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!

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Routine once more


I love the routine of school term time, I flounder a wee bit over the Summer holidays. While others enjoy the slow pace and no pressures of the holidays I find I tend to relax a little bit too much. Days blur by with not much achieved and I feel like wasted chances and time have passed me by. I'm an active relaxer for sure!

Today marks the end of my Summer holidays, back to work tomorrow for me. To cheer myself up I made the Chocolate Weetbix Slice Kimberly from Creative Chaos posted earlier in the week. When I am planning the weekly baking it's normally something that I don't like to much so I don't snack on it all the time! Chocolate chip cookies are a big favourite of everyone here except me so they normally top my baking list. But as variety is the spice of life, so slice it is! It's delicious and everyone seems to like it so not much chance of me having the chance to snack on it!

In case you are wondering the plate is by Crown Lynn the design is Yucatan by Robert Drake.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Things I made (2/52)


The countdown is on till the end of the school holidays and that spells the end of my Summer holidays too. Our days are filled with trips to the school pool, trying to escape the midday heat and not much else, it's a lazy sort of existence. Perfect really, it also means my "makes" at the moment are easy too.

I was gifted a fabulous piece of fabric at Christmas from my sister in law (lucky right? Someone who gifts fabric?) It's not the sort of thing I'd probably choose for myself, but I love it! It's from Ikea, which unfortunately is still not building a store on our fine shores anytime soon. The design is printed on cotton canvas and each project I thought I could use it for required cutting it up, not something I was keen on as it would loose too much of the overall design.



So from the pictures you can see what I finally decided on, a tablecloth! I simply hemmed the edges, leaving two edges long in case we finally get a table that sits more than four. 

Quick and easy and I love the bright bold colours (yes even the pink!), something I'd normally shy away from, slipping a plain tablecloth on instead. 



Sometimes it's good to break out of your comfort zone don't you think?

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Zoological

It's not often we pay for family entertainment, we frequent local parks, beaches, the local botanical gardens etc making the most of free activities in and around our city. The kids have been asking to go to the Auckland Zoo for quite some time and as luck would have it I won a family pass! 



The last time I visited the Zoo I had a baby in my belly and that baby has just turned 6, so it's been a few years. I was so blown away by all the changes. While the kids were busy looking at the animals I was taking in the landscaping and plants! Possibly not what every visitor notices, or really appreciates but I really think it makes the Auckland Zoo a world class attraction.



Tribal and African-like details around the "Pridelands", Maori carvings and rustic fencing in the New Zealand bird areas, all in perfect harmony with the animals that live there.







We have two Meerkat loving obsessed kids so they were the total highlight! I think they would have just watched them all day, but the offer of ice cream  finally got them moving!


Hopefully it won't be another six years till we visit again! There is talk of going on a Safari Night!

Friday, January 16, 2015

Things I made (1/52)


Late last year I challenged myself to spin some thick/chunky yarn. Each skein I've spun since I started learning to spin has become more fine and even, to the point I'm left with extremely thin yarn that I end up doubling when I crochet with it, it seems a little absurd, all those spinning hours wasted. As it turns out however it's extremely hard to return to spinning a thick yarn (I was warned of this when I first started), my fingers just didn't want to co-operate. In the end after much frustration I spun one thick and one thin and plied them together to create quite a bumpy yarn.


By chance I stumbled across a knitting pattern for a shawl that I loved, I haven't knitted in a very long time. I also only know one stitch, but luckily that is all the shawl pattern required! Unfortunately the yarn doesn't show the stripes of the pattern made by changing needle sizes and I also ran out of yarn! So it's ended up quite a bit different to the pattern and the image I had in my head. I also crocheted a small border along one side to cover up the fact I ran out of yarn half way through the last row and I had no idea how to rip back the stitches, hmm I don't think I can claim it's from any pattern really.


