28 February, 2010

Summery stuff

Spent a lovely lovely morning out at Muriwai with Hazel's friend Suzie and her family (also Canadians). I'm beginning to appreciate that beaches are best enjoyed with friends, especially other kids. It adds an extra sparkle to everything - the water is more fun, the rock pools are more fun, the sand is more fun. Spot the surfer out there in the waves, they were like seals, bobbing about in the surf, dozens and dozens of them.

Hazel at Muriwai

I took the chance to snap off a (slightly late) addition to my growing portfolio of 52 Fridays self-portraits. Sure I look slightly feral squinting into the sun (where were my sunglasses?) but you can't beat that backdrop. Tamer beaches might be a bit better for the kiddies, but the wildness of the West Coast black sand beaches are glorious.

52 Fridays: Week 8

I finally got around to photographing my first foray into serious knit sewing. It's a dress from McCall's 5423. It's not perfect but it's definitely wearable and I'm really enjoying it. Sorry for the appalling first photograph, I didn't realise how dark and grainy it was until I came to run it through Photoshop.

Orange knit dress

It's a very light knit, a bolt end from Marc Jacobs according to the tag, and it's quite lovely. I don't think it was stretchy enough for the pattern though, which is why the gathering rides up a bit in the middle there - it's less obvious when I don't wear the sash. Can anyone tell me what 'cross-wise stretch' is for knits? I swear, I've googled the term and no-one explains it in a way that makes sense to me! I think this is where I went wrong estimating whether the fabric was stretchy enough. The pattern itself was very easy to follow and came together nicely which was such a relief! I love the sleeves, they're really effective and very simple - just a band sewn on but they look like set-in sleeves.

Orange knit dress

Can you see my Amy Butler 'French Wallpaper' dressing gown on the bed behind me? It's so garish and full-on but I love it! I feel all louche as I trail around the house in it martini in hand. I made a nightie from this orange fabric awhile ago that is fairly marginal in wearability (needs to be reworked asap!) but the orange looks fabulous with the dressing gown.

I decided that the next project would be from Twinkle Sews so I got the CD out and had a look (after removing the small slip of paper that Hazel had posted into the slot that was resulting in awful noises when I put in CDs. Thank goodness it wasn't broken! Anyways, I discovered that if you're in a country that uses A4 standard size paper rather than the US letter size you need to be able to open them in Illustrator and change the paper size. Big minus for it right there, because if you don't have that option then you are stuck with trying to print a pattern sized for Letter on paper that is about a cm narrower - screw up your pattern sizing much? On top of that it'll take 64 - yes 64 - pages to print it out. At this point I'm somewhat undecided whether to fell a small forest to even get a pattern to look at...

24 February, 2010

Kitty dress for Hazel

About 6 months ago Hazel and I bought some lovely knit with polka dots and cats, and she faithfully promised to wear a dress if I made her one from it. I finally got around to making a dress up using Burda 9627, a nice simple A-line pattern designed for knits. It came together so beautifully I was incredibly pleased with myself! Knits have been such a challenge for me as I've always considered them too hard and I lack the techniques and understanding of how they work which makes me nervous. But I'm gradually gaining confidence, although I have yet to figure out how to do a hem that won't break if it gets stretched out. I've tried zig-zag stitching on a previous effort which snapped (still need to blog that!) so I used a twin needle on this one which seemed ideal, but Hazel broke the thread on her first public outing so obviously I need to go back to the drawing board. :-/ Any suggestions gratefully accepted!

Kittycat dress

I tried to get some photos of her the other day with limited success, but hopefully they'll give you an idea.

Hazel's kitty dress

The fabric has cat silhouettes in the yellow and grey circles. It's not really a little girl fabric but she seems to like it a lot - if you poke her on one of the cat spots she'll meow for you :D

The neckline has a wee keyhole detail in the middle, and is finished with binding that extends into two ties. That's the only part of the pattern I don't like so much, that the binding is put on with zigzag stitch, I think it detracts from the simplicity of the pattern. Next time I'll put it on differently. Having said that, the pattern is marketed as 'easy' and yes it was super-easy to put the binding on that way so it's very effective from that point-of-view!

