30 May, 2009

Thank you everyone!

The actual give-away post is now 3 down from this one, but I just wanted to say thank-you to everyone who has come by and left such lovely comments about my bunny. I said over at the SMS giveaway that you couldn't pay a therapist for this kind of warm fuzzy feeling and it's so true! I've read every single one and they've all made me smile. It's been such a fun experience I'm totally hooked on being both a participant and an entrant in so many other fabulous give-aways! I've actually made it through both the handmade categories and just have a few left in the supplies one to go - how's that for dedication? I haven't kept track of how many I've entered but I've seen so many wonderful things my head is spinning and I fear I've lost track of some blogs that I should have noted down in the initial frenzy of clicking through such a long list. Why I was in such a hurry I don't know because there is still heaps of time left - I guess I was going at the pace I did last time when it was just 24 hours! Hopefully I can go back through and pick up those ones who got left behind. That sounds vaguely military doesn't it... I haven't even entered in for everything that I liked as I kept asking myself "would I actually use this?" and if the answer was a hopeful "yes. I think..." then I admired and passed on. Same for all those cute baby clothes. I suppose there must be various strategies employed by people in a situation like this - enter everything, enter for everything you like, enter for only stuff you might use and so on. The great thing is that there is something to appeal to everyone - some things I haven't liked but by the number of comments for them lots of others do and I think that's so great! You get in a bit of a rut sometimes, only looking at blogs where they make things you know you'll like, it's a bit like preaching to the choir :) This just serves to remind that my taste in things isn't the be-all and end-all of craft. Though it's pretty close ;)

Note to self:

Sew Mama Sew Giveaway post two down from here :)

No, that's not my note to self, I know where that particular post is. No, the note is:

Dear Jacqui-of-a-month-ago,

When you are putting a quilt together and not following any set combinations of fabrics and you have to leave it for awhile please please please note down what you were planning on doing with the little piles of fabric you had sorted out, plus the squares that were still waiting on a third fabric to be added. You might think that you'll remember, or it'll be blindingly obvious to your future self, but I'm here to tell you that No. It. Won't. Your future self won't have a flippin' clue what you were thinking or where those missing third fabrics are or what they should be. She only vaguely remembers a sense of self-satisfaction that you'd settled all the fabric combinations and that it would look fabulous. Now she's afraid it won't ever live up to that vague feeling of greatness.

Yours truly,
Future Jacqui

p.s. can you also tidy up the sewing area, it's really messy now and if you'd just done it when you meant to I wouldn't be having space issues now.

A photo from happier days when I knew what I was doing (and the lighting was better)!
Amy's Quilt 2

28 May, 2009

Autumn Leaves

Sew Mama Sew Giveaway post is the next one down!

When I was taking photos of my giveaway bunny I ended up being quite taken by the leaves themselves and decided a still-life was in order.

Autumn Leaves

I'm not a 100% sure on the placement of the key things like the rosehips or the manuka blossoms, or whether it could use more white at the top (hello Photoshop!), but oh the colours! You can see it bigger over at Flickr if you select the sizes option.

The inspiration for a studio setting for natural things came from fabulous images of grasses at Oote Boe, check them out!

27 May, 2009

Sew Mama Sew May Giveaway

The giveaway is now CLOSED. Thanks to everyone who entered! I'll post the winner in a new post above.

Sew Mama Sew May Giveaway

Welcome to my giveaway! I'm currently in the throes of a felt bunny obsession, so it seems only right to share some of the bunny love around. So for one lucky commenter I've got this little guy (gal?).

Felt bunny

Standing 19cm (7 1/2") tall, not including ears, he's made of a wool blend felt and has red felt flowers appliqued all over his back. He sports a magnificent wool tail, truly the envy of all other felt bunnies! He's not really designed for the younger crowd, I doubt the flowers or tail would stand up to much pulling or sucking; but he's up for lots of bouncing and other more gentle forms of loving. Let's say older kids and the young at heart generally, just to be on the safe side.

Felt bunny

I'm happy to ship internationally too! All you need to do is leave a comment on this post and tell me where you're from in the world - I'm always fascinated by the far-flung places people visit from! Please make sure that I can contact you either via your own blog or by email. The draw will be open until the evening of June 1st here in New Zealand, which will take it up to about midnight, May 31st in North America. I'll use a random number generator to pick the winner and will post the result immediately.

