Thursday, July 30, 2009

My creative space

What you can't see here is the enormous mess on the floor, on the chair, on the ironing board and on the overlocker return.

I think the space shown in the photo is a mess, but most would disagree. Anyway, I have a custom box bag to make (and no zip long enough to fit it, so a trip to Lin-no-bloody-craft is required later this morning) and a couple of pieces that I cut out yesterday, ready for quilting. Vespas in red and orange and brown - yum.

My latest bag lining is at the back of the shot, as well as the measurements that the mathematician Mister drew up for me for the custom bag. I'm absolutely hopeless at measuring and seam allowances and zip allowances. So glad I married someone so clever.

The Singer tin has my depleted supply of hexagons - I need to tack some more together. I fly out for a short holiday early tomorrow morning and this is my sitting-on-the-patio-drinking-gin project.

Busy, busy, busy! But the oil heater is on, the view of the fog out the window is gorgeous, and I have my cup of coffee. I'll be fine.

Want to see more creative spaces?

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

A day of crafting and dreaming

I've just had the best day. I showered early and hit the sewing room straight after breakfast to finish off some needlebooks. Don't they look pretty here? It was a total riot of colour.

Needlebook construction

I got to gaze at my vase of zippers. So pretty.

Bouquet of zippers

I listened to the latest CraftSanity podcast with Justine from Mixtape! Buttontree Lane was one of the sponsors for this show (I was a little bit proud!).

Craft sanity

I'm thinking of shutting down operations for a week so I can paint my sewing room. I've been living with the paint sample tucked under a frame for the last 2 weeks. I really like it, and I love the name. Peaceful is how I tend to feel when I'm tucked away in my own little room (and my own little world).

Paint chip for the sewing room

After lunch the mister came home from the shops with some Tim Tams (yum) and a mysterious parcel from Deutschland. He has not yet learned that Deutschland = Wollmeise, and that I expect whoops and hollers from the back door when he arrives home with it.


And now I'm off for a much needed massage. Tonight is for homemade pizza and crocheting. Can't wait.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

The secret ministry of frost

Frost - Abelia

Today we woke up to the most magical sight - thick white frost covering everything.

Frost - front garden

Still half asleep and in my pink pyjamas and fluffy slippers, I ventured outside with my camera.

Frost - Viburnum

These kinds of mornings are the reasons I love winter in Canberra so much. Bright, sunny, vivid blue skies and ice.

Frost - Abelia


Much later, after the frost had melted and the farmers' market had been visited and the laundry had been hung on the line, I had afternoon tea with my friend Bianca, of Sadie and Lance and The Toy Society. It seemed only appropriate that we did a little of this as well.

Toy Society Drop - Canberra

Thursday, July 23, 2009

My creative space

So this week the schedule makes an appearance. Working from home, and being prone to procrastination (lots) and anxiety (a little), I need to schedule my day. Shocking, isn't it? But so, so handy. I recommend to everyone. At least this way I know I should be in the shower right now as I have lunch in Woden in less than an hour (oops!) and this afternoon when I get home I'm going to be making needlebooks from wool felt. It's been ages since I made a needlebook - I'll have to pull out my sketchbook to get the measurements for cutting..

Behind the schedule are the hexagons templates I am putting together for kits for Brown Owls this Sunday, and my latest thing of beauty - zips in a very old Agee preserving jar 'vase'.

More creative spaces are over at Kirsty's place.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The elephants. They are coming.

I can't stop with the elephants. I just got this elephant fabric in from Japan and cut it up immediately. I spent today quilting them and sewing them up into bags. I'm in love.

They will be in the shop once I've cooked dinner, perhaps in an hour or so.

And here endeth any mention of boxes for socks in the near future. Quilting and crochet coming soon!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Read all about it

It doesn't happen very often, but when it does it comes in a torrent! Recently I've been the lucky recipient of a number of prizes, one of them being gorgeous screenprinted fabric from greenolive. I told Martine I'd make something pretty special to do justice to the fabric, and I think I might have pulled it off. But if I haven't, I've had a lot of fun trying!

Box for Socks

I made a box for socks, just for me, just because.

