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Sunset over the Crossroads tent on Easter Sunday

What an amazing week I have had at Bluesfest! The weather was perfect (no rain), the company was delightful, the music was great, and the whole experience was healing. While I realise that ‘healing’ is not a word that is normally associated with music festivals, in this case it is very apt. I have returned home feeling lighter in my soul, clearer in my mind, and more centred than I have been for a long time. My mother has likened it to a trip to a health spa, and if you ignore the beers and burgers that I drank and ate, she is right!

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Blue skies, feet up in hammock – bliss!

The highlight of the festival was, of course, the music, but being with lovely people, having a good night’s sleep in my trailer tent, and being able to truly relax (the hammock got a work out) were all important. I saw some bands and artists I had never heard of, and others who I have been familiar with for a long time. Some I saw on my own, others with friends. Some nights I was content to go to bed early and listen to the jangling sounds of 6 stages all playing at once, while other nights I stayed to listen to the last notes. A dear friend of mine has attended each of the previous festivals that I have attended, and managed to attend for one day this time, continuing our great tradition – so we had to get a ‘selfie’ to capture it!

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Our Bluesfest ‘selfie’

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Elvis Costello on the final night

My musical highlights? Steve Earle (I saw both his sets), Charlie Musselwhite, Jack Johnson (his connection with the audience was the reason I stayed up to listen to every note), Elvis Costello, Beth Hart (powerful voice and rocking band), Jake Bugg (brilliant musician but too young to have a stage presence yet), Booker T Jones (such a great sound), Aaron Neville (so romantic and swoony)and for both amusement and musical memories, KC and the Sunshine Band (although I did object to his scantily clad raunchy dancers and their antics on feminist grounds). But my stand-out? An artist called ‘Passenger’. I had heard one of his songs on the radio before so went along out of interest. Wow. He had the thousands of people in the tent in the palm of his hand. One man and a guitar, getting the whole tent to sing along with him – including on a song he had written that morning. He covered “Sounds of Silence” and the tent was almost silent, and then at the end played a song he is about to release called “Whisper”, followed by a song called “Holes” and I was in tears! I highly recommend having a listen to his music – just a delightful, authentic voice and talent.

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A very blurry shot of Passenger holding the crowd in the palm of his hand with amazing music and lyrics

I read, crocheted, slept, danced, and relaxed. At some point over the weekend I wrote a note to myself on my iPad that simply says “Be kind to yourself”. I can’t remember what prompted that, but they are definitely words to live by. I had all sorts of wise insights while driving, and relaxing, and remember very few of them, so I am glad that the only one that I wrote down is the best of all the thoughts!

My trip home had some added adventure with a midnight breakdown, two rides in tow trucks, a motel that my road side assistance service organised for me to check into at 3am, and some very helpful auto-electricians who fixed my car and allowed me to get home. Despite all of this potential stress I remained calm, and, apart from being extremely tired, wasn’t adversely affected by it all!

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My car and trailer waiting for the second tow truck ride – one hour from home but so far away!

I have bought my ticket for next year’s festival already. They won’t start to announce the artists until August, but I have looked at the previous lineups for this festival and have never seen one that I wouldn’t be happy to attend. The savings of buying early well and truly outweigh the risk that there will be artists that I don’t want to see! Plus my festival friends will be there again (our group grows a little each year) and I will be encouraging all of you to join me!

And now I am home, the chicks have returned, and we have three more days until they return to school. In between spending time with them I am starting to get the house and the sewing room back into order so that I can get back into creating this week. My head is full of ideas and I am itching to start working on some of them! I also have this overwhelming desire to get more organised…… so stand by for some further de-cluttering, making up of schedules (that may or may not be followed) and some planning (of course) to get that urge under control!

Before I sign off I should add that the chicks had a wonderful Easter break too. Their father and step-mother took them down to Victoria for some time with their grandparents and cousin, then to Melbourne for a couple of days where they got to see some football games (the first big AFL game for the boy), go to the Zoo and the Aquarium, and ride the trams everywhere. They really had some great adventures.

