Saturday, 29 June 2013

A word from Meg Ryan

Google Reader is about to be Goose-ified, like, soon. It's been fantastic having you follow me through Google Friend Connect, and a great big bleached blonde mop of a wave to all my new readers.  I started this blog for me, and for you - but mainly for me, and it's been fun having you along so if you would like to continue following me, here's some advice:

I've seen that movie way too many times.

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Friday, 28 June 2013

Crochet cushion covers

As many of you who have been following my blog for a while know, I learnt how to crochet last year. My first project was going to be a flower crochet blanket, but I bit off more than I could chew and valued my sanity far too much to continue, so it became a teeny tiny cushion. The end result was that I was left with ten barely used 100 gram balls of acrylic yarn and two 50 gram balls of wool and an overwhelming desire to use it all up. At All Costs.

Over the course of the past few months, I have made several blankets, which have helped to obliterate some of my yarn stash, but I also have had to make a mercy dash down to my local store to purchase more balls when I ran out of the colours needed to finish my projects - which of course now means I have still more yarn to use up. It's a vicious cycle, I tell you.

This is how my stash looks at the moment:

Not too alarming, is it? There are a couple more balls of Spagetti yarn floating around the place too. Looking back on these past few months, I'm quite surprised by how much I have made, and it reveals an obvious passion for making blankets. I will take a photo of everything I have made that is still in my possession to show you all some day soon.

There were some leftover balls of wool from the travel blanket I made for my friend's baby, so I chanced my arm and hoped there would be enough to make complementary cushion covers. Fortunately for me there was, because the small yarn shop that I bought the wool from has now closed down.

The lighting is very poor here at the moment *shakes fist at the winter and condensationy windows*; the red and dark grey are much darker than how they appear below.  The granny square is very easy to make now; I love that I can just sit watching evening television while working on a single stitch project and not have to concentrate.

Its sister cushion is a combination of granny squares and working in rounds. I used different colours in each square to add interest and two squares have added texture with the flower details on them.  I sewed some dark grey vinyl to the backs and I'm less than convinced that it works together.  Ho hum.

The colour of the fabric is almost black, as pictured above. This close-up angle shows the texture and envelope closure in more detail:

I created these cushions to add a bit more snuggly winter warmth to our lounge, but I decided they really didn't fit with the feel of the room. That and my husband doesn't like them.

Linking up for some Matariki Crafting and Show and Tell love.

Degree of difficulty: Easy. Convincing my husband they are cool - not so easy.
Time taken: 4 days
Result: Part of me thinks I should unpick the backs and just sew the granny square top to the back of the patchwork top.  What do you think?

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Interruption to our scheduled programme

There is a valid reason why crafting and blogging have come to a halt around here:

I won't be sharing his name or other personal details about him here as it's not my story to tell. He is quite lovely and his cousins are clearly besotted with him. It does mean, however, that my crochet blanket and quilt are slightly redundant. Hmm.

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

More hotness

Don't say I didn't warn you. Sewing machine and overlocker are back in operation, hurrah!  It was refreshing to sew for a change although I snuck some more crochet in there, I just couldn't help myself.

Lisa of Big Little emailed me a very handy hot water bottle template, and I discovered that they are quite addictive to make even though I managed to make my covers quite wonky. Go me! Maybe it was because I was working around my children and not able to fully concentrate on what I was doing when I sewed, or maybe it was because I don't like using pins to hold everything in place as I sew and the fabric shifted. Anywhoozle, these are the results.

Upcycled merino jersey. I kept one of the original tags; it has the care instructions on the back of it which someone might find useful. Not very exciting, I know, but it is very warm and that's the whole point of making them.

Raspberry wool fabric with soft pink wool crochet detail. I used You Go Girl's crochet edging pattern to embellish the back opening. The crochet motif is the same as the one that I used on my earlier hottie cover. This is my favourite cover, I hope whoever receives it will love it too.

It is such a miserable day here, the lighting is not very good to take photos, but here is my little bundle that will be posted to Lisa shortly. If you want to join in, all the details you need can be found here.

