Spring sewing!

On the lakeside in the Auckland Botanic Gardens, the Kowhai tree is blooming with beautiful yellow flowers.  Daffodils are nodding everywhere. The Tui are having their nectar-feasting hui on darkly pink blossom trees. And, of course, it’s raining as if Noah’s fetching his ark. Ah Spring!

I like to sew in honour of the wheel of the year, so I’ve been browsing through all the cross-stitch possibilities for Spring. Or Ostara as pagans call it. And it brought to mind the beautiful cross-stitch freebie at the Primitive Hare. I haven’t stitched this little rabbit, egg and goose one yet, but soon.

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In the meantime, I browsed the Auckland OverDrive online library and wowee, heaps of cross-stitch books with the charts included. My favourite online books this weekend are been Sophie Simpson (What Delilah Did) Secret Garden, and Stitch the Halls.  They are so pretty to look at! Lovely watercolour illustrations throughout. The designs are simple. But I’m a full-time Mum, a full-time student and sometimes, small and doable is just the ticket.

So I combined two of the bugs from Secret Garden, and the Rosemary wreath from Stitch the Halls and then I googled for inspiration for the daisies and the kowhai bloom and I made this lovely (although some say the green bug is somewhat creepy) little circlet of Spring.

The rosemary in my garden is flowering, my son and daughter both pick me fistfuls of daisies from the lawn, and we were on a family walk when we saw the kowhai blooming last Sunday.  I love it when my sewing has all these secrets within and that when I look back, I’ll remember these coded sentiments. The finished item becomes a time capsule of these halcyon days. More prosaically, it is in a magnetic frame on my fridge in the meantime.

 

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100 Lucky Stars

School holidays – how shall we fill all that time in when it’s raining and wintry, and there’s still an hour left in between sibling rivalry bickering and fisticuffs? Origami!

I’ve helped the children valley fold and mountain fold all sorts of things these holidays, planes, spinning tops, rockets, goldfish and paper-cranes. But by far the winner, is the 100 lucky stars.20170719_142353

Not for the reasons you might think, because the children still can’t really fold paper with precision and the firm folds, so they need help with every step, but they do like fetching the finished star and popping it in the jar and asking how many more until we get to 100?

I had a brief google about 100 Lucky Stars – and how if you give someone a gift of a 100 stars in a jar, they can make a wish etc. But the word on the internet is that it seems to be an artificial thing rather than a true Japanese culture thing – so that got me thinking, why would 100 stars in a jar be lucky??? Mmmmm.

Then it struck me: the parents of the kid who sits quietly enough to make a 100 paper stars.20170719_143317.. now that is lucky! Imagine if it was a thousand lucky stars? Wow! All that parental free time – potentially —- drifts off, dreaming —- nah, I love my noisy boisterous little ucker-muckens and I wouldn’t swap them for those quiet, origami folding super-kids.

I managed to fold about 35 over two days. Little origami coffee breaks like haikus peppering my day.

I used this website for the folding instructions.

 

Cross Stitch Crazy

Yes, I’ve been going cross stitch crazy! I always used to feel that I preferred art and design that I had a hand in designing so I avoided cross-stitch, except for teeny tiny greeting card style ones. Also, I find that some cross-stitch – especially the ones where the whole canvas is stitched – very complicated and I always made critical mistakes. For a long time, I haven’t done cross-stitch.

But…

For Christmas last year, I sent my Mum a teeny tiny cross-stitched Robin on a mailbox for Christmas (photo to come). And I kinda caught the bug. But, as ever, I’m a total skinflint and so I didn’t want to buy any cross-stitch patterns.

So would you believe it – the internet is FULL of free cross-stitch patterns. And they’re nearly all amazing. I love, in particular, the primitive designs. I’ve added a few photos of my versions of these glorious freebies and linked to the website where I got the free chart. Thank you very much to the talented designers whose freebies I’ve so enjoyed these last couple of months.

To thine own self be true – from Plum Street Samplers. Such beautiful designs and a bevy of other freebies if only I had more time for bigger cross-stitches. It’s funny how I picked designs that were particularly relevant. This one was at a time when I was feeling under pressure with someone else’s opinions (at University, teacher-training) and I had to keep reminding myself that my opinions are mine and valid.

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One of my favourite little Halloween’s: Boo! By Glory Bee.  Bearing in mind, it is Autumn in March in New Zealand. Although they /we don’t celebrate Halloween in March/April here, the spiders don’t care, nor do the pumpkins, they go on about their business.

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This snowman and a sheep “Happy Snowman” a freebie from Shepherd’s Bush – ahh, it reminds me of my drive to school, seeing sheep with their black faces in misty fields. The trees silhouettes as the sun peeps orange and purple over the mountain ranges. I actually haven’t finished it yet, it was Amy’s 3rd birthday, all that school and then we’ve all come down with the winter flu.

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Some more beautiful freebie designs are to be found at Snowflower Diaries – there’s a whole year calendar Joyful World freebie stitchalong – but although it’s on my ‘to do’ list, it might be a while before I get there.  There is a fox design for January and there’s hedgehogs in the autumn months (of course, I’d have to change the month name to suit the year here).

 

 

 

 

 

 

Traditions – nine patch wall hanging

During my fabulous Mother’s latest visit we started and finished a project. Yes! This relates to the granny squares blanket which remains incomplete in my cupboard (skeleton closet of undone things).