I hope that you have had a wonderful Easter weekend, safe travels, and lovely adventures.

Away

I am writing this sitting in the shade of my tent, listening to some guitarists in another tent and contemplating whether to go and pick up a fresh bag of ice, or lie in my hammock. Tough choices!

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For the third year in a row I have travelled to Byron Bay to attend Bluesfest. This year I nearly didn’t come. The thought of the drive (about 13 hours before you factor in breaks), travelling on my own and attending a large music festival on my own was starting to overwhelm me. But…. here I am and I am glad I came.

I decided to stagger my trip so I wouldn’t be exhausted before I arrived, but I didn’t plan it at all! Just before I left home late on Tuesday afternoon I decided that I would drive to a spot just north of Sydney called Umina that I had heard good things about. When I rang the campground the receptionist talked me out of camping because of the late hour I would be arriving at – which was an absolute blessing when I arrived during a torrential downpour that was blooding streets and tents. Sleeping in a cabin was the best decision!

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The next night I stopped at Coffs Harbour and stayed at the same campground I stayed at last year, set up my little tent and was asleep before 8!
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A cup of tea the next morning set me up for a great start and I arrived with 20 minutes to spare before meeting my camping neighbours from last year so we could camp together again. The ridiculously luxurious trailer is set up, and our neighbours thus year include a family of guitarists who seem to be attracting other guitarists to them so we are being serenaded.

Why am I giving you a blow by blow account of my trip? Because three days on my own has not been scary nor overwhelming. Last night I attended the festival on my own and had fun. I could wander where I wanted, to my own agenda. I saw great musicians – Steve Earle, Charlie Musselwhite, Dyson, Stringer and Cloher, and Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros. I was exhausted by the time it got to Edward Sharpe and had retreated to a chair, thinking that there was no shame in sitting to listen…… and then they started playing and I was propelled from my seat forward to dance, confirming once more that music cures all ills!

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My observations so far this year are quite irreverent – lots of young men with long hair and beards being escorted by girls with flowers in their hair, flowing skirts and bare feet – they look like they are reliving their grand- or great- grandparents youth at Woodstock – but with a lot more cash. There are also a high proportion of grey haired men who look like they have been sitting behind desks their whole lives wandering around in packs looking happy. You can pick the northerners – they are wearing jumpers in the chill of the 18 degree evening (scoffs the southerner who is loving the warmth!)

No post would be complete without a sewing report – I decided it was time to sew for myself so whipped up a Tova tunic using my birthday fabric from last year, and a bag and coing purse for myself (using the jeans I wore here last year!)

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No kids, no agenda, and nothing to worry about. Just what I needed, and the reason I bought my tickets a year ago.

I hope that your Easter weekend is all things good for you.

A workshop

Today I spent a few hours teaching a workshop (of the continuous kind) for a few hours at a Craft Day where there were numerous wonderful workshops, demonstrations, and a few stalls selling handmade goods.  I decided to teach on the use of freezer paper to make stencils and decorate tote bags and t-shirts.  While those of you reading in America might be familiar with this, freezer paper is not an everyday commodity here in Australia.  You can buy it from speciality shops for a couple of dollars a metre, or, do as I did, and have a friend who is travelling to the United States purchase a roll from a supermarket!

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The workshop was fun.  The fox stencil that I made last week was the most popular.  I saw it going home on bags and t-shirts in a rainbow of colours – red, orange, green and blue!

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There were other great stencils made by participants including a golden panda, a red toadstool, and a multi-coloured Lego Man that I didn’t manage to capture photos of.  Here are a few that I did manage to photograph!

 

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As always happens at these things, it was the people who made it amazing.  There was the little girl who looked like she was about 5 who was so incredibly precise with her paint – and so proud of her results.  The elderly lady with a younger woman who worked as a team to make a blue fox for a 2 year old that the older lady wanted a gift for.  The family who all made a bag each to be their adventure bags for the school holidays that have just started.  And lovely people to talk to, to share ideas with, and to learn from.

