Sunday, July 29, 2012


We took off for Arrowtown one morning while we were staying in Queenstown. A tiny, most picturesque spot and one of the main site's of the goldpanning way back in the day. I was all waxing historical as we explored the Chinese goldminers settlement, until i realised Jed was not paying much attention. Usually he is full of questions and imagining what life was like back then. But not today. On this day, there was ice.
 And i realised, he had never seen it. Ice cubes yes...frozen puddles and streams? Nope. I shut up and just watched. Exploring. Pretty important stuff.
 The work of a child.
 We got into some historial wondering later. Days were spent making camp and gold panning when we got home. A kind lady at an Arrowtown jewellers let us hold a huge nugget of gold. $10,000 worth! They had a bunch of nuggets found right where we had been exploring earlier that day. And Uncle Kev told us the story of his buddy who gold pans for a hobby and who found one of the very nuggets we'd seen on display.
Love it when history comes alive.
And friends were made. There are always new friends to be made, even in the most unlikely of places.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

mountain life

 I feel in two minds about having family in Queenstown, in NZ's South Island. 1) It is far from here so Jed doesn't get to see his cousin very much, but 2) it is SO very beautiful it is kinda cool to have an excuse to HAVE to go. Plus we got to hang with the Queenstown chapter of the family, it is a guaranteed good time.
 And, we got to borrow these groovy wheels for a trip up to the ski fields of Coronet Peak and beyond. (Any excuse to cruise in that ute really...)
 We had to stop and explore the minute the little fella spied snow. My patched up seventies ski overalls i bought off trademe for him did the trick nicely. Plus, he had the hair and homeknit to complete the seventies vibe!
 Some adventure time, some quiet time, time talking to the mountains, chickens to hang with, alpine tussock grass to slide down hills on, gondola's to ride, great food, awe inspiring sunsets, time with family. Yeah, i think i do wish they lived closer!
Did i mention time to play? Always time to play!

Saturday, July 21, 2012

caffeinated crafting

 A few nights out from our flight to Queenstown i got a bee in my bonnet about gloves. Not just any gloves, i wanted to try making a pair of Alabama Chanin hand sewn fingerless gloves. I photocopied the pattern from her latest book and set to work. Well, actually, first i made myself a kick-ass cup of coffee, THEN i set to work.
 I used one layer of brown cotton jersey (two upcycled t-shirts in contrasting colours would look great) and the outer layer in a black merino i had in the stash. They came together in no time. Handsewing is so portable, i got most of it done in 'spare' (read: stolen) moments through out the day.
And i tell you, they came in handy in the mountains. More about that soon. One thing though, i cut the merino on the wrong angle on one piece so it started fraying (these are all raw edges), my bad...all the other edges are fine, and i like the edginess of the raw edges.
I hope this week has treated you all well. x

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

The Dress Up Box- super heroes

 Jed's Small Poppies class did a session on super heroes last term. And wow, did that ever go down well...they came up with a super hero persona each, then made a cape (with no sewing involved, imagine!) and a mask and held a parade complete with super hero moves. Very cool to watch these kids engage their inner super heroes.
Jed's was Animal Rescue Guy. Super colour: green. Super hero powers? Yup, every single one.
Mission? And i quote, 'he saves animals that are endangered or just about to be extinct or shot. And talks to war guys to say that war is not good and to do community work and saving animals so they can be super heroes too'.
Pretty cool guy to have around this Animal Rescue Guy.
 He even went off and drew a symbol: the world with a helping hand.
 The outfit got huge wear over the next few days and the night before a super hero themed birthday party i dug out the mask (made of paper and cellophane) and realised it wasn't up to party wear and tear.
 I took a pattern by tracing directly around the paper mask...cut out two pieces of wool felt, one in black, one in green, nabbed a thin piece of elastic from my stash, five minutes on the sewing machine and voila...
...a comfy to wear new super hero mask. Then i had to make one for the birthday girl. I think there will be a few more of these off the crafting table in the weeks to come. Sew fun.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

