Thursday, 30 April 2009

Crafty retreat anyone?

image via Sewjourn

I stumbled across this a while back and thought that it would make a great destination for a girls weekend. Sewjourn run a retreat at Lancefield for quilters and other crafty people to "relax, create and enjoy". A short walk to the town centre and a fully set up studio to work from.

Sounds like a delightful idea!

Wednesday, 29 April 2009

Kaos Notebook

I am running out of space in my current notebook. It is blue and has an old business card stuck to the front of it ... it works well and I like the size, but I can't get another one (I have tried).

So I re-purposed a notebook that was given to me, I didn't quite like the style pastel butterfly style of it. So, introducing the Kaos Notebook!

Covered in felt appliqué and embroidered homespun with the classic Konstant Kaos symbol.

But the one thing that I am still deciding upon is ... do I do a ribbon bookmark like this one, or do I do a piece of nice elastic to keep all of my bits and pieces together?

If I stumble across some suitable quality notebooks, I might make a few with different patterns for the my Mothers Day Market stall this weekend at Thornbury Women's Centre.

What do you think? Ribbon or Elastic? Good or Bad?

Tuesday, 28 April 2009

Do schools kill creativity?

The thing that has struck me about the Year 7 Rainbow packs activity is that kids are crying out to be creative. Unfortunately concept of assessment in schools tends to kill creativity. Parents want to see tools of measurement not product (observation from 15 years of teaching).

I came across this TED talk, and thought I would share. If you don't know the TED talks, then please check them out.

If this video doesn't load it can be found here.

Year 7 rainbow packs rock!

Check out these pictures from my class. The kids have been putting together some Rainbow Packs as part of the "Faith in Action" unit that I teach and we are doing to be sent up to other Year 7 students who have lost everything ...

This student worked with her Mum to put this pack together.

This boy worked with his Mum and got donations from his older brother! Note the tennis ball and spinning top. What 12 year old wouldn't love these!

This student helped his Grandmother make this lovely linen bag. I love the buzzing magnets that he has included in the pack.

This bag is lovingly hand stitched by a Year 7 girl. She has also put buttons on the end of the straps that look so cute ... Smiggle seemed to be the big winner out of this experiment. Almost every pack that a girl has put together, has some smiggle stuff in it!

We are about half way though doing the packs, they should be done by the end of next week hopefully. We still have to write a letter to the kids that are getting the pack with return envelopes to send back a letter (yes a hand written letter) and I also have to do tags for them so that the kids can write who helped them (Mum, Dad, Sister or Grandparent)

Which Bag is your favourite?

My Year 7 class are putting together a class load of Rainbow Comfort Packs to go up to a bush fire affected area for students who have lost everything. About half of the class have managed to make or get made a hand made bag for the project. And being the good teacher that I am, I am running up a few on my trusty Janome to help them along. Most of the material given to me was from the costume store room, left over from productions past.

The bag design being used is the pattern for my Market Bag, except I have refined it using some of the techniques in the Zakka book to streamline the process. There is also no interfacing, fussy stitching or closures in these bags. They are a very quick make.

1. Kaos Bag

2. Army Bag

These two bags have got black chunky cord as the outside fabric and a lovely red inside.

3. Pink Gingham Sakura Bag

4. "I love Gingham" Bag

It is good for me, as it allows me to refine patterns and processes quicker than I normally would. There is also a sense of freedom in doing whatever you want to embellish the bags. I like embelishing Gingham bags, they are very girly!

5. Another Cherry Blossom Japanese Fabric styled Bag

6. Strawberry Patch Bag

Some more costume store fabric. I don't particularly like the strawberry design (on right), but enough people have said that they like it for me to use it. The petals are from the pinafore that I made for Sarah at the start of April.

7. Skull Love Bag


Lastly, this bag uses a scrap of the skull love fabric. Sewn on and frayed! Hoping that a boy likes this one. I have lots of cord and Gingham (Pink, Blue, Red, Black, Yellow) left, so I might make some larger bags and perhaps try my hand at a backpack or two.

So this is what I have done this weekend. Another load will be done after the Thornbury Market on Saturday 2nd May. I will also be making one for the teacher and put achievement stamps in there and some other nice teacher styled things).

So which bag is your favourite?

