Tuesday, September 29, 2009

And Grandma bought her a Barbie

I may have said a thing or two about our wholesome upbringing. My Mum and Dad were alternative types, living a very simple and frugal life in times when it seemed that hardly anyone else did, or at least, no one else we knew. Amidst all the wholemeal flour, the handmade toys, the books and the free-form artwork, I longed, LONGED for a Barbie. I wanted it to be plastic, pink, and matchy-matching. I explained this to my Mum and from pursed lips she said “I’ll think about it”. It must have grated against everything she wanted for us, but at the same time, she wanted us to have our own opinions.

She gave me a Cindy doll. I look back now and I love that she did. She really tried to give me that slice of popular culture, but when she got to the shop they all looked the same to her and Cindy it was. Within a few days its head had been pulled off and lost by my brothers, and a goony face had been drawn on the ball joint that was left. I can’t remember doing anything fun with it. I didn’t even make it any clothes.

Anyway, a few days ago Mum asked what Sylvie wanted for her 4th birthday. When I told her that she’d asked for a Barbie, Mum took her shopping and bought the exact one that she wanted.

Pink, plastic, anatomically impossible, matchy matching. It grates against everything I want for her. But she loves it, and I love it too because she does. My life has come full circle, and Mum and I had a really good laugh about that.
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Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Favourite projects

In general, sewing is a pretty fun passtime for me. It's always been my hobby rather than a chore. Having said that, boring sewing projects, like curtains for instance, wait a long time for me to get around to them.
My favourite sewing projects always sneak up to the top of my to-do list. Robots are very fun to make, because they're the perfect way to display your collection of haberdashery. But- and this may surprise you- not everyone wants a robot. Lately, my favourite sewing project for grown-up presents is pillowcases. You can make a pair pretty quickly, you can use a combination of loud and more complementary fabrics, and they are a great stash-buster for all those half- or one-metre lengths I have in my collection.

These ones include some reproduction red vintage fabric on the top, beige junk-shopped fabric lined up next to it, and blue and white striped cotton on the back. Here is one in situ.

What are your favourite sewing projects? I know everybody has one...

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Saturday, September 19, 2009

Goodbye Neville, Goodbye Brian

Why did I bother with a fair? These two chaps sold via a lovely person emailing me at my little blog, before I've even got around to Felt or Etsy. In case you're interested, the NZ rate for robots is $NZ 28, or two for $50. Not that I have any in stock actually; just letting you know in case you're interested next time I get around to making some.

Thanks for the good times Brian, Neville. Have a great time in Dunedin. It's just as well you're made out of woollen fabric because Dunedin is quite chilly in the springtime.
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Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Getting back on that horse

Thanks for all your very supportive comments last post. I didn't mean for it to sound quite so tragic, really it was more of a funny incident than a soul-destroying one.
Perhaps one of the best things after a craft setback...(uncomfortable silence)... is an instant gratification project for a truly appreciative audience.
Dolls' clothes are a very good option. This little cardy was knitted in half-a-second-less-than-no-time from a single 50 g ball of double knitting wool. Would anyone like the pattern? I'll write it up if you're keen. Oh good, you are keen. The pattern is now below.

Ella, Gretchen, Amanda; call her what you will, but she will never complain about itchy woollens, or that she doesn't like the colour. Sylvie is delighted to have more clothes for dressing and undressing, and I have the satisfaction of a completed project.
The best part is that Sylvie said to me "I'm really impressed with you for knitting Ella's cardy." Thanks Sylve, what a treasure you are.
Cardigan for a 45-50 cm doll

Materials:
1 x 50 g ball double knitting (8 ply) wool
1 pair 4 mm needles
1 pair 5 mm needles
1 pair 3.75 mm needles

Tension: 10 stitches to 5 cm on 5 mm needles.

BACK: Using 4 mm needles, cast on 34 stitches and rib 4 rows in k1 p1 rib.
Change to 5 mm needles and continue in stocking stitch until work measures 10 cm. Cast off 2 stitches at beginning of next 2 rows. Dec 1 stitch each end of every alternate row until 16 stitches remain. Cast off, decreasing at each end of cast-off row.
RIGHT FRONT: Using 4 mm needles, cast on 20 stitches. Rib 1 row in k1 p1 rib.
Next row: Rib to last 3 stitches, wool forward, k 2 together, p 1. Rib 2 more rows.
Next row: Change to 5 mm needles. Rib 4 stitches, k to end of row. Next row: P to last 4 stitches, (k 1, p 1) twice.
Repeat these 2 rows, making a buttonhole on every 10th row until work measures same as back to underarm. Cast off 2 stitches at beginning of next row, then decrease 1st at end of every k row until 14 stitches remain, finishing after a p row.
Next row: Cast off 7 stitches at neck edge, k to end.
P 1 row. Dec 1 stitch once at neck edge, still decreasing at armhole until all stitches are worked off.
LEFT FRONT: Work as for right front, but reversing all shapings and omitting buttonholes.
SLEEVES: Using 4 mm needles, cast on 26 stitches and work 2 rows in k1 p1 rib.
Change to 5 mm needles and cont in stocking stitch until work measures 10 cm. Cast off 3 stitches at beg of next 2 rows. Decrease 1 stitch at both ends of every alternate row until 4 stitches remain. Cast off.
NECK BAND: Sew up shoulder, side and sleeve seams.
Using 3.75 mm needles, pick up and k 42 stitches evenly around neck.
Rib 1 row, making one buttonhole. Cast off.
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Sunday, September 13, 2009

The Fair: A tragicomedy

Well friends, today was the day of the fair. We trooped out early, laden with craft items. We sat dutifully at our stall, drinking cups of coffee and enjoying the sunshine. And guess how many robots I sold? Guess?

