What I’ve been making (August 2015 edition)

There’s been a lot of yarn in use! And some fabric too…

I’ve been trialling a new approach to managing my yarn projects. In the past, I’ve had a tendency to have at least half a dozen (and if I’m honest, a lot closer to a full dozen) things on the go at any one time, because I love starting new things…

I only took one (yes, one!) project on my trip to Sydney. I found I really enjoyed the simplicity of not needing to think about what to work on. If I wanted to do something, I just picked it up and got on with it – no thoughts about whether I felt like doing this one or that one, and no guilt about all the things I wasn’t working on.

When we got home, I got to thinking about how that had felt and worked for me, and I realised I liked it. So I decided to try having only two active projects on the go – one for upstairs and one for downstairs! Everything else in progress got piled up neatly in a corner of the studio.

So far it is working well. I really, really enjoy just being able to pick something up and get to work. And I’m really not missing the angst of constant decisions!

I’m also ploughing through the finishing of things 🙂

Recently finished:

The Granny Square blanket I introduced to you back in May. It now looks like this (and is super cosy):


A shawl for a friend (which I can’t show you just now, because I haven’t given it to her yet)

My grassy-green version of Suvi Simola’s Fold and Turn – a deceptively simple and deliciously cosy loose shrug (I love the stripe detail down the centre back):


I’ve also sewn up a range of skirts for myself (which has been part of a whole wardrobe refurbish) and made myself a hat from a skein of camel hair yarn I’ve had for *cough* years:.

I did make a woollen coat that was meant to be for me, but after wearing it for a few weeks, I realised it would look a lot better on one of my friends, so it’s living with her now 🙂

Currently on the go:

  • Finishing a grey jersey for myself – just the sleeves to go (upstairs)
  • A sock yarn oddments crochet shawl (downstairs)

And I have a wee confession: I’m not counting the glove project I keep by my laptop for when the updates take too long to install… It’s there to boost my patience and will enter the official list at some point 😉

Patiently waiting their turn:

  • The green bolero I mentioned in May
  • The final band of a blue-violet-green shrug
  • A green crochet lacy blanket

Itching to start:

  • A lace shawl from the gorgeous green yarn I bought in Katoomba (I have bought the pattern already)
  • Some blankets and shawls for friends
  • A brown polar fleece coat (which will have a steampunk twist or three)
  • My spotty pantaloons (I was going to make these last weekend, but got distracted by gardening and dancing…)

What have you been making?

I’d love to hear – or even see: you’re welcome to share photos on the Facebook page 🙂


Re-blog: Devotion, pricing, product: economy of scale in art and craft

A thoroughly worthwhile read for anyone considering entering the marketplace with their arts…

What I’ve been making (May 2015 edition)

I thought I’d let you take a peak at the crafty things I’ve been working on lately.

I’ve been having  a bit of a sewing binge (aided and abetted by my re-sorted stash) and I’ve got my yarn mojo back… There’s tonnes of new things my fingers are itching to start, but I’m determined to finish a few things first.

First up, those tassels I made a while back have now been beltified (which really should be a word) and are all set to dance:

Tassel belt has, um, tassels...

Last year, I did a course to develop a trouser pattern to fit your own body. So lately, I’ve been working up my first-ever-pair of trousers from my-very-own-pattern. It’s taken a bit of tweaking, and I will tweak a little more before the next pair, but I am really pleased with how well they’ve turned out.

In between my focused trouser tweaking, I also ran up a quick skirt out of stash fabric I adore. I’m not sure why it’s taken me several years to get round to doing this, but at least it’s done now!

Mori flower skirt - with apologies for the crap lighting

My pending pile includes a mostly cut-out wool coat for the rapidly approaching winter, then a few more coats (because coat fabric takes up so much storage space!). So, by Summer I should be super cosy! The to-do pile also includes this impressively cheerful (because ‘gaudy’ is too harsh a word) fabric for some dance pantaloons. I promise to hide the finished garment under a skirt…

Even brighter in real life!

On the yarn front, I’m plugging away at finishing some long-standing projects (why do adult-sized cardigan bands have to be so flaming long?!) and working on a couple of newer inspirations. There is a real risk I might actually finish some things! Although weaving-in-ends inevitably slows me done… (BTW I recently discovered ‘evitable’ is a real word. For some reason, this fills me with joy.)

I’m halfway through crocheting squares for a chunky granny square blanket (so about a third of the way through the whole project), which will be jolly useful shortly – sudden frosts are certainly an incentive to keep on hooking…

Half a box of crochet squares

And I’m almost up to the second sleeve of a bolero, following Mel Clark’s everyday cardigan pattern. That will then leave another long band to make to complete it… sigh! But it will be worth it…

This is a sleeve, not a caterpillar. I swear!

