{toptips} Big Projects

Every now and again a crafter does something incredibly brave and stupid and takes on a large project. It could be a 2-ply cardigan, a Dr. Who scarf, a 500-piece quilt, or a similarly madness-inducing undertaking – the process is generally the same. A so-called brilliant idea, the general feeling of ‘it won’t take that long’, the excitement at purchasing a ridiculous amount of yarn or material and making a beginning. Then comes the slow realisation that you are never going to finish this project. The dread that comes every time you picking it up. The urge to just lay it aside and work on something quick and easy. The dark clouds gather in and night seems permanent.

I recently took on such a project. It was a blanket for my friends. It wasn’t even that big a blanket, but it was beige, all beige (to match their dog) and there were 48 squares to knit, block, sew up, and block again.

But, as many other crafters know, it’s all worth it in the end. The end was so sweet I completely a little war dance lap of the living room as soon as a sewed in the last thread. And now, from the height of my success, I feel I can give some advice.

Here’s my top tips for keeping your sanity:

  • Break it down into smaller pieces and treat each one as an achievement. With the Embossed Leaves Blanket, this was fairly easy – with 48 squares, I could easy say ‘I’m a quarter way though’ or ‘I’ve got a third left’.
  • Never say ‘I’ve just got to sew in the ends in and I’m finished.’ Sewing the ends in taking bloody ages; ensure you factor it into your planning.
  • Buy more yarn than you need; I over-estimated by five balls and used all of them. Prevent the heart: order more.
  • Don’t block a large blanket on your only sheet; I’m terribly afraid I haven’t collected all of the pins and will be rudely, painfully awaken.
  • Always keep the end in mind: in my case the look on my friends’ faces when I hand the damn thing over!
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{topfivetips} Crafting Gifts

This is the first Christmas in a very long time I won’t be making any of my Christmas presents (due to the business of the move to Melbourne) and it makes me a little sad. If you’re making your own Christmas presents this year, here’s my top five tips for crafting Christmas gifts.

1) Give yourself plenty of time. To test if a present is finishable, time yourself doing a test patch – five or so rows – and multiply the time by the remaining rows. This will give you the bare minimum for time remaining.

2) Ensure the receiver is Yarnworthy? It may sound a bit harsh, but some people don’t appreciate the effort that goes into a home-made present and would be much happier with a store-bought gift.

3)  A tag with care instructions is always a good idea. Be sure to include washing and drying guides, such as ‘Hand wash only, dry in shade’.

4) Choose patterns and yarn you will enjoy making – you don’t want the dear family member or friend reminding you of a hated project.

5) Choose ‘appropriate yarns’. Some people don’t have the time (or inclination) to hand wash items – stick to machine wash yarn for these people.