Monthly Archives: August 2013

Making new things

This week got off to a great start when I decided to bite the bullet and book my first market stall.  Not content to start small and test things out I jumped straight into a two day booking at the Canberra Christmas markets in December!  Eek!!  I think I will try for a casual stall at a smaller market before then just as a practise run!  Despite worrying that I may have jumped in above my head I am quite excited about the prospect and have spent time researching different ideas for displaying goods, thinking about packaging and banners, tags, small items, and creating a cohesive display.  All so very exciting!!  That is the same weekend that the chicks’ father returns to the country, so the timing couldn’t be better in terms of them being busy catching up with him, and me being able to just enjoy being a stall holder.

With that spurt of adrenaline I decided to set myself some targets this week, instead of being distracted by social ‘stuff’, and it is paying off already!  On Monday I whipped up yet another Trojan tunic for the school performance as one of the eldest chick’s classmates has returned from holiday in time for the finals so now needs to be costumed up.  That took longer than expected while I wrestled with my overlocker tension, but I got there in the end!!

That meant that last night I was free to start on a gift for one of my staff who is about to go on maternity leave.  This achieved three things.  First I get to make something personal for her, secondly I got to try out a pattern I have been eyeing off for a while, and third, I sewed laminated cotton for the first time.

The pattern was a free tutorial on the Jordana Paige blog for a Diaper Changing Pad Clutch.

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Of course, in my measuring and cutting I somehow managed to cut the laminate 3 – 4 inches shorter than I was meant to and wasn’t confident about piecing it, so the mat ended up a bit shorter than it was meant to.

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I also decided to deviate from the pattern a bit (!!) so added sewn in hook and loop fasteners rather than the button and elastic in the pattern.  Then I realised that the spiky hook side would be near the baby’s head, so made a little flap to protect the head!

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I also used bamboo fleece as the batting and decided to quilt it to the lining so that it doesn’t lose its shape when it is washed.

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Overall I am happy with it, although it is wider than I imagined it would be  (which is ridiculous when the measurements were provided and I measured and cut the fabric!  I am rolling my eyes at myself here!).  She will receive it on Friday so I hope that she likes it!  I was pleasantly surprised about how easy it was to sew the laminated cotton.  I had read a lot about how tricky it was, and I just didn’t find it tricky at all, so will now be more prepared to tackle other projects using it!

Not bad for the middle of the week!  Next on the list is a bag for a raffle at work on Friday, superhero capes, the quilt top, the long list of things bursting out of my head at the moment……..  I need more hours in the day!!!

I am struggling with the dance of life a bit at the moment.  Trying to fit in the things that I want to do (sew, design, sew, market, sew, plan), the things that I want the kids to do (sports, homework, music practice), the things that we have to do (eat, sleep, bathe, etc), work (fairly essential to pay for everything else) and time with the new (insert appropriate word here – ‘boyfriend’ seems so silly at my age, we are not yet ‘partners’, ‘flame’ is a bit dramatic, ‘man’ seems a bit pejorative, ‘lover’ takes the blog places I don’t want to go when my parents read it, ‘friend’ seems too coy, and all attempts at incorporating some reference to birds or chicks in keeping with my descriptions of myself and the kids just look majorly dodgy when I type them!!  Suggestions are welcome!)  The analogy of dancing to the rhythm to find the right path through life seems particularly appropriate at the moment.  Maybe I just need to find the right soundtrack!!

I hope that your week is going well, and that you have had small spurts of creativity energy to keep you going!

A taste of Spring

I realise that writing about the weather can be the equivalent of watching paint dry but I really do have to celebrate the delightful weather we have had for the last two days! After a winter that has been long, gloomy and icy, the last two days have felt like a harbinger of Spring. The sun has been out, the sky has been blue, and we have all been able to be outside with less layers of clothing on! I am considering getting the hammock out, thinking about finally planting my front garden, and imagining a camping trip to the coast. Of course, this is just a teaser – the real spring is still weeks away, but just a taste of it is so delightful it has to be celebrated!

