Friday, 31 December 2010

2010 My Year in Craft

Following on from the tradition of last year, here is my Year in Craft ..

1. In my twelve months of crafting, my crafty self made all these...

I ended up making way too many bags and I also started to make patchwork blankets which I thoroughly enjoy. I still haven't perhaps found the "killer product" that rewards me adequately for the effort but I will plod along creating and crafting!

2. If my year was a colour it would be...

It certainly started off a bit black, having suffered a miscarriage in December 2009 and all the baggage that goes along with that. But we are now happily looking forward to early February when we will celebrate the arrival of our second child into the world. So the colour now is definately a positive yellow!

3. This year I spent way too many craft hours...

The challenge with my year is that I didn't have as many craft hours as I had hoped for! Having signed up to do writing in mid 2009, I somehow managed to write three chapters of two textbooks while trying to run a house, take care of a toddler, teach part time and sew for a business.

Crafty things have probably suffered as a result of my writing and teaching throughout the year. I started Northside Makers with Jenni and Jay in 2009 with great ambitions to do lots of things. But as each of us pursued different opportunities, the spare time that we had used to run Northside Makers was quickly gobbled up. Perhaps in 2011 being on maternity leave, I can find some time again to pursue this project.

4. This year I wish I'd had more craft hours for...

I have too many ideas, I admit it. My ideas folder is overflowing and my sewing room is a reflection of this. I have lots of ideas for future projects to make my household a reflection of my craftiness, so hopefully I will have time for this.

5. My proudest craft moment of the year was...

The quilts that I have finished throughout the year for orders or personal presents. I have found fulfilment in creating something unique from scratch. I love the mathematical nature of quilts.

6. My biggest craft disaster was...

There was a few presents that I attempted when I was too tired or not focused, they are sitting in my "unpick" box ... never to be photographed, never to see the light of day ...

7. This year I had stalls at/visited this many markets...

I had stalls at many markets Made n Thornbury, Northside Makers, Craft Hatch, Goth and Punk Market and managed to visit many local and country markets along the way.

8. My most enjoyable market was...

The one with the most amount of fun was definately the Goth and Punk Market. How could it not be with The Resignators playing!

9. My best handmade purchase/present/swap/acquisition was...

My hubby got me a gorgeous Victoria Mason necklace for Christmas and a few weeks earlier I had a chance to talk to her about her creations. So the present is very special to me.

10. After this year I swear I'll never again...

I was going to write "take on too much", but I have already done that with baby/house/business already in the works. Hey, I would much rather be busy than bored!

11. Next year I'm determined to...

Finish my daughters Paintbox Quilt. I have been saying this for the last year and every once in a while I get some energy and spend a few hours and then I get bogged down in market preparation, teaching or writing. I have no teaching scheduled for 2011, no writing (except personal projects) and no markets scheduled until I get the baby thing under control. So I will make a large effort to get it finished.

12. But I'll probably do this instead...

I'll probably still be finishing it at the end of the year!


I wish you and your craft all the very best for the 2011.

Thursday, 30 December 2010

Penrose Tiles

A while back I photocopied some pages from a book one of my fellow teachers had on mathematical "facts". There was a lot of yummy illustrations that just cried out "QUILT" and given my thirst for factoids, I spent the time photocopying 10 pages of mathematical illustrations that might inspire me at some point.

Image via Makezine

While tidying up today, I found these pages again and spent some time today pasting these pages into my "Quilt Inspirations" book. One such page was the one on Penrose Tiles. Two simple geometric shapes that when put side by side, can cover a plane in a pattern with no gaps or overlaps.

I love hex quilts and the discipline involved in making one, but this idea takes paper piecing to a new level. If you are going to work on this quilt, it is probably best done using the english paper piecing method using some templates. So it isn't a quick quilt to make. I have found a few blog entries on quilters that have attempted this type of quilt and they look best when done in monochromatic colours so that you can clearly see the pattern.

