Monday, June 29, 2009

Just a minute... in June

I'm joining with Jenaveve's 'Just a minute' meme for the first time this month... here's my June in a nutshell.
Making... progress with the three projects on my new, much-reduced To-Do list. Hurrah, my craftstipation is passing (pun fully intended) thanks to lots of great advice.

Watching... Masterchef. I think Chris is gunning for victory.

Meeting... many fabulous creative types online and even IN THE FLESH at this amazing Bloggers' Morning Tea.

This library book:

This soul food:

This primer:

This fabulous magazine:

Listening... to my two-year-old playing with his bear: 'NO! Don't do that Bear - sit on the naughty chair!' Gulp...

Drinking... too much wonderful coffee from Toby's Estate and planning a special geeky purchase for my Beloved's significant birthday in November:

(image from here)
What have you been up to in June?

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Your top tips for curing craftstipation...

Image from mochimochiland

Golly gosh. There were lots of responses to my last post. Clearly we are all afflicted with craftstipation at one time or another. Thank you, I found the empathy and advice most helpful.

I thought I should collate the wisdom that was imparted in the comments and feed it back to you all. So, here's what you had to say!!

Warning: longish post. Have moved from craftstipation to bloggarrhoea it seems!

Top tips for curing craftstipation:

1. Write some lists!
It's all about the lists, baby. This seems obvious, but actually I needed the reminder that getting things out of the head and down on paper can stop those overwhelming feelings of fear and directionlessness as I approach the craft zone, or the concern that if I don't start something new NOW I'll forget it (thanks to Curlypops, and Nikki the resident schoolmarm!). Of course, writing one big long jumbled of every creative urge and project is not helpful, so I've also taken on board the suggestion to categorize. I've now separated out my various creative lists into these categories:

*'TO DO' LIST: for the things I have promised and/or should be done to a deadline.

*'ON HOLD' LIST: for things that have been started but are not essential to finish or can wait a while (thanks Dillpickle). Some of these may move up onto the 'TO DO' LIST, or they may end up being chucked (if I can be ruthless like Mim!).

*The 'PRACTICAL CRAFT' LIST: for the mending, home-decorating or home-improvement creative projects. And for me, Wardrobe Refashioning goes here.

*The 'INSPIRATION/DREAMING' LIST: for the zillion things I find in my blog/book travels and would like to try one day (but not right now).

2. Limit your main projects list.
A really long list is not very motivating. Some very helpful advice came from Cherie of willywagtail who suggested a 'mini list' of just THREE projects, which you put in order and give yourself 'all the time in the world' to do. I think this is great advice. For me, the 'perceived pressure' (rather than actual pressure) can cause me to stall. I've combined this with Ellie of petalplum's suggestion to put time frames on things.

So now, my 'TO DO' LIST has just three items on it, all broken down into a few small steps so that I know what I'm up to and can even just do a little bit next time I make the time to craft. This already feels a lot better, and I'm looking forward to getting out my sewing machine tonight, as I know what I will be doing.

Oh, and I may well join in with 'Target Tuesday' over at Woolywotnots. For the accountability.

3. Don't promise things to people.

I'm a bit of a compulsive giver, and now a compulsive maker-for-others. Sounds like a few of us are in the same boat - turning our passion into obligation, promising things to friends and family then feeling like we can't deliver!

Leonie of Raglan Guld is onto a good thing I think with her advice - just stop promising things to people. Ellie suggested the same. This doesn't mean stop making anything for others - that's what I DO! - but keeping it a surprise takes away obligation and means there is an 'out'. So I'm going to try really hard to stop piping up with the phrase 'oh, I could make you one of those' or 'hey, I'm making you a little something'.

4. Do something creative for yourself.

This must be especially difficult for those who craft for business as well as pleasure I imagine. But I'm guilty of it, as Jenaveve of August Street identified! I'm going to take on board the suggestion from Bek of Red Chocolate and alternate between my lists. Now that I've separated things out a bit, I think I might be able to do that, and have a play around with some things on my INSPIRATION LIST without feeling like I've lost my way with my TO DO LIST.

There was a great post I read a while ago (was it from you, Jenaveve?) which described crafting without judging. Giving myself permission to potter with new materials and techniques without it having to become a new full-blown 'project' might help fulfil some of those creative urges and stop the stagnation.

5. Remember it's cyclical!

This reminder from M* was helpful. We're going to fluctuate and have down times. And as Linda at two pink possums said, you can't force the mojo! Be kind to myself. Eat chocolate (strong theme there people!). Browse blogland for inspiration and encouragement.