The nest has been a busy place for the last few days. Last night I attended a Gala Ball connected to celebrations with the children’s school. This of course necessitated a trip to the hairdresser, during which the artist in residence (who has the straightest glossy hair) convinced the hairdresser to give her curls…. what a sight! Because I try to protect the chicks from full face photos on the web I won’t put up a shot tonight – but she loved it so much she has convinced me to buy a curling wand so that she can have curls again – so we will try for a shot of just the hair very soon!  (Nothing quite like an 8 year old who knows her own mind when it comes to fashion!)

The hairdresser did a great job with my hair – and even added a subtle touch of glitter as a giggle! I had my new dress, the obligatory high strappy shoes, and an extremely debonair partner in his bow tie and black suit. But do you think I managed to remember to get even one photo? Nope. So you will have to take my word for it that I looked glamorous! It was a lovely night with great friends, good music etc. My date coped very well with meeting a table full of strangers, and I had a number of compliments from friends about how handsome he is!!  Luckily several of them also noted that he seems to be a lovely person!

Before starting on the path to being glamorous, we had the children’s sport yesterday. All three chicks played really well in their games of rugby and hockey respectively, but I do need to share a photo of the middle chick being goalie in the hockey game. She is quite petite, so the shin pads covered her thighs! She managed to stop quite a few balls going into the goal, and enjoyed playing the position, so may do it again next week. If it keeps going I might need to look for a better fitting kit!

Goalie

I have also had a lovely weekend with a couple of my items making the front page of the Etsy website.  I missed seeing the first one, which appeared in this treasury

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Then the same pillowcase was on the front page again today

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And then tonight one of my bags was on!

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Then, while I was writing this post, that pillowcase popped up again on the front page!!

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How have I managed to get such great coverage?  I am part of the Australian Wandarrah Team, a team on Etsy representing Australian sellers. One of the things that the team does is to take turns at promoting each other’s items.  We put together treasuries, featuring items from fellow team members’ shops, and comment and ‘favourite’ each others treasuries.  These treasuries are then available for selection for the front page.  It is a great way to get to see the talents of other artists, to support each other, and to have some fun.  So if you are an Etsy seller I encourage you to join an active team and form a network!  If you are not, I encourage you to look for items tagged as being from the Wandarrah Team when you are browsing Etsy, as there are a huge number of very talented Australian artists who belong to the team.

As for sewing?  Not a lot in the last few days.  I have spent most of today tackling some of the long term household tasks – sorting piles of paper into new piles, sorting toys into keeping and non-keeping piles, and doing the same with some bookshelves to make way for new books.  Not very exciting, but quite satisfying in it’s own way!  Once the house is a bit more tidy and organised I can return to sewing with gusto, knowing that I am sort of on top of things in the house!  And I do need to sew – I have a number of orders for superhero capes coming in – and so far the majority of them are for girls.  I am enjoying the continuation of that trend.

As for geocaching?  Not so good!  We picked one up on Wednesday night on the way home from school, then on Thursday and Friday completely forgot to do it!!  Although we discussed picking up some caches this weekend, we didn’t actually get to it…… so the drive of last weekend was a bit short-lived!  However, all is not lost.  The children have found a place that they think is appropriate to release a cache and are busy planning how we will do it.  They took the dog for a walk this afternoon and spent quite a bit of time scoping out their chosen site.  I am very impressed with their ideas!

The week ahead ‘should’ provide time for a bit of sewing.  I haven’t quite finished the quilt top, so want to get to that.  I also want to make a bag to donate to an annual function at my work where we raise money for Medecins san Frontieres.  And of course it is time to  look at costume repairs, one new costume, and any last minute changes before the big performance in a couple of weeks.  In the meantime I am off to continue tidying up this house while I am on a roll!

Wishing you a week of Spring weather and time to do things that are important to you!

