It's been a while since I've been able to make time for Making, mostly because Life, the Universe and Everything has been getting in my way! Prior to my daughter moving out in January we reached Off-the-Scale-Stuff-and-Clutter territory - a state of existence where it seems perfectly reasonable to consider "somehow" propping a three-seater settee on its end "somewhere" in a house already piled high with moving-out-boxes (because my daughter set her heart on it over a year ago, before her first house sale fell through, and it was being discontinued in December). Even if I had had the head-space for Making, I certainly didn't have the physical space for it - just a pop-up work-station in a corner of the kitchen for adding the glue and glitter to my crocheted snowflake decorations, because my actual work-station was buried under presents and wrapping paper and other Yuletide-related paraphernalia.
No sooner had my daughter left, than work on Jackanory Corner commenced, bringing with it a different kind of Stuff-and-Clutter. Buckets and trowels and rolls of wall-paper and pasting tables and step ladders and paint-brushes and rollers and a whole lot of dusty Mess! Although I think that DIY counts as a creative activity, it's not the kind of creative activity that truly fills my heart with joy. Fortunately, my daughter's friend's new baby proved to be exceptionally knit-worthy, so in between all the plastering and wall-papering and painting and cleaning, I did find time to whip up a couple of pairs of woolly bootees (pattern from Zoe Mellor's "Head to Toe Knits"), which helped to scratch my creative itch. I love this pattern - it's perfect for new/knit-worthy babies. Not only are the bootees super-cute, but with the fold-over ribbing keeping them snugly in place, and the stretchy garter stitch providing plenty of growing room, they don't get lost, and they last for months!
In February my Dad had his long-awaited hernia operation, which (literally) removed some of the pressure he'd been under, health-wise, and my Mum had an initial dementia assessment at the beginning of March, to be followed by a CT scan later this week. We haven't had a formal diagnosis yet, but if you think it's Autumn when it's actually Spring, and you think that Jeremy Thorpe is the current Prime Minister, then it's safe to assume there's something going awry with the 'little grey cells'. It wasn't 'til half-way through March that I felt able to carve out some quality Making time, and finally put Jackanory Corner through its paces. It felt so good to be able to work on something, uninterrupted, in a calm, organised, tidy space.
The 'something' was my twelfth Wiksten top* (if you include the one I made for my Mum). I now have enough of these versatile smocks to live in them all year round, and that's pretty much what I do! I ended up giving the very first one I made to my Mum, as the sleeves were a little too short for my liking. She wore it so much that I made her another one for her birthday. One got downgraded to a kind of cover-all for messy jobs after I accidentally got paint all over it, but the rest remain in constant use. There are two sleeveless ones that can be worn over anything, a couple of thick cold weather ones and several thinner warm weather ones (although they are roomy enough to layer in cold weather too). Most have pockets, a couple don't. I've made them from all sorts of different fabrics - chambray, flannel, double gauze, cotton, even curtain fabric - and the pattern works brilliantly with all of them. This latest one is made from a heavy-duty black denim throw that I found in a charity shop, and I'm so pleased with how it turned out. It has a really utilitarian feel, and just like a favourite pair of jeans, the longer you wear it, the comfier it gets. I know this because I've been wearing it almost constantly since I snipped the last thread on the final seam!
The main item on my current to-do list is my 'Homage to the (Granny) Square' blanket. I was doing ok with it before Christmas, mostly keeping pace with others in the online course's Facebook group, but now it's April, and I'm still plodding through February's tutorials, while more and more of the group are reaching the finishing line. It hasn't helped that I'm currently working on a more fiddly set of squares, which I can't easily set aside and then pick up where I left off a few hours/days later. So I really needed the confidence boost that completing the Wiksten top gave me...
...and Jackanory Corner is helping too. One of the first things I did when it was properly clean and tidy, was to lay out all the squares I'd completed on the floor, in a rough approximation of how they might appear in the finished blanket. The interplay of colours is central to the design, and the choice of which ones to use in each square, and how to arrange them within the blank blanket template is left up to the maker - there is no 'set' sequence to follow, and no two projects are ever the same. Having the space to see how the squares are working together and being able to visualise the blanket more as a whole has made the task of choosing which colours to use more/less/next a lot easier. I just need to keep making time for Making it!
*I would have put a link to the pattern, but it seems that Wiksten have recently ceased trading 😞. A massive loss to dress-makers everywhere, in my humble opinion!