There are lots of web sites on Aperiodic Tiling. An interesting fact about the Penrose Tiles and Roger Penrose, is that in 1997 he filed a copyright lawsuit against a company that had used "his tiles" on Kleenex quilted toilet paper. Since then the concept of Aperiodic tiling has been found in medieval Islamic art. It is a facinating topic if you are interested in mathematical quilts like I am.

I think that if I attempt something like this, I would do it in an indigo and cream like the tiles on a floor. I'll add this to my nice long list of quilting ideas!

Monday, 27 December 2010

Christmas Wrap Up 2010

Our Christmas begins on Christmas Eve when we normally attend the German Christmas Service with my husband's family, followed by dinner.

Santa made the usual stop at our place, and out of all the presents Tori was the most excited about the Thomas Friend "Charlie" engine and book that she was given.

The cats slept through most of the festivities.

Then on Christmas day we were off to Mum and Dad's for Christmas Lunch.

Overall, a wonderful celebration and some special times spent with family and friends that we love. We even managed to catch my brother who is in Japan on Skype for a brief phone call to wish him Merry Christmas.

Sunday, 26 December 2010

Stained Glass Quilts

I got my first "baby present" the other day from dear friend. Completely non-practical for the baby, can't see them playing with it, but I might use the inspiration from this book to make something for them.

The book is called Stained Glass Quilting, and my friend got it for me after reading my post on Frank Lloyd Wright and how I wanted to do some quilting inspired by his work.

Essentially the book is about an applique technique but on steroids. Rather than little bits of applique, the overlay is quite large and intricate, creating that stained glass effect.

At first glance, you might think that all the cut out fabric is a waste. But if you are a quilter, you will know that you never waste fabric!

There are some cute projects that are "baby" friendly. I can imagine making some cloth building blocks using this technique.

I hadn't thought much about how I would do the Frank Lloyd Wright quilting piece, but this book gives me some good direction on how I might construct it. I'll let the ideas bubble away in my head until I get the spark and the time in my sewing room to start to put something together.

Purchase online from Boomerang Books, an Australian online book seller. And if you are interested in books, keep an eye on their blogs. In particular, George Ivanoff's Literary Clutter blog.

Edit: I also did a book review for this book over at the Boomerang Site.

"If you have every patched together a quilt you will know that there is a certain methodical approach that needs to be taken. The material is cut, blocks get constructed and then the design is carefully pieced together. Only then do you finally sandwich your quilt together and sew on the top stitch, bringing it all together. The quilt block technique has been used for centuries and is often the basis of many of the quilting books that you see in shops or online.

Stained Glass quilts takes on a different approach to constructing a quilt. With the end very much in mind, the book takes you through some intricate appliqué techniques designed to give your quilt a very different look from the rotary cut blocked quilts that many people make. This book takes advantage of all those beautifully large printed panels that are available online, and allows you to frame them beautifully to create a unique quilt.

I first came across this book after doing some research on constructing a quilt inspired by the works of Frank Lloyd Wright. A friend thought that this book might provide me with some good techniques to achieve my dream of an art nouveau inspired piece and she was right. The book is technique heavy and has lots of tips an hints on how to achieve the look with minimal errors. The hard bit about this quilting technique is the preciseness of it. You have to carefully cut out the stained glass border from a contrasting piece of fabric and then iron it on using double sided interfacing onto your fabric or patchwork, and then sew around the edges to ensure that it doesn’t move. A technique that is not for the feint hearted!

Stained Glass Quilt provides the quilter with lots of patterns to get you started and lots of little inspiration boxes throughout the book to ensure that you don’t run out of ideas.

Not quite for the beginner, this book would provide a good challenge for someone who has put together at least one quilt and knows some of the pitfalls of working with fabric in this way."

Saturday, 25 December 2010

Merry Christmas

Just a short note to wish you all a Merry Christmas. May you find the time to slow down and enjoy the company of friends and family.

Konstant Kaos etsy shop will be in vacation mode over the next few weeks.

Friday, 24 December 2010

Hardcopy goodness

A close friend who is an author said "the book isn't finished until you have the hardcopy in your hot little hands". So I was very excited when I came home yesterday to find that there was a copy of the Year 11 Information Technology textbook that I contributed to sitting on my door step.