And I’m also pleased to have finally found the perfect colour yarn to finish off a Malabrigo yarn shrug. (The original plan came out looking tragically ’80s :/ ) I just need to finish the first cardigan band to free up the needles… I’m getting close…

Once these are done, there’s a few more *cough* half-finished projects to get done before I go too wild casting on new things (okay, I might allow myself one or three along the way…).

So that’s what’s keeping me out of mischief. What have you been up to?

My studio

I posted a few months back about transforming my workroom into a dance space. That gave you a quick peak at the overall space. I thought you might like to take  a look at some of the details.

So… welcome to my oasis: my creative space and sanctuary.

You enter past my door guardians: a bunch of big rocks, a snake plant and a cardboard Siamese cat I inherited from my grandmother. The wallpaper is the original 1970s paper. We found it while renovating. I kept the bit round the door because I like it, but a whole room would’ve been a bit much…


The first furniture is a chest of drawers that used to be my grandfather’s. This has my stereo on top, and a heap of stuff buried within (must… sort… out…)


My desk is alongside. This is where I blog and draw (and muck around online). It is a roll-top desk, but it’s always to full and busy to actually roll down!


This is my view when I’m writing to you: cats, ammonites and art. It helps


Alongside my desk is a wee painting by my other grandmother. Yes, I like cats!


Then we come to the stash. I have plans to get a cube bookshelf to fill this space and get it more orderly. I do try to keep this area tidy, but it always overflows.


Here’s how I store my sewing oddments (and look, there’s a horse, not a cat!):


More storage – this time for yarn:


Turning to the left, there’s my sewing table – currently actually being used for sewing, instead of just collecting stuff. The room faces north, so I get lots of light (Southern Hemisphere version of south-facing)


And a little collection to keep me happy: my lucky cat from Singapore and a postcard of Glencoe.


Between the sewing table and my couch is a small coffee table – there is (just) room for a cuppa on here amidst all the plants. And everyone needs a skeletal horse (yes, it glows in the dark).


My couch and bookcase, and Fred the lizard. Matai can often be found snoring here – just not when photos are being taken.


Here’s a couple of close-ups:



And then we come to the work basket collection – full of ideas and works in progress. I’ve heard rumours of people who have a single work basket, not a collection. I’ve never figured out how that works…


The rest of my space is currently filled with a friend’s sewing gear as her flat is too small. When she finds a bigger place, I’ll shift my music and get some mirrors and make that the focus of the dance space.

While it’s never quite as tidy as I intend it to be, I do love this room (and so does Matai). A room of one’s own is a lovely luxury in a busy family home, so I’m glad I can make the most of it.

I can haz tassels!

Here’s what I got up to on the weekend:


Ziva of Zilzal Tribal Bellydance ran a tassel making workshop – for the tassel belts loved by tribal bellydancers. I never realised there were so many ways of making, decorating and using tassels on belts. I now have lots more ideas I want to try! (And not just because it would be a fun way to stash-bust.)

My beauties are made in a fairly simple way – 50+ wraps of three lots of yarn around a DVD case… nice and boofy 🙂

Now I just need to figure out what kind of belt I attach them too…

Random bits of inspiration – Turquoise and friends

New Orleans, Louisiana

HOLD for brcishere - Abstract Art Oil Original Painting Ocean Art, Ocean abstract Painting. Turquoise Blue, Sapphire Blue - "THE ABYSS". $240.00, via Etsy.

An out of the ordinary staircase!

Free pattern

UmWowStudio: My Motivational Art Journal Page

Dome of Jamek Mosque Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

like the quilting


Physicists say we are made of stardust. Intergalactic debris and far-flung atoms, shards of carbon nanomatter rounded up by gravity to circle the sun. As atoms pass through an eternal revolving door of possible form, energy and mass dance in fluid relationship. We are man, we are thought, we are story. We are all star stuff.

13 by 2013 update – will I make it?!

No, I probably won’t!!

Here’s what I thought I should do this year:

1. Finish partially completed or promised craft projects

2. Use up my stash (fabric and yarn) until it fits into the currently available storage boxes

3. Clear out my personal archive boxes (aiming for one, not three)

4. Clear out the filing cabinet

5. Sort and organise the kids’ past artwork

6. Sort and organise our digital photos (at least up to  the end of 2008)

7. Get my full Drivers’ licence

8. Make my tribal belly dance tassel belt

9. Read my current “to read” pile

10. Make my bedroom more of  a haven and less of a dumping ground

11. Clean the oven at least twice

12. Sort out and maintain the front garden beds

13. Go to the dentist

Given it’s now well and truly December (eep!), there’s only a few more weeks to go until it is 2013 (more eep!). So, what have I actually done this year?

