30 November, 2009
From Gerda Bengtsson's Danish Floral Charted Designs (as always!).
I'm having an awful time with the colour balance with the SLR - sometimes it's fine and sometimes it's not, even when I play around with the light source settings. The spots yesterday were super super saturated and weird-looking too. I think I really do need to build myself a light box! I pushed and pulled this with Photoshop and it looks okay, but not like the lovely colours of the original. I might try again later on with different lighting.
29 November, 2009
28 November, 2009
Does your home have a quirky feature or several? Something you throw a strategically placed coat over if people are visiting or avoid telling the real estate agent about? You might be very proud of your house flaw.Well aside from the funny layout of our little house, the thing most people comment on (and this was also true in the 'Front Door' one from a couple weeks ago) is the fact that we have a line running down the hallway where the house was cut in half to move on to our section.
We did have a rug covering it for a long time, but I quite like it now. What I don't like so much is the big square cut into it on the top right there, we think that was for putting the jacks in to raise it. Why they had to replace one board with pine I don't know. I don't notice it much anymore, but it still bugs me when I do!
The line looks a bit like an appendectomy scar
I don't know what we'll do come time to sell the house - to cover or not? Luckily that's not on the cards right now so decision's averted until then :)
It's the brainchild of Sarah over at Bobby Robin, and I think it's going to be a great resource for us Kiwis, as well as being an interesting place for youse* foreigners to check out. And I'm totally and completely not saying that just because my link is in the sidebar.
*I actually never talk like that, but I'm trying to sound Kiwi as bro. Of course, if anyone's watched the video from a couple posts ago, you know I will not never ever** sound like a New Zealander. I did, once, when I was 5 and lived here for a year. My dad has a old tape recording of me talking before I was mocked at school in Canada and lost it within 2 days, it's hilarious. Well the accent is, the teasing wasn't.
**Hazel has been watching a LOT of Charlie and Lola lately.
27 November, 2009
My bloggoversary is coming up in a few days and I've realised I've stuffed up. I had this plan that I'd have a wee giveaway for the readers to celebrate this momentous occasion but of course I signed up for the Sew Mama Sew giveaway and there's no way I can manage two right before the silly season. So I'm going to delay it until after Christmas instead, because while it's fun to have a giveaway with gazillions of people, I'd like to have a smaller one for the regulars. Maybe I'll call it the "Hello Summer" giveaway or something.
26 November, 2009
I uploaded this almost-four year old video for my friend Jess, who recently shared one of her little cutie in a jolly jumper, but I thought it might be good for general viewing. After watching it I should probably admit that I think Hazel's the best thing I've ever made, and definitely an on-going project. Look at those chubby little legs! They were just so gorgeous and scrummy, and now they're long and lean, covered in 4 year old bruises and they run like the wind. I loved how she did the Irish dancing thing with her feet, it was so darn cute. Or maybe it's more like tap...
24 November, 2009
23 November, 2009
I want to see a photo or photos of what it is that you collect.Since I'm in the middle of marking these final exams and rediscovering all over again for the nth time that people who don't answer the question fully are doing themselves a serious disservice, I'll do my best with this one!
Then if you feel like it you could let us know what your collection rules are;
Does it have to be green? Does it have to be from another country? Does it have to be second hand or a gift? Does it have to be old or complete?...
What constitutes a collection for you? Is it more than three of the same thing? Is it rare things?
Is your collection ongoing or is it complete?
...what's your story?
Although I have had various collections in the past, and also collected Poole with my huband Mat, my own personal collections are white vases and random pretty trios. I'll do the white vases this time around because I have more of them and they're very photogenic! A collection definitely has to be more than 2 items, and you have to mean to get more - unless you have everything (or run out of money or space) and then you have completed your collection. I haven't done either of those so it's still a work in progress, although slower these days.
I have no idea if there is a technical name for white-glazed earthenware but I generally think of it as "the white stuff". I started collecting it about 10 years ago before it got popular. I'd like to emphasise that last point because firstly it's true, and secondly it explains why I have trouble paying some of the prices asked for it now, and thirdly it makes me sound all cool and ahead of the pack. :P I don't have any hard and fast rules on what I'll get, except that it has to be white, I have to really like the shape and it has to be in reasonable condition. I don't mind a bit of staining or crazing but too much ruins the aesthetic effect, if not its functionality. I don't care who the maker is, although the two main companies by far are Crown Lyn and Sylvac.
As for why these particular vases I can't really say for sure. I think its tied up in a feeling of gentile tranquility they give me, of thoughtful flower arrangements and house-proud women showing off their gardening skills. It's afternoon tea, ladies a plate, frocks and men with hats. I also like the sculptural effect that some of them have and the way the light plays across the designs. They're like a living black and white photograph.