Hazel's kitty dress

Hazel had her face painted at creche that day, funnily enough there was a navy blue moon on one cheek and a yellow flower on the other which matched the colours in the dress perfectly, though by the time I took the photo those had been largely rubbed off. In this photo she's eating some of the peas she had just picked out in the garden.

There's quite a lot of the fabric left over so I think I should probably make myself a tshirt or something like that from it. I just need to draft a pattern for myself from Cal Patches book!

23 February, 2010

Homemade chocolate syrup

Chocolate syrup, originally uploaded by Hazelnutgirl.

When I was younger mum used to have a bottle of homemade chocolate syrup in the fridge for putting into milk or on top of icecream. When I moved down here I was excited when Hershey's syrup showed up in the supermarket and I thought it was pretty good (though rather expensive). I hadn't had it for ages though, until recently when I got some to make cold chocolate milks for Hazel. It was awful! I'm not sure if my tastes have changed, or their recipe, but it was way too sweet and not very chocolatey. So I went in search of recipes for the homemade kind which I remember being so rich and intense.

I can't remember which recipes I cobbled this together from, but it's quite wonderful and next time I'm going to use a really good cocoa instead of the bog-standard Cadbury's and it'll be even better! Even with the regular cocoa this is much much nicer than the commercially available versions, not to mention cheaper. And even if you use more expensive cocoa I figure that the increase in intensity of flavour would simply reduce the amount you needed to use and hence the cost per mug. That's my reasoning to justify a trip to Sabato for the madly expensive cocoa anyways. Seriously, once you've had this stuff it's hard to go back to Cadbury's! Sadly, the budget does dictate it happens all too often (like pretty much always).

1 cup cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups water*
1-2 teaspoons vanilla extract (to taste)

Mix the cocoa and the water in a saucepan. Heat and stir to dissolve the cocoa. Add the sugar, and stir to dissolve. Boil for 3 minutes over medium heat. Add the salt and the vanilla. Let cool. Pour into a sterile glass jar, and store in the refrigerator. Keeps for several months.

*If you want a thicker syrup use 1 cup water. My syrup is a good pouring consistency, but might run off icecream a bit too fast (haven't tested this yet!)

22 February, 2010

Apron and potholders

I believe this is what is termed a 'show and tell' post. Next post will be what I did on my summer holidays. :P

My friend Steph's birthday is in a couple of days and since she actually uses an apron, unlike me who has one but always forgets to use it, I thought I'd give making one a go. I will admit to being heavily influenced by the book 'I Heart Linen' and by the lovely patchwork and linen baskets of Pink Penguin. I've been thinking about either an apron or a ironing board cover along those sorts of lines for myself, but it's always nice to practice on someone else's present first I think. That way you can give away your mistakes. :))

I used my under-utilised apron as the template for this one, made it a bit longer and a bit wider. The patchwork strip is sewed on top of the linen and there's a button fastening at the neck.

Apron 1

I put a couple of strips of linen ribbon on a waist tie and on the neck one too and Mat asked me why and I was trying to explain about zakka and failed miserably. Hopefully Steph appreciates them! I know I do.

Apron 2

Then I made up a couple of potholders using the great tutorial over at Vlijtig.


They look really cute although I made the awful mistake of using a fabric that must have a bit of synthetic in it (the red gingham) because I thought it was another gingham that I knew was 100% cotton. Naturally on the last iron when they were done it shrank. I'll have to warn Steph about it just in case it does it again. My in-laws bought a really cheapo ironing board that had a synthetic cover AND padding - and it melted ironing a cotton shirt. Who in their right mind would use synthetics in that situation? But I digress! Mat wouldn't be able to use them as his hand is too big, but they fit mine just. Perhaps if I make them again, which I probably will, I'll make them a bit longer and put the little finger pocket on both ends.

So this is the whole present and I know I'd like to get it, just hope I've judged Steph's taste alright! Which is always the fraught thing about giving handmade gifts isn't it?

Apron and potholders

I have some more projects to photograph too, despite any moping around over the weekend, I did get a lot done and the house was clean when they came back and I managed to watch a decent amount of the Olympics to boot. It was nice to pick them up a the airport yesterday evening though, and get all the cuddles and kisses I'd missed out on. Hazel's still appreciating her mummy which is nice!

