30 October, 2009

The loss of knowledge

This afternoon I went to a memorial service for Roger Green, a very eminent archaeologist who died recently. I knew him moderately well, liked him and have published a paper with him (with me as third author!), but I felt somewhat on the periphery of a lot of people who were very very good and old friends, students of his, family and so on. Memorial services are always so moving, the grief of others is contagious! So many lovely stories and memories, professional and personal and I feel regret that I didn't know him better. But life is what it is, and I also know the logical reasons why I didn't go to him for advice and professional guidance - nothing much in it other than he was retired by the time I showed up at the Dept. and his interests had largely moved to other areas. I feel honoured that he knew my name and what I was up to to be honest!

What is most sobering is that when a great mind goes then all that knowledge and experience goes too. That's not limited to the academic world I know, perhaps crafting is another where it has a similar impact. The only thing that saves us is that that knowledge can in some part be passed on to others. I read a fabulous essay once by a museum person about his whakapapa (geneology) and he cited all the great thinkers of Western tradition - Socrates, Newton, Einstein etc., and the ways of thinking that had been passed down from generation to generation. I discovered this afternoon that my Master's supervisor was one of Roger's students, so in a way he was my academic grandparent. He was part of my whakapapa.

This was on the back of the programme:

E hara i te mea
No naianei te aroha
No nga tupuna
Tuku iho, tuku iho

It is not a new thing,
Todays love is
from our ancestors
handed down, handed down

28 October, 2009

Felt pouch #3

Felt pouch #3, originally uploaded by Ansis68.

I made this for Hazel this afternoon. She'd admired the two I did yesterday and especially this flower button, so I figured we'd keep the button in the family and I'd put it somewhere she would be less likely to lose it. It really is a fabulous button, I think she's got great taste! I'm going to have to stop making these little bags though, they're strangely addictive and I can see I could end up with lots around the house with no real purpose. I think it's the sheer ease of making them - start in one corner, up the side, around the top and down the other side, stitch the buttonhole, attach the button and voila! I did this one while watching half an hour of Spongebob Squarepants with Hazel.

Kristen wondered if I'd do a tutorial for the blanket stitch, but I'd recommend this one at Futuregirl because I actually learned how to go around corners and start a new strand of floss half way through. Also check out this YouTube video, sometimes it's good to see someone doing it in real time rather than just photos. Personally I almost always forget how to start it off, unless I have been doing it a lot recently, so I have to look it up in my embroidery stitch book. Nice to know there are online options for when I can't find it!

27 October, 2009

My effort for the day

Felt pouches, originally uploaded by Ansis68.

Little felt pouches for little things. About 8.5cm wide with a button from the button box. I'm quite pleased with them, there's something about blanket stitch that's just so appealing.

26 October, 2009

Mini Break

It was a long weekend here (Labour Day today) and at short notice we were invited out to a friend's sister's bach (cabin) on Kawau Island. That's pronounced Cow-ow btw.

We took a ferry over
Kawau Island
Leaving Mansion Bay, where there is a real mansion built by Sir George Grey, an eccentric governor of NZ back in the 1800s.

We stayed here
Kawau Island

Looked at this view (and out to the bay with the yachts) and ate cheese and crackers by the fire
Kawau Island

And did a short walk to some abandoned DOC houses
Kawau Island

The weather wasn't the best but a good time was had by all, even if the Wekas were noisy as hell and insisted on coming onto the deck during the night and scaring me; and something growled at me from a bush as I walked past in the night. It made me walk a little faster even though I'm sure it was a possum. The good thing about the NZ bush is that the most dangerous thing you're likely to encounter is another human being, but it still gets dark and spooky!

23 October, 2009

First impressions of Twinkle Sews

As I said in the last post, I lugged this book around most of the day, leafing through it and dreaming. From a quick read through (haven't had a chance to view the patterns yet) I get the impression that this is going to challenge my sewing and instruction-following skills! You definitely need to know what you're doing with this book, no beginners need apply. I consider myself a fairly competent seamstress, but I do like detailed instructions and this book doesn't have them. There are very few photos of the construction process, it's all briefly covered in text.

