Sunday, January 30, 2011

The Promised Birthday Stash

I did say I'd show it off didn't I . . .  

"Joan Elliot's Cross Stitch Greeting Cards" was actually a late Christmas present, mum just forgot to give it to me at Christmas and didn't remember until I reminded her - I knew I was getting it, as I picked it out myself at a craft fair we went to earlier in the year. It's a stunningly beautiful book, Joan Elliot is a wonderful designer (one of her designs was the first piece I did to be featured on this blog) and these designs just have that extra wow factor that make them truly special.
My dear friend Kate gave me "Cross Stitch Greeting Cards." I'm lucky that the two books are so different and equally wonderful! This one has over 100 for the most part fairly simple (but very effective) designs that I could whip up in an hour or two, which will be great for when I forget people's birthdays until the last minute but feel like they really deserve something special. . *cough* hehe. 

I recieved these two long stitch kits from my man's grandparents (left) and parents/siblings (right) respectively. Aren't they both beautiful? I've never done a longstitch before and it was the arrival of the one on the right that prompted me to add it to my New Years Crafty Resolutions list. Apparently once you're up and running it's quite an easy stitch to do, but like all things it's the starting off that's the hardest part! 

My brother gave me this very cute cross stitch kit, I think the name, "mischief" is quite appropriate!

Finally, my birthday present to myself (well, really from the various people that gave me birthday money). . .

Just a few sewing essentials I'll need when I go back to university and can't borrow mum's anymore. A measuring tape, black & white sewing thread (with some grey thrown in just for good measure) and dress making pencils. I also treated myself to a pair of embroidery scissors. My old pair of scissors decided to go walkabout a few weeks ago and for the life of me I haven't been able to find them anywhere. They were just a pair of normal paper scissors I used just for embroidery. This is the first time in my now 13 years of embroidery that I own real, proper, embroidery scissors.  . . the difference is amazing and I'm wondering why I waited so long. 

Thank you friends and family for the lovely presents. I'm so glad that those I love have caught onto what I love and appreciate (the last time I recieved bulk crafting stuff was when I was eight) - it makes a true difference when I'm on a limited budget. This holiday season has increased my crafty stash at least three fold if not more. Now if only I was the sort of person who could craft without purpose!!! Then I wouldn't have to wait for the right occasion to come along to get stuck into some of the kits . . hehe. Much love to you all.

That's all for now,


Summer Reading Challenge Update
Non-Fiction Read: 4
Fiction Read: 5
Currently Reading: "Memoirs of the Blair Administration: Tony's Ten Years" by Adam Boulton (non-fiction). I finally finished "The Political Animal" and ironically enough, have dived straight back into British politics. . .more fool me perhaps.  

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Last Cross Stitch Finish of 2010

I've been delaying posting about these until they all went out to the intended recipients. They still haven't, but most have and as it's been over a month since I finished them I probably shouldn't delay any longer!

 Christmas Quickies 2, 11, 12, 20, 21 & 30 by Barbara Mock for Dimensions
Stitched on 14 count scrap aida and thread

I got the pattern booklet for 32 quick Christmas designs off the auction site TradeMe for $3, thinking they would make cute ornaments and be a good way to use up some left over thread (I'm the type that throws nothing out, and keep snaplock bags of assorted thread left unused from completed kits and the like). The colours might not quite be the same as those required, but I think I managed to get the contrasts right. I finished them simply by backing with a Christmas themed printed fat quarter of fabric and an ornament hook of Christmas ribbon. Not the best sewing and they all ended up 'unique,' but I think that (almost) added to the charm. 

They made great gifts and I was made to add my initials and the year to the back of each one, so that if I do a similar thing in later years my friends and family can build up a collection! It actually sounds like a nice idea, although this year I may have to start a bit earlier.... 

That's all for now,

Monday, January 24, 2011

Sewing Along with Cath Kidston

Those of you who are astute readers may have noticed that sometime over the last week my bio has changed from a "very-late-teens" kiwi crafter to a "very-early-twenties" one. As an early birthday present from my wonderful parents I recieved Cath Kidston's "Sew!", which I've had my eye on from the moment I got my sewing machine. It's full of practical projects for all skill levels, which is brilliant as it means I'll be continually entertained as I improve! 

I jumped into the bag on the cover almost straight away, as the materials for it came free with the book and I have a few long evenings at the moment working midnight shifts. I admit looking at the designs in the book I'd been glad I wasn't obliged to use Cath Kidston prints, which I'm not as much of a fan of. So the bag was more of a 'because it was there' project. But I fell in love with it as I worked and now I don't think I could give it up! 

I made one small adjustment to the design and substituted half an elastic hair band instead of the fabric for the rouleau loop, which made everything a lot easier. I also couldn't resist taking a photo of my brothers adorable kitten Munter, who is staying with us at the moment. He's such a character and was very interested in my photo-taking. Munter in NZ slang refers to someone who is just a little bit crazy and this kitten lives up to his name!

