Friday, January 4, 2008

Hot Hot Hot

The holidays are here and its time to kick back, enjoy the company of friends and family and make stuff. I had a wonderful time with my sister and family, home from Hong Kong for just one week. It was so good to catch up and chat and chat and chat. My sister has decided to sort through and decide what to keep and what to disperse of all the things from their Australian home that they have had in storage for five years. I was the grateful recipient of her fabric collection, craft books, china and lovely old doilies etc. It was better than Christmas. having shared my good fortune with the other 'Fat Quarters' a lot is happening on the craft front now in all our homes.The weather is hot and the craft is too. Ballarat is known for it's cool climate so days of 38C are a little hard to take especially when you are being environmentally conscious and don't have air conditioning. However it does make for a good reason to bunker down in my work room and get making. Since the beginning of the holidays I have learnt to crochet, made a new bed for my dog and attended an exclusive workshop given by Ric Rac and have made my first bag. Learning to sew among friends is a good idea cause they can yell 'STOP' when your machine starts making funny noises cause you are doing something wrong. Crafting together is such good fun and such an excellent way to learn how to use a sewing machine. It's rather like learning to drive there are many new things to think of all at once. I need all the help I can get. the other day while concentrating so hard to get my sewing straight when making a cushion I didn't realise that I had one of the pieces of fabric the wrong way around and then had to unpick the whole thing. Fortunately crocheting is easy to pull out and redo which I have done quite a bit of.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Bears and Bras

"Have you seen my bra?" is a question that can get you into trouble when people don't know that you have entered a competition for Breast Cancer Awareness month. The name of the game was to decorate a bra for a competition for our gym. So using the bear pattern from my blanket I made Bear Boobs. This proved to be a lot easier than the flower pots I had thought I would do. There are some absolutely stunning bras on display at the gym so hopefully lots of money will be raised.
Mr Barking Mad is a very creative fellow. Apart from picture framing, mosaic making and wind chime designing he is undertaking a welding course. Now in a very Rocky Horror kind of way he is making creatures with blonde hair and a tan and lots of other bits.
I have been known to complain a bit about teenagers especially my own 15 year old Barking mad male. Said young man knew I was keen to get to the gym as many times a week as I could so he volunteered to cook on Tuesday nights when his dad is out learning to weld so that we don't end up eating dinner at midnight. The first night he cooked he planned everything very carefully. So carefully in fact that on my home way he called me to ask what was keeping me because every minute I delayed was further ruining the dinner he had so lovingly prepared.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Yes I am alive!

A whole month has gone by and I haven't had a chance to make one post and Annie is up to 50. The new rule in our house is, 'If you muck with the internet connections because you think you know so much about computers you will die!' The 15 year old mad one has now got the message and thankfully we have internet access at home again. The term holidays are about to end and I shall return to school with several projects completed. Yeh!!! The little baby who is now some months old is about to receive her gifts. The teddy blanket is now complete. I learnt quite a bit about ribbon while doing this rug. Linen ribbon frays like mad and is most obedient when hemmed with iron on hemming tape. Bows need to be sown 'shut' before they are appliqued to the rug. Watch out for ribbons with copper wire running down their edges. It does help a bow to sit nicely but isn't very nice when poking out of ribbon appliqued to a rug. Each teddy has a different face but all of them are slightly mad.
I am very proud of Miss Kitty. Melly and Me provided the pattern and the fat quarters plus one lovely mum of a skinny fat provided the techinical support and emotional counselling as I attempted to make my first 'thing' using my sewing machine. Ric Rac thought I should be in a remedial class. Flower Garden thought I was very stressed and was worried I may never use my sewing machine again. Kate's mum was very, very helpful but probably secretly thought I was nuts (which I am). I was stressed and rightly so after 20 minutes of trying to wind a bobbin and another 20 trying to thread the machine correctly and even though sewing a lining in a little dress was very confusing to say nothing of sewing curvy, round bits I did actually enjoy myself and am delighted with the results and don't worry Flower I will do it again. Maybe next time I'll try straight line sewing first. Seriously though, we had a lovely time at Ric Rac's house sewing together and chatting and eating and chatting and sewing and eating.
Katy Did and Flower Garden both had lovely holidays. Kate is still in France and Flower had a bloomin wonderful time in Queensland. Ric Rac and I were left alone in Ballarat to whine and envy them. not to be out done we got ourselves some travel passes from our regular gym and went holidaying at their branch office in sunny, salubrious Sebastopol (the Ballarat suburb one not the Crimean one). Our holiday snaps don't have the award winning scenery of Kate's but we think that they show Sebastopol at it's best.

