Archive for the ‘Crafty’ Category


I am ridiculously excited to have finally finished a project. My last reported project was the draft stopper in September last year, and the lack of finishing has made me a little antsy. Even though I’m not a craft factory and this hobby of mine is not about how quickly I can produce crafty output, it really does feel good, almost triumphant, to say ‘I’m finished!’.

Hypnowolf action shot.jpg

This bag was a lot of fun to make and I’m incredibly pleased with the result. One of the things I liked the most about it was how unfussy it was – the design is asymmetric so it didn’t matter when my stitching became a bit… asymmetric. I also liked that the fabric was thick enough that I didn’t need my embroidery hoop. Even though using an embroidery hoop isn’t that much of a hassle, it was still nice to have one less thing to worry about when working on the bag.

I also liked taking photos of it as I finished with each colour. In my last post, I posted a photo after finishing all the dark brown sections. Here it is after completing the mid brown sections:

Mid brown complete.jpg

And with the light brown sections completed:

light brown, completed.jpg

I love how striking the wolf is. Matt thought that it looked a little scary, but I can’t stop looking at it. In fact, I’m considering doing all over again but in a wall hanging. Let’s call it a potential rebound project.

The only area of concern for me was the amount of floss included in the kit. I had plenty of light and dark brown floss left, but I used every last skerrick of the mid brown. This was good from the perspective of using everything up, but not so good for my poor risk-averse nerves. If I had come up short, I would have been trying to find the same dye lot. Given that the kit came from the UK and I’m in Australia, I suspect I would have been out of luck. It’s entirely possible that I lost some floss along the way, but it did cause me some slight heartburn as I neared the end of the floss.

Now that it’s finished, I’m a little sad I won’t be working on it again. Hence, the consideration of the rebound project. If you’re in the market for an easy but slightly hypnotic embroidery project, this one is definitely worth considering.

Holiday crafting

Before my holidays started, I had grand plans to bowl over some neglected knitting and sewing. Then Christmas happened and my little sister gave me a Navajo Wolf bag kit from What Delilah Did. Then I started working on it straight away. Then my eyes and shoulders got tired (I’d like to say I really get my shoulders into cross stitching, but I just have terrible posture), but I worked through the pain. It’s been while since I’d cross stitched and evidently I forgot how much I enjoy it.

Now I’m back at work, I’ve gone back to knitting on my commute. For the sake of my eyes, hands, shoulders and relationship (can’t talk, cross stitching.), I’m rationing the cross stitching to only a little bit each night after dinner. This is what it looked like after finishing all the dark brown parts:

Navajo Wolf, dark brown completed.jpg

I’m now working on the mid brown sections and it’s nice seeing the colours come together. For once I’m not worried about my stitches being a bit wonky in places; I’m enjoying the process and love seeing the grey crosses printed on the back being filled in, little by little, by colour.

This project has given me a taste of working on pre-printed needlework bag kits, so I’ve been digging around for more. What Delilah Did has another kit, and although it’s not cross stitch, Sublime Stitching also has some nice totes. In all honesty I don’t know if I need any more totes, but sometimes there’s no point trying to fight these things.

Timeliness is a virtue

Let’s just say I’m extending Easter by posting about it one week late…

Normally Easter Sunday here consists of throwing a few Easter eggs around and calling it a hunt. Thanks to Not Martha’s timely post on papier-mache easter eggs, this year we took a different route.

It was a lot of effort for five minutes of destruction, but I think it was worth it for the smell of Clag alone. Who knew that the smell of a water and flour paste would bring back memories of Primary School? I feel it’s probably appropriate at this point to point out that I didn’t eat Clag as a kid, and I wasn’t even a little tempted to eat some while making the piñata.

Next time (and there will be a next time), I’ll probably use fewer layers of newspaper and use a slightly less ‘Toy Story ball‘ colour scheme. It’d also probably be a good idea to put in lollies and toys that were a bit lighter than the solid eggs we put in this one; in the end we needed to use four anchor points to hold the weight of the piñata. However, we were still able to give it a bash, break it open and get the contents, and that’s all that matters really.

Hope everyone’s Easter breaks were, or continue to be, nice and relaxing!


Christmas Day is now just a blip of a memory, but my Christmas was recently extended by the receipt of more presents (spoilt child that I am). One of those presents was very very precious, and I was, and still am, very lucky to receive it. My Mumma, the person who taught me to knit, gave me her button collection.

button box

For many crafty types, a grandmother’s button collection is a source of much joy and wonderment. This was no exception. Not only did I get a lot of lovely old buttons, but in some cases, she put sets of them in little bags and included stories of where the buttons came from.

panto buttons

‘These gold coloured buttons came from Aunt Nan in England. They were on a black silk jacket she had for a panto for the old ones. She was 88 then (lived to 99). Sent to be used for fancy dress, [my dad] had it on his Greek Evzone jacket. Won first prize.’

nana buttons

‘This is an old collection of my Mum (Granny), Nanna and some I collected over the years. I remember sitting on the mat in front of the fireplace at No.12 [her childhood home] and playing for hours with the button tin.’