Monday, 27 April 2009

Is your business in recession?

One of the small business blogs that I catch up with each week is the Tall Poppy Blog. A worthwhile click through and bookmark!

Picture by Andreas Kammel (c) 2005

One of the posts recently stuck with me over the last week, it was called "Is your business in recession?". Quite a few people have asked me whether I am adventurous in starting a small business in this "economic climate". Is there any good time to start a business? The fact that people are strapped for cash generally means that they will look to purchase something unique, and longer lasting rather than cheap and nasty.

Taken from Anne's blog (I hope she doesn't mind me re-posting!):

There was a man who lived by the side of the road and sold hot dogs. He was hard of hearing so he had no radio.He had trouble with his eyes so he read no newspapers. But he sold good hot dogs.He put up signs on the highway telling how good they were. He stood on the side of the road and cried; buy a hot dog, mister? And people bought. He increased his meat and bun orders. He bought a bigger stove to take care of his trade. He finally got his son home from college to help him out.

But then something happened.
His son said, “Father, haven’t you been listening to the radio?” “Haven’t you been reading the newspapers?”“There’s a big depression.” “The European situation is terrible. The domestic situation is worse.” Where upon the father thought, well, my son’s been to college, he reads the papers and he listens to the radio, and he ought to know.

So the father cut down on his meat and bun orders, took down his advertising signs, and no longer bothered to stand out on the highway to sell his hot dogs. And his hot dog sales fell almost overnight. “You’re right, son” the father said to the boy. “We certainly are in the middle of a great depression.”

Sunday, 26 April 2009

The Raglan Pullover

In what was a moment of complete madness, I stumbled out of bed this morning at 7.15 and I dragged by slightly hung over body to Camberwell Market. Brown Owls were meeting at 8.30 for coffee and muffins and I wanted to do a quick round in case the heavens opened up. Last night we had some friends around for some slow cooked goodness .. pictures and recipe's later!

Luckily the sky stayed dry, but that didn't stop the icy cold from cutting right through me although I had several layers on. I road tested my new Market bag pattern. Managed to squeeze an umbrella into her and she strapped across my body quite nicely and sat on my hip under my coat as I strolled around.

As usual, I managed to come home with a bag full of goodies for only a few dollars ... I love retail therapy for under $20! I got some wool, patterns, recipe book for cakes and some gingham which will make some quick Rainbow Pack bags.

I am hoping to crochet what might resemble a scarf from the wool. Something to replace the red/black striped one I lost last winter. I don't have a pattern, I am just going to treble until it looks long and cosy.
The knitting patterns are interesting, although I don't really knit. I bought them for the pictures, they are a classic! Perhaps if I pass them onto my knitting friend she might do me one!!

I love this picture on the back, just a little bit suggestive!

It is crazy and cold outside with gale force warnings for most of the state. The cats are in front of the fire warming themselves and I can hear Tori upstairs talking to her toys ...

Saturday, 25 April 2009


My husband knows me so well (or perhaps he reads my blog!) ... he got me these glorious books for our wedding anniversary.

But the story goes that he had ordered them for my Birthday when the V&A book was "running late" as a substitute, and then they didn't arrive ... we tend not to do anniversary gifts, rather we go out for some fine dining at one of the glorious restaurants in Melbourne that we love.

Zakka Sewing (english instructions) and Handmade Zakka (japanese instructions)

I think that my first project from the book will be a linen peg basket using the lingerie fabric I got the other day from Patchwork on Central Park as a lining and a nice red on the outside with some embroidery. Not sure what I am embroidering yet, it might just be something simple like "pegs" or something like that.

I know I won't be attempting the bunny pencil cases, although the same idea could be applied to some dragon pencil cases or some fishy pencil cases .. Bunnies are just a bit too freaky for me!

I love these place mats and the embroidery on them, definitely on my "not important but nice" to do list! I'll need to see where I can get some reasonably priced linen from.

Ahh, there is never enough time in the day to do all that I want to do

Friday, 24 April 2009

Market Bag

I couldn't help myself, I had to use the material ...the sewing machine called to me, the iron tempted me and the scissors had a mind of their own ...

So let me introduce to you, the new and improved Market Bag!

