Reading Challenge 2013: The Result

You may remember that I decided to set myself the fairly ambitious target of reading 52 books in 2013. In an effort to finish the things I start, or at least report on them, I can tell you that I managed to read 36 books in the year. Considering the international move, and the fact that I discovered some new hobbies during that time,  and any other excuses I can think up, I don’t think that’s a bad result.
I don’t think I’ll set myself a new challenge this year. I have the ability to turn anything I enjoy into a chore, and I don’t want to do that with reading – the thing I do to switch off. It was a fun challenge, and forced me to read some books which had languished on my shelf for years, and turned out to be excellent.
This year is more about reading because I want to. Since my bookshelves can’t support the number of books currently in my possession, I will be making the effort to pass books on to people once I’ve finished with them, so hopefully they can find a new audience to love them as much as me. Want a randomly selected book from my library? Get in touch!

SorbettoBob SquareTorso

DIY Clothes
As you may remember, I made myself a Sorbetto which, although wearable, was somewhat disappointing, and remains at the bottom of the washing basket, waiting for me to get into a hand washing mood. 
I decided to give the pattern another chance. I attempted to adjust it to take into account the problems with the general shortness. I took care to do a good job. I used french seams for the first time, and they were a huge success. 
And then I stretched the neckline beyond recognition while attaching the bias binding. 
At this point I decided to try it on and see if it was worth saving. It was not. This top gives me all the womanly curves of SpongeBob SquarePants. It is now in the bin. 
As part of the learning curve that is sewing, I’m going to try and take one thing to remember away from each project. This time:
Take as much care at the end as at the beginning. Stop focussing on the new and shiny things on the horizon. 
The picture is entirely unrelated to the post, I know. I just rediscovered it in my photo stream. I found this skunk fabric while fabric shopping in France last summer. I really wanted to buy it, but I just don’t know what occasion calls for a skunk print dress. Any ideas?

Home Made Jewellery Display

DIY Other
What do you do with a blank wall and a jewellery collection which is rarely worn because it’s stored in boxes and you forget about things which aren‘t in front of your face? 
Well, one option would be to make yourself a pretty jewellery display from an old pin board. You could also probably manage to take a nicer picture of it than I have.
It was all very simple, really:
  1. Pop some eye screws into the top corners and wind picture wire around them (you could also use ribbon)
  2. Stick washi tape around the edges of the board to brighten it up a bit
  3. Grab some dressmaking pins (as they are what you have to hand) and pin your jewellery up neatly (or messily, up to you)
  4. Whack a picture hook into the wall, hang your jewellery dislay up, spend an hour straightening it
  5. You, my friend, are DONE! Stand back and admire your work.

100 extra points if you manage to match your tape colour to that of your duvet by accident.

250 extra points if your cat deems this piece of DIY worth walking past.

Apologies for the dreadful pictures. Bad weather, bad light. Too impatient to wait for something better.

New Hobby for the New Year

DIY Clothes
Allow me to introduce you to my new love – crochet! 
If you are in any way skilled in this craft, you will notice that I spent the first half of my crocheting life doing it a bit wrong and making things very difficult for myself. 
Note to self: when you reach the end of a row – turn your creation over. Do not attempts to crochet back in the opposite direction on the same side. It works, but it’s really difficult.
One phone call to my mum later and my life has become so much easier. The bottom bit looks a lot less dreadful in real life, and I think it’ll all be ok when it’s finished (a bit of interest, no?). It’s going to be a snood, so I should be able to just turn the thing round to make the weird bit less visible. 
bought the yarn from the Bascule branch of Veritas in Brussels, home to some of the worst customer service in Belgium (I know, hard to believe), mostly because it was called Laura and the colour was so nice. I think it’s 80% acrylic 20% wool.
As I write this, Alfie has fallen asleep on top of the snood. Looks like project number two is going to be making a nice cushion for him to nap on. 

Happy New Year!

And happy birthday to my blog (a couple of days early, but who’s counting?). 
2013 was a strange year for me. On the upside, it was a year of new beginnings, but it was also a year filled with stress and difficult decisions. While we’re happy with the decision we made, it’s a little tough sometimes when we’re homesick for Belgium and missing our friends. I hope 2014 is a little easier all round.
My 2013 highlights really make me smile:
  • I rediscovered my love of sewing, and have finally made something which I like
  • I travelled to new places, visiting friends and attending the beautiful wedding of a good friend in Sweden
  • I moved to a flat with a sea view
  • I started Russian lessons
  • I learnt to crochet
I don’t seem to have blogged about most of these things, but there’s always 2014!
I normally make a lot of resolutions, but this year I’m keeping it relatively simple:
  • Improve my sewing (maybe I could sew some of my new work wardrobe)
  • Try new things (experiences, food, anything)
  • Be braver (this links into the above, but also includes just doing stuff without worrying about it for ten days beforehand)
  • Be nice to myself (time to stop dwelling on the small stuff and start focussing on things that make me feel good)

I hope 2014 brings you everything you dream of…