Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Special delivery

Almost two weeks ago, I entered a giveaway on Fancy's blog for a set of Acme flat white cups and saucers. Given the number of entries, I didn't fancy my chances (see what I did there?), and so I forgot all about it.  I didn't even check my messages until the day after a winner had been announced, so I got a really nice surprise to find out I had won.

I really wanted a green set, but I put it to a family vote and everyone else wanted either grey or blue, so we went for an even split, which messes with my OCD to have matching sets. Maybe one day, I might just nab a couple more grey ones from Let Liv, who were the generous suppliers of the coffee cups, and then my world will feel as it should again.

The courier arrived with a very large box yesterday afternoon. Ever since, the girls had been waiting so incredibly patiently for me to give the all-clear to open it (had to wait for the right lighting to capture it all yanno), and once I said it was Time, it became a very family affair.

Everything was really, really well packaged.

But so, so worth the wait.

They're even nicer with something in them.

And on them.

Race ya to the bottom.

Thank you Alana and Natalie, our new hot chocolate cups and saucers have our seal of approval.

Monday, 22 July 2013

The next time

I was debating whether to blog about this seeing as this is a craft blog and all, but I think it rates a mention. Yesterday, Wellington, the place where I have lived longer than anywhere else, the birthplace of my children, the city that I love, was shaken twice by quite decent earthquakes.

Photo source: Fairfax Media

Living in a city that spans a fault-line capable of generating an 8M+ quake, and seeing how events have played out in Christchurch, Wellingtonians, I think, are pretty cognisant of the damage a major earthquake can unleash and if there were any complacent people left in this city, I think this has been the wake-up call that was needed.

The first quake, a 5.8M at 7.17am, was merely a nuisance, since I had been dozing quite happily in bed. The girls had been entertaining themselves quietly and hardly noticed a thing. There was no chance of my heart returning to normal resting rate after the 6.5M that rumbled through at 5.09pm.

5.09pm - the time that is scorched in my brain, as I huddled in the doorway of our lounge with my husband and our two youngest girls, feeling the join in the floor moving in two separate directions and watched as my eldest daughter ran panic-stricken from the lounge right to an area of the house that is the last place to run to in an earthquake.  You try to protect your children from ever experiencing the kind of terror that was reflected in Sienna's eyes and yet, there was nothing I could do about this except talk to her, talk, soothe her, hold her. We waited for the ground to stop shuddering beneath our bare feet, which was only 20 seconds or so, and then tried to carry on as normally as possible for the rest of the evening.

Wobbly-voiced, our children searched our faces for an assurance that there would be no more shaking. We didn't lie. We promised we would do everything in our power to protect them always. What we didn't say was that sometimes even that will not be enough.
This image chilled me.  My girls and husband were in this building just the day before
If there is anything that I learnt about yesterday, it is this - this quake has shown me that people can, and do, react differently in emergencies and not always in the ways that you'd expect. No matter how many times we drum into our children where the safest places are to take cover in a quake, there is no guarantee that they will react calmly and follow The Plan. The next time, we will be a little more prepared.

I am grateful that the quake did not cause any fatalities or serious damage to infrastructure. I am also well aware that next time - and we all know this can happen again at any time - we may not fare so well.  It is comforting to know that some of our family and friends experienced this with us.  I know that the people of Canterbury walk with us too, because when all is said and done, it is the kindness and compassion shown by others that will help get us through this the next time.

Sunday, 21 July 2013

Round cushion

Remember the deep blue velvet remnant I bought at Fabric-a-brac?  It's now a cushion. I'm full of original ideas. I did think about making a cape for Aimee since she's quite into role-playing at the moment, and I think there might be just enough left to make her one. That's for another time.

There are plenty of round velvet cushions on the internet. They're so preeetty (if you're into that kind of thing), but I often wonder about them being dust-catchers, and housework and I are mortal enemies. Guess I can just flip it over to the un-dusty side until I am forced to do something about it.

Psst, did you hear about the corduroy cushions? They're making headlines.