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The most amazing part of today was that I took all three chicks with me.  The boy made one clay plate, then sat quietly behind my stall with my iPad.  The middle chick made a clay plate and spent the rest of the time at the free stall for children – making all sorts of amazing creations with glue, glitter and coloured paper.  The eldest chick, who often claims to not be very crafty had a ball!  She made this beautiful paper votive house, stamped a delightfully cheeky card for her step-mother, and generally had a go at everything!

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They all behaved beautifully.  The boy left half way through with their step-mother, and the eldest chick left with a friend, but the middle chick stayed to the end and helped to pack up and carry all the loads back to the car without complaint.  It was very special!

I have been busy this week but don’t have a lot to show for it, apart from a fresh pile of bibs to re-stock the website that sells them too.  Between appointments for all and sundry, doing other parts of business like attending meetings and talking to insurance brokers, and keeping on top of the housework, not a lot of additional sewing has been achieved!  I haven’t made a bag for a couple of weeks now and am missing it!  I am actually contemplating making a bag for myself!  Shock, horror!

I am heading off up the coast next week to attend the Byron Bay Bluesfest – a 5 day extravaganza of musical delights (only a portion of which are actually blues).  This year I am driving up on my own, and although I am meeting the people I camped next to last year, and became friends with, I am flying solo.   I have nearly chickened out a few times, and decided not to go, but realise that there is no ‘pass’ or ‘fail’ on attending a music festival, so am going to give it a go and see how I fare!  The first night has Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros playing – a band that I saw live about 18 months ago and really, really enjoyed, so that will be a good start to it all!  There is an eclectic mix of artists playing – Elvis Costello, Jack Johnson, the Doobie Brothers, Buddy Guy, Suzanne Vega, Skunkhour, Matt Corby, the John Butler Trio….. and lots more.  If I can manage to get to even half of the acts on my wish list I will be happy!  And back to the bag making – I think I might make myself a bag to wear while I am grooving around on my own!

For now, though, this little bird is exhausted and needs to lie down after a big day!  I hope that your weekend is going well!

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Bibs, bibs, bibs!

I am very excited that I can finally announce that I have launched my new range of bibs for big kids and they are now available in my Etsy shop!  After falling into bib making earlier in the year, and making them to be sold on other websites and in shops, I have been itching to take the same idea and apply to bibs for older children, especially those with special needs, and oral sensory needs.  And I have done it!  (And I have also managed to finally list baby bibs in my online shop as well, so you can buy them direct from me as well!)

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Regular readers will know that I started making the baby bibs with a teething chew attached after a friend asked if I could design and make a bandana bib with a teething chew sewn in.  I agreed to give it a try, and after experimenting with different options (including walking around with wet bits of bamboo fabric on my shoulders to test their ability to hold moisture!) I came up with the design for a bandana style bib with an absorbent bamboo backing, and the teething chew sewn onto the end.  (I even worked out how to stop the sewing machines feed dogs from scratching the chew!)  They have been selling well in the Shop Handmade here in Canberra, and at markets and through a friend’s facebook page, but from the beginning I wanted to make them for older children.  This weekend the planets aligned, I had all the materials, the time and the will, and the first batch have been made.  (Can you tell I am a little bit excited!?!)

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 Little kids bibs

Having a child with special needs has introduced me to a whole new world of needs.  Although my boy doesn’t have a problem with dribble, he and one of his sisters both like to have something to chew on at times of anxiety.  With multiple holes in sleeves and collars I have discovered chewellery – plastic and or silicone jewellery that is designed for teething – or for kids with sensory needs.  It occurred to me that children who also have problems with controlling dribble or drool might also need something to chew on – so taking the teething bib to a new audience made sense.  I am also keen to make things that suit their age – because no 10 year old boy wants to be wearing teddy bears around his neck to make him stand out more than he already thinks he does.

