What are you going to do with yourself this year? We’re halfway through January, hands up who has a plan…

I have tried so hard, on so many occasions, to Get My Shit Together, and back in December I decided to stop trying to pull myself up by my own shoestrings (laces, bootstraps, whatever you call them) and get some help.  Not boring, corporate, pull-yourself-together ‘self help’ books, or well-meaning ‘this amazing woman manages four children, her elderly parents, her own law business, a petting zoo and a homeless charity – she’ll show you how you can too!’ websites (gods, do they make you sick? They make me sick) – no, I wanted something more… me. Check this out. I mean seriously, Check. This. Out.

2014v2-buy-table-printed-headerPretty hippy, yeah? Perfect. And let me tell you, it is uh-maze-ing. I love it!  Check out Leonie’s website for more about her, and about how this workbook works.  I spent the Christmas hols curled up with this book and a stack of coloured pens, and I worked out what had gone right, and wrong, in 2014.  What I wanted to carry forwards, and what I wanted to leave behind. I scribbled and drew and coloured in, and I now know what I need to do this year, what I want to do this year, and how I can make those things happen in Real Life. And I am planning my week in advance, which means it’s easier to stick to (I woke up in a fug this morning, but have still completed all my to-dos because I didn’t have to think about what they were, I just did as past-me told me to 🙂 )

This covers my business (woohoo!) and just life (again, woohoo!), and makes sure you stop to review how you’re doing at the end of every month. It’s like a gorgeous rainbow kick up the arse. Or something.  So far this year, having and *using* this book has meant I have regular space in my diary for fun stuff (what luxury!), I have signed up to learn Danish (having spent the last four+ years meaning to do so), I have submitted “art” to an exhibition (as opposed to leaving the browser tab open to remind me, until such time as I can close it again because I’ve missed the deadline), and hey look at me! I’m writing a blog post!

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My “100 Things To Do In 2015” is great, because I’ve never set myself such a challenge before – I usually just think ‘oh that’d be nice, one day’ and never do it. I’m only up to 58 so far, but that’s OK, I’m sure I’ll think of more. It ranges from ‘Take my daughter to Copenhagen’ to ‘Drink a White Russian’ (because Dude) to ‘Clean the damn windows’, but I’m really looking forward to having fun with it 🙂  Go on, what would you put on such a list?

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Whenever I finish a sewing project, I always have lots of end bits of embroidery threads left over. Because I’m a complete magpie and unable to throw anything away, I hoard these in my ‘sewing kit’ (an old first aid kit box – always gets a few raised eyebrows when I’m stitching in public!), and use them up on my practice samplers. This is my current sampler, I’m all about filling stitches this time round.

Sampler

And here’s a close-up of what I tried out this weekend – the fine and delicate art of picking any colour and doing lots of straight stitches in a marked space. Really tricky. Not.

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This doesn’t seem to have reduced the volume of my thread stash in any way, but I’ll keep working on it!

Here, have a sleepy fox I stitched last night. I want to be her today – it’s always harder to wake up when it’s grey outside.

foxy2

Irises in stem and seed stitch

Irises in stem and seed stitch

I was recently commissioned to make an embroidered wall hanging – the mission, once I chose to accept it, was “a smallish wall-hanging embroidered with suffragette theme/colours/design and the words “We Were There” (a song by Sandra Kerr, for whom this embroidery was to be a gift)”. So, after further thought, and discussion with the commissioner (customer?), it ended up like this:

Ready for hanging

Ready for hanging

It is approximately 35cm high, and I’m putting it here in the hope that somebody will see and and say “Hey, *I* would like a customised embroidery too!” – and if that is so, please do get in touch!  I will always send sketches first, and won’t start any work until you’re are 100% happy with the design.

And because it’s a great one, here’s the song that inspired it:

Oh dear,long time no postee, my bad. But I have been doing lots of stitching!  I finished that tree, whaddya think?  I think it looks a bit bare, but I’m not sure what to add – any ideas? Oh, and what did I learn? I learned that next time, I’ll start in the middle and work outwards. D’oh! But hey, that’s the whole point of learning.

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I’ve also been expanding my embroidery education to try out different filling stitches. I can do outlines, but I’ve never really done any solid fillings other than satin stitch (perfection of which remains elusive). So, here’s where I got to:

Leaves - stitching and colour-blending

Leaves – stitching and colour-blending

Lots of fun. What are you learning? How’s it going?

Embroidering trees, just because. I’ll let you know when it’s finished, but what do you think so far?

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birdies

Happy New Year you lovely lot! How’s it going so far? I’ve made some simple resolutions this year (blogged here, if you’re interested), but one more specific challenge I’ve set myself is to MAKE more stuff. It’s easy sometimes to get bogged down with admin, with tweaking and twiddling my online store, and of course with the daily running around and picking up after the smalls.  I realised after Christmas I hadn’t done nearly enough crafting, and that had to stop. Or start. Whichever. So I’ve put a fancy-pants app on my fancy-pants phone, which means I can tick off every day I do something crafty – which should of course be EVERY day.  Thus far, it seems to be working, and even that naggy voice in my head which keeps telling me I need to pay the gas bill, or do all the ironing, or tidy R’s room because she is *never* going to do it herself – even that little voice has to wait until I’ve nurtured my creative mojo.

So, this year I have:

1) Finally put the buttons on a cushion cover I made ages ago, so it can now function as a real actual cushion, on our real actual sofa.

cushion

2) Completed a custom cross-stitch for my oldest friend.

(From French & Saunders sketch: Whatever Happened To Baby Dawn?)

(From French & Saunders sketch: Whatever Happened To Baby Dawn?)

3) Made some beautiful felt bird bunting for another friend, who was 23 on the 23rd January (a cool fact she and I thought more people should be excited about. She texted me at 2300 to say so).

Bird bunting

4) Made three table mats to make mealtimes easier to clean up (I’m kidding, we’re very genteel diners here) – the fourth is still waiting to be cut out, I should really do that today.

Trousers into Viking apron into placemats. Recycling to the max!

Trousers into Viking apron into placemats. Recycling win!

5) Embroidered a warm scarf to keep my partner snuggly on his cycle to work.

Scarf

6) Embroidered a picture for someone I don’t know, as a Random Act of Kindness. There are reasons, it’s not actually that random, but that’s a whole other story that isn’t mine to tell.

NOT TOO SHABBY, if I say so myself.  But what I’d like to know is, what have *you* been doing? Have you kept your creative juices flowing, and unclogged by mundanity and chores? Has it been easy, or have you struggled? What did you last create, and when?

Also, if you think being 23 on the 23rd deserves a bit more whoopee, head on over to Kirsty’s page and tell her so 🙂