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Friday finds – a list of 21 links to free patterns for crochet market bags

I think that Fridays are my favourite day of the week. Work is over, the weekend is stretching out in front of me, full of possibility, and there is nothing that ‘has’ to be done other than self imposed things like posting a blog post! When looking through my collection of ideas that I go to when I need inspiration I realised that I have collected a large number of links to crochet market bags. I have yet to make one, but love the concept, and, once I have finished the ripple afghan (soon, I promise, soon!) I intend to make a couple. I have made a crochet beach bag as a gift for my sister, and loved the process, so think that market bags would be similarly delightful.

On a cold and blustery day, curling up on the couch and crocheting away is so appealing… To assist, here is my list!

Crochet Grocery Bag – Fat Cat Crochet, RavelryCrochet Grocery Bag - free pattern - http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/crochet-grocery-bag

l20065a-187x300Hobo Market Bag – Daisydozit

Rainbow Market Bag – allfreecrochet

Beginner Market BagCrochet Market Bag – Dearest Debi

Cotton Shopping Bag – Posh Pooch Designs

Market Bag – Hippy Hooker

Simple Market Bag – All Free CrochetSimple Market Bag

Dynamite Market Bag – Crochet Dynamite

Market Bag – Ravelry.com

Crocheted Market Bag – Ravelry

Hexagonal Net Crochet Bag – Ravelry.comRavelry: Hexagonal Net Crochet Bag pattern

Crochet bag – Fine Craft Guild

Colourful Cotton Bag – Knitting and some more

Crochet mesh bags.  Free pattern from Michaels.Sugar and Cream Crochet Market Bag – Micheals.com

Go Lightly Tote – Ravelry.comRavelry: Golightly Tote pattern by Lion Brand Yarn

Pattern for simple crochet bucket bagCrochet Bucket Bag – Joann.com

Lacy Crochet Market Bag – Red Heart.com

pattern imageProvence Crochet Bag – Classic Lite Yarns

Crochet Market Bag – Hip 2 Thrift

free crochet market bag patternMarket Bag with Floral Accent – Bobbles and Baubles

Go Green Market Bag – Suzie’s Yarnie Stuff

Getting down to it

Very exciting news in the nest with the announcement that the eldest chick and her classmates have made the finals in the Wakakirri competition! This little bird is (not-so) secretly pleased that all those costumes get another outing! We will be off to the theatre again on 26 August for the regional finals. I am so proud!!

I am also pleased to report that I am achieving my crafting goals for the week quite well! I have made a super-hero cape for a little girl called Emily,

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a bag with matching zip pouch to donate to the auction at the ball I am attending on the weekend,

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a pencil roll as a separate donation to the same auction,

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and have almost completed the sashing on the memory quilt top!

I also managed to get another three rows on the crocheted afghan while watching the martial arts class last night. Feeling quite satisfied with my efforts!

In the midst of all my planning and thinking I have missed doing what I love doing – making! I have a few other orders to fill now, and am looking forward to making them.

Having a good week has also given me time to reflect a bit. Over the years, through trials and tribulations, my girlfriends have supported me, picked me up, given me perspective, told me not to be melodramatic, and generally kept me going. I am so lucky! So many people ask me ‘how do you do it’ – work, parent three children, etc, without any family support in town. Apart from the answer that my parents give me a huge amount of support even though they aren’t local, I am always able to say that I have amazing friends. They keep me going. Celebrate the highs, and prop me up during the lows. This week a couple of those amazing women had to face their own challenges. I felt so helpless, being able to do little except try to make one laugh, and offer food for another. Then I remembered the times that my friends have done just that for me. Talked to me about inane things to keep my mind occupied. Did airport runs to pick up or drop off people. Dropped in with a bottle of wine. And I realised that to be a good friend you don’t always have to do BIG things. Just being there, in the quiet times when you need another voice on the end of a phone, or to email you a silly story, or to drop in and say hi. Those are the things that make us friends rather than acquaintances. The things that keep us going. So to my girlfriends – thank you. Please know that I will always be there to help prop you up, to drink wine when required, and to make you laugh (either at yourself, or at me) to keep you going. Because what goes around comes around.