Being able to combine my passion for sewing, fabric, research and children into one small accessory has been very rewarding.  Now to get the word out and let people know that they are available – and make some more!

Hmmmm…… other things that have happened in the nest over the last week or so……  we had rain.  Lots of rain.  The grass is long and high and in need of mowing…. soon.   Autumn weather is well and truly kicking in, with winter wardrobes starting to peek out piece by piece, and heaters occasionally being turned on to take the chill off the morning.

The chicks and I and some friends went to see The Lego Movie yesterday morning as a treat (promised since Christmas when it was advertised, and then we had to wait until April for it to be screened in Australia!).  We loved it!  I suspect that “everything is awesome” will be part of our everyday language for a long time.

I also started preparing for the workshop that I am running at the Mega Craft and Makers Day here in Canberra on Saturday (12 April).  Attendees at my workshop will make a freezer paper stencil and then paint their own design on a tote bag.  I thought that I needed a few examples to take along and show the group, so here are the two I made on Saturday.  I have about 100 more ideas to make, so will make a few more before Saturday!

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I hope that you have had a great weekend!

 

An early Easter project by my middle chick - a stuffed newspaper rabbit.

Friday finds – Tutorials for Easter Crafts

This series of posts provides a place for me to share tutorials I have found online where other crafters have shared their ideas on how to make handmade for whatever occasion, outfit, home decoration need that you might have.  This post focusses on Easter.  This has to be one of the best holiday seasons around – religious meaning, chocolate, cute bunnies and chicks, a four day weekend – not a lot more you can ask for in a holiday really!

The number of crafts available for Easter is, of course, endless.  I have collected some of my favourite sewing tutorials here, and have pinned many other links to tutorials for all sorts of other crafts on my “Holidays” Pinterest board if you are looking for other inspiration.

Cushions

I am not especially good at changing my décor to suit the holidays – but with cute cushion covers like these, I think I could be tempted!

Peppermint Patcher has a lovely tutorial for making Easter Cushions with appliqued eggs.

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Wolf and willow has this gorgeous pattern for a bunny pillow.

The 36th Avenue has this tutorial that, through reverse applique, gives you a pillow and a rabbit softie!

Easter Bunny Pillow and Bunny!

And for another take on a bunny pillow Ameroonie Designs has this tutorial for a Bunny Hop pillow.

Other Easter décor ideas

This applique wallhanging from Samelia’s Mum has no bunnies – but a hint of chocolate eggs (the well known by-product of easter bunnies!)

Over at The Split Stitch there is a great tutorial for an egg shaped mug rug, and at Hope and Gloria you will find a great tutorial for fabric eggs – perfect for using up colourful scraps!

Softies

All those cute little bunnies and chicks lend themselves to sewing soft toys – so here is a quick round up of some of the cutest free patterns available – and many aimed at the novice sewist!

The Sewing Loft has a brand new free pattern (only released last week) for the most adorable floppy bunny rabbit – an easy project with a beautiful end product!

Patchwork Posse have kindly collected 18 free patterns for making bunnies, and Prairie Mouse has this beautiful pattern for a felt Easter bunny!

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An environmentally friendly option of recycling a t-shirt into a gorgeous rabbit can be found at Chez Beeper Bebe.

All about you has an Easter chick pattern, to break up the flow of bunnies!

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Teresa from DownUnder (not me!) also has some cute chickens to make.

Other Easter sewing ideas

Oh my goodness – how cute are these egg cosies by the Red Brolly??

 

There are pages and pages of wonderful ideas for children’s Easter craft, free Easter printables, delicious recipes and fantastic ideas for decorating eggs out there on the net – I have captured a very small selection here, and a few more on my Pinterest Holidays board.  My final piece of inspiration however, is this decorated egg by Red Ted Art - a wonderful site full of inspiring ideas.

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