Thursday, December 17, 2009

2009 retrospective: blog posts that have made me think.

image here

I have a few more posts in me before I sign off for a couple of weeks over the Christmas-New Year period. There hasn't been much crafty show-and-tell on this here blog recently, but that's ok. The things I have been making, I can't really show you until after the birthday, Christmas and wedding celebrations have passed!

Meanwhile, it's been on my mind a while to mention some of the blog posts which I've found the most striking this past year. The majority of blogs I read fall firmly into the craft/art category. I love to see the creative things people are getting up to, gather inspiration, celebrate achievements, admire techniques or drool over fabrics and notions. But I also love to read a blog post with a bit of meat now and then; a discussion, a reflection, an out-there opinion or personal confession. Such posts often inspire or challenge me in some way, and more than once I've been moved to act or change something.

Here are a few of the posts I've found most thought-provoking in 2009:

M*: 21st century dad
Melanie's wise reflections on being the breadwinner and having a stay-at-home husband gave me great insights into something completely beyond my experience... and reminded me that communication is EVERYTHING.

Raglan Guld: About me
Leonie's honesty in this post (delivered in her usual casual, off-the-cuff humourous style) started a few back and forth emails between us about various issues including PND and alcohol addiction. It was a bit of a wake-up call for me and our conversations prompted me to cut my alcohol consumption to almost zero, which has been a good thing for me and my family. 

Thornberry: Market groupie
Lara's post about craft markets, quality, and why people do or don't make to sell, was a timely one. The post and some of the replies helped me to clarify a few of my own thoughts on the matter... bottom line is, I won't be leaping in to sell craft any time soon!

Consumption Rebellion: What is 'joyful consumption'?
OK, so most of Eilleen's post present food for thought or a challenge of some type. And this is actually a post from 2008 but I read it after starting my blog. It prompted some soul-searching and made me think about how I could challenge my own consumption habits by thinking about what I could gain rather than what I was giving up. My decision to take the Wardrobe Refashion pledge is an example of something that came out of this soul searching...

Foxs Lane: My nest
Kate's candid thoughts about her head-vs-heart struggle in deciding not to have more babies, and the challenges it was presenting to her identity beyond 'mothering', were insightful and challenging for me, particularly as one who does not yet feel that my family is 'complete' (but wonders how I'll ever make that decision, if it's mine to make!)

Are there particular posts that have got you thinking this year? Do share!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

My creative space...

I'm still not so much for the words or the creating myself at the moment... instead, I'm enjoying that my space is filled with the creativity and generosity of others.

Kate's gorgeous, even-better-in-real-life crochet christmas potholders. I won them, and they make me so happy. They're never going near a pot though. Nor is the handmade brown and blue potstand which my friend Beck found for me in Wanaka, New Zealand. I think I'm going to dedicate a hanging space in my kitchen for handmade kitchenalia... I could look at these all day!

A copy of Stitch bought for me by my creative friend Jo, a lovely for-no-apparent-reason gift with lots of interesting and funky projects. I'm diving right in after I've finished that sandwich...

And the JOY Christmas card... it's one of Lisa Stubb's prints. The orange, the typography, the bird, the sentiment: it was love at first sight for me. I'm framing this one to go up somewhere in the house. Because even when the joy isn't flowing easily, it's there for the finding...

More creative spaces at Kirsty's (new) house, which is looking mighty fine. And thanks Kirsty for the space-sharing in 2009... you're ace.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Welcome to Slumpsville...

Population: me.

I've been in a bit of a slump lately. A domestic slump, a parenting slump, a creative slump. (Slump is such a funny word when you write it over and over... slump slump slump!)

Oh yeah. Slumpsville. I'm sure you know it well, my friends.

In Slumpsville, the floors remain unswept for days on end, the kids eat toast for dinner, the television is a constant companion and the 'floordrobe' in the bedroom takes on a life of its own.

In Slumpsville, the view is all mountainous molehills and forests obscured by trees. I always forget to pack my rose-tinted glasses when I go to Slumpsville.

In Slumpsville, even the craft is surly and frayed around the edges...

But that's ok.

Slumpsville is a stop-over, not a destination.

I'm just passing through.

Saturday, November 28, 2009


I've been migraine-plagued and a bit blue these last few days, but nonetheless I pressed on with making the 24 little linen-and-pillowcase bags for my advent bunting.

Handsewing each one closed was quite soothing. I'm growing to love hand-stitching.

I've left them unnumbered. Perhaps I'll stitch or stamp some numbers on next December -  If I haven't decided to use the sweet little bags for something else by then.

I've also patched together the left-over pillowcase material onto some calico.  It was sitting there looking lonely and unloved. I'm not sure what this log-cabin-esque piece is destined for, but the process was very satisfying, sewing down one scrap after another onto the calico without thinking too much. All of the material is so soft and worn, I felt like laying my own head down and having a sleep...

