Wednesday, 31 October 2007

stuff that's freaking me out today

in a bad way -
I locked myself out of the house this morning with a baby in a pusher and not a cent to my name. I hadn't even eaten breakfast.

in a good way -
Neighbours who just step in and take my baby and give me $50 to cab it back and forth to pick up a key.

in an excellent way -
mixtape zine is fantastic! And such an honour to be a contributor.

in a fattening way -
I have a box of 48 giant freddo frogs to sell for a fundraiser. And I don't even like freddo frogs but I know I'll end up eating a whole lot of them.

in a girly swot kind of way -
I had a meeting at work yesterday and got my next project and even though it is dry and boring I'm so happy to be working!

in a consumer kind of way -
I went shopping for clothes yesterday which is a very rare thing indeed. Brought on by the realisation that my work wardrobe is about a decade out of date and I'm tired of looking like a boring old fat slag. I discovered there is a shop which stocks aussie and new zealand designers who make clothes just for big girls. It is wickedly expensive, but somehow just knowing it exists makes me happy even if I can't afford to shop there. I actually bought three items of clothing in the one binge (unheard of) and none of them came from a discount chain store, or were jeans, underwear or shoes. Time to clean stuff out of my present collection. I also found this place online and while I don't need any jewelry right now, if I did this is where I would be buying it from. I also found a shop in Melbourne which sells Japanese magazines. Luckily for my bank balance, cotton time and cotton and paint are not due in for a few more weeks.

in a global village kind of way -
this map. Who the heck are all you guys?

in a cultural revolution kind of way -
the way Amy has taken to saying my mummy works for the government

in an annoying kind of way -
I crocheted madly on the tram to and from my city ventures yesterday and got through half a blanket block but when I started to pack up to get off the tram I looked over what I had done and I'd made a whopper mistake in about row 4. I'm getting cocky.

Now I need to go and get stuff done.

Saturday, 27 October 2007

how to crochet a daisy chain necklace

whipup


My mum described this thing she had seen on someone else, part necklace, part scarf, like a bunch of flowers for your neck and I was really taken with this idea of floral jewels. So after a bit of experimentation I came up with this design. It is simple to make with basic crochet stitches, and could have endless variations both in terms of the yarns and flower styles used to make it but also in the way it is worn.

Materials

* Yarn – I used Rowan Glace cotton in six different colours, a total of 33 gms. I chose the cotton yarn so it could be worn in summer as well as winter and I looked for something that was fine because I wanted the flowers to be small so they wouldn’t curl up too much. I can imagine a woolly winter version, a monochrome colour scheme or a string of flowers of varying sizes.
* Crochet hook suitable for your yarn – I wanted the flowers to be very dense and small so I used a 2mm hook for the flowers and 2.5mm for the stem.
* Wool needle
* Scissors

Method

As I am an aussie I will use Australian/European stitch terminology, but since I learnt to crochet using American patterns, I’ll explain equivalents. We all use the same name for slip knots, chains and slip stitches, but the stitch I call double crochet below is what Americans would call single crochet, and the stitch I call treble crochet is what Americans would call double crochet. If you look at the pictures and read the descriptions it should all make sense. I could never learn crochet from pictures, so if you can you have my admiration! But I have included stitch descriptions here in case they help beginner crocheters or people learning to read patterns.

Make the flowers first.

Make a slip knot and chain 4.

Insert the hook into the fist chain and slip stitch to form a ring.

Round 1 - 10 double crochet into the ring: insert the hook through the middle of the ring, put the yarn over the hook and pull the yarn through the ring, leaving two loops on the hook. Put the yarn over the hook again and pull yarn through both loops, leaving one loop. This is one double crochet.

Do 9 more double crochet.

Join the last loop to the first double crochet to form a circle: Insert the hook into the V at the top of the first double crochet of the roundput the yarn over the hook then pull the yarn through both loops. This is a slip stitch and forms the base circle that will be the centre of your flower.

Round 2 - Chain two, this will form one side of the petal.

1 treble crochet into the next double crochet on the circle to form the centre of the petal:

place the yarn over the hook. Insert the hook through the little V that marks the top of the double crochet from the previous round. Place the yarn over the hook and pull through to leave 3 loops on the hook. Place the yarn over the hook again and pull through the first 2 loops, leaving two loops on the hook. Put the yarn over the hook and pull through remaining 2 loops, leaving one loop on the hook. This is one treble crochet completed.