It has a nice long adjustable strap to go across your body. Materials are 310 gsm Cotton Drill, high quality quilting cotton for the inside and a D ring to attach your keys to.

Inside is a cute polkadot, clip for keys and pockets.

The glides that I used are rectangular and kinda look good, I got them at Nicole's stand at the Stitches and Craft Show!

This bag is now for sale in my etsy store. Once it is gone, it is gone :(

Crochet Granny square a Day

Meet me at Mikes has thrown out the challenge to make a granny square a day. So here is my version! No pattern, just me and a crochet hook.

I used 8ply "sports support" from Spotlight. It is a 50% Wool, 50% Acrylic yarn with a Milward 4.00 crochet hook

My plan is to make a crochet version of the Oh Fransson Paintbox Quilt, but with crochet and a black background. Tori can snuggle up in the blanket while she watches Bear in the Big Blue House ...

Thursday, 23 April 2009

Crochet record cover anyone?

But the most exciting thing that I found this morning was the "Myart" Evening Bags crochet pattern book *bounce*
Closer inspection of the book reveal lots of little things to crochet that I am sure my grandmother used to make for me. Does anyone remember the crocheted coat hangers?

When I was looking at records at Camberwell Market last sunday, the stall owner asked me whether I knew what they were! Crochet record holder anyone? I am sure a simple strap could make this into a nice little bag. Do you want me to post the instructions?

The most exciting find was the string bag. I think I might do some of these. I have some red cotton thread I can use!

Ahh more projects to add to my "nice but not important" to do list!

Material Obsession

Every day the dodgy Express Post van arrives at either 10am or 2pm. The same little Chinese guy says "hello", asks how my daughter is and then continues on his way. When Tori is home she runs towards the door to say hello. The Express Post guy knows that if the cars are there, I am generally home or not that far away. So he will leave it under the chair on the front porch for me.

This morning another delivery of material via etsy. Japanese Echino material goodness that will be turned into some yummy bags ... one of them will be for me ... guess which one!

Forgotten Projects

I can't quite remember when I picked up my first Crochet hook.

I have a box of hooks, books and patterns that my Grandmother gave to me and there was a stage in my life when I was churning out dollies like there was no tomorrow. Knitting was never my thing. I could do it, but I derived no satisfaction from knit one, purl one (sorry Trudi). But the crochet hook, I liked that. Simple yet effective.
Meet me at Mikes has thrown out the Crochet Granny Square challenge and despite the many projects on my "Important-must-do" list, I took the time to drag out my "Forgotten crafts tub" and have been going through it looking for a project to do ... after all, with these dark nights approaching, who doesn't want to sit on the couch with the fire going, a glass of whiskey and a crochet hook?

In my Yellow Tub, I have found a plethora of UFO's (Un Finished Objects) that I forgot I had!

Firstly there is the unfinished cross stitch samples. I decided to give cross stitch a go ... and "no" it wasn't me ... too much fiddly work. I know I can do it if I have to, but I won't go out of my way to do cross stitch. There is a reason why I bought myself an embroidery machine!

Then, there is the Battenburg lace making kit. When I was into the whole roleplaying thing I decided that Battenberg was worth a go, so I bought a kit with the view to making a collar for Andrea's Musketeer costume. I read through the instructions, decided it was too hard and bought one from a market stall ...

I also have a collection of old crochet books and magazines that came from a little old lady my Mum used to look after in Dandenong. And a collection of German crochet magazines. The German magazines have crochet patterns in diagrams rather than written out, they are so easy to follow.

I tend to be a bit of a collector, so there isn't just one forgotten crafts tub ... I did have a big clear out a few years back and I gave away some unfinished project to people who hopefully got some enjoyment out of them. Perhaps it is time to do it again? Who wants the battenburg kit? I will post it to you!

Wednesday, 22 April 2009

Happy Anniversary ....

Ona beautiful autumn day in 1995 on the 22nd of April, I married my love Andreas at the Holy Trinity Lutheran Church in Melbourne. It is sometimes hard to believe that we have been married for 14 years and we have been together for another 5 years on top of that. I have been with my partner for over half of my life. I was only 23 when I got married.
Pastor Stern from St. John's Springvale wed us. I have a distinct memory of the day ... Pastor Stern stood there during the service wearing his usual garb, but underneath he had a pair of blunstones on! He is still the Pastor at St. John's in Springvale and last year he Baptised our daughter.
Andreas was involved in the Melbourne Uni Fencing Club at the time, and when we exited from the Church the fencing club had rocked up and they performed a guard of honor for us. We didn't ask for it or plan it, they decided to do it.

