Sunday, March 29, 2015

Overdyed (9/52)

A long time ago when I started experimenting with acid dyes, I started off practicing on some pre-loved woollen baby clothes. It seemed a great way to see how the dyes reacted and I wasn't ruining my precious (spent a million hours spinning it) hand spun wool. The most I had to lose was a small amount of dye and a thrifted cardigan.

I went a bit crazy dying lots and lots of wee cardigans. Most needed slight repairs, a missing button or two, or a seam gently pulling apart. For the most part they have sat unfinished in their freshly dyed state for quite some time.

A few weeks ago, I decided the time had come to finish a couple of them and gift them to a couple of little baby girls I know. A few crochet flowers and new mother of pearl buttons and they were done. Hopefully they'll be keeping their new owners snugly and warm in the coming cooler months.

Now to finish off the dozen or so other jumpers I've got stashed away, and to find myself a cardigan in that perfect shade of green!

Monday, March 23, 2015

Lakeside (8/52)

There's a lovely lakeside spot in a town not far from here. It's on the edge of an urban and industrial area, yet oh so peaceful.

We visited recently to take some photos of my latest make. It's starting to become a tradition that I make a Winter jacket/coat for my kids, not quite annually as I normally make them generous in size, so they last a couple of cold seasons. I've tried a few patterns over the years, but this Pixie Coat by Lisa of Big Little is far and away my favourite. It's got everything going for it, long in length to keep little backs warm, a hood to protect those ears and optional pockets to carry all those treasures (this one has inside pockets).

It's recently been updated to include children's sizes up to a size 14, which means my tradition of making Winter coats can continue for a few more years yet! This is the first one I've made this year, super warm with a thrifted woollen blanket for the outside and a bright vintage floral for the lining. I stumbled across this HUGE button and thought it was the perfect way to finish off the coat. It's not quite the cold weather required for such a jacket yet, but that's just around the corner, which gives me a small window of time to make one for my son too!

For this week only the pattern has a special sale price of $8.50 no code necessary. There is another version too, Classic Pea Coat, also in sizes up to 14. The pattern is an instant download and with clear photographed steps even a beginner sewer can achieve a great result.

Stay tuned for the Ladies pattern to be released soon!

Sunday, March 22, 2015


These a cool nip in the morning air, signalling the start of Autumn and the cooler, shorter days ahead. It's a change I have been anxiously waiting for, Summer is not the season for me. The Summer vegetables have finished and the last of the cherry tomatoes have been dehydrated to add to Winter pizzas and scones. I've been slowly trying to whip my garden into shape, slowly, slowly it seems.

While our backyard is small and we are unable to fully feed our family by what we grow in it, I really hope that I'm imprinting my children with the knowledge and ability to feed themselves in someway. There are no words to describe the pleasure gained by watching them graze on homegrown goodness, tomatoes, berries, beans. Honestly it's the simple pleasures! 

Monday, February 16, 2015

Blooming! Things I've made (7/52)

I'm sure I've said it before, but I'll say it again. My favourite thing in the world to sew is recycled and felted sweaters! It seems almost magical to take these poor wee sweaters that someone accidentally shrunk down several sizes, making them only fit for small people to wear, and turning them into something that is useful again. It's so satisfying!

I made these Winter flower boots for my girl, the Summer days are cooling and the evenings aren't quite as balmy as a few weeks ago. So it's fitting that I make a start on some Winter projects, before they are actually needed!

The pattern is Childrens' flower boots by Lisa of Big Little, it's so nice to have a pattern that isn't just for baby sized feet! But she has also designed the Flower Boots in Baby sizes too! So little feet from baby to youth size 4 are covered. I can see how people would want to make these year after year for their little ones. Simple and snugly.

They have leather soles which hopefully will make them more long wearing than the crocheted ones I've made in the past and not slippery on our lino floors too. A long black leather skirt that I picked up for a song was carefully unpicked and used for the soles. It was a large skirt so there will be many more Flower boots in my future! Luckily as my son also wants a pair. Just perhaps without the flowers, although I don't think he'd mind a bit. Red is his favourite colour after all.

The pattern itself is an easy and quick sew, elastic sewn into the lining means they will stay on little feet too. Great for the baby sizes I'm sure, those little baby feet do like to kick don't they?

For a limited time the pattern price is just $5! Bargain right?

Baby Flower Boots
Children's Flower Boots

Now to convince Lisa she needs to make them in adult sizes too! I'd quite like a pair for myself.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Spun - Things I've made (6/52)

I've been doing a lot of spinning lately. The evenings have started to cool and it's a great way to unwind and relax and clear my mind. Not to mention the bonus of having lots of beautiful hand spun wool to crochet with!

The fibre is a Silk/Merino blend, Navajo plied, soft and silky, delicious to touch. Navajo ply is one strand chain plied ending up as three strands plied together. Great if you want to keep colour blends or gradients true, but also great if you have just a small amount of fibre spun. I often ply any remainder fibre on my bobbins this way to keep my bobbins empty.

