Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Armchair Mini

Now that I've had some improvement in my elbow situation, I'm back to working on the baby blanket. Thankfully I have plenty of time for this project. Baby isn't due until March next year. And it's a Queensland baby, so I doubt that there will be much demand for woollen blankets until a few months after that.

I've said this before, but it's a truth that never fails to delight me, so I'll say it again. I love, love, love the process of making. Especially a project like this, which is imbued with significance. While I'm stitching there's a constant undercurrent of thoughts about the baby; the Mum and Dad; the wider family; the pregnancy so far; the potential . . . At a visual level I'm thinking about the yarn, the colours I've used and the ones to come. The whole experience has it's own rhythm dictated by the stitches I'm forming in my fingers.
I call these blankets armchair projects because that's where I sit while I stitch. That's practical. Even a miniature blanket like this involves eight different balls of wool. This one is small enough, though, that I could pick it up and move to a cooler environment as the weather warms up. It's also an "armchair" project because of the relaxed attitude I like to take with it. A few rows here and a few rows there, often accompanying my morning coffee or favourite music. So, it's a miniature blanket with a big place in my heart. 

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Breakfast--and the Meaning of Life

My first task for this morning was to mix up my breakfast cereal. That process got me thinking about my art-making. What's the connection between breakfast and art? I'm glad you asked.
Let me tell you what goes into my breakfast cereal. Basically it's porridge, but there's more to it than you might see at first glance:
  • rolled oats
  • oat bran
  • brown rice
  • buckwheat
  • rolled rye flakes
  • quinoa flakes
Oh and water of course. I heat that up, let it sit for a while, then heat it up some more until it just bubbles nicely. Then I add a combination of psyllium husk, LSA meal and brown linseeds. A good bit of skim milk and I'm ready to go. Usually I leave it at that, but I could add, fruit or nuts or honey when the fancy takes me.

What I'm talking about is a combination of simplicity and complexity. When I spin my yarn, I'm aware of the origins of the fibre. The wool might be from a farmer I know. There might be a bit of silk mixed in; or bunny fibre. When I dye I mix and match colours. Say I want blue--I often want blue--there might be five different blues in the pot. So there are layers of colour, just as there are layers of flavour and texture. And usually there are a sequence of processes.

It's fun and interesting and varied. And it's satisfying. It keeps me going all day. So, now I've had breakfast. It's time for coffee and a day of making.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Dear Anonymous, I Don't Know What to Do

Dear Anonymous
Some of my best friends are Anonymous. They don't have a profile that my blog recognises. I love the fact that they read my blog. I want to hear what they have to say.

Maybe some friends I have yet to meet prefer to be Anonymous too. I don't often touch on controvertial subjects in this blog. But there may be things you want to say that you'd rather not put your name to. I can understand that.

But some of you Anonymous posters must be desperate! Every day I receive several messages linking me to all sorts of things that I'm not interested in. I try to respond consistently. "Mark as Spam" is my most used button of all time. Still you persist in your unwanted attentions. What am I to do?
I don't want to treat you harshly, but I have better things to do than getting rid of unwanted comments from my blog. Yesterday I accidently hit the wrong button on my comment moderation page and ended up promoting pirated handbag designs and phone accessories on a post I'd written to welcome an old friend to my home. I don't like that. It could have been worse!

I'm pretty sure I could solve my problems by turning the "please prove you are not a robot" captcha feature back on in my blog. I turned it off when a friend of mine described it as "torture". I find that feature challenging on other people's blogs so I wanted to make it easier for everybody on my blog. Maybe that was a mistake.

I don't know what to do about my relationship with you, Anonymous. It's affecting my blog relationships in a variety of ways. So I'm writing this public letter. Maybe some-one can help us to find a happy way forward. Or maybe I just need to bite the bullet and ban Anonymous from my page.

