Colour and Movement

Felt Offcuts in beautiful coloursI’ve had the felt out again, which seems the perfect choice for the cooler weather, and as an antidote to days that are starting to become more grey.  I love to keep the tiny offcuts, like precious jewels.  In the past I have put these offcuts into clear glass Christmas ornaments, but these may end up in a tiny jar.  I will share the project  I have been working on soon…
Glitter Nailpolish and M&M's
I must admit that I have really needed the simple pleasure of beautiful colour to help cheer me.  Last week I reached for the “disco ball” glitter nail-polish and M&M’s as an injection of “bright and happy”.  There is definitely something to be said for enjoying the small and simple pleasures, when times are tough.
Rory came 2nd in the 3km cross country race at school
This week I have spent a lot of time up at the primary school for “Education Week”, which involves lots of activities that parents and friends can be involved in.  Yesterday I was at a local park to cheer on my son as he ran 3 km (1.86 miles) with all the other boys in his age group, over a very hilly, cross-country course.  He came 2nd!  Rory just loves to run, and I was so proud of him.  I also spent time playing the “Echo Cello” with Michaela’s class for a while.  It was fabulous fun playing these strange instruments made of bits and pieces, and played with violin bows.
Running Pouch prototype
After all the excitement I returned to the running theme again when I spent the remainder of the afternoon prototyping a running case for a friend’s phone.  She is running in the Mother’s Day Classic, a run to raise money for Breast Cancer Research, this weekend.  She wanted a simple case to allow her to carry her phone, so that it sits in the small of her back.  She only wants it “in case of emergency” and hopes that she will not need to access it while running.  Ann-Marie did a run previously, in steep terrain, and came across someone who had fallen and broken their leg, far from medical help, so running with a phone is important to her.  I still have some improvements to make, so prototype 2 is the next order of business.
What are you making at the moment?

Feathers and insects

Embroidered feather in Cottage Garden ThreadsI’ve been exploring feathers as part of a new design, and this is my first “practice feather” on a scrap of calico, in some new, beautiful, hand-dyed threads from Cottage Garden Threads. Hope Feathers 1
I have purchased 5 different variegated colours from their stranded cotton range, in deliciously subtle and unusual colour combinations.  The colours are not as bright as those that I have used in recent times, but I think they suit the delicate nature of feathers perfectly, (and the colour names are just delightful).Hope Feathers 2As you can see, my new design, (which I am still developing) features not only feathers but also hand drawn lettering, something I have been wanting to try my hand at.  I tend to completely draw up a design in Illustrator before stitching, to get the visual balance of a project right, but sometimes it can be a little hard to get the scale right.  Some of the details I have drawn onscreen may still be a little too detailed, so stitching up one of the feathers was a good way to try out the scale, and the beautiful colours.  I will probably play with the size of both the lettering and the feathers until I am happy, and ready to stitch out the whole thing.Practice feather in "Cottage Garden Threads" in colours; '500 Clivea' and '507 Rusty Gate'.There is a lot of stitching involved with this project, and I am not as fast as some other designers out there, so it might take me a while, but a large part of the delight will just be in seeing how the colours turn out.  The threads I have used for this feather are ‘500 Clivea’ which is the orange coloured thread on the left, and ‘507 Rusty Gate’ which is the petrol-sheen coloured thread on the right, which contains dusty blues, greens and purples.Clear Cutting Table, Hooray!
I have a wonderful working area to get stitching in, because my cutting table is looking the best it has in months, clean, and ready for action.  I have been meaning to tidy up anyway, but I had a large nudge, in the form of a small insect that caused a scary allergic reaction in Michaela.  I’m embarrassed, but I’m all for being authentic, because my life is not a series of well shot, crafty vignettes.  It’s a long story, but the bare bones are that Lotta, (our very small dog) caught fleas for the first time in her 4 years, in spite of the all-in-one treatment she was on to avoid them. She only had a few fleas (because of the treatment) but Michaela was bitten, and over the course of the day her bites (on her arm) turned into large painful eggs, and her eyes swelled up.  Thankfully it didn’t compromise her airways, and antihistamine eventually settled it down.We sent the kids away to their grandparents, and spent last weekend feverishly vacuuming, packing and covering electrics, before setting off 6 flea bombs throughout the house.  All week there has been more vacuuming, (and I wiped down every horizontal surface 4 times, to get rid of the nasty chemicals).  This week I think I have done 11 loads of washing, including 2 loads that were already clean, (but not yet put away before we found out about the fleas).  We’re tired, but our house is super clean, and clutter free, and there is no sign of the little parasites, which is just as well, because we can’t chance Michaela getting bitten again, as her reaction would likely be stronger.  Just in case, Michaela has, once again, got an epipen.

So the past week has been all about feathers and insects, but I would rather it had only been about feathers.