The skirts.
Images from Twinkle Sews

In many ways this book is like a Japanese pattern book - there are nice photos of the clothes being worn by models, and then a page with all the garments laid out flat - it's a nice mix.

Drop-shoulder Tops
Images from Twinkle Sews

I love the construction details on the clothes, simple yet complicated at the same time.

Spaghetti straps
Images from Twinkle Sews

I probably won't be making many of these - more for the slimmer gal I think! Although...

Raglan sleeves
Images from Twinkle Sews

The only issue I have with the patterns is that they're seemingly designed for slim builds, although I'm willing to give some of them a go for sure - maybe lengthen and shape the body a little bit? A lot would depend on the fabrics, she uses a lot of wool, silk and natural fibres which have lovely drape. The sizing is a bit odd too - the book cover says 0-16 which should cover me (just) but boy the 16 is a pretty small one! I need to do a mockup of one of the patterns to test this, but I may have to try and size up (blech). It's weird that, because I'm pretty sure it's an American book and when I was in the States last year I was buying size 12-14 (12!!! what an ego boost). I thought I was safe as a NZ 16, but I guess not. Humph. But short of a drastic starvation diet I will just have to work on my mad pattern-making skillz.

I think I'll choose a nice simple pattern to start with, choose some nice fabric and just see how I go. I'm thinking the cowled grey tunic top right just above, or the black drop sleeve top that isn't very clear in the photo but has lovely puffy sleeves and neat lattice detail around the neck. My end goal is the dress on the front of the book - it's gorgeous but looks a bit tricky. Often following text instructions depends on how well your mind meshes with the writer's way of describing things, I have yet to see how mine copes! I'm hoping that this will prove to be one of those things that make sense once you have the pattern pieces in front of you and you start going through step-by-step. Chia offers lots of ideas for customising the patterns, as well as alternate fabric choices for different looks.

So overall a big thumbs up at this point, with a few reservations and a certain amount of trepidation about how well I'll go with the instructions. But potentially huge payout! These kinds of clothes are the type of thing I'd like to dress in but never have the money to afford from shops. Some of them might even be challenging for me to wear, but I feel encouraged to step outside my comfort zone both stylistically and technically with this book.

22 October, 2009

What's hot? Memes that's what.

I seem to be all about the memes this week - yeah they're fillers while I get back on my feet after that essay marking. Great to have them out of the house and I await the final exams mid-November. I also got offered some teaching at Uni next year so I'm pretty pleased about that!

Today's meme is What’s Hot + What’s Not Wednesday from Loobylu It'll probably be short, I've got a kitchen full of dishes awaiting (or maybe it'll be long long long - we'll see!).


1. This arrived from Amazon this morning and I've essentially been carrying it around the house with me trying to decide which project to start with. Gorgeous clothes and I'll try and take some photos of some of them for a post tomorrow.
Twinkle Sews: 25 Handmade Fashions from the Runway to Your Wardrobe

2. Creating fabric with an inkjet printer. I've done a label for Baby Amy's quilt, two Kokeshi dolls and two different patterns from Parasol Craft 2, and then redid the label because I screwed up the first one plus added some trial 'Hazelnuts' labels in case I feel the need to sew one into something I make. Still can't get over how crisp the edges are and how well the Epson ink sets.

3. making cute fabric-covered buttons.

4. Pavlova with lashings of whipped cream and strawberries. And also because it's been proved to be a New Zealand dessert, despite the typical attempts of Australia to steal the honours.

5. Hazel saving her pocket money to buy a 'My Little Pony'. I might think they're awful but she's been saving for 5 weeks now and she's only just 4.

Not Hot

1. Marking 71 essays in a week instead of two because I put off doing them until it was almost too late.

2. National's move to privatise ACC. Or ACT's, talk about the tail wagging the dog. One of the problems of MMP is whacko fringe parties actually getting a taste of power. Acronyms much?

3. Trying to make dinner and bathe the child at the same time due to poor time management and ending up with a late dinner and a tired child. Three nights in a row.