I am very much my Mumma’s granddaughter in that we both knit, love op shopping and owls (my Mumma was all over ‘put a bird on it’ way before Portlandia). In our own ways we each love the past; I’m a sucker for nostalgia and she’s a mad keen genealogist. I haven’t really shown that much interest in my family’s history, but this button collection has completely knocked me over. Owning buttons from relatives that I know (Mumma), knew (Granny) and never met (Aunt Nan and Nanna) is really indescribable. They will be treasured.

Little paper stockings

For a good part of yesterday afternoon, Matt and I worked on putting these little beauties together. As many of my non-knitting projects do, this started off as a childhood memory. When I was younger, I really liked receiving those clear plastic stockings filled with popular chocolate bars for Christmas. They’re admittedly cheap, overpriced tat, but there’s no accounting for taste when you’re younger (my love of New Kids on the Block is another example of my dubious taste as a child). From that little seed of a memory, I made my own version of them.

paper stockings

Because they’re pretty quick to put together, and thus could work as a last minute gift, I thought I’d note down how we went about making them.

Stocking template
Sewing thread

Wrapped sweets


I’m not good at drawing, so I found a stocking template on Google Images to trace around. My stockings ended up being around 18cm long, 8.5cm wide at the top and the foot 12.5cm long. However, rather than be prescriptive about it all, I recommend finding a template that appeals and go with that. Or, if you are that way inclined, draw a stocking shape freehand.

traced out stockings

We then traced the stocking shape onto a double layer of paper. We used brown paper from a large stationery chain store and could fit three stockings across the width of the paper. The most important thing about selecting paper to use in this project is to choose something that is strong enough to hold the weight of the sweets and treats you wish to put in them, but not so stiff that it can’t be closed up at the top.

At this point it’s probably best to cut around the stockings, leaving a 0.5-1cm seam allowance, but as my sewing skills are about as good as my drawing skills, I sewed around the stockings first using my sewing machine then cut them out. In some ways this was a good exercise in sewing machine control for me… in fact, it’s possibly something I should have done before launching into sewing garments. Oh well, you live, you learn.

sewn stockings

Then we erased any visible pencil marks, and filled with a delightful assortment of wrapped lollies. I found it a bit difficult to get lollies into the toe of the stocking. This slight issue could easily be alleviated by making a bigger stocking, or using a template where the foot is not at a right angle to the leg.

stocking with lollies

Once the stocking is filled with treats, sew up the top, trim any excess thread and any excess paper at the top, and you’re done!

‘Tis a really simple project; in fact, I’m wondering whether I really needed to write out directions. Unnecessary though they may be, they do provide a good segue way into wishing you all a very relaxing and enjoyable holiday period. Stay safe if you’re driving anywhere, and beware of snow drifts (this goes for people in the northern or southern hemisphere!).

Colouring with thread

It was lovely to read everyone’s comments about my Derwents, it’s nice to know that their popularity wasn’t confined to just my primary and high schools.

The Derwents were used to plan out my latest graphic design assignment: an A3 poster based on a song lyric of my choosing. I’m fairly inept at both drawing and using image editors so I had to be a bit creative in how I produced the poster. Luckily, I recently came across a lovely cross stitch blog, and had been thinking about doing some cross stitch. So, it was decided that cross stitch would be a good way to avoid drawing and image editing software.

Armed with grid paper, coloured pencils and youthful enthusiasm, I put together a pattern based on a cross stitch border found on etsy, vintage transfers found on Flickr and a particularly uplifting lyric from Morrissey. A week and a half later and with slightly less youthful enthusiasm, I had cross stitched this:

poster full

To save my sanity somewhat, the cross stitch is around A4 size, half the required size. Through the magic of scanners, I then made it A3. Although some of the texture is lost through scanning, it works surprisingly well as a paper poster. I won’t bother posting the scanned version of it, as it more or less looks the same as the photo.

For those playing at home, the lyric is from How Soon Is Now? by The Smiths. My Dad seemed a bit dismayed when he saw the cross stitch today; I’m not sure he understood why I went to all the effort of cross stitching something so depressing. To me, that’s the point of it — dainty is often associated with pretty or positive things, when it doesn’t necessarily need to be that way.

