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The return of Friday Finds – a list of 7 free patterns for crocheted baskets

With my renewed enthusiasm for creating it is probably time to start sharing some of the useful things I find on the internet with you all too.   This week it is free patterns for crocheted baskets. I love working with thick repurposed t-shirt yarn – it works up so quickly so you get almost instant satisfaction for your efforts.  I have to admit that so far my attempts at making my own yarn haven’t been great, but I will keep persevering, and in the meantime have found some great commercially produced yarn to practise with.   I made these two baskets (without a pattern) to hold all the wool that was accumulating around my lounge room!  I also have crocheted baskets that hang in the mudroom to hold hats and gloves, in bedrooms to hold assorted things on desks, and have a small basket made of left over pieces of yarn that I use to collect eggs in each morning!   These baskets are really versatile!


I also have crocheted baskets that hang in the mudroom to hold hats and gloves, in bedrooms to hold assorted things on desks, and have a small basket made of left over pieces of yarn that I use to collect eggs in each morning!   These baskets are really versatile!

 

Here are links to a great range of patterns I found in my searching on the internet for inspiration:

Ombre Basket by Crochet in Colour

82-62-63-64-baskets by Fil Katia on Ravelry

How to make crochet fabric bakets and make your own fabric yarn

Tutorial for beginners crochet make a fabric basket by the Red Thread

Chunky Crochet Basket Pattern from Crochet in Colour

Final product image

Crochet a gorgeous set of rainbow nesting baskets

Mega Bulky Crochet Baskets

Mega Bulky Crochet Baskets by All Free Crochet

crochet basket pattern by poppyandbliss.com

Crochet Basket by Poppy and Bliss

I hope that you find something in the list to inspire you to make your own basket!

January and a Golden Wedding

Hey – we survived Christmas, New Year and most of the school holidays!  Cause for celebration!  Of course there is one more week of the holidays before the children return to school, so anything can happen (and probably will).    How was your Christmas celebration?  Ours had an interesting and slightly traumatic start when the new dog (Buddy) discovered and ate most of the contents of the Christmas stockings.  Luckily there was only white chocolate in them, but he also found a wrapped gift with chocolate and tried to eat that, along with adding teeth marks to a few other boxes. Between that and Dottie (the small and crazy dog) depositing a poo on the floor just inside the back door that my parents stepped in as they came in to say Merry Christmas it was not an auspicious start!    Buddy was then put outside to reflect on his misdeeds, and took himself for a wander, was found by a passing car and deposited at the local vet clinic, 15 minutes away.   We located him through the powers of Facebook and eventually had our Christmas meal at about 3pm.   In between all the dog drama we shared some lovely family time, and enjoyed watching as each one of us opened our presents.   My efforts in making presents was worth it – the children all loved their new pyjamas, my eldest chick is extremely excited by her new quilt, and my mother liked the table runner that I embroidered for her. I was also sent a photo of my very excited niece wearing the pjs that I had made her, so they were also a success!

I stitched this traditional sashiko pattern onto a table runner as a gift for my mother.   I will share my tips on how to do this soon.

The big focus for us throughout the holiday period was actually an event after New Year.   On 10 January my parents celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary.   We couldn’t let such an occasion pass unmarked, so we held a party and invited family and friends.    The best thing about having family who live so far away from us (or is it that we live so far away from them?) is that when they come to visit they don’t just come for a couple of hours – they come for a few days so we get to spend time with them doing ‘normal’ things!    This was definitely the case on this occasion.  My father has 9 siblings and 6 of them were able to attend.  My mother’s siblings all sent their best wishes as did those of my father’s siblings who couldn’t join us.  Two sets of aunt and uncles stayed with us for a few days, along with my sister and niece and my brother.   My brother’s attendance was a surprise for my parents – and it was a true surprise with lots of joy!   Time spent talking to family over breakfast or while working in the kitchen was a real treat and made the whole week very special.

