Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Officially warped!

I am "officially" a weaver.  This was my first scarf using some gifted 8ply for the warp and a small ball of hand-dyed wool from Ingrid's destash as the weft.

 And this was my second, using some commercial cream wool and the leftovers from Maddies GG shrug.
 And this is by far the strangest knitting request I have ever had; a duck golf club cover for my father in law!

Monday, April 14, 2014

Festival of Birthdays

You could be forgiven for thinking that I had somehow missed March altogether.  The truth is I had a rather biggish birthday that turned into a month long celebration with friends and family far and wide.  I had such a good time that I actually haven't had time to think about turning the big scary number and I figure that now that I have been that number for almost a month it is useless to have a crisis over it now!
My festival of birthdays started with my boy taking me away on a surprise weekend to Sydney.
We stayed right on Darling Harbour on the top floor of the Sheraton (with fabulous views) and they had a fireworks show that night - just to celebrate my birthday LOL
My special weekend also included lunch with one of my besties at a beautiful Italian restaurant on the beach at Cronulla.  I couldn't believe that James and Ness had planned all of this in secret for months!

  It was such a wonderful getaway with my Prince Charming that I felt like I had already had the best birthday ever!
Later that week my gorgeous quilty friends took me to the Crafers Hotel for birthday tea and surprised me with beautiful handmade cards and a spa voucher and a scrumptious chocolate cake decorated with an aqua ribbon.  Then on my actual birthday James took me out for breakfast and we went to the kids Sports Day where Dan's class sang Happy Birthday to me and his teacher gave me a lovely, thoughtful present.  This long-legged beauty came first in her sprints and 3rd in the cross country (clearly not getting her sporting ability from her mother!)
 My friend Amie sent me flowers.  That afternoon I drove to Clare with my friend Christine to attend Kathy's Fibres and Moseley Park Farm's Fibre Retreat.  A whole weekend of spinning, knitting and felting at the beautiful Bungaree Station.
While I was there I picked up my birthday present (a 12inch knitters loom!!!) and over-indulged buying books and fibre!  We made a felted bag, learned how to spin with beads, and learned how to knit toe-up socks.  
One of the girls even decided to "destash" 17 kilos of fibre so we all came away with a bit of Ingrid's stash!  It was a wonderful weekend of fun and friendship and all things wooley and so liberating to be away with people who speak my language!
The following Thursday night I was off to Melbourne for the very first Australian Close To My Heart Leader's Conference at the Rialto Intercontinental.  We were spoilt every step of the way; awesome venue,  exquisite food, inspiring and motivational speakers and lots and lots of great ideas as well as some playtime!
 This beautiful artwork is by the talented Chris Lothian!
 After the conference my lovely friend Lisa picked me up and took me back to her house and the next morning I got to catch up with my Melbourne teaching friends (whom I hadn't seen for 12 years!) Not surprisingly we picked up right where we left off and there was much gossiping and laughter over a long lunch!
 And then home to a week of work.  Thursday night my scrappy girls surprised me with homemade chocolate cake and champagne at our workshop! Then I finally finished the festival of birthdays with a lovely lunch at Pike and Joyce with my inlaws yesterday.  And of course in between all of the party going there were messages and texts and cards and heartfelt handmade presents in the mail (thanks Jude! I love it!)  I feel so thoroughly spoilt and loved and truly blessed.  I am one super lucky girl!  Now it is time to exhale and enjoy the school holidays.  I am looking forward to some quiet time at home with my kiddos and a little bit of cooking and crafting.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Lots of scrapping, and knitting, and finishing stuff, and a little bit of cleaning too!

Blink and March is half over!  I have actually been pretty busy finishing things up and then I also got this great idea that we could sell knitted hats and handmade cards at the Kindy cake stall for the election on the weekend so I have been in a knitting frenzy.  My splurge for the month was a Cuttlebug machine.  Although it was primarily for using the CTMH embossing folders I also love that now I can make my own felt flowers quickly and easily.

These are all done with my handspun.  I love watching the colours play out when you knit - it looks so different from yarn in the skein (for instance, I actually didn't like the last one in the skein but I love it knitted up!)
Last weekend when my quilty friends were here I finally got the hang of free motion quilting on my "new" (well, it still feels "new") sewing machine.  Maddie's quilt is now finished all bar the binding which I will do at sewing Wednesday night.  I LOOOVE free motion stippling now so knocking over this dreadful UFO is next on the list!
It is "workshop week" so I have been making pages using this month's featured WOTG pack "Lollydoodle" and also the gorgeous little matroshka doll that is Stamp Of the Month.


Don't you love my Russian doll cookie jar? It was a present from a dear customer friend.  The sentiments in this Stamp Of the Month are lovely too - all about the value of home!

 I have taken advantage of the long weekend to do a bit of cleaning up and pottering in my craft room.  This is my clean stamping station (and my cuttlebug!) - a great improvement on the mess!  Next stop is the pig sty under my sewing table!
Have a great week folks!  Back soon with the picture of Maddie's finished quilt!

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Kick the Bucket February (and some extra knitting and some op shop finds!)