Despite my feelings of frustration, I have actually found this craft hiatus a very good time for some of the bigger-picture decluttering/creative recluttering that I'm trying to do. The fruits of which will appear in blog posts in the near future... yep, I think bloggarrhoea might be setting in for good!

Thanks everyone. It's been helpful for me... hope it's helpful for you too.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

What's your craftstipation cure?

I need some advice from you veteran creative types out there.

Do you ever get all chocked up with projects that don't want to budge? I believe the technical term for this predicament is called craftstipation. Are you a sufferer? What brings it on? What helps you to get things moving again?

I've been getting a little 'stuck' on pretty much everything I'm trying to do craft-wise at the moment. I could blame lots of things but I know what the real problem is. I've loaded myself with too many projects, set the bar too high, and now I'm procrastinating because I feel overwhelmed. Even though this is a hobby and a passion, sometimes I turn it into an obligation in my own head.

Some of the projects in my 'have started, must finish' basket include:
- The scarf that I promised in my recent giveaway (sorry dillpickle!)
- Five softies
- Woodland cap for a friend's babe
- A felted jumper-vest creation for a friend
- A denim skirt modification for a friend
- Felted wrist warmers

Unfortunately for me, procrastination involves FURTHER CRAFTING. So now not only do I have a list of things that I've started and really ought to finish, I also have an ever-growing list of ridiculous projects that I feel I must try or I will never be a complete person. These include:

- Resin-casting some old doilies
- Making a bean-bag out of old jeans
- Making a run of fabric brooches. Yes, that's right, a run, couldn't possibly just make ONE.
- More 'fashion aprons'
- Printing on fabric (with lino-cuts, stencils, and potatoes)
- Quilt from vintage sheeting

This is totally the tip of the iceberg and doesn't include my pile of mending, my wardrobe refashion ideas or my desire to make some clothing for me and the boys from scratch.

Help! Any tips on how to keep regular?

Thursday, June 25, 2009

My creative space...

Playing around with my new stamp made by Jemma of Amityville Boronia which arrived in yesterday's post. It's perfect, just what I wanted in terms of boldness and chunk. The font I gave Jemma to work with is called 'Mom's Typewriter' - love it. Nothing like a bit of therapeutic stamping to take the edge off what I can only describe as my 'crafting constipation'.
Thanks Jemma!
More creative spaces at kootoyoo...

Monday, June 22, 2009

A new obsession is LOOMING...


Today the parcel delivery guy came a-knockin', and he handed me a wonderful surprise package from Liesl of Hoppo Bumpo, containing the contraptions you see above - knitting looms!

Liesl recently 'commissioned' a Swiney for the virologist in her life, and has very generously bestowed me with this loom set in return, following my fawning admiration of her loom-inous scarf.

As someone who seems to be allergic to knitting needles, I'm thrilled by this acquisition!! Thanks Liesl! I spent a good deal of this afternoon checking out some loom knitting on YouTube.

Another little family member was also quite excited by the new gadgets, which quickly became instruments of entrapment and torture:

I did however manage to wrestle the looms away from Wilski, rescue poor 'Robert' the figurine from his predicament, and do myself some soothing practise-looming in front of Masterchef this evening.
Bliss. Just the ticket for a sewing-weary soul.
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Sunday, June 21, 2009

I put the man into Mannequin!

Meet Mrs Doubtfire. She's my new sewing stunt-double. She's here to help me along on the dangerous road to becoming a Refashionista. I'm hoping her presence will help me to actually accomplish a few things in the dress-making department.
Over the last week, I've avoided the sewing machine. I think I'm experiencing a bit of craft-depression. A combination of too many UFOs piling up, too many new ideas and directions catching my eye, a sense that I lack real purpose or direction, frustration at my amateur abilities.
Oh, and the 5-ish hours of broken sleep a night aren't helping.
But I wanted to finish the weekend having accomplished something creative, or at least precursory to creativity.
Enter the DIY dressmaker's dummy. I have a pile of garments that need a bit of tweaking if they're going to be wearable in the near future, and I feel that a mannequin to hang them on will make playing around with reshaping and fitting so much easier. But I don't have the bucks to fork over for one of the adjustable mannequins, plus I'm really trying to be a DIYing, upcycling, clutter-punker!! So I checked out the tutorial on Threadbanger (thanks Kylekin3!) and decided to go for it (with modified materials).
And now for the public shaming: Mannequin progress shots...

Donned an oversized old t-shirt. Asked the Beloved (in breathy voice) to wrap me in packing-tape. He was less interested when he realised it was a craft-related project, but by then he was committed.

