Thursday, February 25, 2010

My creative space... apron therapy

Happy Thursday, Creative Spacers!

Well, between a lovely 'holidayette' with my family and then a very unlovely rotavirus chaser that hit the whole clan simultaneously, I haven't blogged or read emails since last Thursday. Thanks for all the shoe love - I bought those quirky shoes about 4 years ago at a small local shoe shop and for those interested I can just make out the brand as 'neo', if that means anything to anyone (I'm not a shoe afficionado). They're wonderfully comfortable, and I hope to keep them in good nick for years to come, in line with my ethical clothing pledge.

Anyway, let's move onto the craft. No shoes to see here this week... but there are aprons aplenty!

Poser! The dress is 100% polyester tartan - DElightful - bought for a tenner at my favourite shop Green Collective.

The first one above is a lovely soft apron with deep pockets made from a thrifted pillowcase and deocrated with lots of ric-rac. It's gone to its new owner, who is a hard-working home-based mama. Hopefully this will help brighten up some of the tough days.

The second one I made for another hard-working mama, who spends much of the day creating with her three little girls. I figured a cover-all pinnie would be the ticket, so I traced around my own favourite apron. The recipient is expecting her fourth bub later in the year so it's also a good choice for expanding bellies.

The part I love most about sewing for friends is adding my tag. I don't sell stuff, nor do I plan to, but when I started the blog my Beloved thought it would be fun for me to have my own label. It is! To all you other 'amateurs', I highly recommend it.

And one more apron for me - a peg-pocket apron.

OK, this is a total cheater. It's a pre-made garden apron, and I have sewn a fantastic vintage placemat over the top as a deep pocket. Both items were found for $1 at the local charity shop, where I often browse the bedding section for interesting bits and pieces to sew with. The best bit - both the apron and the placemat came in sets of four, so I have three more I can make. I plan to do a bit of embroidery on the empty space first, I think it needs some (I'm sure our hostess Kirsty will approve).  Then I think I'll give them away to, well, who knows?! Maybe YOU.

What's happening at your place? I will be over to visit this week, ohhhhh yes!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

My creative space... embracing the green

Time for a quilting update in my creative space today. The greener-than-green quilt from a few weeks ago is regressing nicely. Yes, that's a seam-ripper... and yes, that's me sticking my feet up defiantly on the pile of green blocks, meaning that I will have to press them YET AGAIN but, given that I have to remeasure and re-sash them anyway, why not?

There are about half a dozen other quilting ideas sitting around in my head, and I'm just itching to begin one. I keep pulling out scraps and lengths of fabric, doodling on paper, browsing the web for ideas... but I have decided that I must. not. start. any other machine-sewn quilt until I have followed through on this one.

So I'm trying to embrace the green. Truth be told, I've always maintained that green is my favourite colour. How that can be true when I rarely wear it and don't surround myself with it, I don't know, but it is. Green is so... err... verdant, I guess!

A bonus from all the unpickery that's going on is that one little not-square-enough square was set free from quilting doom and transformed into a pocket on a new pinny I made for myself:

Rachel, you may recognise this fruity material as one of the thrifted tablecloths you so sweetly sent me last year! It's gorgeous, soft and already liberally spattered, like a good apron should be. And just green enough.

More spaces here.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Dressing my kids up like freaks is AWESOME!!!!!

Karen from Urban Craft is one hip craftster. She likes to poke her tongue out at lots of things and make funny felty craft while she's at it. She's also totally on top of kiddy programming trends. And she's generous. She sent these shirts over for the boys.

What, you don't know who these creatures are? Muno and Brobee from Yo Gabba Gabba! It's retro, it's disco, it's education-via-beatboxing. Have you been hiding under a ROCK people?! Or just watching highbrow kiddy television like, um, err, that one with the books and real people in it?


Suffice to say that these t shirts have gone down an absolute treat. The 3-year-old, whose preference right now is for nudity at all times, demanded to wear his as soon as the parcel was opened, and has barely taken it off since. The 1-year-old said 'car', which in his special dialect denotes approval.

