Time to rock the craft- presenting 15 in 2015

It’s the new year.

It’s probably crazy.

It’s definitely a lot of work.

But I’m not waiting around any longer to be a badass crafter. I’ve been spending a lot of time crafting in the break, and the more I do it, the more positive I feel. I want this to be a year when I achieve something really  spectacular. So it’s time to challenge myself- and if you want, you’re welcome to join me. I therefore present to you:

15 in 2015 logo

What’s that when it’s at home?

It’s simple. I am going to try to take on, and complete, 15 big craft projects in 2015. Some of them are ones that have been started, and are even a fair way along, but are sitting around unfinished. Well, it’s time to actually get them f***ing well DONE and being used and enjoyed. Some of them are for me, some are for other people. All of them require a significant amount of work- some of them because they are big pieces I’ll be using a machine for, some of them because they will need a lot of handstitching, and some include new techniques for me, or ones I want to master.

But the main constant is this: these aren’t things that can be whipped up in a couple of hours (though hopefully I’ll be able to fit a few of those in too. Like I said, probably crazy).

My 15 in 2015:

1) The First T-Shirt Quilt (which has been languishing unfinished for THREE YEARS)

2) The Ladygarden Quilt

3) The Second T-Shirt Quilt

4) The Second Ever Wedding Quilt

5) The Flamingo Dress (seriously, I’ve taken the fabric and pattern with me at least three times intending to start it, and it’s still not done. And I’ve had the fabric for over a year.)

6) A Parfait.

7) An Oolong (bias cut- in other words, asking for trouble…)

8) The Beekeepers Quilt (which I started FOUR YEARS AGO and still haven’t finished- I’ve made 266 hexipuffs out of the 365 I want to make)

9) Mystic Roses shawl (I’ve said this will be the year I master lace knitting. I meant it.)

10: 5 x Misheard Song Lyrics cross stitches (and creating and selling the patterns for them)

11: The Cryptozoology Quilt (incorporating these dot-to-dot embroidery pieces)

12: The Perfect Christmas Jumper (not necessarily for Christmas, but it’s in thin yarn and small needles)

13: The Wheel of the Year quilt (using these embroidery designs from Urban Threads)

14: The Travelling Blanket (languishing since my parents last came out to visit 2 years ago)

15: My first Zine (no I’m not telling you the topic…yet)

This is big, people. This is the most adventurous craft challenge I think I’ve ever set myself and I have no idea if I’ll do it. But I wanted to be accountable, so I’ll be updating you on how the projects are going each week.

How about you? Do you feel like joining me? It doesn’t have to be projects this big, it can be things that feel a little bit big to you. This project feels big to me, it’ll definitely stretch me and require me to be disciplined about making time to craft each and every day. And that has GOT to be a good thing for a punk rock crafter.

I dare you to give it a try with me. Let me know your 15 in the comments, and we can cheer each other on!

Tues-torial: Creating your own colourwork or cross-stitch charts

Or, why loving computer games can make you a badass crafter.

If, like me, you have a habit of procrastinating by searching seemingly random and unconnected sets of things on Etsy, you’ve probably seen your fair share of patterns for creating images with fabric, whether it’s colourwork motifs or cross stitch designs. They’re everywhere!

And here’s the thing…they’re actually easy to design. Yes, even if you’re just a beginner. You just need a computer, a printer, some coloured pens, and a bit of patience.

The reason loving computer games can lead to badass crafting can be summed up in one word: PIXELS. Those little squares of colour that make up images on computer screens or in video games? They use the same principle that you’re about to to design your own images. If you’re not feeling confident, start with picking a favourite old school video game character (or buy a pre-done pattern so you can see the idea at work) to recreate.

First, we’re going to work out what size squares to use for your graph paper.

If you’re doing a cross-stitch, this is a simple process- you just need to know the count of your Aida cloth (available at most any craft store). The number on the packet (usually between 7 and 22, mostly an even number) is the number of ‘squares’ per linear inch- this is the number of crosses you will stitch per inch through the teeny holes in the Aida cloth. Go to this cross-stitch graph paper generator and pick the right number from the drop down that says ‘grid size’. Pick your paper size, click and save the paper to your computer, then print out a few sheets (to allow for messing about and mistakes).

If you’re knitting it’s a little bit more involved, and I’m about to use two words that make most knitters recoil in horror: gauge swatch. OK, if you’re English those words probably don’t make you recoil in horror, but these two mean the same thing and will do the same thing: tension square. But see, it’s actually a good thing! You get to check your gauge and get ready to chart out your design AT THE SAME TIME. See? It’s like killing two birds with one stone (how exactly are you supposed to do that, anyway? Do you just use a really big stone?…) Anyway- knit up your little square- at least 4 inches by 4 inches, ideally bigger. Measure carefully and get the number of rows and stitches per inch.

Then plug those numbers into this knitting graph paper pattern generator, click create and voila! Your own printable graph paper with squares the same size as your stitches.

Why does that matter? Simple- get the number wrong on cross stitch and your picture will end up much bigger (or smaller) than you intended on the cloth you’re using. Get it wrong with knitting and it can end up a completely different shape to what you intended (ask me how I know *coughcoughweirdshapedmapofnewzealandcoughcough*).

Now you’ve got the paper, it’s time to create the image- this is the easy bit. Take your coloured pens (or pen, depending on how many colours you’re planning on using), and fill in the squares to fit the picture. For example:

 Star chart

Yes, I know the star in Super Mario doesn’t give you an extra life. I hadn’t had quite enough tea when I drew this one (this is why you print multiple sheets of graph paper, people!)

When you’re finished, you’re ready to start stitching! Each square you’ve filled in with pen represents a colourwork stitch if knitting, or a cross in your cross stitch.

I wish you much badassery in your stitching.

And now to leave you with a little link candy, here are a few fun patterns from Etsy you could just download if doing all the above seems like way too much work: Perhaps a starter Pokemon set? Or some Super Mario power-ups. But I have to say my personal favourites are The Ghost Pirate LeChuck and Swordfighting insults from Monkey Island! I mean c’mon, MONKEY ISLAND!

Have you ever designed your own patterns? How did you find it? What are your tips? Let me know in the comments!