I'm definitely still collecting but I'm more picky now I think and as I said, they're much more collectible and expensive now so harder to come across in dusty old antique shops. Not that there are many of those around any more, Trade Me and Ebay have taken care of that. :( I can see from this photo that I need a couple taller vases, and maybe a few smaller ones as well. Time to start haunting Trade Me again perhaps!
I do use them as often as I can, although most of them are really too big for our little house and I have no idea how to arrange flowers in them! The most-used ones are the small squareish ones, the faux-bamboo one, and the urn. I don't like the urn so much anymore as it's somewhat funereal, but it's a good size for roses. I also try and use the waterlily one (Crown Lyn knock off of a Suzie Cooper design. Or some famous woman potter anyways) but it's big and takes a lot of flowers! I need to go out and pick some of our beautiful spring roses and fill some up, that would be worth a photo!
22 November, 2009
I'm going to go all Dooce on you here and plug a favourite product of mine! I can't say enough nice things about the Trilogy natural shampoo, conditioner and body wash that I've been using the last couple of months so I thought I'd just spread the word, especially to other Kiwis, although it is available elsewhere (check the suppliers on their website). The body wash has a great fresh lavendar/herb kind of smell and is just really refreshing in the morning - the lady at the chemist agreed with me that it's the kind of thing you don't share with the kids, both because it's too nice and because it's too expensive! I then splashed out on the shampoo/conditioner set because I needed something that wouldn't irritate my very sensitive scalp and that would be good for coloured hair. I'd heard that Pureology is very good, but this was right in front of me and NZ made so I took a punt. Oh it's wonderful! Once I got over the fact that it doesn't lather I was a total convert. It is so good for my scalp and lovely on the hair and it smells like lollies. Yeah it's pricey but it's halved how often I have to wash my hair so I figure it's the same price as a cheaper product practically speaking. I've just started using their skin care as well but can't really comment on that so much except to say that when I had an issue with a moisturiser their customer service was above and beyond expectation. Big fan. :)
I wish I had some crafty photos or posts to come but I'm frantically trying to finish up some final exam marking and some Xmas presents that need to catch the last date for mailing to the States and the deadline for both of those things is this coming Friday! And then I realised that I haven't made the Christmas puddings yet and if I don't get them done in the next couple days they won't have even the most minimal time to mature. They should have been made 5 months ago really. Maybe I'll just make double this year so I have a couple all nicely aged for next Christmas! Oh, except we'll be in Canada...no way I'm lugging a pudding through customs!
21 November, 2009
Sorry for the absence, we had to fly down south to see my mother-in-law after she had a bad stroke a week and a half ago. Visiting loved ones in the hospital has to be one of the bleakest experiences in life.
It wasn't all sadness though, we got to catch up with family, go to a rose show and experience a 5.1 earthquake! Hazel and I also built our first fairy house. Pittosporum twig framework, agapanthus leaf walls, gingko above the door, eucalyptus carpet, a hosta leaf for a roof and azaleas on top for decoration. Pittosporum leaves, forget-me-nots, violas and rose petals for the front path. I'm not sure what the blue flowers at the base of the walls are, gorgeous blue colour though!
I changed the flowers around each night after Hazel had gone to bed - the first night I put them in the shape of a heart, so she is convinced that the pixies came each night to visit. I was driven to it by her comment as we went out into the garden to start "but fairies aren't real I don't think mummy". No child of mine is not going to believe in fairies darn it!
16 November, 2009
First I scanned in the drawing and made them really contrasty black and white images with Photoshop. This made them easier to see through the fabric. I taped it onto a piece of glass and leant it in front of the window. If I do lots of these I'll definitely make up some sort of light table (or this one) so I don't have to work on a nearly vertical surface.
Then I placed the fabric over the top and traced the image with a fabric pen. Hazel calls these her "Cherry blossom branches", although I must admit I've cobbled together a bunch of different examples here so it's not exactly an original, nor are they particularly branchy-looking! The red just seemed like the only colour choice on the white, although a nice sage green would be good too I think.
The finished tea towel - well not hemmed yet!
The rough texture of the cotton I've used gives the lines a real silk screened appearance, which doesn't come across well in the photos but it's very effective. Mat couldn't figure out how I'd done it when I showed him.
I also did a straight copy of one of Hazel's family portraits, in this case all of us out in the garden. After I took the photo I duplicated a few more of the flowers to fill the width a bit better and got her to sign it as well.
These are so quick and easy and, dare I say it, really effective! They'd make great presents for grandparents or aunts and uncles and all your many friends and relations.
Fabric notes upon further experimentation
I did a second lot of tea towels using a different, lighter fabric and have the following to say about fabric choice:
Heavy cotton used above
It held its shape well, no stretching and
Took the fabric pen well as it had a dense weave.
Easy to draw on due to dense weave.
