Thursday, September 30, 2010

Phew, it's finished!

You know how some projects just drag on and on, you lose your enthusiasm or don't have the tools you need?
I started this cover for my A4 size art journal yonks ago, I don't even remember when. I really liked these fabrics from a Crafty Mamas swap with Carolyn so I wanted to use them to make something I would be seeing often.


I started out hand quilting but realised it was going to take me forever (those who hand quilt entire quilts now have my utmost admiration!) so I bought a free motion foot for my sewing machine and made this my guinea pig. It took a while to get used to and I still need practice. Youtube was a big help, except when I saw that 4 year old girl machine quilting like a pro, then I felt really embarassed!


My son has been having a go at fabric painting and has had some fantastic results! Here are a couple of his first swatches.


                                                He's looking forward to doing lots more.

Ok, that's all from me for now, I have to get back to baking that lemon curd tart I started. I want to say thank you to those who commented on my last post - all very helpful and constructive advice.

Watch out for a giveaway here in the very near future.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Which direction to take? Advice please?!

I had thoughts of stocking my Etsy shop for Christmas but I feel (and have felt for some time) that I'm at a crossroads with my craft. I desperately want to make my passion for craft into a career but can't decide what to do, it's so frustrating!

I have sold a few dolls this year which is nice, however this is just pocket money, not an income. With dolls you put in a lot of work for a little money. I'd like to take the next step with hand dyeing and sell some fabrics but I'm not sure if there is any demand. Likewise with my embroidery patterns. It's not that I mind putting in the work but I think it all comes back to my fear of failure that plagues me constantly.
I've failed before. In fact, any "business" or money making venture I've undertaken has ultimately failed. I see others succeeding at things I have failed at and I don't know why.

My husband suggested that I try doing a market with my hand dyed fabrics just to see how it goes, which seems a good idea but would take a lot of work and organisation. It would also mean I would have to stop being such a hermit(ess).
Any advice would be very well received, in any case, thanks for "listening" :)

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Well, it's a start!


This is one of my winter projects, now that it's spring I thought I'd better make a start. My 3 year old girlie loves the Maisy books so I couldn't go past this fabric when I saw it at the Craft and Quilt Fair back in July. I'm going to keep it simple and make it up as I go along with lots of red and green spots, white homespun and hand embroidery. Hey, who knows, it might even be finished by next winter!


Monday, September 27, 2010

Hand painted doilies


Like many avid crafters I'm fairly fond of the old doily. I had a few op shop doilies in my stash and thought it was time to do something with them, then the idea of adding colour, lots of colour, struck me!

I used my Liquid Radiance paints and it was all pretty simple really.


The paints can be strategically placed without too much bleeding. I'm thinking these ones need to be put on cushions, perhaps even wall art?

Now I have to go op shopping and hunt down some more doilies, anyone interested in a tutorial?

My husband is home today and I had a great morning with my 3 year old girl. We went and had babycinos and looked through the pet and toy shop. It's so enjoyable to have one child on their own and to focus on them and appreciate their unique personality. We always stress the importance of one on one time with each child, particularly for larger families. It may not be easy to arrange but it is so worth doing, you create individual memories for that child and renew your personal bond with them.

Have a nice day, God bless!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Oops! Role reversal

Traditionally it's the male in a relationship who forgets important days and dates.

This morning my husband came into the dining room grinning and wished me a very happy anniversary.
Gasp! How could I forget our 11th wedding anniversary?!! Unfortunately he has headed off to work and won't be home until late this evening so no time for celebrations - instead I'll leave a little tribute here.

Marriage. I love the beautiful sacrament of marriage. I love being married and I especially love the fact that I got to marry my best friend and truly the man of my dreams!

Here are a few inspirational quotes on marriage:

"Marriage is an act of will that signifies and involves a mutual gift, which unites the spouses and binds them to their eventual souls, with whom they make up a sole family - a domestic church."

Pope John Paul II

It was God who brought Eve to Adam and gave her to him as his wife, and it is God, my friends, who with his invisible hand bound the know which united you and gave you to one another; therefore give good heed that you cherish a love which is holy, sacred and divine.

- Francis de Sales, the Devout Life


"Marriage is an adventure, like going to war."


G.K. Chesterton


Enjoy your weekend!
God bless.

Friday, September 24, 2010

I have it on pre - order


So excited, can't wait!! Have to wait until November though :(

If you don't know what I'm talking about go here.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Dye a fat quarter economically

If you don't mix your soda ash solution with dye it can be used over and over. This can save a lot of money on soda ash and the water you would need to mix it up each time.
Dye starts to lose it's effectiveness as soon as it's mixed with soda ash.
I cringe when I think I used to mix my soda ash with dye, then discard the leftover dye down the sink. What a terrible waste!!

