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.