I’m British: five projects

Sorry, old chaps.

This is all the fault of my friend Keith for reminding me of the existence of this song by Professor Elemental*.

 

You don’t have to be British to make these, of course. They’re entirely suitable for all your punk home decor/clothing needs (my hairdresser has a Welsh dresser painted with a paint-drippy messy Union Flag, and I covet it quite shamelessly).

To start with, how about some British-themed embroidery patterns from Wild Olive? Jolly Spiff! You want to add some Buckingham Palace guards in their busbies to your clothes, don’t you? Of course you do.

What about a gloriously punk rock Union Flag Mohawk Hat? It’s made of chunky wool, too, so it’d be a quick make. And everyone would see you coming in the winter. Of course you’d have to buy the book the pattern comes in, but surely that’s worth it to feel like Sid Vicious…a very snuggly, comfortable Sid Vicious.

There are many possibilities for what you could do with this quilt block. Like a bunch of throw pillows. Or an entire giant quilt of them. Or a house cosy. Hey, I don’t know your life.

Finally, what could be more quintessentially British than a Union Flag tea cosy? Actually, this Union Flag cardigan is a contender for that. British flag. British wool- and not just any British wool, Rowan wool. I mean come on, it’s on their website! Ah, Rowan, home of…ahem…fashion-forward British knitting.

Go on, which of these catch your eye? Or have you found/made any good projects in a similar vein? Let me know!

*we really are terribly sorry about Piers Morgan.

Epic ornaments for Christmas crafting

I admit, I may be a little biased when it comes to Christmas tree ornaments, but I think they’re awesome. I collect them, too. My best friend in the UK and I exchange the craziest decorations we can find each year. There have been Christmas mushrooms, Flying Santa, the Christmas Giraffe, Santa and Mrs Claus paddling a waka (ah, New Zealand), Elvis playing the ukulele- we never seem to run out of options. I have to admit I was rather disappointed to discover that I couldn’t buy a Santaur this year because Archie McPhee doesn’t take payments from outside the US. But it’s probably for the best because I would inevitably have bought a whole bunch of other stuff too. I still want a set of giant Christmas tree googly eyes though.

But for Christmas crafting fun, what’s not to like? They’re festive, they’re great for gifting, and they’re quick. With 3 weeks until Christmas, quick is good. Experienced crafters know this. And to save you the time of disappearing down the internet rabbit hole looking for ideas, here are some of my favourites:

Colourwork Christmas ball ornaments are a classic for a reason (and that link will take you to a free pattern!). They’re beautiful, and the possibilities for designs are endless. Also you get to make a lot of jokes about balls while you’re knitting them. If you fancy buying a whole book on the subject, you can! May I recommend: 55 Christmas Balls to Knit by Arne and Carlos (who also have a book of creepy knitted dolls, and another of Easter decorations, if you’re that way inclined.)

Or how about some kitschy but lovely felt ornaments from Wild Olive? If you feel like dabbling in some stitching, felt is a good way to go (very forgiving and easy to cut).

If you have a social-media obsessed friend, how about this bird ornament by Sarah Elizabeth Kellner? It may say it’s the Bluebird of Happiness but you and I both know it’s totally the Twitter logo. You could add a festive hat, for intensified Christmassing.

Not much for stitching or knitting? All you need, pretty much, is some glue and some yarn, and you can make these pretty stars from Labores en Red? Yes I know, the site is in Spanish, but the pictures are pretty clear.

Have a hot glue gun? Get some mod podge and some glitter, and make snowflakes! Instructions by Pitter and Glink.

Beads plus ribbon plus a teeny bit of sewing=Christmas trees over at Stars Inspirations. Kinda hipster Christmas trees. But Christmas trees nonetheless!

Buy some green baubles. Get some appropriate coloured ribbon, and some glue. Add GOOGLY EYES (it’s ALL about the googly eyes, people). What do you get? Teenage Mutant Ninja Baubles and a lot of geek cred for your tree.

Sadly, I can’t have a lucky yodelling Christmas pickle (owing to the aforementioned ‘if you’re not American we won’t take your money’ issue). But I can crochet my own Christmas pickle, courtesy of Fresh Stitches, and add the yodelling myself.

