Running the Xmas Gauntlet

Processed with VSCO with a7 presetIt’s the 11th of December and, up until Friday night, I had done absolutely nothing (zip, zilch) to prepare for Christmas. Friday night I went to bed at 7.30pm with a cup of herbal tea, a piece of dark chocolate and my laptop, and finally ordered some Christmas presents. For children, my first stop for gifts is always here. For the girls I like to stick to the little poem: something I want, something I need, something to wear, something to read. It helps to keep things simple and, for me, takes away some of the overwhelm and decision making.

I like to make most of our gifts for extended family and my niece (and this year, my new nephew!) and (if you’re family, stop reading here!) this year I’m trying my hand at these for adults and my usual combo of these and these and perhaps these for kids. Our family have really downsized our present regime over the past few years and now just give small token gifts to show our love and appreciation. My only issue with the adult pressie that I want to make is that I can’t find pine resin here in Australia, and I also don’t know if it is sustainable even if I were to find it… if anyone knows what I’m talking about and has any tips, please email me or comment below! I’m planning on making a little gift set of perhaps two or three for each couple/adult in the fam, just as a token, and because I’m sick of my usual gift of granola!

Yesterday we finally got a tree so I’m feeling like we are back on track. I also sewed a pair of shorts, finished a geranium dress for a friend and tidied my sewing stuff. I just have a few more birdie said orders to get through before I can close up shop for Christmas.

Christmas can be such an overwhelming time. I have friends who feel so much pressure to make things and be all homemade and festive, but they work outside the home and have children and the juggle is stressful. I have friends who spend a lot of money on gifts and give to a lot of people. We all have our own challenges and stressors this time of year. For me, it has been a slowly evolving thing: building traditions within my own family unit, figuring out what works best for us, what we can afford, what we enjoy, what we are and aren’t prepared to do. Figuring out what Christmas means to us, as a non-religious, anti-consumerist family. What is left for us here if we don’t believe in God (in the Christian sense) and we are worried by consumerism!?

For us, it’s simple: family. Time to share and enjoy each other. Time to celebrate giving small and meaningful gifts, and teaching our children about people who are less fortunate than us. A girlfriend of mine has been such a role model for me in this area. Every year she gets her children to choose and wrap and deliver a present to someone in need (whether it is for a shopping centre Christmas tree or other charity). She’s done it with her children well before they would have understood what they were doing, and now it’s so ingrained in them it is something they naturally think about and have empathy for.

I’m not always good at keeping things simple, or sticking to what (I think) we believe in at this time of year. I get stressed and run from here to there. I get caught up with the Jones’s. I do! But I try to patiently bring myself back to my own values and ideals. I guess this happens a lot in life generally, not just at Christmas.

I have more to say on this topic but this will do for today. I’m sitting in our front yard in the shade of the trees while the girls play with dirt and cockatoo feathers. I’m needed to assist with a cup of gum leaf tea so I had better get back to it. I hope all your Christmas plans are going well, if you choose to celebrate it!

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.

I’m Sewing Again

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I haven’t felt the urge to sew or make lately. My creativity has a will of its own. It comes and goes whenever it bloody feels like it (read: never when I want it), it’s not always constant. When I want to make something or write something I WANT TO MAKE AND WRITE EVERYTHING and then it slows down again until the next burst. Is it like this for you too?

We have a family wedding this weekend and I was determined to make my own dress, partly because I am breastfeeding little Peach and I need to be able to feed her without getting naked at the wedding, partly because it was a goal of mine to make more of my own clothes this year, and partly because I have been thinking more and more about my wardrobe over the past few years. So I bought a pattern a while back and then… did nothing. I wasn’t feeling creative and I wasn’t sure if I could pull it off. It has button holes which I have never done before. Then my Gran suggested press studs instead and all of a sudden I wanted to make something and I WANTED TO MAKE EVERYTHING. Unfortunately the urge came at school pick up and I immediately made the executive decision that instead of going home and preparing dinner and bathing and doing all those sensible things like the Good Mother, I was going direct to Spotlight with three children to get my material and press studs. Insert straight faced emoji here.

