18 November, 2015

Spoonflower organic knit fabric

I was so excited when Spoonflower had their annual free shipping day just when I was wanting some neat knit fabrics to make tshirts from, and I ordered two fabrics for me, and one for Hazel, all from Andrea Lauren. I was surprised how thick the fabric was when it arrived, although I suppose I should have been able to figure that out from the weight given for the base fabric. Anyways, I washed them (the ink was very stiff and had a strong smell) and made them up and they look great at first glance but I have some real issues with how the fabric behaved after that which is super disappointing.

Spoonflower organic knit issues

I mostly sewed them using my overlocker and despite having ballpoint needles in, and never having this issue with any other knits, the fabric developed little holes where the needle went in. Here you can see it along one of the side seams. It's almost like the fabric is brittle, in that where it's bent back on itself the stitches have cut at the fabric, along with the hole caused by the needle going in. It's not all that obvious when the seam's not pulled back, but I don't know how long until it looks really tatty. The first wash didn't make it look much worse so I'm hoping for the best.

Spoonflower organic knit issues

Here it's happened particularly badly at the thick point where the shoulder seam meets the neck binding. The crappy stitching is my machine catching on the seam, can't blame that on Spoonflower! You can also see how it's pulled at the stitches along the shoulder seam.

Spoonflower organic knit issues

And then to add insult to injury, I discovered that I'd managed to miss a giant slub in the fabric - and placed it dead centre on the front of course.

Spoonflower organic knit issues

So yeah I have a couple of cute tshirts that are wearable but I definitely won't be buying the organic knit fabric again. Anyone have experience with the woven fabrics? I bought some tea towels on the linen/cotton canvas that I'll be curious to see after they've washed.

15 November, 2015

Impeccable timing

Kitchen sewing

Half way through quilting a Christmas present my machine has decided to start skipping stitches and to get all funky with the tension. Poor old thing, it was never designed to do as much sewing as it has over the last 15 years and it's definitely starting to feel its age. I just need to nurse it through a bit longer until I can afford a fancier one, so I hope the repair place can sort it out asap and I'll see if I know anyone I can borrow one from for a bit. Of all the times for it to happen though - I've got a couple more projects to get done before Xmas!

I'm using our crappy old outdoor table to sew on as our kitchen currently looks like this and will shortly be lacking walls and a ceiling. I wanted to get as much done as I could while I had the space, although the state of the floor means that even if I wasn't planning on washing the quilt before I give it to my brother, it would certainly need it now! The straight lines of the floor boards are just too good to not use for sandwiching and squaring up though, my only quibble with them is that they seem to be metric boards, not in inches :D

Kitchen sewing

04 November, 2015

Crocheting with hemp yarn

My friend Yumiko has a huge collection of Japanese craft books of all sorts, and she brought a few of her crochet ones to our stitch group a couple months ago to show me. I fell in love with two of the flower ones so I searched them up on Yes Asia and bought them, along with this book on hemp bags (ISBN978-4-7778-1482-4). I had no idea what was in it really, I managed to find a few photos online, but it was a bit of a gamble! When they arrived I was pleased I'd taken the chance and am looking forward to doing several of them.

Hemp Yarn Bag Collection. ISBN978-4-7778-1482-4

Hemp isn't the most common yarn but luckily the Hemp Store on K'Road here in Auckland carries twine, which is the same thing I think, and there are sources online. I don't often go down to K'Road so it was a nice outing and the Hemp Store was pretty much as I'd expected - incense, reggae, bongs and a really good assortment of different weights of hemp twine, along with rope and some webbing. I did feel like I should have a big sign with me that said "I'M ONLY HERE FOR THE TWINE" though. That's probably hopelessly middle-class of me! Actually I probably looked hopelessly middle-class with Hazel in tow and no-one had any illusions about me at all, but I'll pretend I'm hip enough for there to be doubts ;) I was hoping Yumiko would be at group this morning to help me get started but she wasn't, so I puzzled through the pattern instructions with the help of Christina. Yumiko did tell me that Japanese patterns aren't nearly as prescriptive as western ones, so there's no gauge or hook size, and as usual, very little in terms of instructions just good illustrations. It's not like a bag is hard though, do a rectangle (this one is just back and forth) and then start up the sides by going around and around. Oh boy though, it's hard work doing the actual crocheting because the twine's so stiff! The others were laughing at me making little noises of effort at the end as my hands tired, and I'm pretty sure they will be sore tomorrow! It's clearly not a project I'll be done in a hurry, an hour here or there will be the only way I can survive. The twine itself is nice to touch as it's waxed so it has a smooth texture and a pleasing stiffness when crocheted. It does twist and curl though, so depending on whether the sides push the bottom flat, or if they twist themselves, I may need to investigate how to block hemp.

