Wednesday, 29 August 2007

she's a sensation

Sorry, new toy. My own little You Tube. Expect more.

And do let me know if the video thing makes the page a bugger to load or anything like that. Would hate to make your lives slower or harder than they need to be.

This one is a bit dark, but every time I play it I laugh. This is what my evenings look (and sound) like. A sensation she is indeed.


And when people tell you that starting solids stops the reflux and the chucking?

Do not believe them. So glad I bothered to put on the fancy duds.

And what a shame I was sitting so close by.
Goodness that's two posts in one day.

more spring sewing

Another piece of fabric deliciousness from another crafty Melbourne girl, bonsai forest by Lara Cameron. Gotta love local. The trouser pattern comes from a borrowed Japanese mag (thanks Di) and is cut in a single piece. Kind of like origami sewing. Very quick and easy once you bend your mind. Grasshopper.

And here's my first go a new blogger feature. I'm not sure how to trim clips in this format yet, so bear with me.


This is Wil's first turn in the jolly jumper, and like his sister before him he took to it like the proverbial duck to water. Check out the girl. Demented.

And did you notice how I tidied for you? Such the home maker.

Monday, 27 August 2007

Spring is in the air

25 degrees people.

Shoes off.

Curtains and doors open.

Some new clothes sewn up whilst the younger is sleeping and the older is at kinder. I am so in love with Lara and Shannon's work and so very pleased with these quick and easy whip ups. I bet they will be in high rotation for the next six months.

And I let a six month anniversary pass without comment. Second child syndrome, sorry Wil. I do love you. Very much. I'm just short on blogging time.

He's really started on that swift upward curve of learning and already I am caught in the back draft. He's eating and sitting up and falling in love with a sipper cup.
The concentration!
The rush of success.

And darling, I swear, I am laughing with you, not at you.

Things mothers do with envelopes when they are very bored.

Saturday, 25 August 2007

Father's day project - keeping his baby close to his heart

The following tutorial for making a super easy father's day gift will be appearing in the second edition of Making Stuff - due out later this year.

When my daughter was born I struggled to find the perfect Father’s day gift. I really wanted something that would celebrate what a great dad he is, and the wonderful person she is. Something that showcased her creativity and personality in a way that was more than the standard macaroni necklace or framed painting and let us work together to make something really special. And knowing him it had to be practical and useful too.

But the chance purchase of a nice plain white T-shirt got me thinking about adding a hand made touch to an everyday item. Like lots of men, my partner wears a T-shirt almost everyday, either under a shirt or on its own. So I knew he could always use another one and if it featured a picture from his daughter’s hand right over his heart how could he resist making it his favourite?

I have used the simplest, most low tech method possible to do this project to ensure people of all skill levels can complete it quickly and easily with a minimum of purchases and tools. There are a million ways you could jazz it up with scanners and computer printer iron on transfers, but I love the child-like look that comes from doing things in such a basic way. It also means that your child can be fully involved and understand every step. If they are old enough they could even do the whole project on their own.


* T-shirt, either bought or homemade – I prefer a plain white cotton one without too much stretch
* Drawing paper and markers
* Pencil or water soluble fabric marker
* Embroidery threads and needle
* Embroidery hoop – not essential, but it makes the job easier


1. Start by getting your child to draw a picture. There are no limits here – I find that if I try to direct this stage I end up dampening my daughter’s enthusiasm for the whole venture. You can always edit the picture later to make it smaller, simpler or clearer. Ideally use strong, deep coloured markers as they easier to see through fabric later.

2. With your T-shirt right side out take the picture to the inside of the fabric and position it in your desired location. I like on the top left front so the finished picture is over the heart, but anywhere will work fine. In good light you should be able to see the outline of the picture. If you have trouble, retrace the picture in a stronger colour. Trace this through onto the T-shirt front using a lead pencil or water soluble marker. This is the stage where you can edit out any extra bits or simplify the picture. Strong images with a minimum of lines and solid blocks will be easiest to embroider later and will convey that classic children’s drawing look. Keep in mind though that the picture shouldn’t be ‘perfect’. If you neaten it up too much it will no longer look like your child drew it.