One of my earliest memories of Andreas was at Conquest. I recall playing a game called "Lace and Steel" a roleplay game and on one of the nights we had a costume freeform in the Pancake Parlor that used to be in Market Lane in the city.

When we were first going out we were involved in the SCA. I loved the costuming side and Andreas loved the warfare side. We used to get together at Melbourne Girls College school oval every month for SCA practice and Thursday nights we had dance rehearsal on Smith Street in Collingwood (WG Raven Funeral Parlor, now no longer in existance).

Andreas proposed to me in Germany, in his home town of Holtzminden. We had decided to take an overseas trip over the summer of 1991/1992. We saved for what seemed like ages and I still have the savings term deposit slip showing the interest rate of 14.25% when I withdrew my savings. We did the good 'ol European backpacking trip. Andreas met my relatives in Scotland/England and I met his.

Since we met we have been overseas too many times and had lots of adventures. We have built a house but more importantly (and perhaps our greatest achievement so far) is that we have built a little person ...
We spend a lot of our time laughing at things, humor is a very big part of our lives. Creativity is another force in our relationship. But I guess the most important factor is that he is my best friend.
A lot of my students ask me how I can stay with the same person for so long, and I generally answer "I don't". Neither of us are the same people we were back in 1990 when we met or even 1995 when we married. We have both changed and evolved, and Andreas influence in my life has made me a better person.

Happy Anniversary ...

Monday, 20 April 2009

Dinner Bib

Tori is the messiest little eater that ever was ... the little monkey prides herself in rubbing food all over her hands, table, hair when she has finished eating. So I knocked up this Dinner Bib type garment from some left over fabric and an old towel yesterday morning.

The back does up with velco. I have tried to get a picture of the little monkey in it, but she is too quick for me and my camera! I have to try another one, this time finishing off the seams properly and sewing straight!

Sunday, 19 April 2009

Warm Fuzzy

I like this Youtube video, it has a certain "warm and fuzziness" about it ... enjoy!

Material Obsession

Some new material for my stash ...

The first collection is from Favorite Fabrics in the US. The movie director fabric and popcorn is for a custom order and the cherry is for me! The lovely ladies at Fav Fab couldn't fulfill my order of the Robert Kaufman movie director fabric in a continuous length, so I opted for some popped corn as the remainder ... I am sure that some matching drool or dinner bibs might work well in this!

My second collection bundle of fabrics was the result of a visit to my dentist on friday. 1 hour of dental surgery and a new crown later and I found myself in a daze driving towards Patchwork on Central Park in Malvern. If you haven't been to this store, then you must make a day of it. Lynn has the most gorgeous store with a small gift shop in addition to their huge patchwork collection.

Anyway, they had a collection of fabrics that was 1/2 price if you bought over a metre ... so I did. The underwear fabric is called "Lingerie" by Alexander Henry and is a 2005 print, so rather hard to get a hold of. It might make for an interesting bag lining, or underwear bag lining. What would you do with it?

Camberwell Market

This morning we wandered off to Camberwell Sunday Market after having breakfast in North Fitzroy. There were many treasures to be had. Andreas got himself a library of books on model trains (his current obsession) and I got some sewing goodness. Picked up a collection of french curves for when I draft patterns for $1 and some buttons for a few more dollars.
The sewing book I got was called "The Concise Sewing Book", a lovely 70's version of "how to sew" with a pattern for a Caftan in it (this was the clincher).

The thing that I love about buying old sewing books, isn't the techniques, but rather the fashion ideas. There is a section in this book that talks just about flairs on pants and how to alter straight legged patterns to make them more flairy *giggles* ... The pictures are also fabulous, with fashion of the day clearly shown. I thought of Curlypops when I saw this picture .. go handbags!

I am unlikely to make what is in this book, but the images might provide some inspiration for something for my shop. Might have to extract the finger and return to Camberwell Market on my own for some retail therapy some other Sunday.