Saturday 31 December 2022

Looking Forward to 2023

Having reflected on the last twelve months, it is time to look forward to the next year.

2023 will be my first full year of not going out to work, which theoretically gives me so much more time to achieve so much more.  We will just have to see how that pans out.
Yvonne at Quilting Jetgirl is hosting her .#2023 Planning Party, so I thought I would join in. 

For the last few years I have set myself a few monthly goals and will continue to do so, as the accountability, even to myself, has been really helpful.  Also, participating in a few link parties has also provided the encouragement I sometimes need to get things done.


To that end, next year I will continue to join in with the Rainbow Scrap Challenge. One of my 2022 projects can be worked on again next year and  hopefully completed.  I have yet to decide what other project or projects I will undertake.

The One Monthly Goal has also been great fun, so I will continue to join in.  Often my goal is rather small, but I try to make them achievable, rather than end up letting myself down.  Any progress is good progress, right?

For many years I have tried to join in with One Project a Month, but that little link party will not be continuing.  Even so, I will endeavour to complete something each month.  Once again, this may be something very small, but it is nice to have a win each month.
On a social side, I am looking forward to travelling to the Scrub Stitchin' retreat in April.  This year will be especially fun, with seven international attendees visiting the tiny town of Baradine from all over the world.  
This has come about as a result of the Chookshed Stitchers Zoom Parties hosted by Chookyblue.  We tend to have an online stitching day about once a month.  They are something that I really look forward to.

So, what am I going to work on?

After a couple of years working on UFOs, last year I seemed to be starting things, but not finishing them.  I need to make a concerted effort to whittle them down once again.  I have quite a few quilts just needing to be quilted and bound.  More on that shortly.
I like to have a long term quilt on the go and the Blue Quilt is my current project.  I completed quite a bit of the EPP in 2022, so feel that there is a fair chance I will have this completed in 2023.  That is my aim, anyway.

I have missed having a leader and ender project for a while.  I have loads and loads of fabric, so want to make something scrappy.  The Fat Quarter Shop has just released a free pattern that appeals.
As a result of piecing my Swoon blocks I have oodles of bonus half square triangles from Bonnie and Camille.  They will trim down to 2 1/2", which is just what is needed for this quilt.  I have more left over fabric from Swoon, as well as several charm squares in their ranges.  Hopefully, that will be enough for the quilt, otherwise, I'm sure I have plenty that will blend in.

I want to work on some donation items and need to make more of a concerted effort on that front.  I already have several small quilts cut out, ready to start work on.

I seem to tend to flit from one project to another, rather that complete something from start to finish before moving on to the next.  That also seems to include various crafts.  Hand stitching hasn't been a favourite, but once I sit down with it I do enjoy it.  It is also the best option for Zoom days.  To that end, I would like to have several things I can flit between - knitting, crochet, cross stitch, EPP and stitchery.  I can assure you that I have projects in all those crafts that I can work on.
I think I have committed to completing my very old UFO kitten cross stitch in 2023, as a friend is also contemplating working on an old UFO as well.

I have really enjoyed doing some knitting and crochet recently and have plenty of yarn in stash and a couple of items that were started years ago and need to be frogged and started again.  Wish me luck.

For the last couple of months I have been giving myself the goal of working on some form of craft for at least 15 minutes a day.  It is working well, making me pick up something, either on the machine or by hand.

I also have quite a few project kits, for a variety of crafts, waiting in the wings.  It would be good to actually use some of them.

Reading what I just wrote, it appears that using what I already have seems to be a theme for this coming year.

A big goal for 2023 is to use "Monique" my Grace 14+ quilting machine.  I have just started to teach myself how to use a pantograph and rulers.  Lots of practice will be needed.  Donation quilts will be ideal to get me started.  When I feel more confident I will pull out some of my more special quilts that are waiting in the quilting queue.  I'm looking forward to the day that I feel confident to complete my quilts from start to finish.


For the last few years, my monthly goals include reading at least one book a month, trying a new recipe each month and having a fun day out each month.  These goals will be ongoing.

Travel is something we enjoy and in 2023 we will be making a trip to New Zealand that has been postponed since 2020.  We will also be taking at least one holiday in our caravan in addition to attending Scrub Stitchin'.  Hopefully, there will be others as well.

Each year I have been writing down a goal of going for a motorcycle ride at least once a month.  It hasn't been happening.  Fingers crossed, this will be the year.  Mick's various bikes are sitting in the shed.  We just need to make the effort to use them.