I can also report that we have maintained our ‘cache a day’ target. Despite rain and late work days!  The kids are committed too, so we are having fun!

Enjoy the rest of your week and remember to celebrate the people in your life who are your true friends.

Being competitive!

Apparently I have a competitive streak. Who knew? (That is definitely rhetorical as I am sure that many of my friends and family would confirm that they have always known this to be true.) I wrote last week about my staff member who had started geocaching and found quite a few in a short space of time. That has (finally) spurred me on to get the kids out to find more and expand our searching territory.

Thursday saw us go for a lovely walk with the dog to find 7 geocaches. They were disguised in all sorts of ways. Our favourite for the day was one that was hanging by a thread of fishing line down inside a bridge railing.  We had a great time and agreed that we need to do it more often. The satisfaction for the day was finding a cache in a park close to our suburb that we have looked for without success twice before.  (I should add persistent to the competitive description!)

On Friday while we went to the chiropractor’s office to pick up the prize that the boy won in a colouring in competition (he was SO proud!!) we found one in the park next door – and realised that we could achieve 31 caches in 31 days, which is a geocaching promotion for August. As we log a cache each day we get a little award. Saturday I was trying to motivate the chicks to go out and find a cache to continue past day 1 (it logs on American time so our 7 caches on 1 August didn’t count!) but wasn’t making much ground. A short time later the artist-in-residence was on the computer playing Minecraft when an email arrived announcing a new cache in our area (which covers the Australian Capital Territory and parts of New South Wales). She clicked on it out of interest, realised that it had been released by friends of ours who don’t live too far away, and all of a sudden was motivated!  She and I jumped in the car (she still wearing her hair turban after her bath and me getting dressed in my jacket in the car) and raced off to be the ‘first to find’ the new cache – a very cute little mushroom hidden amongst autumn leaves!  We were very excited – and ticked the box for one cache for the day!

Not being content with this, and determined to stay ahead of the new team, today saw the children and I go for a 2 1/2 hour walk with our very good friends who introduced us to geocaching, to find 16 caches! So our stats are looking good. Our favourite cache – this sneaky hide up under a bridge where the cache was on a chain up the hole! (Defying gravity really – and spooky when the chance of poisonous spiders is ever present!). My beautiful friend Ms C was the brave one who retrieved it while I pretended to be busy checking the map (!!!).

geocache

The behaviour of the children on the walk had their mother feeling quite challenged. They weren’t misbehaving per se, but the whinging from the middle chick, the uber-competitiveness of the eldest chick (can’t think where she gets that from) and the boy’s obsession with wanting to organise a play date for the afternoon (imagine saying ‘no’ in every possible way pretty much non-stop for over two hours) wore me down. So I put myself to bed for a nap when we got home. I think that the concept of ‘time-out’ that we used when they were children – one minute for each year of their age – works quite well for adults. I need to put myself into time-out more often!

Of course, having a nap did mean that my planned crafting for the afternoon didn’t happen. I am close to finishing the blocks for the ‘memory’ quilt that my housekeeper asked me to make for her. I am happy with the way that they are turning out, although the rayon is slippery and doesn’t sit well. I am relying on the strong cotton sashing and the quilting process to hold it all in shape! She has asked for it to be sashed in brown as she has brown tones in her bedroom. I plan to incorporate more of the red into the border too, so hopefully will get that finished this week.

quilt block

So many of you have written beautiful words of support in response to my post a couple of weeks ago about my boy.  While his behaviour still challenges me, there are signs that we are on the right path.  This morning I asked him whether he feels any different after taking his tablets.  He said “It feels like the tablets are killing the brain scramblers”.  Wow.  (I clarified with him that this means that when he takes the tablets his brain feels like it unscrambles and that this is a good thing.)  What a telling statement though.  It gives me hope that we are doing the right thing.

