31 December, 2009

Little Pups

As part of the gifty meme from earlier this year I made a wee stuffed dog from the More Softies book for my friend Jennifer in England. The pattern is called 'Little Pup' by My Little Mochi. He turned out so well that I made another for Hazel for Christmas.

Little Pup(s)

When I first got the body sewed up it looked pretty dodgy, not at all like the one in the book! But as I stuffed it it looked better and better and by the time I got to sewing on the arms I was in luurve. The nose is a triumph of cute.

Little Pup(s)

30 December, 2009

Christmas 2009

Christmas 2009, originally uploaded by Ansis68.

We're back from our two weeks away, though I'm not entirely sure how rested and relaxed I am! My main fear was getting there and back in holiday traffic, the drivers here can be a mad, bad and dangerous bunch at the best of times, Christmas seems to bring out the worst in some of them and that's saying a lot! Why such a nice bunch of people turn in to angry maniacs behind the wheel has always puzzled me.

Aaaaanyways, the weather was lovely, the family were lovely (as usual) and we got Gran home for the day from the hospital which was also lovely. Hazel now has more My Little Pony stuff than is decent and I'm drawing the line because I think if I hear that awful theme song much more I might do something drastic which would scar her for life! My handmade gifts went down pretty well, the slippers got the best reception, although I hear my mum's tea cosy went down well on the NY end of things.

26 December, 2009

Mum's tea cosy

Remember these spots?


They were from a tea cosy I made for my mum

Mum's tea cosy

I hope she likes it! It seemed a good pattern for a cold winter's day - perhaps the bright colours and busyness will confuse the cold molecules :) It also comes with a wool pad to sit the tea pot on (not shown because it's boring and grey).

Mum's tea cosy

17 December, 2009

Season's Greetings!

Christmas decorations

I'm off to my in-laws in Marton for Christmas, so I'd like to wish everyone a Merry Christmas, Joyeux Noël, Season's Greetings, Happy Holidays and other non-denominational salutations that slip my mind at the moment. I'll be back on the 30th! I've scheduled a few posts with Christmas gifts that can be unveiled after the day, so there will be a small drip-feed of things to gaze at if you need :)

Those of you lucky enough to have snow can think a kind thought for me if you want, I know the Kiwis love Christmas at summer but it doesn't feel quite right to me, even after all these years!

15 December, 2009

Business card wallet

I think I'm safe putting this up... if not Hi Mat!

A couple months ago Mat suggested that a business card holder would be a good present, and then I promptly forgot all about it. I ended up getting him a disposable pre-loaded Visa card so he can buy obscure reggae music online - and then I remembered the card holder idea. I did a quick Google and came up with a great little tutorial and this is the result:

Card holder 1

open it up and voila! some Heather Ross Mendocino fabric. I think it's fairly 'guy-looking'.

Card holder 2

Perfect to put the Prezzy Card into and partially disguise what it is when wrapped. I'm half-hoping he doesn't like it and I can take it over, I think my "business card" looks pretty snappy tucked in there!

14 December, 2009

Sewing Green slippers

Sewing Green slippers, originally uploaded by Ansis68.

Here are the slippers I was working on in the '5 Minutes Peace' post. My brother-in-law Ewen requested a pair for Christmas after seeing Mat's - which is very flattering! They're made from the pattern in Betz White's 'Sewing Green' book. I originally made myself a pair, and then Mat liked them so much he commissioned some, and now I'm on to the extended family!

It's a bit tricky making them for someone who's not around because all I had to go on was a tracing Mat made of Ewen's foot and it seemed improbably long and skinny. Well I know the long bit is right anyways, big feet run in the family!*

They're made from an old woollen jacket (woven), unfelted, and cut on the bias to give them stretch. They're a bit tight at the ankle getting them on, but works well elsewhere. The cuff is wool knit, also unfelted. The main reason they're not out of a sweater is that none of the ones I had were large enough (after felting) to get the pieces cut out! I had to enlarge the pattern 105% to get a size big enough. :P It's also why they have the leather on the bottom as the pattern called for and not the whole sole as I'd prefer - no leather long enough. Like I said, big feet are impractical! I'll leave the blanket stitch around the edges until he's tried them on and I've made any size adjustments.

They look so lovely and Christmassy, unfortunately they probably won't get worn for another 5 months or so until our winter kicks in!

*And no, this does not refer to the usual jokes on this subject, I just want to know why do guys have such big feet? They seem impractically big. It's not like either of them are a third as big again as me, while their feet certainly are!