I’m totally getting a lump of coal next year, aren’t I?

Have you made ornaments? Are you planning to? What decorations are you busting out for the festive season? Let me know in the comments!

Awesome Christmas Gift Guide, part 4: Clutter-free Christmas gifts

Black and white vintage Christmas photo

Christmas Eve 1928 by Don O’Brien, via Flickr

We all know a few people like this. Maybe it’s your parents, who already have everything. Maybe it’s a friend who’s moving soon and you don’t want to weigh them down with more stuff they’ll have to shift. Maybe it’s that aggressive minimalist who you love but who is always on at you to have less stuff.

Don’t worry, I’ve got you covered.

First up, there’s always a voucher for an experience. Sites like GrabOne and TreatMe in New Zealand, or Groupon in America are full of restaurant deals, or admission to fun places to visit. And they’re usually at a significant discount, so you can give someone a much fancier treat but still stay within budget.

Or just organise the experience yourself! What about taking your Mum out for high tea, or going to a spa together?

Speaking from my long-distance relationship experience, one of the most thoughtful gifts I received for my birthday this year was money for a flight to Auckland to see my Best Beloved. Simple, clutter-free, but so deeply appreciated. If money seems a bit tacky to you (it doesn’t to me), then you can always get a flight voucher. Or actually just buy the flight/train ticket.

Then there are the gifts that are designed to be used up. Lush is, of course, wonderful at low-packaging gifts which (if your giftee is anything like me) will be all used up before the ball drops on New Years.

But what about something a bit more punk rock?

Well lets see…

How about a donation to your recipient’s favourite charity? Or backing a really cool Kickstarter you know your giftee would support like, for example, Kim Boekbinder’s Infinite Minute where you can get a song written just for them (or a Pledgeme campaign– yep, I went there. More about that tomorrow!). There are plenty of funding campaigns where the rewards aren’t physical. PDFs, digital music, access to cool stuff on the net. And you’re giving something unusual- the kind of thing your giftee doesn’t know they want until they see it.

You could support one of their favourite artists on a site like Loudr or Bandcamp.

Or what about the gift of learning something you know they want to learn? For budding crafters, Craftsy has a huge selection of classes, as does BurdaStyle. Finally, Be More With Less (full disclosure- this is an affiliate link, but for an awesome site) has courses in starting a blog, creating a capsule wardrobe and dressing with less (if you have a friend who’s trying to declutter their wardrobe, this could be perfect!), and creating a meaningful morning routine (which could be great for someone determined to get fit, or just take better care of themselves).

You know the other great thing about clutter-free Christmas gifts? MUCH LESS WRAPPING. Which gives you more time to work on the Christmas craft projects and get them finished. Or watch ‘Die Hard’ and listen to ‘Snoopy’s Christmas’, and avoid the insanity that is anywhere with shops around this time of year. Or start prepping your Christmas meal (there’s a running joke in the UK that we put our Brussels Sprouts in to boil around now, so they’re done just in time for Christmas).

Have you found any fantastic online classes you think would make a lovely Christmas gift? Are you trying for a clutter-free Christmas? Let me know in the comments!

Links of joy: Awesome Christmas gift guide part 3: Sewing

Sewing gifts. Not only is it a great excuse to buy fabric way to use up stash, it’s reasonably fast, and you can make things that fit your giftee exactly.

For example, how about a set of pretty knickers? Or maybe more than one (they don’t use a lot of fabric). Or if your recipient’s tastes are a little less frou frou, how about following this underwear tutorial?

Bags are always a fun and fairly unisex option. The Perfect Pattern Parcel (which you guys know I love) is all bags right now. But I must confess to being rather in love with this Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy messenger bag. I mean hey, I’ve seen ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’. Aliens that look like Kirk from ‘Gilmore Girls’ could turn up and beam me onto their spaceship at any moment- I want to make sure I know where my towel is.

You could also go smaller and make some reusable ziploc-type bagsO for someone who likes to bring their lunch from home.

For kids, how about a snuggly cape with an adorable hood? Actually I also totally want to size that pattern up and make an adult one. You know, for science.

Or if you happen to know a kid (or lets face it, an adult) who loves them some Disney princesses, why not make yourself the Hero of Christmas by making them a super floofy tulle skirt?