The final goals aren't so much fun, but necessary.  I really need to do some organising and decluttering at home, as well as getting more active and eating healthier.  On that front, I do hope I can look back at the end of the year and feel a sense of accomplishment, rather than opportunity lost.

I think that should keep me out of mischief for the year.  It will be interesting, as always, to look back at this at the end of the year and see how I went.

Friday 30 December 2022

Looking Back on 2022

It’s arrived at the time of year when I look back over the last twelve months.  I posted my wishes for 2022 back here.

As predicted, it was quite a year of change, with me giving up work at the end of June, as planned, and Mick winding his work right back, if not completely stopping.  2022 has also been the first year that life has returned to something like normal, after the onset of the pandemic nearly three years ago.  We are both happy with how life has turned out.  

Each month I set myself some goals, which tend to keep me somewhat focused.  Most, but not all, get achieved.

On the stitching front, I only completed one quilt during the year, being the little Woodland Quilt, which I ended up giving to our next door neighbour’s new grandson.
An unexpected addition to my sewing room at the start of the year was “Monique”, the Grace 14+ quilting machine and frame.  I still haven’t tried her out very much, as I’m one of those people that want things to be perfect and I know that will initially not be the case.  2023 will be the year for much practice.
I made a few quilt tops, but rather than sending them off to my quilting fairy, they are sitting in the “to be quilted” queue.  Hopefully, they will be completed in 2023.
After looking at my January post, I realised that I still had two of the Swoon blocks to piece, so that was a task for December.  They will now have sashings added and be added to the “to be quilted” queue, rather than quilt as you go, as originally planned.
It was my wish to finally start on the Blue Quilt.  In the lead up to our big trip, I did lots of preparation and while we were away, completed quite a bit of EPP and the stitchery sections of the appliqué blocks.  It has always been planned to be a long term project, so I am pleased with the progress made.
I completed my Rainbow Scrap Challenge blocks, but still have to make them into quilt tops.
I continued to participate in One Monthly Goal, meeting my goal each and every month.  That is a good feeling.  The accountability certainly works for me.  My goals are often rather small, but as long as they are achievable, taking into consideration whatever else is going on, that is all that matters.
Except for when we were travelling, I completed One Project a Month.  2022 has been the last year that Kris has hosted this.  I thank her so much for all she has done over many years.
Each year I try to do a little knitting or crochet during the winter months.  I excelled myself this year, completing a homespun beanie, a second beanie, a crocheted shawl and a knitted scarf.  I have knitted one sock, just before Christmas, and will knit the second very soon.
I even did a little cross stitch, making a couple of Christmas gifts and resuming work on a very, very old UFO.

In November and December, I decided to set myself a little goal of working on something crafty for at least 15 minutes a day.  Apart from three days, it has worked a treat.
On the social side of stitching, we once again attended Scrub Stitchin’.
I also participated in the Chookshed Stitchers Zoom parties.  The friendship of these ladies is a wonderful thing to be a part of.  Our Zoom days were one positive thing to come out of COVID-19.

I had planned to have a leader and ender project, but other than a few HST, that hasn’t eventuated. 

Likewise, I don’t have any extra donation projects to show for the year.  I have one quilt top stitched and six more quilts cut out, ready to go.  That is still better than nothing. They will be good to practice my machine quilting next year.
On the non stitching front, we did quite a bit of travel with our caravan during the year, travelling to Queensland for New Year, then in April to Scrub Stitchin’.  
After heading home for three days, we were off again to the Mundi Mundi Bash and through some of Victoria.  
A week after I finished work, we headed off for three months travelling through South Australia, Northern Territory and Western Australia.  It was a wonderful trip, visiting such interesting places and learning so much about this vast country we live in.  Having said that, at the end of the three months, we were quite ready to return to our home.  Since then we have had another quick trip to Queensland.

When it comes down to it, it only felt like retirement commenced after we returned home from our travels.  Being away was a great transition, getting work out of our heads, but still being occupied.  We haven’t done anything much since, just taking everything day by day.  It’s lovely not having to set the alarm clock for an early start in the morning.  We definitely haven’t been bored, but haven’t achieved anything ground breaking either, not that we really need to.

My non stitching goals this year were also a bit of fun.

I just had a little tally up.  I read, or listened to, 20 books.  More than for quite some time.

