Thursday, July 31, 2008
See you in a couple of days, when this is all over.
Wednesday, July 30, 2008
I love the way the quilter quilted this. Caroline recommended a poppy pattern, and given the name of the quilt is "Summer Haze" I thought it was very appropriate.
When I went on my little jaunt to Queanbeyan yesterday, I popped into a couple of ops shops and came away with these. The mugs, not the bodum (although I've had that bodum so long it's almost vintage itself).
Anyone who understands my true love of vintage Pyrex, will know why I had to buy them.
Tuesday, July 29, 2008
Before I blogged, I had a quilting website called "Quiltingmick". (Yeah! A real surprise, that!). Actually, it still exists. I logged all my quilts, mum's quilts, the quilting thingies that I was making. I just went through it again (the memories!), and there are the sunnyboy bags I first made.
I wonder what happened to that little brown fellow? He's cute. I'll have to track him down.
So here's a photo taken in June 2002, on my old table, in my old courtyard, with my old point-and-shoot camera. Gosh, how times change.
This morning I went to Spotlight and checked out their yarn clearance. I managed to snaffle some Lion Brand 10 ply cotton (dishcloths for everyone this year!) for $4.99 and some Cleckheaton Country 12 ply for $2.99. I'm going to make a few baby jackets for Karinya House.
I'm curious though - why is this 12 ply so hard to get? It's fantastic stuff, but oh, the limited colour range. And I have to go to Queanbeyan to get it? Nuts.
Sunday, July 27, 2008
I had no idea I had a collection though - I always believed my collecting was restricted to Blythe dolls, vintage Pyrex, old buttons, amigurumi and Mary Wesley novels.
Seems I was mistaken.
From left to right, there's:
* a cloisonne toothpick holder mum bought me in a Chinese gift shop in Dickson
* a Rabbitsmoon owl
* a Betty Jo brooch
* a Sri Lankan handmade and handwoven owl bought in Kuranda last month
* amigurumi by Ana Paula Rimoli (she has a book out now!)
* and a Blythe hoodie from M for Monkey.
Then there's all the owl fabric, and the owl chimes outside. I think I need to get some owl earrings.
Thanks for the free-for-all theme this week, Angela.
Temptations shunned, and the occasional slipped stitch overcome, Country Silk arrived at the destination, forearm-weary from the tension of two strands, in a time of 57:21.76.
Later, at 11.45 pm AEST, (after a feed bag of crumpets, cloudberry jam and a cup of tea), Patons Shadow Tweed departed Cérilly. Forearm pain was no problem for this single-strander. All was going well until he noticed that he was still in the 6.5 mm gear rather than the 6 mm gear...and then fatigue overtook and a little one hour nap on the couch happened. And then it was 2 am and ...
Oops. That was almost as bad as falling off the starting ramp while wearing the polka dot jersey. Oh the irony.
Determined to win the time trial, Shadow Tweed ripped out and started again 10 hours later. Agitated by the annoying voice of Michael Slater on Wide World of Sport, and interupted by the mister asking for a shopping list, he ploughed on to finish in a time of 51:22.53.
The Maillot Jaune belongs to Patons Shadow Tweed!
Saturday, July 26, 2008
As such, we have our contenders lined up for Tour de Neckwarmer, both champions in their own right.
Racing for CSC is Patons Shadow Tweed. He is a strong yarn, soft when he needs to be soft, and warm at just the right time of the year. While he does tend to shed fibre everywhere, he also can be crocheted single strand, making him a strong contender for the Tour de Neckwarmer.
Shadow Tweed's closest competitor, and the yarn tipped to win the Maillot Jaune in Paris on Sunday night, is Cleckheaton Country Silk, racing for Silence-Lotto. Soft, oh so soft, and known on occasions to make fibre artists gasp with delight, Country Silk is only able to be crocheted double strand, a risky tactic given this yarn's general lack of support from his Silence-Lotto team members.