And now, I'm going to disappear back into the headache haze, lying on the couch grateful for the
soothing sound of heavy rain, and silence from the boys' bedroom...

Thursday, November 26, 2009

My creative space...

I always enjoy a bit of a sticky-beak into the creative spaces around the place on a Thursday. Thanks Kirsty for your lovely meme!

 My space today has all gone a bit advent.

Unlike last year, I've been saved by the newly-adopted 'Kris Kringle' approach to Christmas giving and thus am only making gifts for two family members, rather than, um, 12. But when my in-laws gave my family this gorgeous nativity scene on the weekend, I realised that the advent season is almost upon us, and having not had an advent calendar in all my adult life, I've decided to get cracking and make one.

The hardest thing was deciding what to do. There are so many ideas out there! I spent a while trawling through all the links I've seen recently (especially via whipup). After a while I realised that I kept being drawn to three different elements in different calendars: natural/muted colours; anything with linen; and bunting/garland-style calendars.

Once I figured that out, I pulled everything out of my craft cupboards that matched that description and got started. Actually, I'm still in the process of making up my mind what to do, but here's where I'm at so far.

I've stitched 24 old buttons 4 inches appart on a length of twill tape, and stuck it up along our bookselves:

Now I'm in the process of making 24 little bags to hang up. I'm using a cotton/linen blend for the outer and lining them with strips from old pillowcases that have seen better days.

I considered attaching loops but actually I think these cute pegs and a bit of kitchen twine do the trick very nicely:

Hmm, 3 down and 21 to go! I haven't decided whether to stitch/stencil/stick numbers on them, or just leave them plain.

I've made the little pockets to be able to hold all manner of things - treats, decorations, activities - and in years to come they shall do. This year, however, our family is simply going to put a verse of scripture in each one, and read it together each day in order to remember, to celebrate, and to show gratitude for the birth of Jesus.

Are you making an advent calendar this year? What does it mean to you?

Monday, November 23, 2009

Warm women: felting, friendship and a new scarf

When I signed on for the Warm Women project, I did not imagine that THIS would be my contribution:

But then, the world of craft blogging is full of new challenges, adventures, and friendships.

I mentioned my lack of knitting prowess when I posted a few weeks back about about the Warm Women project. I thought instead that I might try to 'quilt' a scarf with a long scrap of wool batting. Then Mim jumped in with a suggestion that I felt the batting, and offered her assistance. Not just online assistance, either, but a bit of an in-the-flesh felting workshop at her house.

[Just to fill in the back-story... I met Mim, maybe a year ago, just when I was embracing the whole crafty thing. I'd dropped in to Olive Grove Studios, a local handmade co-op, and Mim was working. We looked familiar to each other and spent some time trying to place the connection, before realising that years ago, pre-children and pre-crafting, Mim was the friendly, mean-latte-making girl who kept me caffeinated and therefore sane during lunchbreak from my 9-5 office job!]

Anyway, last Monday I landed on Mim's doorstep and, after admiring her delightfully funky and ecclectic kitchen, drooling over her stash and drinking a damn fine cup of coffee, we got felting!

Luckily, there was plenty of space for the children to romp:

And to practise 'sharing':

While the kids trashed the house and yard, Mim generously let me have free reign with her materials, and walked me through the felting process.

I went a bit nuts and shoved pieces of everything on top of my batting. I will exercise a bit more restraint next time I think! (You can see Mim's scarf, which didn't have batting and was a bit more refined, sitting parallel to mine. She didn't want to be in the photo though... hmmmph!):

The actual felting process is quite physical and very therapeutic... rolling and whacking and throwing the wet wool all around. It's definitely something I want to do more of.

Here are our scarves... mine is the one on the left:

The edges of the batting curl in on my scarf, so once it was dry I decided to stitch over it, to keep it flat (and to keep on the silk threads and such that didn't fuse in as much as I wanted):

Thanks Mim for sharing your time, space, knowledge, materials and muffins with me!

Here's my scarf, waiting to be packaged up with a few other donated scarves to be sent to Claire, then on to a Karen craftswoman, who will hopefully be just a bit warmer this winter.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

For nuts on the go...

Have you made yourself some of these cute and easy-peasey reuseable snack bags? You really must. They're so fast to make and so very handy.

I'd been meaning to make myself some for a while (trying to wean off the zip-lock bags, and also carry around healthier snacks). When Sally sent me these 3 funky embroidered pears, I knew it was TIME.

I had just enough velcro to make three little bags, and this fun kitchen fabric (a gift from my friend Rival Anna) was perfect for the lining.