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In between me working three days a week (couldn’t get time off because of bigger trip coming up in May), children, beach trips and early nights, she and I embroidered nine-patches of neutral coloured fabric with the little things that happened on her trip here. It was for a wall hanging, so I knew we had to keep it quite small.

We chose, a sun chair and a rain umbrella, a fluffy (a children’s fluffy milk drink with marshmallow eyes), a bucket & spade, a beautiful sunset, a kite, playdoh heart moon star, a steam train, and dinosaur paint-stampers. I think the things we chose are very reflective of my Mum’s trip!  The kite flying was amazing and is my favourite square. Perfect blue day with little white clouds flying fast. I like that doing a craft with my Mother on her visits is becoming a tradition and the kite flying was notable in my childhood – she and my brother flying a kite.

We knew ahead of her trip we were going to do some sewing (my forte, rather than knitting, which is k-not) so my Mum brought with her some primary coloured embroidery threads. I had neutral fabrics, red and blue buttons and speedy sewing skills so we were set from day one to get started on a project that we could finish before my Mum went home.We split the squares each, and I machine-sewed it all together. Hand sewed the buttons and loops.

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Because it’s a wall hanging I didn’t quilt it, just backed it with white cotton. As soon as I hung it above the bench on the porch, I just love it!

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My Mum took it home, alas, so I’d have to make a new one, or be like the Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants and she gets it for one year and I’ll have it the next year! Perfectionists will note it’s dimensions are just short of a mathematical square, haha. Here we 4 are, on the bench that is in quite a few photos year on year too. But that’s another blog.

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Girlify boys clothes for a new Baby Girl – All Black Tutu

When my little Kiwi boy was born, he was given an All Black onesie. Size-wise he only wore it for a few weeks between six weeks and two months before he grew out of it.

I stashed it in the ‘maybe we’ll keep it for maybe-baby number two’ of clothes, shoes & bibs.

When we discovered we were having a little girl, I decided to girlify the All Black onesie with a cutie tutu to make it all  All Black Swan. I made the tutu back in January.All-Black-Onesie

Tutorial wise, I just googled or pinterested. What I found was using a ribbon to tie around the baby waist, so the back is a bow, seemed to make more sense on a little six week old baby, than guessing elastic needs. The tulle is cut into strips (I used 2″ x 12″ strips), folded in half and then looped over the ribbon. It’s gorgeous! I can’t wait to share a photo with our little baby gal showing off her half-country’s colours! It’s too cold right now, this being a short-sleeved babygrow, but the minute Spring starts springing…!

 

DIY Baby Name Plaque

Yes, so the blogging hiatus due to carrying a 10lb baby in my puku, and chasing after a gorgeous two and a half year old, is nearly over! Back in March I posted 5 things I made for my first baby  that I shan’t make for the second and I thought I’d share the first thing I made for that lovely second baby (pre-birth, of course): a beautiful name plaque. 

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Our gorgeous girl arrived on Tuesday 1 July, thirty-six minutes before midnight. She is Amy Indigo. And since she’s in a cot in our bedroom,  I wanted a little something that marks her corner of the room as hers.

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As ever, I’m skinto mcclinto, so I reused the backside of a duff watercolour to paint pink and red and green bits and then cut them into flower, heart and leaf shapes. Ages ago, I bought some of those little square foamy sticky things – used for scrapbooking and greetings cards – when I saw some in The Warehouse Stationery – because I knew when I wanted them I’d never be able to find them in the store again!

I read about this technique, where if you want a font, you find it on your computer (internet or Word document), use greaseproof paper or tracing paper and copy it off the screen. Then like in the olden days, retrace on the backside of the greaseproof and then press through for a light pencil mark onto the page. That’s what I did, and it worked a treat! 

I just love it. I reused an old black photo frame. I meant to colour it pink but I just haven’t gotten around to it yet and by the time I do, Amy Indigo will be in her own room and I will have made a name bunting by then. 

The sweetpeas in the bookcase are from my first Mother’s Day with Marshmallow. My Mother brought them all the way from England and they’re still as beautiful as ever. 

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I have a few more posts I prepared pre-baby, to share with you over the coming month, all to do with making things for baby girls now our Amy Indigo’s made her debut!

Granny Squares Knitted Blanket – in progress

My gorgeous Mother came to visit for nearly a month, so she and I have been busy knitting squares to sew together for a family blanket.

It will be one of those special, heirloom style things as it was family who knitted it and family who shall cosy underneath it.

My boy is keen on the rainbow song at the moment (red & yellow, and pink & green, purple and orange and blue) so that was how we chose the colours.

My Mum wanted to vary the boringness of knitting 22 x 30 squares, so she threw in some stripes.

Now she’s gone home and I’m sewing the squares together, I’ve decided to mix  it up – and sash the 4×4 squares with navy blue knitted lengths (10 stitches, by a million).  The blanket with just our squares is a little bit narrow – good for two kids, but not for us grown-ups.

But, I’m a very   v e r y   slow knitter, so if this blanket is finished before summer (it’s only just the first day of winter on Sunday!) it will be a minor miracle!

In Spotlight, the flannelette was on offer (OMG!) at $5 a metre, so I got this fashion forward (!) navy blue & white chevron to back it.

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Here’s a teaser picture of the glamorous Granny who knitted 80% of the coloured squares!  And in between now and 2015, there will be a ‘completed!’ blog post about it.

We did a few other things while she was here – a snowglobe, paper boats, uber paper aeroplanes, and I’ll share these out in this final month before my new baby arrives!