ETA: I'm planning on posting a tutorial for the bunny with pattern and instructions in the near future - so if you're not the winner this time please check back for the tutorial and make your own!

I can't wait to start working my way through other participating blogs, I'm wishing everyone (including me) good luck!

The Master List

I wrote this up a couple months ago to keep myself on track with the projects.

Master list, originally uploaded by Ansis68.

Ha! So yes, I have actually ticked off a few , and mostly in order, but there seem to be a few projects that "accidentally" slipped in without being written down. How did that happen? Like the felt bunnies (plural), the chibi kitten and rabbit, the felt crown. Oh yes, I plead extenuating circumstaces your honour - birthdays! a mania for felt rabbits! But shouldn't I at least anticipate the birthdays? I've got them marked on my calendar, they are anticipatable. Clearly I need to work on my mad list-making skillz.

26 May, 2009

How to get ahold of those Japanese Sewing Books

I'm not even sure if this is something people worry about, but I can tell you that I spent an inordinate amount of time searching around for Japanese Sewing books here in NZ before realising that my only option was to order online. Then I spent an inordinate amount of time researching that! I don't like to just click and order, I need to agonise over something for ages and find out every single option, ignoring the law of diminishing returns, until I nearly collapse from the sheer volume of information. You should have seen me ordering a few bits of wool felt last month!

In the end I got mine from Yes Asia as they had the cheapest prices by far (free shipping!) - although as I discovered that's because they're as slow as a wet week in getting it to you! But they did come after a month or so, and really for those prices it was worth it. The site comes up regularly as a good place to buy them so it's not a fly-by-nighter by any means. As an English-speaker it's not the easiest site to navigate, although I notice that in the year since I got my books it's become heaps better. For craft books the categories you want are
Books in Japanese » Hobby/ Lifestyle/ Culture » Lifestyle » Home Arts. The direct link is here. Please note that this is the global site, if you want shipping to North America only then you want this link here. The books are listed by publication date (generally). I found the easiest way to find them was to look on other sites for books people have reviewed or provided photos of pages, and then go looking for them on Yes Asia because you can't look inside and they don't provide reviews of the books - in English anyways. You can do a Google search, check out Etsy sellers, or visit sites like Crafting Japanese, Angry Chicken, or Molly Chicken. Crafting Japanese has a big long list of lots of blogs who mention these books.

Damn, now I want to order some more books! How about this one - imagine the amount of time I'd need to waste before committing to buying a book that was both a Japanese craft book AND about wool felt?
Welcome to the Felt Bakery

25 May, 2009

iPhone cover

Woo - first item completed from my list of gifty-goodness! Only how many left to go? ;) This was an iPhone cover for Shelly.

iPhone cover

It's the same as the one I made for myself, but without the pocket for earphones. The fabric is from the Botanica line by Art Gallery Fabrics with green lining fabric from my stash and a button from the button box. I love these green buttons because they have a wee sparkle in the middle - I'm fond of a small amount of bling in unexpected places. It has a layer of cotton wadding as well as I gather that iPhones are pretty delicate and prone to breaking if dropped. Poor Mat is dying to have one but an archaeologist's phone needs to be moderately robust so he's being sensible (so far!). Reminds me of one dig I did where Pete lost his phone and got someone else to call it and we all heard it ringing from in the spoil heap (big mound of sieved dirt). Not really iPhone territory...

iPhone cover

Shelly was really taken with the idea of having a button closure on the cover, but I figured that fumbling with a button while your phone was ringing would just add to the stress of modern life so I did a fake button hole and put velcro underneath.

iPhone cover

Sorry the photos for this are dreadful, so washed out! They don't do the fabric or the lovely pale green button justice. Must have been a bad day. I'm really keen to turn this into a wee tutorial so that people can do this themselves - there's lots for sale but I couldn't find a pattern myself when I looked and it'd be so handy to have the measurements out there for people to experiment with. I just have to figure out how to draft up the pattern and find somewhere to host it.