Inappropriate Crafting

Hand knitted, 2x2 rib, Rainbow scarf Right after Christmas I finished this beautiful Rainbow scarf, a longer sister for this one that I finished back in July.  This one, for Amelia, is about 2.1m long, and made with a 2×2 rib with 58 stitches, on 5mm needles (US8).  The yarn is a a 50/50 composition of Wool and Acrylic, and is a Moda Vera brand called “Fern” from Spotlight, (Moda Vera is an in-house brand).  It took just one (very large)  ball.  Michaela’s one was only 1.7m long, and made with garter stitch.Amelia's Rainbow Scarf (finished in summer)

It took me a long time to knit, as I put it aside while I was getting my patterns ready for release in recent months.  As a result I have finished the scarf in an entirely inappropriate season, hence the lovely, but ridiculous photo above, of a person wearing summer clothes and a winter scarf.  The weather has become considerably hotter since I finished the scarf, and as a result my nemesis, carpal tunnel syndrome, has returned to plague me.  Unfortunately, I will not be doing any handwork for a while, until the worst of summer is behind us.  Thankfully I can still sew on a machine, if I don’t overdo it.Home made pencil caseYesterday, Amelia and I made this home made pencil case, with two of her favourite fabrics.  We even designed it to have a tag for her name sticking out the side, and she is very pleased with the result.Inside view of the home made pencil case.She ladder-stitched up the lining herself, learning a new skill.  So now it is full of new stationary, ready for her first day of high-school at the end of the month.Fantastic Pencil Sharpener by Faber CastellSpeaking of new stationary, the kids and I went on a hunt the other day, through all the relevant stores in the local shopping centre, for this exact pencil sharpener.  Everyone in our house draws, lots.  Consequentially, we seem to be the house where pencil sharpeners go to die, as very few seem to be up to the task of working in our house.  This pencil sharpener, by Faber Castell, seemed to be the exception.  I had one that was never allowed to leave my desk, in case it disappeared, but we managed to track them down in order to buy them for the other members of the family.  We found them where we didn’t expect them, in Coles (the supermarket).  So now we can all stay sharp.

Does anyone else get obsessed with the perfect pencil sharpener?  Perhaps you have another tool you obsess over?

Making and Breaking

Christmas Angel by Matching Pegs

I made it!  I finished the Christmas Angel just in time to photograph it, wrap it and hand it over to be given to the Music Teacher.  Now I just have to make one more, and finish two stitcheries, and the school presents are done.Amelia with the boards she broke at Tawkwondo

Amelia broke it!  Last night Amelia successfully completed her Red II grading for Taekwondo, and broke two boards with her high kicks.  We also somehow found time to get her a haircut, in preparation for tonight, which is her Grade 6 graduation.  It is all happening!

I have already explained to Amelia, that while I am very excited that she is moving on to High School, and I know she is ready, I might have a tear or two in my eyes.  They will be happy tears.

Ombre Cake

Amelia's Aqua Ombre Cake

For months and months Amelia has been pinning Ombre Layer Cakes onto the board I gave her on my Pinterest account.  This school holidays we finally made one of these elaborate affairs together, with a little bit of icing help from her BF.  Of course it was Aqua.

Michaela in a tiny chef's hat

Even though both the girls had their birthdays back in August, we put off having a party until the school holidays, because at the time, life was so full of extra events.  Both girls had separate cooking parties which involved their guests shaping pizza dough and topping their own pizzas, and decorating biscuits with icing and lollies.  Everyone had a great time, and went home full of food, with leftovers to spare.  We have now had three of these parties (Rory had one a few years back) so we feel pretty confident at how to run them.Baby Arden at 6 months old

Apart from the parties, our school holidays were pretty quiet, as Michaela and I came down with a nasty virus that left us dizzy and vomiting, so we all spent some time sequestered at home, avoiding others.  Luckily the parties were planned for dates well clear of this illness, as was our visit from the adorable Arden (my nephew) and his parents.  At 6 months his cuteness has maximum effect!

Now we are just getting back into the swing of school for the last term of the year, and my last term with everyone at the SAME school.

Short Cut

Amelia's new haircut

Amelia has a new look!  The hairdresser talked her out of it the first time, and refused to go this short, cutting a length that, from the front, still looked like a chin length bob.   I was pretty cross that she essentially bullied Amelia into settling, with talk of how much she would cry if she changed her length too dramatically in one hit.

Another view of Amelia's new haircut

We went back a week later for a re-cut, to get the style she was after all along.  She is thrilled, and I think it looks fantastic.  It is such a departure from the hair she has had for years (bobs of different lengths – you can see it long here).

Amelia in Meerkat pose

She is not that fond of posing for the camera, but this pose is sure to bring a natural smile to her face.  We call it the Meerkat.

This cut is somewhat of a blast from the past for me, reminding me of the “Sliding Doors” cut I had about 14 years ago.  Suddenly Amelia looks more like me – the newly married me that decided to get my hair cut on a whim.

Have you had a cut on a whim lately?

The tiny sewing machinist has a finished project

Michaela with the cushion she made

This weekend Michaela and I finished a project we started 10 months ago.  We finally turned the foundation-pieced, homage to pink and purple, that she pieced herself, into a cushion.  You can see more about how she pieced it here.