It really should have been wrapped in Christmas paper, because it really did feel like Christmas when I opened it. I love the effect with fibre optics that they have done on the front cover. Seeing the finished product takes a load of my shoulders as this project has been a long one.

I contributed to Chapter 5, the new area of the study on Data Visualisation. Looking back now at the sort of year I have had, I was crazy to put my hand up for the new area of the study design back in 2009, but I did enjoy the content and I am excited by the possibilities of teaching this unit when I return to teaching in 2012. The topic area has lots of implications for the way in which you communicate information.

This is the second school text book that I have contributed to, the third will be the Year 12 Information Technology Applications book due out in February where I have written two chapters.

If you ask many authors, most of them will say that they didn't do it for the money. And that is certainly true of text book writing. Yes I will get royalties, but there is not a lot of money to be made in writing school text books. You write for professional development, for the indepth knowledge and ultimately for the challenge. Professionally it will hold me in good stead and I might get some presentation work out of it next year when I am not formally working.

I want my next writing task to be something fun. Not sure if I can do fiction like some of my other friends, perhaps some technical writing about sewing might provide me with a challenge. But first I have to get my next big project delivered, it is due in February.

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Living a spicy life

Last night we headed out for dinner down Lygon Street and stumbled across Gerwurzhaus, Herb and Spice Merchants.

If you have ever been to Jaspers, Caffine Merchants on Brunswick Street the concept is similar. Lovely herbs an spices on display and lots of little gadgets to support the epicurian in you.

My hubby is a spice-o-phile and he fell in love with the shop (I think that he also fell in love with the owner who speaks German as well, but that is another story ...). It was very very hard not to buy lots of things there. But we controlled ourselves and came away with some Persian Salt and Gluwein spices. Such a pity that our christmas shopping had already been done :(

Checking out their web site, they have lots of lovely recipes including Oma Rosa's Gulasch and Wild Rabbit Ragout .. both sound yummy!

We will definately be regular visitors. You can't help but feel uplifted by the various herbs and spices that tantilise your nostrils as you walk in the shop.

The shop has been open for about 6 months and we wish the owners all the best in their endevours.

Friday, 17 December 2010

Bring on Christmas

Things have been busy in my part of the world. We are all looking forward to Christmas, especially Victoria who now has a sense of what Christmas is all about this year. We have been trying to take some nice Christmas pictures for the front of our card, but without our regular camera gear, we have been struggling to get "the IT photo".

The last 6 weeks have been truely exhausting on so many different levels:
  • Finishing the 2010 teaching year and bidding farewell to my place of employment until 2012. Packing up my desk and then having to find a place for my resources at home for a year.
  • Toilet training Victoria with all the excitement and accidents that occur with that process. I wanted her to wait until I had finished work, but my daughter, with her own free will decided to start a few weeks ago when Mummy was the most stressed.
  • Finally putting to bed the last of the edits for the text books that I have been working on all year. High quality publishing is such a complex process, especially when you have to work within the confines of a Study Design.
Not much sewing or creating in that list is there?

For the next 8 weeks there is nothing but Christmas, sewing and nesting that needs to occur in my part of the world ... but first I think a reward massage is in order.

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Someone loves my Car playmat

I've been getting some traffic from Zen DIY web site about Tori's Quilt Play mat as part of the Zen Kids web site. Scroll down the page, we are about half way down and there are lots more ideas for making a handmade play mat.

I've been itching to make another one again, to see how I can improve the process and make it quicker. I was thinking that perhaps the back could be done in a nice soft cord or a fleece. And the road signs could be a quilt square rather than appliqued.

Alternatively, I could try my hand at writing a pattern. Now that all my text book writing is done for the year, I am itching for another writing project.

The quilt has gotten so much wear so far, it has gone to Germany, loitered around the back of the car on occasion and of course it has been played with as a car play mat.

The blood red merino backing has washed up so well (machine cold wash wool mix) and the cats love it. Draping themselves over the top of the quilt at every chance they get.

