Sunday, December 20, 2009

Last minute creating...

A friend's little boy had a third birthday party yesterday, and she requested a Thomas the Tank Engine drawstring bag to store all of the Thomas bits and pieces he was (hopefully) going to receive. "Sure!" I said, thinking, "I've made a drawstring bag before*, this'll be a piece of cake!"

So off I toddled to the anti-best fabric store in the country to pick up a Thomas motif. Of course, they didn't have anything like I was after, so I improvised with some other less-ideal-but-still-Thomas fabric.
Having got what I needed, I promptly put it aside until the night before the party. Enter sewing machine crisis. I don't know about you, but I seem to have tension issues. I can't work out whether it's the top thread or the bobbin, but every time I think I've got it sorted, I bugger up the start of the next project. Fortunately I still had a friend's machine that I borrowed while mine was in for a service (yes, that was a couple of months ago but apparently she never uses it!?!). I KNEW this machine works properly!

Or not. Apparently the tension thing is me, not the machine. I managed to replicate the problem almost exactly! So after several unsuccessful attempts to avoid swearing, I took a deep breath, checked the instruction booklet, rethreaded the machine and tried again. Fortunately for everyone's sake, this time it worked. I'm not entirely sure what was different (maybe I'd twisted the thread around the needle the first time(s)?), but we ended up with a satisfactory drawstring bag.
It's a tad smaller than expected, but that's what you get for not thinking about seam allowance. At least I have enough fabric left over for another one if required!

The moral of the story? CHECK that the machine is threaded correctly, especially that the thread isn't twisted around the needle. Oh, and start it the night before the night before the party next time!!

*From Heather Ross's Weekend Sewing

Monday, December 14, 2009

We made it!

This weekend has been one of the busiest we've had in a long time! In addition to the usual Christmas-related silliness that happens at this time of year, my little one turned 1 on Friday! For this birthday, we took the relatively-low-key-morning-tea-time-in-the-park option, which worked fabulously. There was play equipment nearby to keep the older kids entertained, and there was proper coffee (supplied by us) to keep the adults happy.

And I made and decorated a cake!
Which I thought was yummy, and so did uber goober!
I managed to finish the cardi in time, too, but it was a decidedly chilly summer's day and the lovely short sleeves in the cardi weren't going to do the job. Oh well, there'll be another opportunity, I'm sure!
I also somewhere found the time and a (semi) willing sucker to help me wind my yarn, which means I've now started a time-pressured project. Hopefully I'll find the time to finish it!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

My creative space

My creative space is a tad overloaded today! It's mostly a function of 'that time of year', slightly complicated by a first birthday tomorrow!?!
I've only included the Need. To. Sort. It. Now. stuff: there's oh, so many other projects going on right now too, but SOMETHING must be put on the back burner!!

So today:
I need to finalise a birthday cake for a party on Saturday. I think for this birthday, the book is about inspiration rather than replication - I'm sure I have that to look forward to in the years to come;
I need to make a cheesecake today for a Christmas party tomorrow night. No time tomorrow;
I need to wind a skein of yarn for a Christmas gift project that needs to be started yesterday; AND I really want to get this cardigan finished!! All that needs to be done is the final edging and weaving the ends in. No more than an hour's work, but where do I find the hour!?!

Oh, and the in-laws arrive this afternoon for a few days, which may mean more or less time. We'll see...

Is everyone else's creative space this chaotic in the lead up to Christmas? Visit Kirsty to find out!!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Return from Never Never Land

I've spent the last 11 days absent from blogland while visiting my parents in Northern NSW. My husband was in PNG for a little over a week, and as I'm not a particularly good single parent, I took my daughter to hang out with her grandparents.
Other than a few hairy moments - one involving my nearly one-year-old and the chilli above (this is the aftermath!), we enjoyed ourselves immensely. Hopefully it won't take too long for the grandparents to recover!

I very nearly finished a crocheted cardi which is so close I might even have pictures sometime this week. But that depends on whether or not I spend too long starting to catch up on the 500+ blog entries in my reader. Gulp!