Michaela's cushion - a view of the back

The back of the cushion is a riot of colour – a piece of fabric exactly to Michaela’s taste.  I’m pretty pleased with this photo, which shows off a few recent changes to Michaela.  In the past two months she has started loosing her first teeth rapidly.  In honour of her birthday, she had her ears pierced, and at her request we cut her a fringe.  I was pretty worried about how the fringe would look, but thought it was important to respect her wishes for her own hair, and I am really glad I did.  I like it, (even when it has the remains of purple hair spray in it, following a birthday party attendance).

Michaela with the cushion that she made

I quilted the cushion-front with random stars, hearts, swirls, flowers and Michaela’s name.  You can see the quilting better in the first photo, but I wanted to include this one, because I love the expression on her face.  Michaela is extremely pleased with herself, and is glorying in the beauty of her cushion.  She is adamant that it should live in the family room, for everyone to enjoy.  I was expecting this extreme embodiment of the love of pink and purple to reside in her bedroom.  I guess I can live with it hanging out on the couch for a little while, before it takes up more permanent residency in her domain.

If you want to start sewing with your children, I would really recommend a project like this.  The foundation piecing is easy, and creates a finished project that is relatively quick to finish (as long as you don’t wait 10 months to pull it out and quilt it).  You could do this easily in a weekend.

So, do your kids get to raid your stash, or do you encourage them to start a stash of their own?

Aqua for Amelia

Aqua gifts for Amelia

Amelia turned 12 today.

We indulged her love of all things Aqua, with some of her gifts (pictured in her aqua room).  We had a lovely day in the middle of an extremely busy time.  Amelia has been in several performances lately, with one of the lead roles in the school play, and a short few lines of song on her own, in a piece that the choir performed.  Tomorrow night her choir is performing at Federation Square in the centre of Melbourne, with another performance next week and then the State School Spectacular at the start of September.

Fabric Stack from Mill Rose

There is a little bit of Aqua in this bundle of lovely fabrics that I purchased from Mill Rose while on Quilt Retreat. These are destined to be turned into my Sleepy Bunnies.

Fabric Stash Augmentation

These fabrics were just to augment my general stash – I was after some green and some gold (coincidentally Australia’s sporting colours – perhaps it was Olympics fever).

Beautiful Fabric stack

These last fabrics were just because I fell in love with them.  The one on the right makes my heart sing.  It is a re-released Gypsy Caravan fabric by Amy Butler, called Turkish Paisley.  I don’t know what it will become, but I know it will be lovely!

Have you purchased any fabric lately?  Perhaps you are into Aqua as well?

Should the Zombie Apocalypse arrive…

Revlon "Emerald City" Matt Suede Nailpolish

Should the Zombie Apocalypse arrive…it will find me with the right nail polish to wear as a zombie, (Revlon “Emerald City” Matt Suede).

Lately I have been very stressed out about our youngest daughter’s health.  We have been trying to figure out what has been giving her recurrent tummy pains for over a year now, and keep thinking we have found the culprit, only to be wrong.  The latest suspicion is that she suffers from Fructose Malabsorption, so she has been avoiding all fruit except bananas and berries while we were awaiting testing.  Last week was particularly emotionally charged, as she spent time on a much stricter diet, and then fasted, in order to perform a fructose breath test at the Children’s Hospital.

Fun Nailpolish colours

What upset Michaela the most was the knowledge that if she ends up having Fructose Malabsorption, the low-FODMAP diet she will end up on is fairly restrictive, and takes out way more than just most fruits.  In fact in comparison, a Gluten Free diet, or a diabetics diet looks pretty good.

So lately, for a little bit or fun, I have been buying bright, cheerful nail polish to cheer us all up. As an aside, it is amazing how often we all use food to cheer ourselves up, (and I’m not talking about binges on chocolate). We all really look forward to sharing nice food with people we love, and it really sucks when it becomes a problem to do that.

So back to the nail polish – I have discovered that while some colours look great in their little bottles, they do nothing for me on my nails.  I think I am a traditional lady in this respect.  Come summer, that watermelon/coral colour up there will be on my toenails for months, and I love a soft pearly gold, but no blues, greens or purples for me, I will leave them for my girls.

So, no craft to see here, I have been busy painting my nails.  Do you have a nail polish that would be suitable for the Zombie Apocalypse?

(We find out more about the test results later this week).

Owl Cake

Rory's Owl Cake for his 10th birthday

On Tuesday we spent the day at Scienceworks to celebrate Rory’s 10th Birthday (which was actually last month).  We had a fantastic day, and then came back to our house with Rory’s friends, to partake in some cake before they went home.

Rory has had the instructions on how to assemble this cake bookmarked for months.  I think Luke and I, (but mainly Luke) did a pretty good job.

Rory and his Owl Birthday Cake - 10 years old

I took some really nice photos of Rory with his friends, (in spite of the artificial light).  I found that I needed to somehow get them laughing about something, because “cheese” doesn’t work anymore.

Rory with his 10th birthday Owl cake

Which is why I ended up with lots of photos where people are “talking” in amongst the smiling.  I wish I was better at jokes with unexpected punchlines.  I can never remember one when I need it.

Do you have a no-fail method for getting people to smile when you photograph them, (10 year old boys are hard work)?