Sunday, 16 June 2013


This is what happens when I am too tired to craft in the evenings. I am forced to make rubbish evening television more interesting by developing movie titles with much more credible story lines. Like these:

The quest for the missing limbs:

When crazed animals with ridiculously long tongues attack:
Source: AP

World's worst premise for a movie. Ever:

The story of an internal organ so mysterious, nobody knows what it does:

I bet you were saying these with that American movie voiceover guy's voice in your heads. No? Just me, then.

Friday, 14 June 2013

Ra-ra hottie covers

Matariki Crafting, hosted by Juliet of Tartankiwi, will shortly be heading into its second week. This is an opportunity to get inspired by some winter-themed craft projects and ideas, some of which *gasp!* don't even involve a sewing machine, crochet hook or knitting needle - which I think may be a sign after what has been a very unsuccessful crafting morning here.

It started out with so much promise. All three children were out of the house for six hours and the day stretched out before me.  I had set up my overlocker and sewing machine the day before to maximise this precious time. What happened instead were machines that ate my fabric and broke their needles.  I hadn't got around to replacing the needles from the last time the overlocker was used, so sewing has ground to a halt.

All I have to show you are the covers I made yesterday for the Hottie Project, which were actually test runs but might indeed be the ones I send by default *eyeballs overlocker and sewing machine*. I had a play with an old terry towel bathrobe and used some store-bought pom pom trim, but found the end result to be a bit thin, small and underwhelming. The hottie that's nottie. So, I added a crochet motif but it still feels a bit meh. It's the New Zealand X Factor of hottie covers.

I went looking for a string of oversized pom poms yesterday to ramp things up a notch The Voice Australia-style, but there was nothing available, so you just know I had to go and make my own. They didn't take long to make, probably half an hour. Love pom poms. They're like spots in 3D. When my husband asked if I was actually seriously for reals going to use them, I knew I was onto a winner. I shall not be responsible for your child still being awake in bed at 10pm because they are having fun playing with their hottie cover.
Give me an H! Give me an O! Give me a T-T-I-E!

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

The little things

Growing up at the foot of a mountain, hot water bottles were a regular feature in our household during the winter months. I remember with not too much fondness the rubbery texture under my feet as I jostled it around to warm up the cold spots in my bed, the sound of the water sloshing inside - and being woken in the night when my feet strayed upon the cold, dead mass at the foot of the bed. Contrast this with my children, who have not even seen a hot water bottle in their young lives.

As I sit here in the relative warmth of my home, surrounded by my creature comforts and with my girls all sleeping soundly in their cosy beds, I am grateful for all that I have and my mind is turned towards an initiative that resonates with me so much as a mother.

It is the right of every child to feel warm, to feel safe, to feel loved. With the aftermath of the Canterbury earthquakes still continuing to affect so many families, and with the knowledge that many of them face another bitterly cold winter ahead, Lisa of Big Little, together with Catalina's Cottage and Sophie Slim has started a campaign to warm the feet of the children of Christchurch and the hearts of their parents.

Called the Hottie Project, the aim is to make hot water bottle covers and supply them to those who need them. A simple gesture with so much significance to those it reaches. I am joining in using a template Lisa has kindly supplied and I will share the results of my effort with you later. For now, it just seems more important to help spread the word.  Even if you are a non-crafter, which is probably unlikely if you are reading this blog, there are ways in which you can be involved; please contact Lisa.

Let's help fill winter with a little more cheer for some of these children and show the families in Canterbury that we care.

Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Fusion blanket

Relief.  This blanket has been months in the making. I am just so glad to have finished it. Kismet may have been at play; I had just enough blue yarn to blanket stitch and crochet borders around the fabric squares and stitch them all together.

This one was my interpretation of a blanket made by And the Little Dog Laughed.  Where the profit margin is in that blanket, I'll never know. Truly, the asking price is worth it for amount of time it would have taken to make alone, let's not even mention the cost of materials.

