Friday, December 24, 2010

Old School

Christmas Eve: The children are chatting in bed, speculating about what their presents might be. My husband has taken the in-laws out for dinner, and so I have the house to myself, more or less. Whatever I haven't done, it's too late to do now. What a nice feeling.
The last piece of craft for this year is what you might call Old School. I've always had a soft spot for nativities, and I've been trying to make one for 3 years, but all of them have gone bad in one way or another. When I saw this embroidery pattern on a wet Sunday, with an embroidery enabler equipped with the pattern book, fabric, thread, and a hoop there right beside me, I just had to make it. It's my first ever cross stitch, and I have to say, it was a lot of fun.
Also old school, these dinky wooden decorations from the junk shop. I want to find whoever threw them out and give them a big kiss. They are just my cup of tea.
And for my last piece of Old School: Merry Christmas to You, and a Happy New Year. It may be a cheesy cliche but I mean it.

Thanks for reading, thanks for commenting, thanks for having a laugh with me. See you next year.
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Thursday, December 9, 2010

The Xmas Deco Tour, 2010

This year I took part in this swap, where you make a Christmas ornament for only one other person. I was paired up with Chantal, an artist who writes this lovely blog with some fannnntastic tutorials, like this one for a russian doll print, and this one for a woodland deer card. Chantal made me this wee Christmas elephant, who we have named Joy, because that's what's embroidered on the other side of her coat. Joy the Peace Elephant is a much appreciated addition to our tree. Welcome Joy.
Chantal makes beautiful prints and stationery, so I was thrilled to receive one of her amazing cards.
I made her a small set of Christmas tree robots, because that's the sort of thing I do when I'm engaged in a craft swap. I made some for myself while I was at it, because if you don't crack yourself up with your craft then what's the point?
You thought I'd forgotten about robots, didn't ya! Well ha! I never forget about robots.
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Monday, December 6, 2010

Ritual sacrifice of a wooden spoon

For aaaages now, almost my whole life I think, I have wanted to have a go at making soap. I think that's because my Mum used to make it, and it was a terrifying and very grown up activity because it involved hot mutton fat and caustic soda. Excuse me while I answer your questions: Yes my Mum did make soap out of mutton fat. No it did not smell like a roast dinner. No she did not make us wash ourselves with it, it was for washing the clothes, or the floor.

Now, where was I? Oh yes, the soap. At the age of 38 I have deemed myself grown up enough to give true soap making a go. I was a little put off by the long list of equipment that most instructions deemed necessary (special soap-making pot, two thermometers, a stick blender, etc. etc.). When I mentioned this off-putting list of needs to my Mum she chortled and gave me "the mother look" and then pointed out that people have been making soap for thousands of years without that long list of stuff. Good point, mother bear, good point.

So, I bought some lye from these kind people, who have a soap shop near my house, and I bought everything else at Binn Inn or the supermarket. I did not use a thermometer at all and all my mixing was carried out not with a stick blender but with a wooden spoon, which is now marked "soap only". I used stainless steel bowls for the lye and the soap mixture itself, and then washed them out carefully and popped them back in the kitchen cupboards afterwards. They have never looked cleaner, incidentally.

I followed a basic castile recipe here, and followed all of their links re. using a lye calculator and the basic soap making instructions. I added a couple of things, so I will write the full recipe here for the sake of interest.

800 g olive oil
200 g coconut oil
20 g beeswax
133 g lye
300 ml water
2 T honey added at 'early trace'
5 ml manuka oil (a complete waste of time, as you can't smell it at all)
And, to half of the batch, I added some oatmeal, because that seemed like a good idea at the time. Now I'm not so sure because it looks a little, well, horse-food-esque. Still, you live and learn. Anyway, badabing, badaboom, soap.