Friday, August 31, 2007

I'm back.

Despite my week long lock down because of the flu (not the horse one the hoarse one) and my weekend away with my hubby and my intermittent computer access at home I'm back in blogland. We have been having great fun at school getting ready for our school concert next week but because of my germ infestation I haven't been able to go to school and have been left to read Ric Rac and Flower Garden's blogs. I must admit the week long break from the Old Man Emu song (my class' item) is a bit of a relief. Like Flower Garden I've been dreaming about emus and black skivvies. Who would have known that black skivvies would be so hard to find. The parents have been very enterprising shopping out of town, perusing every opp. shop and dying white skivvies.
Crafting - Before going down with the flu I had started a teddy bear blanket and my Sashiko embroidery. When I get bored with one I move to the other. My first set of teddy faces looked great. I'm not so sure about the second lot. Now I'm on the hunt for some appealing ribbon to make bow ties for the bears on the rug. Ric Rac took me for my first visit to Ballarat Patchwork a couple of weekends back. What a lovely lovely shop. It must be so good for your soul to work in an environment like that where you are surrounded by beautiful things. The fabrics were delightful but even better towards the back of the store they had a great display of books and fabrics and stuff all about my new love Sashiko. I'll be dropping plenty of hints to my hubby and son about gift suggestions. Although Sashiko is basically running stitch it seems to be a very relaxing and soothing activity. While I'm stitching I try to keep the history of this craft in mind and keep my stitches even and equal.
Felt buyers beware!
Shopping with Ric Rac is always enlightening. I learn lots about fabric and techniques, the value of gadgets and interesting tricks of the trade. Last Saturday while shopping for the school concert in Spotlight Ric Rac decided to look for felt for her toys. The young shop assistant was adamant that while the squares of felt might be acrylic the rolls of felt were definitely wool because they couldn't sell the acrylic felt in that size. Off went Ric Rac to check. We found some rolls that were obviously acrylic and others that were labelled wool from Italy. These rolls certainly held fabric that was thicker and softer to the touch. On closer inspection ( pulling back the fabric and reading the whole label) Ric Rac discovered that the woollen felt was actually a polyester/wool blend. 35% poly and 65% wool. Persistence pays!
Craft Markets
While Ric Rac and Flower Garden were off having a wonderful time with Brenda at Magnolia Square meeting Auntie Cookie I deserted my friends and went off with my husband to the football at the MCG. We were given tickets to the President's Lunch and the match between Essendon and Carlton. Sadly the first half of the game wasn't that great. The final quarter was very exciting even though poor old Carlton lost. We had a lovely dinner out and stayed in Melbourne for the night. The following morning we decided to visit the National Gallery and has luck would have it the Gallery weekend market was on. I saw some wonderful felting and remembering how hard we worked on our felting day I made sure I told the felters how clever I thought they were. Some of the felting was very fine and extremely well made. I found an artist who make porcelain jewellery. Several of her blue and white designs featured Sashiko patterns. I would have loved to have bought a brooch but she had none in the design I wanted. I did buy a handbag with an appealing shape and a lovely silver bangle. My husband had a great time jotting down ideas for things he could make and taking photos. He has now bought lots of old silver cutlery for a future project.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