One of the benefits of temporary family separation is presents! This is a bilum that I received from my husband, and given my current interest in crocheting string bags, it's particularly appropriate! The stitch detail is really interesting, and I think I'd like to find out more about how they're made. You never know, I might make one myself one day!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

A parcel in the post!

Early on in Blogtoberfest, I entered Tinniegirl's giveaway and somehow managed to win! The prize was a mystery, and was to be based on Cathy's exploration of my blog. Yesterday, an enormous parcel arrived on my doorstep. Here's what was inside....
A tinnie! With a lovely magical castle on it. I love it! But there's more. Inside....

Yarn (she obviously did her homework!), some trim (it probably has a proper name but I don't know it), a card of buttons, and another tiny cute little tin absolutely packed with vintage buttons! But there's more.....
A very generous pile of vintage knitting books and patterns....
And a pincushion! Now I have two, which is good, because the other one I made isn't very big. I've already filled it up and it's only got about 18 pins in it. So this one is not only lovely, but also useful.

Thank you, Cathy, for your generosity. This package will keep me amused for hours!

Monday, November 23, 2009

My place and yours: My collection

This is the tip of the iceberg.
I have a generous collection of recipe books in my house. And within this collection, I have a collection of delicious. magazines. Every single one. I subscribe now to ensure I never miss an issue, and this has worked well except for once when an issue came around the time we moved house a couple of years ago. Apparently even if you re-direct your mail, Australia Post doesn't redirect items over a certain weight. Seriously. Fortunately for me (and my husband who was having to put up with a wife having conniptions) the people who moved into our old house were people we know, so I was able to track it down. L.U.C.K.Y! Because the issue came with a tea towel, which meant everywhere I tried to find another copy had sold out! Did I mention conniptions?

This collection has very recently moved to a new shelf with a door in the kitchen to keep it safe from inquisitive babies! This shelf also now houses my most referred to recipe books. The rest are on another shelf that isn't protected from babies, though there are plans afoot. Fortunately first editions don't make it into my collection: I like using them so they tend to get inadvertently splattered with things. Oops.

Thanks to Kate for coming up with a brilliant theme, and thanks to Pip for hosting!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Could it possibly be....

....a return to acceptable knitting weather? Hopefully this cool change has come through with no adverse effects. Like bushfires.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

My creative space

My creative space today is quite yarny. I'm working on the collar of the child's woollen cardigan I'm knitting, and when it's just too hot for that, I'm crocheting a little person's cotton summer cardigan using Jo Sharp's Soho Summer in a lovely deep purple.
I'm on to take 3 with the crochet - the pattern called for a 6.5mm hook, but when I tried that it was WAAAAY too big. I changed to a 5.5mm hook which I already had - also too big, so I took myself off to Sunspun and bought a 5 and 4.5mm Soft Touch hook (any excuse, really, but this one was a good one!). The 5mm seems to be working just fine.

So the moral of the story? You can't have too many crochet hooks, and patterns (especially free ones) don't necessarily give helpful hook size advice!!

Visit more creative spaces at Kirsty's.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009


My mulberry tree is producing enthusiastically at the moment! After five minutes of picking, I ended up with a generous bowl full and lots still on the tree.
And rather purple fingers!
So what should I do with all these mulberries?

Monday, November 16, 2009


After spending my 'me time' on Saturday morning cleaning up my sewing table and writing a list of some (not all - too scary) of the projects I have in my head at the moment, I spent some time in the afternoon making serviettes (which was on the list. Very useful, writing a list!). My daughter had an uncharacteristically long afternoon sleep which meant I started and finished all in one go! It really is a miracle.

The grass is looking rather brown, even on the patch I chose because it was greener! We need rain...
My not-square serviettes were made from rather large Ikea linen/cotton blend tea towels cut in half and hemmed along the cut side. It was really very easy as most of the hemming was already done.

I applied my recent discovery that hemming is easier if you iron a little fold (5mm ish) and then fold (1cm ish) and iron again, and THEN pin. Once I'd made 2, I started a production line and made 8 all together in comfortably less than 2 hours - that's fast for me!

So we now have 8 extra serviettes to give to guests (and ourselves) rather than squares of paper towel. That's got to be an improvement.

