Sunday, December 31, 2006

A new look for the new year

I've switched to the new Blogger, and chosen a new look for this blog. Hopefully everything still works!

I'm supposed to be in the garden, potting fresh seedlings so we can have a few bits of colour here and there, around the deck mostly.

I'm 100% certain it's going to rain later so I'll be back, maybe with some garden pics.

Happy New Year's Eve!

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Baking for friends

Jen and I decided to make cookies for her class on Sunday, which was fun, but so so time consuming. You know what I mean. Bright idea: 10 seconds. Mixing cookie dough: 10 minutes. Cutting, baking and icing cookies: way too bloody long.
They did look great though, with tiny tags courtesy of allsorts (thank you Jenny!)
Next year, we're sticking with *cards only*!

Christmas is an odd time of year for us. We don't celebrate "the true meaning of Christmas", or observe any other religious traditions around this time. As the girls get older, it's increasingly difficult to keep things low-key, increasingly necessary to explain to them why this is. At least, it's a good opportunity to help them learn about what beliefs and traditions and values make different cultures ... well, different.

One thing that I'm pretty sure we have in common though, is that we're all looking forward to the holidays! Only 1 day to go, yippee!

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

It's too messy here, I can't make things

It's been a long time since I used to go to work in an office each day. August 1999, I think. Since then, I've been mostly at home. Mostly with my kids. Mostly surrounded by mess of one sort or another. I love being here, but from time to time the mess bothers me. I can't think straight when I have no surfaces, my mind gets as jumbled as the junk on my kitchen counter-top. Remember Edina from AbFab? "I just want surfaces, darling. I don't want this, look, I don't want this. I don't want things on places like that." That's me at the moment. On a good day.

So at the moment my house is too messy for being creative in. I'm trying to get the motivation together to actually tidy it, but even that's doing my head in, I'm afraid.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

I'm off!

One little crafty thing before I go, this bag tag I whipped up for Jen the other night.
I'm off in a few minutes to spend a couple of days at my Dad's place. It'll be a nice relaxing break from normal busy life, I will get in to sleep in! And not be woken up in the night! Yay!

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Being creative and expressive

At Playcentre, we plan for our children using the national early childhood curriculum (Te Whariki). One of the aims of the curriculum is that centres provide an environment where children can discover different ways to be creative and expressive.
So, here's Helen at Playcentre on Friday. We had an excursion to see Ian at work and he took photos of the children for our photo board at the centre. He gave us a huge piece of background paper, a bit tatty in places, but perfectly fine for us. When we got it back to the centre, we set out paints and brushes and the children got to work. Helen painted herself entirely blue (she had help with the pink!) and danced and dived and rolled around on the paper, being a humpback whale in the ocean.
How marvellous it must be to feel that kind of artistic freedom, to literally be able to put your whole self into your creations.

I finally finished some kimono flower pins last night. I gave up on the tsumami folding with these ones. I think the busy floral pattern suits this style of petal better. As I was attaching pin backs to them, I did think they'd actually have made cute Christmas decorations, if I'd made a wee ribbon loop to hang them instead. Oh well, maybe next time.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Windy Wednesday

This morning I got up early and went shopping. Now and then, EziBuy sell off their returned mail-order clothes and housewares in a retail free-for-all that starts somewhere around 6:00a.m. (I arrived at 6:30 and nearly all the housewares were gone already.) Everything costs $2, so I bought 12 tops and a skirt. As you do :-) Plus a couple of storage tins for the girls.
Two of the tops I bought were so not me, but were embellished with masses of little shell buttons, so I snipped the buttons off and will bag them up to go in my ever-expanding button stash.

Then for a special treat, Helen and I waited for ages at the ENT clinic at the hospital, to be told that she's completely fine, obviously recovered from a suspected case of glue ear. We'd waited 5 months for a referral to the specialist, so I wasn't altogether surprised there wasn't a problem now.

Aren't these old embroidery transfer sheets cool? I got them for 50c at the Arts Recycling Centre on Saturday.
I'm not sure how old they are, I think they date from maybe the 1950s. Maybe even earlier?

The sashiko stitching is finished! Not the best job of attaching it to the canvas, but oh well. Now I need to work out what pattern to use for the other two.

The constant wind here lately is driving me insane. The noise of it, and the pushiness of it gives me the same feeling as when I've had kids clambering all over me, wanting to be carried, needing me, needing something, all day. Aaaaagh! There's a good reason the hills near here are covered in wind turbines.

