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in the light of the sun

moments of me and my life by the sea

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craft

warm fuzzy "look everyone, I made this!" moments

So even though Spring is well sprung these days, what with all the magnolias and cherry blossoms and wisteria waving hello as you walk down the street, I’m still making room for some warm fuzzy moments in my life.

If I can be THIS PROUD of my recycled woollen turtleneck jumper transformed into a hot water bottle cozy then I can only imagine how proud I will be of the little baby I pop out after 9 long months. I bet there will be a lot of “LOOK EVERYONE, I MADE THIS!!!”…apologies in advance people.

Meanwhile, here is my new improved hot water bottle. Turtleneck jumpers are terribly unflattering on me, but I always get sucked in by the woollen jumper rack at Vinnies, so rather than return it back to Vinnies in a recent spring clean I decided to get crafty. Wish I’d thought beforehand to embroider something cute on it before I sewed it up but the urge to make overwhelmed my thinking process.

Have you ever got so sick of a project you’d been working on that you never bothered to finish it? Well, I think I’ve come across a solution – pass it on! My lovely neighbour Gabi had been working on a sweet hexagonal crochet baby blankie for a friend of hers since her friend found out she was pregnant. Now that friends baby is 1 and Gabi still hasn’t finished the blanket but has grown sick of the sight of it. So she passed it on to me instead.

And I’m so excited! I just have to sew on 14 left over hexagons and edge it and it’s done! Almost like I made the whole thing myself!

I better get cracking on this though otherwise I fear I’ll lose the will to finish also, and it would be a terrible shame for this poor orphaned blankie to be abandoned twice!

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Whatever is worn on the head is a sign of the mind beneath it

 

So that must mean I’m bright, cheery and very good for you?!
Here’s my latest crochet project – a red delicious apple beanie…

apple beanie!
leaf detail on my apple beanie
apple beanie birds eye view
fuzzy

Turns out it’s awfully hard to take photos of oneself wearing a beanie in low light. Curse this dreary overcast and rainy weather! Although – tis perfect weather for a bright and cheerful apple beanie!

Does what’s on your head define your mind right now? 

handiwork

I’ve been doing it. Handiwork that is. Stitching hands or things on hand shapes!
And in the words of my favourite 80s effortlessly cool dude Ferris Bueller – “Never had one lesson”.

Can you tell?

First up was a card for my sister in law to say thanks for trusting me enough to look after her darling lil one three days a week for 5 whole months! We have our last day together tomorrow. Le sigh.

The hardest part was getting him to hold still long enough to trace his hand…I had to sing some crazy songs to distract him.

Next up is a gift for my partner Tom, who requested fingerless gloves for his birthday. He’s been warned the weather will be pretty chilly in South Africa, even in the offices they will be working in, so I have embellished a plain black pair of woollen fingerless gloves with a little love for him to remember me by. So if you happen to watch any of the World Cup shows on SBS this June/July then it’s highly likely they will have been put together by my man, wearing my ‘handmade’ gloves!

I told him he could tuck them into his jumper but he said he would display them proudly. Awwww. Now to embroider his stab vest and stencil sweet nothings on his tear gas mask. EEEK!

And before you go I just want to say sorry for being such a stranger round here lately. Thank you for all your kind well wishes on my last post. I’ve plunged into unemployment gloom even before it’s officially started and I think I reverted to my December headspace without realising. I promise to try harder at thinking positive this time! Someone will employ me! Bills will be paid! And in the meanwhile – blog posts will be posted! So do stay tuned.

WIP It!

Into Shape!
Shape Up!
It’s Not Too Late!

Sorry to put Devo in your head but I do like appropriating tunes to match whatever I’m doing. And lately I’ve been making stuff! Hooray for making stuff! And since I no longer work in an office where Management requires a weekly hour long Work In Progress meeting where I have to detail every single project I’ve been working on, leaving less time for actual work on said projects, I’ve felt a WIP meeting gap in my life. Perhaps I need some KPIs. Then I’ll need to see some ROI for my efforts at those KPIs. I’ll action this immediately and get back to you all by COB today okay?!

So here is my WIP report. Feel free to judge, provide constructive criticism, feedback or tell me to work harder, faster, better, whatever. Just do it condescendingly so I get that old office hierarchy feeling flooding back!