Please help me.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Warm Fuzzies

I've cut out the fur fabric for the Selat. This s a special birthday request from a teenager with attitude and a love of things Star Trek.
The last soft toy I made for her was a tiny teddy bear like the one in the picture. Oh--too many years ago! If I remember rightly it was pink and wispy. I couldn't help reminiscing just a little as the new creation starts to take shape.
E will finish her Secondary school career in the next week or so. She still loves fluffy and shiny things, but often with an unexpected twist. I do believe her chosen footwear for the end of school-year formal dinner-dance occasion is her beloved Converse. They will be tucked under the full-princess-with-sequins-and diamantes-floor-length skirt. Her feet are huge and why should she be uncomfortable! "No-one will be able to see my feet".
So I shouldn't be surprised that I'm working on something that would be a teddy bear if it wasn't for the extra tusks and tufts that will mark it as originating from the planet Vulcan--should I?

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Meanwhile, Back at the Wristies

I concentrated on display props and spring blooms for my recent market. These frilly wristies lingered on my needles. Today I've finished them off.
My earlier versions of these have all been in my handspun wool. These ones are a Bendigo 8-ply, hand-dyed by me. I'm particularly keen on how the colour has distributed to form little stripes in the finished result. That gets broken up in the ruffle to add to the playfulness of the overall result. It's going to be a wrench to put these on the "for sale" stack, but I do have plenty of happy wristies for myself.

Friday, October 19, 2012

It's my Elbow!

Unusual topic for today's post: it's my elbow. And not a particularly good shot at that. You should try taking a photo with your left hand in the bathroom mirror some time.
I've been having trouble with tennis elbow, aka gardener's-crafter's elbow--for about a year now. This isn't the place to moan and groan, but when I started waking at 2 am in the morning in pain I decided I'd had enough. With a fair bit of determination and more than a bit of luck I managed to escalate the problem fairly quickly.
Today I had an ultrasound-guided injection which I'm hoping will give me some relief--at least long enough to get started on suitable physio in a more focussed way. I'll know in a couple of days how it's gone. I will keep making things one way or another--even if I have to learn to crochet left-handed.
I promise my next post will be something more attractive!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Woman on a Mission

What does a craft-loving woman do after her first market stall. Rest and recover? I've done a bit of that. Now I'm embarking on a rather unusual mission. I've been asked to make a Sehlat. I had to ask for further information, not being a Star Trek fan myself. Here is the best picture I've been able to find.

You can find more information at the appropriate wiki if you're that way inclined.
It seems I'm looking for a teddy-bear-like creature with six inch fangs and a tufted tail. It just so happens that I have quite a variety of soft toy patterns. The grizzly bear from Marshall Cavendish's 101 Soft Toys seems to be a likely candidate. I'm going to get started tonight by tracing off the pattern. It's one of those old-style scale-up-each-square-to-2.5 cm kind, but I think I'll be using the photocopier instead. Once that's done I'll dig out some suitable fur. Hopefully there's enough in my stash essential fabric collection.
Would you believe, this isn't the most unusual request I have received. Some years ago I made a Veeblax for a nine-year old. The request was accompanied by drawings of  front and side views and special notes on the single protruding eye.
And if you've been wondering about my somewhat unusual silence here: I've spent several hours in the past couple of days on the phone to my internet service provider. I think it's all sorted out now.


Monday, October 15, 2012

Full Circle and a Little Rose

A market day generally takes me full circle in my making. It's like this. I like to sit and spin at the market. I find it  good way to pass the time; to demonstrate and discuss what I do and to be present without focussing too much on people's response to my work. Since it's such a busy and colourful environment and I could be interrupted at any time, I don't spin anything fancy: plain white wool tops are my favourite.
After the market the momentum has a tendency to slow down, but here I am with a partly spun bobbin of lovely white wool. So I have to finish it. Turns out that spinning is what I love--it's why I do this. When that's done I'll have a whole skein of lovely new yarn crying out for colour. Colour is also a strong motivator for me. And so the rhythm of making and offering what I've made for sale can go on. 
As for the tiny red rose, it was peaking out from among the weeds when I got home from my walk this morning. I love its courage and perfection--despite the spider's web and blackspot it was determined to bloom!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Morning After Market

It's the morning after the market and I'm in surprisingly good shape. Yes I'm tired, but that was to be expected. I feel a good momentum to continue with what I've started by participating in the Make Craft Your Business course a couple of months ago.