3. If you are using an embroidery hoop put the drawing area into it. Start the embroidery by sewing the solid outlines then fill in any blocks of colour. I have used basic primary colours here because my daughter favours them, but if your child tends to use any other colours in particular use them. Use stitches that are in keeping with the overall look of a child’s drawing – basic running and back stitch are fine. Keep stitches small and not too tight as the shirt will stretch when worn and tight stitches might be broken. Backstitch is particularly good for giving some stretch. Remember too the T-shirts stretch more across the body than from top to bottom so take particular care with horizontal stitches.

4. Tie off ends neatly and wash the shirt to remove any traces of the drawing marker.

Tuesday, 14 August 2007


Recovered from the mastitis. Thanks for all the concern. Sorry, no photo. Disappointed?

Recovered from the party.

Actually, it was a blast. If you can say that about a flock (a gaggle? a crowd?) of children riding bikes in the rain. No injuries, no fights, no internal core meltdowns, no bad behaviour and spoilt brat antics. No screaming little brother begging to be taken home and put to bed. No food shortages or miles of leftovers. Not a thing to complain about at all really. There was enough helium left over from the lolly bag balloons for some funny voices. Even the fact we couldn't get the toilets open at the traffic school didn't present a problem and who would have thought that at a 5 year old party?

Recovered from some major bedroom deconstruction and reconstruction to make way for a mountain of presents. It took a whole freaking day but I am very glad it is done.

I think that took longer than preparing for the party and to be honest the excess of presentry was and is quite alarming for anti-stuff people like us. But I won't dwell on it because it makes me feel very uneasy and a bit sick and full of confusion about and sadness for the human race. Thankfully the world reads Amy like a book and she got lots of craft and drawing related things so there's a stash of rainy day fun awaiting us.

Instead I will dwell on the up side of the in/out rule (for everything that comes in something has to go out). Junk has been tossed, some 'baby' toys put away for Wil when he's a little older and a lot of stuff packaged up ready to go to a charity which provides supplies to mothers to be and families of young children in distress. I like the idea of the things we have used and loved going directly to someone in need rather than being routed through several hands and into the second hand charity market.

And Amy's room is beginning to look like a place a little girl keeps her things, instead of one large indiscriminate pool of junk. For today anyway. I can't wait until she really takes a hold of her space and starts to develop her own little nooks and crannies and routines. I am dying to facilitate an organised life.

It is hard to escape the reality that five is very different from four. Each morning Amy asks if today is her last day of kinder and despite my patient explanations about the nature of calendar years she is quite convinced that now she's five she should be going to school. Like today.

And it is really wonderful to see the way she is running into that future, so open, so willing, but still keen to share the trip with me. And everyone else of course. It doesn't seem possible, but I think I love her even more than I did yesterday. My gorgeous vibrant happy singing and laughing girl. May the world fail utterly in its efforts to crush your spirit.

On the crafting front I have finally cracked the sock pattern dilemma, pulled out the wool and started on a not very secret mission to knit some surprise socks for someone I love (I think measuring his feet may have given the game away but I'm not sure).

I am using the Amy Swenson Universal toe-up sock formula and it is perfect. I'm sure all of you committed sockers out there could do what the pattern does with your eyes closed, but the basic construction formula approach is just right for cutting my sock teeth. I'm not getting a lot of knitting time, so progress is slow but thus far trouble free. Let's hope my optimism is well founded.

Friday, 10 August 2007

can you feel it?

Oh yeah. What she said.

I owe the very idea of knitting washcloths to Suse, who gave me one just after Wil was born and which I love. A couple of people have laughed or looked confused when informed I am knitting face washers (as in 'why would you do that?') and even I was thinking it was a bit of a folly after knitting one in a really stiff and scratchy cotton. Then I discovered this yarn.

So thick and soft.

And organic.

And fair trade.

And undyed but naturally pigmented.

I could eat it.

Or bathe in it... oh that's right, that's why I'm knitting face washers.

I am already anxious that this yarn may go off the market some time in the next few decades...

