Sunday, December 30, 2012

Country Threads Stitchery to feel good about

 This month's Country Threads (volume 13 No 8) features a stitchery project of mine - "The Rainbows of Life follow the Storm".


This stitchery was inspired by these simple words - a reflection of how growing things get brighter, fresher, and burst with life after a storm.


This year has been a challenging one for myself and many family and friends, and I created this stitchery as a reminder to look forward to the future good that may come. It was lovely to make and the time spent stitching was full of quality contemplating time.

And as I look out the window, there could be a storm on the horizon for tonight.  I have finished the last bits of our new vegetable garden bed this afternoon and our new tank is now 2/3rds full.  I'll plant my first vegetables tomorrow and see how this new year makes rainbows grow.

Friday, December 21, 2012

My first vegetable crop arrives - Potato yumminess

Last night I picked the first of my home grown vegetables. They were some wonderful new potatoes.  I planted them in September just after finishing work with the Queensland Government.  When I pulled up their tiny little pale shapes, they reminded me of our Premiers not so hirsute dome, and removing them from their comfy world felt like quite a nice allegory.

The tatters themselves were wonderful.  I didn't realise how quickly fresh food is to cook so they got a bit overcooked, yet despite this the taste was wonderful.  I picked them about 5 o'clock and they were on our forks just after 7 o'clock.

I think the total food metres (not miles) on the potatoes was about 15, which again was lovely.  What's better is there is still many more in the vege garden to collect. I can't wait to get my six serves a day!

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Affluenza: When too much is never enough - a book for learning

I have recently finished reading "Affluenza: When Too Much is Never Enough" by Clive Hamilton and Richard Denniss.  This is a book to open your eyes and start you thinking again.

The book look at the concept of Affluenza, which is a feeling that no matter what you have its never enough, and you feel compelled to work harder and longer to get more money to buy more stuff to try and combat the feeling.

The research and material making up this book is from an Australian perspective and although about 7 years old now, is perhaps even more relevant.

Affluenza helps you realise that nagging feeling of dissatisfaction is made by society and offer some of the perspectives people have taken to combat that feeling.

Most effective I feel is the concept of downshifting - choosing to simplify your life by working less and doing more of the things that bring real satisfaction like being with family and friends, being creative, following a dream, or just using less of everything.

I found it initially surprising as a capitalist from my teens to identify so much with downshifting but really it's the ultimate ways of getting ahead. To me, if you spend less on the unnecessary things in life and always end up just slightly ahead with your income (even if your income is small), in the end you will win.  Plus you will be happier doing it.

Monday, December 10, 2012

My first Handmade Magazine pattern - Pyjama Doll

I was delighted to open my copy of this month's Handmade Magazine (Vol 30 No 12) and find my first ever project in its lovely pages. 

This is quite an exciting event for me as Handmade magazine was the first craft magazine I ever got and I have been reading and collecting them for many years.  They were and still are and wonderful source of inspiration to me, with so many projects that I have made from here over the past couple of decades. This magazine got me into reading more, like Creating Country Threads and Patchwork and Stitching, and I finally worked up enough courage to submit my first article last year.  Now I've have over 22 articles published.  It's good to be added to the collection of contributors.

The pattern featured is of a Pyjama doll.  I made two of this design and gave one to my niece Gemma who was very taken with it.  She will be even happier to see her doll featured in this magazine, as she always borrows it from the library for my sister, her mum, to make her projects.  That's good work for someone only five!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Eco Australian Patchwork and Stitching Magazine features Mr Moe Tash

This month's Australian Patchwork and Stitching Magazine Vol 13 No 10 features my softie pattern Mr Moe Tash.  He was a fun to make character that I set myself the challenge of not buying any new materials and further to use recycled materials if I could.

The inspiration for Mr Moe Tash was  Hercule Poirot who is described by Agatha Christie in her novels as egg shaped.  He needed a winning grin and marvelous moustache, and had to look dapper.
I made his arms, legs and body out of two recycled men,s business shirts.  I also used some of the buttons for decoration.  I used leftover homespun and brown print fabric from another project and I found some red check fabric in my mother's stash.

It was so fulfilling to reduce my stash (just a little) and in return come up with a cute soft toy friend (he is destined to sit by my computer as company - who can resist such a gentleman with a glorious moustache).  

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Vintage Doctor Who treats found while spring cleaning. Real time travel!

 I have found some fun Doctor Who collectables while spring cleaning. 

I think most came from the Brisbane Ekka in the late 1970's (the manufacturing date says 1978 on a couple) and most are from the Doctor Who themed showbag of that year. 
There was a great (and surely hours of fun for the whole family) board game "Escape from the Underworld", some highly suspicious invisible ink (still full of who knows what after all this time - its better not to ask), a very "complex" jigsaw set to test your powers of deduction, as well as the obligatory badge.


I found a 25th anniversary postage souv. That's almost 25 years old now.


I also found a nice mouse pad featuring the "Cloven Hoof"  - the pub from the Jon Pertwee story "The Daemons".  Its even signed by Katy Manning.
I also found part of a continuing comic strip of the 4th Doctor and Sarah.


My favourite items are the ice cream packaging for the Streets Doctor Who ice cream.  I could find two of the stencils and I know they were much used at the time.  For some reason the collector in my husband didn't keep one of the actual ice creams - how disappointing!