21 February, 2010

New way of commenting

I've just switched my comments over to Disqus because I'm sooooo tired of not being able to respond to your comments properly with Blogger's comment system, as well as fielding complaints from people that Blogger wouldn't let them comment. This shouldn't change how you comment in practice, and you can even register with Disqus to make commenting a bit easier across several sites that use it (and I notice the useage is growing). Hopefully it is importing all your old comments as I type, although at the moment they're not there so I'm hoping and crossing all appendages that they'll show up shortly! Please let me know if you have any problems with it, but with any luck it'll be a seamless changeover. :P

19 February, 2010

Crafty weekend

52 Fridays: Week 7, originally uploaded by Hazelnutgirl.

I can sew to my heart's content this weekend (and write lectures) because Mat's taken Hazel down to his parent's place for a visit. I've been half looking forward to it and half dreading it and that's about how it's panned out so far with one day down. Lots and lots of time to sew, can't think the last time I was sewing at 6pm and eating dinner at 8! I feel all grown up. On the other hand I feel like something is missing and the house is awfully quiet and still.

I'm going to have a hard time getting to sleep tonight, I usually end up having to read until I'm falling asleep so I don't think too much. It's not that I'm scared or anything, I just feel a bit discombobulated. Same when Mat's away for work, but it's worse with Hazel gone! Must be some sort of mummy instinct ticking away in the back of my brain saying "where's the baby? where's the baby?".

The photo is from my ongoing set of Friday photos, which can be found over here. Alrighty, I'm off to tidy up from my evening's endeavours and head to bed with the last of the Millennium Trilogy. Have you read these? If you haven't then I highly recommend them! In this case they really do live up to the hype.

17 February, 2010

The winner!

Hazel drew the winning name from a bowl when she got back from creche - she asked what was in the bowl and when I asked her to pick a name she got all excited did it right off the bat and caught me so by surprise that I didn't even get a photo of it happening. And I call myself a blogger... a good blogger has her camera by her at all times ready to capture life as it happens. I failed and I'm sorry.

But I'm cunning, I took a photo of the winning slip of paper instead because I do so like a photo in a blog post. I feel all naked without one.


So congratulations to Vic from Punky & Me! She's been emailed and instructed to start choosing so we'll let you know how we get on :)

15 February, 2010

Hat girl...bag girl...

Most of my hats..., originally uploaded by knitkid.

That previous post, plus a comment from Megan, made me think about being a hat-girl, or a bag-girl. I don't consider myself either, but I envy women who are.

I feel awkward and self-conscious wearing hats other than bog-standard sun hats. I feel like people are staring and thinking "look at that woman in the hat" in a bad kind of way. I think partly that's because I have the most enormousest head for a woman and I basically can't buy hats off the rack in a shop, they sit up on the top of my head in a most amusing way. Which is fine in the shop with a friend because it's funny and we all laugh and that's good. Less so if I have to wear it out on the street!

Bags are less fraught and more because I just never think to switch to a new one. I'm in desperate need of a couple of great little bags, and I have fabric and patterns, I just need to make them!

So I think that being a bag-girl or a hat-girl is simply a matter of mindset and I'd love to change mine. Hats will be hard though - any suggestions for first steps?

Beach bags and Valentines

Now I must admit I'm not the beachiest kind of girl, it's just not the first place I think to go on a summer's day, but now that Hazel's older and loves it so much we do go more often. I usually end up with two bags full of stuff, or one bag stuffed to the gills and oveflowing and I finally got sick of it. I searched through all my craft books and my bookmarked online tutorials, I even googled, but I couldn't find a bag that matched what I had in my mind so I was forced to make up a pattern myself! And yeah, I was kind of pleased I had to because it made me feel all clever and stuff. ;) So this is what I came up with for my first attempt.

Beach bag

It's 55cm (21") across the top and 14cm (5 1/2") deep and I think it'll be able to hold a LOT of stuff! Mission accomplished. Or is it? Well to be honest I was aiming for something with a bit more angle to the sides, just for style, so the top would be much wider than the base. I'm not sure if I should continue experimenting (what does one do with the unwanted bags?) or just be happy with this one. My bag-making knowledge doesn't really extend far, I suspect I'd need some sort of stiff interfacing to get it to sit nicely with an angle like that, instead of the soft fusible fleece that I used. The fabric is a piece of cotton I aquired from my MIL's small stash. It was very stiff and shiny, but when washed came out lovely and soft and cuddly. The red ran like crazy, so the stripes that are now a light pink were white, but I quite like the old, faded look it has now.

