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?

The Wedding Gift

Home made cushion for a Wedding Present, using hand-printed fabricWhen I receive a wedding invitation which requests that attendees “bring no presents”, it invariably translates in my head to read as “bring a handmade gift”.  The only quandary in this recent situation was what to make? Especially because the bride in question is widely known as an accomplished designer and maker of lovely things.  The answer was to use some rare and unique hand printed loveliness from another clever lady, and to keep it simple.hand printed fabric made up into a cushionNow you will notice that the colours are rather subtle, even though Melly herself is very much into ‘bright’, but that was my cunning plan.  Melly’s decor is rather more restrained than her designs, and this will hopefully blend in, and still allow her creations to be the stars in her own home.Wedding Cushion Back

I thought it would be only polite to her lovely groom, Scott, to be a bit gender neutral as well.  I’m pretty pleased with how it all turned out, especially with an invisible zip and a feather-and-down-insert, that has just that perfect amount of squishiness.M & S tag on the "wedding cushion" which includes the wedding date.To commemorate the reason for it’s creation, I added this little tag to the cushion, featuring the initials of the bridal couple, together with the wedding date, skating close to the edge of nostalgia but hopefully not tipping right into shmaltz.  If you notice the date, you might realise that mid-September in Victoria can be quite chilly.  That being so, I was pretty pleased with the outfit I put together.Claire and Luke dressed for a weddingNot only was the dress lovely (IMHO) but it was from Target, (so quite affordable) and went perfectly with a vintage, toasty-warm coat that I have.Wedding outfit with vintage coatThe coat was my Grandmothers, and possibly belonged to her sister Verna before her.  Verna was very stylish, and was married to Cleg, who had a well know fabric store in the centre of Melbourne, which still bears his name.  The coat is British, I’m guessing it is from the 60’s and it is marked with the Royal Warrant!Royal Warrant on a Aquascutum CoatSo I was nice and warm for the ceremony, which was outside on a deck, overlooking the vineyards and surrounding countryside.  As a final touch, I took another vintage item, this one belong to another of my Grandmother’s sisters, Rita.Vintage Lucite HandbagThis was Rita’s lucky handbag, one of my most prized possessions.  It is made of Lucite, and I believe it would be extremely collectible.

I would love to share some photos of the stunning bride, bridal party and venue, but that would scoop the bride herself.  Stay tuned to Melly’s blog, because it was all stunning.

Do you make handmade Wedding Presents?


Snowy River Damask

"Snowy River Damask" digital fabric from "Lila Ruby King" etsy shop

A little while ago I mentioned some really beautiful fabric that I had ordered from an etsy seller in Greece.  Lila Ruby King is an Australian designer and maker, based in Athens.  This fabric that she designed is called “Snowy River Damask”, and is named for a river and region that is familiar to most Australians, as it is immortalised in one of our most famous poems “The Man from Snowy River” by A B ‘Banjo’ Patterson.

"Snowy River Damask" fabric detail

The animals and plants on the fabric are from the region including The Quoll, Powerful Owl, Lyrebird, and Peregrine Falcon.  The horses are, or course, not native, but are the ‘brumbies’ (wild horses) that live in the area, that are a key part of the poem.  The poem is ‘microprinted’ behind the portrait of ‘Banjo’ on our 10 dollar note – and those who are shortsighted like me, and have very good focus up close, can attest that it is possible to read it.

I am not sure what I will do with the fabric yet, but I was just so enchanted with it that I felt compelled to add it to my stash.  It is rare that I see Australiana done well.

"All a Flutter" Butterfly E

After the subtlety of the Snowy River fabric, this butterfly looks very bright indeed.  I just have 2 more to sew before I have a complete set, (you can see the first two here).

Have you added anything unusual to your fabric stash lately?

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).

My Gelaskins arrived!

The Front of my ipad2 with the gelaskin "Volcano" on it

For my recent birthday I received an ipad2, which was very exciting.  I was just as excited to pick out a set of  Gelaskins, to protect it from scratches, as I was to open the ipad box.  It took quite a bit of deliberation, as they have quite a selection of lovely art, but eventually I decided on “Volcano” by Alex Noriega.  As Gelaskins are a Canadian company, (on the other side of the world) I have been waiting a little while for it to arrive, and anticipation has been building.