So there it is. If I die tomorrow I can consider my life fulfilled. Sometimes I wonder about what things my children will remember fondly, and what things they will roll their eyes about, when they recall their childhood. I have a feeling that my crazy schemes will not all be remembered fondly.
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Monday, November 29, 2010

The Homemade Gift Round-up

Christmas is only a few weeks away, but I don't feel that panicked about it because we have a very manageable gift regime in my extended family. We all get assigned one person and one person only to get a gift for. The budget is around the $10-or-less mark, and home-made or second-hand are perfect. I tell you, we are all as thrifty as eachother and it's a thrill to see what we can get for the smallest amount of money. With that in mind, I thought I'd do a wee 20-item round-up of ideas that might interest you if you like making home-made stuff. Some of it you may have seen before if you read this blog regular-like. I apologize for that, but this pony only has so many tricks. Are you in? Cool! Let's go.
1. A panettone to show off your homemade candied peel.
2. Some dried herbs from your garden.
3. A homemade apron, maybe this one, all packaged up with a wooden spoon and a nice recipe.
4. Some homemade lip balm.
5. A jar of lemon or passionfruit curd.
6. A jar of tomato relish or beetroot relish.
7. Make some labneh.
8. A bottle of homemade vinaigrette or herb vinegar.
9. An offer to do something, like babysit or clean the oven.
10. Sew some pillowcases.
11. Some homemade pancake mix and instructions how to cook it.
12. Homemade jam or jelly (it's the tight-wad's friend!).
13. Sew a cute reversible purse, or a lunch bag
14. I like this idea to make a trivet using old linens- doilies, tablecloths, commemorative teatowels...
15. Make some cucumber pickle
16. Print some lovely retro paper dolls on magnetized sheets, cut them out, and put them in a biscuit tin, all ready to be played with.
17. Print a little village onto some cardstock, all ready to assemble the little houses and shops as great accessories for a small person's trainset.
18. Give a christmas gift to a local conservation project,
19. Or, give something to someone who has nothing?
20. Or, ditch presents altogether and all pitch in for Christmas dinner instead.

What are your favourite homemade gift ideas? Go on, leave a link or two, I'd love to see what you'll be making.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Candied peel and Grandma's Currant Buns

It is a very lovely evening outside tonight. The sky is blue, the week is finished, and I have another *homemade* adventure to report. This combines all of my favourite things; frugality, resourcefulness, a degree of retro, a family link. Yep, it's all here.
I'm talking about candied peel. As soon as I saw these amazing lemons at the farmer's market I knew those peels were too darn good to throw into the compost heap. I knew, straight away, that they would have to be turned into the star of the show.
Now, if you're not a candied peel person I urge you to give it another try. When it's homemade out of beautiful lemons and oranges it's sweet and citrusy and better than anything you can buy. And did I mention cheap?! You'd be throwing the skins away otherwise, what better starting material can there be? Here's how to make it:
1. Score the skins of your citrus fruit in nice long cuts down the length of the fruit so that it will peel off in nice neat sections. I used two NZ navel oranges and two lemons for this trial batch. Then pull off the skin leaving a big thick layer of pith on it because this will make it thick and juicy when it's candied.
2. Put the skins in a saucepan and cover with cold water, then simmer for about 40 min until they're really tender.
3. Meanwhile make a sugar syrup with 2 parts sugar and 1 part water (1 cup sugar, 1/2 c water) and put it in the slowcooker. Then, drain the peels, slice thinnner or chop into small pieces if you like, and put them in the sugar syrup. Leave the lid off the slow cooker and give them a stir every half hour or so. They won't burn in there, and they need a good long time to soak up that syrup. In my slow cooker there is a very gentle simmer around the edges of the bowl when it's on high, this was perfect for cooking the peel in the syrup.
4. Cook for 3 or so hours, maybe more, until there's only a very small amount of syrup left. It took about half a day in my slow cooker. Spread the peels on baking paper to dry, this could take a few days. I like mine sticky so I didn't bother with this step. If you like, you can roll them in sugar while they're sticky and warm to get that nice sugary coating. 
Now, a recipe starring candied peel. These are currant buns with peel in them. I was asking my Mum about these this morning and she said OH YES I KNOW ALL ABOUT THOSE! GRANDMA USED TO MAKE THEM, DON'T YOU REMEMBER? As it happens I don't, because both Grandma and Grandad McLean died when I was very little. I don't know what her recipe was but I went through my old old old cookbooks till I found one that was probably similar. If you don't mind, I'll call them Grandma McLean's Currant and Peel Buns, because now that's what they are in my mind.
Grandma McLean's Currant and Peel Buns
1 and 1/2 c flour
2 t baking powder
3 T sugar
40 g butter
2 T candied peel, chopped fine
1/4 to 1/2 c currants, raisins, or sultanas
1 egg, beaten
1/2 c milk, plus 1 or 2 T if required
Preheat the oven to 200 degrees celcius (or 400 degrees F). Sift the flour and baking powder into a bowl, rub in the butter with your finger tips. Add the sugar, peel, and sultanas, and mix to break up the lumps of peel. Mix the milk and egg together then add in and mix gently until you have a soft dough, adding more milk if you need to. It should be just a little softer than scone dough. Pat out into a circle on baking paper, then mark the circle into wedges. If you like, brush the tops with milk and sprinkle with raw sugar. Bake until golden brown, about 15-20 min. Perfect with a strong cup of tea and a nice sit down.
And now I'm off for a nice cup of tea and a sit down. Have a lovely weekend everyone.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Frugal, nerdy, and proud.