Possibly too heavy for tea towels but time will tell
Harder to see through to trace - need light source behind fabric.
Lighter cotton with looser weave
Very easy to see through, can do on flat surface with no light behind.
Probably a better tea towel fabric, softer and more flexible.
Very stretchy, doesn't hold shape well.
Shifts under pen point
Looser weave doesn't show pen as clearly
Much harder to draw on.
The search continues for the ideal fabric on this end, but it illustrates the importance of considering what result you want and what fabric will be both a good tea towel and easy to draw on.
14 November, 2009
The first thing I should mention is that we rarely use our front door, everyone comes and goes through the back door, so it's always a bit novel to come in my own front door! I do love it though, it sums up what attracted us to the house in the first place - except better because we've done it up since then.
Our house was built in the late '40s most likely, and was moved onto the section in the late '80s - you can see the line in the floor boards where it was cut in half. The wood is all native rimu, essentially untouched except for being stained/varnished slightly darker, which we removed. I think in decorating terms the skirting boards and doorways would benefit from being painted white as it's very dark altogether, but I can't face it, especially considering it's escaped that fate for all these years! We stripped the floor boards and polyurethaned them all ourselves, I highly, highly recommend NEVER doing that, get a professional in to do it!
The other view you get when you come in the door is our sideboard of knicknacks. I think they pretty much sum up our interests in total - except for books. And Hazel. And the cat maybe. But otherwise it's all there! I've tagged it over at Flickr if anyone's interested in a rundown of what all that crap is.
12 November, 2009
Fabrics, a flash test and hopefully some recommendations from readers
I bought some fabrics yesterday at my favourite fabric store Global Fabrics as they were having a sale on knits. I know, any excuse to get in there! They have so many beautiful things at the moment, just gorgeous. I was in a trance the whole time, wandering around thinking "oh I could make something with this! And this! And ohhhhh, that's amazing! And oh! look at this, I could make something from this" with visions of fabulous garments floating in front of my inner eye. I ended up with the ones in the pictures below. The right-hand fabric is a cotton voile which will be a floaty summer top. The other three are knits destined to be tops and the orange one will be a dress. I'm going to make Hazel a dress from the kitty fabric and she faithfully (and rather desperately) promised me that she'd wear the dress if I made one. There should be enough for a dress for her and a tshirt for me.
Now the second part of this post is a small test of the flash diffuser idea from the previous post. I discovered that although my SLR is a Canon, the integrated flash isn't quite like the one in the tutorial and doesn't have the long metal arms. I managed to get the paper attached anyways. Robyn, I think that you could do this with a point-and-shoot too, I had a quick try with mine and just taped a bit of paper below the flash. I think you'd need to do a lot of fiddling with the position of the paper but once you'd sorted that it should work the same. Anyways, here are the results:
No flash, light coming in from the window to the left. Not bad, but a few shadows here and there.
Full flash. Again, not bad but you can see it's burnt out the shadows at the bottom of the orange fabric.
Bounced flash. Pretty good - more even lighting than no flash, but it hasn't burnt out anything. I had to fiddle with the angle of the paper a bit, the first time I had it angled up too high and there was a dark patch in the middle of the photo.
Third part - I need recommendations for a pattern to make a dress for Hazel from the dot/cat knit fabric. Just something really simple with a one-piece A-line body and short sleeves. I have in mind something maybe with a gathered neck and gathered puff sleeves. Nothing too frou-frou because that fabric is all about simplicity I think! Does anyone know a good tutorial or purchased pattern they can recommend?
11 November, 2009
I had a really odd comment last month from a woman looking to exchange photos for 'friendship' and then discovered it was as a result of leaving a comment on another blog and all her commenters had been spammed with the same comment on their own blogs. That made it a LOT less creepy for sure, and again, rather funny. I mean really, what's the point of sending someone a comment like that when you've found them on a craft blog? They're likely to be a) a woman and b) not on the internet looking for love. Well ok, maybe crafty love but that's not what this lady was offering I imagine!
I can see sending out a million emails to random addresses in the hopes that 3 will respond, that's not a lot of effort for not a lot of return. But this personalised spamming seems to involve moderate effort for no return at all - not a very good business model!
10 November, 2009
09 November, 2009
It's by a NZ outfit called Stitch Ministry and if that name isn't perfect then I don't know what is! The story of my dress is this: One day I was down in Wellington visiting my Aunt and I was browsing through a Saturday magazine from the Dominion Post. I came across an ad for Stitch Ministry and the dress . I fell in love. I memorised the name and checked it out online when I got home, pretty sure that I couldn't afford it. But as luck would have it, it was on sale and they had one in my size! I felt it was destined to be, so I bought it online along with another top. An hour later I had a call from a very nice girl at the shop saying that unfortunately their website was playing up and they didn't have the red in that size, perhaps I'd like it in black instead? I said no, the red was the object of my desire. She said they'd refund the money and get the top in the post asap. So I was disappointed, but as a pessimist I sort of expect these things in life! A couple days later the package lands on my doorstep and it feels a little heavy (you know where this is going of course) and inside, much to my astonishment, was the dress! They had it after all. So it really WAS meant to be, and I love my dress all the more for it.
