Wednesday, 31 December 2008

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year to all the Consumption Challengers!
1 hour to go (well, in EST anyway).
I can't wait to hear about all the things that you have all learnt this year and what your plans are for next year. I'm looking forward to writing my own synopsis of the year.
Enjoy the dawning of a new chapter!

Monday, 29 December 2008

Admitting defeat (and some fun, creative pics)

First up, I need to update this blog to explain that my Consumption Challenge has ended one month early.

DH lost his job in early November and two weeks later started work 140kms away. He has only been able to come home on weekends (and now for unpaid Christmas leave).

It has been a real strain on us all - physically, emotionally, and financially. You would think that the Challenge would be a help at this time, but I simply don't have the thought processes left to make alternatives happen.

My house is a disaster, packing boxes everywhere. My mind has been a disaster with stress over how Elliot is coping without his 'Da' around on weeknights, and about when we will be able to move (we are waiting for the tenant to move out of my PIL's old house so we can move in). And I would dearly love to know which house I will be birthing this baby in so that I can consider some local independent midwives. That's another thing to stress about. Things like going to the op shop have been impossible. I just can't manage DS in a shop of any kind right now, especially not an op shop. I get exhausted just thinking about it. I usually do that stuff with DH.

Life has taken over and my priorities have been redirected into survival mode.

I'm not going out and just shopping to my heart's content, but I can't honestly say that I have been sticking to my Challenge since the start of December. It's just been too hard to think outside the crowded little square my mind is in.

Reality bites.

I feel really pleased with what I have achieved.
I am looking forward to some blogging about all the things I have learnt this year, but that will have to wait until I am settled into a new house without all this tension.

Thank you to everyone who has been such a support to me during this Challenge. It has been awesome and I can't wait to celebrate all that has happened over the past 11 months, but that will wait until next year.

My latest creations:
In other news, I made a summer outfit for Elliot from scratch. DH seems to really understand how hard the past 6 weeks of solo-parenting have been on me, and has given me tons of space and time to be creative while he spends some much-needed one-on-one time with Elliot.

The t-shirt was made using fabric kindly given to me by a fellow Raveller, the pants are made of fabric which has been wasting space in my fabric stash. The mushroom print was a little treat I bought the other day in a rare outing by myself.

This outfit cost me under $1 (probably about 25c) to make.

I think the next t-shirt (yes, it was so easy and fun I'll be making more) will have ribbing for the arms and waist too, to create a real retro 1970s vibe.

I learnt heaps while making this, such as the importance of using stabiliser when appliquing onto knit fabric, and the joy of basting (har har) for the t-shirt hems.

One of the comments I received yesterday on this was "Very Nintendo!". Ha ha ha!

Tuesday, 23 December 2008

To market, to market...

I saved these links for fabric shopping bags some time ago. Now seemed the right time to have a shot at making them.

First up I made some bags from some fabric you may remember from earlier projects.

For these I used this tutorial, and they are made with just one layer of fabric. They were made using the overlocker almost exclusively (except for the final seam on the french seamed bottom).

Then I made these two bags as Christmas presents. The darker one is for my mother, the lighter one for my KK for Andrew's family Christmas.

These are made using two layer of fabric, and the birdie applique (inspired by this) is made from the same fabric as the lining fabric. I used this tutorial for these.

I would really like to have a go at this bag soon.

Monday, 15 December 2008

The wrong season for knitting?

I am told it is the wrong time of year to be knitting. Pah!

Here are some recent FOs. I seem to go in cycles from knitting to sewing and back again. Seeing that the house is a disaster zone (packing boxes everywhere) it seemed logical to turn to knitting.

This beautiful ball of Susanne's House of Wool 10ply yarn arrived from Shannon. A totally unexpected gift from my Queensland friend. She saw that back in October I had blogged about my wish list for knitting projects, amongst them her Shannon's Longies pattern. What could I do, but try to do justice to her generous gift?

I love the way the colours pool. I am working on an embellishment for these. I can't wait to see the Bellyfruit wearing them. Mmmmm, yum!

This dishcloth was knit from bamboo/cotton in the Grandmother's Favourite pattern.

I knit these Picky Pants longies quite a while ago from Bendigo Woollen Mills Classic 8ply, but the Curly Purly waistband wasn't holding, so I cut and frogged the waistband and redid it with this ribbed drawstring waistband. Now that Elliot can wear them again I have discovered that the pants are one or two inches too short now. D'oh! The rise is still fine so I'll be extending the legs next. Shouldn't take long.