We moved slowly through traffic. Peach is screaming in the back seat, the girls are hungry, I’m trying to calm everyone down (don’t they get that I need to make something and I NEED TO MAKE IT NOW?!). We round the corner to Spotlight and I reassure them that we have arrived, there is no problem and we’re all ok and everything is well in the world. I look up to see a cheerful sign saying:

WE HAVE MOVED! 9KM THIS WAY!

With a friendly arrow pointing me in the right direction. Nooooo! I rarely go to craft shops as I have a lot in my stash at home and I mainly use vintage and thrifted fabrics. I had no idea it had moved! (Apparently months prior.) I’ve been driving for half an hour, I’m so close, we have to keep going. Girls, we’ve got this. Onwards! (Can you tell I’ve been watching MKR?)

Two and a half hours later we were home. But it was all ok because I got my material and my sewing mojo!

It took me another two weeks to then print the pattern and stick it together, bit by bit in between motherly duties. I carried it around in my bag, unravelling it at people’s houses, on the floor in my kitchen, at my Gran’s, until it was done. And then, I sewed. You can see a picture of the final product here.

Once I had had enough of looking at myself in the mirror wearing an actual dress that I made myself, I just kept on sewing. The picture above is Bird in this dress, using some linen from my stash along with some floral cotton from Gran’s stash. I’m so happy with how it has turned out.

I’m pretty stoked to say that four out of five of us will be wearing handmade to the wedding this coming weekend, two out of five made by me!

What are you making at the moment?

can I talk about it yet?

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I’m about to say that word that no one wants to hear: CHRISTMAS.

There, I said it.

I saw in my Facebook feed yesterday that there are only ten more Fridays before the big day! Every year I say to myself: I’m going to be organised this year. And then it’s the week before Christmas and I’m running around swearing and throwing tinsel at people and writing lists and absolutely, positively not being that serene image of a mother with her apron on baking Christmas cookies for the kinder teachers while singing jingle bells in a melodic tone. Whatever is the complete opposite of that lady = me.

The other thing I say to myself each year: I’m not going to stress myself out or place high expectations on what I can or cannot do. Repeat the above sequence.

So this year I am saying things like: I am aiming and hoping and would like to make most presents myself but I am totally flexible and open and calm and serene and if this doesn’t work out then I will be completely at peace with that. Repeat above sequence.

Without giving too much away to my family you can have a look here, here and here at some of the things I would love to make for presents this year. I try to choose just a couple of things for different age groups and then make en masse (eg. last year I made these shorts for all the kids in the family). For foodie presents I always make granola but am wondering whether to try something different this year? Jam? Lemon butter?

I like to make things partly because I get so overwhelmed with consumerism around Christmas. At all times, actually, but mainly at Christmas. Our house is so full of toys that we are literally bursting at the seams. It’s lovely to be lucky enough to have options, but it is also… a lot. I like my children to appreciate and love their toys and to look after their belongings so I try to think carefully about what we bring into our house and often pack things away in boxes under the house to rotate, or choose toys that aren’t being loved to donate elsewhere. Making things or buying handmade and ethically produced gifts helps me to be more thoughtful about what it is I am giving.

This year I want Birdie especially to start to understand that while there are lots of things that we can’t have or afford, in the scheme of things we are beyond lucky. I think the best way to do this would be to donate a Christmas present to a charity, that way the girls could go through the process of choosing a gift and then giving it away – a bit more concrete that just making a donation, I think? If you have any ideas to share I’d love to hear them.

What about you, have you started planning yet? Do you buy online, go to the shops or do you make things?

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?

 

 

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?