And because the type fabric was too adorable to resist doing something book-ish with it, I made a book cover with bookmark included. I think I need to make another cover for those skinnier novels, too. The instructions used were from Zakka Sewing, and I customised it for my copy of 'The Book Thief' (and other thicker novels in my future).
Book cover in greenolive fabrics

Has anyone read 'The Book Thief' by Markus Zusak? All my friends have told me how wonderful it is, but for some reason I found it hard to get into. Actually, a correction. I found it easy to get into - the writing is very beautiful and the story captivating - but I found it hard to escape the vivid dreams that came after reading the book at night. I'm going to try reading it again now I'm in a more relaxed state of mind.

Book cover in greenolive fabrics

Thanks Martine!

Friday, July 17, 2009

Monster cheese

Thanks to a competition win on The Shopping Sherpa's blog, a rather large amount of cheese appeared on my back door step early one morning last week. Since then I've been making the most of my stay-at-home status, and have been cooking and eating up a storm, trying to use all this up.

This is my favourite breakfast. I'm not a huge fan of fruit for breakfast as it upsets my stomach, but this is a winner in my book. It's banana, ricotta, cinnamon and honey on seed bread. Yum.


I've become the mini quiche queen. Since my brother shared his recipe with me a few years ago, I've made these a lot. But recently I made a big batch and froze them for later use. Why had I never thought of this before? In less than an hour I can make a variety of quiches using up leftover smallgoods and vegetables, and they can keep us in lunches and dinners for quite some time.

Spinach, Feta and Parmesan mini quiches

These ones are spinach, feta and parmesan. But caramelised spring onion, bacon and parmesan is another favourite.

Speaking of which, it's time for lunch. The spinach is steaming and the puff pastry is thawing. I'm off to bake some more!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

My creative space

My creative space is this week's favourite spot - the couch.

My creative space

I've been spending my evenings hand stitching twisted hexagon blocks, and now I'm spending the Tour de France with a blanket around my legs stitching a row of seven to another two rows of seven. It's quite tiring as the hexagon rows have card stock templates tacked inside them, and this makes them awkward to maneuvre. But once I'm finished the row, I can press the section, remove the inner templates and start sewing the next seven blocks.

It's still fun even after more than four years of making this quilt. I'm loving those colours and fabrics - and it's probably just as well.

Even more creative spaces here at Kirsty's place!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Do you see what I see?

Key Lime Socks

Oh my heavens. What's that? A finished crochet project?

Key Lime Socks

Pattern: Key Lime Socks by Kim Kotary

Yarn: Blue Moon Fiber Arts Socks that Rock medium weight, in 24 Karat.

Key Lime Socks

Hooks: 4.25 mm for the leg and 3.75 mm for the foot

Time taken: started on April 13, and finished on June 16. Worn for the first time now!

Key Lime Socks

Notes: I love the lacy detail on these. Despite the fact they took me two months to make, I could actually make an entire sock in only two nights, they were that fast. It's just that those four night took a long time to string together. This pattern has been added to my favourites list. I'll be making these again, I feel.

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By the way, thanks for all the love and support on my previous post. You all made me cry, and that was a good thing!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Meet me at the crossroads


Thirteen months ago I took a redundancy from my job and decided to stay at home for at least three months and live a more creative life. My aim was to ultimately find ways to live creatively all the time, rather than just during annual leave or on weekends.

I sewed a lot and started an online shop. I won't lie - it was hard. It was very lonely working from home in the middle of winter, with only ABC local radio for company. I found that as a naturally anxious person, I needed to schedule my day or else I'd get bogged down in irrelevant stuff, forget to go to the post office, or forget to eat lunch. But the shop was also a lot of fun, and I thrived on the interactions I had with my blog readers and the people who purchased stuff in the shop. I learned a lot - about pricing, marketing, branding and communications. I learned to control my anger when people bought stuff and then didn't pay. I learned which post office in the inner north was the easiest to use for international postage (Lyneham, and you can pop next door to Tilley's for a latte when you're finished).