Photos of their wedding day, a delicious croquembouche cake and a blessing tree.   (And just quietly – how good does the dresser that I renovated last year look?)

For the party itself my aunts helped with cooking, my brother and uncle tackled the grass cutting, everyone chipped in to tidy the garden, and one of my uncles braved Costco with me for shopping!   My sister helped with all the decorations, which were lovely, and my sister and brother stepped in to keep the kitchen running and food appearing throughout the evening.  It really was a lovely party – kids running around in the garden, adults catching up with old friends and new, and some great family traditions played out, including the family tradition of singing a song written about the couple (in this case to the tune of ‘A bicycle built for two’), signs being held up during the speeches to encourage the audience to clap, cheer or hiss, and lovely memories shared of a wonderful life together.

I am so very fortunate to have parents who have been married for this long.  They are the first to admit that it hasn’t always been easy, and that they have had to work to maintain their relationship, but their commitment to each other is tangible and their love for each other continues to keep them strong, and it really does serve to show that great relationships exist.

6 Tips for celebrating a Golden Wedding Anniversary

After it was all over I realised that we had learnt some great tips to share with our friends who might also be hosting a party for their parents in a similar way, so I put together a few of them to share with you all.   They are a bit Australian centric, but the ideas can be used in other countries even if the names change!

My parents renewed their marriage vows, 50 years after the original vows, in a mass said at home. It was emotional, happy and a true celebration.

1. The Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet has a protocol section that will arrange for the Prime Minister to send a letter to the couple to commemorate the occasion.   (I found this out after the fact!)


2. If you are Catholic you can arrange to have a papal blessing certificate sent to them to commemorate the occasion by speaking to the admin staff at your local church office.  (The certificate is, as you can imagine, quite ornate!)


3. To create poster sized reprints of the original wedding photos I scanned them onto a USB stick then went to Officeworks and had them print the black and white photos on plain paper at A2 size.  Cost per print?  $4.     A colour photo on thicker paper but still at A2 size was $10.    I used Ikea frames that I already owned to hang them and they looked great!


4. We had a croquembouche cake as the ‘wedding cake’.   These delightful piles of choux pasty filled with custard and drizzled with caramel toffee and spun sugar with gold leaf were made by a fantastic pastry chef here in Canberra.  Natalie van den Bosch of the soon-to-open patisserie Le Bon Melange created this beautiful dessert that had everyone lining up for seconds!   (The fact that she had been part of a youth group that my parents ran many years ago in another part of the country was a nice personal twist!)


5. My sister created a blessing tree.   This was a ‘tree’ of gold twigs with tiny lights that she arranged in a vase, with tags for the guests to write their blessings for the couple.   It was lovely to read the messages after the party.


6. I designed the invitations to the party, and to the house mass that was held on the day of their anniversary, using www.canva.com.   This awesome site allows you to design for free, or a for a small charge, using elements that graphic designers use.  The invitations looked professional (if I do say so myself!)

I hope that the holiday season has been kind to you.  I have been using the time to do some painting – walls, furniture etc, so stand by for some further updates.  (Although the photo from the anniversary party does show a newly painted wall, so that can count as a sneak preview!)

 

What no one tells you about parenting a special needs child|a little bird made me

What no one ever tells you about parenting a special needs child

What no one tells you about parenting a special needs child|a little bird made meIn the last couple of years I have had to come to terms with the diagnosis of my boy as having special needs.  I have been walking through the fog of discovery ever since, usually taking one step forward and two steps back.  I have been extremely fortunate that I have a wonderful family who provide great moral support even though none of them live within driving distance, a steadfast group of good friends, and that I have the skills to research and find the information I need.  I have also had to learn a new set of skills and shift my thinking dramatically about so many parts of my life, so I thought that if I shared a few of those discoveries here it might help someone else who ends up in the same boat.