Will the support vehicles hinder or help the competitors?
Only a time trial will tell. Stayed tuned for the Tour de Neckwarmer, tonight on SBS at 10 pm.
So when I started my second Etsy shop, I was in a quandary as to what to do about prices. So I guessed (!) the cost-per-item of the materials I was using, and then slapped a profit figure together. I figured it would all come out OK in the end. Besides, I was living my dream of making beautiful things that other people appreciated, and that should be worth enough, right?
Well, no. I've already had to adjust my postage costs, mainly due to this post which was eye-opening to say the least. Effectively I was charging buyers for the envelope and the postage, but then giving away the time I spent filling in addresses, verifying Paypal and Etsy addresses, and then standing in line at the post office three times a week. For overseas buyers I was even taking a $1 hit, as I felt $5 was way too much for overseas postage. Nuts.
So this morning I actually sat down and worked out the cost of materials per item and I suddenly could barely breath. When I joke to my friends about me now earning 50 cents per hour, it seems that is in fact what I earn. Let me explain. To make a $15 USD sunnyboy bag, I am actually putting at least $8.20 of materials in each bag, but mostly it comes to about $10. The outer fabric I use is not cheap - it varies between $36 and $44 per metre, but I buy it because it's excellent fabric, unique, screen printed and Australian. So it costs me between $6.70 and $8 for the outer fabric for each bag. The pellon works out at 87 cents a piece. And the zipper ranges in price from $1 to $1.34, depending on where I buy it.
What I haven't included in the price is the cost of thread, the postage charges for the fabric I buy, the exorbitant paypal charges, the Etsy fees, the petrol money in getting to Belconnen for the cheapest zippers, the electricity to run my sewing machine, overlocker and iron, the time it takes to measure and list an item on Etsy, and numerous other things. And obviously, I haven't included the true value of my time. From beginning to end, from ironing the fabric to actually turning it inside-out and zipping it up, each bag takes me a little over an hour.
So here's the problem. I obviously have to put my prices up. But if I do that I risk alienating potential buyers, and then the stuff doesn't well at all. I'm competing with US sellers who can get really cool fabric at dirt cheap prices (for instance, patchwork fabric in the US is about a quarter of the price it costs me in Australia). And a lot of Etsy sellers also under price their own product - for what reason, I don't know - so that it appears they are actually making a loss. That's hard to compete against!
I'm in a quandary and it's way to much to think about on a weekend that I was going to stay away from the sewing machine.
Please don't think this is a big whine. I am just getting my thoughts down in writing, and to also explain to you all that if my prices do go up, you can understand that loving the job you do is not an excuse to pay yourself 50 cents an hour.
Because I've been loving doing this. It's been the perfect antidote for what was ailing me, for addressing my frustration at not being creative enough. I couldn't think of a more perfect job.
Friday, July 25, 2008
Maybe I'm getting a little stir-crazy with all this alone time, but neck warmers are suddenly all I want to make. They are fun. Quick. I can use my vintage button collection. Did I mention they are quick?
Pattern: Could it Be Any Easier? Neck Cozy by Karen Deane
Yarn: Naturally Sensations 10 ply (Merino/Angora blend) in Claret Red, two strands held together. I used a skein. Fantastic yarn - it didn't shed, and it is super soft around my neck.
Hooks: 6.5 mm bamboo for starting chain, and 6 mm for the rest.
Notes: I am a crocheting legend. Modest, too.
As for other things I want to keep on making, I've done an update in the shop, with new sunnyboy quilted pouches and project bags.
Thursday, July 24, 2008
My Tour de France Alone-Along came to a bit of a standstill during the last week, but on Tuesday night I started again. Project finished in 85 minutes. I know, I couldn't believe it either.