But mortgages need to be paid, and I was craving human contact outside of my friends and husband. So I went back to work as a contractor and stayed in that job for eight months. It was a great job, but the long hours, the long commute and an unreasonable amount of stress heaped upon me took their toll. I left, with two more months of work on offer. I just couldn't do it any longer. I hadn't crafted for months, my husband had forgotten who I was, and my friends were very worried about my mental health (and don't worry - I'm not going back there.)

It's been six weeks since I left, and I've hardly raised a finger to find another job. My excuse was that I was sick for three weeks, so I didn't feel I'd had enough of a break. My CV is in with my pimp (also known as my agency) but jobs are light on at the moment. Honestly, I also don't think I'm ready to return to office work.

I realised today that I have unconsciously been ramping up production at Buttontree Lane. And I realised something else when I was packing up some bags to be sent out, filling in custom forms and writing out addresses I- figured I needed to start taking this thing seriously. Actually, I need to start realising that I have been taking this thing seriously for ages, and hadn't understood it until that moment. I have a box of 100 postpacks in the spare bedroom. A box. I have labels, and Moo cards, and a pile of custom forms and air mail stickers in a box. In a couple of months a gallery in Braidwood will be stocking my bags and brooches. I've just bought a whole wad of fabric for the shop. I'm about to embark on some sponsorship and advertising. I am applying for an ABN.

When people ask me what I do, from now on I'm going to tell them I work from home. I'm not being up myself about this, and I understand that I'll have people trying to knock me down a peg or five. I know I will never be able to make a huge living from this, but I can try really hard to contribute to the household expenses. And if I do get a job outside the home, I'll be a lot more careful to consider the time it takes to keep the shop going, and not go AWOL like I did last time.

Now, what are the chances that I'll get a phone call from my pimp tomorrow about a job?

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Sunday morning is everyday for all I care

I've just been head-banging my way around the room, dancing and singing along like an idiot to the top two songs in the Hottest 100 Of All Time. Plus I'm quite tipsy on Brown Brothers Rosa, which in my opinion is the closest thing to alcholic red cordial there is. And now they are playing "Come as You Are" and "Lithium" on the radio and I'm reminiscing about the Nirvana show I went to at the ANU Bar in February 1992 with Naf and Robert, and how we accidentally found ourselves in the mosh pit when the doors were pushed open and way too many people flooded in to the bar, and being from North Queensland Naf and I wondered when people got so rude and felt it was alright to elbow you in the head and tip beer over your back.

I mean, that kind of thing never happened at Richard Clayderman concerts.

So I hope I make sense with this post. Thank heavens for the edit button, eh?

Knitta Please, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra

This morning a friend and I had breakfast before heading to the Creative Fibre Day at the Old Bus Depot markets, where we may or may not have been cautious and careful buyers (it's true! All I bought was some delicious red 4 ply! Red! What a surprise!). But before breakfast I took an early morning detour to the National Gallery of Australia to view how well "Knitta Please" had decorated the poles in front of the foyer as part of the Soft Sculpture exhibition.

Knitta Please, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra

Pretty well, it seems! Actually, it was a spectacular sight.

Knitta Please, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra

Here's a really bad photo above is of my contribution - the crocheted granny squares in green, mustard and purple (under the blue and red ripple knitting). I'm really pleased I made the effort to be a part of it.

Knitta Please, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra

The piece with the fingerless mitts was one of my favourites. I could have easily stayed there for an hour looking at each and every piece, but it was freezing cold and windy and my tummy was telling me it was time for breakfast.

There are even more photos at the National Gallery of Australia's Flickr site.

Friday, July 10, 2009

We'll fly on love's big air balloon and pop it on a crescent moon

We had another beautiful half sunny/half cloudy winter day today. Did I garden? No. Go for a walk? No. Stay inside and sew all day? Well, yes actually.

Most of the attraction for me in making stuff is the wonderful fabric I can use, and because I am so fabric-oriented, some fabrics can get boring to me, very quickly. So I finally cut some new boxes for socks(es) out of new fabric I bought the other week. The elephants are supremely cute. I may have to get more fabric and make a box for myself. The toys one has very unisex vintage sheeting as the lining, so this is suitable for boys. These are in the shop now.