Prior to this assignment, I had only attempted cross stitch once when I was ten. My auntie helped me to make a couple of book marks for my parents which I think worked out ok, if not a little wonky. There’s still a fair bit of wonk to this piece, but I don’t think it would be as good if it was perfect.

poster border

Irrespective of the mark I get for the assignment, I’m really proud of this work. It’s not often I look at things I’ve made with a sense of pride. I’m often happy or satisfied with a knitting project or other non-crafty pieces of work, but pride is just that step further. The trick will now be to make sure I keep doing things that I feel proud about.

Well loved pencils

I’m currently doing a short course in graphic design, and my most recent assignment has allowed me to dust off my colouring pencils.


They were my most treasured item for quite some time during the 90s. Back in primary school, Derwents were the king of colouring pencils, so I was very excited to receive a set of 72 studio Derwents for Christmas one year.

all lined up

These pencils were extremely well loved, and as a result the tin they came in and the plastic trays are a bit haggard. However, they were all in order — even now I have a compulsion to set them all in numerical order, with the writing facing the top.

unevenly loved

It was funny to see which colours were my favourites back then. Shades of purple, teal, red and black were sharpened down to stubs, whereas most of the colours I prefer these days, green and brown, have barely been used.

As I’ve been using my coloured pencils over the last week, I’ve been surprised by the memories it’s conjured up. You never know when nostalgia will strike!

A modest sheep and wool show

Yesterday Matt, Mum, my sister and I went to the Australian Sheep and Wool Show held in Bendigo. It was absolutely freezing yesterday, even with Henry to keep my neck warm, so most of our time was spent in the sheds, with only a cursory glance at the sheepdog trials as we scurried from shed to shed. Like last year, there was a sea of Ravelry badges at the show, but this time I felt a little less intimidated. Perhaps 2011 is the year I’ll actually attend one of the events organised on Ravelry…

We didn’t get the camera out at the show, which is quite fortunate given the battery was pretty much dead when I took this post’s photos this afternoon. I apologise in advance for the photos — it’s a very dull and dreary day making natural light hard to come by.


Last year, I only bought one skein of yarn. This year, I also bought one skein of yarn. Funnily enough, it was Colinette Jitterbug, the same as last year, but this time in Vincent’s Apron. Vincent’s Apron was the colourway I became enamoured with at the show last year, but I didn’t buy it then because it didn’t fall within my yarn buying policy guidelines (only buy yarn when I know what I’m going to knit with it. It might not make sense, but I’m running with it). However, I could not stop thinking about it. Luckily, this scarf pattern came along, which I thought would look great in Vincent’s Apron. When I got to Sarah Durrant’s stand yesterday, I couldn’t find a skein of it anywhere, bringing on a cold sweat, but fortunately she had some in a tub at the back. So it only took a year of deliberation, but I finally bought the yarn I obsessed over at last year’s show.

circular case

In addition to the single skein of yarn, I purchased a Namaste Circular Case from Stranded in Oz. I wasn’t planning to buy one of these yesterday, but had been looking at them online for a little while. There’s an ongoing battle between me and my circular needles, and up to this point, the circulars have been winning. I’m hoping this piece of modern knitting organisational weaponry will help me overcome my circulars’ tangling and absconding ways.

woven scarf.jpg

The last of my purchases was completely on impulse, which is very unusual for me. I bought this beautiful woven scarf from the Bendigo Spinners Weavers and Handcrafts Group’s stand, for the princely sum of $25. It seems to be made from two different types of Bendigo Woollen Mills yarns — Rustic for the warp, and Mohair for the weft. It’s a bit prickly around my neck, so it’ll soon have a conditioner and wool wash bath which will hopefully soften it up. Besides that, I really love it. The colour is great and I like the herringbone weave a lot.

I feel a bit guilty for paying so little for it. Although I have absolutely no experience in weaving, I can’t imagine that $25 is sufficient compensation for the person who made it. Perhaps I should have offered to pay more? It’s quite a vexed issue.

So, there endeth my Sheep and Wool Show wrap up for this year. My purchases were pretty modest and pretty yellow, but I’m really happy with what I brought home.

Sunshiny garden furniture – a DIY tale

Eleven months ago, we brought home an outdoor table and chair that was in need of a bit of love and attention. I posted a photo of them previously, but here’s a reminder:

table and chair before

With a few repairs courtesy of my Dad and some sandblasting, powder coating, new wood, bolts, paint and a generous dollop of procrastination, the poor old table and chair was new again.


I am so so pleased with how they turned out. Initially I had doubts about the yellow we chose, but once assembled, it goes well with the white. The colours we used were Taubmans Yellow Spark and Dulux White on White, both in semi-gloss.