I love the colours that seem to blend in with colours in my garden at the moment. The colourway is Johnathon dyed by Fibre2go.

Have you made anything lately? I'd love to see what you've been making so leave a link in the comments if you'd like to share?

Monday, February 9, 2015

The new black? - Things I've made (5/52)

Are house plants the new black? They seem to be popping up everywhere don't you agree? I must be ahead of the game though as I've followed in my Nana's footsteps and never really been without a house plant of some sort, although I'm yet to have a conservatory that resembles some remote jungle location! Like my Nana most of my plants are cuttings or gifts from other people's gardens. Gosh gardeners are good at sharing don't you think?

In order to increase my house/houseplant ratio over the weekend I finally tried my hand at making some Kokedama balls, well my version of the Japanese art of Kokedama. 

I used a large clump of a Bromeliad (that was a gift from my Nana one Christmas well over 10 years ago) that had multiplied nicely and was in full flower. I used a mixture of potting mix and a peat, then some moss and an outer layer of coconut fibre. All wrapped up and contained with some bright plastic string.  I made seven balls in total, a couple to take to work, a few for home and a few more to give as gifts. My daughter's teacher was blown away when we gave one to her this morning, no one had ever given her a plant! 

I kind of feel I might be slightly addicted to making these, we might run out of room inside! I might get a jungle room after all?

Do you have any houseplants? Green thumb, or not so much?

Monday, February 2, 2015

A Village of Toadstools - Pattern release!

A Village of Toadstools is the latest pattern release from the talented Lisa of Big Little. I was fortunate enough to get my hands on the pattern early as one of the pattern testers. Isn't this toadstool so cute? The pattern comes in three sizes and  I tested the large, I think if you made it weighted in the middle it would make a great door stop or book end. 

I just used fabrics and notions I had at hand, a portion of a woollen blanket, some green hand spun/dyed wool for embroidery, even fabric scraps to stuff it with!

There is even  a wee clothes line on the back complete with pegs and removable mini clothes! The pattern has lots of other details that you can add, like a bicycle. But really you are just limited by your own imagination, window planter boxes, mailboxes, tyre swing all would be a sweet addition to a wee toadstool house.

If you would like to make your own Village of Toadstools (or just the one?) now is your chance to buy the pattern for a whopping 50% off the normal price. As a super special launch special you can buy the pattern for just $3.75 USD  using the discount code TOADSTOOL50

But hurry as the discount code expires at Midnight Sunday 8th February!

Things I made (4/52)

Backyard garden in the city

Over the weekend we made a short stop at the Hamilton Gardens. It's an amazing space with inspiring themed gardens, a Tudor garden, Indian Char Bagh garden, Japanese garden of contemplation, Italian Renaissance garden to name a few. These big gardens show a glimpse of gardening styles from around the world, quite different to the backyard gardens here in New Zealand. 

The kids enjoyed all the themed spaces, but the one we spent the most time in, and the one we had to drag ourselves away from was actually the Sustainable backyard garden. It had the most amazing scarecrow, huge sunflower heads, a chicken, compost bins, rambling vegetable beds, mosaic paths even a bath tub growing a special weed that the chicken likes to eat! It had a touch of wild about it, a carefree feeling.

So although all those other gardens were beautifully landscaped and designed carefully to transport you into another time and place, all we really wanted was to feel right at home.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Testing - 52 things I made (3/52)

I'm a self taught crocheter. All the crocheting women in my life are right handed and I'm a lefty. Growing up I would have dearly loved to have learnt but it just didn't happen. In my early twenties I was at an art workshop and one of the left-handed ladies there showed me how to chain stitch and I was away!

That was before the days of You Tube videos and there was little in the way of modern, contemporary patterns too. I learnt new stitches by holding a mirror up to library books. I learnt how to read patterns and there was not stopping me (except when I had morning sickness! I thought I'd never pick up a hook again!).

It wasn't long into my crochet journey before I became frustrated, it when the start of online patterns and crochet magazines started to pop up in the local shops. I was faced with mistakes in patterns, at first I thought I might have been doing things wrong, misreading the pattern and try, try, try again I did. But it turns out the problem didn't lie with me, but the turn around speed and lack of pattern testing these publications seem to find acceptable. Each issue of one magazine often has errata from previous issues! Not great if you don't buy the next issue or if you've started the pattern before the next issue comes out!

This shawl is one example, even more frustrating is that there is mistakes in the errata too! I only bought the magazine for this one pattern too. I started it in the middle of last year and in total frustration I left it unfinished until last week. I couldn't decode the errata or my notes on how I thought I could crochet it to make it work like the pattern picture so I added just a little row of edging and blocked it. It's much smaller than the pattern intended and despite all the problems I am still pretty pleased with it.

I feel sorry for those beginner crafters and how they might feel that the mistakes lie with them!