4. Having the 'flu, then a cold right on the heels of that, then Hazel getting chicken pox (late nights for me), and cold symptoms that just won't go away. I feel like I've been sick for a month. Geez that sounds whiney but it gets you down after awhile.

5. The messy spare room. I hate how it attracts all the junk in the house and that I can't keep it clean no matter how good my intentions. It makes it hard to think when it's so messy.

21 October, 2009


I should probably preface this by saying that I'm not worried or stressed about what I'm going to confess - I think I must come across as more angsty than I really am sometimes!

So what I'm going to say is that I am really quite hopeless at thrift stores. I'm good at antique shops, or even 'collectables' (unless they're those awful ones that have fake antiques and other twee dross), but I just don't seem to be able to get it together for the thrift shops. I think it started in Uni when I'd go with friends and I'd go along the racks thinking "no, no, you must be kidding, no, wrong size, no, no" and so on, and the friend would come behind and pull out something I'd already looked at and rejected, hold it up and say "hey look at this!" and suddenly I'd realise it was a gem. "Why didn't I see that?" I'd think and feel thriftily inadequate. I still have this problem. I go into a charity shop or the Salvation Army and all I see are tired, unfashionable clothes that aren't my size. When everyone else seems to score gorgeous vintage sheets the only sheets I see are just old and horrible and made of polyester. The cute glasses or the neat vase are either not there or they're $45 because the old ladies know what stuff's worth. I'm actually genuinely curious as to why I have this problem - is it all in my head? Am I a snob? Do I have a mental block as a result of a suppressed bad thrifting experience at Uni? Am I really looking past the gems or am I in the wrong shops? Do I need to go every week? Or is on a random and infrequent basis ok? Is it better to go to them in posh neighbourhoods or ones where there might be a real turn-over of stock? I want to be good at this. I want to thrift and repurpose and come up with real bargains. I want to be cool internets, I want to be in with the crafty elite and do the thrifty vintage fabric thing, or the cool retro housewares thing. Anything really!

18 October, 2009

What's on my shelf

I'm woefully late with this - I've been debating taking the time to do it all weekend, but the essays are looming large. Still am, so here I am blogging instead! Yay procrastination! You know I'll be regretting this stolen hour when it's 2am and I'm totting up marks.

This little meme called 'My Place & Yours'is from Pip over at Meet Me At Mike's. This week's theme is what's on the shelf.

I've spent the whole weekend sitting at my desk marking essays - when I'm not being pestered by a small spotty child that is. On the windowsill is a small stone and I've been watching the light change across it as I struggle with misused semi-colons and free-form grammar. Its roundness contrasts so perfectly with the straight white lines of the windowsill.

Round stone

My first quilt!

I finally finished Baby Amy's quilt, it's been washed and is now drying. I still need to put a name and date on it but thought I'd share some pre-wash photos I took between rain showers yesterday. It's photo-less at the moment because Amy's mum Jess reads this blog and she hasn't told me yet whether she wants it to be a surprise when it arrives or not! So you'll need to click through to the photos on Flickr for the time being. Hah, she couldn't resist looking so here are the photos:

Amy's Quilt front

The quilt is based on the Pink Bliss pattern from Amy Butler, but after assembling my scraps and buying a few more (sorry Jess, I know I said I wouldn't but I had to!) the blocks were looking awfully busy and jumbly. I was in despair because I still had vertical strips to add in and it was going to be horrible. Then Mat suggested putting white strips instead, and then to put strips around the outside too. I think it totally saved it - instead of being heinous it's not bad. I'm still not thrilled with my fabric choices but on the whole I quite like it which is probably not too bad for a first effort!

When the time came to get fabric for the back I had an awful time:

Amy's Quilt back

Because there was such an assortment of colours and patterns on the front and no single unifying theme, nothing really matched nicely. I ended up with an Amy Butler dot fabric and a zigzag fabric for the binding. In the end the zigzag was too much and I went looking for a green. The quilt shop I went to had virtually no solids (!!) so I was faced with a green with small circles on it, or a very long drive from virtually one end of Auckland to the other to the next shop - I went with the green. It's ok, but not perfect.