The Craft Expo

We came, we saw, we bought, we conquered and we had heaps of fun doing it. The best thing about attending a big craft fair is going with friends. The early morning trip to Melbourne was heaps of fun and put us in the mood for a very good day. When we first walked I have to admit to a bit of sensory overload. So many fabrics, so many colours and shapes and gadgets and wool and quilts and all sorts. While looking out our first stall which contained lots of lovely silk and wool tops. I had an almost overwhelming urge to buy all the pretty colours I could see at once. Time to take myself in hand and have a little talk to myself. "Pace myself" I thought. "Don't buy the first thing you see". I tried to keep this little mantra going in my head but by the time I had got half down the first aisle I was spending freely. I have discovered the very old Japanese embroidery technique, Sashiko. As Jodie says "it's perfect for Sue, it's predominantly blue, its hand stitching and you don't have to be able to sew straight." It has an interesting history. The shortage of fabric in Northern Japan meant that the people sewed used pieces fabric together to increase the life of the cloth. They began with a simple running stitch and over time the patterns have become quite stylised and complex but are still based on running stitch. Since the craft expo I found that Ballarat Patchwork have several books on the techniques and also have supplies of thread and fabric. At first we moved slowly down each aisle stopping to look at every stall and so by 1st lunch we hadn't covered a lot of ground. We decided that before proper lunch we would do a certain number of aisles and then wait for each other before moving onto the next aisle. Jenny's crochet stall from Queensland enjoyed our company for an extended period of time has we drooled over the yarns and had all the designs modelled for us. we finally made it to the last aisle with just 20 minutes to go and we didn't leave until the final announcement to don your flouro vest and safety boots or leave the area immediately was broadcast. Jodie's Nanna trolley decked out with polka dots and pom poms (a big hit with everyone with overloaded bags) was full of goodies and our feet were just a little tired. It was great to spend time surrounded by beautiful things and have a chance to talk about them with friends. Thanks girls

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Wizardy and stuff.

Sorry about the hiatus Annie but I'm back now. Unlike others I haven't finished HarryPotter 7 yet. My 15 year old son has, but as it is the last book I want to make it last so I'm only reading a little bit each night at bedtime. I know many people think Harry Potter is overrated but as a teacher I think it's great that the whole western world is hanging out to read a book. Let me think which would I prefer, my child home with their nose in a book or occupied with the multitude of less desirable things available these days? Hmm... think I'll take the book. On the crafting side of things I'm still working on the flower rug I am making for a friend. It takes a lot of time to applique one daisy each evening. I'm at the stage where I'm desperate to start another project and when I see things I start plotting what I could do with that piece of fabric or this ball of wool. My next big job is to embroider a blanket for a friend who has just had a little girl. I wonder how old she'll be before I finish it? Being back at work also slows the craft work down. My mother-in-law came to inspect my revamped sewing room/study on the weekend. Although she was impressed with my$4o sewing cabinet she is concerned that the room is too crowded and there won't be enough space for the knitting machine she wants to give me. I assured her I could quickly rearrange things to make room but she seemed doubtful. I'm looking forward to the weekend when a car load of friends head off to Melbourne for the craft and quilting expo at the exhibition centre in Melbourne. Jodie and Annie have been filling my head with pictures of all the lovely things I'll find. I didn't realise the logistics involved in attending an event like this with friends. I'm told that we all have to have each other phone numbers and synchronise watches in case of seperation. Comfy runners or hiking boots are the order of the day for footwear and Jodie is bringing the shopping trolley to transport all our treasure. I can't hardly wait. Only 4 sleeps to go.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

There is a new addition to my sewing room, a baby gate. Number 3 friend, Tag, has been conducting raids, stealing and unraveling balls of wool and kidnapping teddies. Thank goodness for handy and quick acting husbands. My wool and bears are safe again