Friday, November 24, 2006

WIP Friday

Sorry about that rather whiney post the other day! Playcentre can be a bit all-consuming at times.

A while back I mentioned an idea I'd had of having a go at sashiko, using some motifs common in Pacific Island art. Last night I started the first of three 4"x4" pieces which I'll cover some little stretched canvases with. The fabric is some dark brown linen, stitched with cream wool thread. It's fun! But I'm having a little trouble getting the stitches to finish at just the right spot towards the centre, so there's a tidy little circular gap in the middle. The rain has started again today, so this could be the perfect project for the weekend.

I also want to come up with a couple of quick crafty gifts for two friends with little babies - a wee boy born *very* prematurely (6 weeks) and in NICU 2 weeks later, the other baby still an unknown quantity in every respect, due to be delivered exactly a week from today. Got any bright ideas? I'm thinking tiny embroidered t-shirts...

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Playcentre on my mind

This week I've been so distracted with worries about our Playcentre. Playcentre has been wonderful for my girls and me. It's a parent-led early childhood education service, run almost entirely through volunteer work, with parents working alongside the children. Our adult:child ratios are fantastic (1:4), and our last Education Review Office report was really positive. Children lead the way into the activities they want to do each day, and we do whatever is necessary to bring their ideas to life.
Helen attends 4 morning sessions each week, and so I spend 1 morning "session helping". I spend at least one other morning doing administration work, often 1 night a week at some Playcentre meeting or another, hours cleaning & tidying, writing narrative assessments for the kids' portfolio/profile books, and on and on it goes.

Next year all 3 and 4 year olds in New Zealand will be entitled to up to 20 hours free child-care, which is an admirable thing. The down-side for us at Playcentre is that it only applies to teacher-led services, and it's still unclear how it will be implemented by those services anyway. With the changes already this year to eligibility for child-care subsidies, many at-home parents found it's worthwhile (financially speaking) to return to work, at least part-time, now that they don't have to spend half their paycheck on child-care. Playcentres around the country have already felt the effects of that, with roll numbers decreasing in many urban centres, and some smaller rural centres closing or at crisis point.

I'm beginning to feel that our centre is just about at crisis point now, so I've been worrying and wondering about what to do. That, and wishing I knew some flash marketing company who could entice lots of new families to come along with their little ones.

On a lighter note, I got a wee bit of crafting done. Etsy finally re-appeared on Tuesday (NZ time) and over the next few days I managed to list the new flowers I'd finally finished. I love how Etsy now allows categories in stores, so all my kimono flowers are grouped together, brooches together, etc.

On Thursday Helen and I went to the Arts Recycling Centre and I picked up a heap of remnants of (new) polyester neck-tie fabric. They've been turned into flowers now, and the first one listed in the store.

The rain we've had for over a week has finally cleared away this afternoon, and when Ian and Jen get home from the hardware store we're off to the pool!

Have a good week!

Thursday, November 09, 2006

It's raining, it's pouring

What a dismal day. Thursday is my "lazy, busy day". No Playcentre today for Helen and me, so instead we've been doing some errands round town. In the pouring rain. My list for the day:

  • Spotlight for pinbacks - didn't make it
  • Bead Bazaar for Swarovski rhinestones - didn't make it
  • T'n'T for summer pants for Jen - check
  • $2 Shop for storage bags (so I can remove some clutter from the girls' room and give/store it away instead) - didn't make it.
  • De-cluttering the girls' room - you guessed it.
  • Vacuuming - nope.
  • Laundry - har!
  • Grocery shopping - check
  • Update and run a full check with SpyBot - check
  • backup this computer - not yet.
So what kind of "success" rate is that? 33%? My report card for today reads "Miriam could do better".

And the dishcloth exchange deadline I thought I had loads and loads of time for is now just a week away.
I wanted to try and finish these flowers today too, but I just remembered I have a meeting at Playcentre tonight, sigh.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Guy Fawkes fireworks

Today is Guy Fawkes. So that the girls could stay up late enough to watch the fireworks, we actually set ours off last night. Jen's not at all keen on the loud noises, but they both loved the sparklers. Junior pyromaniacs:

The launch of Etsy V2 has been postponed until next weekend, so that's giving me some extra time to get more flowers ready for the store. I've got 9 in progress so far, all in varying stages of completion. Pics to follow :-)

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Etsy v2 this weekend! eep!