Strangely, the most difficult thing to procure were the bolts. A major Australian hardware chain that is the place to go to for these kind of items only had bolts with the manufacturer’s logo on the dome. This simply would not do, so an extensive search commenced. Finally we found some logo-less bolts at an independent hardware store. They came in a brown paper bag, which made me happier than it probably should.


As there’s only one chair and two of us, another one (or two or three) chairs are needed to complete the set. On the upside, there’s more than enough paint left over — the smallest amount of paint we could buy was one litre, which was more than enough, even with multiple coats.

I could really get used to this furniture restoration caper. It seemed to take a lot longer than it should to finish, but I’m so proud of the end result. The perfect christening would be do sit outside in the sunshine with some tea and scones with jam and cream. I might just have to wait a little while longer for that to happen.

So. Japan. (aka settle in, this is a long post)

We loved it to bits.

We went to museums…

DSC_0840 (1).jpg

… and to temples


Ate crazy food


Shopped. A lot


Relived some of my childhood


Saw snow falling in Tokyo (a relatively unusual event, apparently)


and wandered around aimlessly.


We only really covered Tokyo and Kyoto in the two weeks we were there, but we’re very keen to go back and explore.

Our Japanese language skills are virtually non-existent, but we were able to get around fine. Everyone we had to converse with was very polite and helpful and we learnt to never underrate the usefulness of mime to get past the language barrier.

As vegetarians, we did have some trouble finding food but managed OK. Positive notable mentions include Deva Deva in Kichijoji, Cafe Proverbs 15:17 in Kyoto, Eat more greens in Azabu and the numerous convenience stores for their delicious and cheap kombu onigiri. A dishonourable mention goes to Disneyland — there was only one place that served vegetarian food, but it had to be purchased as part of a three course meal. Three course meals aren’t conducive to cramming in as many rides as possible into a day.


Craftwise, I did something possibly quite blasphemous. I did not buy any yarn. I did see some lovely (and not so lovely – Sean Sheep novelty yarn, to be exact!) yarn about, but decided to hold out for fabric. I came back with a lot of linen and could have come back with more. Next time, I’ll have to travel during warmer months so I can pack less and take more back! We also visited possibly the most wonderful shop in the world, Rollo in Kyoto which sold vintage trim, buttons and beads. It was a funny little shop, open funny hours, but if I was ever to open a shop, I would want it to be like Rollo. I loved it.

There is so much more I could say about Japan, but feel I have rabbited on enough. However, I’d like to finish with some tips for people who are planning to visit Japan in the future.


If you are planning to spend most of your time in Tokyo, think carefully about buying a Japan Rail Pass. They can be used on the above ground JR lines, but are of most use if you plan to tour around Japan. We purchased 14 day passes, when we should have bought a 7 day pass for use when going to Kyoto.

When in Tokyo, I highly recommend getting a Pasmo or Suica card for travel on the Subway. We were lucky in that our hosts had some spare passes we could top up, which meant we didn’t need to worry about buying subway tickets. If you have an iPhone or iPod touch, I highly recommend Tokyo Metro 09 to help with commuting from place to place. It works offline, so doesn’t cost you anything data wise, and we found it very very useful. The app cost AUD$1.19.

In Kyoto, the best way to get around is by bus, using a 500 yen daily pass in conjunction with a Bus Navi, a map with all the routes and major sights.


As mentioned previously, we did have a little trouble being vegetarian, but we still ate well. Happy Cow has good listings of vegetarian/vegan places to eat, and we relied on it heavily. There is an app that uses Happy Cow listings, but requires the use of an internet connection so we didn’t use it while away.

If all else fails, there are convenience stores everywhere, which sell really quite cheap and pretty healthy food. We ate a lot of onigiri and plain inari, but didn’t get sick of it.


There seems to be an insatiable appetite for shopping in Tokyo, and it’s really hard not to get swept up in it. The guide we relied on most was the Tokyo Shopping Guide from Asking For Trouble. There’s also a great Tokyo shopping post on The Lark.


It’s really quite hard to come up with a ‘must do’ list, but some of the highlights for us were the Studio Ghibli Museum in Mitaka (buy your ticket before getting to Japan), the view from the Mori Art Museum in Roppongi and Ginkaku-ji (temple of the silver pavillion) in Kyoto. A special mention must go to Hakone, a day trip from Tokyo. There is lots to see and do there, but it’s worth setting aside a good portion of a day to see the Hakone Open Air Museum. It’s one of the best museums I have ever been to, hands down.

Despite the above list, possibly the best thing you can do while in Tokyo or Kyoto though is just wander around. You can stumble across some wonderful treasures.

So, that’s our Japan trip summed up in one, very long for this blog, blog post. If you’ve ever considered going to Japan, I highly recommend it. It’s a really wonderful place.