At some point I'll make myself a few more with a waterproof lining for other types of snacks. But these cotton ones are just the ticket for those times I want to whip my nuts out in public.

Thank yous go to We Wilsons for the idea, Virtually Sally for the pear love, and Nobby's Nuts for the fact that I've never quite moved on from suggestive nut jokes.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

My creative space...

My creative space began rather early this morning (5am to be precise) when the closer-to-3-than-2-year-old paid his morning visit to the marital boudoir and produced this:

"Daddy and Mummy-the-badger". Right-o.

I was too chuffed to be annoyed. Usually he hurls books at us. Today, he produced what I think is his first discernable drawing. Amusingly, his tools of choice were a scrap of heavy interfacing and my air-faiding fabric marker! (What were they doing in reach?!) So I've traced it already, and plan to embroider it onto something quick smart, a la Soulemama.

One advantage of the regular early visitations is that I'm given the 'opportunity' to get a few things done in those fresh, still hours of the morning. This morning I've been out at the line, airing a whole bunch of items that I received in the post from the wonderful Virtually Sally. Perhaps you recognise these gorgeous birds from her blog?

When I expressed interest in them, Sally offered to send me some, which she generously did... along with a few blank versions....

Oh, and these fabulous printed panels from her screenprinting experiments... (LOVE!):

AND these totally fabulous embroidered pears!!!:

But wait... there's more... she also sent two large calico drawstring bags with aeroplane prints, on which she'd embroidered my boys' names! Unbelieveable. They now have their Christmas stockings.

I thought it was apt to acknowledge this amazing package in Creative Spaces, because indeed this is where Sally and I first 'met'! Thank you Sally from the bottom of my heart. I'm having so much fun planning what to make with all your bits and pieces...

And thank you as always to Kirsty for hosting My creative space... it's a winner.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Linen therapy

Edit: oops! I completely forgot to mention that this bag is my take on Made By Rae's buttercup bag, which I can highly recommend as a cute little bag project. There is a free pattern available for personal use only, or you can buy a pattern for limited commercial use. It's very sweet!

It was with great relief that I sat down yesterday and Made Something.
It's been a little while. Weeks. I've fiddled, and played, and dabbled, but not completed anything.

With my sister Meg/Aunty Moo around for a visit, performing her saintly aunty duties, I was able to get to it and sew a little bag.

Thrifted floral drill material (vintage? reprint?) and lovely, lovely linen, beautifully modelled by Meg (she's seriously handy to have around).

Ahhhh. Is there nothing that can't be improved with a good dollop of linen? My mood, included.

Although there is also much to be said for an angelic sister/aunt visit... photo credits go to my 2-and-a-half year old son:

Thanks Moo!

Friday, November 13, 2009

::friday flickr favourites::

I couldn't pass up Tam's invitation to share some inspiration. I've been doing less making and more dreaming recently, and I'm starting to think about making a quilt/throw for the marital bed. Of course I have a zillion ideas I want to incorporate. I want it to be calm, muted, kind of ye olde worlde but also modern and funky, earthy but slightly frilly with a bit of doily action and maybe some thread sketchery oh and an ampersand or two. Are you with me?

So above I present to you my flickr craft crushes, very prominently featuring the work of the talented Tara Badcock, a textile artist of high calibre whose work I adore... errm, maybe I should just commission an artwork from her instead. Because she's hit the nail on the head precisely for me, and now anything I do will just be a cheap imitation. *SIGH*.

Whose work is floating your boat at the moment? Come and link in at 1/4 of an inch!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

My creative space...

Thanks to a looming editing deadline, I've been practising great restraint in recent weeks and have barely sewn or otherwise crafted anything. I have, however, been employing those other tried-and-true forms of procrastination: Tidying and Redecorating. Or, as I tend to call it, Creative Redistribution of Clutter.

Mainly I've been focusing on the 'creative space' in our bedroom, which is where I keep my creative tools, notions, machinery and stash: 

From left: I've covered the wire shelving that holds thrifted clothing and material with some stash fabric. Mrs Doubtfire has been clothed in an old table cloth from my mother-in-law (the poor thing has been taken off her 'pedestal', which was the stand for our fan, and is thus back in use in the warm Melbourne weather!). And I swapped my open bookcase for this one that was in the boys' room, which is much roomier and easier to keep tidy. A vast improvement on THIS, don't you think?:

I've hidden away all my gorgeous bright modern and retro materials. Not because I don't love looking at them, but I've started to realise that in the bedroom I need a bit of calm. So only the most muted, subtle (oh ok, and BLAND) stuff is now on display!

Also on display (when not in use) is this bag, my absolute favourite bag in the world. It brings together my love of hessian, ampersands and of course, clutter! Bought at a lovely store called, you guessed it, Love & Clutter, in Hobart TAS.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Lunch to go...

