31 January, 2012

Pinecone pincushion

I was in an opshop yesterday and my eye fell on this curious thing

Pinecone pincushion

Looking closer I realised it was a pincushion so I picked it up, only to discover this on the bottom

Pinecone pincushion

It's made on a pinecone! The faded tag on it suggested it would make my work basket smell nice, so I suppose originally it would have had a lovely pine-scent as well. Of course I had to buy it for the princely sum of $1. When I got home I googled 'pinecone pincushion' and found some instructions for making them, as well as some other examples. I really like how the one on BubzRugz has some of the ummm... bract scales showing (I googled that too!).

Mine sits very nicely on its base, although in some ways it's a shame because I think I almost like the exposed cone contrasted with the fabric the most!

30 January, 2012

Comments hiccup

I've just realised that unbeknownst to me, my commenting system Disqus had stopped working on my blog, or was only doing a half-assed job, and I wasn't being notified of comments! It was sending me a notification of the first comment per post and then nothing else, and I hadn't been checking the blog - I've just discovered a whole pile of lovely comments left in the last 2-3 weeks! I've replied as best I can but I don't know if Disqus sends out replies to people if I do it via the website - I usually reply by email and send one directly to the commenter so I know they get it. Hopefully it's fixed, although really I have no idea what was wrong or what I did to fix it but it looks ok now.

So if you left a comment and didn't get a reply please check back on the post! I can't seem to send replies by email retrospectively.

So annoyed.


We had such craptastic weather over Christmas that the arrival of summer at long last doesn't seem quite real!

We (and half of Auckland) took advantage of the holiday today for Auckland Anniversary to head out to Muriwai Beach. First the beach at Maori Bay (next to Muriwai)

Maori Bay

Cloud reflections on the sand

Afternoon surf, Maori Bay

Then up onto the headland to see the Gannet colony there...
Gannet colony, Muriwai

...and finished with an icecream - not photographed as I kept my iPhone well away from melty icecream!

Today Mat found a page out of a diary that Hazel must have started, abandoned and then discarded that says (translation to follow): Rily rily tierd!!! Today. In desprit ned of pony tile. Wishing it was yastoday. [Really really tired today! In desperate need of pony tail*. Wishing it was yesterday.] Where did she learn to sound like Bridget Jones?

*chewy little gummy My Little Pony snack. She is allowed to have one a day.

29 January, 2012

My Learn to Sew Book

When I was 5, my grandmother sent me the My Learn to Sew Book* all the way from New Zealand for Christmas. It was great. I can't remember how many things (if any) I made but I know I read and re-read it until it was practically falling apart (probably setting a pattern for me and craft books that has lasted until this day).

My Learn to Sew Book

It remains the standard to which I hold all other craft books - and why not, it has an impressive array of actually quite cool projects (for a 70s craft book):

The end papers
My Learn to Sew Book

Pipe cleaner dolls and funky furniture. Work it pipe cleaner dolls, work it!
My Learn to Sew Book

Cute little mouse - have a vague feeling I might have made this one
My Learn to Sew Book

What a self-satisfied looking cat!
My Learn to Sew Book

These hints are so very true and I love the illustrations
My Learn to Sew Book

Hazel found the book when we were back at my parents place last Christmas, so it returned to New Zealand 35+ years later, and yesterday she asked if we could make something.

Not the clothing though, she said that it was too "old-fashioned", and I was forced to admit that the market for very short dirndle skirts and head scarves is a bit limited these days.

My Learn to Sew Book

She wanted to make Baby Billy
My Learn to Sew Book

And so we did! Except he's now a she and called Baby Rose
Baby Rose

Oddly enough, for all the modern aesthetic we applied, mostly courtesy of the Wee Wonderfuls Book, Baby Rose looks startlingly like another product of the 70s, a Muppet! Specifically this one:

*My Learn To Sew Book by Janet Barber. Illustrated by Belinda Lyon. Hamlyn 1972. ISBN 0 600 35910 7

27 January, 2012

I have my cushions back

AMQG cushion challenge prize, originally uploaded by Hazelnutgirl.