Beach bag

I thought I'd also show you what I ended up doing for Mat and Hazel for Valentine's. I did use the lovely tutorial for decorated matchboxes over at Inchmark, although I had to make up the matchboxes because I couldn't quite face putting candies into boxes that had once held matches! Perhaps it's possible to buy empty boxes, I don't know, but making them wasn't too hard. I used a template available as a .pdf from here.

Valentine's matchboxes

The top three were for Mat, the bottom three for Hazel. I stacked the matchboxes together with the 'portrait' ones on top and tied them with a ribbon. I picked out the pink and red smarties from a big bag, same with the jellybeans and the jelly dinosaurs. And yes, the rest of the bags have largely been eaten now! Oh the shame...

*Don't forget to enter the giveaway a few posts below - closing in a couple days!*

11 February, 2010

Last minute felt Valentine's pins

Somehow Valentine's crept up on me like a small creeping thing and it pounced me when I wasn't expecting it. I decided I would make something for Hazel and her two best friends Alex and Suzie, and maybe something for Hazel on the day - she's certainly expecting it! I love these little wrapped matchboxes over at Inchmark, so maybe one of those.

Last year I made a bunch of felt heart-shaped 'cookies' and I really enjoyed the process so I went with something similar, but did them as pins instead. It was really simple and I made the lot while watching the new Flash Forward and Lost last night.

Felt Valentine's Heart badges

I started by cutting out a large heart (6cm at widest point) from red felt for the back, and for the front one large heart from dark pink and one smaller heart from the lighter pink. I sewed the lighter pink onto the darker pink heart with a running stitch in a silky embroidery floss, and then embroidered the initial on using red floss and stem stitch. I just drew the initial on with water-soluble pen the best I could. Then I cut out a tiny little red heart and attached it to the edge of the light pink with a single red bead in the middle. I think cutting out that darned heart was the hardest part!

Then I sewed the pin thingy on the back of the red felt, with a scrap of felt on the other side to provide a bit more stability. I initially sewed it on more in the middle, but discovered that the heart flopped downwards when worn, so I moved it up as far as I could and now it sits nicely.

Heart back

The last step was to sew both sides together with a simple running stitch and push in a little fibrefill to give it some shape. A Valentine's heart should be a bit squishy right? :) I did the running stitch in a similar dark pink to the felt so that it didn't stand out and make the heart too fussy.

Felt Valentine's Heart badge detail

So that was easy-peasy lemon-squeezy and I love how they turned out. Hazel loves hers, and so does Alex so they're obviously a successful 4-5 year old gift. Since I like them too they'd probably be good for adults too. Maybe just the ladies though, can't quite see my husband sporting one at work somehow...

10 February, 2010

The Hazelnuts February Giveaway

Entries for this are now closed, thanks everyone who entered!

Giveaway Badge, originally uploaded by Hazelnutgirl.

I asked you for ideas on what I should do for a giveaway to celebrate my 300th post/first bloggoversary/100 followers/still breathing achievement and there were such a diverse set of answers it actually gave me an idea. So...

In order to celebrate and thank you, oh readers, for your kind comments, encouragement and the fact that you exist, I would like to give you your heart's desire. That's right. If you win then you will tell me what you'd most like from the projects in this blog (try choosing 'projects' under the tag list), or even suggest a new one, and I'll say "yes!" and make it and send it to you.

Now I suppose I should put some boring qualifiers on that "yes!" Firstly, there may be a project or two that I won't want to replicate exactly (such as gifts for others), and other projects I can't replicate exactly but could be done in a different fabric (like the Oliver + S shirt). Secondly, I'll try to be as timely with completing it as I can, but given I'm about to start teaching I may have to beg your indulgence on the completion date.

How to enter? Just leave a comment below saying "hi!". Tell me about yourself, tell me a joke, about your cat, whatever. All you really need is your name and a way to contact you if you don't have your email in your profile (check because I thought I did and didn't!). Otherwise a blog link or an email will be fine. No extra entries for reposting or twittering or anything like that - I want a regular reader to win so improve your chances by keeping this a secret ;) All the entries will go into a bowl and I'll let Hazel choose the lucky winner.