Chibi rabbit and kitty

Part of the reason I was so quiet the last few days was a flurry of birthday activity - 'tis the season for us with all of Hazel's cohort approaching their fourth birthdays and their siblings having first birthdays. The first cab off the rank was Alexander with his crown. Next was Boo who was having her third birthday yesterday. Unfortunately Hazel ended up with a rather high fever Saturday night and couldn't go - but the Chibi Bunny and Kitty I made for her did. I also made a pair for Hazel - I bunny in bulk! I've been wanting to make the My Little Mochi Chibi Kitty and Rabbit pattern for ages, so this was the perfect excuse. Hazel picked all the fabrics and decided which went with which. I honestly think I couldn't have done better. Personally I wouldn't have chosen the cherries fabric to go with the white but it works really well, and goes perfectly with the brown fabrics of the kitty.

Chibi rabbits and kitty

They end up looking quite different as the bunnies have their ears pulled in a lot more than the kitties

Chibi kitty

The light was so bright behind them yesterday morning you can see the clipping around the bunny ears! I hate clipping curves So. Much. but really, how else can you get a good curve? I'm always surprised by how many patterns don't do this step and to my mind it makes all the difference in the final appearance of the toy. Although I obviously didn't need to clip as much as I did for these ears, I tend to be a bit OCD with that kind of thing!

Chibi rabbit

24 May, 2009

I'm a winner!

But of course you already knew that didn't you ;) All lolz aside, I actually won something in an online give-away! I recently found a fun blog called Savvycat and along with neat stuff you can buy your cat (Kitty Xmas present ideas anyone?) and frankly hilarious cat-themed videos, they were having a giveaway for Australian and New Zealand residents. I mean hey, that happens so rarely in the bloggosphere that I was practically required to enter. Actually no required at all, I couldn't put my name in fast enough! It's a 4"x6" Nut and Bee print called 'Magnolia Snooze'

There were three to choose from in the giveaway and Hazel liked this one the best. I'm glad she had a preference because I'm not sure I could have picked my favourite so quickly :)

In honour of winning a kitty cat print from a kitty cat site - here's my fur-kid, Lucy.

Felt Crown

I'd been planning on making Hazel a felt crown for her birthday party, and had several tutorials and posts on making them bookmarked when my friend Rebeccah asked if I could make her son Alexander one for his first birthday. At first I was all "oh no! pipped at the post in the cool crafty mum" stakes but then I cunningly realised it was the perfect opportunity to practice making one first :)

I mostly used the great tutorial and pattern at Balancing Everything, along with the tutorials and pictures at Woodcraft, Juicybits and Koala brains with a few modifications of my own. I think Rebeccah's decision to use red as the accent colour was inspired, I just love how all the colours work together.

Felt crown

Unfortunately all we had to work with was the wool blend felt, which compressed like crazy when ironed, so the crown lacks thickness. I ended up with with two layers at the tips, and three at the bottom. I did the embroidery and the zig-zags through two layers of felt (small and large pieces) and then backed both with another large piece and attached the ribbon at the bottom for stability. The points have a tendency to get bent, but an iron will straighten them out easily. I'm sure nice thick pure wool would be soooo much better!

Felt crown

I extended the sides back a bit on the Balancing Everything pattern and I like the curved effect, although I obviously needed to bring it down a bit narrower to match the width of the elastic I used.

Felt crown

21 May, 2009

Clothkits purchases

My wonderful friend Jess gave me a gift certificate for Clothkits as a graduation present and I was seriously like a kid in a candy store. I posted about the company ages ago but never thought I'd actually be able to get anything from them. I hardly knew where to start! I was able to buy two skirts for myself and a dress for Hazel. I documented the unwrapping process for Jess, although they hardly express the excitement I was feeling as I did it!

The packages:

The first skirt before I unfolded it:

They come with all the notions and everything, and you can see the cutting lines for the various sizes. I love how the facing for the skirt is a road with all the markings!

Second skirt:

Yes! It's the Trellick Tower one. Am soooo excited although I'm sure people will mostly look at and wonder why I've got a building on my skirt. Better bone up on it in case someone recognises it and I need to sound like I know what I'm talking about.

Last one for Hazel:

The colour really is that bright, the camera didn't cope at all well with it!

The pockets etc. are adorable:
I'll be honest, I really wanted to get Hazel this one, but she picked the pink without a second thought so I just bowed to her superior judgment :)

And to make all the cutting out easier, a lovely pair of shiny very very sharp scissors:

If anyone, including me, uses them to cut anything other than fabric they'll be very severely punished.

