Craft As Medicine

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I went to visit my Gran today. She taught me how to knit… again. She taught me years ago and I did knit a few things (read: anything you can make based on a knit/purl square or rectangle, so… a scarf and a headband and a pair of fingerless gloves I think are the three things I can add to my knitting CV…ha!). A while back I thought to myself, damnit I’ve knitted before and I will bloody knit again. I watched a video on youtube, attempted a cast on, ended up in a pile of loosely tangled wool and two sticks. I threw the whole thing to the other side of the room in a tantrum and admitted to myself that that day was not going to be the day I reinvented myself as Lucy Who Knits.

Today was much better, I practised casting on with my Gran who, very patiently, let me do it over and over again in front of her for about ten minutes while she nodded and said Yes Dear when I exclaimed loudly that I could do it I could do it I could do it! Meanwhile she was knitting a square – she told me she had tried to convince the other ladies in her retirement village to all knit a square in order to make a communal blanket which they could then raffle off (to raise funds for what, I didn’t ask). She said no one was into her idea so if no one was keen by the time she finished her singular square she would give it to me to use as a face washer instead. Last time she knitted squares she and some friends yarn bombed the local library.

So this week I am determined to knit a square, I’m seeing her again in a couple of weeks and promised I would come back with something to show for her efforts with me today!

In other crafty news I’ve been making a fair few things lately. Craft is so infinitely good for my soul and every time I pick up my crochet hook or material or sewing machine (not that I pick it up, as such, but we all hear my meaning yes? Too late and too tired to delete that sentence and try again) I get into the zone. You know, the craft zone? Craft is the only thing that stops me from thinking, stressing, over analysing things. Keeping my hands busy with making is my medicine, it saves me in those moments when my head is going to burst with overwhelm, when my to-to list is off the planet or just at any time really. I cannot believe that I nearly failed Year 8 Textiles because I was too busy writing on my pencil case in whiteout and staring at pictures of Jimi Hendrix. I didn’t click with my teacher and after a bad experience with a patchwork cushion I didn’t even attempt anything remotely close to making something again until I had a baby. All those years wasted!

I digress. It’s so late and I’m ridiculously sleep deprived but now I’m here you’ll have to put up with me! Righto. Where was I? Oh yes, in the first picture above you can see a kimono I made last week. I haven’t finished any of the seams or anything like that; given it was for me I gave myself a break. Plus I wanted to wear it pronto so I used every short cut I could. Not many were needed though as this is SUCH a simple project. Google DIY kimono and you’ll find heaps of different tutorials showing you how to make it. Easy peasy!

The next picture shows a cardigan I just finished crocheting for the bebe, the pattern is this sweet yoke baby cardigan which is fairly simple to whip up as well. I’m thinking of making a few more of these for winter and for a few friends, they would make a very sweet little present. The wool I used was 8 ply but it was rather on the thin side so the 6-12mo size I have made is almost too small. I made one with a thicker 8ply when Pixie was a baby and it ended up being too thick, so I’ll have to test it again on the 12mo size and see how it comes up. It’s very cute though and I honestly can’t get enough of the veggie buttons. So glad I finally found something to use them on as I’ve been carrying them around for a while now.

Next on the make list:

+ knit a square

+ finish blanket before 2020

+ more sweet yoke cardis

+ a few skirts for upcoming kid birthdays

And with that, goodnight to you all, and to all, a good night.

Starting a Rock Collection With Children

Starting a rock collection // gift idea for children

As a child I absolutely loved collecting rocks. I now have a nice rock collection, and still enjoy reading about, using and displaying crystals in my home. My childhood collection is still housed in an old wooden cutlery box along with a small leather suitcase. It contains mainly just your average amethysts, quartz, and so on, but also has a number of well labelled Australian rocks and a few fossils. I can’t for the life of me remember starting it or who gave it to me to begin with, I’m assuming it was my aunty who took me to a few gem and lapidary shows as a child and who also shares my love of gems and minerals.

These days most of my tumbled stones are kept in a heart-shaped wooden bowl in our lounge room. Bird and the Pixie love to play with the stones, it can keep them entertained for quite some time! There are so many things to do with a rock collection when you’re small (or big!):

+ Arrange the stones into a rainbow or colour groups

+ Try to identify the stones in a crystal guidebook

+ Look at the stones through a magnifying glass

+ Draw them

+ Arrange them into mandalas or shapes

+ Or, a favourite of the girls’: turn the stones into mums and dads and sisters and use them for role playing! Yes! This happens a lot here!