 

crocheted lop-sided rainbow leg warmers

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I made these for Birdie the other week for the Winter Solstice. It was freezing that day and we had to rug up! What better excuse to make a pair of rainbow leg warmers? My intention was to come on here and write my very first extra fancy tutorial on how to make them, because I’m surely sure that as soon as you saw the pictures of these babies your arms jumped on your wool basket and you flung yourself back to the screen with your crochet hook in one hand and ten balls of bright coloured wool in the other screaming TELL ME HOW TO MAKE THEM RIGHT NOW.

But then I opened up the screen and realised about two weeks has gone by since I made them and I can’t actually remember what I did. I do remember that they are both different sizes and one is about double the width of the other but if I’m writing a proper tutorial then I’m not meant to tell you that.

And then I saw that in the photo above there is a stray bit of wool sticking out of one of them and it doesn’t look very professional or fancy.

So. If you’re still with me and you don’t care if one leg warmer is double the size of the other or there are stray bits of wool sticking out of mine because I tied a few bits of wool together and then just cut the ends off instead of stitching them in properly, then you should read the following extra fancy information so you can make your own pair.

Choose as many colours as you want. Decide what order you want the colours in or just make that part up as you go along. I chained 37 or 38 stitches to start but as I chained I just wrapped the chain around Birdie’s leg until I reached my desired width. In the first leg warmer I made a big rectangle and then stitched it together at the end. Don’t do that. Once you’ve got your chain the length/width (gah!) you want, then you just slip stitch it together to form a circle. Then I used treble stitch and did one row of each colour until the leg warmer was long enough. Then to get the extra fancy shell stitch at the bottom (or top, whatever you want) — I’m pausing now trying really hard to remember how I did this — Ok, try this: 2dc, 1htc, then in the fourth stitch: 5 x tc, 1htc, 2 dc – repeat. Does that make any sense?

Ok now go and make millions of pairs of lop-sided leg warmers for your kids and post pictures of them on instagram or on your blogs and tag me (@motherwho) so I can see! Yay for lop-sided rainbow legwarmers!

to market, to market to buy a…

Pixie hat?

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I took a few things to the Kongwak Market on Easter Sunday. I didn’t think it would take me so long to prepare, but it seems that nothing is very consistent around here, so I worked very hard in the week leading up to ensure I’d have enough to fill the table. I don’t think I will be going back to market to market any time soon, without the help of performance enhancing drugs (uh, joking).

What didn’t get sold at the market is now available in my etsy store. Feel free to have a squiz.

Home again, home again, jiggety jig.

thinking about: a wintery wardrobe

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The door slightly ajar to let in the Autumn breeze, warm lavender and bergamot oils drifting in the air. I find myself on the couch, tired of my bed yet still needing rest and recuperation from this nasty bug. Forcing myself to rest, trying not to look down at the floor littered with blocks and puzzle pieces and abandoned dolls and teddies.

I have been thinking lately about the cooler months, about leading a smaller life while I’m on maternity leave, cutting back where we can and making do with what we have. It’s inevitable though, that small children grow. Suprising fact, is it not? As such, I have been looking in Birdie’s drawers, realising that she is going to need a wardrobe upheaval to ensure she is kept toasty warm over winter.

I’ve been scouring the web for patterns and tutorials and ideas, deciding that perhaps this year will be the one that I attempt to make staple seasonal outfits for the girls, and maybe even myself. They have many a pair of homemade pants and pyjamas, and of course hats, but I’d like to expand the repertoire.

These are just a couple of the things I am considering for the girls:

:: An upcycled top into a dress

:: A girl’s tunic

And for me:

:: Wiksten Tova (after having made the Wiksten Tank I would definitely give this one a go)

:: A wrap top (please note, I am not pregnant, I just really like wrap tops!)

:: Two hour tunic (I doubt this would take me two hours with kids around but a weekend, perhaps!)

Even if I just made one of these things along with some new pants and pj’s I would be happy.