For those of you who couldn't be there--and for my own future reference--here's how the stall looked.
Apologies for the back-lit shot--that window does actually have a curtain across it and I did try using a fill-in flash, but mostly I was focussed on interacting with people on the day. You can just see the pedal of my spinning wheel on the far right. I spent most of the day spinning and chatting. I had enough sales to be encouraged and plenty of positive feedback. It was also great to see the work of my fellow students and the excitement of their first sales. I had the luck of sitting next to the table with the eftpos machine!
One feature of this market is the free kids craft. There were children galore! I enjoyed handing out tiny bits of soft fluffy wool and explaining how the spinning wheel works.
I have a few adjustments to make to my display before next time. Of course I have new ideas of things to make, but I plan to stick to a slower pace for a little while.
The next challenge will be setting up for some on-line sales.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Finishing Touches

I've been so busy tidying up loose ends for tomorrow's market, that I've nearly forgotten to blog. But here I am.
The only thing left on my list are to tie a few more business cards--they're printed, but I want to add the strand of handspun fibre to set it off.
A friend of mine is droppng in after work to have a look at my stall. I've got it all set up in the spare room. I want to add a few more details, but I'm deliberately working through in order of necessity to stop me rushing from one thing to another. I'll also need to head out to the shops one more time to see if I can track down some tablecloth clamps. They're proving surprisingly difficult to find so far. I've made a full length calico tablecloth and I just need a bit of extra insurance in case some-one accidentally steps on a trailing edge. Failing that I'll use some heavy duty clamps from my woodworking tools, but it would be nice to have something a little more subtle. Oh, and if I find myself with either time or adrenaline to spare this evening. I'll make up the lavender sachets. They haven't made it to the top of the list yet.
 Just in case I've sharing the details somewhere along the line:
Made 'n' Thornbury Market
10 am - 2 pm
99 Leinster Grove
There are kids' activities, home-baked sweets, coffee and soup and hand-made wares galore. And it's indoors, so there's no need to worry about the weather.
See you there.  

Thursday, October 11, 2012


I've been stitching up a veritable tornado in the past few weeks. It's been a lot of fun. Today I set myself the task of organising and pricing the things I have to sell at the market. If I waited until I'd put the last stitch into the last thing I could possibly make in a final burst of inspiration I'd end up with very little actually ready to sell or a sleepless night. Neither of those are good for me. So today--not tomorrow--is my day to get organised.
I've spread out all my crochet flower brooches; categorised them and checked prices. I only had to make a few changes. Now they're in bags ready to go. Ditto the knitted ones. There weren't many of those. Next are the--more recent--fabric flowers and felt and fibre necklaces. I'll need to buy or make some more tags before the end of today. Tomorrow morning I'll do a dress rehearsal of the stall set up. After that I can have as many last minute bursts of inspiration as I like--or not--the basic work will be done. 

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Gift Cards

I've just come in from the studio for a quick lunch and a coffee. I'm making gift cards. Here's what I've achieved so far.
I've got quite a collection of cute little stamps and it's tempting to try them all, but I do need to manage some sort of efficiency, so I'm making about a dozen of each. Next I'll pull out some different fibres. Then I'll move on to some greeting cards.
I got some brooch backs stitched on before my morning walk. And there's a stack of finished pieces waiting for price tags. It's good to vary the tasks and alternate the more creative bits with the more mundane. 