It is however super soft and snugly organic merino, all ready for those cooler months coming soon I hope! Anyone else melting just a wee bit? Summer is not my season.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Hello 2015


Hello 2015! I must admit I'm really pleased to see the back of 2014, it was a year filled with ups and downs. Returning to work after 8 years of being a stay at home mum was a big shock and I totally underestimated how tiring that would be. That lead to a reasonable lack of creativity and the one thing I know about myself is that when I stop making, I'm not that happy. I am a maker, I need to make.


It doesn't have to be big makes, making or creating anything seems to fill my "happy" tank, with that in mind I've decided to join in with Clare from Green Valley Crafts and her 52 project. I'm hoping that it will see me return to this space more regularly.



I'm really looking forward to 2015 and also those Blackberries in the second photo ripening!

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Frittata - the holiday edition



"I'm hungry" If I had one dollar for every time I heard this in the school holidays I'd be rich! It seems no amount of food will quell their appetites. By the time grocery day comes around it becomes harder to come up with snacks that will satisfy. But these frittatas seem to hit the mark and the recipe is so super easy the kids can make them too. It might just help out with that other all too common holiday phrase "I'm bored", sound familiar?

All you need to do is make the base mixture and half fill muffin trays then just add in what you have to hand, this can be a real win for fussy eaters. Cut up the ingredients and let them choose what they put in! A true "mum" trick is to let them help make the food, in my experience this means they will eat the food! Or at least try it! 

Empty the fridge - Holiday Fritattas.

Base mixture
4 eggs
3/4 cup milk
Grated cheese to sprinkle on the top.

Additional ingredient suggestions

Diced onion (lightly cooked till soft)
Capsicum
Fresh herbs - We used chives and Thyme
Tomato
Feta
Ham or Pastrami
Mushrooms
Capers
Olives
Mushrooms
Cracked pepper
Or anything else you might have small amounts of in your fridge and you enjoy eating! 

Whisk together the eggs and the milk and half fill some nonstick or greased muffin trays. Add in any of the above ingredients to suit your taste. My kids loved this part, choosing what the put in their Frittatas, making sure they knew which ones to avoid - like my ones with the capers! 

Sprinkle with a small amount of grated cheese. 

Bake in a preheated oven at 180oC for 15-20 minutes, or until lightly golden and set to the touch. 



If the weather is nice, take them outside once they have lightly cooled and have a picnic in your backyard. Everything tastes better alfresco don't you think? Especially in the holidays.



Friday, October 3, 2014

Regal



When the request was put to me for an "Elsa" dress at first I thought I'd wing it, taking some aqua fabric and see how I went. That thought didn't last too long though, the stress! Instead I called on the lovely Bronwyn from Pattern Postie .You all know about her wonderful online pattern store right? if not go and have a look! I knew that a proper pattern would mean less tears, from both of us!

 After a quick online search I located a pattern that was perfect, McCall's 7000.


I was given the lace by someone downsizing many years ago, I was so happy to find a use for it and don't you think the flower pattern looks a wee but like snowflakes? (perhaps if you squint a bit?)

I made a couple of modifications to the pattern, the back silver cape-like part came around the front of the bodice in the pattern, but I wanted a more trailing look and just attached it to the back of the bodice. "Queen Elsa" herself had picked up a few bits and pieces at Fabric-a-brac with her dress in mind, so I sewed strips of  some netting she found over the bodice part. It has glittery painted on strips, which look a bit like "fractals" Just a single strip of stitching holding it in place so it moves as she does and catches the light. (It looks better in real life, - trust me).


There is a long cape included in the pattern, with a smaller shorter cape overlay. I used the pattern pieces for the shorter overlay and made a mini "shoulder warming" cape. The velvety soft faux fur was from my stash too! Such a great feeling to be using up bits and pieces (something that needs to happen more often, ahem). The cape was finished off with snowflake buttons that "Queen Elsa" had picked up from Bronwyn at
Fabric-a-brac too (she had a very tempting stall filled with great buttons and ribbons etc). That girl of mine has a great eye for detail.


A quick cardboard glittery crown and some silvery shoes and the look was complete! No tears!


Wednesday, October 1, 2014

daisy



I knew there was a reason that I planted these big frilly daises - for making GIANT daisy chains. The perfect way to welcome Spring!