I started making my crochet blanket using a bobble stitch. It took me nearly two weeks to get the central colours to the size they are, and because of the blanket's slow progress, I lost interest in it, and put it away. Bad mistake. When I pulled it out again, I could not remember how to make the stitch so instead of a bobble, I ended up with a flat weave on the pink and grey borders.  I didn't mind how the combination looked, so I chose to continue with it.  You can view it in its unfinished state here.

Then it was time to work on the fabric squares. Selecting the fabric was easy. I love Aneela Hoey's collections, I used her Little Apples fabric in my quilt and when her Walk in the Woods line became available, I bought some charm squares. At the time, I had no project in mind for them, but this blanket seemed the obvious choice. The colours complement the yarn and give the blanket the snuggly, wintery feel that I was looking for.

Sewing the blocks together was not difficult, just time-consuming as I handstitched the openings closed.  I guess if I had thought it through, I could have made the seam allowances bigger and then machine topstitched the openings down once I had turned the squares out the right way. You should know me by now, I like to make things harder than they need to be.

Using my wool needle, I blanket stitched around the outside of each block in 1cm increments. They probably could have been spaced further apart. Then I packed them all away and didn't touch them for over a month. I guess I was struggling with how I was going to attach them to the blanket.

Somehow, and I can't believe it happened, the number of stitches I used and the v-stitches I crocheted seemed to work out and putting them all together was actually easy in the end. It took 13 hours to crochet the fabric squares to the edge of the main blanket using a flat-braid technique.

There are fusion blanket tutorials out there, and I think if anyone is considering making one for the first time, it would be wise to refer to them, if only for the sake of your sanity - unless you are like me and unwittingly embark on projects without a pattern because you are blissfully unaware of the potential difficulties.  That's always fun, and is, I guess, by definition, crafting dangerously.

Degree of difficulty: It was pure luck that this blanket came together relatively easily. This was a true sliding doors project - if I had chosen a different stitch to attach the fabric squares, made the fabric squares smaller, or even made the main crochet blanket any size other than what it ended up being, it could have resulted in a very large headache.
Time taken: Two months
Result: You would think that because this blanket combines both yarn and fabric, two of my most favourite-est things in the world, I would be thrilled with it. However, that tired, smug-looking child (but mostly tired) in the photo above was how I felt by the end of this project.

Linking up with Show and Tell and My Creative Space this week.

Saturday, 1 June 2013

Seventh Sphere

Comments left by readers can reveal quite the treasure trove of talent, can't they? I have discovered some very talented craftspeople over these past few months, some with lovely small businesses quietly going about their lives and who I think really deserve to be taken notice of.

One of those people is Bel of Seventh Sphere. Although she did not win my latest giveaway, I clicked on her linked name in her comment (because I'm nosey) and discovered she designs and makes really gorgeous purses and bags, big and small. She is from Wollongong (loving that place name!), Australia and when I emailed her to tell her how much I loved them, we arranged to do a swap. I may have got the better deal.

She received some fabric that I have had for a few months and was looking for a way to destash, and she said, Destash is Wollongong's transliterated name, so off it went across the ditch.  Her beautiful coin purse arrived soon after, which was destined for one of my daughters, but I love it so much, I'm keeping it for myself. Now, every time I open my bag, I have a little bit of Aussie sunshine coming out of it.
Photo from Seventh Sphere Etsy shop

The purse is a great size to hold my loose change although Bel makes them in an array of sizes, including ones to fit credit cards too.

The purses are all handmade, lined, and have a secure clasp closure.  Some are made from vintage fabrics, others from contemporary new fabrics, and you can be sure there will be something there to suit everyone's tastes. Shipping is very reasonable too - $4.00 for shipping to New Zealand - that's cray-cray!

Here are some of my bag picks, but really, I had a hard time choosing.

A highland sling *snort*:
Photo from Seventh Sphere Facebook page

Or some paisley, perhaps?
Photo from Seventh Sphere Facebook page

Dude.  I know.  But don't take my word for it, go and check out her Etsy shop.

Oh, you're still here. You're probably looking for a link to her Facebook page. Now, go on, go and check her out.