Friday, December 30, 2011


Hello! I hope Christmas was restful, tasty and fun for everyone.

It's time to get on with the parade of Christmas gifts. As ever, not everyone got something hand made, but I came up with as many simple quick(ish) things as I could.
My grandparents had a wonderful old quoits set that we used when we stayed with them. I remember the rope quoits being quite heavy and rough, and I think the stand/base might have been wrought iron - it seemed to weigh a ton. It's such a simple game, suitable for all ages, so it seemed like a good 'whole family' present.

Wrought iron would have been great, but I made do with a wooden toilet roll holder, bought new and very inexpensively from at Hall Markets. I originally thought that a stand like this might need a wider base attached underneath to make it more stable, but with testing, it seemed to be fine as is. A good thing, as I don't have any woodwork skills to speak of.

My painting skills aren't much better. I had already bought little sample pots of enamel and done the first coats (yellow) when K suggested that spray paint might be easier (and noted that we had access to plenty of it). I persisted with the paint brush, did a shocking job of the blue layer - largely because I propped it upside down to paint the bottom and let it dry - but I had already painted the top as well, so the paint moved around and dried in uneven lumps. I don't have photos, but trust me, it was a mess. So then I lost time in the precious last week, scraping it all off to start again fresh with the spray paint. The result was not perfect, but much better.

For the quoits I followed these instructions for grommets though I didn't understand the splicing part and went my own way with that. I found that I could avoid having a thicker part by weaving the ends in just before finishing the third round of twists. They seem to hold together - but if they end up failing the kid test I will have another go at doing it the proper way. For the coloured stripes, I wound acrylic yarn around one third of the total length of rope. They definitely have an uneven, home made look but on the whole I'm pretty happy with them. It was fun spending some evenings working with rope instead of wool.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

crafting fever + lavender

I am in the midst of an intense couple of weeks of crafting fever. I have to be careful when I try to describe this to people. It's hard to explain that I am stressed and tired but not unhappy and in fact it's my favourite time of the year. I always end up overcommitted and overstretched before Christmas but I wouldn't really have it any other way. Of course you might think that I should be more organised, plan better, and maybe start earlier. However, I'm pretty sure that the earlier I start, the more ideas I would have for gifts I might make, and the whole thing could take up half my year. Anyway I tend to work best under pressure.
This is one thing I can show now as it has already been given. It's the Streaming Leaves Lavender Eye Pillow by Cat Bordhi. An elegant and fairly quick pattern to make, being knit in the round. Oh sure, it can appear slightly creepy if you see the leaves as eyes.... I think it's just a little kooky.
I closed it with a ribbon instead of kitchener stitching it closed - I thought my friend might want to be able to remove and wash the cover one day. Of course, due to the shape, it's not likely she'll be able to get the lining bag out without cutting the lining open and tipping some of the filling out.
The pattern calls for flax seeds and lavender inside the pillow. I couldn't think what flax seeds looked like and had to ask in the health food shop, then I felt really silly when I was handed a packet of linseed - I had forgotten they were the same thing. Linseed/flax seed is often used in neck pillows, as it can be heated or cooled and will hold its temperature for a while.

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Coloured pencils


I don't really draw or sketch, beyond the occasional inept diagram in my notebook to help me remember an idea. Yet I still crave a nice set of coloured pencils when I see them in the shops. I gave in last weekend at an op shop. I walked in five minutes before closing and found a massive plastic ziplock bag of coloured pencils. It was arguably overpriced at $10, but I don't mind thinking of this as a donation to charity. And I had a very pleasant time sorting, testing and sharpening them. Probably well over half of them passed the test and made it into these jars. The rest were either thrown in the bin, re-donated, or (the annoyingly short ones) put aside for possible future craft use.