Pattern: Could it Be Any Easier? Neck Cozy by Karen Deane
Yarn: Patons Shadow Tweed in colour 6909 (purple/lavender)
Hooks: 6.5 mm bamboo for staring chain, and 6 mm for the rest
Notes: How quick was that? 85 minutes? And that included sewing the vintage buttons on. This is for Patricia, who complained on the phone on Tuesday night of having a cold neck when she went to bed at night. It was sent to her yesterday in a care package, along with this:
Pattern: Anne by m.k carroll
Yarn: Te Awa Natural Wools 8 ply in claret.
Hook: 5.5 mm
Notes: Not the softest wool in the world, although it has a lot of bounce. I can't imagine getting this scarf too close to the skin, so it's definitely about the style more than the warmth. I made it as long as I am tall (175 cm) and it only used 104g of yarn. I have enough for another scarf.
This morning I finished nine project bags, including one custom order. I'll be making sunnyboy bags over the next couple of days, so there will be an update over at Buttontree Lane around about 9 pm on Friday night (tomorrow). Sound good?
Tuesday, July 22, 2008
This quilt has ben kicking my arse for days. A huge mistake in the pattern, unpicking 56 blocks, re-sewing them ... and then when I start sewing the rows together I discovered none of the points in the star were pointy. And then my rows started differing by 1.5 inches, just like this one. 1.5 inches in a 100 cm quilt was a leeeeeetle too much to deal with.
That's when I knew the quilt had beaten me, and I withdrew from the wall quilt category of the Canberra Quilters' exhibition.
At least I didn't have a total meltdown like on Saturday night, when I fell into a crumpled, sobbing heap on the floor as I came to the awful realisation that my Saturday night was to be spent unpicking.
I hate quitting. I really hate it. Quitting, not quilting. I love quilting.
The good news, of course, is that I can finally get my custom orders out of the way, and there might be some sunnyboy bags in the shop in the next couple of days. I'll keep you posted.
The other good news is that I still have another quilt in the show, and it's LOVELY. And the points(mostly) match. I can't wait to see how the quilter has worked her magic on it.
Sunday, July 20, 2008
So I've been trawling through the social pages today looking at the who's who of archival infamy, and in the main section I came across this. And it's crochet related.
Fashionista Chin wears Turtle on screen
CAYLA DENGATE (shudder)
LEE LIN CHIN made news last night when she presented SBS World News in an outfit designed by Canberra's Natalie Turtle.
Turtle joins the prestigious ranks of Vivienne Westwood, Michelle Jank and a host of international designers that Chin has worn behind the newsdesk.
Turtle won a Canberra Institute of Technology fashion competition to design Chin's outfit for Thursday's fashion photography exhibition Strike a Pose opening, but Chin said she wasn't about to discard the dress in the back of her wardrobe.
''I feel as though Natalie captured something of me and my personality in this design, I'm really quite touched,'' Chin said of the multi-panelled calico dress. ''Natalie's design and finishing is just beautiful and I love the fact that much of it is handmade.''
Turtle, who graduated from CIT in fashion, said she would use this envious starting point to create her own label named By The Wing. ''Winning this competition has made me realise I should have the confidence to get out there and design my own range,'' Turtle said.
Turtle wore an elegantly draped ochre dress to the exhibition opening with delicately crocheted hems.
''My grandmother and I sat up all night crocheting,'' Turtle said. ''My mother's side is Colombian, and I take a lot of inspiration from Colombia in my designs.''
But then I remembered that today's "This is ..." theme is what makes me happy. This quilt does NOT make me happy, but there is plenty of stuff that does at the moment.
* Not working in an office anymore makes me very happy. And healthy.
* My friends make me happy. Yesterday I spent time with a good friend and my heart almost burst with the happy. Of course, the Italian pastry I had may have also made my heart burst with a coronary, but it would have been a happy coronary.
* Creating makes me happy. This morning I cut out a few more project bags, and the fabric was so lovely I couldn't help but smile. A couple of months ago I was on a course for work. Through a questionnaire, I discovered that my best work style is as a producer. Creativity didn't even show a blip on the work radar. I wondered where I had lost myself. And I wondered if it was healthy to lead such a Jekyll and Hyde existence - creative and imaginative by night, producer and dull by day. That thinking actually made my decision to leave the job a lot easier. I wanted to find my creative self again.