So if I actually wrote a pattern, is there anyone that would test the pattern for me?

Friday, 10 December 2010

Christmas Shortbread

It is in the last week of the teaching term that gifts start to arrive in your pigeon hole at work. Books, chocolates and even the occasional bottle of wine.

I normally head off to the supermarket and buy lots of chocolates and attach them to Christmas Cards. Well, we are not organised enough to do the Christmas card nice and early this year, so I decided to have a "what would Martha do" moment and make shortbread for my friends at work.

Shortbread Recipe

8oz Salted Butter room temperature
8oz plain flour
4oz Castor sugar
4oz Cornflour or Rice Flour
  1. Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
  2. Gradually add flour and cornflour until all is combined.
  3. Turn out onto a lined baking tray and try not to handle the dough too much. I tend to put a sheet of baking paper between my hands and the dough. You can also use the back of a large spoon to press into your tray.
  4. Press into tin gently and then prick with fork before putting in an oven of 180 degrees for about 10-15 minutes.
  5. Cook until lightly golden, the edges can be a bit darker.
  6. Once out of the oven, sprinkle with Castor Sugar and slice or punch into shapes while it is still hot.
  7. Let sit for 10 minutes and then lift onto cooling rack.
  8. Eat piece of shortbread with a nice cup of tea!
Shortbread Tags

I don't profess to being a graphic designer, but this is my meager effort at doing something creative with paper ...

You can fit upto 9 tags per A4 sheet. Wrap four pieces of shortbread in celophane or baking paper. Wrap with ribbon and apply tag.


Monday, 6 December 2010

Handmade Living

I was very excited to see that the Christmas present that I bought myself arrived in the mail today, a copy of Handmade Living produced by Handmade Press in Canberra.

When I noticed the release of this book, I figured I ought to get a copy quick smart as they were doing a limited run and I didn't want to miss out.

The book is a high quality production bound in a hard cover and jam packed with lots and lots of projects. A lot of these type of books do "24 projects" or similar containable amounts of inspiration, but flipping through the book, you realise that they tried to pack as much as they could into their 170 pages. Check out this table of contents, lots of crafty goodness for 2011!

Like every other crafter I try and do a few "handmade" items for Christmas. But after flipping through the book, I might have to ammend my list to contain a few of these projects.

Two that grabbed my immediate attention was the "Little Chef" hat for my daughter and the Cloak pattern both by Mon petit poppet.

Even though Tori's Christmas gifts are not cooking themed, I might knock her up a hat and matching apron if I have time.

I like the fact that each project is on one page rather than a few pages and that pattern pieces are contained at the end of the book and photocopyable, not as loose leaf pages.

As I have already implied, I think that there is enough content in this book for two books and certainly enough to keep me entertained over summer.

Congratulations to the crew at Handmade Canberra and Tania McCartney for putting together an excellent book.

Yardage Design fabric features in several of the projects, and Nic has a special offer of a limited design bunting panel if you purchase through her shop.

Saturday, 4 December 2010

Christmas Spirit

Waiting patiently for our Christmas Tree to arrive this weekend, Victoria is very excited at the prospect of Santa coming to visit. I bought some handmade decorations at the Church Bazaar last weekend to add to the other wooden decorations that we have. I need to get some ribbon so that they hang better on the tree this year. They look great in wood, but would look equally good if painted red or white.

There is so much crafty inspiration on the net at the moment! Of all the advent calendars that I have seen, I like this one the best. And especially the messages that can go on the inside of the cards. Not lollies but actions that make a festive season worthwhile. Chocolates are nice, but we get enough of them at this time of the year.

picture via noodlehead

Ive been dreaming of making a christmasy patchwork panel for the wall based on this image that I have seen. I have one week of work left and then a week of childcare left to get all my crafty sewing in before being a full time Mum hits me.

image via audrey and maude

I love this idea and think that it would work equally as well with holly rather than circles or leaves. Not sure what shapes I will use (if I get time that is).

What christmas crafts are you making?