Wednesday, 30 November 2011


There's been some talk over on twitter about organising the craft workspace - in particular about storing traced patterns. The conversation is timely for me, I've been feeling greatly oppressed by the workroom. And while I feel happy I have my pattern storage problem licked, the rest of the space is a right off.

Too much stuff and not well organised.

I forget about some great materials I have for projects I was really excited about, I can't find the things I want to use and basically the room is too full to be used to get stuff done.

I have a problem with both quantum and scope - I am kitted out for a lot of different crafts, and I have a deep stash for both knitting and sewing.

But to prompt me to get my shit sorted, I'm outing myself.

I stood in the centre of the room and took a series of (crappy phone) photos of the room as is.

The computer and paperwork zone. Also the holding bin for stuff destined for elsewhere (work, post office, kid's room, mending basket, filing cabinet, rubbish bin), and for things that have no obvious home when tidying up the kitchen table. Kindly called inspiration. Needs a good tidy and a better inbox outbox system. Not using a round non A4 shaped basket would be a good start.

The paper craft and sewing patterns zone. There's quite a bit of dormant stuff lurking here and since paper craft really isn't my forte (despite my deep and abiding love of stationary) I could probably cull here and gift stuff to Amy. There's also a drawer full of technology based junk - cables and plugs and instruction and old CDs - that could be culled too. The patterns are pretty perfect, though can you tell I am headed for maximum density? Not sure what will give when I can't squeeze one more Ottobre in. And all that shit across the top needs to be filed or go.

The cutting table. Yeah, laughable. The under table storage is coned yarn in tubs, buckets of interfacing, zips, elastic and so on and tubs of specialist fabric - vintage furnishing fabric, hand embroidered linens and doilies and unclassifiable scraps (hmmm...). In front are boxes of machine knit weight balled yarns. The shelf under the table has 'craft' fabrics (fat quarters, cute prints, plains etc), yarn winding tools, leather and bag tools and findings, bulk odd buttons. The table top has projects in process, yarn which needs to be put away, scraps I can't bear to part with and a whole stack of random detrius. Just deal with it!

The sewing table. The machines are still packed up from camp. The tool box works reasonably well, holding scissors, pens, rulers and the like, but the cabinet shelves and holders are a random assortment of bits and pieces with no obvious order. Could do with a cull and organise. Want something for storing overlocker threads too.

The very big fabric stash shelves. Aside from tidying up the random yarn cones, pieces of fabric and stuff shoved in nooks and cranies when I am being lazy, the only real job here is to cull some fabric. This is a hard job - there isn't fabric here that's 'bad', though I am sure there's stuff I will, realistically, never sew. Problem is I never know which bits I will or won't be sewing. Between crazy and unexpected kid requests (hey mum, what I really want is a giant purple velour cape!), costume parties and school fetes even the most out there stuff can be gold. Likewise the felting batts, quilt batting, needle felting rovings and old curtains are most certainly just biding their time. So realistically, a minor trim is all that's likely here and mostly it just needs a good tidy and more efficient packing. And no more fabric purchasing.

The knitting machine space. The recent proliferation of machines (future spare parts is all people - this stuff is getting rarer!) means I need to clean, test and sort all the incoming, separate out a complete set of tools and add ons and put all the rest into storage in the roof. I also need some storage systems for weights, tools, extra carriages, manuals, punch cards, swatches, waste yarn cones...all the machine knitting paraphernalia I haven't quite absorbed into business as usual. Also, inconveniently, I can't actually knit with the table pushed back against the wall as it is too cramped end to end. May need to contemplate a sideways move.
The library and other craft storage. The upper part of these shelves take the general craft books, embroidery, quilting and toy making. There's also a whole shelf of knitting and crochet books and patterns. There's a big bucket up top with knitting needles and notions and then buckets with ribbons, bindings, toy making supplies, embroidery stuff, beading and wiring supplies and tools and curtain hanging bits. Next to the shelf is a big felt bucket in which stands rolls of interfacing, paper, cardboard, fabric, leather, curtain rods and tracks and goodness knows what else. Gosh - where to start here?! I think I could cull and re work some of this space, reducing the supplies for crafts I rarely do and devoting more fo this space to machine knitting supplies. I could probably sort through the books and ditch a few too. Pattern filing is most definitely required.

So there we go. Wake up call. Filth pit. Get to.

Tuesday, 29 November 2011


Amy was super chaffed with all your compliments - great affirmation for a budding writer and maker.

Yesterday she helped me by writing all your names on slips of paper, shuffling them in her school hat and pulling out two winners.