Why yes, I do feel highly attractive, thanks for asking. And no, I don't know where my waist went, either, but if you see it, tell it to come home...

Stuffed Mrs Doubtfire (and all her devastatingly exposed lumps and bumps) with fabric scraps and an old pillow, trying to replicate my own figure and resisting the urge to just pinch the waist in a few inches, or flatten out those abs...

We made the mount out of a coat hanger and an old extendable duster handle, and inserted it into the base of a freestanding fan.

Decided to preserve Mrs D's modesty somewhat with a singlet. Oh, and her waist needed cinching in a bit, hence the belt.

I do hope Mrs D will be helpful in my refashioning endeavours, and get me over some of those procrastination hurdles. Meanwhile, she makes a fine coat stand. Personally, I'm just chuffed to have put my money where my mouth is, and made something new and useful out of some of the junk already cluttering up my home.

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Thursday, June 18, 2009

My creative space...

This picture was taken far too early this morning - we arise well before light in this house, thanks to an overactive toddler. I was surreptitiously doing some mental crafting with these fabrics whilst building walls with Wilski-bear. He's a little precocious for a 2-year-old, but sadly can't read, or he may have taken the not-so-subtle hint I left him and put the kettle on!!

The check-themed fabrics - thrifted blanket, thrifted, felted jumper and scrap-bin find - are destined to become a 'woodland cap' for a newborn baby, and a new softie of some description, for a friend.

Speaking of softies, I'm delighted to finally show you the results of my creative space endeavours of a few weeks ago:

A happy combination of felted jumper, eco-fi, old pillowcases and stash fabrics resulted in these creations (all based on items from the book More Softies). My first ever softies, they were destined for my Pay-It-Forward recipients, and I'm happy to report that each has now found its new home.

1. Vernon the Robot Bear left his brother Bertrand behind (with my Beloved, who wouldn't part with him!!) and was dropped in to the lovely Mim at Olive Grove Studios yesterday;

2. Polly travelled over the waters to Lauren and her little owlets who promptly made her feel at home;

3. Elsie the lumpy, lopsided, loveable pup has settled in nicely with Tricia and Little Eco in her new digs up north.

Anyway, I'm off to check out some more creative spaces via kootoyoo... wanna come?

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Wednesday, June 17, 2009


As promised, today I'm drawing my Wintry Giveaway winners.
Not from the cup above, obviously. Otherwise the winners would all be... um... ME. Rather, I employed trusty to pick the winners from the 25 entries. Thanks each of you for your entries - I loved reading your evocative descriptions of what you enjoy about winter. They made me feel so cosy on the inside!
So, without further ado:
The scarf goes to no2, dillpickle. I happen to know ms. dillpickle in 'real life' and only recently she was complaining to me that she never wins anything. Well, there you go, ms. dillpickle. Quit yer belly-achin'. And get a move on with starting your own blog, I say!

The first Swiney goes to no8, Tania (of Myrtle & Eunice fame). Tania, I wonder what might befall a certain store if you pin a Swiney to your newest creation. The mind boggles!

The second Swiney winner is no1, Curlypops. How lucky is this woman? She had a spate of winnings back about a month ago and I thought, there's no way she'll win anything here, she's posted no1 (which statistically is no less likely to win than any other number, of course, but it just feels less likely.) But there you go... randomness prevailed.
Winners, I'll be in touch via email in order to get your postal details and send out your wintry prizes!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Craft Crush!!!!!!

So I went to the Brunswick Sisters' Market on Saturday, and came home starry-eyed. There were so many beautiful creations to ogle and lovely people to talk to. I wish I could have brought home one of EVERYTHING, but I practised restraint and only bought a few, ahem, essentials.*.

There were two major highlights for me.

The first was meeting dear, dear Fi, of (you guessed it) Dear Fii! She wasn't holding a stall, just loitering about, but she was instantly recognisable due to her funky glasses, gorgeous entourage of kidlets, and the dead giveaway Burrito in her hand!! We had a nice chat about her recent ascent to crafty stardom, and I tried not to sound too stalker-ish as I gushed over her colourful creations.

And then it happened. She just turned to me... and GAVE ME A BURRITO PATTERN. For NOTHING. Just because! How nice is THAT? Here's a person, trying to make a bit of a living out of her creativity, but she just couldn't help but be generous and share the love. I was quite thrilled and embarrassed and humbled all at once.

Thank you so much Fi. You're a delight and I'll so enjoy making lots of Burritos to add to my growing softie collection. I'll put photos up when I do, I promise!