I love being a cheapskate, really, I do. I also love to make things, not just crafts and sewing but food and other stuff too, so it was only a matter of time before I had to have a go at making homemade laundry liquid.
There are about a zillion recipes for homemade laundry detergent on the world wide interweb. Here's 10 right here, and more here. For my first batch, I used this recipe on recommendation from my friend Nicola. Here is how I made it.

1/2 bar of sunlight soap, grated
3 T borax
1/2 c washing soda
1.5 L boiling water (i.e. one kettle full).

Put the grated soap into the bucket, add the very hot water and stir until the soap melts (almost straight away in my experience). Let the mixture cool a little, then add in the borax and washing soda. Top up to 7 L with warm water and give it a good stir, then add in essential oils if you are so inclined (I used eucalptus oil because that's what I have). Pour into bottles and let it gel overnight. Give it a good shake before you use it, and use 1/2 c per load (being a natural cheapskate I tried using less, but 1/2 c made the best job of the washing). I've been using it for a week and I can tell you that the clothes are clean and they smell nice.

For my next batch, I looked into using just washing soda and soap, and leaving out the borax altogether. This is not only because borax is the most expensive ingredient, but also, I'm a little suspect about discharging so much borax into the drainage system. I just don't think that lots of boron is a good thing in the environment, whereas washing soda, well that's just sodium and carbon and oxygen and those things are pretty harmless. So...reformulated recipe follows:

1 bar sunlight soap, grated
1 c washing soda

Dissolve the grated soap in about 2 L boiling water. Let it cool a little, then add in the washing soda and another 5 L of warm water. Let it cool, then add essential oils if you like (about 1 t eucalyptus oil). Pour into bottles (I use old 2 L milk bottles) and let it gel overnight. The gel on this batch was quite firm, so you might want to add some more water if you find it difficult to get it out. I left some shaking room in each bottle, so I could get it pourable by giving it a good shake. Like the other batch, use 1/2 c per load. It seems to work just as well.
And...because I am both frugal and nerdy I also worked out the exact costs to compare the price per load with commercial washing powder:

Sunlight soap ($2.79 per 500 g: supermarket): 62.5 g per recipe = 35 c
Washing soda ($4.08 per kg: supermarket) 125 g per recipe = 51 c
Borax ($9.99 per kg: Bin Inn) 45 g per recipe = 45 c
Eucalyptus oil ($5.50 per 50 ml: supermarket) 5 ml per recipe = 55 c
Electricity to boil the kettle = 2 c per recipe
TOTAL: $1.88 per 7 L. At 1/2 c per load that's 3.4 c per load.

Sunlight soap, 1 bar =70 c
Washing soda: 250 g = $1.02
Essential oil = 55 c
Electricity to boil the kettle = 2 c
TOTAL: $2.29 per 7 L. At 1/2 c per load that's 4.08 c per load.
Comparison: 1 kg frontloader powder (Ecostore) 9.19 used in 64 washes = 14.3 c per load
Okay that's enough nerdiness from me. Have a great week!

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Monday, November 1, 2010

Halloween (Past, Present, and Future)

Halloween past: Some time in the 1980s
My Dad answers a ring at the door, and outside are some trick or treaters dressed in spooky costumes
Dad: Hello, what can I do for you?
Them: Trick or Treat!
Dad: What?
Them: Trick or treat!
Them: You're supposed to give us a treat, you know, something good to eat.
Dad: Oh, okay then, hang on.
Dad went the kitchen and made them each a honey sandwich.
That is a true story.

Halloween, last night:
Me: Oh, okay then. (I open the door, there are 4 trick or treaters. They say nothing)
Me: Aren't you supposed to say something?
Them: Trick or treat
Me: I guess it'll be a treat then, here you are (a chocolate frog to each person)
Me: No, we give them lollies.
Sylvie: (Tears of disappointment about how unfair life can be.)