* This makes me very happy. It's the view from my sewing room window, and it's another perfect Canberra winter morning, albeit cloudy. My first daffodil has come up, and the frog pond is only a month away from sounding up again. Shortly I'll be seeing the mister with his wheelbarrow, pottering around the garden, moving soil and pulling pond weed out of the water. He is such a lovely man, and he makes me happy as well.
Thanks to Jacinta for such a beautiful theme!
Saturday, July 19, 2008
Two weeks from today, I have to submit my quilts in preparation for the Canberra Quilters' exhibition.
The big queen sized quilt went to the quilter yesterday and it should be ready in a week or so, giving me a few days to attach the binding, sleeve and label.
The wall hanging, however, is still a work in progress. When I returned from the quilter's yesterday morning, I intended to cut out the fabric and sew it into a top by that night, ready for making the quilt sandwich the next day. I was then going to spend the rest of the Tour de France hand quilting it. It's not a big quilt - about 130 cm square. And after a brief look at the instructions, the quilt looked to be a complete doddle.
Until I started cutting yesterday, that is. As if the little triangles weren't hard enough to cut, I then had to use a template to trim off the little corners. I had 240 little triangles to lop the corners off, using the template. At 12.30 am this morning I finally finished the lopping. By then I was on a roll. I decided to start sewing the little bastards together to make a rectangle.
Perhaps I should have gone to bed. Because I tried 8 times to get these things made into rectangles and they weren't cooperating.
Whose idea was it to make this quilt? Oh yeah. Mine. I was so cocky, thinking this quilt would be a breeze, that I'd have heaps of time to get it done. Instead, I'm working on this thing full time, when I'd much rather be making sunnyboy bags and needle books for the shop.
And on that note, I'd like to thank you all for your very kind words (and kinder purchases) from my shop over the last week. It has been such a thrill to see stuff that I have loved making leave my house for a new home, for someone else to love it as much as I have. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.
PS. I'm hoping I can get this silly quilt top knocked over by tonight. Then I can take a break tomorrow and make stuff for the very bare shelves at Buttontree Lane, plus the custom orders I have promised. I'll keep you all posted.
Wednesday, July 16, 2008
I just wanted to let the night owls know that four more sunnyboy quilted pouches have gone up in the Etsy shop. I wanted to put them up earlier, but I had to take an emergency trip into town on a bus for zippers. And then Cold Case was on. And then a dog ate my homework. Well, not really, but Cold Case was really good.
Here at Quiltingmick HQ, a lot of cutting out is happening to the soundtrack of all 103 Waifs songs on my iPod. I've got a few custom sunnyboy quilted pouches to make today, but I'm hoping to also list a few more pouches this evening.
Last night someone asked me about the size of the felt needle books. They are only tiny (and cute) - 8 cm by 6 cm when closed. I've changed the description on the listings just in case you all thought they were ginormous.
Tuesday, July 15, 2008
Monday, July 14, 2008
EDIT: All sold! I'll make a few more in the next couple of days and restock the shop. I'm happy to do orders as well, so just convo me in Etsy.
I've been working to a daily and weekly schedule the past couple of weeks, and it's been a really productive thing to do. It is too tempting to do your laundry, watch countless episodes of Gilmore Girls and do your nails otherwise. This morning I should have paid closer attention to the schedule though.
Because I had four sunnyboy bags sewn and ready to photograph when I realised I'd sewn them the wrong way. I had to unpick them all, including the overlocked bits, and start again.
Tomorrow is Blythe sewing, and I have that down pat so I might not need to insert the brain before tomorrow's sewing session. Besides, it's not on the schedule.
Saturday, July 12, 2008
But for now we have needle books (with wool needles included!)