alabama update

I finally finished the Alabama Chanin 'corset'. It's in the same fabrics as I made my skirt in. I am loving the return to handsewing garments. When I lived out a backpack for years I would handsew clothes from upcycled bits and pieces I found on my travels. Especially when I had something on my mind. Handwork brings such a zenlike peace to me, it is like a moving meditation. And whatever is on my mind gets sort of sewn into the garment.
I had the newest Alabama Chanin book, Studio Sewing and Design: A guide to handsewing an Alabama Chanin wardrobe, out from the library and they have honed their patterns and techniques hugely so I recommend this last book for those who want to give it a go.
I learnt the Cretan stitch on armhole and neck bindings which was satisfying.
They are the most comfortable clothes to wear. If you've been around awhile you might remember the pattern piece for the front bodice piece was short and I had to add another piece in. I had big plans to do some fancy applique over it, but have'nt gone there yet. I like the clean lines of the bodice as it is for now. Even with it's wee hiccup in the front there. I am fond of the odd quirk. One late night when I am twitching to sew that may change.

I like the lines of the newest Alabama book's clothes, I have a pile of cotton jersey here waiting for the next Alabama project. She has patterns for singlets, T's, basic long sleeve shirts as well tunics, bolero's, wraps, hats, fingerless gloves (already cut out and waiting on my worktable, in merino and jersey double layers) and various dresses. Lots of new stitchs, beading techniques and applique ideas in there too.

If you are new to Alabama Chanin's work check out my first Alabama blog post HERE .

Thursday, July 12, 2012


We have a small house and this birthday is a winter gig in this hemisphere so invitations are a few select. The birthday one is not keen on large groups anyway, so that makes it easy. As ever, he is the ideas guy...i kinda scramble to make it all happen. (Okay, okay, i can't resist throwing in some ideas of my own too...) stuff.
We made these little booklets for each friend/cousin and taped a little coloured pencil on the back of each.
Jed signed them all and i sent him into our wee post office with some money. It helps that the post mistress is a lovely friend and sooo good with kidlets. (Hi Chris!)
I love the thought of these little people getting snail mail. I wonder how much of it they'll get in their lives, the world has leaned so much toward the electronic lately. I am a keen screen person when it comes to communications, i am a writer i guess. I'm not so keen on talking on the phone. But a dear friend and i still write great wads of letters and send them across the oceans to each other. I love that...i love that the pieces of paper still have the 'feel' of her on them, she touched them, i can visualise her room where she wrote them, y'know? You get these nuances in handwriting that isn't possible with screen based comm's, like how hard the pen pressed into the paper, the rush of letters or the crowding of them in the rush to get the pesky varmints onto the page. It's just different how my mind works writing longhand as compared to typing too.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

the racetrack number

 I love how learning unfolds in daily life.
Somehow, the number eight has become 'the racetrack number'. Sudden interest in the number eight brought out the crafting box and we made a rainbow racing track. Out came the eight rainbow gnomes and the kete (flax basket) full of vehicles. Perfect for a sunny moment on the deck.
The rainbow racetrack got left out overnight which made the felt tip art all blurry like watercolours which was pretty fascinating but, then Jed came running inside to say it had left an eight on the deck. And if you look at the first photo up there, it sure did! Cue curious small one's questions about dew.
The stuff i actually plan is never as exciting or cool as things that just happen, or ideas Jed comes up with.
Sigh. (Happy sigh)

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

bat wings, rabbits and small boys

 It is truly winter here in my corner of New Zealand. I was missing a layer. I needed something boxy, fairly short in length and with nice drape to the fabric. Something to throw on over whatever i was wearing to add a bit of warmth. I dug out a length of fine weave merino wool jersey i snaffled for $5 a metre. Using a batwing top i designed earlier in the year for a guide, enlarging the width, i whipped this one up.
All using an adjusted zig zag, not a seam finish in sight. This merino doesnt fray and it is for me to wear and i don't mind...if it were to sell, there would be no raw edges believe me!
Give it a try. You can use any stretch fabric for this kind of design. We won't call this a tutorial blog post, but if anyone needs more guidance, you know where to find me...on the other end of an email.
The scarf came along the next evening.
As did the bunny.
 I have so many photos with my son speeding on through them, or pictures with his foot or an arm flung, or some random thing he's placed in the frame to 'help'. Now i have TWO boys zooming through a bunch of my photos. Chester the rabbit and his trusty cohort, Jed Isaac.
Cracks me up. They are a curious pair. And put on a better show than TV for sure.