I have been a full time working mum of two small people for a whole year! And I was ready for a break over Christmas! Of course I wasn't ready at all - I hadn't wrapped any presents, I hadn't cleaned the house and my list of to-dos was pretty ridiculous! But I was definitely ready for a break. It's a been a crazy year, so here's what happened.
I started the year with a new payroll job, working from home, full time. It was just a six month role to start with but I was made permanent at the end of the six months. Back at the start of the year, this was the big risk for our family, going from permanent position to a temporary, but it paid off and it is so much better than where I was before. I really enjoy my work, and working from home means no commuting, and I can work flexibly enough to go into Mia's school for the parent events. Yep - that was our other big change of the year! In September Mia started at the school nursery. Every morning, Monday - Friday. She is loving it, but she's exhausted - she may need a rest more than I do! And this was the year that Jess changed from being a baby to being a toddler. She is walking, talking, stubborn, independent, cheeky and a total minger over night. It's just as well she's cute! And it's been lovely to see the two girls grow together as well - whilst there are the arguments and fights, often borne out of frustration, they can play together beautifully and I really think they will grow up as best friends as well as sisters. However, no one will ever be able to say that they are alike, either in looks or in personality. We had some amazing family times together: we have both National Trust and English Heritage membership now and we try and get out as often as we can. We also had a few holidays. And came home early from one of them - thanks Jess!
And then there was the sewing. This is what has kept me sane! 21 quilts from baby to full bed size; lots and lots of zips and pouches, a few cushions, quite a bit of embroidery and some lessons in what I do and don't like!
First up, the quilts: My 365 Quilt has to take pride of place by itself right at the start. This was a labour of love in 2016, but by the end of the year I was about 2 weeks behind. I finished those blocks very quickly and had it quilted by Cumbrian Long Arm Quilter. I have to confess I procrastinated over the binding, and hated sewing on the hanging sleeve, but I was so proud that this quilt hung at Birmingham this summer. The 365 quilt is a free pattern and will be starting again for 2018 and if you are in anyway tempted to join in, then do it - it was the best quilting journey I've ever been on!
And now for the rest. I've added links so you can click through to the relevant blog post to see more photos and more information:
These were the bigger quilts I made this year: Mia's big girl quilt, Mixed Up City Quilt, Flamingos and Pineapples Quilt, Long Time Gone, Snail day and Christmas Tree quilt.
And these are the smaller and baby quilts (from top left, clockwise): Fireflies from Fancy Forest, Alba's Stars, Allie Owl from Fancy Forest, Advent quilt #1, Fancy Forest, Get Cosy, Fancy Fox from Fancy Forest, Advent quilt #2, and in the centre, Modern Building Blocks Quilt.
My final quilt finish for the year was the Pineapple quilt - made for a very special lady who child minds for us. It was hard to give this one away!
I also finished My Small World quilt
I made quite a few pouches...
From the top and clockwise: skulls zippy, fold up sewing pouch, zip-up tray pouch, Alison Glass embroidered pouch, boxy pocket pouch (with cork!), fabric trays and in the centre, the travel pouch I made as I went along!
Some cushions and dolls...
Little Red Riding Hood for Jessica, and a Mermaid for Mia, a pineapple cushion, a fox cushion and a hexy cushion.
And I did quite a lot of embroidery
Jessica's advent calendar, My #1yearofstitches hoop and a gift for my Mum. I have a wonderful journey with my embroidery this year, and whilst this doesn't look like a lot, that top hoop opened up my eyes to a world of embroidery stitches and gave me so much confidence. And Jessica's advent calendar was my first time adding colour by pencil and my first time using embroidery to replicate the texture of reality.
And of course there is the flurry of last minute finishes!
Then there are the projects I started and didn't finish and with each of those are learnings: the big one I need to take away from this year is the rather unimaginative: "I can do anything but not everything" - it's something I'm trying and failing to embrace. I want to do everything! And those unfinished items are the reality telling me to stop being so stupid! But I also learned more specific things: I really don't enjoy needle-turn applique or hand piecing. I gave both techniques a really good go this year, and the reality is if I'm hand-sewing I would much rather pick up EPP or embroidery. It doesn't mean the end of those projects, but I've reassessed how to continue with them and I'm hopeful they will be finished in the coming year. I've learned that I love using my stash for projects: I love finding random pieces of fabric from totally different ranges and loving the effect of putting them together - I've also come to realise that I need to continue to add to the stash if I'm going to use it in this way, and that there are probably some fabrics I don't really need to keep because they just don't do it for me. I also want to build a bit more of a fussy-cutting stash but that will take more time. And I learned that I'm not keen on having quilt long-armed by someone else. I had a fabulous experience with my 365 quillt and getting it long-armed: Cath was so friendly and accomodating and did a wonderful job. If I hadn't had that quilt long-armed it may not yet be finished. But the reality is that I enjoy owning my quilts from beginning to end and having someone else long-arm it means I don't have the same connection with it. If you're looking for a long armer, then head for Cumbrian Long Armer, because she's fab, but I think I'll be quilting my own quilts in future, and visualizing a finished quilt that I am able to create at home on my domestic machine. Or you know, convince my husband that a £20,000 long arm machine would be a perfect addition to our conservatory!
I've just had a read of the post I wrote at the start of 2017 with my plans for the year ahead: I'm not far off! I predicted lots of baby quilts - tick; I predicted more time with the family - tick; I predicted lots of hand-sewing - tick, but not on the projects I predicted!; and I predicted being tempted by sew-alongs - big tick! I'm thinking about the year ahead now too, so that will be my next blog post!