I'm such a geek. I'm all excited about the imminent release of v2 of Etsy. The screen images of store-fronts look great. And there's some very cool new stuff in the pipelines - a real-time craft fair?!? It's an amazing site. I signed up there way back in July last year, when there were only a few thousand users. Now, I think, it's more like 30,000. I've updated my shop banner for the new format, using a different spangly-sort of font this time.

More kimono fabric arrived in the post this week from KimoYes. I was worrying about whether I'd like the fabric as much as the first lot. Like a teeny, insignificant version of "but could I love another child as much as I love my first-born?" (to which the answer is of course, yes! absolutely!) This batch has some beauties in it. The flowery ones are my favourites (no surprises there, huh?) It's a bit hard to imagine cutting them into tiny pieces. But that's what I'm going to do :-)
I'd love to have a new batch of flowers ready for when Etsy relaunches... fingers crossed!

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Phew, what a week!

This has been a l-o-n-g week. Last weekend, my twin brother and I celebrated one of those big birthdays. You know, the one that starts with a 4, ends with a 0? Many many cocktails and much hilarity ensued. We stayed up much later than was wise, given my last 6 or so years of child-induced sleep deprivation. But it was so much fun.
Helen and I finally made it back to Playcentre on Wednesday, she's pretty much recovered from the chickenpox.
And then last night, my fantastic friends threw a surprise birthday party for me. It was a perfect evening, absolutely still, a starry sky, and we sat outside and enjoyed lots of lovely wine and talking and laughing. It was just wonderful. I am so, so lucky.

On the crafting front, after these two blogs mentioned my kanzashi tutorials I've put some more thought into it and come up with another video and photo set (Threading 1-9). There's also a few more tips on flower assembly over on Craftster.

There's also a how *not* to do it video, which was the first attempt, where things didn't look so good. YouTube clipped off the last 2 seconds, which was me saying "or not!" Har!

Nothing like doing something over (5 times) to get it just right, huh? :-)

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Double petal flower pin

I love that pink and white fabric combination from yesterday's flower.
Today I decided to try something new. Bi-colour petals, using the same pink and white fabric.

It isn't too difficult to do.
Cut your fabric squares for the outside colour ever so slightly bigger than the inside squares.

Fold your first triangle using the outer fabric, and hold it down with the side of your hand (this is how I did it, anyway!)

Now fold your inner fabric into a triangle and lay it on top so it sits inside the outer one by about 2mm or so. Those inner petals will stand out highest, otherwise.

Then just carry on as normal. Lovely!

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

My first Whiplash entry

WhipupI've been an avid reader of for the last 6 months or so. I signed up way back when the first Whiplash competition took place, thinking I'd enter something myself. I've admired so many gorgeous things produced for the Whiplash competitions, and I've been inspired by so much of what I've read and seen on Whipup. Well, accessories are my thing at the moment, so I've decided to join in this round.
If you read back to one of my posts last month, you'll see I already posted a tutorial (video and pics) about folding fabric petals tsumami kanzashi-style. So I won't be doing another tutorial, they're fun but also time consuming, and difficult to do with only 1 pair of hands. So instead, I'm going for the skill category, with this little flower. Normally, I like the simplicity of just 5 petals on my flowers, but sometimes, as with a two-colour flower, you have to go with an even number. So here she is, a 6-petal soft pink and white flower pin. I've made other flowers in this colour combination before, but using a pink button centre, polyester chiffon and a different style of folding for the petals. I love the softness of pink and white together. This flower is a bit more special, as it's made from vintage kimono fabric, a silver-coloured metal filigree and glass pearl centre.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Hiapo and Sashiko

This weekend I got some lovely books from the library.
The first one is a book entitled Hiapo, Past and present in Niuean barkcloth. I grew up knowing this as tapa, but as you'd expect, different Pacific islands have different names for it (masi, siapo, hiapo, aute, kapa, ngatu). I love it so much. The colours and patterns are just beautiful. We have a large Tongan cloth (ngatu) hanging over our bed, and a smaller, redder one with turtles and fish, in our dining room.

The next book is The Ultimate Sashiko Sourcebook, about this modern Japanese style of running stitch embroidery, for quilting and decoration. This book has me itching to find some needles and thread and get started. I'm imagining some wall panels done in cream and brown because...

what really struck me as cool about these books was the similarities in the patterns.
Check it out, flower & leaf sashiko motifs, and detail from a hiapo cloth (dating from 1885):

And since Helen came down with Chickenpox yesterday, I now find myself looking for things to do with my time, that would have otherwise been filled with Playcentre stuff. Maybe Itchy Girl will need a recuperative nap and I might get some crafting done - fingers crossed!

