Tag Archives: winter

What else has been happening?

In addition to the big news that my creativity has returned, you might well ask what else has been happening here in the nest!  This year is, once again, flying past and we are more than half way through it!

Autumn was colourful and not too cold and then winter hit with a cold snap that hasn’t really lifted yet.

  

For me the year has, as usual, had its challenges. Learning to accept that I can’t do all that I once could, because being a parent has to come first, seems to be a long lesson to learn. I still forget and agree to do something that sounds great, only to get to the date and realise that it just won’t work for the family for me to be absent for an afternoon, an evening, etc.  I seem to constantly be cancelling plans and letting friends down, but, in one new step forward, have learnt not to carry that guilt with me.  Phew!  On the up side, following a series of linked events that saw my parents absent from the farm for the majority of a couple of months, my independence has grown significantly and I no longer have to rely on them to help me get things done – although it is still nice when I get home to find that Mum has folded my washing or tidied my bench!   I have managed to finish two crochet blankets – one started two years ago – and am enjoying their warmth during this cold winter.    Keeping life simple seems to be my motto in order to survive!

 

This year has seen new schools for two of my chicks.  After many unsuccessful attempts to have my boy placed into a learning support unit within the school system he was enrolled in, I made a phone call to the Department of Education for New South Wales.   What a different response!   As a result he now attends a school in Queanbeyan where he is supported beautifully and where he feels safe.   He is still only attending school for 2 hours a day, but he is engaged in active learning when he is at school, which is a big step forward.    Throughout this process I have, again, had to learn some new lessons about changing my expectations for his future, and accepting that the role of a special needs parent is a different one from parenting non-special needs kids.  You would think that after 5 years of advocating and supporting him I would be on top of this gig but it turns out that there is always more to learn!

My artist-in-residence started high school this year.  I am still not sure how I missed that this was going to be a big deal for her and why I was so surprised when she struggled with the transition!   All the signs were there, so I am not sure where my head was at that point!  6 months in we are making progress at supporting her to attend school, and to cope with the change of class every hour, plus the different people she has to see, but we are well and truly at the beginning of this journey with a lot of work to do to keep her supported and safe.   In the meantime she has made great progress with training her kelpie Buddy, and is continuing to produce amazing works of art on a daily basis (along with a whole lot of teenage attitude).

The eldest chick has really hit her stride this year.  She is (more or less) on top of her school work and has chosen electives that she is really enjoying, especially Engineering.  She has recently joined Army Cadets and is constantly amazing me with her drive, determination and organisation.  She has been working on her fitness and can be seen many mornings running around the paddocks in the freezing cold, weaving in between the sheep and kangaroos with her headphones on!

The farm is producing food for us!   We have a freezer full of lamb, and with a new ram (named Gordon Ramsey) we hope to have more lambs in the spring.  Our free-loading chickens went to new homes (no really – they did) and our new ones are producing eggs a plenty, which means baking is happening, along with egg and bacon breakfasts. (Now to think about getting some pigs…..)

It has been a dry, cold winter and the dam is at a very low point, which means that it freezes around the edges overnight quite often!  We have also had some impressive fogs.

  

How’s that – summarised 6 months in less than 800 words!    I hope that you have been well and that life hasn’t been too complex for you.

Making stuff!

I have been back at the machine making stuff this week.  And it feels good!  I am itching to get back to making bags – it has been too long – but for now I have been working on more baby accessories to meet demands in the Shop Handmade.

A couple of weeks ago I starting playing with sewing plastic to make waterproof bibs.  Many hours, and frustration later I realised that I needed a different approach.

Crooked bias binding, uneven stitches, lots of swearing, and slipping layers......

Crooked bias binding, uneven stitches, lots of swearing, and slipping layers……

And of course the answer was simple – use the laminated cotton that I already have!  Doh!

Would have been better if I had looked at the direction of the pattern when I was cutting it out!

Would have been better if I had looked at the direction of the pattern when I was cutting it out!

So a series of waterproof bibs, with soft bamboo lining so that they are still comfortable for a baby to wear, are now stocked in Shop Handmade.  And I have made a few with pockets on the bottom.

Waterproof bib|a little bird made me

I remember thinking that pockets on bibs were weird, until I had my own children and realised how handy they can be for little ones to scoop out the dropped biscuit, grape, spaghetti, etc that they have dropped!  (Good thing these are washable!)

I suspect that I didn’t share with you the other product I made for the Shop a few weeks ago – hot water bottle covers and heat packs. (Well, it is almost winter you know!)

01d39dc2367d17fc1aa424c89e72d66a2dfc19b63301120f43b86debf606b3cda25f7936f14f9510af4f01454d7539687514b5577aedeafe9f2cf44eee8857This week a customer asked for a set of hand-warmers as a gift for a traveller, so I had fun playing with a design for these. You know me – they couldn’t just be plain!

Handwarmers|a little bird made me

I have also been working on some more nappy change mats to restock in the Shop.  Loving all the bright colours!Piecing together nappy change mats|a little bird made me

I am also a little bit chuffed to be the featured designer on the Handmade Canberra website this week.

Now to get back to the machine!!  I hope that you are having a productive week.

A change of pace

Tonight is certainly a night of changes in Australian politics with a change in the leadership of the Labour Party, and therefore in the role of Prime Minister. Not our finest moment as a country. The changes that follow will be interesting, especially as it is likely that the election will happen sooner. I am not particularly ‘political’ but being a public servant, and working in the nation’s capital, you end up being a bit of an interested bystander to it all! On a very superficial note, our just-ousted Prime Minister had just had a series of photos done where she was playing with her dog and knitting. They were the best ones yet as far as this little crafter was concerned! Oh well – wonder if the new Prime Minister will take up crochet to corner the same market? Probably not.