Meanwhile over here it is just one big birthday factory. Hundreds of gingerbreads baked
and decorated because kids who are allergic to eggs and nuts should still get to have a little homemade party sugar at a party where I am host.
There are presents to be wrapped, including a very sophisticated (and thankfully heavily reduced) designer outfit. I wish it came in my size.
Some cute PJs, also thankfully reduced. I am such the bargain hunter.

And a new doll who has been a long time coming and spent quite a while in the intensive care ward because I wasn't sure if she was going to make it. Her sister, the knitted version, is still on the critical list but may come good before christmas.

There are still chocolate crackles to make and lolly bags to fill, and 60 sausages (hand made to order by Amy's Aikido teacher!) and baby rolls to pick up, a lot of onions to slice and of course a giant cake to bake.

And four antibiotics a day to take (mastitis - don't ask and don't touch the boob) so that I will be upright on Sunday when we host the big event.

Which involves a whole lot of kids riding bikes.

In the rain.

And no doubt howling wind.

Thursday, 9 August 2007



Eight (more) things about me.
  1. I worked my way through uni behind the counter of a prestige French cosmetics company. I did facials and wedding make-ups until a regular client gave me my first office job.
  2. Until I went to India when I was 20, I hated summer and loved winter. After multiple trips and extended stays in Asia I now love summer and hate winter. Unless I'm pregnant and then I'd rather be unconscious anyway.
  3. For a very long time I was a smoker. It is probably the only really major regret of my life.
  4. I used to wear black all the time. Now not so much.
  5. I love to swim.
  6. As a kid I got into trouble a lot for speaking my mind. Now not so much.
  7. I always wished I was taller and wore glasses. Of course now that the latter has eventuated I am not at all pleased.
  8. My favourite lunch box snack when I was in primary school was celery sticks filled with peanut butter.
Earth shattering.

I'm not tagging. You know who you are.

Wednesday, 8 August 2007

not so baby yoda

We love the baby yoda by Cari Luna.
I made this one for Wil when I was pregnant and he's worn it a lot. A LOT. At 6 months it really is a little small for him now. He's still wearing it mind you, but its days are definitely dwindling (especially in the length). Because I couldn't face a future without the yoda, I decided to try and make the next size up by altering the original pattern (available here). Scroll down for the new pattern.

When I knitted the original 0-6 month size I made a few alterations.

I used Debbie Bliss cashmerino aran yarn rather than the cotton specified. The cashmerino is supremely soft and light and perfect for baby wear. In hindsight, given my children's predilection for chucking a machine washable yarn would have been more practical, but you know, you can't have everything. I'm more than happy with the wear it's taken.

I was also concerned that the ties would be a pain, so I added a buttonhole on the outer flap - just a single stitch yarn over knit two together buttonhole. Although I used what I consider to be one of the funkiest buttons around this was a mistake. The button is forever coming undone and I put the buttonhole too high - it should have been right where the decreases started instead of a few rows up as I did it. Can't imagine why I thought that was a good idea. Perhaps if I had used a better button it would have worked better, I don't know. I was also too lazy to knit i-cords for the inner flap, so I just did plaits.

If I was making the original size again I think I would also make it longer than the pattern specifies. Over time it seems to have widened and shortened, and with more length and slightly longer arms it would still fit now. And while I'm at it I would probably have cast on a couple more stitches to the cuff of the sleeves as they were a bit snug for my liking.

Using all those lessons I have made the following pattern for the not so baby yoda, suitable for 6-12 months. On Wil at 6 months on the knocker it was quite wearable, if roomy (see photos below). I turned the cuffs up to stop him sucking them and getting fur balls. At 15 months it was still wearable though getting a bit small. I also used a very different yarn in the 127 print. It's fuzzy rather than smooth and makes the yoda seem much bulkier which is fine but probably not such a great yarn if you were doing the newborn size. I adore the original take on colour variegations though!