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

More buttony goodness

I'm feeling a bit sad. Jen will be going back to school tomorrow, and I'm going to miss having her around. I've even been having daydreams about home-schooling. Then I remember about Helen (ah yes, Helen) and the picture doesn't seem quite so rosy. Tonight I was looking at Helen squirming around in my lap and wondered to myself how on earth she turned out the way she did. I actually asked her "where *did* you come from, Helen?" and she told me "um, from the zoo. No actually, from the wild". Out of the mouths of babes!

In crafty news, I can't leave the buttons alone. While I was attaching a kanzashi flower to a hairpin tonight for an etsy customer, I decided to see how easy it would be to glue buttons to hairpins. Pretty easy! and fun :-)

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Last day of the holidays

Sad to say, the holidays are nearly over. Helen will be back at Playcentre tomorrow morning, and Jen and I will get to spend some unexpected quality time together because Jen has the chicken pox. She's been pretty miserable with them since last Monday, covered in spots and itching like crazy. So no school for her for the next couple of days at least. It's meant our last week of the holidays didn't exactly go as planned. Instead of having friends over to play, going for picnics at the park with the Playcentre families, going to the library, art gallery, shops etc we've been cooped up inside (thanks to the weather, also, which turned foul right after we turned off our night-store heaters. Needless to say, they're back on again.)

The only crafting I've got done this last week was putting together a few more button brooches. Goodness knows what I'll do with them. But never mind, because I love them anyway!

Otherwise, I've washed every item of dress-up clothing from Playcentre, and have a pile of them to mend and some to alter so they are a better fit for little people.

Feeling a lack of craftiness niggle today, I signed up for a dishcloth swap on Swap-bot. The deadline is way off in the middle of next month, and it's only for 1 dishcloth. Just the right sort of little project to keep me busy once the girls are asleep. And a great excuse to look through my Barbara Walker knitting treasury book again.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

I've been blogged!

My etsy store has been blogged on the Craft Revolution site! Cool!

Earlier in the week I was playing with the buttons with the girls - sorting and grouping, counting, talking about colours etc - they're very educational! I decided to look up buttony things on the web and found some gorgeous brooches made by Magpie. I couldn't resist making one of my own:

Last night I finished a scarf that I've been dreaming up in my head for about a year, since I saw this gorgeous Chan Luu one via the crochet discussion board on Craftster.

Now that I've figured out crocheting (is that a word?) the motifs together as one piece of work, rather than heaps of individual shapes stitched together later, I'm thinking of finding some finer wool and attempting something closer to the Chan Luu one. Maybe I can get it done in less than a year this time!

Monday, September 25, 2006

Sakura festival

On Saturday we went to the Sakura festival at International Pacific College. Gorgeous day, dancers in national costume, beautiful kimonos everywhere, lots of yummy things to eat. And at the back of the campus, the bush was full of tui birds. There must have been at least 20 of them! One swooped down close to Helen and gave her an enormous fright. The cherry trees were in full flower, so pretty.

Our lazy holiday is coming along nicely too. I've made a couple more tsumami flowers, which are in store now. When we were in Wellington recently I bought a packet of unicorn transfers (Sublime Stitching) from Juniper in Newtown (lovely, lovely store). So I'd like to get a little work done with those this week, possibly maybe.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Comfort crafting

The girls and I have been feeling unwell this week. First, conjunctivitis for me, yuck. Then colds all round, and of course that means a touch of asthma for Helen. Thank heavens tomorrow is the last day of the school/Playcentre term. Next week we'll be lazing around in our pyjamas all morning, going back to bed after breakfast if we want to. I give it 2 days before we're all driving each other mad.
While lounging around watching Monsters, Inc countless times with Helen as we worked our way through the tissue boxes, I managed to get a little crafting done! Some more kanzashi, and a crochet silk belt, which are up in my Etsy store now. I'm planning (OK, more like hoping) to get some more crafting done over the next couple of weeks, along with a heap of work for Playcentre before term starts again and AGM rolls around.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Folding kanzashi petals

We made a little video of me folding kanzashi petals. It's not the greatest resolution, and I forgot to talk (doh!) but it's up in my Photobucket album if you're interested.
There's also some pics that would work as a slideshow through Media Player or something if you grab them all. Images in my Flickr album if you want 'em.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

TGI nearly F

What a week it's been. I'm exhausted. Nearly the end of term here for us all (1 week to go) and nerves are starting to fray. We need some mornings slobbing around in pj's until 11 o'clock or something.