Entries will close at noon on Wednesday 17th February NZ time. That's 6pm Tuesday 16th EST or 3pm PST for the Americans and Canadians and I'm afraid the rest of you will have to figure it out for yourselves :)

09 February, 2010

Mendocino shirt

Mendocino shirt

I'm not sure when I'll ever be organised enough to get a photo of Mat actually in this shirt, so I've taken advantage of it being clean and freshly ironed (hate actually ironing but the outcome is always so satisfying to the soul!) to take a photo.

I'm really quite pleased with how it turned out, given the problems with the pattern. I'll never look at the shirt and think "what a masterpiece" but I got the sleeves sitting as well as I could and they're a million times better than they were, so that combined with the intense love I feel for the fabric means I smile a little smile when I see it and feel quietly pleased. One of Mat's professional specialities is archaeological fish bone, so we both love this fabric for different reasons! Aside from the lovely fish and their amusing expressions, I love the orange and blue together, I think it's my favourite colour combination at the moment. The actual prints are 'Seahorses' in Natural and 'Swimschool' in Pacific (or is it Glass Beach, I can't figure out these names!), you can see them all here and read about the collection at Heather's blog.

My favourite part of the shirt is undoubtedly the collar and collar stand - the seahorses go so well with the little fishies! The pop of the darker orange against the overall whiteness of the shirt really makes it.

Mendocino shirt 2

08 February, 2010

This deserves a celebration!

I've just noticed that I've hit exactly 300 posts (is that all?), gone over a hundred followers and over 200 subscribers on Google Reader (hi everyone!) so really, that deserves marking doesn't it? PLUS I did promise to do a postponed first anniversary giveaway when I hit that mark at the beginning of December. Now I just have to decide what to make. Is there anything that has caught your attention over the last year that is replicable and you'd love to have a chance at?

Some suggestions (but not limited to these by any means and some I wouldn't want to replicate):

2009 Mosaic

A different childhood

Cornwallis Beach Feb 2010, originally uploaded by Hazelnutgirl.

We had a lovely day out at the beach yesterday with a big group of friends and their kids. The kind of day where everyone looks after whatever kid is closest to them, where the adults talk and drink beer and BBQ and the kids roam in packs and there is a lot of sand, salt, sunblock and sun. You know, the kind of days you remember from your childhood, those long summer days at the beach.

What? You don't remember those kind of days? No, neither do I! I had this this little moment of clarity about half way through as I watched Hazel playing with a couple of other little girls, doing something small-girlish with sand and water, that her childhood is going to be so very different than mine in a lot of ways. I grew up in Canada and yes we had long summer days and I played with my friends, but they weren't spent at the beach and there wasn't sand or sunblock or seagulls. We didn't mess around in boats. Well actually we did I suppose - on a muddy lake. It was a marvellous childhood and I know Hazel's will be too, but it makes me a little wistful sometimes that she won't know snow, she won't skate, she will have a different accent than me. They're not important things I know, but they do serve to remind me that sometimes I'm a stranger in a strange land!

Cornwallis Beach Feb 2010

I mentioned it to one of the other mums, who's Scottish, and she said that when she was out kayaking with one of her kids on the warm ocean, on a sunny day, on a beach that looked empty, that it suddenly hit her that this, this was why she was in New Zealand. And she's right - there are always compensations!

Cornwallis Beach Feb 2010

05 February, 2010

Voile top

I finally got to make one of the items of clothing on my to-do list!

Voile top

I made it from a pattern in the Burda Magazine (4/2009), but had to size it up a bit so it's not quite the same as the original I suspect. It's hard to see in this photo but it's drawn in under the bust with a drawstring rather than elastic. I've never made anything from the magazine before so the instructions were a bit of a challenge but it's a simple pattern (only 4 pieces) so it was fairly easy to figure out as I went along. It would look great with jeans but it's too hot for them at the moment! I'm quite pleased with it and it'll see me out the rest of the summer for sure.

Now on to the dress!

04 February, 2010

Crayon and wax paper hearts

I came across this idea on the Wee Wonderfuls blog and boy it took me back! I remember doing things like this when I was a kid. It seemed like a good project for Hazel and I to do, she loves anything with lots of colours as long as those colours are pink. The instructions are over at Martha Stewart and they're dead easy to do, if a little messy!