Crocheting hemp twine. Great texture and look but it's a serious test of hand and finger strength! #crochet #hemp #hempyarn

02 November, 2015


After our quilt show at Alberton we decided to make them some coasters as a thank you for being so lovely and helpful and promoting us as they did. Four inches* square was the size we decided on and whatever we wanted to do after that. I was going to do a postage stamp one with really little squares, but then Mel did something similar and despite the fact she told me to just go for it with mine I thought nope, I'm going to go even tougher than little squares. The only thing fiddlier than that I could think of was little hexies and I knew there was a project with them in one of the Zakka books I have. It ended up not being what I wanted, but there were bright colours and linen, so I found a page of 1/2" hexies online and just whipped out this pretty thing.

Coaster for Alberton

And no I didn't actually "whip it out", it went in fits and starts and I've only just finished it today and our meeting is tonight. I work best to a deadline :D I was going to sew on the backing right sides together and just turn it out, but as I discovered when I'd sewn it all together, it was slightly smaller than the pattern I'd devised and only just made 4" at its largest dimensions. I ended up trimming it square and doing binding which was a pity as I think it looked great cut before the binding went on and the binding itself looks a touch bulky on a small item. I'm not even sure if turning it would have given that really nice straight-edge look but I don't know how you could achieve it without getting fraying.

Anyways, it IS pretty and I quite like it, I'd even use it myself I think! Maybe I'll have to make some more, although it's kind of a pity to cover it up with a big old mug, so perhaps mine would be used more like this

Coaster for Alberton

*yes it's kind of weird that we do these things in inches when in all other aspects of life we're metric! At the very least though, quilting has given me some idea of what 5 or 10 inches is, when before I would have had no idea (I visualise the cutting mat markings). Don't ask me about Fahrenheit or pounds though, or how many inches in a foot.

20 October, 2015

All my stuff looks the same

I was sitting on the couch eating breakfast this morning when I looked over and saw this pile on the shelf next to me

Patchwork and yarn parallel evolution.

There is an almost-finished crocheted coat hanger and yarn from that, and fabrics I've been making hexagons from. My first thought was "they all look so good together", my second thought was "they're actually mostly the same colour, I just need to add some aqua to the coat hanger" and then I thought "I'm going to make a matching hanger with aqua in the middle and orange on the outside". And then all my stuff will look the same! :)

11 October, 2015


We're embarking on a fairly major renovation which will involve knocking down quite a few walls so yesterday Hazel and I started drawing on them. Why don't we do this more often? I think it's because Pinterest makes it look super easy and cool but the indelible nature of sharpies make it a bit fraught!

I copied this from a pin on Pinterest, but to get it remotely symmetrical involved a lot of measuring and pencil erasing and a definite lack of effortless cool. It's still kinda cute though!


These others are more free-hand although I admit to copying the cat off Pinterest as well and depriving a vinyl wall art store of a sale.


Hazel's mouse is cuter than mine below, she got the eyes in a better place I think. The caption is because I made the mistake of thinking it was a French Bulldog when I saw it sans eyes, whiskers and tail. I should have kept my mouth shut as it caused the artist a fair amount of angst!



I can picture a whole house of cool little doodles but we're only at foundation stage for the new bit so there won't be any walls available for awhile and let's face it, I'll probably chicken out and go for plain, unadorned white with a few other colours - other than the ubiquitous Half Tea which the house is currently painted. Kiwis will know it only too well, for people who don't have Resene paints I've heard it described as 'new house brown' - the bland colour that's so inoffensive it's actually kind of offensive!


29 September, 2015

New Quilts for Alberton Beds

New Quilts for Alberton Beds - ballroom.