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Model Magic

I've been working on paper mache display props for my stall at the Made in Thornbury Market this weekend. I figure paper mache gives me the reality of lumpy-bumpiness and asymmetry that we all enjoy in real life.
This manequin was originally white styrofoam and rather idealistic in it's shape. It then had a  time of being covered in newspaper--I've searched back through my blog and am surprised that I can't find a picture of it in that form. Now it's covered in brown paper and several coats of sealer to go with my new look.

I'm at the sorting and labelling phase of my market preparation. Though I can't guarantee that there won't be a burst of creativity or two yet before Saturday. And in case you've missed it somehow: you're invited! Please come to the market at 99 Leinster Grove, Thornbury. It's on from 10 am til 2 pm.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Fantasy Flowers

One of the things I love about making things is that I can have any colour I like. Especially when I dye the fabric myself. Here's a green rose.
Unfortunately that truth doesn't quite apply to my photos yet --bring on the photoshop skills--the real thing is brighter and greener than this.
So I now have hand dyed cotton roses in magenta, yellow and blue. And there are more to come.
At some stage this week I'm going to have to stop making new things and concentrate on organising and labelling the things I've already made--but that's not going to be today. 

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Catching Up on Z's

It's the first day of daylight saving here in Melbourne. A funny concept when you come to think of it--reflecting our preoccupation with the clock. So according to the new clock I lost an hour of sleep last night. And I've had a cluster of--unusual for me--evening commitments lately. I've taken a slow morning as a result, followed by an after-lunch nap.

In between catching up on sleep I've been finishing off some of the display props for my market stall next week. I'll show you the paper mache creations once they've had a chance to dry and I've had a chance to retrieve my big table from under the pile of debris. There is enough space to show you this one:
Z is for Z Twist Art! It's painted and ready to draw attention to itself.
Now to celebrate what promises to be a sunny afternoon--and the extra hour of evening daylight--with a nice ride while the paint dries. I think I have a plan. 

Saturday, October 6, 2012


I've been playing with this ball of handspun merino plied with silk. It was one of those random little spinning experiments quite a while back. I love how the silk filament shines out of the softer fibre. Anyway, I had about 50 grams of it and no particular plan.
On the left is a "flower" of sorts based on the medallion idea I had a little while ago. What I didn't mention at the time is that this is yarn crocheted around a metal washer from the hardware store. I have to decide how to finish the centre.
The other little thing is only a few centimetres across. It's a tiny bit of needle weaving and I'm not quite sure where it's going, but I like the simplicity. Here it is in close up.
With the forecast maximum temperature half what it was earlier in the week, I'm glad to be playing with a warm orange colour. As you can see, there's a fair bit of it left--stay tuned. 

Friday, October 5, 2012

Roses Galore

I'm continuing to make hand-dyed cotton roses. Meanwhile the garden is bursting into bloom.
So I have fabric roses on my table and recently picked rose blossoms hanging to dry. That's the next step of this year's Christmas pot pourri underway. I've been drying orange peel for quite a while already. 

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Fresh Today

I've just popped in from my studio to post my latest makes.
Another felt and fibre necklace--I'm having lots of fun making these! And a new hand-dyed cotton rose brooch. There's good news on that front.   I've worked out that I don't need to iron the fabric or cut it neatly. Tearing off a strip of the right width works just as well. Now I can get on with some other colours.
And I've picked the first two real roses the Spring from my Lorraine Lee bush. It normally blooms way earlier than this, but I suspect there's been just a bit too much neglect in the garden lately.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

New in Blue

I made another welcome visit to Beautiful Silks on the weekend. Having tried out the samples I'd picked up last time, I was ready to stock up. I'm very excited about this new fabric-yarn. It's a silk waste in the form of torn strips. Perfect for dyeing and mixing with all sorts of other lovely things. Here it is in blue, fresh from my dyepot.
I've promised myself some time in my studio this afternoon to start working with it--or should that be playing with it?