And guess what - the cathedral window one was first in the viewer's choice voting in the exhibition of all the AMQG pillows! And the circles one came second! I'm super-chuffed about that but also feel rather bad in a strange way, like just one would have been more than enough and I'm some sort of show-off or something. I live in fear of being thought a show-off to be honest, just like I hate being late or forgetting something. Is my Freudian slip showing? ;) Luckily Helen from The Little Craft Store came third with her cute owl so I had a fellow blogger to share the glory with. And there's no denying I do love my pillows and am very proud of them :) The Cathedral Window is going to Mum as her Christmas present - I had to give her a IOU on the day which she was very good about.

The prize was a wonderful box of goodies from Patchwork Passion - a bundle of gorgeous fat 1/8s (I think that's what they are), some lovely lovely ribbons, and the Modern Mix book by Jessica Levitt. I think I might be a convert to challenges :)

15 January, 2012

Spray basting

Starting to quilt

I've finally gotten on to quilting my Batch of Brownies quilt. It's been such a long time because I decided that because of the stretchy linen it would have to be spray basted and then I discovered that the supposedly super-awesome 505 spray that everyone talks about isn't the easiest to find here - if you're lazy like me. Some quilt shops carry it sometimes, but not always, and the one online place I found it here wanted to charge some insane amount of postage, and another .co.nz site I found that looked amazingly cheap instead directed me to Fabric.com when I clicked on the 'buy now' button and the amazing price was in US dollars and before shipping - WTF is up with that? There is only so much time I will spend trying to track a product down though, so I kind of gave it up. ANYWAYS, I noticed some basting spray at Spotlight before Xmas and bought it, fully expecting my needle to clog up, or that it wouldn't stick or I'd die of fumes or something. Note to any quilt shop owners out there - there is a definite gap in the market in NZ for 505 Spray and Fix!

Having said that, the Spotlight stuff wasn't too bad! Spraying (on the kitchen floor) was fairly easy and it stuck things together well and the fumes weren't too awful and after an hour or so the quilt didn't smell at all. I haven't even noticed the needle getting sticky while sewing which is a huge bonus. However, by the end of the evening I found the soles of my feet were so sticky I had a coating of dust bunny and whatever else horrible was on the floor throughout the house that was very hard to get off, even in water with soap. Uh-oh. And then Mat started to complain about his feet, and then he started to complain about how sticky the kitchen floor was and then he asked if the glue was going to come out of the quilt! As I mopped the floor I assured him this stuff was meant to wash out and it would be fine - until I looked on the can and discovered that no, it's the 505 that promises that, NOT the Spotlight stuff. In fact, there is nothing mentioned at all about how to get it out of the quilt, or if it ever will. D'oh! Oh well, it may well wash out, and it certainly came off the floor much more easily than off my feet, so I'll see. In the meantime I'll appreciate how much easier it is to sew when spray basted!

13 January, 2012

A sheep following the flock

Last week Angry Chicken had a review of the Sunki tunic and leggings pattern and I thought it was kind of appealing so ordered a copy for myself - which arrived today - which just made me realise how super-fast it was coming!

Anyways, I don't have much to say about the pattern yet except I won't be making the top in ikat since I don't actually like it much (am I allowed to admit that seeing as it's so in at the moment?), but I'm about to sit down with a cup of tea and read the instructions and expect to enjoy myself very much in the way I often enjoy reading recipe books because the dish always turns out perfectly in my imagination!

Are you a sheep when it comes to this kind of thing? Do you read a recommendation by a popular blogger and rush out and buy the item? Do you ever feel like maybe the review is positive because the person is reluctant to be rude about a product they've agreed to trial? The whole Go! Baby issue springs to mind with relentless positive reviews and only one balanced one. I freely admit I'm a sheep in the worst way, but I like to think I pick my reviewers (yes I know I'm totally delusional but let me retain some vestiges of dignity). Of course another way of thinking about it is that the rise of social networking in shopping is a hot topic and that people like to have personal recommendations before they buy or visit. I felt a little hoist by my own petard when I pulled this pattern out of mailbox this morning because yesterday an Instagram big-wig featured one of my photos in his 'best of the year' round up and I got about 15 new followers and a heap of likes and it was all very thrilling - until it stopped dead and my feed went back to normal. It was pretty much like when my mug cosy was featured on How About Orange. So I was being all cynical last night and mocking the whole process on Instagram to a degree and then in the mailbox was physical proof that I'm no better or worse than the next sheep.