1. You have to become your child’s advocate.   There is no one else in the world who knows your child as well as you, and who has more right than you to stand up for what is right for your child.  If you aren’t comfortable challenging the authority of teachers, principals, doctors, or your own family, it is time to learn. Challenging them doesn’t need to be aggressive, but it does need to involve questioning whether there are other options, whether factors that affect your child have been taken into account, and whether this is in the best interests of your child.

What no one tells you about parenting a special needs child|a little bird made me

2. There are laws to protect your child from discrimination, but the only person who is going to remind anyone about them is you.  Become aware of your rights and your child’s rights. When the school says ‘oh he/she can’t join the class to do (such-and-such) because he/she will be (insert any myriad of reasons)’, don’t agree and apologise for the inconvenience that your child has caused.  Instead ask what reasonable steps they could take to include your child in the activity.  Often just by asking the question they will be reminded that they have a duty to try and include your child, and will take steps to do so.

3. You cannot do everything yourself.  No matter how independent, strong and resilient you think you are, when you have a special needs child you need to make sure that you ask for help when you need it, or accept an offer of help when it is made.  Your child needs to have other people in his/her life that they trust and are comfortable being with, and you need to have people that you can leave your child with, knowing that they will be cared for and looked after.

What no one tells you about parenting a special needs child|a little bird made me

4. You will learn to appreciate little things that make life good.  I used to think in terms of a good week, or a good month. Now I celebrate a good hour, and sometimes even just a good decision about something small.  Being able to sit and drink a good cup of tea in one sitting is worthy of a celebration isn’t it?!

5. You will become very good at making apologies for not attending events.  I have lost count of the number of times I have had to give last minute apologies, not accept an invitation, or rearrange plans because I know that I need to stay home and not disrupt (further) our routine by going out.    I used to feel embarrassed or awkward about it.  Now I just say “I am very sorry but a family commitment has come up and I won’t be able to attend’, and no one ever complains to my face.  It is about establishing your priorities – what is more important – your children or your social obligations?

6. It is okay to trust your own judgement.  I recently took my children on a spur of the moment holiday to Hawaii.  (I know – crazy stuff!)  If I had thought about it for too long I probably would have listened to all the warnings about travelling with my son, and what could go wrong.  But instead I relied on my own judgement that I could manage the situation for him, and for his sisters, and although I began to question my own sanity on the overnight flight there (when no one slept and he was becoming agitated at the sound of a toddler crying) it turns out that I was right.  By taking everyone’s needs into account we had a lovely holiday that was much more stress free than life at home usually is!

What no one tells you about parenting a special needs child|a little bird made me

7. You have to look after yourself.  This one is probably obvious to many of you, but it wasn’t to me, and I learned the hard way what happens if you don’t read the warning signs.  I had a breakdown/burn out at the end of last year that has forced me to learn what happens if you just keep going without caring for yourself.  Whether it is having time to read a book, catch up with friends, have a hair cut, go for a walk – something that soothes your soul, and re-energises you is essential if you are going to be a good parent.

8. Special needs kids fight with their siblings just like other kids.  My boy and one of his sisters argue with each other a lot.  It is loud, it involves lots of whining, and it drives me crazy.  But I have to remind myself, and everyone else, that this isn’t because of his condition – this is standard sibling stuff going on.  And in the same way, the two of them will play together for hours without a cross word and get angry with their older sister for interrupting the rhythm of their game.  Sometimes kids are just kids.

9. You will get to know all sorts of amazing new people.  I have become friends with other parents of children with special needs who I would not otherwise have met which is great for support, but in fact, because my son looks at the world in a different way, he talks to people I would never think to engage with. I have lost count of the number of times we are at a shop and all of a sudden the lady at the fruit section is chatting to us about her life, or at a camp-ground and we are invited to join a camp-fire because they have met my son, or at a park and the other parents know that I make and sell things, thanks to my greatest advocate.