The cushion adds a bit of "Hello" to the couch, but I'm thinking it has found its spiritual home on the chair I painted a few months ago. That's if I can prise it out of Sienna's paws, since she has lain claim to it. I'm always happy to know that the girls like what I'm making. It's validation of an afternoon spent trying to sew the surprisingly difficult buttons onto it.

I would normally use the self-covering button kits that you can get in craft stores, but I really didn't want to have to go and buy some so I made use of what I had here. I figure you know already how to cover your own buttons, but here is a pictorial* of what I did to cover them:

* Brought to you in conjunction with one sad-looking cutting mat.

Degree of difficulty: The hardest part was attaching the buttons using a standard sewing needle rather than a longer upholstery one. As the saying goes, craft waters never run smooth (or something like that) and my achilles heel this time was that the back loop on the second button snapped from the strain. Of course, there were no other buttons in that size in my button jar so I have just tacked the button to the cover to keep it in place until I can get to the craft store to buy a replacement
Time taken: 4 hours
Result: At just under 40cm, it's a great size as a cushion for a couch or bed. If I were to make another one for the seat of my chair, I think I would make the gusset half as deep.

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Work in progress

Oh, look. It's me again. Lovely. I have to admit that this post was enforced because neither of my two previous posts were winter-related and I'm trying to sneak in one last project for Juliet's Matariki Crafting linky. Today is the final day to enter, in case you had forgotten and want to enter for the chance to win some prizes.

I tried really hard to finish this blanket. That's not to be confused with being a try-hard.  My shoulder got sore, and I had to stop, even though I wanted to continue working on it.  Does anyone else have this problem? I'd love to know what your tips are to keep sore joints at bay.

This travel blanket is very wintery.  Just look at all those snowflakes. I used a combination of acrylic and wool yarn and I am just debating whether to add a larger border around it. I think it needs it, but I also know that I need my shoulder more. What do you think?

I'm still not looking at all the tails that need to be woven in on the back.

Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Chevron art

Crikey, it's been a while since I did any paper craft, time I did something about that, non?

I do try to minimise clutter in my home and aim to keep only things that are useful or that I love. This can be a very difficult philosophy to live by when little family members want to keep what they love too, and have their own opinions, as they should.

Something that we all agree on, though, is to turn their kindy paintings into art to grace our walls. Several months ago, the girls and I made art out of Sienna's stash of kindy paintings. Yesterday, it was Renee's turn. She had piles of paintings from her two years at kindy and we could make two different pieces of art from them. One will be in the same style as Sienna's. Another smaller painting was made using large triangles so the brush strokes are much more visible and create a very cool effect.

Chevron has been quite popular for a while now, but it's not why I chose the design for this art. The zig zags just seemed to need white space between them to help make the colours look more dramatic.

The hardest thing to do was decide on what triangles I was going to use, because let's face it, there are some mighty fine three-sided polygons out there. Equilateral? Talk to me, baby. Isosceles? So fun, but even fun-ner to say. Scalene? Stop it!

Do you dig my work table? Just low enough for me to sort out the placements, but just high enough for my little helper to be less 'helpful'.

It measures 50cm x 78cm to the points of the bottom triangles. The plan is to cut off the excess cardboard at the bottom, but I am going to leave it as it is for now until we decide where to hang it.

Linking in with Leonie for Show and Tell this week.

Degree of difficulty: If you can use scissors, a ruler and double-sided tape, you can do this
Time taken: 1 day
Result: It's certainly not perfect, as anyone who looks up close at it will tell, but I walk past it and it makes me smile and Renee is very quick to tell everyone it's her art. Winning!

Monday, 8 July 2013

Show me the bunny

Here is my first ever embroidery that I was working on last week, hanging in its 22.5cm hoop:

Thanks to a helpful suggestion from stitcheranon (love the Irish, so), I opted for a satin stitch to fill in the balloon - and what a difference! I considered unthreading the long and short stitches that I filled the balloon with initially, and I am pleased that I decided to keep that stitchwork underneath as it conceals any gaps between the longer stitches.

I used a whole skein of red embroidery thread though; that's a deceptively guzzly little piece of embroidery work right there.  It was very quick to stitch, taking just 10 minutes to do.  I really like the overall effect that it gives to the balloon and it's now my favourite part to look at. And stroke occasionally.