PS. I got this idea from somewhere in blogland a while ago, but have absolutely no memory of where. Apologies for not linking back to the very clever person who actually came up with this idea first!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Pincushion finished!

As hoped, I finished my pincushion last night.
I followed this tutorial. It would have turned out even better if I had used a a doll (long) needle to sew the buttons on as suggested. The buttons are fine as is, but I would have had more control over their placement had I used a longer needle. Oh well, next time.

This would be a great scrap project if you sewed enough to have scraps. I'm working on it, but because my scrap pile is currently too small to be useful, I used a few squares from a charm pack.

I think I like this hand-sewing paper-piecing business. It's quite pleasant to spend a few evenings working on a project that comes together quickly for a slow crafter like me! I'm not sure I'd take on a hex quilt at this stage, but little things are fun.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

My creative space

My creative space this week has involved avoiding knitting. Knitting + hot = not fun crafting. Instead, I've been making me a pincushion.
It's a hand-sewn paper-pieced cube and nearly finished! All it needs is the stuffing seam sewn up and some buttons sewn on, which SHOULD happen tonight. If I can find the buttons, which are somewhere on the surface theoretically known as my sewing table...

Curiously I don't own any other pincushions, so this one will be much used and appreciated when it's done!

Other creative spaces are over at Kirsty's.

Monday, November 9, 2009

The three needle bind off

I'm slightly obsessed with knitting at the moment, but it's too hot to knit with wool. It's very sad, because I'm learning all these new things by knitting a little person's cardigan, which was moving along quite quickly until the hot weather landed on us. I think I prefer winter.

One of the new techniques I've learned is the three needle bind off. I've discovered that not only is it really easy, it gives a really nice finish to a seam, and means you don't have to sew it up later. All good!

Here's how you do it:

You've probably got a bunch of stitches on a stitch holder (another great piece of equipment I've used for the first time for this project), so move them onto a spare needle the same size as the ones you're using. I used one of the dpn's I have with a stopper on the end (they're very useful, these stopper thingy's!).

Place right sides together, and hold the two needles with stitches on them so the stitches are kind of lining up. Place the third needle through both first stitches as if to knit (see below).

Wrap the yarn as you would normally, and bring it through both stitches at once. Let both stitches drop off the needles as normal.
Repeat so you have two stitches on your right needle, then bring the back stitch over the front stitch as you would for a regular cast off.
Continue until you've cast off all stitches, then look at your fancy new seam...

Cool, huh?

Next I get to start the neck band, which involves picking up stitches from the edge. Another first! Hurry up cooler weather!!!!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

A pinny

After being a WIP for what seems like months*, I finished my Clothkit pinny today! After successfully negotiating button holes, I'd been having palpitations about hems for a good couple of weeks, but finally just got on with it and did it today after lunch. Once that was over and done with, all that was left was sewing the buttons on. And I already KNOW I can do that.

So here it is. Finished! And hanging on our mulberry tree.

Yes, I'm feeling rather chuffed! You'd think that feeling warm and fuzzy would be enough to motivate me to work faster. Maybe next time?

And an added bonus: As I was taking the pictures, I realised there was some ripe mulberries on the tree, so I picked them before the birds. For a change. Yum!

*Not quite - I just checked and I started it on 28th September. This blogging thing can actually keep me accountable!

Friday, November 6, 2009

A day off

We spent today at the National Rhododendron Gardens in Olinda. It was such a spectacularly sunny-but-not-too-hot day, and it called for something a bit more special than a typical day off, which often involves something domestic and productive (which is good, but it's nice not to be every now and then!).

I also happened to discover the Sassafras Wool Store not far from where we had lunch.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

my creative space(?)

Today I'm attempting to improve the underlay for my ironing board. When I was attaching the interfacing for the bag I made, I noticed that I managed to get a 'lovely' crisscross pattern kind of embossed onto the fabric. It wass possibly because my very cheap ironing board cover is about 8 years old and the underlay is no longer doing it's job.