Finally, for the hipster/big reader/gadget junkie/Apple fangirl in your life, there’s this tutorial on making perfectly-sized digital cosies.

You could even use Disney Princess fabric for that too. Just saying.

You’re welcome.

Links of Joy: Awesome Christmas gift guide part 2: Knitting & crochet

Knitters of Gayle by Sue Hasker

“I don’t care if your fingers are tired, we’ve only got 48 knitting days left!”

OK, so when you read the title of this post you might be thinking ‘it’s already November!  I can’t possibly do any Christmas knitting in time’. I understand this feeling. Certainly, if you were planning on making, say, a set of Christmas jumpers for your Weasley-sized-family (and I’m assuming here that you don’t have a set of Mrs Weasley’s magical knitting needles that do all the work for you- if you do, let me know in the comments, we should talk.) you’re definitely too late to start once the festive decorations and gifts appear in the shops.

But I digress. You do, in fact, have time to knit some awesome Christmas gifts. Even if you’re a beginner. Don’t believe me? Read on!

Lets start with some super-simple, but super lovely gifts. You could make a set of this geeky dishcloth (which could also be used as a facecloth if you make it in soft cotton), or perhaps this simple classic one? Environmentally friendly, handmade- if you’re looking for something for someone who loves, say, stuff from Lush, this could be perfect (and would be a beautiful companion gift for one of their Christmas soaps or shower gels).

Then there are hats. Hats are a great gift. If you use your time well (knit in front of the TV,  on your lunch break, and on the bus- with the added advantage that you get a seat to yourself a lot longer when you’re armed with pointy sticks), you can knock one of these babies out in a couple of weeks maximum.

There are so many lovely choices, too! I’ve made the Snow Devil hat, and it turns out very fun and flattering. Or there’s Wild is the Wind– a pattern that you can make with any yarn (as with most of Lee Meredith’s patterns- check out the site while you’re there, her designs are fab), and which you can make into a beret, a beanie, or a big slouchy hat depending on the tastes of the person you make it for. It’s also got interesting construction- if you’re going to make something you might as well enjoy the process, no? For those with lots of different oddments of coloured yarn, and friends who will enjoy a crazy accessory, how about the Fish Hat- which can be dead or alive depending on how twisted you or your friends are.

I haven’t forgotten the guys, either (though in fact the fish hat could be a great option if you’re making something for a man who loves to fish…). Keep it simple with this regular guy beanie from Yarn Man knits, or add a splash of colour with Turn A Square by Jared Flood.

If you, like me, are in the Southern hemisphere you may not want to make winter accessories. So how about a pair of earrings, or perhaps a fun little evening bag?

For me, the great thing about knitting is how many quirky options there are. For example you could literally give someone your heart.  If you have a niece (or a grown up friend) who has Blythe dolls, what about making them some outfits? Then there’s the Tiny Owl Knits Fox Stole for your vintage-loving gals (no fur!).

But it’s when you find a site like The AntiCraft that things get really fun. How about a menstrual cup cozy shaped like a Kraken (which you could also use to store a phone, or Ipod, or coins)- just imagine the fun you’ll have answering the age old question ‘what are you making?’. Maybe you’d prefer to tell the enquirer you’re making a shrunken head coin purse, though. Well, your wish is granted!  If you know any tabletop gamers, they might appreciate their very own plushie Beholder (bonus points- you get to glue on a whole bunch of googly eyes! Who doesn’t love googly eyes?) A tea cosy for your favourite pirate is also sorted.

What do pirates knit with? Yarrrrrrn.

On which note, I should probably stop. So, you badass crafters, what are you making for the festive season this year? Are you making gifts, or keeping all your crafty skills to yourself this year? Let me know in the comments!

 

Links of Joy: Awesome Christmas Gift Guide- cross stitch

“Ellen.”

“Yes?”

“ELLEN.”

“What?”

“It’s not even HALLOWEEN yet!”

You’re very observant. But if you’re planning on making things to give people, you really need to get started pretty soon unless you’re MUCH faster than me. Me, I started stitching Christmas gifts last week, because I know what I’m like.