13 December, 2009


Anglaspel, originally uploaded by Ansis68.

I bought this a couple of years ago in Sweden, in lieu of a larger wooden German one like my parents have. As it turns out, brightly lit summer evenings in NZ aren't exactly the right time for things involving candles so my burning desire for the wooden variety has lessened somewhat! This little silver äglaspel by Pluto Produkter is perfect because it reflects the sun and makes the kitchen look like a disco in the morning as it revolves around. I wish I'd bought more now! I see from their site they sell all sorts of themed ones, and they are available from various online shops about the place. I might look into getting some more!

12 December, 2009

My Place and Yours: Just Five Minute's Peace

Ha! I wish :) The theme this week at Meet Me At Mike's My Place & Yours is Five Minute's Peace, chosen by Pilgrim:

where do you retreat to for that sanity-regaining break? i am interested in what or where in your home your sanctuary is...

My place of peace is at the sewing machine at the moment, and in quieter times as well! It's a place I'm willing to insist on my time at, willing to put with complaining and where I can ignore mess and other pressing concerns. It stills my mind and I (usually) feel a sense of accomplishment while I'm at it.


At the moment I'm finishing up a pair of Sewing Green slippers for my brother-in-law's Christmas present, made out of wool from a thrifted jacket and some wool jersey fabric a friend gave me. I think they're going to look splendid, although the wool isn't so nice to sew as it's a bit prickly. Still, I love sewing wool like this, it's so...compliant!

What I'm up to at the moment

2+2 blouse, originally uploaded by Ansis68.

Amongst the many projects I have on the go at the moment is this Oliver + S blouse from the 2+2 pattern. I bought the Lecien 'My Foklore' fabric a fair while ago for this exact purpose and I can honestly say I think it's one of my favourite fabrics ever. The photos don't do it justice, but the little pops of red are just sublime in their perfect redness.

Mat said "that's too nice to give to Hazel!" and of course what he meant was that she may very well refuse to wear it and I think that would break my heart (again). But what else was I supposed to do with it? It needs to be worn by a little girl in some shape or form, and if I didn't make the size 4 now I wouldn't have had enough fabric to make the next size up. It was close as it was! I had initially thought that I'd put it in her stocking as I'm confident that she would wear it if she thought it was from Santa. But I'm not sure if I can bear her not knowing that I made it. It's totally an ego thing I know! I'm still really undecided about this - any advice would be welcome.

All the potential angst aside, just look at that fabric, the gathering, the sweet little ties at the neck. I might have some quibbles with the technical aspects of Oliver + S pattern construction at times, but you can't deny they make the cutest kids clothing patterns around!

09 December, 2009

Christmas frustration

Christmas WIP, originally uploaded by Ansis68.

I knew that this would happen, but it's still driving me nuts. How can I blog about my marvellous creations when the recipients might read about it? It's frustrating, so I'm going to pass on that frustration by taking mysterious (or not so mysterious) photos and hopefully that will restrain me from blurting it all out and ruining someone's surprise. Some of you may recognise what this is, if you do just smile knowingly and enjoy your superiority in silence. :)

08 December, 2009

What you're into when you're four

Hazel's collage

Hazel has started making up little paper envelopes (or pouches as she calls them) at créche and filling them with images she's cut out of magazines. I think they're a gorgeous way of tracking her interests and I'm going to start recording each batch!

I have to agree with her on those Perrier Jouet bottles, they're utterly gorgeous and OTT in these days of minimalism and cutting-edge design.

07 December, 2009

And the winner is...

And that number belongs to Elizabeth from Empty Elizabeth who said

I live in Wisconsin, USA... near Milwaukee. That is such a great little zip pouch! And thanks for the tutorial link, my zippers never turn out quite right!

Wheee! This was such fun! Look out for another proper bloggoversary giveaway in January and we can do it all over again :) I'm still in awe that I got 285 lovely comments O_O You are all so nice! Thank goodness I figured out how to number them because I think I'd have been cross-eyed counting up to 176! If anyone else wants to try I used the tutorial at The Computery. It worked for my template (Minima) when several others I tried didn't.

Christmas to-do list

Xmas To-Do list

Making the list, checking it twice... The only way I'll stay even vaguely organised to get things done this year! We're off to the in-laws for Christmas on the 17th, so I get cut off then - though I'm taking the sewing machine down with me so I can work on a shirt I'm doing for Mat. He's been waiting for it for so long and is quite desperate which is too flattering to resist! It's going to be out of Heather Ross's Glass Beach fabric from the Mendocino line. It's nice he likes it as much as I do, though I suspect it's more because he's very interested in archaeological fish bone than that it's just fabulous design! I'll take what I can get though.