As is often the case, Gina has come to the rescue and provided a thrifted woollen* blanket that I plan to cut into and use as additional padding. I'm thinking 2 layers will be enough, but it might end up needing 3. We'll see!
Sadly, I'm not replacing the very (un)attractive ironing board cover - it's still functioning fine.

For some rather more visually appealing creative spaces, visit Kirsty.

*I tested it last night by cutting a small piece off and trying to set it on fire. It just fizzed out so it must be wool!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Wash cloth swap!!

I think I am the luckiest swap participant ever. Yesterday my Wash Cloth #2 swap parcel arrived, and inside was a most exciting bundle of individually wrapped goodies! My swap partner Abby from My Love Is... has gone so far above and beyond the swap expectations it's not funny, all while dealing with the most horrendous morning (ha ha) sickness ever. I really appreciate her work in putting such a great package together.
Inside I found...
...THREE (!) lovely soft washcloths...
...Leftover cotton from the washcloths - the colours are just lovely! It's from Bendigo Woollen Mills, so I think I'll be acquiring some soon. Abby also included the wash cloth pattern, so I can have a go at producing some myself!...
...Some lovely goodies for me including a shower timer - very useful in this house!...
...A great range of seeds, including petunias, golden beetroot, corriander and borlotti beans...
...AND a very special package for my little one...
Yay! We love books in this house and we're yet to begin our Dr Seuss collection, so these are just perfect! Also, several of the packages were wrapped in fabric offcuts to be added to my stash. Like I said, I think I'm the luckiest swap recipient ever!

Thanks Abby.

I'm really looking forward to the next swap. Swaps are fun!!

Saturday, October 31, 2009

I made it!

It is done. One post per day for the 31 days of October. Wow!

While there have been days when it's been quite difficult to come up with something, I've found it far easier than I anticipated. Being fairly new to this blogging thing (and having a dreadful track record when it comes to keeping paper journals), I really wasn't sure that I'd succeed without veering too much into drivel land (that might be today's job). But I've been pretty happy with the posts I've done, and I think the content has been fairly close to what I anticipated this blog would be about (crafting, cooking, gardening, living, and occasionally parenting). Daily posting this month has helped consolidate for me what this blog is about.

I've enjoyed the challenge of producing something each day. This is probably the first daily non-parenting related thing that I've committed to since becoming a mum, and it's nice to discover that I can maintain a commitment, even if it is only for 5 minutes some days!

I've also enjoyed finding new (to me) blogs, though I haven't got anywhere near halfway through all the people who signed up, so I expect I'll find even more to add to my reader as I continue through the list!

One of the biggest drawbacks of Blogtoberfest for me has been an inability to keep up with my reader - I currently have over 250 posts to catch up on, so I'm hoping that once everyone stops blogging daily it will be easier to maintain!!

Thanks Cathy for a challenging and fun month. I think I will try to maintain regular posting as it helps me feel like I'm achieving something, but 3-4 times a week rather than daily (phew, I hear you say). I'm taking the day off tomorrow!!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Hot and not...

Today I'm joining in with Loobylu for what's hot and what's not...

What's Hot:
* Picking up the new Mike's Book Club book from the library. I'm looking forward to reading this one, though I'm hoping it's not toooo sad because I've developed a problem with watery eyes since having a baby!! I can't start it yet though - I need to finish my current read first, the particularly highbrow O is for Outlaw by Sue Grafton (fun though!)
* Finding yet another use for my very funky knitting needle stoppers. I just realised I needed 2 extra stitch holders for this project, so a pair of dpn's with stoppers on each end are functioning nicely as a temporary fix!
* A baby discovering the joys of crawling. It's particularly entertaining to watch her discover her expanding sphere of influence at the moment!
* Making it to the second-last day of Blogtoberfest without missing a post so far - exciting for me, possibly tedious for everyone else ;-)

What's Not:
*Hems. How is it that I can successfully negotiate buttonholes (after a few false starts) but be undone by a hem?
*A baby discovering the joys of crawling. It means a serious re-evaluation of the state of our house. Bookshelves everywhere are not such a wonderful thing from this new perspective!
*Teething. Not fun for anyone in the house, especially at 4am.