The one thing I really AM pleased with is the strip across the back:

Amy's Quilt back detail

I've often admired these on other quilts but thought they were just a neat design feature - until I got my backing fabric and realised I'd have to put a join in it, so might as well make it an interesting one! This time I was able to select fabrics that I felt really 'went' with each other - including the little Loobylu embroidery I did with this in mind.

Hazel's desperate for me to make her a quilt and I will start seriously considering it after Christmas I think. This has been a good learning experience in terms of finding out what I like in a quilt and what I don't like, how I like colours to match and so on. It always bugs me how conventional my colour choices are when I'm left to my own devices, or how hard I find it to judge what looks good and what doesn't. I think I'd rather let a professional do it for me to be honest (for the moment anyways), so I'm watching all the reports out of the Quilt Market that are on blogs at the moment, evaluating the new fabric lines and so on. Of course Hazel would LOVE a very pink quilt, but I saw a lovely quilt made from Art Gallery fabrics at the quilt fabric that has much more muted tones that I loved. I guess it's a toss-up between a quilt she'll love now but may not suit an older girl, and a quilt that will last a life-time but might not have such a rapturous reception now. I suppose the former option is probably the best but that Art Gallery quilt was gorgeous!

17 October, 2009

Interruption of service

chicken pox tummy, originally uploaded by Ansis68.

I've already had a couple days away from here, but what with essay marking and chicken pox I'm going to give myself a few more days off blogging. Promise to be back in a couple days with photos and whatever else I do here.

Sometimes I wonder if I need to define what that is exactly but since I haven't been able to yet I guess I'll just go with whatever it is and hope it presents some cohesion in the minds of readers! I'm not sure there's much in my mind at the moment...

13 October, 2009

Lunchbox notes

I bought the latest Parasol Craft Magazine a couple days ago and the various Kawaii files that come with it are really fun. I haven't read all the interviews yet, but I've got lots of ideas for all the neat images and I love the glass marble magnet tutorial, such a great idea! Anyways, the first thing I've done is use some of the images straight, like the hedgehogs, and pulled a few others out of to-do lists and tags, and made up some little notes to put into Hazel's lunchbox for créche.

Lunchbox notes

I started putting in little notes on yellow post-its a couple weeks ago after seeing a few examples online and she loves them. Demands them! This took me by surprise a little, I don't think I'd expected her to like them. But the ones online didn't really suit a non-reader and my notes are comprised of little pictures of us, or the cat or whatever I can make look reasonable given my dodgy drawing skills! So I thought putting in some cute little images would spice them up and cute is a universal language that you don't need to be able to read to understand! I did them in Word just using the table function, but it's a royal PITA to put images into it so if I do it again I might try Illustrator instead. With any luck these will last until the Xmas break and I can take a bit of time to come up with some more ideas.

Felt love

Have you seen this video for Kata Golda's new book Hand-stitched Felt? So awesome and the book looks equally so! If you follow the link above you can enter for a free copy. It's definitely on my Xmas wish list now, if I don't break down and buy it before!

Heather Ross gives the book the big thumbs up too, check out her review (which is where I came across the video).

Speaking of craft books, I ordered the Twinkle Sews book from Amazon, but since it has to come from the States there won't be a review for awhile, estimated delivery isn't for at least 3 weeks!

12 October, 2009

Just one word

I'm meant to be marking essays on the development of bipedalism, language or tool-use so this little meme snaffled from Petalplum fits the blogging bill nicely:

Copy and change the answers to suit you and pass it on. It’s quite tricky to use only one-word answers.

1. Where is your cell / mobile phone? Bag

2. Your hair? longer

3. Your mother? warmth

4. Your father? smart

5. Your favourite food? potatoes

6. Your dream last night? vivid

7. Your favourite drink? water

8. Your dream/goal? happy

9. What room are you in? spare_room

10. Your hobby? sewing

11. Your fear? failure

12. Where do you want to be in 6 years? university

13. Where were you last night? kitchen

14. Something that you aren’t? tidy

15. Muffins? yes

16. Wish list item? fabric

17. Where did you grow up? Edmonton

18. Last thing you did? essays

19. What are you wearing? jeans

20. Your TV? Fringe

21. Your pet? furry

22. Friends? yay

23. Your life? good

24. Your mood? bioanthropological

25. Missing someone? family

26. Vehicle? Golf

27. Something you’re not wearing? makeup

28. Your favorite store? Anthropologie

29. Your favorite color? red

30. When was the last time you laughed? morning

31. Last time you cried? month

32. Your best friend? Jess/Sarah

33. One place that I go to over and over? bed

34. One person who emails me regularly? Shelly

35. Favorite place to eat? table

09 October, 2009

Snow in October?

