Sunday, November 29, 2009

Knitted cardi

I know. Who ever thought a knitted item would appear on this blog? I can't knit.

However I can't pretend to take credit for this little cutie. But I can put it up here for others to appreciate the beautiful work of our friend Lyn, who so kindly knitted it for my little baby girl (we have had it a few months and got plenty of wear out of it during the cold Winter days that now seems so far away). It was knitted as one piece, in a beautiful cornflower blue. The top yoke bit actually stretches (because of the type of knit used). It is fastened with three buttons at the top and a ribbon threaded along the neckline.
And, there is a quaint little story to go along with it.
Lyn saw the cardi on display in a wool shop in Kyneton, whilst shopping for wool, and asked for a copy of the pattern. The lady in the shop advised that it was from a book she had from the 1950's and that she was not sure how it would copy as it was very old and quite dilapidated. She disappeared out the back and came back with a very scratchy photocopy of the pattern. It was from this that the cardi was knitted. The pattern was extremely hard to read and had to be guessed in some places where words appeared to be missing.

The introductory words to the pattern were:
Baby Layette - one for the novice
This jacket, worked sideways in one piece, and in easy garter stitch, would be within the capacity of the beginner and would be useful for expectant aunts and grandmothers who may feel their needles have become a trifle rusty.

How quaint! (And try reading that in one sentence without a breath!)
I am so glad she did as it is a really cute little cardi (or sorry, baby layette, to be precise). And the buttons are a favourite with the bubs. Luckily Lyn's needles were not too rusty! And thanks also to Robyn for choosing the buttons and the cute tartan ribbon trim. This one will definitely be kept for future use!
So I am sorry to disappoint, but its not my knitting prowess here. My grandmother did teach me to knit once as a child. I think I knitted half a sock or scarf or something but that memory is a tad vague. Something I'd love to learn, but perhaps for another time. In the meantime I appreciate the talent and generosity of others. Thank you Lyn!

Monday, November 23, 2009

screen printing with contact

Oops. Has it really been a week and a half since I last posted? Where did that time go? No idea, but I have been neglecting this poor little blog. Time to give it some TLC I think!

Although it hasn't been a time completely void of crafting (but it must have been very busy with some other very important things, I'm sure...) I got into a bit of screen printing, or the very easy do-it-on-the-dining-room-table method using contact (the clear adhesive plastic used for covering books with), a sponge roller and some fabric ink.

Two projects came to life. A t shirt for my hubby for his birthday and a little decoration for a plain top for the baby. The t shirt is my favourite as it is of our (beautiful lovely friendly) dog Max, who can be seen in the non 2D version on our last camping trip here. I enlarged and printed out a favourite photo of Max. Traced the outline onto the contact. Using a sharp blade, cut out the shape from the contact so you are left with a reverse out of the picture. Then, you hold the sheet of contact over the t shirt, very carefully pull away the backing from the contact whilst trying to stick the contact flat to your item to be printed. This is the trickiest part really, particularly if you have a large picture to print!. Then, once it is stuck down well, you roll or paint your ink in the cut out. Pull the contact off and you have yourself a great screen print!

The print is then ironed from both sides, a lot! The fabric ink jar said to iron for 15 mins, but I can't imagine the fabric would have withstood that, so I just ironed it a lot. The pic is after it has been washed too, so obviously I ironed it enough to set the ink! (A quick iron might have made the final product look a little more impressive too, but I think I was all ironed out by that stage).

I'm sure there are plenty of good tutorials out there (with a few more photos - I always get so carried away in my projects, that I often forget to take photos until the very end!), however I learnt this simple technique at a workshop during the Melbourne Stitches and Craft Show from the very talented Tegan over at Ink & Spindle.

The other print was the base of a daisy, inspired by a a small but obvious stain that I can't seem to remove in the wash. Not overly exciting yet, but this one is a work in progress, as I need to add some material and a bit of sewing to bring this to life. But the print is a start!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

my creative space freakin out about Christmas.
After reading this recent post on starting the Christmas present-making by Bianca Jae makes stuff I got inspired. I realised I had this ideal in my head that I would make a few presents for my family and how wonderful it would all be. I also realised that unless I got busy, and committed, an idea is all that it would ever be.
So this week my creative space is about jotting down my Christmas ideas, so I can get started and take some action. So far we have
Belts for the two sisters in law. Fabrics belts like this one I made a little while ago.
A bag for Mum. I'm thinking a clutch bag. I need to investigate patterns as well as fabrics!
Skirts for my sisters. Feature panel skirts, but I won't go into too much detail as I know my sisters sometimes peek this blog and I don't want to get hopes up, or spoil the surprise if I get around to it..
XXX for the hubby. (You'll have to wait until after Christmas for this one as I know he often checks out the blog)
Pram blanket and pram insert for the pram. (O.K. I don't actually give presents to my pram usually, but these two need to be done)
A quilt for my baby daughter. We'll see how this one goes though.
There it is. In writing, in all its green and red Christmas glory.
Head on over to Kootoyoo for more creative freaks.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

A sun hat and to tell or not tell?

