Monsterful Monday

Just keep crafting

My first week of working on 15 in 2015 is done. I’ve been chipping away at a couple of the projects on the list, and gathering materials for another. So the first t-shirt quilt is edging slowly closer to being done, and I’ve made about 20 more hexipuffs.

I’ve been devoting about 20 minutes each morning before I go to work to crafting. It means getting up a bit earlier but doing something for myself that I enjoy makes a big difference to how I feel about the day. And it sure beats waking up and immediately checking e-mail.

Fun with photos

One of my Christmas gifts was a new digital camera which I’m slowly getting the hang of using. My poor old phone just about managed to limp through to the New Year, and then I had to replace it, so my Christmas gift to myself was a new phone for which I immediately got myself a couple of playing-with-photos apps which I’ve been messing about with a lot and thoroughly enjoying.

OK, I have the feeling I already talked about that. Just keep swimming, just keep swimming…

But! You can see one of the results of my playing with photos at the top of the page- check out the shiny new header- now with at least 75% more punk rock!

Anyway I’m hoping to make good use of the new camera to take lots of lovely pictures of things for this blog. And for myself.

Cold water on a hot day

The Best Beloved and I went to a pool party at the weekend. It’s only the third one I’ve ever attended, and the first since I was a teenager. It was also the first one where I actually had fun. I ate scones and talked about tattoos. Then I hung out in a beautiful cold pool on a hot day (SO good) and talked about knitting. A great way to spend an afternoon and evening.

Getting into gear for 2015

I know I’m a bit late to the party but I’m working on wishes and visions for 2015. The craft challenges are a big part of it, but there are plenty of other things I’d like to achieve and do. To do this I’m using, among other tools, Leonie Dawson’s Create Your Shining Year– and so far so good. We’ll see how things materialise, but I’m grateful for having access to things like this to learn and develop.

The little things

Snuggles with the Best Beloved, naps, nice yarn, Veronica Varlow, quiet time, fun stationery, the library, trips out and about, meditation, stretching the muscles, sunshine, green spaces, barbecue, kisses.

Finished It Friday- What I did in my summer holiday, part 1

I thought it was high time I start showing you guys things that I’ve actually finished, especially with 15 in 2015, and I thought I’d start as pretty much every school English class ever has started, with a little bit about what I did over my summer break. In this case because one of the things I did was start AND finish the Wild Olive Summer Stitching Club wall hanging.

My completed embroidered and quilted wall hanging

it could also be used as a table runner or a placemat, but I like it as a wall hanging better.

I used all stash quilting fabric- and I don’t know whether this is a good thing (because I used some up) or a bad thing (because, well, it didn’t even DENT the stash).

I loved doing the embroideries. Each one was reasonably quick and simple to do, and I’m really pleased with how they turned out. It also allowed me to master french knots. I mastered them once before but that was ages ago and I had totally forgotten how I was supposed to do them. But see all the little eyes on the smiley faces? French knots.

 

Of course, my inability to leave any pattern alone came into play, and that’s why it’s ended up with four rows of embroidered hexagons instead of three. The happy little pohutukawa (New Zealand Christmas Tree), bottle of sunscreen (a must over here), the raincloud (also an inevitable part of the New Zealand summer), and the carved initials in the tree (yes, those are the Best Beloveds and my initials, and yes, I am a giant sap) are my additions.

The quilt construction is English Paper Piecing, which I had never tried before, but luckily the instructions in the pattern were very clear and easy to follow. If you happen to have a printer (I didn’t, and had to trace a bunch of hexagons on scrap paper to finish this), Mollie Johansen, the designer, has even produced a downloadable PDF of paper-piecing hexagons with little happy faces! Well hey, if you’re going to be doing THAT much hand-stitching, you might as well have fun with it, right? I found it very satisfying to make so much of this by hand, also I got to be a little fussy and make teeny little stitches to join the hexagons together.

I also enjoy needlefelting. I’m weird, OK?