The not so baby yoda knitting pattern
By sooz -

An addition to the totally fantastic original new born pattern available

Size: 6 to 12 months (27cm wide; 33cm long)
Yarn: 4 balls 127 Print (166gms or 283m used)
Gauge: 18 sts/ 24 rows = 10cm
Needles: 4.5mm (or size needed to obtain gauge)

Cast on 50 sts.
Rows 1- 6 moss stitch.
Rows 7-71 stocking stitch, starting with a knit or right side row.
Row 72 Cast off first 7 stitches and purl to end of row.
Row 73 Cast off first 7 stitches and knit to last stitch then turn.
By not knitting this last stitch you will avoid the step between the two cast off rows across the shoulder.
Row 74 Cast off first 8 stitches (including first unknitted stitch) and purl to last stitch then turn.
Row 75 Cast off first 8 stitches
(including first unknitted stitch) and knit to end of row.
Place remaining 20 live centre stitches on a stitch holder.

Front Left
Cast on 45 sts.
Rows 1- 6 moss stitch.
Rows 7-40 stocking stitch, starting with a knit or right side row.
Row 41 Knit 1, cast off 1 knit to end of row.
Row 42 Purl.
Rows 43-71 Repeat rows 41 and 42 – total of 16 decreases, 29 stitches remain.
Row 72 Cast off first 7 stitches and purl to end of row.
Row 73 Knit to last stitch and turn.
Row 74 Cast off first 8 stitches (including the unknitted stitch on the right needle) and purl to end of row.
Place remaining 14 live stitches on a stitch holder.

Front Right
Follow instructions for front left, reversing shaping.

Sleeves (make two)
Cast on 30 sts.
Rows 1- 5 moss stitch.
Rows 6 Knit, increase 1 stitch at beginning and end of row
Row 7 Purl.
Row 8 Knit.
Row 9 Purl.
Row 10- 31 Repeat rows 6-9 (increase every 4 rows), 44 stitches.
Rows 32 Knit, increase 1 stitch at beginning and end of row
Row 33 Purl.
Row 34 Knit.
Row 35 Purl.
Row 36 Knit.
Row 37 Purl.
Row 38- 49 Repeat rows 32-37 (increase every 6 rows), 50 stitches.
Row 50 Cast off loosely.

Make 4 lengths of 2-stitch I-cord at about 22cm long

Sew fronts and back together at shoulders. Attach sleeves and sew sleeve and side seams. Transfer neck stitches from stitch holders to knitting needle.
Knit 4 rows st st.
Knit 2 rows moss.
Bind off loosely.

Attach Ties
Sew one length of I-cord to each front edge at the point where the decreases begin.
Sew the other I-cords to the inside seam of the sweater at the point where the front tie meets it when closed and the corresponding spot on the outer seam of the sweater body.

Please let me know if you find any mistakes or something is unclear.

**Added later - After a bit of wear I'd say that you could add to the length of the back and fronts if you were looking to get extended life from this garment. I thought I had well compensated for the widening shortening effect of washing and wear, but I think Wil will outgrow the length before anything else. If you are knitting for the more rotund figure the existing measures would be perfect, but for string beans like Wil I'd add another 5 or 10 rows.

***Added later still - For those who like this pattern and would like to try something similar, I have written a new pattern which is also for a wrap. It has sizes from newborn to 2 years, with lots of detail on how to increase the size for bigger kids and use different yarns and so on. Unlike this pattern, it is a seamless wrap knit all in one piece. You can find info about it and a download button over on Ravelry here, or you can email me if you aren't a Rav user.

Saturday, 4 August 2007


It's always very exciting to get a package with this on the front.

Especially exciting to open it to find this.

I love this book!

I love being in this book for sure, but I am almost as excited to own it for everyone else's contributions. Patterns for a couple of my most favourite softies from some real luminaries. I am humbled to be included in something with the likes of Fiona, Carly, Louise, Abigail, Kate and all the others. Wow, I've got some sewing to do!

Oh and here's what it looks like if you squint and frame things carefully and ignore the manky old taps awaiting replacement - it almost looks like a bathroom, eh? So pleased.

** Update - According to Penguin the release date is 13 August so I guess you should be able to find it then. The felt dealer has informed me she is getting copies in so you can always pop in for a visit or mail order with her (tell her I sent you). Just so you know I am not getting royalties from the book - so my gushing is genuine. I LOVE the book even more the second day!