Starting a rock collection // gift idea for childrenBird is turning SIX next week (omg!) and for her birthday she has asked for some gemstones. So today I set to work setting her up with her very first collection. It’s a great and creative gift for any child, and in this world where children seem to have everything under the sun it can be a fairly inexpensive way to give a gift that will stand out from the crowd.

To get Bird started I have bought her:

+ A craft box with small open compartments (pictured)

+ A small selection of crystals

All up it cost around $40, but you could make this much cheaper by buying tumbled stones (the small, smooth stones you will often see in rows of boxes at a market stall or gem shop, usually for a dollar or two). All you have to do is arrange the crystals in the box, add a label for each crystal on a piece of cardboard and you’re done. Depending on the age of the child you could also add some information about the properties of each for them to read (from a reputable source, I like Judy Hall). I am laying Bird’s stones on some cottonwool as you can see, but this is optional. Also, don’t feel like you have to fill each compartment, I personally think it’s better to leave room for the child to add more themselves. It’s not really a collection if you don’t do any collecting… right?

Now go forth and give the kids some rocks, it’ll be a hit I promise!

If your little person already has a collection, or if you’re looking for some more resources I recommend:

+ The Crystal Bible* by Judy Hall

+ Contacting your local Gem and Lapidary Club and going along to a local show

+ Visiting your local gemstone shop (there is bound to be one!)

+ Finding out if your local library has any useful crystal books

Starting a rock collection // gift idea for children * This is an affiliate link which means I will earn a small commission if you purchase via this link. This does not influence my opinion of this book, it is one I own and refer to myself!

Perpetually Undecided

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I’m sitting here eating cold toast and luke warm tea. KB has taken the two big girls to their swimming lesson and after forty-five minutes of a jiggling/breastfeeding combo I managed to get the baby to sleep. The general plan was that she would go straight to sleep when he left and then I would tidy our house, but of course, not everything in life goes to plan, right?

We were talking about this concept last weekend as we drove home from South Gippsland. The two of us, KB and I, are absolutely horrendous at making plans and sticking to decisions. Like, the very worst combination of two people put together that you could possibly imagine in the decision stakes, both of us awesomely bad at being able to decide… let’s face it, absolutely anything. We patted each other on the back in commiseration as we talked about our friends, who we have watched do grown up things like sell and move houses, get their homes painted and do their gardening, embark on study and career changes and so on.

We can’t even decide which coffee beans we like best, or where we should place a pot plant in the house (have you seen how many times they move in my instagram photos!?).

We’ve sat down so many times to try to make Life Plans, like we assume other adults do. (Do you?) Then we get so overwhelmed by all the variables we just shrug our shoulders and do nothing. We’ve had grand plans to sell our house, move to a rural area. We both have dreams of going back to study. We both have interests and hopes and wishes and things we’d like to do.

But we never rarely act.

Yes, we are severely lacking in time and resources, sure. But still, we do dream of a plan, of decisions being made. A few years ago we made our word of the year “Decision”. This is the Year Of The Decision! we would declare loudly, whenever we felt stumped. It didn’t last very long. We tried though.

So onwards and upwards we go. I hereby declare this year another Year Of The Decision. I will shout it loudly in my kitchen and can only hope it gives us courage. Maybe. Hopefully. It might?

These are the decisions that are currently doing our heads in:

+ Should we move the girls into the back room and sacrifice our back living area? (Actually we really have no choice on this one unless we want the baby in our room until she is 17 years old. So the answer is YES.)

+ If we do that, should we store our super comfy couch or should we just get rid of it? (Great couch, inherited it for free, love it, but no space to store it…)

+ Should we move house locally or should we move to the beach? (Gawd only knows.)

+ Should we paint our house white or grey? (I say white, he says grey.)

+ Should we go back to study and if so how and when? (Yes we both want to but what and how and when and who first and so on.)

+ Referring to what you thought was a completely unrelated photo above: was given this amazing collection of vintage wallpaper from the Pixie’s kindergarten teacher… only problem is, now I have to decide what to make with it all. YAWN!

There’s more but I won’t bore you with the details, just normal life stuff you know. First World Problems as many would say…

Do you deliberate or decide? Do you act or do you sit around biting your fingernails like us?

craft as meditation

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In most other tasks I am easy to distract. My mind is a wandering beast, untamed and largely unmanageable.