Halloween in the future:
I want to ditch NZ next Halloween and head to Canada because I was there on Halloween in 2006 and it was awesome. Look at these great pumpkin installations in Quebec City.
And this house, which I thought was spooky any day, let alone on Halloween.
What about you, did you have an awesome Halloween yesterday? Comments from Canadians are most welcome.
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Friday, October 22, 2010

The post in which I make homemade deodorant

I was thinking aloud the other day, as I do, about things I'd like to make, and homemade deodorant was mentioned. I expected my husband to say something like "heh heh heh" because he often finds my propensity for all things homemade kind of amusing. However, he did not chuckle or chortle or tease me in any way whatsoever. In fact, he said, "I'd be right into that, because whatever stuff we buy makes my underarms itch and I end up scratching like a monkey all flippin day". Now that made me laugh ("heh heh heh heh heh") because it was a very amusing mental picture. And after I settled down, I went straight to work and made us some hippy-dippy-no-aluminium deodorant. Yes I did.

My recipe was based on this one here at Angry Chicken, but I will spell it out right here because I made mine according to what I had, so it ended up being a little different. I got the shea butter and cocoa butter from here, and I got the vegetable glycerine from the supermarket, next to the aspirin (strange but true).

Cocoa butter, 50 g
Shea butter, 50 g
Cornflour, 2 tablespoons
Baking soda, 3 tablespoons
Vegetable glycerine, 2 tablespoons
Essential oils as you please (I didn't put any in, and it smells like, well, nothing. Nothing is a good smell for a man or a woman, as far as I'm concerned.)

Melt the first two ingredients together (3 min in the microwave) then allow to cool a little. Add the cornflour and baking soda and mix well, then add the vegetable glycerin and mix again. Pour into small tins or jars. To use it, you get a little bit on your fingers and just smooth it on.

You know, the wee jar above is an old friend of this house; when we ripped out our bathroom and lifted the rotten floorboards it was there in the dirt underneath. It's one of my favourite little objects, because it was like finding buried treasure. Usually it has little flowers in it, but it's got a special guest-starring role as a deoderant jar for the time being.

Have a lovely long weekend everyone, over and out.

Update three days later: So far, so good. It lasts all day and no sweaty betty (thanks Emily Kate for the phrase). It did set quite hard, though, so next time I will consider using all shea butter (which is softer) instead of the cocoa butter.

Another update: If you plan to keep this for more than a month or two, then some vitamin E is a good idea as it acts as an antioxidant and stops the oils in the deoderant from going rancid. You just puncture a couple of capsules and add it in at the end.

Monday, October 18, 2010


Recently I've recieved some truly lovely and variously hilarious gifts from out of the blue. How lucky am I? Tell you what, I'm so lucky that if I fell in a sewer I'd be wearing a brown suit.
This robot fabric came all the way from Maine, USA. It was a thoughtful and unexpected gift from one of my favourite crafters, Iris. Thanks Iris! I will try to do it justice. By the way, did I ever mention that we were going to make Sylvie's middle name Iris, but when it came to filling in the birth certificate we forgot? True story.
This little robot soap-on-a-rope was a gift from my sister, Marg. I love these wee treasures. It's too good to use of course.
This rather amusingly anatomical lemon was a gift from a friend who knows how much I enjoy things with a rude twist. We have shown this lemon to many friends and visitors as a sort of personality test. I am pleased to say that all passed with flying colours by roaring with laughter. I hope you see the funny side. There's the funny side, right there, looking out at you.
Have a great week everyone!
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Tuesday, October 12, 2010

"Sylvie is 5" It shouted.

It's just as well I have lots of robots rolling around this house because otherwise how would I remember important events? This robot came in beeping the other day with a message on its screen:

In case you can't read that here it is up close:
Actually, I hadn't forgotten that Sylvie is freshly 5, we had a wee party for her when we were down south (Doon Sooth) and she got some pressies and all that, but what with illness and holidays we haven't had a party for her Nelson friends yet.
Can I confess that I am simultaneously terrified and delighted by children's parties? I love planning the cake and the dinky little snacks and the games, but the actual execution is quite stressful. It's the shy person's lament, loving the idea of a party but being stressed out by all the people. And that's another mystery- how on earth can it be that I come from a family of 11 and yet I hate being in big groups of people? Sheesh. Don't ask me.
Anyway, Sylvie and I have planned a cute little party in a couple of weeks' time: The Gingerbread Man Butterfly Party. I am open to suggestions of games but there will be decorating of gingerbread people and a cake with butterflies on it. What else can you think of?
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Sunday, October 10, 2010

