Weekend craft update

We had some wild weather in Auckland over the weekend. Saturday was actually stunning, so I enjoyed a day out in the city checking out the Auckland Craft Fair then lunching at the Northern Steamship Co in Britomart. Thoroughly enjoyed both – the Craft Fair was packed with people, so didn’t get to see quite as much as I would have liked, but hey! Great to see so many people out in support of handmade.

I also popped into The Embroiderer in Birkenhead for some help on my blackwork. I have to give a big shout out to these guys – the lady was so very helpful and reassured me that I was doing well and had indeed come a long way with my technique, from the first tiki I attempted. Hurrah! She showed me a beautiful book (Made in France: Blackwork by Sonia Lucano) which of course I had to have. The lady – darn, wish I had gotten her name – was really kind – she showed me the book as an example of how a stitch should go, then I think might have thought I felt pressured to buy, so we did a little dance of “I want it” “You don’t have to buy it” before she finally succumbed. I have a bit of an obsession for crafty books – some people like cook books and can’t walk past them, and I am like that with craft books. Made in France: Blackwork doesn’t have a lot of words – just lots of beautiful, inspiring pictures and the helpful charts at the back so you can get started on the various projects. In light of it being light on words, I think I will focus on this book in my first book review, later today.

Sunday brought rain and wind, so a perfect day to nestle down and get stuck into some crafty pursuits. First on the list was my pukeko applique that I’ve been procrastinating on, mainly because I haven’t been able to find a pukeko template to have a go at. I am wanting to applique this into a onesie for a friend’s 1 year old baby, so revisited this project yesterday afternoon. It certainly doesn’t look like a pukeko, so has now morphed into another bird of indeterminable species. I’ve never done anything like this before so am enjoying the tiny little stitches – need to redo that beak though, it’s looking very clumsy!

The pukeko that wasn't

The pukeko that wasn’t

Then of course it was Tiki-time. Finished all of the white ones and think I could possibly knock off the first and only black version tonight. Must remember to take a photo!

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When crafts go bad

So I’ve spoken previously about my newfound craft-crush on needlework, and a purse I’d made for a friends birthday that I was really chuffed with.

Here is that purse. Note how I was pleased enough with it to drop it into a montage thingy, write some text and bung a makeshift logo on there. Haha.

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Well there is a dark side to crafting, and that has been well documented on sites like craftfail.com. I’ve never been brave enough to fess up to failure in that forum but here is a different story.

See:

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It all started off well enough. Here’s my thought process:

Cross stitch polka dots looking neat and happy? Check.

Happy with selection of lining and silk backing? Check.

Time to sew it together!

Oh crap I haven’t left enough seam allowance around the dots. I’ll just have to sew over them, it’s ok it will be cute and petite.

Hey I wonder if now is a good time to test out my pinking shears!? (the answer was no, this was not a good time.)

Hmm my metal zip is a bit chunky for this teeny little purse, and how the hell are you supposed to trim excess zip when it’s metal? Hack hack hack.

This is a disaster, I can’t possibly give this as a gift! What a waste of time, a couple of evenings spent doing the polka dots, choosing perfect fabrics and then the cutting and sewing. Myeh!

Ah well I’ve learned a few things and that’s really what it’s all about I suppose. And it’s not so bad, is it?

Pink pens are everywheeeere!

A couple of months ago, I attended a professional development thingy for day-job. I actually presented for the first time during it, which was an interesting and terrifying experience – I was exhausted at the end of it from all of the nervous energy that was whizzing around. So on the second day of the thingy, I opted for the fluffier sounding workshops, one of which was titled “A creative approach to goal setting” and involved creating a visual board. Imagine my delight when I walked in and saw the glue sticks, scissors and magazines for cutting up.

Before they would let me at the craft tools, we first had to do a visualising exercise: imagining ourselves in 5 years time. The facilitator would prompt us with questions (“How do you feel in this future?” “What work are you doing?”) and my co-professional developers would furiously scribble down their imaginings. I was flummoxed – there was nothing there. All I could think of was my current day-job location and my current self. Then I started to panic – I don’t WANT to be here in 5 years time, quick, DO SOMETHING. Out of sheer desperation, I scribbled on my page: “Pink pens are everywheeeeeere!”

As soon as I wrote it down, I felt better. Imagining my future working environment is too big an ask – I have no idea what I’ll be doing in 5 years, my dreams change every week! But if I follow that philosophy and make sure that pink pens are everywhe(eeee)re, I think I’ll be ok.