I also had some lovely words of encouragement about the fact that I have started dating someone.  Some of the nicest comments have been that he will be ‘checked out’ to ensure that he is good enough for me, and one lovely friend who kindly wrote that she hopes that he knows that he is punching above his weight.  I feel so blessed that my friends think I am special, and that they have my back.  As I said last week, it is still early days, and anything could happen.  But in the meantime my cheer-squad are making themselves heard loud and clear and I love them!

My crafting plans for this week are simple.  I want to finish the quilt top, and make a bag to be donated to a school function I am attending next weekend.  And I have an order for a super-hero cape for a little girl.  I love that I get orders for capes for girls when so much super-hero stuff is aimed at boys.  I don’t make them all ‘girly’ but add a range of colours that identify them as super-heros, whether they are girls or boys.  Fun!

Now it is Sunday night, the pile of washing is in danger of causing an avalanche in the family room, baking for lunchboxes is required, and a bit of cleaning wouldn’t hurt!  I hope that you have a great week, with plenty of creativity and that you find something to be competitive about!!  (I will be aiming to log one cache a day – which might mean ducking out at lunchtime without the kids, just to stay ahead!!)

Friday Finds – links to 50 free patterns for pincushions!

This week has flown by, with drama performances, work, and general family life keeping me very busy. The weekend is stretching before me with lots of unplanned time (when you have three kids it is never ‘free’ time!!). I have a list of projects I want to tackle – more work on the memory quilt, a bag for a silent auction at a ball I am attending next week, and thinking about baby gifts for two of my staff who are pregnant. In the process of trying to sort through all these ideas I realised that what I need is a little project – something useful and colourful and not too time consuming. Then I hit upon it! A pincushion!!

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This is the one that I whipped up for myself about a year ago. While it does just fine, we have a craft stall at the school fete coming up, so making things to be sold there is next on the ‘sewing with obligation’ list….. (I will talk more about that concept another time!). So – today’s list of finds is a collection of 50 free patterns for pin-cushions (I did cheat a bit – one of the links is to 25 free tutorials!) There are hundreds more out there but here are some that appealed to me. Enjoy!

Bug Chunk Pincushion – A Girl in Paradise 055

Recycled Jar Lid Pincushion – In it to Kawaiify it

Paper Pieced Pineapple Pincushion – Katies Quilting CornerPaper Pieced Pineapple Pincushion Tutorial

Pinfeathers Owl Pincushion – Riley Blake Designs

RoseBud Wristlet Pincushion – Riley Blake Designs

Chick Pincushion – Quiltscapesqs

Hexie pincushion caddy – Macaroni and Cheese

Summery pincushion – Elsie’s Girl

Wrist Pincushion – Balzer Designs8-pincushionontowrist

Bitty Bowl of Pins – Bitty Bits and Pieces

Square Pincushion – Heather Bailey Designsquare pincushion tutorial

Felt Cup Cake Pincushions – Tipjunkie

Mushroom Pincushion – Little Dear Tracks

diy berry basket pincushionBerry Basket Pincushion – A Pumpkin and a Princess

Pincushion – Creative Breathing

Star pincushion – Lots of Pink Here

Spools Pincushion – Charley Dee and Me

'Simply Geometric' Pincushion DIY ... http://mousechirpy-polkadotpineapple.blogspot.com/2010/01/prety-petunia-pincushion.html#Pretty Petunia Pincushion – Mouse Chirpy – Polkadot Pineapple

Strawberry Pincushion – Embroideroo

Tiny Cottage Pincushion – Molly Flanders

Felt Fairy Pincushion – Red Brolly

Tin Can Pincushion – Cut out and Keep

Teapot Pincushion – Join the Mood

Pincushion – St Louise Folk Victorian

Scrappy Pincushion – Ellison Lane

25 Free Pincushion Tutorials – Babble