We actually were out on various motorcycle rides four times this year.  That is still very little, but better than the last few years.

We continue to enjoy trying new recipes.

Each month we had at least one fun day out, although, now that I’m not working, often no longer on a Friday.

So, on reflection, 2022 was a good year for us.  We are looking forward to 2023 and whatever it may bring, as we continue to transition to our new, non-working life.

Thursday 29 December 2022

I’ve Been Playing

It kind of annoys me when I don’t get to meet a goal that I have set at the start of the month.  Yesterday I mentioned that I hadn’t played with “Monique”, my Grace Q’Nique 14+ mid arm quilting machine.  Well, today we remedied that.

Just before Christmas, I treated myself to some accessories for her.
Firstly, a laser stylus to use with pantographs.
Then, for ruler work, I bought a ruler base plate.
A basic set of rulers.
And a set of hopping feet.  One for ruler work, an open toe foot and one for microstippling.

Finally, today I loaded a fresh practice piece on Monique and had a play.  To start with, just some random loopy loops and then some random scrolls.  I think they are what I will use on my first practice donation quilts.

Then, it was time to set everything up for some ruler work.
This is what I achieved.
Rather rough and ready (one even got scribbled out), but for a first attempt not as bad as I thought it would be.  I think this is something that I would like to explore more.

I haven’t had a play with a pantograph as yet.  That will be my next endeavour.  Wish me luck.

Best of all, I can tick that off my December goals.

Wednesday 28 December 2022

December Goal Wrap Up

Despite December being a busy month, I seem to have achieved quite a bit.

Today, we spent the morning packing away all the Christmas decorations and lights.  It is quite a job, but one we like to have over and done as soon as we can.  The house always looks bare afterwards.  However, as Mick pointed out, our house never looks bare.
The Christmas shelf in the kitchen has now been replace with the summer shelf.

On the Stitching front......

My OMG was to make the Harry Potter Quilt Top, not even knowing what I was going to do.  It didn't take me long to decide on a simple design and have it made, and another six cot quilts cut out to stitch soon.


This is working well.  I did miss Christmas Day and one other day, but other than that, made the effort to do something each day.  It's amazing what I could find to work on, rather than what I should be working on, if you know what I mean.
Firstly, I finished a couple of little origami butterfly magnets I started earlier this year.  I still have some more to work on, so that is something I can pick up another day.
Having worked on a couple of cross stitch projects in the last couple of months, I decided to pull out a very, very old UFO.  This was started about 30 years ago.  We were doing a picture framing course through the Community College (in which we learnt that it is something to leave to the experts) and I saw a cute cross stitch picture at the framers.  I searched out the kit and didn't get a great deal done at the time.
This is where it was up to when I picked it up.
After a couple of days I had added the cream to the left of the face and the light green about the head and to the left above the cream.  It is rather hard on the eyes, with all the colours being so pale and the fabric is difficult to work on, as some threads are quite slubby and others are gossimer thin.  That is probably why it was abandoned.  However, having seen the progress made in such a short time, I intend to keep plugging away at it over the next little while and finish it off.  No dead line, though.
My knitting was one thing that took up most of my time with the scarf and one sock being completed.  No, I haven't started the second sock yet, but I will very soon.  Promise.

That means that I have three finishes for One Project a Month.  This is the final month that Kris will be running this.  I can't thank her enough for all the effort that has gone behind it for so many years.

One reason why I didn't start the other sock was that I read my 2022 goals post from the start of the year and realised that I still had two of my Swoon blocks to piece.  I may not have the quilt finished this year, but I wasn't going to still have blocks to make.
Here are the last two.  Finished in the nick of time.
I had to lay them out to see them all together.  Not the best photo, but you get the idea.

My original plan was to use quilt as you go, but now that I have Monique, I will add the sashings and quilt it as a year.

So that little lot has kept me amused.

I did have a goal to practice with Monique, but that hasn't happened.  Next month......after the craziness of the festive season has calmed down.
On the non-stitching front, we tried a new recipe, being the mince pies.
I can also report that our Christmas Cake was a resounding success.  Phew!

We went for a motorcycle ride, to a fun event, being the Rockley Markets.

I did read a book, which I enjoyed.

As for blogging, not quite each week, but there were still plenty of posts.

I'm pleased with what was achieved, but there are still a couple of days left, so I may sneak something else in with my 15 minutes.  Who knows.

Now I have to start thinking about what to do next year.