The New Quilts for Alberton Beds finished yesterday afternoon when we gathered up the quilts into big piles and took them away, leaving the house looking a little less colourful!  I think it went pretty well, we've had some nice feedback and quite a few people stopped by to talk to us on Saturday and Sunday as part of Heritage Week. Unfortunately the exhibition had been put into the Workshops section of the brochure, along with an invitation to come along for free workshops on quilting which sent (some of) us into a bit of a tizzy (ok me) but in the end it was ok. There were a few people who showed up expecting something, but I don't think they were too put out to get some time on a design wall making quilt patterns and then getting to try out hand quilting and binding. One lady, when we mentioned coming along to our group, announced she was a traditionalist and really didn't like the colours of modern fabrics and flounced off, apparently with a mouth like a cat's bum. We all just looked bemused I think! :D So if that was it in terms of active negativity then we did well.

New Quilts for Alberton Beds - attic bedroom

Now what the heck do I do with all these quilts I have back in my house?

New Quilts for Alberton Beds -sewing room.

New Quilts for Alberton Beds.

New Quilts for Alberton Beds.

21 September, 2015


During my blogging break I've been doing quite a bit of crocheting as well as making quilts - well ok some crocheting and making quilts!

A teething ring for my little niece Eva. I saw a similar one on Pinterest and also in a tutorial. The rings are curtain rings and the beads are just wooden ones from Spotlight that I sanded until all the varnish was gone so nothing will come off when chewed :)

Wood and crochet rattle/teething ring for my niece Eva. #crochet #crochetbead #rattle #teethingring

Some egg cozies

Happy Easter everyone! #Easter #crochet #bunnyears #egg #eggcup
Egg cozies - breakfast just got cuter. #crochet #eggcosy #egghats
At the risk of offending the bunnies the mouse is my favourite. #egghats #eggcosy #crochet
And if you prefer your egg to come more hockey flavoured I can do that too. #egg #eggcosy #egghats #montrealcanadiens

and some kittens

Three little kittens have lost their mittens #crochet #amigurumi #kitten

I also made another crocheted hanger, from Mollie Makes No. 41.

Crochet hanger No. 3. Pattern from Mollie Makes 41

17 September, 2015

I've got a style!

Last Christmas we did a little present swap at our Monday Modern group. I made a pot holder and when Lou unwrapped it she knew straight away who had made it (and so did everyone else). I was puzzled because as far as I know I don't really have a definite style.

Oven mitt with HST patchwork.

I was wrong, I do! I only just realised it though, when I was making up the info sheets for the quilt exhibition and my four quilts were on the same page briefly. I was quite taken aback when I saw them together like that, particularly the first three, because despite being quite different quilts, they're all remarkably similar when judged purely on colour. The oven mitt fits in perfectly so I can see how I was outed so easily!

My quilts at Alberton
My quilts at Alberton
I'm currently working on a red and white quilt and one with Lotta Jansdotter fabrics in oranges and blues and greens so I'm hoping that means I'm not going to typecast myself too much! I think having a style is great, but not if you don't push yourself to do different things sometimes.

14 September, 2015

Modern Building Blocks Quilt

Ages ago I did a post about starting to make the Moda Modern Building Blocks quilt. I did actually finish it quite quickly for such a big quilt (and for me!), but then it went off to a display case at Alberton without a photo of it finished and it's been there for almost 2 months. We finally set up the quilts for our Monday Modern 'New Quilts for Alberton Beds' exhibition and I got a proper photo at long last.

Moda Building Blocks

The colours aren't that great as the only place we could find that was big enough that we could hold it out fully was on the verandah where the lighting wasn't the best. This pre-quilting photo I took for Instagram shows it more clearly.

Finished! It's crazy big, I had to stand on a ladder and use panorama function on my phone to get it all in (hence the distortion). Still think it's super-busy. #modabuildingblocks #modernbuildingblocks #mondaymodern #quilt #patchwork

It was quilted in an all-over geometric pattern by Carol Fearon at Art Quilts in Onehunga. I love the way the shapes reflect the angles of the block patterns. Although part of me likes it for the bright solids and some of the blocks are great and I'm glad I did it, I'm still not a fan of the sampler quilt - they're just too busy and jarring to my eye. Luckily not everyone's like me and it's going to a friend who does like them!

If you're in Auckland come along to the exhibition at Alberton - not only do you get to see a bunch of nice quilts there's a fabulous old house to look through as well!