What no one tells you about parenting a special needs child|a little bird made me

10.  You will learn to laugh at yourself and with your child in a whole new way.  Okay, so maybe that is because if you don’t laugh you’ll cry some days, but laughter is good for us, and if you can remember to laugh at the ridiculous, everything feels so much better as a result.

If you have any points to add here, please feel free to do so by commenting!

Friday Finds – a list of tutorials for making a crocheted floor rug

In the process of making the crocheted floor rug for my daughters’ room from recycled t-shirt yarn (also known as ‘tarn’ and by the brand name ‘zpagetti’) I found a pile of patterns to draw inspiration from.  I am now slightly stalled in the process of making a rug for my son’s room, so hope that by revisiting those tutorials to share with you I might kick start myself back into action!

Making T-shirt yarn

Tutorial on Mollie Makes – how to make t-shirt yarn

Clear diagram on the interestingly named Fuck Yeah Craft site – making t-shirt yarn

Video and instructions on ReleveDesign – how to cut continuous t-shirt yarn

Polka Dot Pineapple – Tutorial on making t-shirt yarn

Making rugs

Upcycle magazine – How to make an Upcycled Crochet Rug

NobleKnits Knitting Blog – How to crochet a Rag Rug tutorial

Eclectic Me – Who said Grannys don’t look good in denim?  (tutorial for a denim crocheted floor rug)

Impatiently Crafty – Round Crochet Rag Rug tutorial

Flight of the Pook has created a vlog series on Great Big Fat Crochet.

King Soliet – detailed post and lots of ideas on making Upcycled Crochet Rug

Sugar Bee Crafts – Rag Rug Tutorial

Bauta Witch has a tutorial for creating a crocheted rug, that includes lighting!  There is an English translation at the bottom of the post.

This Ripple rug pattern on the Sweet and Knit blog is written in Spanish, but is easily translated and results in a gorgeous floor rug.

It has worked!  I am off to pick up the hook again – and hopefully have some photos of the finished product before too long!

Friday finds – a list of Eco-friendly Christmas gifts, gift wrap, and decorations to make

Your calendar is not wrong. Today is not Friday. However….my submission to the Handmade Holiday series on Sew Mama Sew – Eco-friendly Gifts– is on their site today, so I thought it would be useful to have a complementary list to celebrate this event!

Looking after the environment, reducing waste, re-purposing and re-cycling, being aware of our eco-system and, as my boy says, looking after nature, are all things that are important in this nest. In fact, for most of my friends and family, these things are automatic these days, and form part of our everyday life. We have a water-tank, raise chickens, compost, grow vegies (with variable success), recycle, etc. Being able to make gifts that incorporate these principles is great – both from an ethical point of view, but also from a budgetary one! In my search for eco-friendly gift ideas for my submission to Sew Mama Sew I found wonderful ideas. Not all of them could be published on their site, so today I provide you with the supplementary list of ideas – and hopefully some inspiration for other ways of making eco-friendly gifts, decorations and having a cleaner, greener Christmas!

Lacy at Every Day is a New Day has a tutorial for making Resuable-washable paper towel. I love this concept. One step past having a pile of cloths to use for spills – making a roll that is convenient to ‘tear off’ and use instead of paper towel is a great gift for the eco-friendly domestic goddess in your life!

Vicky Meyers has a blog full of wonderful ideas about how to make recycled bags, however it was the idea of a Recycled denim Foot Muff that caught my attention. A great gift for the hipster in your life!

Of course denim can be used to make many wonderful re-purposed gifts. This denim bag from Art Bar is another great idea.

Another denim idea is this one from Planet Forward – The Green MacGyver Eco Friendly Crafts Blue Jean Notebook

On the same site there is also a tutorial for Recycled T-shirt Bracelets – a great way to upcycle old t-shirts.

Another up-cycling idea comes from Creative Jewish Mom – Crochet with Sheets.

Fabrics from favourite clothes, or sheets can also be re-purposed into pillow covers. The Creative Place has a great tutorial for making a Repurposed Clothes College Pillow.

