Tuesday, January 24, 2012

craftathon 2011 - the year in review

You might remember my New Year post from last year where, instead of making any resolutions, I launched Craftathon 2011, a list of crafts I wanted to try my hand at over the course of the year.  Some of them were new to me, some were crafts I already dabbled in quite regularly and some were things I had dabbled in previously but not for a long time.  From the outset this list was designed to inject a bit of fun and variety into my crafty time, which was becoming a little stale and repetitive.  I stated clearly (I have it in writing, people!) that I wouldn't give myself a hard time if I didn't get through all these crafts in a year.  Hmm, just as well.

Below is the original Craftathon 2011 list.  I'm going to work my way through it and share my successes and failures then evaluate my craftathon performance as a whole and share my crafty aspirations for 2012.

1. Quilling
2. Lace making
3. Macrame
4. Weaving
5. Sew at least one item of clothing
6. Lino printing
7. Gocco printing
8. Embroidery
9. Make a zine (I was meant to do this in 2010, but failed)
10. Pin and thread pictures
11. Make a rug
12. Crochet
13. Paper cutting/collage
14. Needle felting
15. Learn to use Illustrator
16. Stop-motion animation

I did indeed dabble in quilling, very much inspired by the work of Yulia Brodskaya, as you can see.  Quilling is a craft I am certain I wouldn't have got round to trying if it wasn't for the Craftathon 2011 list.  I really enjoyed this little project and found it quite therapeutic.  Unfortunately, I had horrific morning sickness while I was working on this and developed some sort of weird association where I felt sick every time I looked at this (actually feeling a little queasy even looking at that photo!) so the project got sidelined.  However, I would still count quilling as a Craftathon 2011 success and it's definitely a craft I would like to explore further.

This didn't happen and I'm a bit sad about that.  My old lace-making kit (basically some bobbins and a big polystyrene "pillow") stayed firmly in its relatively inaccessible spot and gathered a bit more dust.  Making lace does prey on my mind quite often, so hopefully that will turn into action at some point.

My real macrame goal for the year (in my head) was to make my vintage macrame owl wall hanging/pot holder thingummy.  Well, I took that out of the packet and read the instructions (progress?!) but I got stuck with the very first knot I needed to do and haven't quite figured it out to this day.  So no macrame owl. Yet.
 But I did dabble in macrame during 2011, making the above with trimmings from the ripple blanket and thinking it had given me a brilliant idea, which led me to make...
... this macrame BFF pin.  I thought this was genius but nobody batted an eyelid at it when I shared it on my blog or in my etsy shop.  Actually, I think one person did favourite it on etsy, but that's more of an eyelid flutter than a bat.  I had already decided not to make any more BFF pins unless I came up with a genius new technique anyway.  It was almost impossible to hide the ends on this brooch, it took ages and was fiddly and painful to do and the finished result was not really as polished as it had been in my imagination.  But a failed product does not mean a failed Craftathon 2011 item, so I'll be generous and class macrame as a success but will add a note to myself that I must try harder and get that pesky owl knotted up once and for all.  And we won't mention that I did way more macrame in 2010 when I wasn't even trying to.

This brooch was the sole outcome of any weaving in 2011.  I sent it to a friend for her birthday but she never mentioned receiving it so either she didn't like it much or it got lost in the post.  I think I had optimistically imagined that I would have invested in a full-size loom and be designing my own range of textiles by the end of the year, so this is a very modest dabble in the art of over and under by comparison.  However, it was a dabble that might not have happened without the Craftathon 2011 list and will be recorded as another success.  I would have woven my mum's Christmas present if I hadn't ended up in hospital for the last two months of the year, so I'm sure I will return to weaving again at some point.

Total Craftathon 2011 fail.  I spent most of the year growing and shrinking, but I probably wouldn't have achieved this even without the pregnancy excuse.  I had thought about making some sort of maternity item but wasn't sure it would be worth it.  Given that my pregnancy got cut so short, it was probably a good decision not to!  I can't see myself sewing my own outfits this year but perhaps I will try to follow a pattern and sew up some outfits for Dulcie.  I think that would be a good starting point.

I thought about lino printing a lot but didn't really have any great ideas so never got started on anything.  I did come up with an idea eventually (inspired by my own Big Daddy lino print from a few years back) but failed to make it materialise.  Lino printing is something I haven't tried in ages and it's something I really want to get better at so I am a bit annoyed at myself that yet another year slipped by.  Craftathon 2011 fail... but my fingers are grateful (and intact) for it.

For the sake of my unborn baby I decided Gocco printing would not be a good idea in 2011.  Dulcie has ten fingers and ten toes as a result, which has got to be worth another Craftathon 2011 fail.  Hopefully I'll get back on the Gocco horse this year, I just need to come up with an amazing design...  No pressure!

Can you believe I did no embroidery in 2011?!  I can hardly believe it myself (was there a little stitchy afternoon that I've just forgotten about?) but I think it's true.  Again, this would have been very different if it wasn't for spending November and December in hospital as I had planned embroidered Christmas presents for Graham and for my sister.  I think embroidery could actually have been a casualty of Craftathon 2011 (something I would have done more of without the list - I think other crafts took embroidery's place) but at least that means I spent the year doing something different and my needles and threads haven't gone anywhere so I can always pick them up again this year.  I have been planning an embroidery project just this week in fact.