I'll let you know how I go with the pattern (for real).

(the famous photo - raindrops on the washing line)

07 January, 2012

Bye Bye Holidays

It's Saturday, it's cold and rainy, and my parents and brother and sister-in-law have departed to drive around the North Island in a camper van, and to New York, respectively and the house seems super-quiet, except for Hazel and her friend Chloe playing My Little Ponies in the living room. Thank goodness for other only children who are equally bored on rainy days!

In between the beach and now I had a little adventure up on Mt. Tongariro in the middle of the north island. The Tongariro Crossing is a famous day tramp up and over a volcano (when it's not erupting) and it's also where they filmed the Mordor sequences of Lord of the Rings (a little known fact about me is that I'm a huge LOTR nerd). Classed as "challenging" I think I'd personally say it should be classed "if you are unfit and have bad knees just stay home" but hey, I did it when I was 12 so why not at 43? Haaaaahahahahahaha! Ahem. So yeah, it's been 3 days and my upper thighs have finally unclamped enough to let me walk normally and I don't shriek with pain every time I stand up and start walking. At one point going down the 50 million stairs at the end I actually stopped and had to work very hard not to cry with the pain in my knees and sheer exhaustion, but oh boy the adrenaline when you finish! The weather was pretty crappy and we didn't even glimpse Ngaruhoe or the main peak of Tongariro, though I knew they were up there in the clouds - but we got some exceptionally atmospheric views of ragged clouds and a blasted landscape so I guess it's amazing in all weather.

I'm currently planning a few projects to get started on, who knows if I'll get any time to sew with summer holidays for another month!

In the meantime here's some Tongariro crossing photos (google it if you want fine-weather photos, it's pretty freaking spectacular):

Looking down over and across lava flows (can you see those itty bitty people on the trail down below?)
Mordor, land of shadows

Tongariro crossing, looking into crater

Across the floor of the Southern Crater
South Crater

Descending from the Red Crater on Tongariro, the crater is on the right.
Coming down from the Red crater towards Emerald Lake

Coming down from Red Crater to Emerald Lake, Mt. Tongariro

We couldn't see the red crater for cloud but even the rocks along the side were pretty cool
Lichens on a rock at Emerald Lake, Mt. Tongariro

Emerald Lake at the bottom of that slope
Emerald Lake, Mt. Tongariro

Looking back to the Red Crater, you can see the trail going up the ridge towards the right, it skirts along the side of the crater.
Looking back towards Red Crater of Mt. Tongariro from Central crater

Some guys taking a photo break - and being photogenic in turn.
Tongariro crossing

Looking down towards the Ketetahi stream

Looking out over Lake Rotoaira to Lake Taupo in the distance. Taupo is a caldera formed by the largest volcanic explosion/erruption ever. And it will explode again at some point, some time. Wooo.
Lake Rotoaira from below Ketetahi Hut

Water drops on tussock grass
Grass in the mist. On the trail down to Ketetahi Hut, Mt. Tongariro

01 January, 2012

SMS MBOM November and December

Happy New Year! Here's to a happy and successful 2012 (and not too many times of putting 2011 by mistake on documents).

I finally got to the latest SMS MBOM blocks. November's was pretty easy all in all, I didn't have any problems with getting the 12.5" square out of the piece like I'd feared. I quite like it now that it's done, I wasn't sure if I would but as always I really like the fabrics I chose which probably influences my feelings considerably!

SMS MBOM November

The December one was interesting because I haven't done any paper piecing before. It wasn't too difficult but I had issues with flipping over the fabric and paper without the fabric shifting as I tried to put it under the presser foot. I'm assuming that comes with experience!

SMS MBOM December

Unfortunately with this one things didn't line up properly across that middle seam - if I had a slightly larger seam allowance they'd all match perfectly but I can't increase it because it would make the block more like 12" wide instead of the (very) scant 12.5" it is now. If I did it again I would cut the right-hand strips a little longer so I had more wiggle room. This seems to be an ongoing issue for me with these blocks, there just isn't the latitude in the pattern to allow for slight imperfections in cutting and variations in a seam allowance of even a few millimeters. I can't even square the thing up - not that this one needs it really but some of the others do!


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