I bought 200g of this Yarn Cafe Australian Polworth Merino 8ply wool in the Earth Mother colourway from the Destash on Rav. These Fetching fingerless gloves only used about 1/4 of the wool, so I'm probably going to make longies and other lovely bits and bobs from this scrumptiously soft yarn. These gloves are heading o/s this week to a soon-to-be snow-covered city.

This Mini Wonder Soaker was made from some Monster Knits 8ply BFL, in Flame, also bought on Destash.

This 12ply Paton's Overlander yarn was sent to me from a very generous blogger, the owner of Possum Pouches. With it I made a Spare Ribs Shoaker for Elliot. I just love this pattern. It fits Elliot so well without any short rows - it just snugs right over any nappy. Hurrah!

To see all this and more come and join me over on Ravelry!

Wednesday, 19 November 2008

Shrinky Dinky Knitting Fun

I created these little tags for my knitting needle roll using Shrinky Dink plastic.

I made them 1.5cm square, used a normal hole punch for the hole, and a blue permanent marker for the writing.

After cooking they were just 5mm square, and most of them were a little skewed (not completely square) but I don't mind. They look just perfect to me.

I spent a little while sewing them on to the knitting roll so that I can tell at a glance which sized needle I'm after. It was pretty confusing before, and I didn't want to write on the fabric in case I want to rearrange the needles later. This way I can just snip them off and re-sew when the rearranging bug hits.

Hmmm, not the clearest pics. I'l see if I can get some better ones.

Tuesday, 11 November 2008

A ton of things ...

... in more ways than one.

We're getting rid of 50% of our 'stuff'. I know, it sounds impossible, but that is our goal. And to help us with this goal we are moving 140kms away. The less we pack, the less we have to move. So there is some real motivation behind this. Every box I sort, ever shelf I pack, I have the constant thought of trying to rid myself of 50% of it. I am being ruthless, and it is very cleansing in so many ways.

Ok, so we're not moving just so we can get rid of a whole lot of stuff. We've been wanting to go home to country Victoria for seven years now. We're not really 'big smoke' sort of people. To aid our move, DH was laid off (yes, another result of the financial issues facing the world today) but he was able to find a new job in his home town within 4 days. He started today, leaving us (Elliot and I) with the task of packing in order to move sometime before New Year.

In other fun news I found this while op shopping:
- a packet of square self-covering buttons!

I had never seen square ones before so I nabbed them.

And I unearthed yet another suitcase of fabric in the bungalow, containing this fabric:
- a genuine 1970s print.

I barely kept anything from this case, in keeping with my aim of moving only 50% of our possessions to the new house, but how could I resist this?

Any ideas on what to make from it? I am thinking of a little zippered purse, but I am open to suggestions. There's a reasonable amount there.

And in other news just to hand: *drum roll please* . . . the cheque for our travel insurance is being typed up as we speak! It will completely wipe out the personal loan we took out to go on this trip which didn't happen, and maybe even leave us with enough money to go out for a coffee to celebrate.

Saturday, 25 October 2008

Sewing FOs - now with action shots!

I have so many things on my 'to do' list, and so many half finished projects or things needing repairs, that sometimes I despair of ever getting anything done. It can be overwhelming at times.

So, in the spirit of reminding myself that I can complete projects and do indeed enjoy doing so, despite the numerous setbacks caused by being the mother of a toddler, here are some recently finished projects:

First, some new pants for Elliot. He has been growing like a bean sprout, with his pants' hems halfway up his calves. It was time to pull out my own pattern design.

I had been planning these pants ever since I found the fabric in an op shop in Briar Hill. Fortunately he is the exact right size for the pattern repeat or else we would have ended up with more sea around his waist. This fabric used to be someone's homemade curtains.

I used adjustable elastic for the back with a flat front. I used bias tape for the inside of the waist casing, so I could hide the buttons and tuck the ends of the adjustable elastic in.

And finally, it was my duty and pleasure to give a gift to little 2 year old Cameron on behalf of our mothers' group. Part of his present was this book/toy bag.

In this pic it doesn't have the drawstring yet, but you can see the buttonholes I put in the top casing. I used this construction themed flannelette (from a swap) because Cam is quite keen on diggers. The main body is made from some poly-cotton from Shan. It's lovely and soft.