If I made this project again (and this is a lesson I’ll be taking into the other quilt projects this year), I would’ve got some damn embroidery transfer paper, rather than using my usual technique of stitching the printed pattern straight to the fabric and then fiddling around for half an hour pulling little TINY BITS OF PAPER out of the stitches. It’s a good technique for embroidering on fabric where the pattern won’t show up as a transfer, but wasn’t ideal for embroideries this small and detailed.

The only bit of machine stitching I did on this was to attach the binding to the front of the quilt so I could handsew it in place onto the back (another thing I find oddly satisfying). Yes, I know it turned out a little wonky, but that just shows it was made by a person, not a machine. Except for that bit of machine stitching. That was made by a machine. But I digress.

I’m really happy with it, and looking forward to hanging it up so it can remind me of nice weather when it gets cold.

ABM_1420753771

Except the raincloud. But look how HAPPY the raincloud is! Of the patterns I came up with myself, that’s the one I’m most pleased with.

I’m also kind of glad I did that one direct on the fabric and not on paper, because getting the bits of paper out from under the raindrops would have been a TOTAL PAIN.

In conclusion- I had a lot of fun making this, I love the finished result, and I recommend you give Mollie Johansen’s blog and the Wild Olive Etsy shop a look if you’re after some stitching fun.

Hosting a Crafternoon Tea (with super-easy and yum baking recipe!)

When I first moved to NZ, I wanted to get to know other crafty gals- or rather I’d met some crafty gals and wanted to start getting to know them better. So I started hosting monthly crafternoon teas. They were great for making my new friendships deeper, having baked goods to eat didn’t hurt, and I got a LOT of crafting done.

Since this is a year where I plan to do a LOT of crafting, and since I’m once again in a new city with women I’d like to know better and better, I plan to organise some more crafternoons. So I thought I’d share a few tips on how to do it.

What’s involved

It’s really simple:

You pick an afternoon (or an evening). Ideally this is a weekend, so people can relax a bit more and don’t have to carry big projects to work with them.

You invite friends who like to make things (or who are keen to give it a try- see below) to come and join you, bringing a project they’re working on and some baking/other food to share.

You make sure you have plenty of tea/coffee/other nice drinks on hand.

You gather, you craft, you eat, and you talk.

But my friends don’t craft/some of my friends want to come but not make anything

In the first case: Why not pick a project that interests you from, say, pinterest, that doesn’t look too difficult (if it turns out to be tricksy that actually can add to the fun), and go in together on the materials to give it a try?

In the second case, the obvious question is: Are they still bringing some food to share? If yes (and it should be) then I say the more the merrier. Just don’t let them nick all the cinnamon buns while you’re finishing another row of knitting.

Recipes

Because I promised you recipes, yes? In the past, I’ve made ooey gooey cinnamon buns for crafternoon, and my goodness they’re delicious. BUT, I recently tried out a recipe which proved SO tasty and SO damn easy that I had to share it with you all. I give you… lemonade scones!

Lemonade scones on a baking tray

 

 

Lemonade Scones

Ingredients:

4 cups Self Raising Flour

330ml Lemonade

300ml cream (liquid)

 

That’s it. You read that right. Three ingredients. I told you this was damn easy, didn’t I? Also, if you happen to only be able to find bottles of lemonade, but have a 300ml bottle of cream, use the bottle the cream came in (once you’ve poured it into the bowl) to measure out the lemonade. YOU’RE WELCOME.

Pre-heat the oven to 180 if fan-assisted or 200 if normal.

Optional: If using a gas oven, engage in mild panic about whether the damn thing has actually lit and sniff the air around the open oven door compulsively for several minutes, worrying that maybe the blue flames don’t go all the way to the back.

Mix the three ingredients together quickly with a knife.

In a bowl.

I realise I’m stating the obvious, this is just in case you’re one of those people who reads the warnings on peanut labels and genuinely things “oh, thanks for the warning!”.

If a little wet, add a bit more flour. (I found with this recipe that I needed about 1/4 cup more, but just look for it to be quite dry but still holding together nicely).

Spread the mixture to an inch thick on a baking tray, and cut into shape. Or if, like me, you don’t have a good spreading knife, tear scone-sized bits off the ball of dough, flatten them out to about an inch and put them on the baking sheet.