ETA: Deb asked for a photo of me in said dress - the only one I could find is this very blurry self-portrait from just over a year ago. Check the sassy hand-on-hip pose!
08 November, 2009
05 November, 2009
I finished the embroidery and I'm now pretty happy with it! Although the blue has washed out a little bit in the photo, it really makes it. I also put in the other two stems in the pattern as I figured a larger design would make it stand out more. The pattern is Ground Ivy from Gerda Bengtsson's book Danish Floral Charted Designs. The next step is to turn it into a wee bag for my sister-in-law.
The link takes you to the book on Google Books, which despite it seeming too good to be true, has several of the charts up for all to use! She's my embroidery hero(ine) so I must go looking to see if there are more. I'd also love the excuse to buy more books!
04 November, 2009
- The temperature today. Meant to be going up to 21 and I can believe it - do we have a hot summer coming our way this year? Nooooo I don't handle heat and humidity well. It makes me whiny and, well, whiny. I suffer and I like others around me to suffer. Maybe this should be down below under 'What's not hot' but since it IS technically hot, I'll leave it up here.
- These gorgeous tea cosies from My Baboo on Flickr. I found them while looking for things with felt dots on them - as you do.
- A pile of jewel-toned felt pieces, hence #2
- The fish pie Mat made from Jamie at Home, seriously just about the best thing I've tasted in yonks!
- The start of neighbourhood athletics last night, with Hazel in the 4-5 year old group and having the time of her life (phew!). Watching the littlies run around like chooks with their heads cut off was gorgeous.
- The gorgeous high-res Charley Harper images you can download from the Contemporary Arts Centre. Woo!
- Getting the submission date for something really important wrong - by about 2 weeks.
- Hazel home with a cold means no work for me today, nor am I in the mood to be doting mummy due to #1
- People letting off fireworks for a week before Guy Fawkes, including some home-made ones. Some people are too stupid to be allowed near fireworks and they make life difficult for the rest of us normal folks. One mum on the way to athletics last night got turned around a few blocks away by the police because there was "a large unexploded bomb on the corner over there", no doubt one of the neighbourhood wanna-be terrorists was still perfecting his trade. :P And this at 6pm on a weeknight?
- Sore back from something I did and my stomach muscles aren't up to the task of holding it all together so it can repair itself! Must. Get. Swiss. Ball.
- Writing out a list of embroidery floss colours I need, going all the way to Spotlight to get them along with sewing machine needles and some felt - and then forgetting to get the floss.
02 November, 2009
I'm really unsure about this embroidery. I think I've chosen the wrong colour for the linen - it needs to be much much lighter, or maybe red (and another pattern!). Not that grey-tinged green, it just doesn't stand out enough. Or maybe it's ok, I don't know! It'll have 3 small blue flowers and one darker leaf, so maybe that'll save it... It's just so hard to continue with something you're unsure about, it's a lot of effort if I decide to not use it. Oh darn it! I guess I'll finish it but I'm doubtful about its overall effect (and not in a fishing for compliments kind of way either!).
01 November, 2009
I like how people are using the tag feature over at Flickr for their photos so I've done that and it's annotated all to hell :) The desk is in the spare room and also does double duty with the sewing machine; and no, it's not usually so tidy! The whole room was cleaned up last week in anticipation of the Hallowe'en party we had yesterday so I'm quite pleased I was able to keep it relatively tidy until this meme came along.
ETA: I'm amazed how many people doing this meme have Macs! Are we some sort of self-selecting population or something? Does that old adage of 'arty' people using them more really still hold true? Or are we just a really discerning bunch? ;)
For Hallowe'en I carved my first jackolantern for getting on for 15 years! The pumpkins here aren't so well-suited for them as the larger and thinner-walled N.American versions are, but it turned out fine even so. Hazel was entranced, she'd never seen one before!
I also managed a few Hallowe'en-themed treats for the party. These little cupcake ghosts were from somewhere but do you think I can find the link? No I can't. They're fondant draped over those sugared jelly lollies, on top of chocolate cupcakes.
And these marshmallow ones at Martha Stewart
(shouldn't have used buttercream icing in retrospect, too yellow! But they looked better than they do in this photo)
I had a bunch of other ideas for food but either ran out of time or couldn't figure out how to do them with ingredients available in NZ. That was more of an issue than I'd expected, the sheer range of junk food available in the States puts our meagre selection to shame (which is a good thing I know!).