You may recognise the illustration that I traced and enlarged on the photocopier. It's a sweet Sarah Jane drawing found in her Balloon design that's part of her Children at Play collection, which is another of my absolute favourite fabric lines.

I'm a bit of a font geek, so if anyone wants to know what it's called, it's modelled on the Sue Ellen Francisco typeface.  For the benefit of those new to embroidery, like I am, I used a split stitch for the words and a backstitch for the rabbit and balloon string.

My plan is to gift this to my sister to hang in her son's nursery to act as a kind of subliminal message to him, as in drift off to sleep, buddy. Or else. It's always a bit of a presumption that she'll like what I make. I guess, we will see, won't we?

Degree of difficulty: Easy
Time taken: 2 days - would have been much less if I hadn't unthreaded the balloon stitchwork the first time around
Result: Obviously, I need practice, especially when it comes to making nice neat, even stitches around curves but I can see how addictive this craft can be.  Uh oh.

Thursday, 4 July 2013


It's been one of those weeks where life gets in the way of crafting. I'm still tinkering away though, and wanted to show you what I have been up to over the past few days.

If you have not yet found the Matariki Crafting linky, there are still a few days left to submit your winter-theme projects for a chance to win some wonderful prizes and find some inspiration for future projects, as I did with Max's embroidered pillowcases and the stitchwork on Lisa's beautifully-made garments.

Other than the cross-stitch cushion that I made, I have never embroidered before. This was an opportunity for me to learn some more basic stitches. "It's like colouring in with thread!", announced the enthusiastic tutor on the Youtube video. Great! I am pleased to report that it is like colouring in, just in extremely s-l-o-w motion. I don't think I have the patience to do this on a large-scale project, so I am glad I chose a relatively small pattern.

Please tell me that the back of the embroidery work is meant to look like roadkill? It's paining me to see it all look so rough back there.

I was around two-thirds of the way through filling in this balloon and decided the stitches looked too uneven. So, I unthreaded it all - which took aaaages because of navigating the minefield of tangled threads on the back. Now, I am nearly back to the point where I was a day ago - hurrah!

In other crafterly news, I am also slowly whittling down my yarn pile.

I'm not looking at those tails. I'm not.

And that, my friends, is a wrap. Tune in next time when you will hear Doctor Bob say: "I'm feeling a bit ruff".

Tuesday, 2 July 2013


I came across MissMollyCoddle and her fabulous designs a little too late for my children to benefit from Sarah's handmade loveliness, but that still did not stop me from entering her latest Facebook giveaway to win a $25 voucher for her store and...I won.

It was a fairly easy decision on how to spend it as I had spied these baby shoes on her blog recently and they seemed the perfect choice for my new nephew. I'm going to get my cool aunty badge after this *shines halo*.

They are lined in flannelette with corduroy soles, so should be quite soft and snuggly on his little feet. Isn't the fabric just so sweet? Sarah has an extensive range of baby shoes with a mixture of new and vintage prints; these are among my favourites for a little guy.

Did you notice the packaging? Here's a better view:

Too cute.

Sarah makes some really gorgeous, high quality garments for babies and young children, and if you are into the vintage vibe, you won't be disappointed. I've been an admirer of MissMollyCoddle's beautiful coats made from upcycled woollen blankets for a little while, and I love the embroidered linen details in some of her other items.
Photo from MissMollycoddle
Here are a couple more of my favourites:

Are you blinded by the sheer beauty of everything? Not yet?  To see more MissMollyCoddle goodness, Sarah sells her items through her Felt shop and on Trademe, or if you are in Wellington, are now proud stockists of her baby shoes so you can view them up close in their store.

Sarah profiles other creative talent in a new weekly series on her blog.  "A Cuppa With" is one of my favourite reads at the moment so pop on over and have a read for yourself.

I have showcased a couple of small businesses now; in case anyone was wondering, this is just something that I chose to do. None of the businesses have approached me or paid me to write about them and I will only ever profile the things that I personally love and would be proud for my children to wear or to have in my home.