A big congratulations for MadCraftyMama and Veronicaoscar, who will be picking up a copy of felting and beading respectively. If you ladies can send me an email [soozsdotcomatgmaildotcom] with your street address I will pass your details on to the lovely folk at Hardie Grant.

Happy making!

Tuesday, 15 November 2011


I find it hard to try and promote books I have projects in - it seems pretty immodest. But I also really like to see craft books succeed so I wanted to let people know about the newest crafternoons in the series - beading and felting. I was collecting my thoughts on these lovely project books when it struck me that really, these books aren't for me.

Luckily I have someone right here for whom these books are perfect - my nine year old daughter Amy. She loves making stuff, and as much as I love making stuff with her I was really excited about getting her a book that meant she could pretty much do something on her own. Nothing like a bit of independence to discover your creativity and as a crafty mum that can be a hard to be a good crating companion to your own kids. I'm ashamed to say I can be in turns impatient and demanding and I am sure, quite unhelpful, despite really wanting to be encouraging.

So I asked Amy to choose a project from one of the two crafternoon books, make the project and then write about. I did not tell her she had to be positive or promote the book - I left it totally up to her, except to say she should tell someone who didn't have the book what it was like.

She chose the beading book and here's what she had to say:

I decided to make a beachy wind chime. I didn’t have all the things on the shopping list so that made it a bit different.

I used mums beads the problem was mum did not have a big range of big beads. Or any glass and china only pebbles. Luckily the pebbles had holes, which made it a lot easier.

I used the wire cutters to cut a piece of wire about 70 cm long and threaded a big bead on then small and I did that again and again and again.

Then you tie [or in my case thread] a piece of china, glass, pebbles etc..

And you keep on doing it again ad again and again after you have done that about 4 times you stop.

And you get another piece of wire and do it again, after you have done that between 2 and 8 times you tie all of them onto 2 sticks, and there you have it.

It takes about 1 to 2 hours but its fun, and that is what counts.

I think I could improve [put them closer together].

Mum helped with the knots and putting it together.

I think this book is EXCELLENT!!! And really easy to understand.

There are so many different things it is really hard to choose which one to make.

I would recommend this book for 8-20 years.

And give it 8.5/10.

And since I know Amy to be quite discerning in her artistic endeavours, I take her praise seriously. She certainly persisted where she might otherwise have lost interest, had a clear sense of her overall design where she might have otherwise launched into something without really thinking things through, and was really happy with the end result. She asked for minimal help from me and was dead impressed with herself for it (as was I ;-).

To celebrate the release of these lovely, perfect for summer holiday lazy days books, Hardie Grant are supplying me with a copy of each book to give away to an Australian resident! How awesome is that?!

If you would like to win a copy, please leave a comment with a valid email address and let me know whether beading or felting grabs you the most. I'll be drawing a winner on MONDAY 28th November - good luck!

And you can follow the blog tour of the crafternoons as they visit the following people.

Larissa holland 16-Nov
Pascale Mestdagh 17-Nov
Christine Chitnis
Holly Keller 19-Nov
Monica Solorio-Snow 20-Nov
Cate Holst 21-Nov
Shannon Cook 22-Nov
Jennifer Casa 23-Nov
Kate 24-Nov
Tricia Hogbin 25-Nov
Steph Morgan 26-Nov
Maddie Ezzy 27-Nov
Jackie Boucher 28-Nov

**Edited to add - Thanks to those who have left comments to go in the draw so far but can I reiterate that this giveaway is for Australian residents only, and if you don't leave an email address with your comment, I can't contact you! I can't contact froginthepond, jennifer p, jakdeeandkids, cath or maureen and I either can't tell if you are Australian or know you aren't Australian nickuk, froginthepond, jenniferp, Cath, jakdeeandthekids, maureen, heather and terri. Unless I hear from you, I'll have to take you out of the running :-(

Monday, 7 November 2011


Nothing to say - so unlike me I know. As more than one person has said of me in the past she could talk the leg off a chair. They used to say it about my grandma too.

Anyway, in the absence of insight, wit and reason I'll chuck you a bone in the shape of some knitting.

A very sweet little cardigan knit in just 6 days using less than a skein of the lovely wool, bamboo and silk Ultimo yarn from the sadly defunct Yarn Workshop, dyed by me. There's a matching hat too - knit with just 20gms of yarn and not yet photographed. They'll both be heading over the sea just as soon as I hear that my wee niece has made her entrance. A lovely project and an exciting occassion!