The back of my ipad2 with a Gelaskin applied - "Volcano"

It has been well worth the wait!

Because this is a WiFi version, it is not likely to leave the house much at all, (It doesn’t have a sim card) so I feel secure in my decision not to enclose it in a permanent rubbery or solid case.

My ipad2 in it's Gelaskins covers, with the fabric I plan on using to make a soft case

I do plan to make a soft, padded case, and this is the likely selection of fabrics.  In the meantime, I will just spend lots of time admiring the Gelaskins, in much the same way that I enjoy making little piles of lovely fabric to caress when new fabric purchases enter my home.

Do you do that?  Keep piles of new fabric close at hand, to admire and pet?

Fabric Aquisitions

On Tuesday I set off for a great trek across to the other side of Melbourne to visit Amitie Textiles for the first time. Amitie were holding a sale, so I thought it was a good excuse to finally make the trip.

New Fabric from the Amitie Sale

I met a friend halfway, so that we could make our way together, it was quite an expedition.

I brought a mixture of fat quarters and 30cm cuts, mainly to fill gaps in my stash-of-small-cuts that I use for applique.  I like to have a good spectrum available to me.

Pink Aqua and Chocolate Quilt

The pink I bought is to bind this quilt, which is now ready to be quilted.

Wheel of Fortune Quilt, Work in Progress

The greens were purchased for the next ring on my Wheel of Fortune Quilt. It is looking very wrinkly!  As it gets bigger, it gets harder to fold up into a bag, to transport here and there. Because I have used a pen that disappears when you iron it, to mark the stitching lines, I am not ironing it yet, so wrinkly it will stay.  The greens will be the last full ring of squares, before partial rings help square it up.

Farmington by Martha Negley in Olive and Aqua

Another recent acquisition was this lovely feather fabric, called Farmington by Martha Negley, in Olive and Aqua.  I saw this fabric and immediately fell in love with the top colour-way.  I brought the Aqua version for my aqua obsessed daughter, Amelia.  Mine is most likely destined to become an ipad cover.

Now I am bracing myself for the Winter school holidays, (my least favourite) as the kids finish term 2 today.  We have a few activities planned, but mostly I am looking forward to lazy mornings in our pyjamas.  Is it school holidays in your neck of the woods?



Eye Candy

Another ring started on the Wheel Of Fortune Quilt

This week I finished the 10th, peachy ring on my “Wheel of Fortune” Quilt, and have started on the 11th.  It’s the most hand piecing I have ever done, and I’m fairly proud of it.  Now that the rings are so large, it takes quite a while just to cut out all the diamonds that are required.  There are 88 in this next ring, and I am using 9 different cocoa-powder coloured fabrics.

Cocoa powdered coloured diamonds

This ring matches the inner-most star, (1st ring) and are a softer colour than the chocolate coloured 5th ring.  I am particularly taken with the fabric you can see here, as the outermost of the cocoa diamonds that I have attached.  It reminds me of paper money, and fine etchings.  It sounds a little bit conceited, but I just like looking at the whole thing.  It is a big piece of eye-candy.

Dear Stella Fabrics

Some other eye candy arrived this morning, some fabrics that I ordered in my favourite warm colours.  I had not really noticed these ranges, until I saw them on sale.  They are all “Dear Stella”fabric, from both the “Yard Sale” and “Mimosa” collections.

Dear Stella Mimosa, Mosaic Yellow

I am absolutely in love with this particular fabric, “Mosaic, Yellow” from the Mimosa collection.  It reminds me of a particular painting that I love called “Bush Plum” by Aboriginal artist Jeannie Mills Pwerle.  I don’t have any plans for these fabrics yet, but I know that they are colours that I return to a lot.  Using them is not going to be a problem.

Hope Valley Fabrics by Denise Schmidt

These last 4 fabrics are from Denise Schmidt’s “Hope Valley” Collection.  I know that I am really late to the party with these fabrics, but when they came out I was on a fabric diet.  I have only bought a half-yard of each.  I feel like I am blaspheming to say that unlike a lot of the quilting world, I have not been in raptures over Denise’s previous collections.  They were nice enough, but I didn’t like them enough to buy them.  This collection was different, the colours really spoke to me.  I have just seen a sneak peek of her next collection with Free Spirit, “Chicopee”, which has similar colours to this one, and I really, really like it.

