag and got a bit extra to make a dress for youngest Craftyguidelet.
simplicity 2828 patternI was taken by Simplicity 2828.   I don’t think I’ll be making the fluffy hat somehow, but the pinafore was spot on.   The Project Runway patterns enable you to pick different design elements to personalise your own creation.   I didn’t want any of the ruffles or bows so I just did the basic square neckline dress.   Earlier this year I got on and cut out all the pieces for an age 5 girl so that youngest Craftyguidelet could grow into it.   She is now 5 and a half and tall for her age so perhaps she won’t have that long in it.   My fault for stalling all this time!   Note to self: don’t trace patterns or cut fabric until you are ready to make the whole dress!
simplicity 2828 finished dressEt voila!   I love how it has turned out, and luckily little Craftyguidelet loves it too.   It even goes over her plaster cast at the moment which is a big plus.
simplicity 2828 curly wurlyShe was so pleased with it that she brought me a mini curlywurly from the chocolate drawer.   What?   You don’t have a chocolate drawer in your house?   You are missing out!

So about 3 years after I planned to start the dress, it is now finished.   Have you got any long term WIPs in your basket?

February’s Mission

Such fun pink badgeAside from my back going twang and the rest of the family going down with the lurgy, January was a very positive month for me.   I got lots done, I started decluttering, I’ve been crafting, I’ve gained new skills and things are going well.

I need to carry on this positivity and keep the momentum going.   I still have more sorting out to do, particularly my email, and there are always crafty WIPs to finish.   I want to set myself another couple of goals for February.
Firstly I want to get my Etsy shop relaunched.   I set it up in February last year, listed one item and then abandoned it.   Obviously it’s more advantageous for me to attract business through my Craftyguider site as I don’t have to pay fees to list there, but I hope that Etsy will help me reach more people.   Hopefully by the end of the month I’ll have a selection of products listed.
trainersSecondly I want to get fitter and start losing weight again.   I’m supposed to be following a Slimming World plan but my weight fluctuates up and down because I’m not strict enough.   I want to shed the last bit of weight I need to shift, and also get a bit more exercise, in particular, starting pilates to strengthen my back so it won’t go twang again!
Camp BlanketAnd finally, I am going to finish my mending, and sewing badges onto the Craftyguidelets’ badge blankets.   I might even get a couple onto mine, but I am 7 years behind so I don’t anticipate on completing this one!

What do you hope to achieve in February?

January Review

And just like that, it’s the 31st January!   One month of 2014 has passed and the next 11 months are stretched out ahead, full of promise.   On the whole it’s been a good January for me.   I’ve felt a lot better (apart from putting my back out in the last few days), I’ve made decisions on what I want to do with the business and my blogging, and I’m in a positive frame of mind.
circle SBSJanuary started really well for me.   A couple of days after my birthday, I won a retweet from Theo Paphitis, and my twitter feed exploded with new followers and good wishes.
handmade birthday card flowers and butterflyI managed to get my craft on and make cards, get some scrapbook layouts made, finish some decoupage and get some sewing done.   It’s the most creative I’ve been for a long time.
crochet samplerI’ve also started crochet lessons which is something I’ve wanted to do for a couple of years now.   My doubles and trebles lesson was a bit more successful than my tea gloves lesson.   Perhaps it’s because I don’t drink tea, I just don’t have the tea gloves gene in me.
paper storageProbably my greatest achievement is to get more organised.   My magazine mountain is now a foothill, and several WIPs have been completed.   I’ve got a long way to go still, but with each mini breakthrough, I feel more weight coming off my shoulders.

How was your January?