But absorbed in craft, it softens. It counts: slowly, rhythmically, soothingly. It imagines and creates, it thrills in possibility.

I began meditating (again) a few weeks ago, and while I haven’t been in any way regular, I have noticed correlations between my quiet meditative mind, and my crafting mind. While during meditation I attempt to harness my mind as it pulls and strains at invisible reigns, during craft it is forced to halt. It is absorbed by the act of quiet concentration.

And so in the last ten days since finishing work (!), and while attempting to distract my monster mind from the relentless (and seemingly impossible) task of flipping my baby before this coming Tuesday’s ECV, I have immersed myself in craft.

Stitch by stitch by little stitch I have soothed my mind and spirit. I have counted, stitch by stitch by little stitch. I have twisted my hook around wool, stitch by stitch by little stitch. In combination with all the other body and mind work I am doing this pregnancy, it has kept me in good stead.

And here I am, four beanies, pom poms, a pixie bonnet, a kotori jacket and half a lady sized beanie later, mind relatively at ease. Upcoming ECV on Tuesday not causing (much) [out of proportion] angst.

What about you? What do you reach for to calm a busy mind?

doilies

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We had a birthday party this morning for a friend of Birdie’s. I’m always searching for new things to make and sew for small people – post toddlerhood, pre school years. This skirt has been a bit of a go-to pattern over the last six months. This time I sewed on some doilies of my Nana’s my Aunty was – shock, horror – about to throw in the bin. I gratefully snaffled up an entire garbage bag of these gems and they have found a place in my overflowing sewing cupboard. How could she! Now aged in her seventies she was both bewildered and bamboozled that I wanted anything to do with a doily, and still can’t really understand what I wanted with them.

Well, here is one reason why I wanted them. A good reason, no? I also use them to wrap presents, to give faces and wings to my felted chooks, to put hot cups of tea on, to put vases on, to throw around the place and let them rain down around me… no, not really.

I do like a good doily. Do you?

it’s that time again…

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I always promise myself that I will be organised at Christmas time, that I won’t be scrambling around in a mad rush and I won’t be forced into buying things that compromise my values because I’ve run out of time! Alas, I am rather behind schedule and my list of things to make is gigantic… we are half way through November and shit is getting real in my sewing room.

I am quite the overachiever and apparently love nothing more than a late night sew-fest and the pressure of doing things at the last minute. As much as I hate it, I can’t seem to shake my ways. Oh well.

I’ve talked so many times before about buying nothing new at Christmas and supporting handmade and so on and so on. Apart from the fact that a Christmas-crazed shopping centre is my absolute worst nightmare, I love the feeling of really thinking about presents and putting the effort into cutting and sewing and making and giving something genuinely unique. I’m not sure if the people on the receiving end of my gifts feel this way… but it’s the thought that counts, right? This year I am going about Christmas in my usual fashion, however we are buying a couple of things for the girls – a wooden kitchen, a bike for Birdie and maybe a scooter for the Pixie. Unfortunately I can’t make these things. I did try to purchase the wooden kitchen secondhand but have had trouble finding what I am looking for. Two years ago we gave the girls a beautiful waldorf style doll’s house and I was lucky enough to find this on my local buy swap and sell site! So if you keep an eye out – you do find.

This year I’ve been making star garlands, pictured above, little shorts, and crocheted tiaras mainly. Most of the little folk in our circles will be receiving variations of these this Christmas. I’m also planning on making a dress each for Birdie and Pix, and something else… I haven’t fleshed out the list properly yet. I make all my family granola every year so will also be continuing with that tradition.

This is also my first year to make teacher gifts now that Birdie is at kinder! I am yet to decide what to do for our teacher folk, I’m thinking granola or a star garland. Any tips?

What are you making? Are you a mad shopper at Christmas? Do you write lists? How do you keep the madness at bay?

 

 

oh to make

Screenshot 2014-08-14 13.26.20With all the craziness of starting a new job, finding our feet, and creating a new rhythm in our lives, to be able to continue with some making here and there truly is a blessing. The ability to be able to move my hands this way and that, twist the wool and feel it sliding through my fingers. Oh! Immediate stress buster. Therapy at its best. 

buy nothing new christmas // the first of a new series

A few years ago, in the spirit that I like to do most things in – completely last minute – I decided I was going to have a Buy Nothing New Christmas. There seemed to be a lot of chit chat going on in the blogosphere about having periods of buying nothing new, and nothing motivates me more than a challenge! So I dove in head first and have to say it was such a satisfying experience that I have *almost* done it every Christmas since. In fact, I was so motivated, my Buy Nothing New challenge continued for the first six months of 2011!