You'll notice on the list that I've been very bold and scheduled in some clothes for me! All very simple knits I think. I had visions of getting something done from Twinkle Sews but that's probably best left until after Xmas when time moves a little slower! The things I'm going to work at are: a couple of tops, a dress and maybe a wrap/cardie. One top will be based on a favourite I bought last year from H&M but that has seen better days. I'm going to take a big deep breath and cut it up for the pattern. The other one is 'Our Fave Top' from Sew Tessuti (link top right of their sidebar) which looks fabulous and easy to make. The dress is View C from McCall's 5423

The cardy/wrap is the Origami wrap sweater from UN Journal. I want something fairly light just as a cover-up for cooler evenings and days and I think this could be just the ticket. I certainly plan on making it again for winter in something more snuggly!

So we shall see how I go with this list thing, so far so good! Except I noticed this morning I neglected to add blogging anywhere in there so I'm taking some time away from designing a course to teach at Uni next year to do something completely unrelated to the 'Bioarchaeology of Death and Burial" That's not a very fun title though, I'm toying with something based around the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse - War, Famine, Pestilence and...ummm...Conquest (thank you Google!). I think this would be the first image I'd put up, it's been a favourite since Art History days!


06 December, 2009

My Place and Yours: Wherever I lay my hat...

Another toughie for the My Place and Yours meme over at Meet Me At Mikes! This time the theme queen is Tania at Myrtle and Eunice and this is what she's specified:

What are the treasures in your house that signify ‘home’? Is there anything that reminds you of a childhood, a life overseas, a loved one? Is there a blanket you always curl under, a teapot that brews the perfect cuppa? Do you have a ‘Droopy Dog’ like that one above – a twelfth birthday present who fits perfectly in the crook of a sleeping kid’s arm and who may or may not have ventured to Europe in a backpack, ahem, three times?

So this time it was more a case of narrowing down a plethora of options to one or two! I have lots and lots of things that remind me of a life lived overseas, a few things that remind me of childhood, books that I'll never pack away, but what makes me feel like I'm at home?

If you'd asked me this just over 4 years ago the answer would have been different, but now there's Hazel and so the answer would be that anywhere she lays her head is home to me. I love my stuff, and I love archaeology, but my life revolves around her these days.


On a slightly less sappy note, one of the other things that caught my attention was the mention of things from childhood and items that may or may not have accompanied you on backpacking trips. My stuffed mouse Timothy qualifies for this in spades, and he also makes home home.


I got Timmy for my 4th birthday so that makes him 37 this year (quick, do the math!) and he is what my Dad has always called "a well-travelled mouse". He's been to Europe a couple times, around the South Pacific at least twice, around New Zealand at least 3 times (including when I was in my 20s), Australia and Syria. And he's not small either! On the plus side, he makes a fabulous pillow.

02 December, 2009

Sew Mama Sew December Giveaway

Thanks to everyone who participated in my giveaway, it's been such fun reading all the comments! I'm off to generate the winning number and will be posting it above shortly.

Welcome to my giveaway for the Sew Mama Sew Giveaway Day! Up for grabs is this cute little bag made from dark grey wool and lots of felt spots.

Spotty bag 1

It measures approx. 19 x 10.5cm (about 7.5 x 4") and is lined with pink cotton. The spots are wool-blend felt and and the buttons are from my button box.

Spotty bag 2

I had an awful time trying to photograph it so that the colours were true, the camera couldn't handle the intense orange and pink of some of the spots! I've desaturated the photos a little so you can see the details, in real life it's a bit more fun and vibrant.

What do you need to do to win this wee bag? Well I'm going to make you really work for it - in your comment I want you to tell me where you're from in the big wide world. That's it. :) I'm happy to ship worldwide too (because let's face it, pretty much everywhere is overseas from New Zealand!)

The giveaway will be open until 2pm, December 7th NZ time which works out to 8pm December 6th EST. The winner will be chosen by random number generator. Please make sure that you've either left your blog URL or an email - if you have your Blogger profile set up to be private I have no way of contacting you other than to post your name here, and I'll redraw in 24 hours if I haven't heard from you. The bag will be mailed immediately but I'm not sure it will make North America or Europe by Christmas, so might end up being a nice little post-Christmas pressie.