Karen, you're so hot right now in the clutterpunk household. You've almost made my children feel like normal toddlers, a feeling they are mostly robbed of whilst I parade them around the inner city in our Christiania bike. Thanks for bringing a sense of normalcy (even if it is flourescent, 70s, alien-creature normalcy) to my little brood.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

True love at last

Roses are red
Violets are blue
Mundial Serra Sharp™
I love you

Sure, you can be steely
And cutting, and cold
But you’re straight to the point
On a quadruple fold

No fraying or straying
Will you entertain
And you handle my curves
Like a true gentleman

I thought you were merely
A glorified knife
And I doubted your claim
To stay with me for life

But you’ve cut through my bias
I now see perfection
In your fully-forged blades
(or is that my reflection?)

Tell my other shears
I’m all done…
Mundial Serra Sharp™
You’re THE ONE!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

My creative space...

Move along folks. Nothing to see here...
Only 14 hours until my Beloved is home after almost 2 weeks. So close to the end... and I've completely run out of steam. I think I peaked too early; all things domestic, child-rearing and creative have fallen in a heap.

Was this ever MY bedroom? I don't remember...

The WIP corner of the living room is out of control...

Yesterday's dishes - well actually, the day before's...

The only thing going strong in this house is the Life Support Machine (aka the Atomic)

Single parents,
Military wives,
Corporate widows...
I salute you.
Not much creativity or space at my house today, but I'd love to see yours. Drop over to Kirsty's house(s!) to play along with creative spaces today.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

And now for something completely NOT local, seasonal, ethical, sustainable, fairtrade, frugal or healthy...

...but dang it was tasty!


Let's see if I can come up with something similarly appealing for my younger boy's birthday in September, but this time without completely dashing my conscience against the rocks.

Mmmm. Cake.

Monday, February 8, 2010

decluttering the grocery shopping, 2010 - sorting out priorities

A few weeks ago I declared my decluttered crafting intentions for 2010. In the spirit of setting realistic goals and paring down my personal expectations, I have also been thinking about choosing just one area of my family's living to focus on moving in a better direction. I figure that if the inhabitants of chez clutterpunk work on living more simply, ethically and sustainably in one area, we might actually make some progress.

I've decided on aiming to declutter the grocery shopping. Because shopping and eating involve all of us, happen regularly, take up lots of time and energy, and bring together a whole clash of issues. What's more, my family needs to tighten our collective belt somewhat as the Beloved leaves full-time work to pursue further study (sigh).

This idea was planted after reading Angie's posts about working on reduction of food waste with her family, in which she included the following startling facts:

  • food production now accounts for nearly a fifth of global greenhouse emissions and requires almost three-quarters of the world's fresh water supply 

  • today three quarters of the world food sales are processed items (adding to the resource used) 

  • half a person's eco-footprint is food related

But I wasn't quite sure where to start, and it was only after reading Meagan's recent grocery musings that I started to sort through my priorities.

See, for my family, there are a number of (sometimes competing) priorities when it comes to grocery shopping (as you can see on the scary-looking flow chart up there in the picture! Yes, I'm a flow-chart nerd). Below are the six areas I've identified as ones that impact on my family's food-buying habits. I've listed the priorities that we'd ideally like to work with under each category.

Health - make a variety of simple and nutritious family meals for everyone to eat (including the fussy toddler), avoid overly-processed foods

Family - establish a predictable mealtime ritual, enjoy meals together, get more organised in order to spend less time cooking and shopping and more time with each other

Ethics - buy fairtrade coffee and chocolate, free-range poultry and eggs, and boycott brands and chains who are ethically irresponsible (eg Nestle), avoid the dominant supermarkets

Sustainability - buy local, buy seasonal, avoid excess packaging, eat less meat, avoid FOOD WASTE

Finances - plan for shops, buy some things in bulk, avoid luxury items, avoid unplanned take-away food

Community - get to know my local butcher and green grocer and support their businesses, share meals with neighbours and friends without needing to be a gourmet

Currently, I'm in the process of working out how these things fit together and deciding which ones should weigh in more. I've come to realise that there are a few actions I/we can take that can help to achieve lots of the positive goals. But I also realise that some goals are going to be compromised by others. I'll share more of these thoughts at a later stage.