Lets annotate the above list first:

1. Finish partially completed or promised craft projects

I have finished some, made progress on some, ripped out some and ignored others:

In the finished pile are the cot blanket for Emily’s baby, “pay it forwards” to Katy (though she won’t see it until Christmas Day – mwahahaha!), “pay it forwards” to Liz, the Celtic needlepoint, and the green and brown skirt (5 projects)

In the progress pile are Brian’s cardigan, Hamish’s blanket, and Matthew’s blanket (3 projects – all fo which are a LOT further along than this time last year :-))

In the ripped out (i.e. not going to happen ever so unpicked) pile is the charcoal jacket.

Which leaves the ignored pile: the 8ply jacket for me (I’ve paused before doing the second front because I need the needles for Brian’s cardigan. BTW I hate patterns that say “reverse the shaping for the previous front” when they’re a bliming complicated tailored fit… just saying), the cot quilt (a longstanding UnFinished Object or UFO) and the embroidered tunic (another longstanding one) – only 3 projects.

I feel really happy with my progress here – and I’ve also made a heap of other stuff during the year :-).

2. Use up my stash (fabric and yarn) until it fits into the currently available storage boxes

Well, I did cheat here and buy new yarn storage boxes! But they look cool and are working well, so I’ll forgive myself 😉

I have been working hard to use resources from my stash and have done quite a lot with what I already had. However, this has also been a year of all my friends clearing out stuff, so I still have stuff spilling out onto the floor..

Despite my hard work, I am finishing the year with more stash than I started. I am okay about that, but I will continue to manage the piles down over 2013 (and beyond!)

3. Clear out my personal archive boxes (aiming for one, not three)

This one is largely a win. I have one box of stuff I want to keep forever-ish and another of stuff I’m not quite ready to part with yet.

I still have plenty of paper to work through – but there is another year coming…

4. Clear out the filing cabinet

Partial progress here, with more work to be done next year.

5. Sort and organise the kids’ past artwork

DONE! They each have an archive box for their art, with room for more treasures as they grow. When they leave home, they can keep it or bin it as they choose. This balances my sentimental urge to keep everything with my desire to have some living space!

6. Sort and organise our digital photos (at least up to  the end of 2008)

Yeah, right! But I have taken lots more photos, as you know…

7. Get my full Drivers’ licence

This one will be done Feb/March next year – honest!

8. Make my tribal belly dance tassel belt

This has gone by the wayside for now. I’m not dancing tribal style at the moment, so there isn’t a great need. I also own “Fluffie” which again reduces the need. I have made plenty of other dance costuming and mastered the fine art of pantaloon making…

9. Read my current “to read” pile

Achieved – and plenty more books besides!

10. Make my bedroom more of  a haven and less of a dumping ground

A work-in-progress or constant battle – depending on which day you ask me! The pendulum is slowly swinging more consistently away from ‘dumping ground’, but it does require constant vigilance.

11. Clean the oven at least twice

Cough! Um, in my (pitiful) defence, I have THOUGHT about it way more than twice, however…

12. Sort out and maintain the front garden beds

Another work in progress. I now have veges in my front garden and other plants (mostly herbs) I  want to keep, but the weeds keep fighting back hard.

13. Go to the dentist


Outsides this list, I have done heaps – made dance costumes, made clothes for myself that weren’t on the list, made craft goodies to sell (coming to an Etsy.com near you in the New Year), worked on my garden, cleaned my house, enjoyed the online world, cleared a lot of clutter – physical, mental and spiritual, read heaps of books, got a clearer fix on what I want and like in life, spent time with my family and friends, danced (though never enough), played with my kids, discovered new music, eaten chocolate and cake and fresh vegetables, learnt I can take good photos, worked hard at my job, breathed, sung, enjoyed life…

That will do me.


So, now what? What does it all mean?!

Overall, I am both happy with the progress I have made and confident that I continue to do and be more over the coming months and years (including getting that oven cleaned!)

With hindsight, my list was rather full – particularly as I know how good I am at (not) keeping to lists. It has been a useful tool to get me thinking about what I want to achieve and how I clear the clutter out of my life. I don’t plan to try 14 by 2014, but I might just make a top 10 list for the coming year… though perhaps with slightly smaller goal posts 😉