I'm a very happy camper at the thought of all these lovely things to sew up. Now if only I could fit them into my vast list of projects!

20 May, 2009

Downloads from Indie Fixx

Downloads from Indie Fixx, originally uploaded by Ansis68.

I've really been enjoying the free downloads from Indie Fixx's 'Feed Your Soul' section. I don't like them all, in fact some are downright creepy and weird and not at all my taste, but there are some real gems in there and I've been printing out a few to put up in Hazel's room. Not sure whether I should be framing them or what, but yay it's great to have neat pictures! Check out the gallery and see if anything takes your fancy (free!).

18 May, 2009

Nani Iro patterns

I just discovered that the Nani Iro line of fabrics at Kokka have a whole bunch of free patterns for their fabrics. I adore her designs and am quite excited about this - unfortunately they're one page, diagram only, and in Japanese. Not insurmountable problems but will definitely present a challenge to most people - even if they can read Japanese. Oh, and if you're using Firefox the images open to a .pdf so you'll end up downloading them even if you just wanted a quick look! I've got quite a few now ;)

ETA: Oooooo and by fabulous co-incidence the Crafty Crow is having a giveaway of $20 vouchers from This and That From Japan who carry Nani Iro fabrics. Although by telling you this I have probably lessened any very slim chances I have of winning it by decreasing my odds :)

Marie Claire Idées and ice cream cones

I spent the morning on campus for the first time in awhile, feels odd to be back and not really belong anymore. My plan was to read recent journals and get all caught up on that, meet Lyn to drop off the pink bunny (she's also on campus) and then meet my friend Alice for lunch at one. Unfortunately most of the journals were off being bound so I stretched 'British Archaeology' out as long as I could, learning about skeletal evidence for conflict trauma in the Neolithic in the process - blunt force trauma to the skull anyone? After that I was forced down into town to Borders to look at magazines and craft books. To my delight I found a Marie Claire Idées so I snapped it up. I still love it although it continues to be a bit twee on occasion (click on photos for a larger version if you want to see the crafts closer up).

I really liked this bag - I can't crochet but I think felt flowers or yoyos would look equally good.

I also found the 'what to do with men's ties' amusing and I do quite like that hat

I also loved this kitchen shelving idea

Not sure how stable it would be but I guess if you screwed everything together top to bottom and then bolted it to the wall at the top?

Then I met up with Lyn and gave her the bunny and she gave me a wee giftie for Hazel - so really it felt like a top-secret clandestine craft exchange in the business building ;) The gift was a brooch

and I can assure you that Hazel feels well-compensated for letting the pink bunny go and she adores this icecream cone that Lyn made to say the least.

Her stuffed animals have been pouncing and eating it all evening, and it's been carried around constantly - can't wear it pinned on anything because then she can't see it. Fair enough actually, that's the drawback of brooches! I'm planning on making her a dark grey wool coat for winter and I think this would look adorable on that in a little cluster with a few little round badges like the ones from Nut and Bee. She might knock people over ded with teh cute though, I might have to reconsider on public safety grounds...

17 May, 2009

The Bunny give-away winner...

...is Lyn from Belle and Rose! I wish I had bunnies for everyone who commented because you really are all very nice and totally deserving. I'm going to make another for the Sew Mama Sew giveaway day, or even two depending on how I go, so there will be other chances then and beyond for sure.

Today we are doing panic-y gardening and weeding before it starts raining again. It's a mass of weeds out there because while we might not enjoy daily rain they obviously do and have gone nuts. All we can do is watch them run rampant through rain-streaked windows :( So I'd better get to it asap, I can see the clouds gathering out west.

15 May, 2009

Hand sewing and embroidery

One of the reasons I like working on these felt bunnies is that it's all hand sewing and embroidery and there's something so relaxing about keeping your fingers busy and your mind elsewhere. I know there's actual physiological/psychological reasons for this, and it also encompasses knitting and straight embroidery (I find cross-stitch or tapestry to be particularly good). It's also highly transportable so you can move from room to room as child and/or shifting sunbeams require.

embroidery, originally uploaded by Ansis68.