I'd be really fascinated to know what your priorities are when it comes to grocery shopping and how you sort it out. Is it all about health, or frugality, or perhaps sustainability? Is it a mixture? Do you have any bright ideas?

Thursday, February 4, 2010

My creative space... mending and mulling

It's been a very creatively-satisfying week at chez clutterpunk, and yet really all I have to show for it is this:

Due to my current solo-parenting situation (and the small matter of an editing deadline next Monday), I decided to put aside aside both the machine and hand quilting, and do some mending. And while mending, I've been staring at this bit of linen, which belongs to a blank tea towel... one of 15 I've picked up from Sooz, washed, and i-r-o-n-e-d (man I find that stuff hard to iron!) in the last few days. And now I'm awaiting a flash of inspiration so that I can get going on my tea towel swap contribution. I'd love to say that the possibilities are endless, but actually, they are quite finite from where I stand. Hmmm. The mulling continues...

But dang, has the mending been satisfying! I've taken up a pair of woolen suit trousers for a male friend, fixed a bunch of rips and broken straps for my sister, and managed to make my favourite (and sadly torn) night dress less avert your eyes! and more appropriate for emergency midnight door answering (although I'm sure the Beloved will be a bit disappointed when he returns... )

Sorry to bang on about the mending, but I'm still getting over the fact that I have a USEFUL SKILL. And one that I like exercising. And one that friends and family actually seek me out to exercise! I'm not someone who grew up darning socks with my grandma or making dolly clothes with my mother. We just weren't that kind of family. It's ALL new to me, and as much as I love the creative and artistic aspects of sewing, I am as thrilled at the functionality of it all. The recent hand quilting workshop I took part in reminded me of the pleasure that can come from stitching slowly and enjoying the process, so I think that's refreshed my enthusiasm for mundane sewing.

Meanwhile, back in reality, it's time to start the nightly bath-dinner-bed-bed-back-to-bed-STAY_IN_BED-proofreading routine! And I hope after that there is still time to visit today's creative spaces. It's always a highlight.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

While the man of the house is away...

The Beloved, who this year is entering the Land of Full Time PhD Study (let us never speak of it again!), has abandoned* us for almost two weeks. In order to stay sane, I have bribed my good friend, upstairs-neighbour and refashion-recipient Sonia to do a little babysitting. I'll be paying her back handsomely, but I sweetened the deal by making this little obi-belty-cummerbundy thingamy... before I asked her to drop down at 7am so I could get out for a run!

This all fits in with my playing-around in order to find a good gift to make for friends this year. I'll do a few different things next time - perhaps leave out the padding, widen it a little for those of us with slightly more generous waistlines, and play around with the gathers. But mostly, I'm happy, and so is she. Apart from the babysitting bit.
*gone far away to locum and earn some money in order to support our family. That's the definition of abandonment, isn't it?!

Monday, February 1, 2010

Japanese kaleidoscope quilting... the slow burn.

The class was wonderful.

This is what I completed on the day...

One square of Japanese kaleidoscope patchwork quilt. It is a finished unit in itself, but may be incorporated into a quilt/runner/hanging of any size you choose. When pieced together, the units form wonderful sashiko circles:

My sashiko stitches, supposed to resemble floating grains of rice, are quite askance - not nearly so beautifully-even as Lara's effort early last year - but the eveness in spacing and line will come with practise.

This square is a product of a number of processes, all achieved by hand: the creation of a hemmed circle of fabric; the sashiko stitching which both bastes and decorates the circumference; the enfolding of a square of fabric and batting evenly within the circle.

Our talented teacher, textile artist and quilter Jan Preston, led us quite slowly and gently through each process. I suspect she was trying to instill in us a sense of the mindfulness and calm that such a method requires (and, hopefully, nurtures).

And this is precisely why I chose to take this particular quilting class.

So I'm putting it out there. I am going to embrace this quilting method and make a wall hanging. I can already think of lots of possibilities for using this method in different ways and for different projects, but first I'm going to be disciplined, and go slow, and learn to breath and concentrate and be patient.

 Don't expect to see a finished product until late in the year. (I'm writing that for ME more than you!) Other instant-gratification projects will come and go... but kaleidoscope-quilt is here for the long term.