Spring Viburnum

Well as close as I'm ever going to get here in Auckland anyways :)

08 October, 2009

Quilt WIP

Amy's Quilt WIP

I've been struggling along with this quilt since the intended recipient was a few days old - back in February that is. But hey, she's not even crawling yet so it still counts as a baby present right? RIGHT? Anyways, after many fits and starts and crises of confidence about fabric choices and trips to the quilting store it's finally ready for quilting. I've also passed through various ideas about how to do that, seeing as I've never quilted before, but have discarded stitch-in-the-ditch as being too hard after doing it on my pencil crayon rolls, and I think free motion would detract from the geometric nature of it, so I've decided to go with a line of stitching on either side of the seamline. I saw it on a quilt on someone's blog a few weeks ago (if it was you speak up so I can give proper credit!) and I thought it would give the same effect as SITD but be more forgiving of slight wobbles. I'm quite excited about it all now, the end is in sight, in the final stretch, light at the end of the tunnel etc. etc. Then I can start thinking about Xmas stuff har har.

Outstanding in their field


Taken by Mat in a field somewhere in New Zealand. I found it on the camera when I downloaded some of my photos.


07 October, 2009

Oh how sweet!

Ume Komachi 'Blossom', originally uploaded by Ansis68.

That's what I said when I opened up the package from Cotton and Cloud - not only did it contain my Ume-Komachi 'Blossom' fabric, but there were a couple of perfectly-matched zips (much closer in RL than they look in this photo) and a cute assortment of mismatched little white buttons. Suddenly the fabric has gone from "maybe a bag or a pillow" to "wouldn't a top look fabulous?" I'm going to have to ponder this a bit, but that's part of the fun isn't it. Does anyone have good patterns to suggest for tops?

Does this mean I'll have to learn how to put in an invisible zipper? Eeep!

ETA: in one of those perfect moments of internet timing, Kirin Notebook posted a tutorial on making cushions with an invisible zipper. And look, I've got fabric AND invisible zippers. Howzat!

05 October, 2009

A cover for Hazel's chair

This is the chair we were given:

Ikea child's chair

Stylish eh! I really like these kinds of chairs, and this one has wee rubber stoppers at the front to stop it tipping forward as they are wont to do otherwise. I think it must be an older version (from about 15 years ago?) of a style Ikea still sell, the Poäng. I actually like the lines of this one better, although the padding on the current one does look more comfy! Still, you can see the white canvas isn't exactly the most child-friendly. The first thing Hazel did when we got it was to spill hot chocolate on it, and even after washing and many dire warnings about spilling and standing on it, it's grubby again.

I bought some Fredrika fabric from Ikea when we were in Edmonton last year with the intent of using it on our kitchen chairs, or making cushion covers, but it seemed like a good match for this chair and I think it looks great! Now I just need to change the rest of the living room to match these colours...

Ikea chair cover

It's very simple, with fabric backing top and bottom to slip over the frame and a single layer of fabric otherwise. I did think about padding it with some batting but that was starting to get a bit complex! It would be easy enough to add in at a later date though. I still need to add ties to anchor it at the curve and keep it sitting straight on the chair. I notice that J. Caroline Creative sells covers for the current version of the Poäng and they look gorgeous!

04 October, 2009

Featuring me!

I'm appalled I forgot to mention this because it was really very exciting to be asked - Hazelnuts was the Meet Me at Mike's Forum Focus a few days ago. Not only did I get to see a couple of my photos up on someone else's blog but I got to talk about myself and who doesn't like to do that? Actually isn't that what a blog is about really? Ok, let's not go down that path too far, it makes me feel too self-conscious! If you haven't checked out the Meet Me At Mike's forum you should, it's a fun place.