Edtted to add these action shots of Elliot's new pants, affectionately known as his "Beach Pants" because Auntie Em pointed out the beach on them.

Monday, 13 October 2008

Creative Experiences: Microwave Playdough Recipe/Tute

I love playdough.

I loved the "Creative Experiences" part of my Child Care course back in '97. I have a huge folder of recipes and ideas for creative things to do with children, and I pull ideas out of it all the time for Elliot. I figured I should share them with others since they are activities which meet the Consumption Challenge criteria while giving our little ones fun things they can do at home.

Playdough is horrid to make on the stovetop, and it's horrid if you make the uncooked version. Making playdough with your microwave will have you wanting to make some every week.

1) Mix these ingredients in a microwave safe dish:
1.5 cups of plain flour.
1/4 cup of salt.
1.5 tablesppons oil.
3 teaspoons cream of tartar.
1.5 cups water.
Food colouring - it's a guessing game, just have fun.

Then it will feel like a sticky goop and look like this:

2) Cover and microwave on high for 2 minutes. Stir.
It will be inconsistent in texture (some cooked, some uncooked, some dark, some light) and look like this:

3) Cover and microwave for a further 2 minutes.
Now it is evenly cooked throughout, and looks like this:

4) Take it out of the container and as soon as it is not so hot that you are running around the house screaming "Hot! Hot! Burnies!" then you should have some fun playing with it to smooth it out so it looks like this:

See, that was easy!

Of course, if your child is helping you with this recipe, perhaps you will want to let it cool just a little more.

I made a double quantity of this playdough for Elliot's 2nd birthday party. The boys all had fun playing with it, and when home time came I send each child home with a play-sized ball of fun which have kept these children amused for hours ever since.

(Elliot's in the orange top in the middle).

Thursday, 9 October 2008

Fabric, fabric, and more fabric!!!

I have been the very happy recipient of a number of fabric giftings...

My SIL, Em, gave me this parcel for my 30th birthday.

Wrapped up in this handmade furoshiki wrap was a stash of silk fabric - recycled kimono and obi pieces. Yum!

(See this site for ideas on how to use a furoshiki).

Another gift of fabric was two tubs of knit fabric given to my mum to pass on. Unfortunately most of the fabric was quite gaudy (think fluro 1980s) so I only kept a small amount. The top 7 pieces (plain blues and greens) are ribbing. Very useful.

And after I helped Shan move house I also helped her sort through part of her enormous fabric stash. I was then able to choose what I wanted from her "out" pile. She was ruthless in ridding herself of fabric she will not use, so I had a lot of fabric to choose from.

Inspired by Shan, I sorted through one of my suitcases, throwing a few things to my own "out" pile, and arranging the fabric by colour to help me to choose the right piece more easily. This is my collection of fabrics which are for small projects and embellishing other projects.

First gift for the baby!

What is it about gifts which make a pregnancy seem more real? Is it the outside acknowledgement of the knowledge you have been treasuring up inside? Or is it just so much fun to picture a new little bundle of moosh inside the new items? A bit of both, perhaps.

A friend reacted to my news by asking for my postal address so she could send me a gift for the baby. She gave me the first baby gift for Elliot when I was pregnant last time, so I wasn't surprised she was getting in early. But no. She has been beaten to the post.

My upcycle swap arrived, and it was for my "baby Possum" as she called him/her.

An outfit for the baby in size 000. She tie-dyed it herself, which made it surprisingly easy to guess the culprit. There are two sisters who dabble in dyeing wool and fabric, so I knew it was one of them. I was right.

The colours are so vibrant and cheerful. I can't wait to try this on the baby.
Many thanks again to my lovely swapper! Mwah!

Monday, 6 October 2008


I am excited to announce that I have a new "mini"-challenge to work on.
It's the most exciting one yet!
It will not be a one month challenge, but will take me well beyond the scope of my Consumption Challenge and into Autumn 2009.

A quick overview of some of the things I hope to achieve in this "mini"-challenge:

- Spare Ribs Shoaker in 8ply (ie nb/small size).
- Hybrid Rib Soaker in small size.
- Picky Pants Longies in small size.
- Itchy Fingers Longies in small size.
- Shannon's Longies in small size.
- Everlasting Wonder Soaker. (Will wait until 2009 because I have to buy this one).
- and any other fun projects I come across such as the February Baby Sweater.