[Side bar: I’m at day-job right now, and do you think there is a pink pen in sight? No. Note to self – buy a pink pen at lunchtime and start living the dream. While there are no pink pens in sight, I myself am having a very pink day. I am wearing the fluffiest (SO FLUFFY!) pink jumper you can imagine, my nails are painted pastel pink and I am carrying a pink purse. Would you believe when I was a kid I wanted to be a boy? I don’t know when pink became so dominant in my day to day palette.]

Craft hiatus in favour of DIY

So once again things have gone quiet on the blog – no surprises there for anyone that knows me. (Not the quiet part – I am very rarely “quiet”. But the falling off various wagons – that happens all.the.time.)

I wish that I could claim I had been busy doing this and that, but I really haven’t – day-job has been busy, I’ve been on a conference/holiday to Melbourne and in the background I have of course been crafting. But nothing really to write home about. Oh I LIE! I have recently discovered cross-stitch and am addicted. I made a cute little coin purse that I gave to a friend who wasn’t quite as excited as I was, but never mind – maybe she was “yippeeing” on the inside. Will eventually post some pics of said purse, or other similar varieties. Since the cross-stitch discovery, I then moved into blackwork, something that I had never heard of – again, addicted. I started with these groovy guys and I just love them. I’m working my way through the white aida cloth backgrounds and am enjoying seeing the progression of my stitching – my current attempt is by far the best. Again, will post pics once they are finished. Last craft obsession is needlework (are you sensing a pattern here?), actually I don’t know if that is the correct term for it. I guess decorative stitches might sum it up best. Recently I bought another Cath Kidston book, “Patch” to try and help me get into patchwork stuff – I find her projects easy to follow and just the right size to get a feel for something. Anyway – there is a crazy patch pattern in there I’m going to have a go at a stool cover (see DIY ravings below) and it requires some really pretty stitches. So last night I set about learning a feather stitch, double feather stitch and others. Looking forward to starting this weekend!

But the purpose of this post – which I realise it has taken me two paragraphs to get to! – is a new found love of DIY. Last time we went down this path I was a self-confessed DIY disaster. Not lacking in skills as such (I confident in wielding a hammer or paint brush), but SERIOUSLY lacking in motivation. Now I have previously bragged about my dedicated craft room, which is a haven – I love it. But since we moved in earlier this year the room has been dominated by hideous dark green shelves that I have found oppressive. A couple of weekends ago in a burst of motivation I made a start on sorting out these shelves and a week later, voila! I am so pleased with the results. Here’s how it went down:

  1. Roughly sand all wood covered in green paint
  2. Apply one coat of primer
  3. Apply three coats of semi-gloss white paint to wooden surfaces
  4. Measure the size of the backspace (??) of the shelves. Note: some fool previously covered this in loose hessian sacking – a NIGHTMARE to paint over. You will see from the before photo (actually a mid-photo, but hey!) that I quickly lost interest in attempting to paint the backspaces.
  5. Using a jigsaw, cut MDF shapes to fit.
  6. Rigourously sand the wooden shapes until they fit the spaces. 6a – try not to loose interest at this point. 6b – make a note to be more precise at point 5, if you ever embark on this journey again!
  7. Cut polyester wadding to size of shape. You can afford to cut smaller in order to use less of the wadding – it is stretchy.
  8. Cut various fabrics to size of shape. Allow a minimum of 1.5cm “seam” (?) allowance around all edges.
  9. Starting on a short edge, sandwich wadding between wood and fabric, pull fabric around to wrong side of wood and gun staple into place. Repeat along all edges, making sure to fold corners in as required.
  10. Carefully flip over to admire your handiwork. Be careful! At this stage you will have the two sharp points for every staple applied poking through the right side of the fabric.
  11. Take a hammer and knock each point down as flat as possible. This doesn’t have to be perfect – once they’re in your shelves, they won’t really be a problem – unless of course your shelves are in a child’s bedroom and sticky little fingers could reach them. In that case you may want to be very careful!
  12. Knock your shapes into their corresponding shapes, stand back and go “Aaaahhhh”. If you have been pretty accurate with your measuring and cutting with the jigsaw, knocking into place should be sufficient. A couple of mine will need to be fixed to the wall – I plan to try this with Velcro dots first so I don’t have anything (nails!) showing through my lovely fabric.

What do you think?

Now I just need to paint the rest of the room (laaaaaater, I’m done with painting for now) and move back in all of my books and equipment. Can’t wait!