31 January, 2015

Crocheting hangers

I've been wanting to make crocheted hangers for quite awhile now but we only have two of the really basic wood hangers in the house because, really, they're totally crap on their own! I had a look around Spotlight the other day for some but couldn't find any and gave up. Then the other day I was in there to get some more solids for the Moda quilt and the lady at the counter in front of me had about 10 packages of them and when I asked where she'd got them the assistant pointed to the shelf right behind me and voila! Adult and kid sized ones. I only got one pack of 6 each, goodness knows what the other lady was going to do with so many hangers!

Anyways, the first one I did was for Hazel from the tutorial at Karen Anderson. The colours and flower were chosen by Hazel (art direction), the crocheting by me (labour). It's pretty cute!

Crocheted coat hanger

 I got a bit cocky after that and decided I was going to do Dotti Angel's hanger in a lighter yarn and it would turn out ok. Well it did - in the end! I finished one side and then realised it was too big so pulled it all out and reduced the number of chains to start with and that was perfect. And it was still perfect when I realised that it was going to be too narrow to go around the hanger and I'd have to add an extra row of single crochet around it to make it bigger. But then it wasn't ok when I did the second row of sc to stitch the two sides together - suddenly it was two shells too long. I kidded myself that I could pad out the ends of the hanger and make do, but after getting half way around it I realised that was a no-go and pulled the whole thing apart and started with two shells less chain. Perfect (for real this time!). Of course, I could have made two and a half in the time I've been messing around with the one, but at least I can do the whole pattern off by heart now!

Crocheted hanger
For my next hanger (remember I have 10 more to cover), I'm going to do the spotty one in this pattern from Mollie Makes.

28 January, 2015

Crocheting stones

I never really got the whole crocheted stone thing when it was really big a few years ago, at least not until lovely Ellie over at Petalplum sent me a couple of little ones she'd done and I realised how neat they are, not the least because they are oddly very satisfying to hold and touch. I have no idea why, they just are! I've always meant to try for myself, but aside from a very brief and unsuccessful attempt to crochet over a piece of beach glass a couple years ago, I never got around to it. My interest was revived by my mum who was very taken with Ellie's and wanted to find a pattern to make some herself. I spent quite awhile searching for patterns online and got interested again! I need to take some better photos but in the meantime here is my first attempt along with a little clay bunny I made a couple of weeks ago. It's surprisingly hard to make something perfectly smooth and rounded, with ears that stay on but I do like my rather amateurish attempt to rip off a bunny I saw on Pinterest.

Little clay bunny and crocheted stone.

26 January, 2015

Crafting not blogging

I sometimes think I'm all talk and no action on the crafting front but I've been a busy bee for the last couple of weeks! Mostly I've been making Moda Modern Building Blocks blocks, but there's been some crocheting and other things too. I tend to put things up on Instagram these days and almost forget I have a blog, a trend I've noticed in others too! If you're on IG I'm Hazelnuts

After the solids I ordered online came I got stuck into the first of the 36" blocks. I knew it was big but hadn't realised exactly how big until I made my own. Amazingly it came out quite well considering all the seams on the bias and the fact I wasn't starching or anything.

It's not every day you have to stand on a chair to photograph one quilt block, but now I'm in the #modernbuildingblocks club! The pieces were too large for me to use the blues I wanted so it's not quite like I wanted but I can live with it. #modabuildingb

In fact the pieces were so huge I couldn't use the 1/2 meters I had of a couple blues as they were literally 1/4" too small! I was pretty annoyed, but I don't mind the compromise I came up with too much. I did blocks 5 & 6 next to finish off that section, it's funny how an 18" block seems positively small after 36"!

Block 5 and my little helper (who really really wanted his dinner). #modernbuildingblocks #quilt #patchwork #pug #pugsofinstagram #dog Block 6. After all those triangles this was insanely quick and easy to do. #modernbuildingblocks #modabuildingblocks #patchwork #quilt #yellow Section B - Blocks 1, 5 and 6 done

Block 2 sucked, I really didn't enjoy it at all and the bias seams didn't go as well for some reason. Amazingly though, it sits fairly flat considering how awful I thought it would be and I think it will be fine after quilting. I also managed to sew several of the navy and light blue triangles wrong sides together, then I sewed a few with the navy on the left instead of the right and then realised that they all should have been that way but it doesn't really matter as long as they're consistent!