Project bags (for socks and bigger things).
And crochet flower brooches. I've completely reworked the pattern for this, and the result is a compact, flat, smaller brooch.
Friday, July 11, 2008
Five weeks ago I blogged about not knowing what to do with myself now I wasn't working. The broad beans didn't have great conversation skills and there's only so much Gilmore Girls a girl could watch in her spare time. I'd aimed to have a routine going - one where I didn't sleep in, sewed for at least 4 hours in the morning, and then spent the afternoon listing stuff on Etsy and going for a long walk or bike ride. Unfortunately having neck pain for four weeks didn't help, but this week I've managed to get back on track. I have a schedule, I've been sewing and I've been selling. And the best part of all is that I've had some really good alone time to sit. And think. And ponder. And think some more.
It's been so valuable. I like being alone, and I love doing things alone. And there's a lot to be said for doing things alone. Krafty Kuka commented on my last post and hit the nail on the head (ouch!) with regards to my TdF CALWM, when she said "I find it very liberating to alone-along. It takes away that pressure of worrying about keeping up with anyone else, and it's not a competition after all. I think sometimes people get so wrapped up in the togetherness SnB brings that they forget the joy of being alone with some yarn and pointy instruments of choice." (Comments like this are why I love you so much, Kuka).
Just like I've enjoyed being alone in the last five weeks, I've also loved CALing alone and doing my own thing. No, I don't feel lonely doing my own CALWM. No, I don't feel the need for anyone to join me, nor do I want them to. Yes, I've enjoyed doing my own thing using the Tour as an excuse. Yes, I would be crocheting while watching the Tour anyway, just as I do every night.
In stitching matters of another religion, I'm going to be very busy in the coming weeks as I have two quilts to make for the exhibition. The one above needs borders and a trip to the machine quilter. The second one is
I have until August 1, I think.
Maybe I'd better check.
Thursday, July 10, 2008
I've completed the first project for my TdF CALWM (that's crochet-along-with-myself for the uninitiated). I love this scarf. Odd, as pale pink is so not me.
Pattern: Acacia Scarf by Megan Marshall
Yarn: Panda Carnival 100% Wool 8 ply in pale dusky pink. This pattern used a little over three balls.
Hook: 5 mm bamboo
Notes: Really, this was the perfect pattern to get me started. Minimal fuss, perfect for a darkened room watching the peloton at midnight, and not enough chance to get bored. This scarf is also really beautiful to wear. It got a run around Kingston today, where I swear it was almost snowing.
Now I just have to work out what my next TdF CALWM project will be ... perhaps a little something in Noro Kureyon Sock yarn?
A week or so ago, I alluded to Georgie and I doing a little Wollmeise shopping in between her teeny contractions. I was a complete novice when it came to Wollmeise. I'd heard it mentioned in passing, usually in hushed tones, and often with a "hallelujah" tacked to the end. So while bump-sitting Georgie, she got a phone call from Tinkingbell to tell her that Wollmeise was up on the website. George drove the computer and put things in our cart before other shoppers could steal them, while I sat on the floor, picked colours and made sure there was no undue excitement which might bring on another contraction.
So today the Blessed Wollmeise arrived. And it was stunning. Absolutely stunning. We had colours of orange, red, green and blue laid out on the table. Even a cute baby and the smell of the spicy noodles coming from the kitchen couldn't distract us. We had to decide who got which yarn. It took us a good 90 minutes to work it out, and in the end it was just a guess because honestly, we could have taken any one of them.
I now know why Wollmeise is spoken of in such hushed tones. Sure, the feel of the wool is wonderful, but those colours? They are magnificent. The blue has about 10 different shades of blue in it, and the orange is a shade that even an orange hater couldn't hate.
And it smells really, really nice. Not as nice-smelling as little G with a clean nappy, but nice-smelling just the same.