Here is one way to dye a fat quarter economically: (these are simple rather than full instructions, as I tend to "wing it" a little and not write down everything I do!) This method will usually give mottled results, which is my personal preference. If you are not aware of safety precautions for dyeing please make yourself very familiar before attempting this!


                                                          
                                                        Cotton homespun (quilter's muslin)

1. Soak your prewashed FQ (fat quarter) in your prepared soda ash solution. (A rough guide is 3/4 cup of soda ash to 3.8 - 4 litres (a gallon) of water. Soak for at least 15 minutes, it can be left for days if you don't get to it.

2. Mix up your dye as weak or strong as you like. I tend to mix it on the lighter side (say 1/2 - 3/4 teaspoon of dye powder to 1/4 cup water). If it comes out too light you can always overdye but it may be just the right colour and you won't have used the extra dye. Place the mixed dye in a bucket or other container that will fit the FQ and dye.

3. Ring the soda ash out of the fabric tightly. Your fabric will be damp. Place it in the bucket with the dye and move it around to soak the dye in. Now squeeze the fabric and move it around until the colour looks good and most of the dye is soaked up. You can leave it to sit in there for 10 minutes if you wish.

4. Ring the fabric out so it's wet but not dripping. Chuck it into a plastic bag (you can fold it if you want, I just scrunch and shove!) then place that bag into another plastic bag. A ziplock bag is an excellent option to prevent seepage. I'm a tightwad so I just reuse plastic shopping bags. Then I wash them out and reuse them over and over til they're dead.

5. Leave your fabric for as long as you can stand to wait (the longer the better - 24 hours is good, 10 is OK, 4 hours - have you any patience at all?!)

6. When your fabric is cured pop it into a bucket with some cold water to cover it and squelch it around to get the excess dye out. Then wash it in a small amount of warm soapy water (be conservative with the water, you really don't need to use too much!) Now place it in cold water to cover again. You can leave it like this for a while and let the excess dye seep out. Just keep squeezing it in small changes of water until the water stays clear.

Pop it on the line to air dry (use a dryer if you want but I'm a tightwad remember?)
Give it a press and voila!



Disclaimer: I'm not an expert, this is just what works for me. The water in your area may differ to mine, therefore you may get different results. The weather may be different, etc, etc.
Don't forget safety, it is absolutely essential when dyeing to follow safety protocol!!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

A few snaps from the Melbourne Show


 The piglets are a popular attraction, for obvious reasons.


I thought this kid was really cute. (That's a pun)


I had to get a photo of this prizewinning turkey for my husband, who kept turkeys as a youngster. He was amused by my description of the rather irate caged bird, saying it was nothing to do with the cage, just the personality (turkinality?)


It really was a "fun slide"

Another chocolate cake recipe

Therese requested this recipe, or actually one of her children did, so here it is!




2 cups sugar
3 eggs
1 cup plain yoghurt
3/4 cup cocoa
200g soft butter
1 & 1/2 tspn vanilla essence
1 tspn bicarb soda
1/4 tspn salt
3 cups SR flour
1 cup of hot, strong espresso OR 1 cup hot water with 3 heaped tspns instant coffee

Place all ingredients in this order in a food processor for 1 minute. Place in greased baking tin (2 loaf tins or 1 20cm tin)
Cook at 160 degrees (C) for about 1 hour, use a skewer in the middle to test for readiness.

This goes really well in the freezer.

Buttercream icing:

I usually beat a couple of tablespoons of butter until creamy, then gradually beat in icing sugar (and cocoa if you want chocolate icing- food colouring if you want it coloured) until it starts to get very thick. You can also add a small dash of milk to make it more creamy or to make a larger quantity so you can add more icing sugar without it being too dry.

This makes a really good. moist and flavoursome cake without being too rich or over the top.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Umm..gee...thanks a lot!

I took the boy to the show yesterday, we had a great time getting there early and avoiding the full on crowds. I was pleased to see the show has improved and cleaned up considerably from the last time I went about 7 years ago.
Anyway, we went to the art and craft pavilion to see our exhibits on display (did I mention my boy won 2nd place with his choc chip biscuits?) I was also keen to see my doll on display in the toymaking section. Now, get this. My doll had been plopped down in a seated position (nothing wrong with that) but her face was completely covered with her hair! I checked the other toys - none had received the same treatment.
Am I just being precious, or is that truly annoying?!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Nougat


I've wanted to try nougat for a long time but always seemed to find a reason not to. Didn't have the right equipment, specialty ingredients, seemed too difficult.... and on and on.
My husband very kindly made it his quest to get me every tool and ingredient I needed. So I made some.