Spotty bag 3

I should add that I got the bag pattern from this great tutorial and I love the way the zipper is put in, it makes it look really professional.

ETA: I just have to add that it's already killing me not to reply to some of the comments but I know if I do it'll screw up figuring out what post belongs to the winning number. I'm being strong, but it's going to be a long few days (and the official part hasn't even started yet!).

Cross stitch for Christmas

This is the end result of the cross stitch plants I've been doing - a small bag and a larger shoe bag for my sister-in-law in the States.

Embroidered pouch and shoe bag

I'm really pleased how it all turned out! I made the shoe bag following the tutorial over at //Between the lines//, complete with french seams and all! It looks great. The little bag was my own pattern, hence its slightly blobby lines, but hopefully she'll be so distracted by the embroidery that she won't notice :)

Embroidered bag and pouch 2

01 December, 2009

A stream of consciousness ramble

Got the package off to NY on the last mailing day so I'm feeling pretty good about that! Now I just have in-laws and a daughter to buy for. Oh and a husband... And I've just realised that the really good idea I had for a gift for him has completely gone out of my mind! Grrrr....

I also finished up my Sew Mama Sew giveaway item, although I'm awfully paranoid about missing that very important deadline on the 2nd! That's tomorrow here so I think I'll post it up before I go to bed, even though it'll be fairly early. I'm really very au fait with time zone differences, having spent the last 15 years anywhere from 4-10 hours away from my loved ones, but when it comes to something like this my confidence evaporates! Must remember to photograph it tomorrow. I used one of the little Hazelnuts fabric labels I made up on the inkjet printer in it, the first time ever! I was thinking about putting them in some of the little things I'm making for the female in-laws but maybe that'd be a bit wanky?

Over at Scribd, where I have my bunny and superhero mask patterns, I'm getting about two new subscribers a day which would be good if they weren't all completely unrelated to what I'm doing there. So far they're 100% male, middle-aged or older, and a little...odd. The first couple were consipiricy theorists I think, although it's hard to tell from their profiles. Then I attracted a couple religious nutters with many tracts on whichever religion they practice. Just today I had two novelists or authors of some kind start following me. They seem normal enough but who knows! I don't flatter myself that they are attracted to bunny tutorials, they all follow tens of thousands of people, but why on earth am I suddenly being targeted by these people? Today I removed most of the personal information on my profile, especially the words "researcher" and "archaeologist". Other than that I can't think why my profile is suddenly coming in for this kind of attention. It's bizarre. I keep telling myself that they don't care about me, that it's all completely anonymous but it's still creepy because they seem to come in clusters that are related in interests, like they watch each other to see who they are following. Unlike Twitter you can't stop someone following you, otherwise I'd be blocking these guys immediately!

When I was marking all those final exams the essay question was on the topic of the mosaic evolution of hominids. Mosaic evolution is a species that has both ancestral and derived characteristics - so an Australopithecine that could walk bipedally but also still had upper body adaptations for living in trees. The students were meant to discuss why hominid evolution was an example of mosaic evolution. After awhile it started to get to me because it's only mosaic in retrospect. At the time they were what they were - just like us. In a million years (supposing we manage to survive the coming climate catastrophe and our basic stupidity) will other humans look back at us and discuss our primitive and derived features? In theory yes they would, although I'd love to know what our primitive features would be!

Ok, I need to go and search out felted sweaters up in the attic, my brother-in-law has requested a pair of the Sewing Green slippers after seeing Mat's. Though considering how hot it is today I don't really want to have to touch wool! If it's this warm and muggy in spring I'm really dreading summer...

Dog pull-toy

This has to be the quickest present ever!

Dog pull-toy

I think it's fairly safe to show this as my brother's dog Duncan probably doesn't read my blog on a regular basis. I followed the instructions here, and it took me about 20 minutes to do after I located the fleece and sherpa in my stash. I did a four braid which I thought would give it a bit of bulk (Duncan may be small but he's fierce) and it ended up being beautifully striped, just like a candy-cane! A pleasant and totally appropriate outcome. It's lovely and stretchy and should provide at least a couple hours of fun on the day. I have no idea how sturdy it will be though! As I said, he's fierce.


30 November, 2009

Going West

I came across this video over at A Little Hut and was pleased to see it's from the New Zealand Book Council - I clicked on it and was stunned, it's just amazing. It's funny to see places I've spent time at rendered in such a way. I need to read more NZ literature, I really do.

More embroidery

I finished this Common Milkwort a couple days ago and really love the blue and purple against the muted greens and greys.