There's no place like home

Every spring, the wee ones and I head off to my home town, Dunedin, for a wee holiday to take in the town and spend some time with family. I love Dunedin, it still feels like home and it's full of good memories. The train station is one of them, because we used to head off on our Stewart Island holidays from here when I was little.
I remember my Mum waiting at these amazing ticket windows to buy our train tickets when I was just a little tot. All these ticket windows and the tiles are Royal Doulton don't you know? Dunedin does grand so well. I had great plans of taking my own children up to our next stop, Central Otago, on the train that goes from this station, but we spent all our holiday money on going to the movies, so we drove instead. I am pleased to say that we have a new memory of the train station, though, because we went to the Farmers Market there on Saturday morning, where I had a fabulous bacon buttie.
Next stop, Ranfurly, where the art deco buildings are so cute that they warrant a photo.
And if we're talking cute, how about this little car and garage on the way to St Bathans?
And the Vulcan Hotel in the St Bathans township, which is so iconic it's almost funny.
There aren't that many ruins in New Zealand, so if you find one, it deserves a photo: May I introduce the old school buildings in St Bathans.
Do you ever find that your past comes back to haunt you at the oddest times? When we were little, my sister and I used to drive Mum mad with giggling inappropriately during the Catholic mass on Sunday. The more angry she got, the more hilarious it became. We egged eachother on and drove her to distraction. On the way home in the plane yesterday, my children were giggling away together about kicking the seat in front, which I'm sure you can believe is a very annoying thing to do. The more I told them off, the better the game became for them. They kicked it every time I turned away, and dissolved into uncontrollable giggles. I asked nicely, threatened severe consequences, tried a dozen different control measures, but nothing worked. I was so cross I felt like I'd explode. Life comes full circle.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

The Bridebot and Groombot

She was beautiful. He was handsome. They were programmed for marriage.
She loved bikes and she didn't care who knew it. She displayed it proudly on her control panel.

And somehow, because she loved bikes so much, he loved them too.
Their robot wedding was beautiful. They danced the robotdance and kissed each other with their robot lips.

The bridebot and groombot were a special commission job, which only encouraged me in my silly robot ways. In real life, the bride and groom both love biking, but she was the one who got him into it, hence their informative control panels. I haven't had so much fun making a robot since, oh, well, last time I made a robot. I chuckled away to myself as I stitched them up. They've gone to live in the big ole U S of A now, but I think they may have been cavity searched at customs because the package arrived disheveled and torn. Well, it's not surprising really. They are extremely technologically advanced and I'm not at all surprised that someone thought they might threaten national security.

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Sunday, September 12, 2010

First, you need a plan

Forgive me for being so blatantly sexist in the following description, but I am reasonably good at "girl" craft. You know, knitting, sewing, crochet, cooking. I'm not so good at the "boy" craft, like making things out of wood, putting up shelves, stuff like that. So when the kids come to me with ideas for things they want to make out of wood I feel quite nervous and inadequate in my ability to help them with it.
Harry came to me the other day with an idea for a car ramp "like Stanley's one". Stanley's dad is a builder. I internally freaked out. To buy some time, I asked Harry to draw me a plan.
Bottom left: One wide piece of wood, two narrow pieces of wood, screws at the side to hold it in place.
Bottom right: Hasty sketch of how one would use such a ramp. Propped up on a saw horse with cars scooting down it.
Top right: A plane towing a banner "Have fun". That was a good reminder for me.
You know, we did have fun making this ramp. We went to the hardware shop and bought precut 1.2 m-long pieces of wood, one wide and two narrow. (I can feel the disdain of all the handy types who are thinking- what, you can't saw a piece wood? Um....not neatly I can't. And we don't have a saw.) We charged up the cordless drill. We talked about how it could all go together, and then we built it, just like in the plan.
The cars scoot down it very quickly, and you can fit two on it side-by-side which I believe is an integral part of the design.
This project was rather satisfying for an unhandy person like myself. I did have a very good plan to work from, though.