You could be mistaken for thinking that nothing was happening around here.  This month I have been diligently working on two of my biggest UFOs - Hannah's tardis poncho, and Maddie's quilt.  I am pleased to say that the quilt top was finished and basted last night and I hope to get to the quilting tonight and when my Apple Piecers friends are here on the weekend.
Last night I also sewed the ends in on the poncho and called it done!
This thing was epic.  Almost 800grams worth of handspun "Damson" with a pattern that was knitted in 11 pieces and that mock cable just about gave me a breakdown.  It is the biggest project I have ever tackled with my own spinning (aside from the blanket I made in 4" weaveit squares when I was a teenager and too young to know better!)  I am ceremoniously burning the pattern.  In the end I cheated and used a circular needle to pick up the armhole ribbing and the collar and I also pared down the collar as they wanted a whopping 122 stitches which would be fine if Hannah had a neck like Shrek's.  My 3 biggest lessons learned from this one: ALWAYS read the pattern before you say yes (no matter how much they beg and plead and look at you with big green eyes!) ALWAYS have the right amount of fibre on hand (and then some more for good measure!) And lastly, the designer doesn't always know best (I mean seriously? Why knit it in six panels and have stupid armholes that need to be done in 4 pieces?)

We had that rarest of rare things; a "free" weekend where no one had to go anywhere so we had a lovely mix of sleep ins and cooked breakfasts and quality time with the kidlets and knitting and sewing and generally hanging in my front room creating!
I finally sewed the ends in and put buttons on this:
I think this is circa 2005? Post Hannah and Pre-Dan?  I bought the buttons twice (one lot are still hiding in my sewing mess laughing at me!)  Then I finished off the embroidered Easter wallhanging which is based on a drawing Hannah did as a Preschooler!
February has also been the month of the hats.  I knit hats for the newborns at kindy and you would not believe how many babies have been born since enrolment day at the end of last year! I have totally exhausted my hat supply and had to knit up four in a hurry.  Now I have about a six week reprieve before the next kindy baby is due!

In between times I have managed some more scrapping (photos next time) and also snuck in a bit of op shopping! 
I love this old tablecloth (and yes that is a real tatted edge!) and I have plans for a birdie stitchery for that beautiful wooden frame.  Can you see the gorgeous gingham apron at the top with the crinoline lady and the dinky little crochet edged pocket? Be still my beating heart!  So lovely! All of the crochet cotton was only 10cents a ball but they were having a basket sale so I got my entire haul and a heap of clothes for $2.  Happy Happy!

So there you have it; 3 finished Kick the Bucket projects for February, and lots of other good things and crafty bits besides!  Hoping to have Maddie's quilt to show you very soon!
Keep smiling,
Nell

Friday, February 7, 2014

People Scrapping

Our challenge in the "Inspired Scrapping" class for February is to scrap meaningful pages of people. When I went back and looked through my albums I realised that there is a real lack of pages just about James. He features alongside the kids, and sometimes with me, but hardly ever just standing solo so last night I did this "10 things" layout to change that. The paper is from CTMH "Balloon Ride"
And this is my favourite memory from Christmas 2013 - paper is "Ariana" and the new fundamentals basics which I find is just so full of gorgeous neutrals that go with everything!
This is using up old cm "Simply Beautiful" paper for the background and new "Lollydoodle" - I don't particularly like this page but it does really suit the subject matter as Claudia was such a vibrant, colourful person.

One of my little cheeky - I was playing with cricut overlays and washie tape.  Not sure this one really works either but at least it is done!

Now to go back and play with January's "Seasons" challenge.
Have a great weekend!
Keep smiling,
Nell

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Just some stuff...

So what do you do while this sweet baby girl is at kindy? You fill the morning with meaningless busy work; the post office run,a few loads of washing, some groceries... and then in the afternoon you make her a new skirt just because you can and because you hope that some part of her will know how much she was missed.
This week will be easier as I am working a few days and have spinning on Thursday and some friends to catch up with. Last week I wasn't quite ready for company. I needed to have these days to adjust to the end of an era and the start of something new. I have finished my second set of socks on two straight needles.
I think the little Miss was suitably impressed.
On Friday Close to My Heart hosted a "Pyjama Party" online at Big Picture Classes. I really enjoyed listening to Ali Edwards (who I have long been a fan of) and Stacey Julian. Some of the stuff that Stacey was saying made so much sense to me. I have always struggled with feeling like I need to scrapbook chronologically and yet some of my favourite pages have been collections of photos around a theme (like the layouts of the kids taken each month on their birthdate for the first 12 months) or layouts of the 3 of them in similar poses as babies. So I have done something scary and signed up for Stacey's "Inspired Scrapping" 12 month course. January's topic was Seasons - not so much calendar seasons as "seasons of life" so this was my first layout for that theme.
And this is the layout from the Pyjama Party (modified to make it into a double page layout)
I am really enjoying my scrapping lately. I think that finally I have got over some of the grief of last year and can really focus on enjoying Close To My Heart and all of those yummy new products. Have an awesome week! Keep smiling , Nell

Friday, January 31, 2014

February Stamp of the Month | Wild About Love

Ah February, the month of candle-lit dinners and romantic strolls on the beach (Cough Cough! Splutter! Splutter!) If you are like us then you possibly don't celebrate Valentine's Day but I know that I will still find lots of uses for this adorable "Wild About Love" stamp set. 




Each month you can purchase a new D-size stamp set (this month Wild About Love), available for one month only, for just $5 — that’s over 70% off retail! When you place an order of $75 or more in Close To My Heart products, you qualify for this special Stamp of the Month pricing.