It made me realise not only how much we consume needlessly in our daily lives, but how much we can do without, and more to the point, how much great stuff is circulating the planet as rubbish, because we are constantly, obsessively, compulsively replacing things that are still in perfect condition. It truly is a sad state of affairs.

I thought it might be fun to share some of my bookmarked (now who’s old fashioned?!) ideas with you over the coming weeks, so if you are thinking of having your own Buy Nothing New Christmas, there will be plenty of creative ideas here. Of course the other option is to buy presents at an op shop or an online vintage marketplace like etsy so that you are giving unwanted items a new life, rather than supporting the business of waste.

If you think this is all a load of hoo-ha, check out this video and it might give you a new perspective. On a larger scale, and if you have a bit more time, I love, love, love this movie. Maybe you could chow down with a bowl of homemade popcorn and watch it tonight? Yes, do it! Watch it!

Now to get us going, here are some wrapping and gift presentation ideas:

// Gift bag tutorial: Petite Purls

// Cute placard idea: Flax and Twine

// Paper globes to decorate presents: Tiny Happy

// Simple gift tags: A Little Hut

// Make your pressies extra cute with these free printable moustaches! : Marie Claire

I have loads more in my bookmarks and also on my christmas pinterest board, but I think five is a respectable number. Over the coming posts I will share gift ideas for babies, kids, girls, boys, ladies, gents and so on.

What do you think? Are you feeling motivated? Do you think you can do your bit to slow down our crazy consumption obsession this year?

sewing: nappy wallets from vintage tablecloths

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I’ve sewn a couple of these nappy wallets this week. Boy oh boy did it take some courage to cut further into my beloved big floral tablecloth. Does anyone else have trouble cutting into lovely vintage fabrics? I have to do it all the time unfortunately, and although it is always usually a satisfying end result, that first snip always includes just a little touch of heartbreak.

One of the nappy wallets above has already been snapped up, and the identical one will be appearing in my etsy store as soon as I can get around to taking some picaroons!

If you’d like to make your own nappy wallet and don’t want the hassle of measuring and thinking, there are plenty of great tutorials around from people who have already done the hard work. Here are a few I found with a quick google search to get you started:

:: Nappy wallet by And so, I sew (great tutorial, clear instructions and good photos!)

:: Nappy wallet by While she was sleeping (a bit longer, but includes an option for an elastic strap)

:: Nappy wallet by Just for Daisy (this one is a little bit different to the two above and includes a changemat) 

This is just a tiny selection of many great tutorials out there. Have a little look around yourself, I’m sure you’ll find one that works for you. Otherwise head over to birdie said and I can make one for you! Out of upcycled materials of course.

Have a great weekend x

sewing: little cloth books

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IMG_4587IMG_4581First things first, a confession: I have developed a Big Brother addiction. Now we are nearing the end I have begun crying when housemates are evicted each week. You may find the word “tully” in my internet browser search history. Gah.

In other news, I am in a flurry of first birthdays and when not watching Big Brother I have been spending many an hour in front of my sewing machine. It’s been oh so lovely to be sewing again. I can’t remember the last thing I made… but in the fresh spring air my creativity seems to have been given a little boost.

I have made two of these little cloth books for friend’s babies, and have four more to make by the end of the year. They take a long time but are awfully fun. It’s been the first thing I have made it a while that I have actually had to use my imagination for, instead of just cutting a pattern and tweaking here and there. I have so enjoyed the process. I have also loved using bits and bobs from my ridiculously fat scraps bag.

Would you like to make one for your baby? I used this tutorial. I know it is more than straightforward but I am not very good at the practicalities of sewing when you have to flip things around and do this side then that bit to match that side and so on… bias binding – kill me. I just can’t get my head around it. So I found it great to have a visual. You can also find lots of pictures on pinterest which helped give me some ideas for the content. The book above is an “L” themed book for a little L bub. I’ve since done an “S” themed book and have two more “S”‘s, a “T” and an “O” to go!

In amongst this Big Brother and cloth book frenzy I have also been sewing a wiksten tank dress for myself. If it works out I will post some pics next week.

What are you sewing, making, cooking, creating this spring/autumn?

 

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