Place on a floured tray or baking sheet and bake in pre heated oven in  for about 15 minutes, until risen and golden brown.

Enjoy with jam and beaten cream. And by ‘enjoy’ I mean nom as many as you can until you’re out of cream.

Also don’t do what I did and accidentally over-beat the cream for serving with the scones whilst trying to get that perfect thick cream and end up with curds and whey. Not wow.

Even if you’re a baking-phobe by nature, or don’t like complicated recipes TRUST ME when I say this is the easiest and best scone recipe I’ve ever tried. The scones are soft with a lovely texture, much better than store-bought (unless you shop at MUCH fancier shops than me), and they taste just right. They also look great. That photo above? THOSE ARE MY SCONES THAT I BAKED, GUYS. I’m pretty sure that if you WANTED to, you could get fancy adding, say, rosemary, or chopped dried fruit (date scones, anyone?), or even cheese, though I’d go with a hard cheese in the mixture with maybe some grated cheddar on top… that said, they’re yummydelicious baked plain and fancied up with the filling.

They are also Best Beloved-approved (and he does love to nom things), and what more validation do you need, really?

I hope you’ll consider giving a crafternoon, and/or this scone recipe, a try- both are totally worth the effort. And I’d love to hear about either in the comments!

Time to rock the craft- presenting 15 in 2015

It’s the new year.

It’s probably crazy.

It’s definitely a lot of work.

But I’m not waiting around any longer to be a badass crafter. I’ve been spending a lot of time crafting in the break, and the more I do it, the more positive I feel. I want this to be a year when I achieve something really  spectacular. So it’s time to challenge myself- and if you want, you’re welcome to join me. I therefore present to you:

15 in 2015 logo

What’s that when it’s at home?

It’s simple. I am going to try to take on, and complete, 15 big craft projects in 2015. Some of them are ones that have been started, and are even a fair way along, but are sitting around unfinished. Well, it’s time to actually get them f***ing well DONE and being used and enjoyed. Some of them are for me, some are for other people. All of them require a significant amount of work- some of them because they are big pieces I’ll be using a machine for, some of them because they will need a lot of handstitching, and some include new techniques for me, or ones I want to master.

But the main constant is this: these aren’t things that can be whipped up in a couple of hours (though hopefully I’ll be able to fit a few of those in too. Like I said, probably crazy).

My 15 in 2015:

1) The First T-Shirt Quilt (which has been languishing unfinished for THREE YEARS)

2) The Ladygarden Quilt

3) The Second T-Shirt Quilt

4) The Second Ever Wedding Quilt

5) The Flamingo Dress (seriously, I’ve taken the fabric and pattern with me at least three times intending to start it, and it’s still not done. And I’ve had the fabric for over a year.)

6) A Parfait.

7) An Oolong (bias cut- in other words, asking for trouble…)

8) The Beekeepers Quilt (which I started FOUR YEARS AGO and still haven’t finished- I’ve made 266 hexipuffs out of the 365 I want to make)

9) Mystic Roses shawl (I’ve said this will be the year I master lace knitting. I meant it.)

10: 5 x Misheard Song Lyrics cross stitches (and creating and selling the patterns for them)

11: The Cryptozoology Quilt (incorporating these dot-to-dot embroidery pieces)

12: The Perfect Christmas Jumper (not necessarily for Christmas, but it’s in thin yarn and small needles)

13: The Wheel of the Year quilt (using these embroidery designs from Urban Threads)

14: The Travelling Blanket (languishing since my parents last came out to visit 2 years ago)

15: My first Zine (no I’m not telling you the topic…yet)

This is big, people. This is the most adventurous craft challenge I think I’ve ever set myself and I have no idea if I’ll do it. But I wanted to be accountable, so I’ll be updating you on how the projects are going each week.

How about you? Do you feel like joining me? It doesn’t have to be projects this big, it can be things that feel a little bit big to you. This project feels big to me, it’ll definitely stretch me and require me to be disciplined about making time to craft each and every day. And that has GOT to be a good thing for a punk rock crafter.

I dare you to give it a try with me. Let me know your 15 in the comments, and we can cheer each other on!