Common Milkwort
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


A WIP (you might remember the felt scraps from awhile ago) but also an idea for the Sew Mama Sew Giveaway. I'm really really loving polka-dots at the moment!


28 November, 2009

My Place and Yours: That's nyoice, that's different, that's unewesyewl!

Ha, I love the title for this week's Meet Me At Mike's "My Place or Yours", chosen by Toni from Little Suitcase. I loved Kath and Kim! So, what do I have in the house that's particularly noice, different or unewesyewl? This is the brief:
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.

Hallway 1

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

Hallway 2

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 :)

The latest and greatest

I'm really excited about the newest blog on my reading list, Kiwi Mummy Blogs

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

Greetings gentle readers

I just noticed that I've hit 70 followers and what seems to me a very large number of subscribers (148) over on Google Reader (not sure how many with other readers) so I thought I should say something. Is this crass? Should I pretend that I airily continue on, oblivious to how many people read my blog? That I never check stats? Well that'd be a big fat lie frankly, because I do, I do! Actually I've given up caring about how many views the blog gets, but I'm totally addicted to knowing where you all come from and what pages refer you. I get a thrill looking at the world map with little dots on it. I knew when Hallowe'en was coming because the hits on the superhero(ine) mask went through the roof as all the crafty mamas got the costumes together. I look forward to seeing if anyone is going to make the bunny for Christmas :) But really I just wanted to say hi to everyone and that I love that there are people out there who take the time to read this blog and think it's interesting enough to add to their readers and so-on. Flattering isn't quite the word for it! And thanks also to the commenters, especially the regular ones (you know who you are). I love checking my email and seeing a blog comment, you guys make my day! Well part of my day anyways. ;)

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

Sleight of hand

I'm going to try and distract you from any crafty expectations right now by saying "what's that over there? Quick, it's a really cute baby in a jolly jumper!" (for hardened baby-lovers only as it's fairly long)

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

Oh what have I done?

I went and signed myself up for Sew Mama Sew's December Giveaway Day. Like I don't have enough stuff to make already! I'm telling myself that I can fit it in between the stuff that has to be sent off to Canada for Xmas by the end of this week and the stuff that has to be made by the 18th when we head off for Xmas. Yeah, no problem! I couldn't resist though because the last one was so much fun :) Now I just have to ponder what to make to give away...

23 November, 2009

My Place and Yours: My Collection

Thank goodness for memes - they save a boring stretch of nothing to blog about! This week the theme over at Meet Me At Mike's "My Place and Yours" is My Collection, chosen by Kate at Fox's Lane. The brief is:

I want to see a photo or photos of what it is that you collect.
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?
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!

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


Trilogy products, originally uploaded by Ansis68.

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

Back at it

Fairy house, originally uploaded by Ansis68.

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

Christmas tea towels

In the last couple years I've become a great fan of the souvenir tea towel (dish towel to some), especially stylish ones. This first started when I visited Sweden and brought back a few and just treasured them so much I realised I was on to something and wanted to share my revelation with everyone! I've been planning on making tea towels for Christmas since about...January. I even bought a bunch of fabric so I could started in July and beat the rush. Haaaahahahaha... (ahem) I've tossed around various methods of doing it, ranging from full-on screen printing to freezer paper or contact paper on a screen. The simplicity of the designs changed accordingly too. Basically what it came down to was that the images I wanted to do were too complicated for freezer paper which seems to be a one-use-only kind of thing; but I didn't want to spend lots of money setting up a screen, or have to figure it all out at a very rushed time of year. In the end I decided to go with fabric pens and I'm really delighted with the result! The images I've decided to use are drawings by Hazel and this is how I did it:

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.

Tea towels

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.

Tea towels

The finished tea towel - well not hemmed yet!

Tea towels

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.

Tea towels

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.

Tea towels

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

My Place and Yours: Through The Front Door

This week's theme for My Place and Yours over at Meet Me At Mike's is 'Through The Front Door', set by Femme de Montmartre. The brief is "What is it you see when you enter your home? And how do you feel? Whatever happens when you walk through your front door, we want to know about it!"

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.

Front door 1

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.

Front door 2

12 November, 2009

Two birds with one stone

Though I can assure you that there is no way I could hit one bird with a stone, let alone two, because I throw like a girl.

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.
No flash

Full flash. Again, not bad but you can see it's burnt out the shadows at the bottom of the orange fabric.
Full flash

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.
bounced flash

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?


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