The tutorial from Happy Hour Projects – Resuable lined snack baggies is a great present for children and parents alike. It shows you how to use plastic shopping bags to make a plastic liner for a snack bag, so it is doubly eco in my books – reducing plastic bag waste in landfill, and providing an alternative to using more plastic bags and wrap! Gifting it with some homemade treats inside would be a great eco-gift!!

Similar principles are used for the Recycled plastic bag placement by Inhabitat. Although it was designed as a Father’s Day gift it would adapt well to the Christmas season too!

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Another way of using up plastic shopping bags is to re-purpose them into ‘plarn’ – plastic yarn – and then crochet something new from them! At Sustainable Baby Steps there is a great tutorial on how to do this!

7 Easy Steps to Make Yarn from Plastic Bags

The number of tutorials for re-using old woollen jumpers (sweaters) is large. Here is one with a bit of a difference – just great for an eco-baby – Felt Block Rattle – My Poppet

On the same site there is a great tutorial for making your own Dress Up Girl.

 

Excess CD’s can be used to make very pretty coasters, using this tutorial from Crafts by Amanda

Stenciled CD/DVD Coasters - CraftsbyAmanda.com

Another upcycle idea is to use Scrabble Tiles to make fridge magnets. This tutorial by Adventurous Every Day – Upcycled Scrabble Tile Magnets shows you how.

Other gift ideas that are eco-friendly, are a bit like the non-paper paper towel at the top of this list. Making things that replace disposable objects is always good for the environment. One of my favourite things to make for use around the home is crocheted dish cloths. I use bamboo yarn as it is super absorbant. When you have used a cloth for the day, its just goes in the wash and comes up fresh again. One of my wise friends has 7 in 7 different colours – one for each day of the week. A gift like that would be a beautiful thing to make for an eco-conscious friend or family member. I have used this tutorial from Bubblegirl – dishcloth pattern with great success but there are a plethora of patterns out there to use (maybe I will put my collection into another list one day!).

In addition to the market bag tutorial linked on my Sew Mama Sew post, there are, of course, a list of tutorials for market bags here on this site that I prepared a few months ago! Where I live the shops charge you for providing a shopping bag, so we carry our own fabric bags instead. It has reduced landfill and makes us all think twice about using plastic bags. They make great presents!

When it comes to wrapping gifts, the possibilities for being eco-friendly are endless! I was reminded recently of different ways of wrapping presents that I had employed for gifts about 20 years ago. The fact that one of the recipients still remembered and treasured the effort I had gone to in making her gifts so special gave me great joy. Some of the ideas I used included brown paper with hand drawn and painted decorations, calico fabric parcels tied with string, handpainted or stamped paper, etc. If I had access to these links back then, who knows what else I would have done!

How to make Newspaper Gift Bags – How About Orange

DIY Maven – Recycle Greeting Cards into Gift Pillows

Gathering Dust – Last minute Gift Tags

Decorella – Easy Eco Holiday Gift Wrapping Bag

Zakka Life – Eco Christmas Wrap

Eco Novice – DIY Resuable Gift Bags

As for making your ornaments – either for yourself, or as gifts, again there is a lot of inspiration out there.

Wayfaring Artist -Upcycled Christmas Ornament

Eco Empire – DIY Recyclable Paper Christmas Wreath

Recyclable Paper Christmas Wreath

Computers memory Christmas decorations – Recyclart

Computers Memory Recycled for Christmas in electronics diy  with ram Ornament Christmas

Michele Made Me – Heart house ornament

Needles and Wool – Recycled Card ornament

Recycled Lovelies – DIY Light Bulb Ornaments

Of course I am not the first one to think of such a list! So here are some links to other sites that have gathered together tutorials for making eco-friendly gifts, decorations and seasonal craft.

