a new broom

The alternate title for this post is, “What in the name of all that is good have I let myself in for?”

I’ve been Organising, you see. Gone are the days of my supplies being kept in a dizzying arrangement of tubs, tins & lunchboxes of beads, wool and papers; in their place is a sleek* new system. Operation New Broom has begun in earnest.

*may be exaggerating just a tad

This is what happens when one wakes on a Sunday morning, filled with what can be charitably described as “zeal”. Starting off, I thought I would be an unstoppable tea-fuelled force but I got a little sidetracked by memories on occasion. I have an odd talent; I can tell you where every single bead/finding/yarn/thread/paper/fabric/card etc I use came from and when I used it last. Not exactly something that’ll land me on Mastermind any time soon, but it meant that memories of my travels came flooding back yesterday. The howlite from Heidelberg, the delicate origami paper from Edinburgh, the handspun wool from Munich.. a heady day.

I’ll post photos and details of how I’ve managed it when it is all done but (of course!) there’s a while to go yet. Did you notice how I didn’t mention fabric above?

Apart from the obvious good effects of all this ONB lark, I’ve also come up with ideas for new work and have regained an appreciation for all that I have. Now, regular readers will know that I battle with the whole stash issue (and Twitterfolk will know all about #stashdown11), but going through all those packets of beads and reels of stringing made me all the more determined to keep ignoring the siren calls of sales & coupon codes for the next while.


the keepers, or notes on material culture*

I maintain that no matter what, there should be a few items in one’s possession not there merely for utility- the kind of things that make one’s heart sing for their sheer beauty and form.

This is a rule that dominates my craft supplies purchases. With the foundations taken care of (the best wire, the stuff that never fails; the best s/s findings), I can run riot. Well, a little bit. It’s my rule not to buy supplies that don’t do it for me, whether on colour, form or feel. I reckon that by following my instincts on these matters, people will respond, and they generally do.

Of course, there are disadvantages to this approach. It means I almost never work with some colours or materials, or use some techniques because the materials just don’t work, somehow. There’s something to work on.

The reason I write this is that, as I pack up my things and declutter and whatever else in preparation for this great big move, I am again and again coming across things that make my heart sing- and things that really don’t.

On throwing open the doors of my wardrobe, I see one dress that is what they call a ‘keeper’. I ordered this dress last year from the eeeevil genius (now plural) behind Fifi Le Rue. So far, it has seen me through every occasion you can imagine- graduations, office dos (oh, don’t get me started on that sartorial minefield), open nights, birthdays. It’s my Magic Dress, the one that foofs out and cinches in at the right places and goes with practically every pair of shoes I have. I have never had anything like it- even on the grim days, it shimmers in the wardrobe reminding me of dodgy 90s voguing, witnessing people’s triumphs, lovely surprises, all sorts.

I have recently been wearing a brooch from another Cow’s Lane-based designer. There is something in its simplicity and form that means I’ll be wearing this for years yet. I have a huge thing about brooches now, and it started with this woman right here. If you find me curled up in a gutter in Prague, whimpering about not getting enough for that second kidney, it will be Deirdre Griffin’s fault. Seriously.

Garnet and marcasite earrings from Ghent, a CZ silver bracelet from Maman, beads from my sister.. these are my keepers. What are yours?

(*Psyche! Got all the way to the end and not a single mention of good ol’ Thorstein ;))

This is not an April Fool: repeat, not an April Fool

The embargo on my buying supplies of any sort begins today and lasts for the rest of the month. The only exception being, of course, for custom orders. This was my bright idea based on the fact that I may face a house move in the near future and also that I have some beautiful supplies that just aren’t seeing the light of day. Gorgeous one-offs I’ve picked up somewhere on a whim, seed beads by the bucketload… they need their chance to shine too, right?

I have survived the past few hours that I’ve been awake (I mean really awake) very well, but I predict some tricky moments, particularly when my evil pedlars of beady goodness start sending coupons and discount codes… *drifts off into reverie*

‘hem. I will be- nay, must- be strong. I have supplies to bate Banagher at the moment (even if one packet is too much and a million packets are not enough) and damnit, a bit of self-control never hurt anyone.

There is inspiration to be found in the limits themselves. It allows you to focus on what’s in front of you, rather than prevaricate with I-could-do-this-if-only-I-had-x-material ponderings..

So this month, I will shop my closet, as it were. I will use the materials I have been saving (this means you, too-beautiful-to-use Estonian wooden buttons!), I will tackle some new patterns and shake things up a bit. I hope to post some of the resulting items here, as well as some of the hitherto hidden away supplies I find along the way.

I’m feeling inspired already..

moving house

Myself and the Beloved may well be moving house in the next while. My house moves previously have been a haphazard combination of sneaking bulging bags onto buses under the (weary) eye of the bus driver, obsessive checking and re-checking that I have, in fact, packed everything and, on one memorable occasion, being so organised in my packing that for a week afterward, I couldn’t find anything without (a) a lot of rummaging and (b) a lot of cussin’. Highly inventive it may have been, but not the best way to introduce oneself to new housemates nonetheless.

Now, after quite a while of being settled, a move is on the cards and this time, I have materials and supplies to think about. Uh-oh. Why do I have the feeling that I will be so obsessively paranoid about any of my lovely lampwork being damaged that I will be fighting my way through layers of bubblewrap for months afterward?

Another concern is trying to use up as much of my supplies and materials as I possibly can before the moving date approaches. This may involve another of my patent-pending-but-almost-always-doomed buy-nowt months. The idea is simple- nothing beyond the absolutely essential supplies for custom orders may be bought in the timeframe. After the first few days of unfortunate side effects, including but not limited to:

  • sighing heavily while pawing the computer screen
  • twitching when walking past Crown Jewels, my favourite bead shop in Dublin
  • endless justifications of why I should really stock up on x
  • sneaking looks at the tempting emails my various suppliers send out
  • loss of appetite (hah!)

I’m usually fine. It’s also a great opportunity to take a leaf out of the Real Simple book and shop one’s own closet, as it were..

the true confessions of an organising obsessive

Oh, the sins I have to confess..

The fact is that I am a organisaholic.

There are nights where I gaze, hollow-eyed and sweaty-palmed, at sites containing glorious, wondrous products like this, this and even these. There’s evidence to suggest that on occasion, I dribble a tad. What in the name of [murgatroyd] is wrong with me?


The problem doesn’t stop there, oh no. I stare longingly at amazing stashes the world over, beautifully designed workspaces (thank you Unclutterer– some of the best ones here, here and here. Oh, and lots more here) and posts on how other people organise their stashes.

You’d think that the one positive outcome of all this would be that my own stash would be beautifully organised. Not on your nelly. I have some sort of a system for beads and stringing, and most of my yarn is between a large, clear storage box and a shoebox, but after that? It’s total chaos.

Something has got to be done. I can sense a blitz coming on..