WIP #1 is inspired by soft lil yellow ducklings and fluffy grey kittens. Well, actually those thoughts came to me well after I chose the wool plucked from my mother and her mother’s stash. But it’s a nice thought, isn’t it?

This little WIP is destined to be a cozy neck warmer/cowl. Double sided, lemon and grey, knitted up in a moss stitch using two different sized sets of needles. I even learnt how to knit button holes for this project, which is quite frankly an amazing feat of learning on my behalf, from a book no less. Yes that’s right, I followed instructions from a book. I can’t even follow a recipe without thinking I know better. Very proud of my humble restraint and will to learn here! Although, foolishly I knitted button holes for buttons which I don’t actually have yet, so now I’ll have to find some that not only match my colour scheme but also fit the holes!

WIP #2 is supposed to be bright, cheery and fun. A burst of sunshiney goodness and floral frippery in the form of a crocheted pin cushion. I’m not sure if that’s just too much to ask of a crocheted flower or just too much to ask of my crocheting skills. Luckily it’s just a practice run for the Pin Cushion swap over at Foxs Lane because it’s really not doing it for me. I think I’m going to have to get all Blondie on this one and rip it to shreds.

WIP #3 is not really a WIP anymore, but I’m going to share it anyway. I SEWED! I haven’t sewn anything on a machine for years. I never really made friends with my sewing machine in the past. We’d fall out over silly things like broken needles, forgetting how to thread a bobbin, snapping cotton thread or slipping stitches. Plus with an expert sewer for a mum, it was always easier to put in an order rather than make something myself. Lazy, I know. But I decided that this is the year to move on from whatever trials we’d experienced in the past and learn to be a better, more understanding, caring friend to my machine. Listen to it. Hang out. Have cups of tea together, maybe a chocolate biscuit or three.

So I ordered Mum to hand it over (do you still stash stuff at your parents house even though you’re grown up and own your own home? nah, me neither.) dusted it off and enlisted the help of a kind and patient real life friend, Alex, to help me re-learn some basics and whip up a simple tote bag, even though I didn’t have a pattern or a clue.

Alex was super helpful and encouraging and we had whipped up a tote in (almost) no time! I was 99% of the way through, racing towards the finish line when a horrible groan escaped from my machine. Actually it was more of a frustrated growl, which I promptly matched with my own frustrated growl. We’d had a few hiccups along the way, but nothing that a timeout and a rethread hadn’t magically fixed. But this time my machine decided enough was enough and officially carked it.

So I marched back to Mums and she kindly applied the finishing touches on her machine. She also told me not to tell you that she helped me like that, that I should take all the credit for my efforts and sewing success. She’s nice like that.

Now that I have conquered a simple tote bag I’m thinking my next project should be something like a three piece suit. You know, to look smart and professional for our next WIP meeting. Well, once my machine is back up and running of course. Whaddaya think huh!?!

Swaptastic adventures in the craftmosphere

Is it crazy to spend 20 minutes sewing tiny pieces of felt onto wool in order to create one length of present sized celebratory gift wrapping ribbon bunting?

Not if you have a cat, it isn’t.
But this bunting was destined for greater things than Montalbano’s amusement. Celebrating my very first swap, this bunting adorned my screen printed Dolly Parton tea towels in the Wash The Dishes, Dry The Dishes swap hosted by Sooz.
How much fun are swaps? SO MUCH FUN! Whilst it was rather nerve wracking sending something I had made out into the craftmosphere, fear of disappointing people with my design and lack of screen printing skills was overcome by the excitement of finally finishing a project I had started (with the usual good intentions/grand delusions) back in 2008. Thank you so much Sooz for hosting this swap! Yay for finishing a project! Yay for my mum helping me finish said project by hemming the cotton! Yay for handmade gifts! Yay for awesome tea towels!
Here’s what I made:
 