Good news to share, though - some lovely mail has arrived this week, the girls have been so excited about the parcels with their names on them! I didn't manage to take photos before everything was opened up, but will see if I can get some of the tiny crafting in progress, this Sunday if all goes well.

In not so good news, I finally got my Teeny Tiny parcels away, albeit late, and without one of the items I'd planned to include since first my printer, and then my CD burner, refused to co-operate.

Tomorrow Ian and I are off to Wellington to pick up his photographs from Photospace as the exhibition closes tomorrow. He's looking at getting the works hung in the City Art Gallery here, Te Manawa, so we're keeping fingers crossed that all comes together soon. So, tomorrow night will be Helen's first sleep-over as we are leaving the girls with Ian's parents and having a grown-ups only night away. First time in over 6 years!

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Teeny Tiny Chaos

Teeny Tiny swap day is nearly over and no, I didn't quite make it to the Post Office. I just have 2 little bits to finish off once I can get to the shops tomorrow.

Here's a teeny tiny taste of the chaos that our dining table has become these last several days:

Jen's school is having a special dress-up day on Friday, come as your favourite book character. She wants to go as Clarice Bean, so I managed to come up with these for her to wear:

Monday, September 04, 2006

Teeny Tiny Swap anxiety

We spent the weekend busily working away on things for the Teeny Tiny Swap. Posting date is tomorrow. Hmmm. So I brought some teeny tiny things to work with me tonight and I've been busy laminating, collating, stapling ...
I still have quite a bit to do tomorrow, which will involve some stressing, probably two trips to Stationery Warehouse, some hot gluing, fiddling with wire, trying to get my computer and printer to co-operate (they are barely on speaking terms at the moment). And maybe, just maybe, if all goes well, a trip to the Post Office. It's going to be another busy day!

Etsy milestones

Today my Etsy store reached 5000 views, and 50 "hearts" (people who have marked my store in their collection of favourites). Pretty cool!

Saturday, September 02, 2006

The real deal

I've been busy!

The vintage kimono fabrics are lovely to work with. My favourite is the white with red dots. Still more to come in the next few days!

And we're all busy working away on the Teeny Tiny Swap :-)

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Gorgeous fabric

Most of the fabric strips ready to be turned into kanzashi:

WIP - kimono silk flowers

Last Thursday I ordered some kimono silk pieces from kimoYES. They arrived on Tuesday, and last night I made 2 flowers using a couple of different pieces. It's gorgeous to work with! Now if I can just get this computer to notice when I plug the camera in, I'll post some photos.
Today is our day off from Playcentre, so for me and Helen it's our "lazy, busy day". That means doing washing, grocery shopping, cleaning, maybe some thrifting, a trip to Bead Bazaar for some bits to go in the centre of the flowers.... fun!

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

After School "Arts"

Every Tuesday, I take the girls to After School Arts, a programme we run at our Playcentre, essentially like Playcentre for our kids who have moved on to school. It's a chance for them to do some arty, crafty activities, maybe with different materials than what we would provide for our preschoolers. It's different from school curriculum art, at least what I've seen in Jen's classroom so far, in that the children are in charge of the creative process. They choose what they want to do: what paper, what collage materials, what paint, pens, adhesives etc. There are no stencils, or templates, or anything like that.

So, sometimes the kids choose an activity which is decidedly not arty. It might be cooking sausages over a campfire in the sandpit. Or, they might choose to play like pigs in mud on the hill at the back of the centre, which is what happened yesterday. As Jen said to her Dad later "it was totally awesome!"

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Teeny Tiny Swap

So the other day I signed the girls up for a swap aimed at kids, organised by Amanda at Zhinka dinka doo. It'll be so much fun! We've had lots of interesting talks about their favourite things, and how we could share them with our swap friends - books, crafts, colours... heaps of fun, and the actual crafting hasn't even begun yet!

Sunday, August 13, 2006

More flowers

Worked on these this weekend, which was lots of fun. I posted a photo step-by-step on Craftster, lots of people had been asking about how to get the flowers put together.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Fabric flower fever!

Yes! I've finally figured it all out. Made this other little flower last night. And it actually was quite quick to make this time, nothing like a bit of practice, huh?

Sunday, August 06, 2006


I did manage to create a kanzashi style flower that I'm actually pretty pleased with!

I love making these tiny things, and now the level of frustration with them has gone down somewhat, I can see myself having another go at it tonight! Cheers!