My mother's group are having a birthday party for all our babies this week as they are all turning 1 in the next month or so. I can't believe how quickly they grow up, however it is certainly a fun journey to see your little baby grow, develop and become a person (its times like these we forget about all the challenges and struggles along the way. Challenges? What challenges?) Anyway, I stray from the point. So, for the big birthday, Mum's group are doing a present for each of the babies, like a Kris Kringle.

I was sitting there on the weekend, thinking what could I buy for the present? As this is my first child, I really don't have much experience with children so I have no idea what to get for my own daughter, let alone coming up with a gift for somebody else's. Enter the sunshine which has beamed down upon us here in Melbourne the past few days. Aha! a sunhat. So I set off to find a sunhat pattern. I couldn't go past Nicole Mallalieu design for hat patterns so jumped online to order my kids hats pattern (which has also recently been recommended to me by Mary at Perle 8's). And check out the very talented Nikki Cardigan's gorgeous hats of the same design. But sitting back twiddling my thumbs until Mr snail mail delivered my pattern didn't sit very well with me. I dragged out my trusty Ottobre Summer 2009 mag and made the sun hat ot of that.
Its a four panel hat with a brim. I was really impressed with how it turned out. Never having made a hat before, I thought they would be tricky and fiddly. But it all went together easily and worked really well. The fabric I used had rather large, sparse pattern on it so all the pieces were strategically cut out to highlight the fabric. Classic pink spots to match on the binding and on the ties (under the chin, which I added as the pattern didn't have any). I can't imagine a child's hat without some sort of under chin tie as they always seem to be pulling them off. It is fortunate my Mum's group has 8 girl and only two boy babies, so a pink hat has good odds of finding the right home.

The problem I am stuck with now is that I have put my love and effort in to create what I believe is a beautiful hat. What if the recipient (or the recipient's mother) doesn't like the hat? And do I tell that I made it myself (and avoid either being embarrassed if no one says how gorgeous it is, or equally so if they go on about how amazing I am to have made it (not that I think this, but others can often be a bit over the top in admiring something they don't think they could achieve). Or do I keep quiet, and just let what ever happens happen? And if they don't like it, can I ask for it back? Although how would you know if they don't like it (people rarely say so when given gifts). What if they hate it, but they feel compelled to put it on their baby every time we have Mum's group in the future so as not to offend me? This would be the worst. So is it just me thinking way too much about the whole gifting of handmade items, or do other people have the same worries?

At least I still have a mail package from Nicole Mallalieu to look forward to this week. And I have my handmade hat to look at, sitting on the dining table until it gets wrapped and gifted on Thursday. Until then...

Monday, November 9, 2009

Cap sleeves and a pocket

A bit of refashioning work today, grabbing spare time when I can. The top is to match with these bright bloomers made a couple of months ago. The purple singlet was a hand-me-down, so I jazzed it up with some cute gathered cap sleeves and a sweet little pocket made out of the same fabric as the shorts. Cap sleeve detail.
Summer seems to have hit us here in Melbourne in a big way these past few days, so it is time to get this summer wardrobe stocked up. This is the complete outfit.
I love a refashion project, making something boring and common into bright, happy and individual. And so quick to complete.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Summer top

Time to take a break from all the baby clothes production and have some me time. I picked up some gorgeous, breezy cotton voile fabric in my wanderings last week and decided to make myself a summer top. I chose Simplicity 9270 as it was probably the simplest pattern I owned and I didn't think I would get it finished if I embarked on anything too complex. So this top was whipped up really quickly, it probably took me about 5 hours to complete (yes, I call that quickly these days...) from cutting out to final hemming, along with the contract distractions of looking after a 10 month old, plus a few other household duties, phone calls etc etc. So maybe I could be rash and say, with dedicated time, this one could be made in an hour.
It is a really simple pattern, just two pieces; a front and a back with a bit of elastic gathering at the front to give it some shape. No zippers, no buttons (no button holes), no darts or easing, no sleeves to fit. Just a few seams and hems and I was wearing it and happy! The pattern did call for a facing on the neckline, but I boycotted that and instead finished it with a matching binding edge which I think came up well.
I am quite happy with it, it is probably not the most flattering top in my wardrobe, however it is light and breezy, the pattern is nice and I think it will be great for summer. Perhaps there might be time for a few more before summer hits? I think this pattern would even work well for cotton jersey.
It did rather nicely matched with a denim skirt at yesterday's Melbourne Cup Day party. Both bubs and I were dressed in homemade creations with bubs wearing this summer tunic with these navy leggings.