Chain 2 to form the other side of the petal and insert the hook into the next double crochet on the base circle, place the yarn over the hook

and pull through to form a slip stitch. This is one complete petal.

Repeat the chain 2, treble crochet, chain 2, slip stitch 4 more time to complete a total of five petals around the base circle.

Cut the yarn and pull through the last loop and pull tight.
Sew in loose ends on back of flower and cut short. Your flower is complete.

I made a total of 48 flowers, but the final number will depend on how long you want your chain, how big your flowers are etc.

To join the flowers together on the stem pick up a loop towards the edge of the back of one flower. Slip stitch your stem yarn through this loop. Chain 3 or 4 stitches and then pick up another loop on the opposite edge of your flower back. Slip stitch through this second loop. This anchors the flower to the stem in two places and helps it sit flat.

Chain 10 (or more or less depending on how close you want your flowers on the stem).

Join the next flower in the same way as the first, picking up a loop on one side, slip stitch through it, chain 3 or 4 and then pick up a loop on the other side and slip stitch through it. Chain 10.

Repeat the flower then chain pattern until all your flowers are attached and you have 10 chain dangling. Turn this last chain back on itself and slip stitch into the first of the 10 chain to form a loop about 5 chain long. This loop should be big enough to slip over the first flower at the beginning of the stem and small enough to stay on securely. Adjust the number of chain stitches if the loop is too big or small.


Please feel free to ask questions or leave comments to help improve this tutorial!

Monday, 22 October 2007

everything in its place

I am a storage fiend. If I was boss of the world good storage would be required. For everything.

It is one of the things I like most about Japan, they really get the storage thing. I like the aesthetics and economy of organisation, I also like the functionality of knowing where things are (or at least where they will be when I clean up).

Just love it.

When I was a young single lass living in a series of shared houses, storage was a passion fueled in no small part by my penchant for living in too small spaces and frequent relocating. Moving is a whole lot easier when everything you own is already in a box.

I am particularly fond of wooden boxes and at one point I slept on a bed constructed of enormous ply wood boxes of various sizes and styles that I built as a tribute to the ultimate mobile life. Pretty much everything I owned fitted in there somewhere and at night I felt a bit like I was at sea on a boat. The box boat.

Life doesn't present me with quite so many opportunities for either organisation or metaphoric decor make overs these days, though I am looking forward to getting my hands on my crafting space when the house extension gives us some new room to move. A temple to organisation I tell you.

For now I have to make do with making the kind of bits and pieces storage that helps to keep the things together that tend to get lost. I hate how Amy has all these toys that go together but somehow end up as just a big pile of junk. You can never find enough of any one thing to really have a good play with it. Similarly I hate how I have all these things that somehow get into her big pile of junk.

I have this fantasy that if things come in nice neat packages somehow they will find their way back to where they belong.

So today's offering are a play mat cum storage bag for Amy's farmyard animals. (Scroll down for tips on how to make one). I used the lovely farmyard fabric from Amitie, and the remnants from my knitting bag project. I love the way the bias loops and plaited cotton look a bit fence like around the edge.
Also recently finished is a little felt storage box for my much used stamp alphabet and numerals. I live in fear of losing one but now I can breathe a little easier. Made with the scraps from the felt I made for the play mat which turned into a toy box. For those that asked - the stamps came from Lincraft yonks ago, but they are made by one of the big scrapbooking companies so I am sure you could get them from scrapbooking stores.

And absolutely not storage related, but this month's Whiplash theme has got me all enthused over a UFO I started a while back. Remember the crochet flowers? Well now I have a deadline, stay tuned as the UFO becomes a FO.

How to make a playmat carry bag combo
For little people on the move and struggling to keep their toys in order. I made mine with a farmyard theme, taking advantage of an appropriately printed piece of fabric and a motley collection of wooden, knitted and sewn felt farm animals. But using your imagination you could use the same idea of themes such as under the sea theme, a dolls house, a garden, roads and cars... the sky is the limit!