I’ll be sure to post images of all the amazing tea towels I receive in exchange for mine when the postman finally delivers them all. If I’m not too busy in the kitchen that is, drying things. Then wetting things so I can dry them again. With my awesome tea towels. GLEE!
Since my first swap was so much fun – I’m entering another. This time it’s hosted by Kate from Foxs Lane. Can I just take a moment to gush about Kate? She’s so cussing cool. I want to be her when I “grow up”, or if I was Single White Female inclined, steal her gorgeous family, eat all her organically grown vegetables and delight in her craftiness. But lucky for her I’m far too lazy to embark on such a mission. 
Kate is organising a pin cushion swap – you have until Monday morning to enter so if you’re up for it – go forth and enter now!
Also – if you haven’t already commented, don’t forget that you have 6 more days to enter my 100th Blog Post Celebratory Giveaway!

handmade love

Thank you everyone for your kind comments about my tiny felt bunting and for sharing with me how you add a touch of handmade love to your gifts, I love them all! First impressions may count for something but I’m also pretty sure that in order for your gift to impact with a sucker punch to the heart then your best chance is to give something handmade.

I know making stuff is hard. (Well, it is for me.) It takes a super long time, always longer than you thought it would, it usually costs way more than if you’d bought a ‘ready made’ gift and often it doesn’t turn out exactly perfect either, or like the vision you had in your head.

But these reasons (aside from the cost!) are what makes receiving a handmade gift up there with a big bear hug when you’re feeling really down or a really sucessful therapy session. Handmade gifts are forged in the fiery furnace of love, people! That warm fuzzy feeling growing inside you is actually heat emanating from your handmade gift.

Why am I harping on about handmade love you ask? I’m probably preaching to the converted. You’ve probably been making amazing gifts for years and think nothing of it, it’s just what you do. Well, you’re amazing and I appreciate your efforts. I aim to be just like you one day – generous and thoughtful and talented. But have you ever found your handmade gift didn’t receive the praise or appreciation that you were hoping for? How did you cope with that?

I love receiving handmade gifts. I was brought up by a ridiculously humble, super talented maker and every year of my life has been filled with handmade clothes, special birthday dresses, beenies, scarves, jewellery, endless handbags, nighties for me and matching ones for my dolls, dinosaur pjama pants stolen by numerous uni friends, teddie bears, blankets, blankets and more delightfully cozy blankets. My mum is a powerhouse of handmade love. Now it’s just how our family operates – we make stuff for people we love.

Recently I was referred to as ‘the eccentric aunt’ by the father of my partner’s 2 and a half year old niece. I’ve always make sure our presents for our niece are handmade, or at least partly handmade, because I thought it was important to carry the handmade torch, to share with her family the joy of handmade love and to show how much I care, but despite my efforts to connect with her she will barely say more than two words to us.

I was really upset by his comment. I interpreted it to mean that I was crazy, wacky, out of touch with reality and that my crappy handmade gifts would have been better received had they been Wiggles merchandise or store bought items. Maybe it means my colourful clothes or the flowers I wear in my hair don’t make me look like a respectable adult. Whatever he meant – it made me feel like who I am and what I stand for weren’t right and that was why our niece doesn’t like us very much. And that made me sad.

A big grey storm cloud hung over my head and I just didn’t feel like making stuff anymore.

A few weeks later, on a day that matched my miserable mood, I was surprised to find a parcel in the letterbox addressed to me. As I opened the parcel a gust of wind swept up behind me and hundred colourful spots danced around me on the wind. I gasped loudly, not knowing what they were at first, then laughed with delight when I realised it was crepe paper confetti and like a burst of tiny colourful balloons being released into the sky, this signified a momentous occasion, a special moment in my life.

Special doesn’t begin to describe what was inside that parcel.

Kate, completely unbeknownst to me, had knitted me one of her special panda hats and sent me one on the sly. A complete surprise. For no special reason, other than the lady is filled with talent and love and generosity of spirit.

I actually burst into tears. Happy tears, of course. My tears of pain and sadness and self doubt were flushed out and replaced by happy, grateful, inspired, wonder filled tears. The best kind.

I’m certain that this is a magical hat and that whenever I wear it my spirit will be filled with strength, generosity and happiness and remind me of the power of handmade love and the importance of passing that love on.

I may be fragile, weak, childish, not particularly talented, flawed in many ways, eccentric even but at least I know that people will still share their handmade love with me. I couldn’t think of anything more wonderful than that honour.

p.s If you’d like a panda hat of your own or for someone in need of a magical strength giving handmade gift, speak to Kate as she mentioned she might sell one in her etsy shop!

first impressions count

Does anyone else get almost as much pleasure from wrapping a present as they do from making what’s inside? You can’t beat squeals of excitement and anticipation. My squeals, of course. Giving presents is so much fun!