We did a whole bunch a couple weeks ago and then they sat around and sat around until I put them up yesterday. I really wanted to do a stylish display like the MSL one but our hearts weren't quite as...perfect as hers and I think they look better like this (plus it was quicker than tying them all up separately!). They're just strung together with the sewing machine.

Wax paper and crayon hearts

They look faaahbulous in the kitchen window in the morning, with the sun pouring though them

Wax paper and crayon hearts

I also tried sewing them in vertical strings and it's quite effective although completely impossible to photograph effectively as a group because they're so long!

Wax paper and crayon hearts

By the end I was getting quite involved in the colour placement and amounts of shavings, the best way to iron and press and how to fold the edges so you minimise the bubbles. Of course, by that time Hazel had wandered off, she wasn't that interested in doing the green and blue ones - pink and orange were her favourites (and mine!).

Wax paper and crayon hearts

03 February, 2010


Ok, some photos.

As I said in this previous post, I made quite a few wool slippers for Hazel and her little friends when she was smaller and they were really popular. I started with this pattern from Tacky Living and modified it to my taste, which simply involved making the heel piece higher and the toe piece longer to match. Then for some unknown reason, I threw out the modified pattern mid-last year because I thought I wouldn't need it again. I can only imagine what kind of brain explosion I was having at the time, although it may have involved tidying up my stash up in the attic and being ruthless about what stayed and what went out. So I was a bit at a loss when my friend Jess requested a pink wool pair for little Amy. I found the original pattern again and asked her for some measurements, modified it, and sewed them up in gorgeous pink wool.

However, I obviously didn't make the toe section quite long enough to match the heel section! They're still pretty cute though and I think unless you knew that was a mistake you'd think that was just the style. Right? RIGHT? All laughs aside, a couple years ago I would have been distraught about that but I'm slowly allowing myself to like imperfect things which just makes my life easier all-round :) I think the lining fabric is Amy Butler but can't be arsed going and checking her site for it, and the soles are pink suede.

Then since I was on a roll I decided to make a pair of slippers using the pattern from Stardust Shoes, which I've seen around the traps a bit and they look really darling. I sized them up with the printer to get the right measurements for Amy's foot and they sewed up super easy.

Lecien baby slippers

How cute are they?! I just love love love this 'My Folklore' fabric, especially teamed with other fabrics with red and the red suede soles. Sadly, I seem to have forgotten to add in the seam allowance so they're about a centimetre smaller than they should be. Argh! Too small for Amy sadly, but hopefully they'll fit my little niece who's small for her age or some other baby if she's too big as well. Not sure about the shape of these slippers to be honest, I suspect they'd be better on babies who aren't walking as they're very wide for how long they are, which is cute but possibly not all that practical. The unaltered size is for smaller babies to begin with, so I'd stick with that in future.

All these slippers have reignited my fondness for them so I think I'll try and make Hazel another pair for this coming winter, maybe in green with the bumble bee just for nostalgia's sake. Look at me, she's only 4.5 and I'm already getting weepy over her baby years. I'm going to be hopeless as she gets older, I can tell ;) That's the problem with having all your genetic eggs in one basket! Sometimes I wish I'd started younger and had more, but then I wouldn't have had Hazel so I can't really regret how it all worked out. Hmmm...I must be tired, I'm babbling.

02 February, 2010


Here is a tally of projects completed since my last post:

1 x shirt for Mat
1 x twirly skirt for Hazel
1 x pink wool slippers for baby Amy
1 x cloth slippers for baby Rebecca
0 x photos taken

I need to get the clothes back on Mat and Hazel and if they are amenable then photos will be taken. Mat said "I suppose you're going to want to take a photo of this shirt for your bloggy thing" to which I probably replied "Well DER". Hazel just sighs and rolls her eyes like a practised teenager.

In lieu of a current photo I came across this one I took last October of some fabric buttons I made for a little girl's swing hoodie that we were handing down. Typical that I only got around to doing after it was too small for Hazel and the middle button had been missing for oh, a year? I really liked the flowery pink against the very modern lines of the jacket.

Jacket buttons, originally uploaded by Hazelnutgirl.


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