Ahhhh. Nothing I like better for lunch on a warm day than a cold glass of water and a salad sandwich. Especially one that's been prepared earlier by a witty, creative, slightly daft and ridiculously clever friend.

If you think this looks good over at Myrtle & Eunice, you should see it in real life. The stitching is perfect. My boys have been play-munching for the last few days. Even the husband has been salivating. But this one is all MINE.

Saturday, November 7, 2009


Friday is my day for treasure hunting around the neighbourhood. I live near a wealth of op/charity/thrift shops, and most weeks, during a little window of time I have without my boys, I like to wander through them, looking, imagining, finding inspiration and sometimes buying.

Mostly, I buy clothes. Yesterday, I rescued this:

A still life oil painting. The colours popped out at me and I couldn't leave it there. It's beautifully executed. I can't find out anything more about the artist, a Mr Paul de Steiger (full name and address on the back!) but he's a lovely oil painter and I'm so happy to have his painting brightening my kitchen. It's also fitting in with the general fruitiness going on in my head, (and I'm not the only one, see the lovely things Ellie is coming up with at Petalplum).

I don't usually take pictures of all my thrift finds, but I was particularly happy to rescue these bits and pieces on my travels yesterday too:

some lovely doilies and embroidered cushion covers. I am storing these up for a potential quilt idea that has been brewing away in my head for a little while now... a 2010 project I think;

this sweet little cross-stitched serviette, a bit stained but begging to be attached to a bag or something;

and this embroidered tablecloth for my (long-ago thrifted) chair, nicely hiding some of the grubby tapestry.

I don't know how all of this works in with the copious amounts of bold colour and pattern that I usually gather around me, particularly all the RED. But my aesthetic confusion is a topic for another post altogether...

What treasures have you unearthed lately? What's been catching your eye?

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Can you help?

I know it's November...
I know you have 100 projects and to-dos on your craft list...
KNOW that there are thousands of worthy causes out there...


Could you make a scarf to keep a fellow craftswoman warm?

There are a bunch of refugee craftswomen living and working in camps along the Thailand/Burmese border. They make and sell lovely stuff to earn a wage and support their families, and the great news is it's fair trade. But when December/January rolls around, they get cold, which can cause illness and other disruptions to their work, and therefore their income. Claire @ Warm Women wants to do something about it, and she wants people like you and me to help out by making a scarf to send along to our chilly Karen refugee friends.

So do you think you can help? Actually, I know you can. I've seen you, pulling the all-nighter to make a costume/softie/ballgown for the toddler's/mother's/random stranger's birthday. I've seen you, knitting yourself a pair of socks in an evening or whipping up a fabulous little skirt in an hour from 'just something you had lying around in the stash'.

I can't knit to save myself. But I do have a long length of wool quilt batting that is lying around begging to keep someone's neck cosy. So now I just have to figure out how I want to make it pretty.

Why don't you join me in this venture? It's not just a practical gift of time and resources, but a gesture of respect towards, and solidarity with, our Karen refugee sisters who do it far, far tougher than any of us.

Be sure to drop Claire a line to say you're in. And for more information on what would be required, go here.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Just a minute... in October

Thank goodness for Jenaveve's just a minute meme. Sometimes I get to the end of the month and think 'now where did all that time and energy go?' Good to trawl back through my diary, the blog and my photo stocks to jog the memory.

Mmmm... now that's my cup of tea

Editing... a book, just a wee bit at a time, mostly in the evenings because during the day I'm very busy playing 'tackle time', visiting the zoo and trying to get the mushy weetbix out of my eyebrows.

Thinking... about underwear, my new ethical clothing pledge and what I'm really going to do when the Beloved runs out of decent jocks.

Exploring... thread sketching ideas. I've done a bit more machine fiddling, but mostly I've been surfing the net and oggling at the artistry of many talented people who already employ such techniques in their textile arts. *Sigh*. I feel like I've found something creative that really excites and compels me... and I'm just letting it sink in and develop somewhere in the back of my head for a while.

Meeting... lots of lovely, lovely people, for the first time or again, at the Quilt Project Live! It was such a privilege to be involved, and fun to see my little offering nestled there amongst so many gloriously designed and executed squares. Have a look at the virtual version if you haven't already.
Hand stitching... various bits and pieces when I get a chance (and potentially when I should be editing). Hexagons (some of which wound up on a little pinch pouch);

some stitching on a skirt;

a bit of quilting-ish stitching experimentation;

and a cute Dear Fii burrito for a little friend (I do recommend this as a lovely way to use fabric scraps, and a perfect cuddly size for a one-year-old too).

How was October for you? I'm sure Jen won't mind if you join in a day or two late... I'm just scraping in on time!