New Boxes for Socks(es)

I made the flower brooch from yesterday's post, but it was a massive fail. Only because I used the wrong fabric and the wrong thread, mind you. If I'd actually had some cotton lawn and upholstery thread we would have been cooking with gas. I was thrilled to have an excuse to my hot glue gun for the first time in ages. Gosh, I lead an exciting life, don't I?


I'm going to design my own, I think. Something a little flatter and a lot less petally.

Is petally a word? It totally should be.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

My creative space

I love Thursdays. I have lunch with friends every Thursday. Thursday night is choir night. When I'm working, it's only one day away from the weekend and freedom. And I get to show you what I am working on today (when I'm not lady-lunching or singing).

At the front is a custom box for socks in the process of being made. I love the vintage sheet lining I have used in this batch, but it's almost all used up. I bought it as a doona cover - someone had created it using double sheets. They even hand sewed a dozen huge poppers to the bottom of the doona cover.

I am in the Polka Dot Swap and that's what I'm working on at the back of the sewing table. I'm not going to reveal too much about what I am sewing, but yes, it may include a boutonierre from Alicia Paulson's book. Or not. I still haven't decided, but I'd better get a move on!

More creative spaces over here.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Was I in heaven?

Stack Island, Minnamurra

When you wake up in the morning, step out on the deck with a cup of tea, and cast your eyes upon a view which looks something like this, you have to wonder.

It was warm enough in the early morning that I could sit on the same deck in my pyjamas, book in one hand and cuppa in the other. After the reading, there was walking. There was a beautiful headland to ramble on, with coves and cliffs and views to explore. At least a couple of hours were spent watching the whales blowing tremendous spouts of water out of their blowholes, and a seal entertained us for a little while too.


There was a little crafting, but a lot of eating and drinking and talking and fooling. I have a new love of Maggie Beer Pate. Some would call it an addiction.

On Saturday we headed down the highway to Berry for the Spinners and Weavers' Guild exhibition. Five dollars to enter, and you get a free cup of tea and homemade slices along with some stunning examples of hand dying, spinning, knitting, weaving and crochet to ooh and aah over. There was a man demonstrating a 1930s sock knitting machine. I told him I had one of those too - my mum (although she's more of a 1940s model). He laughed.

Mechanical sock knitting guy

A few of us headed to Sew And Tell, a lovely craft store in Berry. I fell in love with Cascade 220 in black and grey and took both yarns outside in the daylight to check on the colour. I told the shop assistants that I would leave my friends behind as collateral, but really, I couldn't have left my friends behind. Besides, one of them had the house key.

So I chose the black. It's lovely. It's not shiny or fluffy. It's not blue-black, purple-black or green-black. It's just black-black and very matte. Of course, in this photo it looks blue-black, so you're going to have to trust me on this. It's going to be a lacy cardigan of some description, but that's half the adventure - finding the right pattern.

Cascade 220

So a lovely weekend was had, and while I didn't get as much of my quilt done as I wanted, that was fine.


Now, could you please pass me some pate?

P.S. This was where we went for a crafty weekend. We don't live here (although I think all of us wish we did).

Friday, July 3, 2009

Gone craftin'

Minnamurra Beach, originally uploaded by sth475.

Back in a few days.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

My creative space

Today I have two* creative spaces. Thank heavens for big extendable sewing tables.

My creative space #2

I'm quickly making up a box for socks and a sunnyboy to spruik to a shop. A friend mentioned that another friend is looking at selling arty crafty stuff soon. She is taking my stuff up next week to see if it suitable. I suspect it won't be, but it's fun dealing with the other side of selling. The yarn at the back is sitting there waiting for me to be inspired to ... make it up, or sell it.

My creative space #1

Tomorrow morning I am being whisked away to spend a crafty long weekend with four friends at the beach. I've been looking forward to it for months! I even bought new pyjamas. Three days of crafting bliss brought plans on what to take with me. The twisted hexagon quilt was on top of the list - so I've been spending this week tacking the shapes to papers so that I've got a head start on Friday.

I don't work on this quilt for a year, and then I pull out the pretty fabrics and fall in love all over again.

Half hexagons

* Actually, I have three creative spaces. But no one wants to see a yarn-strewn sofa surrounded by dirty tea cups and crochet patterns.