This find caused much reminiscing - that's the best kind of time travel.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Craft Tutorial - Hankie Envelopes


This craft project is wonderfully fast and a really lovely way to show off your favourite vintage hankies (or perhaps embroidered napkins).  The finished envelopes would be a nice way to give a small gift or hang on the Christmas tree for vintage charm.

Materials (for one envelope)

  • Vintage hankie (fully laundered)
  • 15cm section of lace daisy chain in complementary colour
  • 1 button for front
  • snap fastener (optional)

1. Iron the hanky flat with back facing up.

2. Fold in right side of hanky about 2/3rds of the way and press.

3. Fold in opposite side of hanky about 2/3rds and press. This makes two straight sides of an envelope.

4. Fold up base point of the hanky to meet the overlap of the sides and press.  This now forms an envelope base.

5.  Using matching thread, machine stitch along both sides of the hanky to the join in each side.
6.  Use a needle and thread and catch down the point at the top of the envelope to secure.

7.  Fold the top point of the hankie down to meet the bottom of the envelope and press.

8. Stitch on a decorative button and a small length of daisy chain using matching thread to complete.

I tried two different hankies and a cross stitched table napkin (square in shape).  All worked well.  You could try leaving off the daisy chain or adding a snap fastener for extra security.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Happy potato plants and snoozing garden beds

At last, after a couple of months hard work, my garden beds are actually looking garden bed shaped and I am seeing happy potato plants all coming through.  They are just like Peter Cundall from Gardening Australia promised when I read his magazine.

I have only a couple of scary shots of the before of my ex-jungle in my back yard, but much work had to be done before I could even find the garden beds.  It turns out after clearing, we even had some flowers growing in there (which I've left to add colour).

I've newspapered, mulched and put the back garden bed to sleep now until autumn where hopefully, I'll get some lovely winter veges in. 


The front garden now is showing the big happy potato plants instead of a nasty case of Singapore Daisy infestation.  I am hanging out to harvest these, my first crop.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

The Story of Stuff by Annie Leonard

 I've been re-reading "The Story of Stuff" by Annie Leonard.  I first read this book early last year and didn't realise at the time, but it was a life changing book.

Annie deals with the whole system of the things we buy right from the raw materials, through the manufacture, getting the stuff to us, buying it, using and disposal, and in this look she identifies the real cost behind the stuff that fills our lives. 

In just one example, she talks about the real cost of cheap t-shirts when you take into account the water cost of the crop, the mono-cropping mentality, the chemicals used in manufacture and how they affect the workers, how little the workers who sew the garments are paid and their work conditions, how much it costs to ship the shirt to us, and then to have the shirt bought so cheaply and not valued fully for its impact on our world.  And this is just one of many-many stories on everyday things.

This particular story really made me think. Right away I started to consider the effect of unnecessary consumerism on my world and then to re-consider all my purchases. 

Without realising over the last 12 months, I have bought almost no new clothing for myself or my family (we have so many already).  I also have started to try and repair rather than replace and to also re-consider unnecessary technological upgrades that are really not offering anything new I need.

I have also started to really look at how far items travel to get to me, and to purchase local where I can for everything from food to gifts. I also try and buy good made locally as well as sold locally.

I try and incorporate recycled goods where I can in my life, as well as try to recycle as much as I can to others. Even my craft has been influenced - finding low impact options where I can.

This book is a challenge to read but can leave you a better person.  If you like a challenge, try it out.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Pink Macaron Softie


I love macarons.  They are my new food passion.  The delight of biting through the slightly crisp outer to the soft centre of the macaron with the swirl of goodness as the central filling.  There is nothing so delicious.

But I cannot cook them.  I fear the bad outcome.  I am afraid of being turned off these gorgeous treats by a nasty cooking experience.  So I cannot taste their goodness at home.

I can sew.  This is my first macaron - a pink confection with luscious berry filling.  It's no fat and will last forever.  I think there may be more to come.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Sewing with new Spoonflower fabric finds

Today I was sewing with my lovely supply of new fabrics just received from the fabric magicians at Spoonflower for my Madeit store.


These fabrics are so wonderful.  I got a great fabric from Studio Fibonacci featuring caffeine molecules.  Studio Fibonacci has many wonderful designs and is always worth a look.

I also got a couple of Doctor Who prints featuring the goodies and the baddies from Scrummy.

My favourite print features Ammonites from Esmeralda_M 

And finally I got a quote from my favourite Doctor Who episode "Blink" from  Spacefem   featuring wibbly wobbly timey wimey stuff. Such a good sewing session.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Blogger Special in this month's Australia Patchwork and Stitching magazine

I really enjoyed reading my copy of this month's Australian Patchwork and Stitching Magazine (Vol 13 No 9).

There is a nice feature on the blogs of the regular magazine contributors and I loved visiting the blogs of the other contributors to see how they work, what they look for in their craft and the face they put on their online personality. Reading about other crafters online really inspires me to try new things. You should check out the blogs of Two Brown Birds, Elefantz, and Quilting Mumma.

There is something exciting, though, about writing in your blog that you read in a magazine about your own blog.  It feels a bit like a big interconnected wheel of communication.

This month's magazine also features a pattern I made for a backpack featuring Crinoline Ladies.  I thought this would be a nice counterpoint craft project.  Backpacks are normally casual, but one featuring Crinoline Ladies and made in Osnaberg seems more elegant somehow.  I hope you enjoy it!