The second major highlight was meeting Mel from Pieces of You.

Have you seen this gal's work? You really must. I really love and admire her handiwork, but also the approach behind it. I'm very new to sewing in general, and the concept of dressmaking and refashioning in particular, but one day I aspire to be able to take the bold, intuitive and artistic approach that Mel does to her garment-making. Here's what she says about her approach:

I like to work in an intuitive and exploratory way and to be surprised by the outcome... I like to create wearable pieces which can be worn differently by different body types. I take great pleasure in the simple acts of combining different shapes, colours and textures; of cutting and joining.

I own several of Mel's 'artworks' as I like to think of them, and I find them to be lovely, flattering, quality pieces of clothing. I also love the fact that she works with reclaimed fabrics, and respects the diversity of the female form. Please, go and check out her blog, and visit her at one of the markets she frequents. It will be worth it!

*That's right my beloved, essentials. What's not essential about a doughnut softie?

Thursday, June 11, 2009

My creative space...

Sitting outside next to Hudson our Christiania bike, waiting for the little Pudding to wake from his nap, looking at this pattern and wondering where on earth to start. In line with my Wardrobe Refashion pledge, and inspired by the efforts of Jenaveve of August Street and Bek of Red Chocolate, I'm going to make me a skirt from scratch. Using a pattern, even. Well, we'll see how far I get with that...

Other creative spaces via kootoyoo.

PS if you're interested in winning yourself a little something, pop down here and enter my no-strings-attached, just-for-the-heck-of-it Wintry Giveaway. There's a scarf and two Swineys up for grabs...

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Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Wintry Giveaway!

I love winter. And I'm thrilled that it's raining. That car park out the back of our flat really needs watering!! Wilski the toddler is eyeing off the car park puddles with ever-increasing glee. I'm sensing a water-logged outing some time this afternoon... if I can be bothered getting us all out of our pyjamas, that is.
Anyway... I'd like to have a giveaway, for no reason really so let's just say it's to celebrate the lovely and very-much-needed rain falling in Melbourne today.
First 'prize' is a scarf. It's made from wool fabric with some appliqued red Aunty Cookie Knit One fabric detail. It's not yet finished but it will look much like the scarf above with red detail - the bottom two pictures show you the kind of length and width.
Second and third prize are Swineys. Because you might as well get the Swine 'Flu Virus along with the rest of Victoria! Check out my previous posts if you wish to see what these little pieces of winter whimsy are...
So, if you're up for a toasty scarf or a Swiney, please comment below and tell me what you love (or not) about winter. I'll pick winners at random on June 17 in one week's time. You don't have to be a follower or anything but make sure I can contact you via a blog or email.
NB despite the wintry theme, this is open to international readers. If indeed they exist!! :-P

Thursday, June 4, 2009

My creative space...

Each week I'm enjoying participating in kootoyoo's Creative Spaces. There are some truly beautiful spaces and creations happening around the place, and I enjoy checking out Kirsty's favourite space each week too.

As for mine... well, it's all a bit ugly really. As per my last post, I'm currently occupied with making more Swineys for my beloved's work colleagues. So the above bits and bobs are waiting to become this little swine 'flu softie:

Thank you for the kind comments about Swiney and the suggestion that I sell him (?!!) - but I think the Swiney craze would be very short-lived, and let's face it, he's on the ugly side! And he's a little fiddly to make, even if it's all good therapeutic crafting. So I'm just doing a small run and giving them to medical and micro nerds...

If you desperately want one for the medical nerd in your life, I'll make a little tutorial and stick it up. It would be a good project for anyone who is quarantined!!
PS no hearts in my space so don't go mad for looking :-)

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Monday, June 1, 2009

Swine 'Flu Softie Anyone?

This is possibly the height of geekery...

Made me a nice little swine 'flu virus mini-softie last night. I wanted something to hand-sew whilst watching the TV with my Beloved. As a doctor working in the field of infectious diseases, he's up to his eyeballs in all things swine 'flu, so he pulled up this cross-section virus diagram and asked me to replicate it:

What with the swine 'flu cases in Melbourne ramping up, things are busier at work and hubby figured a bit of humour wouldn't go astray. He loves it because it's virologically accurate, from the cute green neuraminidases and swanky red haemagglutinin right down to the 8 strands of RNA in the middle.

The Beloved wore 'Swiney' pinned to his shirt today, and apparently now the orders are flooding in from his nerdy colleagues. Who knows, this could be my portal to fame and fortune. Or not...