Gah!  Total Craftathon 2011 fail, doubly annoying since I had failed to make a zine in 2010 too.  You know what?  I just didn't have any good ideas.  Maybe I'm just not a zine-maker but I will still live in hope that inspiration will strike one day.  Watch this space... but not too closely!

Fail!  I am self-flagellating as I type.  Bad, bad me!  I even have a book about pin and thread pictures and I don't think I so much as opened it for inspiration.

Fail!  This has been a bad stretch in the list, hasn't it?  My excuse for not making a rug was that I couldn't think of a design that I would actually want in my house.  I did spend quite a lot of time pondering this problem.  I might use Dulcie as an excuse to make a rug in the future.  Once she has her own room I could make a rug for it (and a pin and thread picture?!) with her name or some suitably girly image.

From humble and frustrating beginnings...
...I persevered and mastered ripply treble crochet, resulting in...
 ... the ripple blanket, my proudest crafty achievement of the year and a handmade item that I love and use on a daily basis.  Yay!

Crochet has to be the biggest success story of Craftathon 2011.  Just look at all the things I made!
 Egg cosies for Easter.
 These were quick and fun to make.  I gave them to my nieces and nephew.
 I learned to make granny squares and these became a blanket that Dulcie used while she was in hospital (she stuck out like a sore thumb among all the other cots with their pastel shades!) and still uses in her bed now.
 I made three cardigans like this.
They were my first attempt at following a proper crochet pattern and turned out very well, if I do say so myself.  I'm still waiting patiently for Dulcie to grow into them.

And there were actually a few more crochet projects not pictured.  My crochet success story makes me very happy and definitely fulfilled one of the stated aims of Craftathon 2011, which was that some of the crafts would take on a life of their own and become long-term hobbies or something that I would become good at.  I think I will be a life-long crocheter now and am happy to have a new crafty skill under my belt.  I love the act of crochet itself and love the finished projects too.  Win, win, win.

Total fail and I have no excuse for this.  It would have been so easy to just spend a couple of hours with my box of random papers and a pair of scissors, but I didn't.  I'm still seeing papery art that inspires me (like this by Kim Welling, spotted just today, and the pictures in this post by Sarah Dyer, spotted just yesterday) so I hope I'll be able to experiment with this at some point in the not too distant future.

Fail.  I didn't do any needle felting.  I never have, maybe I never will.  I did have a brilliant needly-felty idea but it was very ambitious and I didn't really know where to start.  I don't think needle felting would be the best craft for my temperamental hands so maybe I'll never do it, but I know that idea of mine will niggle away at me, so who knows?

Well, I still don't really know how to use Illustrator properly, but I now have a book as a point of reference (thanks to a tip from Marceline) and I did actually use Illustrator in some of my instructional illustrations in my DIY zip flower brooch kits.  So there's still a lot of work to be done here and I don't think I could count it as a Craftathon 2011 success, but it certainly wasn't a fail either.

Look away now if you suffer from epilepsy or migraines!
I didn't make the stop-motion film that I was fantasising about, but I did dabble a bit with stop-motion animation of sorts, making a few simple illustratory animations for my blog.
I created this to show my many and varied feelings towards my new glasses.
I made this to show off a new product (pinwheel brooch refill squares) in my shop...
... and continued my advertising genius (didn't sell a single acorn brooch in my etsy shop all year - ha!) with these dancing acorns.

And the piece de resistance...
The ripple blanket in all its glorious stages of (in)completion!

I wouldn't say I achieved everything I wanted with stop-motion animation and I am still itching to create something magical (like this or this) but in the spirit of being kind to myself I will count this as another Craftathon 2011 success.

And so concludes my review of Craftathon 2011.  It maybe wasn't quite the extravaganza I had imagined but it was still a great thing to do with positive results and given all the things that went on in 2011 (the best and worst year of my life) I think I did a fair amount of crafting.

Is anybody still reading this?  Well done if you are!  Enough of the past, let's look to the future!  So, 2012, huh?  My crafty plans for this year are a little bit less ambitious than last year's, but are exciting nonetheless.  As well as keeping the Craftathon 2011 list in the back of my mind somewhere, my crafty plan for this year is to complete some projects from my vintage craft book collection.  I'm not going to set myself any numerical targets, but if I'm looking for an idea for a handmade gift then I'm going to look to my bookshelves.  And I'll be sure to share those projects (as well as overviews of the best of the books) here.

Do you have any crafty plans for this year?


  1. I think that was quite the extravaganza considering everything else you've crammed in! But you left off your best creation of all this year - Dulcie! She is surely the most finely crafted thing of all!

    1. If she's not on the list, she's not going in! Besides, she is no match for the ripple blanket ;)

  2. Blimey, what a busy year! I hope you get to try some of the things you missed during 2012. x

    1. Here's hoping, though it seems like a distant dream at the moment. Dulcie has decided her new bedtime is 4am so perhaps I should prepare some crafty projects simple enough to do while feeding in the wee small hours. Hmm, can't really think of anything suitable!

  3. Hi I am actually blogging about you!!! you sound like me! I have all these grand ideas of my craft goals and they hardly happen the way I think. I just blogged about your ideals and outcomes and posted my goals for 2012. :) I hope you make your 'zine this year. I would love to read about your craft-ventures. -Aimee The Great

    1. Thanks, Aimee :) Have fun with your Craftathon this year!


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