I've had covered coat-hangers on my project list for a while at mum's request and as the book included a pattern and instructions it seemed a good time to give it a go. This is my first attempt, using a bit of left over fabric from my skirt. 

So on the whole my new sewing machine is seeing a bit of use! You can expect a post soon showing off my other new birthday stash :)

That's all for now,

Monday, January 17, 2011

Not enough to see in the dark with. . .

I mentioned in a previous post that this week was my Dad's birthday. Quite an important one number wise as it happens, but I won't mention how old for fear of repercussions :) 
As mum was working on the day (as was I but not until the evening) it fell to me to make his birthday cake, which as always, was a carrot cake. 

I've tried carrot cake baking before with limited success - mainly because I've never been patient enough to wait for the cake to cool properly before icing it, resulting in a bit of a sticky mess. But this one turned out pretty good. . as is evidenced by the fact it was half demolished before I even got a chance to take a photo!! 

It's one of the first recipes I've used from the tome of a baking book I got for Christmas and the note I ended up making beside it was "tastes fantastic but not particularly carroty." As I said in the title, not enough to see in the dark with . . . 

On that note I found this fantastic write-up and interview with Allyson Gofton, the author of my baking tome. A great perspective on how 'cooking' is viewed in modern day NZ as fashion statement rather than food. So many of my generation don't know how to boil an egg, let alone feed a family of 4 every day of the week. . .  just like they don't know how to sew, knit and the like. It wasn't that long ago that I couldn't boil an egg myself and I still don't think I'd have confidence cooking for 4 every night! It's what my whole blog is about really, my journey to learn such skills, which are valuable in immeasurable ways.

Anyway, thats enough! Plenty in the works at the moment, but most of it's under lock and key still until it gets to intended recipients.


Summer Reading Challenge Update
Non-fiction read: 3 
Fiction read:4
Curently reading: The Political Animal. Still. I've been naughty. I was trying to properly read one for one, but Sara Donati's "Fire Along the Sky" ended with such a cliffhanger that I just had to rent the next in the series "The Queen's Sword" and jump into it right away. I'm now determined to finish The Political Animal, which doesn't deserve to have lanquished half-started so long.  

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

First Stitching of 2011

I felt like I needed to just take something small away with me on holiday, so started a bookmark kit I recieved as a gift just before I started blogging. I was a bit unsure about the design when I was looking at the cover photo, there was just so much black! But Textile Heritage have come through again and the end result is stunning, the black really sets they whole thing off - there's a reason they're one of my favourite cross stitch designers! 

 Stained Glass Window by Textile Heritage of Scotland
Stitched with aida and thread provided
Finished with felt backing and tassle provided

Making up the bookmark was my first time sewing on my new machine unaccompanied, as my usual guide (mum) wasn't at home. It went pretty smoothly and I can already feel my control getting better - it's nice to see improvement so quickly! 
I didn't have anyone in mind for the bookmark when I started it, but Dad made several hints about liking it as I stitched and as it's his birthday at the end of this week, I think it will have a happy new owner. 

I hope you guys like the new Summer design! I took the photo on my holiday at Lake Tekapo, which is in the middle of the South Island of NZ. I think the aida background brings back the craftiness though :) 

That's all for now, 


Saturday, January 8, 2011

Winter wools, at this time of year?

Yes that's right. It seems strange when the average temperature is in the mid 20's (celcius) but I was just looking for a small project and wrist warmers/fingerless gloves just struck me as being the right one! I guess you have to start early :) 

What's even more exciting is that I developed the pattern myself, after searching for free ones online and not finding quite what I wanted anywhere - though I drew inspiration from multiple places. I'm not ready to share the pattern just yet, it still needs a few tweaks, but maybe sometime soon. . . 

That's all for now,


Wednesday, January 5, 2011

New Growth

Success! This is my second attempt at herb propagating, the first was a dismail failure with all 4 dying off within a week and a half. This attempt's been going for several weeks now and although some aren't looking to healthy. . this well and truly makes up for it!

New shoots. . .new growth. The new leaves are even getting quite big now, I've been putting off posting in case it all fell to pieces. But I think I can now say I have successfully nurtured one small sage plant into life. Now I just have to keep remembering to water it. . . . . 

That's all for now,


Monday, January 3, 2011

I can't believe I made this!!

I truly honestly can't believe that I made this, from scratch, myself (ok so with my mum's guidance in what to do, but I did all of the actual work myself). A floral print skirt had been sitting on my projects list for so long, with me having so little idea of where to start, that I was thinking about taking it off the list altogether. .  but with my own sewing machine and 3 afternoons of muddling along. . .  