- at least one dozen nappies in nb/small size (my own pattern).
- at least one dozen small prefolds from cotton, hemp and bamboo stash (great tute here).
- a stash of post-partum pads from cotton, hemp and bamboo scraps. Haven't decided on a pattern yet.
- a few cute jumpsuits, overalls, pants, dresses.
- embellish/applique a few of Elliot's old 000 sized clothes.

other things on my to-do list:
- sleep.
- stalk destash thread on Ravelry to make above knitting list possible.
- stalk trading room on NC for Itti Bitti fitteds and any other yummy nb nappy goodness I like.
- sleep some more and eat lots of yummy food.

Tuesday, 30 September 2008

Dress is revealed!

FAK - this is slow!

The sneak peek I showed of my swap worked far too well. My swapee didn't hesitate to name me as the culprit. So I figure it's time I showed the finished piece...

This 9-12 month shift/pinny is made from some navy drill which has been sitting in my fabric stash for longer than I can remember. The lining is from an op-shopped doona cover you may remember from the apron I made for Dinnae.

I was so taken with the process of hand-sewing self-bias-tape on the hussif that I jumped at the chance to do it here.

The buttons are vintage blue buttons from the stash Lorna gave me, and the dress is finished with pink topstitching.

I'm very pleased and the recipient's mother seems equally pleased.

I cut out the dress from another fabric first, before remembering that my swapee's favourite colour is rainbow. So I decided to make it anyway.

You may remember the lining from an apron I made for Lorna's DD1.

It is not finished because I have not yet found the perfect buttons or top-stitching thread. No hurry, it hasn't got anyone to wear it yet.

These dresses were made with my own pattern, based on two other patterns which were not quite what I had in mind.

Friday, 26 September 2008

Refashioned thermals

A project from a month ago.

Elliot, DH and I took three 14 year old Scouts on a 30km hike in the Cathedrals recently. This meant being able to carry all we needed for 2 nights of camping and hiking. Elliot and I took the Croozer instead of me carrying him and my hike pack. Our Group Leader thought we were nuts to take a 2 year old hiking, but he's gone everywhere else with us, so why not? We weren't being reckless, we had thought through all the possibilities: scorpions (saw one there once, but no, they're not lethal in Australia), bushfire (our last hike in the same place was evacuated due to bushfire), and all the usual stuff like broken limbs and running out of water.

It was so cold at that time (late August) that we assumed it may snow where we were to be hiking. This was something we had not deal with before, and I was worried about the risks of hypothermia for Elliot. So I grabbed an old pair of my polypropolene thermal pants and turned them into this thermal top for Elliot.

This was made exclusively on my new overlocker and I made it with the seams outwards so it wouldn't be scratchy on Elliot's lovely skin. Don't you love the pink thread?

I figured that if I put him in deliciously warm woolley longies over his cloth nappies he wouldn't need thermal pants. We also packed woollen beanies made by our lovely neighbour, fleecey mittens from SIL in Canada, and lots of warm socks.

I'm so glad we did all this because the first night was horridly cold, so I didn't get much sleep, and the first morning was so bitterly cold that none of us could feel our fingers at all and I was blowing warm air on Elliot's hands in desperation to heat them up a little. Once the sun came up we were fine and the next night was much warmer.

This top is nice and big so it will fit him for next year's adventures with the Scouts, but I'm not sure I'll be doing a 30km hike again. It was just too much for my old body. (I'm 30 now, so I can call myself 'old').

If you want to see pics from the hike, check out this entry in my other blog. Just scroll past the birthday stuff.

Thursday, 25 September 2008

Hot air balloon longies

A friend of mine told me about some longies she was making for her pregnant friend. Only problem was that the baby is now a year old and there was barely two inches of the knitting done. Hehehe! I know that problem.

So I offered to finish them for her. They're made in Utiku Perendale wool using the Picky Pants pattern.

I designed a duplicate stitch embellishment for the pants. The hot air balloon seemed appropriate since the colourway looked like a sky/sea background. I used scraps of vareigated yarn including other Utiku wool, some Monster Knits yarn, and some yarn I dyed myself.

And I have added a pic of my short rows because I am so thrilled with them. I have finally mastered the short row technique described in this thread on the Wooly Wonder's forum. I challenge you to find my short rows!

And finally - here is a sneak peek of a swap I am participating in. Just in case anyone from that forum is sneaking around trying to pick up clues. It's an upcycle swap. I won't be able to post proper pics until next week.