The other change of pace in the house is that I am putting down my personal projects for a short time while I concentrate on making costumes for the eldest chick’s class entry in the annual Wakakirri competition. This is a national competition which, for the primary schools, is a story dance competition. Our school enters with the Year 5 classes each year, and this year is our first as a family. Parents and teachers help out with costumes, props, sets, etc. Sort of unsurprisingly, but still a bit sad, only 5 parents (out of a possible 50+ households) indicated that they could sew…… so the five of us are responsible for making the 80 odd costumes (apparently they change during the performance.) So over the next two weeks I am making tunics, capes and other wonderous things. To keep costs down we are using polycotton – and after months of only sewing with 100% cotton it feels quite strange!

I am not the organiser of costumes (I am realistic enough about my restricted availability that I have finally learnt not to put my hand up for everything!) but did have one moment of success in contributing on the weekend. My friend who is organising the costumes said that she had been looking for a wedding dress in the charity shops, but they were still relatively expensive. She didn’t want to ask anyone at school to donate their dress as they are traditionally kept. I agreed, saying that while my marriage might not have lasted, I was still keeping the dress for my girls to have, if they want it. Then, while sitting through the hours of martial arts grading on the weekend I had a brainwave and put a call out on the freecycle network. I had two responses within half an hour! I picked up one dress that had been handed down as a ‘back-up’ through a family member and then stored for a few years, and another that had never been worn, and came with two bridesmaids dresses, also never worn. (I didn’t ask for the full story but was intrigued!!) So we now have plenty of fabric for the costume that is required, plus metres and metres of tulle and satin rosettes to be used for our craft stall later in the year! My girls were quite intrigued with the older dress and how ‘big and foofy it is’. I explained the concept of the ‘meringue dress’ (a la Four Weddings and a Funeral) to them and they were highly amused!

The good news is that the other change in this house is that I am finally healthy again! I had my first day back at work today and although I am exhausted, I made it through the day! The virus was nasty but I appear to have beaten it! I knew I was well again when I was able to sew. A personalised superhero cape for a little girl in Tasmania was finally made and sent yesterday. I think we should all have one tucked away in our wardrobes, no matter how old we are!
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Being sick did give me time to think about this blog more though and I finally worked out how to have a link at the top of the page straight to my Etsy shop, and one to my Pinterest boards! A little change, but one that took me ages to work out!

I have also found another way to combat the winter blues in a small way and have finally bought a heated clothes airer (a drying rack that heats up)! So that is one less basket of wet washing sitting around the kitchen (and a bit more dry washing for me to fold!)

Even with all these little changes, the week is going well (unless you are in the Australian Labour Party of course!) I hope that your week is going well too!

A week of bags

The theme of this week has definitely been bags.  Followed closely by ticking things of my ‘to do’ list.

First of all I had my first purchase from a ‘stranger’ through my Etsy shop.  A person who I don’t know, and who isn’t known to one of my friends (including my on-line friends to my knowledge) bought one of my bags from my Etsy shop!  I was very excited.  It feels like I have ‘made it’!  Which is quite ridiculous when I consider that I have sold many, many items and filled many, many custom orders since I started my Etsy shop in January.  Still – celebrating achievements is important!

Then I decided that I needed some fresh bags in my Etsy shop.  So I made three bags.  All of them were from patterns I had already developed and used, but each of them was from fabric I have been wanting to use for a while.  I am particularly happy with the Raindrops and Poppy one, but like all three of them.  (Which is good as sometimes I don’t like what I have made at all!)

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Next on my list was posting some links to the many bag tutorials I have collected from different sites over the last year.  With the 30 odd links I posted in my last post I think I have only managed about 1/3 of the links I have collected so far!  I have been wanting to do this for months, so feel good that I finally achieved it.  Next will be links to tutorials for adding different aspects of bags, like pockets, straps, clasps, etc.  Then maybe some more patterns!

Then finally I made a custom order bag today, and included an adjustable strap for the first time.  It was so easy that I am kicking myself for not attempting it sooner!  I am happy with the way that it turned out, and like the finish on it, so will definitely be buying more slides and making more of these straps.

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The rest of the week has passed in a blur of children’s sporting activities, (played in pouring rain for the weekend matches),  managing behaviour issues with one child, and then attending the artist-in-residence’s First Eucharist (First Communion.)

It was a very special ceremony that had the children completely involved.  Our church and school provide white robes for all the children to wear, so there is no great explosion of miniature ballgowns, mock-wedding dresses and veils as there was when I was young.  Instead they all looked lovely and reverent and calm.  This group of 8 year olds read the readings and the prayers, performed a reflection dance, and participated in all aspects of the mass with complete confidence, reverence and joy.  It was so special to witness.  My little person was so calm she didn’t get at all flustered when the priest lost her gluten free host when she went up for her first communion.  After some quick muttering to me about whether I could bring her back in the morning we returned to our seat without her having received it.  She didn’t get upset at all, and stayed happy.  In the meantime the priest recovered his wits, sent for another host, blessed it, and made a special trip down the aisle to her to give it to her.  She felt special and wasn’t at all worried that everyone was watching and wondering what was going on!

In my continuing effort to learn and grow I decided that I could learn a lot from her.  In the face of disappointment she maintained her calm, and her faith that it would be sorted out without too much fuss.  Given that she has more than her fair share of anxious moments, it was impressive and something that her mother could do more of!

Now we roll into another week.  Winter has kicked in with a vengeance, so I will be crocheting beanies, berets and mittens I suspect!  I hope that you have a great week wherever you are.