Some bits were far easier than I expected, like putting in the zip. Some far harder, like doing the hem. But on the whole I'm just quietly a little proud of myself for pulling it off first go. . mum said it easily beat her first attempt at such a thing, but I'm putting that more down to technological advancement than any skill I might have (zilch)!! 

I do love the finished product. It hangs so nicely and is so easy to dress up and down. Something I'll wear for many years to come I think! 
For anyone interested, the pattern is Simplicity 2906, from the "It's so easy" range. 

That's all for now,


P.S posting may be at a minimum for the next week, as I'm off on a technology-less holiday, though I may do some scheduled posts before I leave

Summer Reading Update
Non-fiction read: 3 
Fiction read: 2
Currently reading: The Political Animal (non-fiction), Fire Along the Sky by Sara Donati (fiction). I really need to read something other than a historical fiction epic hehe. . .I only picked up the next in Sara Donati's series as I've put my mum onto it and shes threatening to overtake me.  

Saturday, January 1, 2011

A New Years Reflection and Resolutions

Apologies for what is going to be a comparatively wordy post! But I thought that the New Year would be a perfect time to reflect upon my crafty progress so far. As it happens, it also marks the start of my 6th month of blogging. Boy does time fly! So, three questions just to figure out where I am, where I've come from and we're I'm going. . .  

What can I do?
When I started writing in August I called myself a competent cross stitcher, a beginning baker and knitter, and an even worse than beginning sewer. 
These days I'm beginning to see myself as bordering upon a skilled cross stitcher. Over this year I've attempted more than one complex piece to see them all turn out how I wanted them, which is nice! But I still can't "finish" my pieces in the beautiful ways I've seen on other blogs. 
I can now knit competently and have learnt how to purl, one of my original goals!!! I'm even starting to speed up a little! It's so nice being able to vary my stitch a bit and include stocking and ribbing in my pieces. 
My bakings coming along nicely, as is my cooking (although my lovely man will still tell you his is better. Which is true, he has a natural flair in the kitchen). 
Sewing. . .hmmmm. . we'll see :P 

Looking at that, there's just so much I want to learn still!! I guess knitting has been my major accomplishment this year, but there still so many techniques I want to learn there too! 

Why am I doing this?
When I asked myself that question upon starting my blog, my answer was "I don't know." I think I do know now. The more I find myself immersed in the world of craft the more I think about just that question, and three answers just keep coming back. . 
For the Past: The further I delve into craft the more I find myself learning in the memory of women who would have been more than happy to teach me had I shown an interest at a younger age.  Both of my grandmothers, crafty ladies each, passed away when I was young. Taking up passtimes they enjoyed has made me feel both closer to them and further away, as I regret not learning what they had to teach when they could teach it. I feel increasingly grateful that my mum, though I doubt she would call herself 'crafty,' learnt from them at least the basics of many crafts, if not more. 
For the Future: Increasingly I find myself on this journey as almost a 'nesting,' despite the fact I feel far to young for it! But, increasingly I find in my heart the need to be able to provide for my future family in more than the financial sense, to be able to clothe them warmly and keep them entertained etc in a sustainable and homemade way. I think that sense comes with finding the right person to share such dreams with; my wonderful man and I have been together for two and a half years now. It's also partly just growing up. Friends my own age are announcing their engagements and those just a few years older than me starting families of their own.... I'm happy to wait a wee bit longer though!!
For Myself: I've always been creative in my own way, but in attempting art or music or any of the other modern creative pursuits I've always found myself frustrated, unable to traslate what I have in my head into the medium. With craft my creative flair shines and it gives me immense joy being able to create something beautiful out of the simplest of things; fabric, thread, wool. . . I love it. God's given me a slowly developing gift I intend to use!

What Comes Next: Some New Years Resolutions
So what comes next? My crafty New Years Resolutions are. . .
  1. To learn to crochet. I keep finding wonderful crochet patterns for things that just can't be achieved the same way in knit! And I love it's a totally different discipline that also uses wool! 
  2. To complete a long stitch. I recieved a beautiful kit as a late Christmas present, so it's a perfect opportunity to extend my cross stitch skills into other forms of embroidery and tapestry
  3. To learn how to machine sew properly and well - and not to be so afraid of the machine! I think thats my major problem with sewing, I'm just a little afraid of the machine. Practice is needed!! 
So there we go. Normal transmission will resume immediately! Lately I haven't been featuring what I've been working on a lot, as I'm still on a few late Christmas gifts. But there's a few things in the works that I'll be able to share soon!! 

That's all for now,


Summer Reading Challenge Update
Fiction Read: 2
Non-Fiction Read: 2
Wow reading non-fiction slows my pace down alot!
Currently Reading: The Political Animal (still - non-fiction), The Accidental Billionaires by Ben Mezrich (non-fiction, although from what I've read so far that label is dubious!)