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Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Chicken pox, nude robots, and a happy place

It's chicken poxy at my house this week. After 6 days of being at home with a sick 7-year-old lad, I would like now to extend my personal thanks to the makers of Lego, Club Penguin, and DVD players, all of which have made our week tolerable under the circumstances.
But enough about chickens and their disgusting contagious diseases. This week I started on a very thrilling commission: two robots who are in love. You can tell they're in love because of the soft focus in the photo. You know why I am so fond of making robots? Because they are shamelessly silly. I never want to take my craft passtimes too seriously, and making robots, I know I never will. I stayed up late last night making some really hilarious control panels. I literally laughed out loud. That's LOL to you computer types.
There have been many moments this week where I caught myself wishing I was on holiday somewhere beautiful with no work deadlines and with healthy, non-irritable children. I kept going back to look at the photos from our last holiday in Collingwood. I know there are people out there who like going to different places each time they go on holiday, but I like going to the same place again and again.
When we were small, our parents used to organize our family of 11 to Stewart Island for our holidays. I was asking Mum how she managed the logistics of it, especially since we lived in Dunedin, which is quite far away, and we didn't even have a car. She started to list off some of things she did, and then she paused, and said "Actually, I have no idea how I did that." I'm glad she found a way to do it, because holiday memories are happy places in my mind.
She also told me that when we were little, the oldest four children got measles, mumps, and then chicken pox all in a row. That put my week in perspective. Thank goodness for mothers, and thank goodness for those clever people who formulated vaccines for most of these diseases.
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Thursday, September 2, 2010

The post in which I start to dress like a robot.

A while ago now, oh, 2 or 3 years ago I guess, I bought some lovely woollen fabric from the junk shop. It was 150 cm wide, 100% wool, soft and beautiful and only $6 for 5 metres or so. I thought it might be good for a big patchwork blanket or at least a nice woolly hot-nerd type of skirt. While I was thinking about what to do with it I tried some out on a robot. It made up reeeeeal nice. Beep!
Anyway, never say I don't get things done. I did make that skirt, I made it in a knee-length A-line with acetate lining and intentionally mismatched strait-to-bias yoke-to skirt design. Is that a robot on the wall next to it? Of course it is. That's just what we do at our house.
Anyway, this warm little skirty is a little late for winter because the first day of spring came and went yesterday. However, we still get nippy weather in the spring, and I'm sure I will get a few wears out of it before next year.
I wish it didn't take me so long to get around to things. Now that school is in sight for my youngest child I'm deluding myself that I will have loads of time to get stuff done. Does that really happen? Someone tell me it does.
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Monday, August 23, 2010

Cheap and Weird

We have a new tag title for our family's dominant personality trait: Cheap and weird. My sister came up with it but it describes us all perfectly. It is meant in the nicest possible way, of course. I just had the best weekend hanging out with people who are as cheap and weird as I am.
What better to celebrate a significant birthday of my sister than a cheap and weird present? I made her a knitted bunch of flowers to decorate her sewing room. They never wilt (unless a small person pulls the skewer out from the stem, ahem), and they never die. They go on blossoming for a soft, warm, crafty, home-made eternity.
The bunch of flowers contained some knitted roses. Link. They're knitted on two needles so they're easy as pie (changes: I used double knitting wool and 3 mm needles, cast on 60 or so stitches, and knitted a stem instead of leaves using my own pattern, as follows:
Stem pattern: Cast on 12 stitches on dpns (4 each needle), work in the round for 2 rows, k2tog at the beginning of each needle in the following round (9 stitches remain), knit two more rounds. k2 tog at the beginning of each needle in the next round (6 stitches remain), k another round. Transfer remaining stitches onto one dpn. k 1, k2 tog, k 1, k 2 tog (4 stitches remain). Knit an icord to desired length using remaining 4 stitches. Link to youtube for how to knit an icord. Sew onto flower at the base. Insert a skewer or pipe cleaner to make it rigid.
I also knitted a few tulips. Link to tulip pattern. These are knitted on 4 needles so the're a little more fiddly, but they're pretty quick and they're a great stash buster.
And here they are, all together. There is a rogue petunia in there too. That wasn't so hard to knit but the weaving in of ends was too much hassle for me to contemplate knitting another one. The pattern for the petunia, as well as several other flowers, is available free here at Lion Yarns.
And here's Auckland, in case you've never seen it, or forgotten what it looks like. It's a great city for a weekend with your cheapest weirdest friends.