Block 2. Loathed this one! Big pieces on the bias and sewing the wrong sides up several times just sucked the fun out of it. Amazingly, it sits fairly flat! It's also a mirror image of the pattern because I wasn't paying attention at the start. #modabuild

The rest of the Block 2 section is made up of 6 6" squares and I've done 4 of those so far. My favourite was 22, the orange and pink block, although it was definitely the fiddliest! I just love that colour combination.

Block 22. No need for a chair to photograph this one, it's a petite 6". #modernbuildingblocks #modabuildingblocks #patchwork #quilt

Block 25 Block 25. Another 6" but not very exciting. Still, another one finished! #modabuildingblocks #modernbuildingblocks #patchwork #quilt

10 January, 2015

Classic Baby Cardigan

The first cardigan I made for my impending niece was the Classic Baby Cardigan by Lisa van Klaveren in the 12-18 month size. It's been done for ages so I can't actually even say what pattern I used for the booties! The cardigan has a kind of odd shape, very long across the yoke to the sleeves but since I don't have a tester baby to try it on I can't really say how it looks on but it's cute in the pattern photos! It's possible I did one too many ribs in the yoke, I found it hard to know when I'd done the right number of rows for some reason!

Baby cardigan and booties with a dress to come.

The only reason I haven't blogged it was that I needed some ribbon for the booties and I wanted it to match the dress I was going to make except I couldn't find any fabric I liked. I had a real Posy Gets Cosy outfit image in my mind and nothing matched! I finally found this pale yellow Japanese lawn at Spotlight the other day and it was the closest so far so I grabbed it.

Baby cardigan and booties with a dress to come.

 I'm using this retro Simplicity pattern for the dress (View A), again I had a mental image and short of ordering gorgeous French Citronille patterns I thought this was pretty close and it has the little Peter Pan collar and puffed sleeves I was after.

It's all cut out and ready to go - the question is whether I hold the parcel for it or send it on later? I'm scared if I hold the parcel the baby will be born by the time it gets there, but also scared if I don't hold it then the dress will be too small when I finally get around to sending it on! Of course, I could just sew the dress this weekend and send the parcel on Monday...

04 January, 2015

Moda Modern Blocks

Along with several people in my quilt group I'm going to be working on the Moda Modern Building Blocks quilt, a few blocks at a time, over 2015. It's quite a challenge for me on a couple of levels: firstly, I'm not a big fan of quilts with a variety of different blocks, they don't appeal to me aesthetically - to my mind they look random and jarring. That's just me I know, other people who I like and respect love that sort of carry-on so there's obviously something in it and because this one doesn't immediately offend me I'm going to dip my toes into the deadly seas of chaos. Secondly, I don't like all the colours used in the pattern so I'm going to have to choose quite a few for myself and to be honest, for me that way madness lies. I'm going to be doing a hell of a lot of second-guessing myself and over-thinking but I figure as long as they're all colours I like then it should be ok in the end.

I went through my stash to find solids and discovered that I don't have a lot and that my warm colours don't play well with my cool or some of the blues in the pattern so I'm going to have to buy a bunch to bulk out the warms and all of the cools. I've been such a good girl on my fabric diet for the last couple years and now look, I'm going to be kicking off 2015 by falling off the wagon. Let's hope it's not the start of a slippery slope! I'm going to make do with fewer fabrics than the pattern does, I think that might provide a bit more cohesiveness as well as being cheaper.  Here's what I have so far

Solids for Modern Blocks quilt

01 January, 2015

Happy New Year

Hello 2015!

I'm so boring I didn't even do anything last night, my 18 year old self would be horrified and disgusted with me and would be struggling to turn into someone else with all her might :D

But I can do things she couldn't, including taking out-of-focus photos of the Christmas Tree and mantel to post on Instagram. Oh boy 18 year old me would have loved all this social media carry-on (judging by my slightly older nieces at Christmas, so many selfies!) but I'm kind of glad I didn't have to worry about it as well as zits and boys; some mistakes should remain but a distant and hazy memory, not on someone's phone lit by a flash.

Christmas light bokeh

18 year old me also wouldn't have appreciated black and white Christmas lights

Or captioned it "I can pretend it's a gritty nighttime shot of some large anonymous city, taken as I roamed the lonely streets in search of some meaning in my life. Yeah that, not sitting on the couch in suburbia." You get cynical when you get old.


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