100, less 1. Not 100 minus 1, I mean 100 without the 1.
Zero.


And you know what? That is just so funny. I would be lying if I said I wasn't a little dissappointed. But really, only a little, and mostly it is just too funny. We laughed so hard about it at dinner time that Harry got a bleeding nose.

So, following on from Friday's happy theme, today my gratitude list is as follows:
1. I am really really grateful, no REALLY grateful, that I have a day job.
2. I am really happy that it was a nice day to be sitting in the sun, enjoying the PEACE and QUIET that comes with selling nothing.
3. I am really happy that I enjoy laughing at myself.

Heh.
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Friday, September 11, 2009

Happiness is a robot factory

Good morning! I shook things up around here and added some new sidelinks, some you might never visit otherwise, just for variety you understand.
It was pretty fun finding some new links to add, I must say. A wee bit of cooking has been a drop-in of mine for a while now, ever since it was recommended to me by a friend. I've made some of the recipes and they're great. I added Psyblog because I've always really enjoyed pop psychology books and it's only just occurred to me that there's a whole blogosphere full of pop pschology out there. The biology blog is because I still like biology, even though I am not a scientist anymore, and Celebrity babies is like a tribute to trashy magazines, a guilty pleasure.
Anyway, I was reading about the science of happiness on PsyBlog and apparently you're supposed to find new ways of being grateful every day.
Wanna hear the list of things I am happy about today?

1. My children are funny and sweet and kind today, just like they are every day.
2. I am having a sewing day, and I love sewing days.
3. I am sewing next to my favourite retro wall lamp. I love that wall lamp, see how cool it is?

4. I am sewing robots for the fair, and that is a lot of fun.
5. I am listening to The Handsome Family, and they are sensational.
6. I just finished listening to Wait Wait Don't Tell Me, and not only was it very funny, but this week it also featured a story about something that happened in New Zealand. It was strangely exhilerating to hear NZ mentioned.
7. It is raining outside but I am cosy and warm inside.
8. I don't have any deadlines today.
9. It's Friday, and the start of the weekend is one of my favourite times of the week.
What are you feeling happy about today?

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Thursday, September 10, 2009

Roll up, roll up!

Do you love robots? Do you love haberdashery? Is fabric a favourite? - brown wool, red corduroy, or maybe houndstooth? Combine your love of the technical and the domestic by purchasing a gen-u-ine Miss Smith robot this weekend at the Gentle Annie fair (Sunday 10 am at Hira, details here).
Here are two of the robot friends I'm selling there.


Okay I admit they're the only ones I've finished so far, but by Sunday, you mark my words, there'll be these two and more of these babies for SALE. Also on our stall are the superb domestic-ware (tea towels, door stops, draught excluders and more) made by my friends Katie and Vicki. Come and say Hi!
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Monday, September 7, 2009

When doll quilts go baaaaaaad

G'mornin! Hi, did you have a nice weekend? We went to the beach and found some heart urchins, which was very exciting because I've never seen them before. They are very, very cute.
Speaking of cute, I'm making a big pinkitty pink pink quilt for Sylvie at the moment, and I've had a few moments where I've had doubts about the level of pinkitude. So I thought I'd make a wee doll's blanket with the offcuts, just to see how these pastels all go together in a finished item.

Have you ever heard the saying "You can never have too much gingham"?
I bet you haven't, because it doesn't exist. And it doesn't exist because you really, really, really can have too much pink gingham.

Still, I'm not an unpick-and-start-again kind of girl. The dolls quilt as a test run has just reminded me that you can have too much of a cute thing. But then again, it's not for me, and perhaps it's not too much pink gingham for a 3-year-old girl who loves pink?


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Tuesday, September 1, 2009

About some marmalade

Recently I stumbled across one of Alison Holst's kitchen diaries. Now, I love these. They were published in the 1980s I think, and they are a collection of the things she cooked throughout the year. The recipes are simple and use humble ingredients, and there's always a lot of information with each recipe so that you really understand what you're doing.
Which brings me to making marmalade:

She notes in her recipe that marmalade made from fruit early in the season will be sour but not bitter, light in colour, and will set easily. Late season fruit makes darker marmalade with a more bitter flavour, and it will take longer to reach setting point.

Her recipe was for grapefruit marmalade which is not my cup of tea at all, so I made lemon and orange marmalade using my mum's recipe:
7 lemons
1 orange
4 pints water (2 L)
4 lbs sugar (2 kg)
Cut the fruit finely, discard the seeds. Soak in the water for 12-24 h. Simmer for about 1 hour until the fruit is so tender you can push your finger through it easily. Then add the sugar and boil rapidly. Test for setting point after 15 minutes*. Watch the pot carefully so as to avoid the spectacular boilover that I had. When setting point is reached, take off the heat and stir every now and then over the next 15 minutes. If you don't do this for long enough (guilty cough) the fruit floats to the top of the jar, thus:
* To test for the setting point, I put some plates in the freezer so they're nice and cold, then I put a spoonful of marmalade on and wait for a couple of minutes. If the top wrinkles when you push your finger through, it's set.
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