Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The Student Environmentalist's Man-Bag

To reduce a bit of brain (and house) clutter around here, I'm on a mission to get rid of things I don't need, and finish things I've started. The former is easier said than done, especially for a magpie such as myself, but I am following this 5-day program to get rid of things, and so far so good. As far as finishing things I've started goes, the sewing pile is getting smaller as I either ditch half-finished, badly thought-out projects, or finish the ones I still like the look of. Which brings me to....the Student Environmentalist's Man-Bag.

This was made from a felted jersey plus a few bits and pieces from my sewing box. The jersey belongs to my friend Kelvin. It was handknitted from handspun wool, and was worn until even all the darning couldn't hold it together anymore, so one could say it had had a long and useful life. However, Kelvin does not like to throw things out, and so I offered to see if I could make it go another round as a new item. I felted it the usual way (60 degree cycle in the front-loading washing machine) then cut the usable pieces out to make into the bag. The pieces deemed as unusable have been used to stuff a draught stopper.

Anyway, the Man-Bag has a certain rustic style that I hope he will like. He's not a student anymore, but it looks like the sort of bag a student would carry, and in any case, we were students when we became friends. The Environmentalist part is definitely still true.

On that note, can I show you some photos of some rather beautiful plants from my last tramp into the hills? First, New Zealand eidelweiss, and below, native Clematis in flower. Perty.

Have a lovely Christmas every one!
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Sunday, December 20, 2009

Storage of the fluffy and red variety

Aaaaages ago, maybe a year ago even, I bought a red wool jersey from the junk shop and machine felted it (The 60 degrees Celcius cycle in my front-loading washing machine, in case you're interested in details.) It came out amazingly well, thick and deep red and felty felty felty. It was so thick that I had trouble sewing it, which shelved my immediate plans to make it into Christmas decorations. It went back into the sewing pile so I could have a good long think about what to do with it.
Last night while blog-surfing I found the right project, which conveniently fits a current need in this house for some small storage containers. I made some little boxes, more or less following these directions over at Applehead. I didn't bother making a lining, because the felt is so thick that it easily holds its shape anyway.

The small one is now my lipstick container.

The large one was immediately stolen by Sylvie "It's my little red riding hood basket." Of course it is.
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Sunday, December 13, 2009

The double headed sea monster

I love my children's artwork. I have a box of Stuff-I-Must-Keep-Forever and it's packed to the gunnels with pictures and stories and paintings. Some are just little doodles that took only a few minutes, like this little picture of a double-headed seamonster. I couldn't take my eyes off this one, I just love it.

Imitation being the most sincere form of flattery, I immediately set out to recreate this fantastic drawing as a toy, complete with the frowning faces (no they're not frowning Mum, they're just naughty, but they like being naughty) and the expressive eyes.

Like all copies, mine is not as good as the original, but it is nonetheless taken to bed with Harry at night, to snuggle underneath the covers. You see why it takes me a year to make curtains? Because I have much more important sewing to do.

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Saturday, December 12, 2009

Deck the halls with crocheted pavlovas

Oh, hi! How are you this fine Saturday? Look what I bought from the Ka Pai Kitsch'n on Nile St, Nelson...

A small and perfect crocheted pavlova, complete with crocheted cream and crocheted strawberries, all ready to hang on my christmas tree. It was difficult to decide because there were also very gorgeous little crocheted christmas puddings and icecreams, too.

Speaking of decorations, I finished my contribution to 20c mixture's christmas ornament swap (Flickr group here). Originally I was going to make one fabric star for each person, but just one looked a little like a lame duck. So I made two for each person, so that each lame duck would have a lame duck friend to hang out with.

I've gotten some pretty sweet christmas decorations from my swapmates, too. I'll have to do another post next week with the full round up. Today's plan, though, is to get ourselves a christmas tree and decorate it to within an inch of its life.

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Friday, December 4, 2009

Joy (to the world)

My first ever job was working as a kitchen hand in a Salvation Army Retirement Home. Most of the people who worked there were Salvation Army themselves, so staff morning teas always started with prayers. I'm not a religious person myself, so I usually just drifted off into a dream world while all this was going on. One day, the receptionist was leading the prayer session. I don't remember the exact words, but it was something like "Please God, please, remind us to stop and smell the roses..." The pause lengthened to a point where bowed heads began to look up, and we saw her shoulders shaking with quiet sobs. Someone quickly jumped in to finish off, and she said nothing more. I have often thought of that moment, how we saw a moment in her life that she probably only intended to be a private one.
I thought of that incident this week. It was when I popped over to my neighbour Joy's house to smell her roses. She has really, really beautiful roses. She prunes and fertilizes and sprays and we get to enjoy them. I have time to smell them, every day if I want to. I am a very lucky person.

As well as having fabulous roses, Joy has a great fruit cake recipe. I made one this morning and the house smells so good.

Joy's light fruit cake

3 lb mixed fruit
1 T golden syrup
1 c wine
1/2 lb butter
1 and 1/2 c sugar
6 eggs
3 and 1/2 c high grade flour
1 t baking powder
1/2 mixed spice
1 t rose water essence

Mix the fruit with the syrup and wine, cover, and leave overnight. Cream the butter and the sugar, add eggs one at a time beating after each addition. Add the fruit and the flour and mix. Bake 4 h at 130 degrees C in a 10 inch square tin.

It's the rose water essence I think, that's the secret ingredient. It smells amazing. What's on your Christmas baking list?

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