1800 Recycling – DIY Gift Guide for the Crafty and Financially Savvy Greenie

Ecouterre – 14 Eco Chic Gifts you can make yourself

Fave Crafts – Recycle Crafts

Everything Etsy – 101 Green Handmade Gift Tutorials

Mom Coloured Glasses – Eco Christmas fun

I hope that between all of these lists you are able to find some great ideas to have a cleaner, greener Christmas this year!

Friday Finds – a list of 18 free tutorials for Diaper/Nappy Bags

Although we are a few days away from the official beginning of Spring, the weather has decided to anticipate the change a few days early, and it is beautiful!! The sort of weather where you want to be outside, pottering in the garden, going for walks and being energetic. I love it! Here’s hoping that it will last and not revert to the gloomy winter conditions again!

Today’s list of finds are well and truly for me to make as gifts, not for personal use! When I had my chicks I had a fabulous nappy bag (diaper bag for some) that my sister gave me – a black, quilted, backpack, lined in plastic lined materials, with great pockets. I found that having my hands free was wonderful. And it didn’t look like a nappy bag. I have written before that I think that diaper bags can be sophisticated, with no little duckies or teddy bears etc. Having this cool black bag meant that I felt a bit groovy instead of completely lost in motherhood. So it is with this in mind that I have collected these patterns for diaper bags. The ‘cool’ factor is defined by the fabric that you choose, and therefore only limited by your imagination!

Diaper Bag – Nap Time Crafters 

Easiest Nappy/Diaper Bag ever – Sew Christine 

Diaper Bag – My crazy beautiful life   

Diaper Bag – Prudently Painted Vintage 

2 in 1 Bag – Stroller Bag into Messenger Bag – Make it Love it

Diaper Bag with a Divider – Warehouse Fabrics

Diaper Bag – Sew Much Ado 

Simple Diaper Bag – Life on 19th

Hip Mama Diaper Bag – A Mingled Yarn

Diaper Bag – Sleep Owl Studio (with ideas on adapting the Hip Mama Diaper Bag)

Pretty Bird Quick Trip Diaper Bag – Sew 4 Home 

Diaper Bag with elastic pockets – Craftster

Diaper Bag – Crafty Couple 

Mod Diaper Bag – Vibrant Designs 

Anna’s Diaper Bag – CocoJ Designs 

Diaper Bag – Mommysewing

Angela’s Diaper Bag – Moda Bake Shop 

Baby on the Go Diaper Bag – Moda Bake Shop 

 

Friday finds – a list of 28 free tutorials for making skirts for grown ups

Well, the suspense is over. I have prepared a list of Friday finds after all. The collection this week is a list of tutorials for making skirts. For grown ups! While many of the patterns and theories and lessons can be used to make skirts for little people, the aim of these are skirts for big people. Like me! I am so over this winter and it’s dreariness. I keep looking at my cotton wrap skirts with longing. Waiting for the day I can wear them with bare legs and sandals. A list of patterns might keep me going until the season is right to wear them again. Or I might find one for a winter skirt! Let’s see.

Pleated wrap Skirt – Grand Revival Design

Paris Skirt The TutorialParis skirt – Nothing too fancy

Circle Skirt Maths explained – By Hand London

 Miranda Skirt Pattern – Pattern Scissors Cloth

All About the Skirt – Freckles in April 

Simplicity in a Pillowcase – Casa Crafty

Paperbag skirt pattern – Grosgrain Fabulous

How to draw a skirt pattern – Simply Modern Mom

Circle Skirt Pattern and Tutorial – The Ribbon RetreatCircle #skirt #pattern #tutorial by Kaysi on [http://www.craftskeepmesane.blogspot.com/] via, [http://www.theribbonretreat.com/blog/circle-skirt-pattern-tutorial.html]

Hemless a-line skirt – One Avian Daemon

Make your own full gathered skirt – Gertie’s Blog for Better Sewing 

Dana Wrap Skirt by Fitzpatterns | Sewing PatternDana Wrap Skirt – Craftsy

Everyday Skirt – iCandy 

15 free knee length skirt patterns – Fab n Free