I'm partially happy with the result. It tastes really delicious but is way too gloopy. I used this recipe, next time I'll try another recipe and see if it's any better, in the meantime I'll enjoy having mouthfuls of sweet and tasty gloop!

Soul Mama









        Love the voice, the attitude, the soul of Mavis Staples.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Resources for dyeing

I've gone a bit mad over the whole fabric dyeing thing lately. If there's a website, a book, a flickr group associated with dyeing I've been there!!
So I thought I'd share a few resources just in case you're as keen (obsessed) as I am.

Color Your Cloth: A Quilter's Guide to Dyeing and Patterning Fabric

I've just devoured this most excellent book by Malka Dubrawsky of A Stitch in Dye. This woman makes me want to throw all my craft stuff away, build a garage and lock myself in it make beautifully patterned fabric all day!

A truly fantastic resource is Fabric Dyeing 101 where Melissa shares and absolute treasure trove of information on all aspects of fabric dyeing. She has the philosophy that information should be shared - now that's my kind of woman!

Then there is Darlene of Shibori Borealis, I just stare in wonder at her work.

I couldn't finish this post without mentioning the lovely Sara of Willow and Moo who is the very person who peaked my interest in dyeing and helped me through the first stages. Her blog is a real inspiration of colour and gorgeously made things. Check out her metres of rainbow fabric on there at the moment.

Did I mention Flickr? Just head on over and type in "hand dyed" or similar or look into groups. I'm a member of Hand Dyed and I Dyed for Etsy.


Stay tuned for more adventures in fabric dyeing.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Happy Birthday to you


We had a Happy 5th birthday here yesterday with lots of presents, games and party food. (and bubble blowing!)


It's meant to be a treasure chest. Cake decorating is not my forte! 

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Facebook

I'm one of those people who has resisted signing up for Facebook - until now that is! I really have no idea how to use it but have managed to upload some pics etc and would love you to visit via the link on my sidebar. I noticed you can also link to Twitter from there. Hmmm....

Friday, September 10, 2010

1000 miles an hour

That's my brain at the moment. No sooner do I sit down to do something than I have to leap up again and then there is the constant noise - none of it's very conducive to calm and rational thought. Add a teething little one (yes, again!!) into the mix along with sleep deprivation and life is, well, a little messy right now.

It's been a full on week with the show preparation, music lessons, stitching group and .... what else? I can't remember now.

Sound familiar to any of you Mums out there? :)

Creativity with the children has taken second place but I've managed to fit in a few moments here and there.



Jamming with the girls. Did you know that finger sucking can be quite instrumental? Speaking of unusual instruments, check out these guys who make all their instruments from fresh vegetables.


More colour swatches. I'm pretty much trying anything and everything now to see what effect I can get. This one was painted, scrunched then dried.



The results are pretty random, some turn out a little like preschool paintings!



                                I think salt resist is one of my favourite techniques thus far.



Christie over at Childhood 101 has recently suffered the tragic loss of an unborn baby and is asking for others to speak about their own experiences in order to help women going through miscarriage. I don't feel inclined to go back over my experiences but perhaps you would like to visit her blog and make a submission. It's a very good thing to have the support of others at these times and I think many of us don't receive the sort of support we need.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

My Melbourne Show entry


Hooray, finished in the nick of time!

A doll and her doll!


I used 3 different yarns for the big doll's hair - sheep's wool, mohair and alpaca in three colours.

If you're braving the show this year please do pop in to the art and craft pavillion to see one of my dolls "in the cloth". She (they!) will be in the Novelty Toy section.


                         Little embroidered wool felt shoes (recognise the bird print Nic?)

This will be my first entry into any art and craft competition so it's quite exciting. Thanks to Nic from Yardage Design for the heads up and encouragement. Wish me luck!

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Committing to creativity

I've been increasingly frustrated by the lack of time I get to work on my own art and craft projects. Sometimes it seems every waking minute is spent caring for others and working at jobs that aren't particularly thrilling or inspiring but nonetheless essential.

This has led me to ponder my role and responsibilities as primary educator of my children and the fact that I have many talents I can share with them and partly fulfill my need to create at the same time. So, as of this week I've made a commitment to be more creative with my children even though it means more mess and more planning. Because it also means more fun for us all and education that is not monotonous.


Here are a few things we did this week. Colouring in pictures together.





Making a terrific mess with shaving cream and paint.



Constructing and painting insect models that also became pretend lollipops. Check out the fierce         concentration!

We've also done wool threading, picture painting, baking and playdough. Now I need to start planning for next week, I think we'll need to go scouting for some new materials!