And by ‘I know what I’m like’ what I mean is I’m much lazier about these things than I should be until it’s probably too late to finish everything I planned. Last time I had a big project to finish (making a wedding quilt for two very dear friends of mine), I started 9 months beforehand and I STILL didn’t get it finished until a couple of weeks ahead of the wedding.

Anyway, just to give you some ideas, here are some cross-stitches you could consider making. Cross stitch! It’s not difficult, you can make a bunch of them from one piece of Aida cloth, and you still get to go shopping- for awesome frames.

Also I resisted the temptation to link you to a bunch of beard-themed cross-stitches even though they’ve been calling to me. If you saw the Best Beloved you’d understand.

But I digress.

First, here’s one for that friend you know would be sitting in the jail cell next to you saying “that was awesome! Lets do it again.”

And one for your family (if they’re anything like, well, most families)- I’m considering making this for my Best Beloved’s Dad.

For the friend who is a liability if left alone with a credit card and Book Depository. Which is most of the people I know.

For the pre-teen in your life. Or maybe that’s just me. Who couldn’t do with a reminder to channel someone fierce in their lives?

Or perhaps you’re the sort of person who likes to give Christmassy Christmas gifts (or know someone who loves to receive them)?

How about this rather awesome festive pattern. Or there’s this DEFINITELY Christmas-themed one if you’re making something for, well, any geek man I’ve ever met and most of the girls.

Finally, this isn’t a pattern but I very much like the sentiment. What can I say? I’m a romantic at heart.

You can, of course, get a bunch more ideas on my Cross Stitch Shenanigans Pinterest board, if you’re so inclined.

What are you planning to make for Christmas? Let me know in the comments. And I’d love to see what you make if you use one of the patterns here or on the Pinterest. Show off your mad crafting skills!

Links of Joy- Sewmageddon

This week is a sewing inspiration kind of a week. When I’m stressed, even thinking about crafting helps me chill out. The excitement and ideas take over for a bit and release some of the pressure.

Usually, I’m quite careful about exactly what I buy. I’m terrible for leaving things in online shopping carts for-freaking-ever before I buy them.

To anyone who’s seen the number of parcels that generally arrive for me in a given week I can only say…no really. I’m actually restrained.

But then I signed up for the sneak peek of Colette’s new pattern Dahlia, and when I saw it it was an insta-buy. The sleeved version is a perfect dress for looking elegant and covering my big new tattoo at work, it looks straightforward to make, and best of all it’s currently on sale at 15% off.

I got the PDF download but there’s also a lovely paper pattern available. If vintage-y dresses are your thing you should also look at Colette’s sale page, which right now has some of the paper patterns for their other dresses on sale at a substantial discount. How can you say no to gorgeousness like this?

Then I discovered the Make This Look section of Sew Weekly. Ermagerd- it takes dresses from online stores and finds patterns to allow you to make something similar. I’ve been eyeing up the Soda Fountain Dress from Modcloth since I discovered the site (before I had to unsubscribe from their e-mails because they were making me want ALL THE THINGS), so I was especially excited to see that I could make something very like it– but to fit me properly around the bust! In really beautiful fabric (no, probably not that mustard yellow, it would look good on some people but not me). Or if you add a contrasting sash, you have the Hepcat dress. LOVE.

Of course, both the above patterns involve sleeves, so this tutorial from Cowbutt Crunchies Cosplay on how to sew sleeves without wanting to murder people would probably come in handy.

I’ll leave you with a couple of fun things:

For those of you going all Halloween up in here, how about five different ways to make a Morticia skirt, because who doesn’t want to do an Addams Family costume at least once?

Or you could go as Zombie Bridesmaid Pippa Middleton, because why not? Hey, it would scare me.

What projects are you working on at the moment? Have you found any patterns you’re longing to sew? Let me know in the comments!

Mid-week (well kinda) joy: Guided meditations

What can I say? Yesterday was a Day. Today is a better one. So you get some midweek joy, following on from my post about Tarot Meditation last Wednesday, and later on today we’ll be back to the normal schedule.

As I said last week, I’ve found guided meditations a very useful part of my meditation practice. They keep me on task, and have led to some really beautiful ‘ah’ moments. Here are a few of my favourites:

The Six Phase Meditation by Vishen Lakhiani is a great way to start your day, focusing in on what you’re thankful for, and visualising how you want your day to unfold. I use the physical relaxation process from the beginning of this with other meditations, it’s a good way to get into the right space.