I've never done felt applique before and it's surprisingly easy - I like working with felt more and more, even the wool blend stuff lends itself to this kind of technique. And I love this red, what a fabulous colour to handle and look at - bright and cheerful and brave. I think I feel a red bunny coming on! :D

Give away confuzzle

I'm a bit unsure as to whether some people who has left a comment on the pink bunny actually want the bunny or are simply being nice. So if you do want the bunny, but you left a non-committal comment like "love the bunny!" can you comment again and say "Give Me The Bunny" - this will help stuffy, coughy old me put the right people in the draw. I'd hate to put someone in that didn't want to be there, or vice-versa.

Such a lovely day today - soft air, warm, beautiful fluffy white clouds in the sky - but I don't trust it. Don't trust it At. All. I'm sure a rain cloud is going to sneak up on my washing on the line any minute now. I'm watching, I'm vigilant, but those clouds are cunning like weasels.

And Happy Birthday to my mum! After I moved down here we discovered that we'd been born on the same day - she was born here on the 15th, I was born in Canada on the 14th - so if I phone her on her birthday here, it's my birthday there. Cool huh?

14 May, 2009

Happy Birthday to me bunny giveaway!

Pink felt bunny, originally uploaded by Ansis68.

I'm having a lovely day so far, despite the fact both Hazel and I have a cold.

To celebrate I'm giving away this wee felt bunny! They're multiplying like...rabbits around here as I work on refining the pattern and I'd like to send them to good homes.

Pink felt bunny

So let me know what your felt bunny adoption credentials are like in the comments and he might be hopping his way to you in a few days. I'll get Hazel to draw from the bowl on Sunday the 17th, NZ time. This little one is made from a wool blend felt and given the buttons and pompom tail I'd say it's for kids over 4 or adults only - no little babies!

Here it is with the originals that I'm working on replicating. The brown one was mine and the red my brother's and we've had them for as long as I can remember. Kind of showing their age huh? :) Hazel adores them though, and given that they're absolutely on their last legs I'm going to make a couple more to take the brunt of the loving.

Pink felt bunny

ETA: I do hope that people I know well will also enter if they want the bunny - just because I've met you in RL doesn't preclude you! Same for anyone on my list of gifty-goodness - which I haven't forgotten I assure you!

Hazel has decided the bunny's name is Cubby, personally I call him Beaker (Muppets reference there) ;)

13 May, 2009

Yoyos and Surprises

yoyos, originally uploaded by Ansis68.

So I've joined the rest of the crafting world and made a couple yoyos. I'm not really a yoyo kind of person, they seem a bit frou-frou on the whole but I need them for this project I'm working on. All very mysterious and hush-hush of course ;) So check back tomorrow because it's my birthday and since I'm a massive Lord of the Rings geek (honest, I belonged to the fan club and everything) I'm going to go with the Hobbit tradition for birthdays. If you don't know what that is then I suggest you get reading quick! Or just wait until tomorrow :)

I've also put my name in the hat for the Sew Mama Sew May giveaway which happens on the 27th, so I need to get busy for that too! I'm paranoid about forgetting though, I had a doctor's appointment yesterday that I thought was today so I missed it and quite understandably he's got the pip at me. I'm scared it's a sign of advancing age, I've never forgotten something like that before!

11 May, 2009

And the winner of the book is...

Angela! Hazel drew this morning, graciously taking time out from Yo Gabba Gabba and creche preparations to pull a slip of paper out of one of her bowls. She was quite bemused ("why did I have to choose a piece of paper from the bowl mummy?") but parents do so many odd things it's just part of the background noise of being a pre-schooler I guess.

I'm off to your blog to leave you a comment Angela, or you can contact me at ...

Let's hope my monday continues in this positive vein :)

09 May, 2009

Slightly more organised

I came across this post at Design Sponge back in March and knew I'd found the answer to this:

the top drawer of my desk. Now this drawer is full of wonderful and useful things (and about a million pens) but I spend a lot of time rifling through it muttering "I know it's in here". Thanks to Design Sponge it now looks like this:

I should totally enter it in some sort of before and after contest! I still have about a million pens (I'm not a pen thief honest!) but all of them work and they're separate from the pencils and markers. There are a couple of problems with the divider sizes, like I can't really access the back two easily, and there's nowhere for my rulers to go, but man it gives me a shock of pleasure and surprise every time I open it up! Plus I got rid of the child-proof catch on it which Hazel figured out long ago. I covered the cardboard with this very pretty paper a book came wrapped in from Borders. I need to go back and see if they sell it because it's heavier than printer paper and would be sturdy enough to do all sorts of fun things.