Today I started out with great intentions to use that bit of embroidery I did the other day but I was defeated by the water soluable marker I'd used. I'd erased the marks with water but when I ironed the embroidery they came back. I dabbed at them again and then I got like a big blotch with blue margins. !!!! So I wet the whole thing and left it to dry. That was very annoying, not impressed Clover! I went on to doing a cover for a lovely kid's chair Hazel was given a few months ago. Looks good but who designs a kid's chair in white? That you have to dismantle to get the cover off to clean? Yeah, more style than sense for sure. Having an easy-to-remove cover will make a huge difference.

02 October, 2009

Holmegaard suncatchers

When I was a kid we had a set of blue glass suncatchers hanging in the kitchen window. My parents bought them in Denmark when we were there in 1976. I never thought about them much except that the blue was the same as the curtains, and they were always there. Last time I was home for a visit I came across them in the attic, all packaged up in bubblewrap. I told mum how much I'd always liked them and she I could have them if I wanted. I thought hard about whether I could get them home (via New York and West Virginia) safely, but decided I could if they went handluggage only! They made it fine and now hang in the spare room window and I can admire them every day from my desk.

Holmegaard Noah's Ark suncatchers

I like them more and more each time I look at them, they're so simple and the most gorgeous blue, which unfortunately doesn't come through well if you expose for the design. The official colour is "Ocean Blue" and it truly is.

Holmegaard Noah's Ark suncatcher 2
Please ignore the horrible clear dots I have on the back to stop them banging on the windows

I finally went looking to see if I could find anything out about them, and googled 'blue glass noah ark denmark' and followed a couple links to discover that the were made by the company Holmegaard Glasværk, designed by Michael Bang in 1969, and produced between 1970-76. They are referred to as 'Noah's Ark' for obvious reasons!

Holmegaard Noah's Ark suncatcher3

There are some other lovely suncatchers done by this glassworks, some have leaf and branch designs. Would love to get ahold of some like that, but until then I'm very happy with my three. Thanks mum!

Holmegaard Noah's Ark suncatcher1

01 October, 2009

New books on my wishlist

I added a few books to my Fishpond wishlist today and thought I'd share them:

Twinkle Sews: 25 Handmade Fashions from the Runway to Your WardrobeI added this one solely on the strength of the review over at Whip Up, and the gorgeous dress on the cover. Plus in an interview on Burda Style she actually voluntarily mentions women who don't have model-like figures! I have no idea what the other clothes look like but I've put it in here in the hopes someone will post a few photos of the book contents and I can then justify buying it!

Bend the Rules with Fabric I like the first Bend the Rules, although don't exactly love it, the projects are a bit on the simple side for me. Not in a pejorative sense, but I don't feel challenged by them exactly. Or something. But I'd like to have a look at this one anyways, it sounds fun from the reviews I've read of it.

Carefree Clothes for Girls - again, not entirely sure what the projects are like but the review of it (wherever that was I came across it first) sounded interesting. I know I know, I can hear people saying "back away from the little girl's clothes Jacqui, just baaaaack away" but a woman can dream can't she? Plus this looks like a Japanese pattern book in English which should be encouraged I think.

Lastly, I have A Second Helping: More from Ladies, a Plate. The first book Ladies, a Plate is fabulous and not only is it a great recipe book but it's great New Zealand social history and I'm very big on social history, particularly where it pertains to what might traditionally be called a "woman's sphere of influence". There are lots of books on the history of New Zealand cooking around at the moment, I think I saw one in the bookshop the other day that was something along the lines of "first catch your weta" but don't quote me on that!

I don't know if I need to explain the term 'Ladies, a Plate' or not, but if I do then it simply means that women are expected to bring a small plate of food to a gathering. It's pretty old-fashioned although most people still understand it. Sometimes it was shortened even further to just 'Ladies...'. Talk about social short-hand! There are tales of new immigrants turning up to parties with a bare plate, probably more apocryphal than true in most cases, although I'm quite sure it happened on occasion!


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