Don’t let the name fool you- the Meditation Manicure by Gabrielle Bernstein is fantastic. It’s a climbing visualisation which I’ve returned to over and again- and when you’re starting out in a meditation practice I can’t recommend it highly enough. I choose to climb to higher thoughts– such a great affirmation to work with.

If, like me, you pay attention to the phases of the moon, a great meditation for the Full Moon is the meditation to release negativity by Doreen Virtue. It feels like floating, is the best way I can describe it. Just give it a try.

The Meditation Society of Australia offer a bunch of free guided meditations on their website.  Yes, it’s a very old-school website. But I can forgive them that. You can sign up for the Learn to Meditate podcasts via Itunes, otherwise you’ll need to register with their site. I found the Cliff, the Crossroads, and the Train meditations to be especially good.

If you give these a go, I’d love to know what you think! If you’ve got other guided meditations you’ve found useful, I’d love to know about them. You know where the comments are, go to it, and happy rest-of-the-week!

Links of Joy: Giggles

For this week, despite the temptation to yet again link you to a bunch of pretties you might also like to buy, I’m going instead with a few things that have been making me laugh.

Lets start with, imho, three of the best celebrity Ice Bucket Challenges (yep, I went there. What can I say? There’s a Zeitgeist and this time I’m jumping in.)

First up, the Otter King himself, Benedict Cumberbatch (or as he’s known to me and my ex-flatmate J, Bundaberg Crumblybumbly. Why Bundaberg Crumblybumbly? Blame this text conversation (not mine, one she read to me))

[youtube=http://youtu.be/YOa7ZjxRuKM]

And then there’s fantasy author Patrick Rothfuss, taking it to a new and scientific level. That’s how we do it!

[youtube=http://youtu.be/n-UGa1nWIfo]

I think, though, it’s Patrick Stewart who nails it.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wkO4NIqAMss

The Out of Context D&D Quotes Tumblr has been making me snork rather more than I really should be doing at work. One of my friends has now announced that ‘first of all, how dare you‘ is her new battle cry. As for me, I plan to steal this name for a future campaign character as insurance against my current one being offed by the GMs. What? It’s a totally valid strategy. 

RIP Joan Rivers.

And yes, I know this video of a baby getting his hearing aids switched on for the first time has been everywhere but it gave me such warm fuzzies. Yeah, I’m a sap. And proud of it. 

We made it to Wednesday! Go us!

Links of joy: Inks of joy!

Yep, it’s a bunch of links about tatoos. What can I say? The one I got is healing up beautifully and I’m excited to get more.

If you’re considering one and it’s your first, you can read some tips on getting a tattoo from real tattoo artists. Pay attention to what they say about working with the artist.

Of course Gala Darling also wrote about how to get a great tattoo and although she’s since said she’s experienced some tattoo regret, I think that that idea of your tattoo having to mean something, other than just being beautiful? I don’t agree. Some really beautiful tattoos are art for art’s sake and there’s value in that too.  

Alli Woods Frederick of Kisses and Chaos wrote a post on 5 things you should know about tattoos and, like everything she writes, it’s good stuff. 

I stumbled across the awesome looking Things and Ink magazine quite by accident, and I already ordered two of the back issues. Artistic, with cultural content about tattoo history and current trends- It looks like it’ll be a fascinating read. Issues about identity, and celebration, and art? Yes please.

I arrived at Things and Ink via The Laughing Medusa’s blog, which has a whole load of “tattoo talks“- interviews with people who have them, or make them, even a laser removal technician

I’ll leave you with a non-tattoo related beauty link. This post from a blogger who found a bunch of her old Body Shop perfume oils brought back so many memories for me. I was an Ananya girl (because my Mum already took White Musk for herself). I can still remember the smell of their coconut perfume oil, and longing for the jasmine perfume because I read about it in Just Seventeen. Did anyone else frequent the perfume oil tester bar at the back of each Body Shop with the big glass tester bottles and their glass wands? Heaven. And dear God, I remember wanting Exclamation perfume, and owning a bottle of Tribe and adoring it.