Have you come “late to the party” on any fabric collections?


No Sew

Prints on the wall near our dining table

There has been very little sewing going on here for at least a week, and the weather has matched my mood, grey.

My carpal tunnel syndrome (and cubital tunnel syndrome – same nerve) has really flared up, and I have been unable to do much with my hands, which has really made me feel glum.  The buzzing feeling along my ring and little finger has also given me difficulty with wearing my rings.

My ring is almost in the photo

I have had a lot on my mind, and my distraction has led to me to (probably) move my engagement ring from my ring finger to my little finger, without really thinking about it, while out last Monday afternoon.  At some point, within a 90 minute window, it slipped off my finger and I am now bereft of my beautiful emerald engagement ring, and losing all hope of getting it back.

The wet and grey weather has not been conducive to photography, but in an effort to have something to post here, I pulled out the tripod and did my best to photograph some new prints we have recently put up on our walls.

"The Rose" Woodcut by Thea Proctor, 1927

Here I framed a small card I purchased at the Bendigo Art Gallery last year, which is a copy of a work held in the National Gallery of Australia, in Canberra.  This beautiful piece is a woodcut called “The Rose” by Thea Proctor, 1927.

"Friends" by Geninne Zlatkis

This is a print I purchased and gave to Luke last year, “Friends” by Geninne Zlatkis, whose beautiful blog from Mexico I read avidly.  You can see a much nicer photo of it on her blog here, and there are still a couple of copies for sale in her Etsy store. We purchased the frames on a recent trip to IKEA, where we also got some picture ledges to display more of our family photos.

Picture Ledges in the Lounge Room

This is a corner of our home (the Lounge room) that you have never seen, because until now it looked so uninteresting.  It is a pretty ordinary photo, (thanks to the heavy, grey cloud cover) but it gives you some idea of how our new picture ledges look.  Luke and I would like one or two taller prints or photos for the top ledge, and the whole thing needs more interesting styling, but I included this photo in the interests of “keeping-it-real”.

I even left “The Last Box” in the photo, which has still not been unpacked since our move 2 years ago.  It mocks me.   It is full of lovely art materials from a-long-time-ago when Luke and I were Uni-students, studying design.  We just can’t work out where to put the contents.

City of Dragons by Robin Hobb (book)

While I have not been making stuff, I have luckily had other distractions, like this new release from Robin Hobb – City of Dragons.  The weather is finally cooling, and less humid, so hopefully my nerve issues will calm down, and I will be back to creating very soon.

Have you got any new art on your walls?


Tips and Tutorials for Grace (a new sewer)

Sewing kit for Grace

My niece, Grace, who is 13, has an interest in sewing and has just been given a sewing machine.  For Christmas, I put together a little kit of sewing supplies, for general sewing, and the requirements to make a small project I designed for her.  She lives in another state, so I can’t really teach her in person, so I have written instructions and directed her to this post.  All the tutorials and links below are for her, and correspond to some of the instructions I have written for her.

Sewing notions for Grace

I made the little bag to hold everything (which I am very pleased with) using this tutorial...

I had lots of fun picking out things in her favourite colours.  I used my tutorial for the star-fruit cushion to make the pincushion.  For the smaller size, you just start with 2 1/2″ squares.

The whole sewing kit

The project I wrote instructions for, was to embroider her name, to fit inside the photo frame.  She has 5 versions of her name, in different fonts to choose from.

Grace – here is a video on how to separate 6 strand embroidery floss…

This is how to make a starting knot in the end of your thread – I love this one, it is a beauty…

How to back-stitch…I would suggest starting with the method where you stab each stitch through, in two separate movements per stitch, rather than one.

Finishing knots – I like the third version myself…

Here are some other projects to try…

Double sided headband (Amelia made this one the other day)

A variety of Drawstring Bags

or another

A quick place mat how-to with diagrams

which are a follow up to this post

Spring Ruffle Top…You might need a little bit of help working this one out – I have never tried it…

Perfect Box Pouch…these look really cute, and would make a nice pencil case, but you will need to buy a zip…

Some patchwork…

String Quilt Blocks

A “string” block – the ones above are ones I’ve made using the tutorial here

You can see more about mine here

Wonky Star blocks

Wonky Star…here is the tutorial.  The wonky stars above are ones I made into a quilt for Indi.

Good Luck and have fun Grace!