A beginner's exploration of the stamp carving world

I do have to laugh (at myself) for this resurgence of stamping enthusiasm, it's slightly embarrassing to have such obvious things out there in public. I feel like I should be asking if my butt looks big in this post, or maybe if my undies are showing ;)

Anyways, because Nikki asked about carving materials I thought I'd just share a few links from which I've gained most of my very limited stamping knowledge. Yes, I've carved ONE stamp and am now going to share my knowledge with you :) Basically there are two, Geninne's Art Blog and Two Cheese Please but of course there are lots of other resources out there, particularly if you live in the States where materials seem to be a lot more readily available. Gennine is a gold mine of information, she's very generous with her information! Particularly useful was her video of how to carve a stamp which gave me a good idea of how to hold the carving material and just general technique. Yesterday she posted about what she likes to carve and with what - and all of her posts about stamping techniques are found here.

Holly at Two Cheese Please is also a great resource, particularly for us Antipodeans, because I sense that getting the fancy-schmancy carving materials (other than old-fashioned lino) is probably the stumbling block down here - particularly in NZ. Not to mention she makes the cutest stamps evah! She's got a great list of where to buy things here, and sells beginner's sets on etsy here. (I think my fangirl underpants might be peeking out a bit here)

So there we go - the sum total of my stamp carving knowledge. I'll come back and add to it as I explore a bit more, buy a few more supplies etc.

08 May, 2009

Amanita muscaria

Amanita muscaria, originally uploaded by Ansis68.

Growing just down the street on our walk this rainy autumn afternoon. They are there every year and I love seeing them pop up so pale and get redder and redder every day they survive the passing school children.

I'm going to turn this photo into a stamp - how could I not?

What to do with stamps

Apparently I'm supposed to stamp fabric until I develop debilitating physical symptoms. Thanks for the tip Holly! :) Actually this exactly why I decided to start carving stamps so it was a timely reminder. If I'm going to do this though I need a couple more leaf stamps and some decent stamp pads. Luckily Rebeccah bought me three little erasers from Kikki K and I will try Spotlight for stamp pads. Or ask Holly what she uses for her insanely cute stamps. Check out the turtle in this Two Cheese Please post!

07 May, 2009

First stamp

First stamp, originally uploaded by Ansis68.

I finally tried carving a stamp last night. It was much easier than I'd expected, although clearly my technique needs some work - both carving and stamping! I'm going to be a bad artist and blame my materials though, the stamp pad is one of Hazel's and so were the marker pens I tried using and they were all a bit dry (she leaves the tops off the pens) It's quite cute though, I like it. Not entirely sure what to do with it now, but I'm sure I'll find a use for it eventually.

Wee Wonderfuls package

Wonderful package, originally uploaded by Ansis68.

These two toys are off to Edmonton tomorrow if I can get my act together. I think I'm about two weeks behind schedule with them, and that despite promising Nicole, a five year old child, that I'd be done. If I can disappoint a young girl I think I'm a pretty hardened procrastinator. The monkey is for her younger sister Danielle. This photo doesn't show his lovely, possibly even magnificent, tail, but you can see them here on a couple of others that I've made.

I've also got a graduation photo to share


Sadly, despite the care I put into my choice of shoes they don't show up in many of the photos, and certainly in nothing that I'd consider showing to anyone else! I don't consider myself photogenic at all to be honest, so it's a wonder I'm putting this up at all. I went to a seminar this afternoon and there were lots of studio photos of old archaeologists and to a man (no women) they were posed and serious-looking. Why won't people let you be serious-looking these days? Everyone's all "smile!" and if you don't produce a real grin they harass you until you do. I like looking serious, I look better serious in photos, why can't I be serious? When I smile my eyes squinch up and my nose looks really wide. People like me should be allowed to be all serious and intense-looking in photos, you know, like we've got deep and meaningful goings-on inside our brains. Even if we don't.


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