Quite often the outside of my presents trump what’s inside the wrapping paper. This can lead to disappointment. Be careful to balance the inner with the outer for optimum delight when gift giving.

Here’s my latest attempt at gift wrapping.

Brown paper packages tied up with string, these are a few of my favourite things.

Curious about what’s inside?  
This awesome book and some handmade crocheted granny star coasters – a house warming present of sorts for my lovely friends Naomi and Anthony who’ve just bought their first home. I spent the last week visiting them in Melbourne and wished I could live in their lovely spare room permanently, while they make me tasty food, play me fun tunes and entertain me with hard labour. Believe it or not, you can have lots of fun hauling tonnes of bluestone on and off a ute.

Curious about how to decorate your gifts with leftover scraps from your crafty pursuits?
As you can see from the images, it’s not rocket science – it just takes a little time and effort. Just a little though! Hand sew scraps of felt or material cut into tiny triangles onto a length of wool with invisible thread to make a bunting garland like I’ve done below. Saving all the tiny scraps of wool cut off your crochet/knitting projects and knotting them together to make a super colourful, economical, no waste ribbon for present wrapping is surprisingly satisfying. Just think, those tiny scraps could have ended up in the bin but you saved them from certain destruction and allowed them to reach their full potential!

I’m never throwing away my scraps ever again.

How do you like to make a good first impression when giving gifts?

what to do?!

I wrote this list a few days ago. It’s a To Do list designed to fill my days with positive thoughts and affirmative action. Do you ever write those? I’m a big fan of the To Do list. They’re great as a brain storm, a procrastination activity, a reminder, a pick me up, and you can even add to them after the fact, to make the most of that glorious crossing off the list part.

Any of these on your list? (You don’t have to be unemployed to want/need to do these things either!)
Things I can do now that I am redundant am unemployed…
Crochet up a storm
Finish my crocheted chair project
Sew up my new cushions
Make yummy meals
Read books
Relax at the beach
Declutter the house
Gardening
Go to the gym
Make Christmas presents
Spring cleaning
Blog more!
Things I should stop doing…
Sitting on the couch staring blankly at screens
Watching crap TV all day and night
Making do with what’s in the cupboards because I am too lazy to leave the house – tinned salmon,  and frozen packets of edamame does not equal satisfying meals for days on end.
Procrastinating getting my resume sorted, answering emails, doing the laundry, showering and getting dressed etc etc
I’m not going to pretend that I can cross many of those things off my list as yet. But I’ve made a start! Here’s what I made today. It’s a…
 
 
You like? Alex taught me how to crochet those flowers at our crochet circle on Sunday, she made some for her super cute tea cosy. I’m always on the lookout for stuff to stick on my head, so I whipped up a band to match and pinned them on. Bit dodgy. You should make one and show me how it’s really done!

The most expensive paper christmas decorations EVER

Seriously, these decorations are prohibitively expensive. These cost thousands of dollars to make. I’d write the amount on a piece of paper and slide it over to you to discreetly look at but then you’d be rendered speechless forever.
Why did they cost so much? Well for one, they’re handmade, and quality craftmanship is not to be sneezed at, right?! But the real reason is because I made them from the envelopes my bills came in. That, and some scrapbooking cardboard from Eckersleys and pricey japanese paper from Kinokuniya.
Merry Christmas World!
If you’d like to make your own paper ornaments like these for Christmas (or any occasion, I made some for my mums 50th birthday party too!) then head to Design*Sponge and take a look at the tutorial posted there.  They’re super quick and easy to make. And of course, the paper cranes are folded from security paper, found in the inside of the envelopes your bills come in!
Sadly, the cost of these decorations was increased by a unfortunate incident, involving my favourite glass bowl (finnish crystal! a gift from my mother-in-law! still in the orginal box from the 70s!) and 30 cms of height between a coffee table and the carpet. I think I got all the bits of glass out of the carpet but it will be forever tear stained….
But 30 Rock, beer and a lazy evening on the couch is making everything feel better…

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