Monday, July 7, 2008
I already own two Sublime Stitching books and about 20 patterns ... but I think I have room for a few more. Babushkas! Hedgehogs! Emily Martin!
I was really tempted a couple of weeks ago to join the Tour De France KAL/CAL, but I phaffed around too long and before I knew it the entries were closed. So I decided to do my own little TDF CAL. Just little projects - a scarf here, a pair of mittens there. On Saturday night I started my version of the Acacia Scarf, using a gorgeous dusty pink yarn. I survived flicking in between TDF and Wimbledon until about midnight that night and all was well with the world.
Then last night I did it again - flicking between the two channels until 1.30 this morning. Roger was losing and I didn't see the point in seeing him lose in three sets. And hey, Scott was going back to work this morning and I knew I could have a sleep in.
Well, that was all well and good until the alarm came on at 6.15 am ... and Debbie Spillane announced the match was still going on. I yelped "What?!?!?", got up, watched the end of the match, went back to bed and since getting up again have been mostly comatose on the sofa, unable to do anything but watch Gilmore Girls and drink coffee. It was worse than a hangover.
Tonight? I'm going to bed at 10. Those TDF guys can cycle just fine without my pink scarf.
Sunday, July 6, 2008
Besides a 27 year old purse which holds our toll and parking money in the car, and my Sindy doll - now only a head due to her rotting torso (I'm not too sure the humidity was good for her) - this is probably the thing that I hold dearest to me from my childhood.
My memories of getting it are extremely fuzzy and mum or dad could tell the story better I'm sure. But what I recall is being really very sick in Caloundra on holidays. And there was a chemist we went to and mum or dad bought this brooch for me. I think I was three or four. Of course, this story could be completely false due to being a toddler and being sick and having an overly active imagination. It's now chipped and very battered. It probably will never be worn due to a very dodgy clip. But it's still mine and it's lovely.
Thank you so much Danielle and Angela.
Tuesday, July 1, 2008
I made these socks last year, but I'd never worn them outside the house until Sunday. Sunday was the kind of day in which I decided I needed some hot pink in my life, and they were the most comfortable socks I'd ever worn with shoes so I started mentally kicking myself about the fact I hadn't made more pairs for me.
So I started crocheting these in between doses of Digesic. They are made from Patons Patonyle and they are so soft. It's slow going - I can only work on them for a few minutes at a time. This is the leg of sock numero uno. Yes, I know it looks knitted. No, it's not knitted.
I designed this scarf using Naturally JJ's Montage Canterbury. I was originally going to do an Anne scarf in it for Patricia, but the colours just went "cack" in the motif pattern. Then I tried swatching it in a shell pattern but the "cack" happened again. So the only thing for it was a mesh pattern. I have to block it but that can wait for another week or so. It's still not my favourite scarf, and it turned out way fmore pink than red, but I will wear it with my hot pink socks with pride. I crocheted most of it on the plane ride back to Canberra.
And this is Patricia's scarf in progress. I decided to use Te Awa 8 ply instead. It's really lovely stuff to crochet with, and I'm hoping it softens up with a wash. I'm probably only a quarter of the way through this one. Both the JJ's and the Te Awa were yarns I bought online from Tapestry Craft - I was a lucky bugger and won the $50 gift voucher at WWKIP a couple of weeks ago.
And finally, a finished item. Mummy/Crit had a little boy a couple of weeks ago and so I made him a little jacket which could only augment his extreme cuteness. Crit and D'Arcy used to live next door to us in Emu Ridge and through bloggage we found each other again. I made half this jacket on the plane flying to Cairns (I only stopped because I ran out of yarn), and the other half the following night when watching TV with the folks. It's Panda Concorde, using the same pattern I used to make the jacket for the baby formally known as George's bump.
And while a lot of you have been enjoying knitting camp, George and I consoled ourselves with Wollmeisse purchases on Friday night in between George's teeny contractions. But that's a story that George will tell in her own time.
And Canberrans, how about this wild weather, huh?