Materials
* Two circles of fabric of equal size. I used about 60cm diameter, but any size would work, just make sure you don't use heavy weight fabric if making a small bag
* About 60cm of cotton tape or bias binding sewn closed and cut into 12 equal lengths
* Enough heavy weight cotton string, plaited yarn or knitted i-chord to circle your fabric twice

Method
1. Place the two circles right side together.
2. Position and pin the tape loops sandwiched between the fabric circles. At each twelfth marking around the circle (think clock face) place one piece of the cotton tape folded in half with cut sides facing out and fold facing in.
3. Sew the two circles together around the edge leaving a small opening for turning.
4. Turn the pieces inside out, press flat and top stitch as closely to the edge as possible, being careful to catch both edges in the section left open.
5. Thread two lengths of string through each of the tape loops, knot them closed on opposite sides of the circle to form drawstrings.

Sunday, 21 October 2007

down the toilet

Plans for last week along with the contents of my stomach approximately an hour after each morsel of food consumed. It's been almost a full week since gastro hit and it really hasn't gone. Tiresome.

But I've been meaning to post anyway, if only because I really wanted to respond to being tagged by Nichola. The meme is simple, but it was the post that accompanied it that really struck a chord. Over consumption is an issue that occupies a lot of my brain space. Over consumption and stuff.

The great big cars, the great big houses (requiring long commutes, lots of petrol, more roads...), the giant TVs (in every room of the house), the seven refrigerators, the new outfit of clothing for each day of the week, the 100 pairs of shoes, the miles of plastic packaging for every snack bite of food, the 25 minute hot water showers, heating and air con in every room.

It just seems like people have gone mad for consumption in a way that I find incomprehensible. And this has happened in my lifetime. When we were kids no one lived in mansions except really rich people, I hardly knew anyone with air con or central heating or a clothes dryer or two cars or more than one TV. We never had glad wrap because it was too expensive and too wasteful. We hardly ever bought packaged foods. As kids we had a fraction of the number of toys even the most hard up kids have now.

How can people ignore the inevitable logical end to all this?

You know all this, no one needs to hear me say it all over again.

Reducing consumption is mostly a matter of choosing to work harder - to grow the veggies, to walk to the shops, to make the dinner, to sew the clothes, to scrub the floors - and choosing to resist the fetishisation of leisure and affluence - the latest fashions, the biggest TV, the best new car, the latest flavour, satisfying every whim when it comes.

Go without, settle for second best, make do, look for life's joy and meaning by doing the living, not trying to own life. Even if you grew up poor.

Whew, fired up alright.

Now onto the meme -

You have to open the book you're currently reading on page 161 and read the fifth sentence on the page, then think of 5 bloggers to tag with.

Wow! I made it through the night without dying.

I was going to give you a line of crochet instruction, but my block bible finished before page 161 so you have to settle for a little optimism Buddhist style.

I can't bring myself to tag, but please take up the meme if you'd like and let me know!

As you can see Amy continues to explore the self portrait genre to great effect.

Wil watched while Amy hit another milestone, her yellow belt at Akido. Proud as. I'll spare you the video.
Argh. Pray for good health.

Tuesday, 16 October 2007

because you can never have too much laughter

Especially from your own babies. Am I boring you yet?


You'd never guess that Wil is being vile most of the time at present. In this vid he looks like the archetypal cherub. Pfff.


In other news, today was my first ever day with both my children simultaneously in childcare. I celebrated by having gastro.

There's another crafty weekend retreat on the horizon and I am paralysed by the possibilities for projects to take. I am also kind of freaked out about leaving my baby for two whole nights. And missing out on meeting some fellow bloggers because they happen to be meeting up on one of my very few nights with something else happening. I'll try not to whine about having a holiday though because I know I am bloody lucky to get one.

I received my October Sampler, which is such a fantastic concept.
I would gush more except the guy delivering it woke me from deepest pukey slumber and Wil too by ringing the doorbell a lot longer than necessary. I love my necklace from wabisabi brooklyn and although I'm not much of a mag girl I am liking Bust so perhaps I'll get over the waking us up thing. Eventually.

Our weekend involved family fun days and no less than two costume parties on the same afternoon (there was also a new swimming class but since photos are banned in pools in case I'm really a pervert I can't show you anything about that one). Amy took the super hero theme to new heights. Super love girl touches bad people and robbers with her magic loveheart wand and makes them all good and happy and loving. She was so convinced by her own press that when she was behaving like a spoilt brat at one of the parties I pulled the wand trick on her and it worked! Ha!

And this post doesn't hang together at all, but I'm way too shattered to care. In fact I can't believe I am even posting at all.