Sunday, November 30, 2008

think before you throw

christmas lights

Oops... almost made a big mistake today...

We were sorting through some Christmas decorations, and came across an old set of lights which no longer work because of a wiring problem. I was ready to toss them, when Mr Goldfish said... "hang on a minute!"

First he collected all the globes, to use as replacements for our other sets of lights.

Then he handed me the cables... "you'll want to see what's inside here, won't you?"

Well... of course I do!!!!

Saturday, November 29, 2008


I don't usually respond to being tagged for this kind of thing... not sure why.

I think it always reminds me a bit of a chain letter scenario, and for some reason they give me the creeps... Hey! That can be fact #1!

So, here we go: I have been tagged by Heather Wardell

the rules:

1) Link to your tagger and list all these rules in your blog.
2) Share 7 facts about yourself on your blog, some random, some weird.
3) Tag 7 people at the end of your post by including links to their blogs
4) Let them know they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their blog
the facts:
  • chain letters give me the creeps
  • according to local water restrictions... I am only allowed to water my garden on tuesdays and saturdays, between the hours of 6am and 8am... which irks me like you wouldn't believe... because I always FORGET until it is too late... and then I have to wait another three or four days before I can water... and then I forget again... and... well... you can see where this is going, can't you?
  • I love bad soapies
  • totally addicted to diet coke
  • am currently wondering what on earth possessed me to volunteer for the role of treasurer at our local kinder (and whether the compulsory POLICE CHECK will reveal anything interesting)
  • love the smell of wet eucalypts
  • have always wanted to build my own house... it would be a mud rendered straw bale construction, with loads of character... built and furnished using reclaimed/recycled/second-hand materials... and totally OFF GRID
and I am tagging:

Friday, November 28, 2008

a handmade christmas

We're trying something a little bit different in the Goldfish household this year...


Not sure how it will work out, but the initial response from the children has been very positive.

I just got so fed up with hearing "I want" from them. Every single time there is an advertisement for a toy or game or piece of electronic equipment... one of them will pipe up saying "I WANT TO GET THAT"

Well... what I WANTED was for them to discover the joy of giving, as well as receiving. I WANTED them to focus on others... to think about a suitable gift for someone else... to spend time creating that gift.. and then experience the joy of giving it. I WANTED to take the focus away from high priced electronic 'must haves'... and get back to the basics.

I would love this to become a family tradition for us... but we'll have to see how it comes together first.

So I have been doing lots of brainstorming with the kids. Of course, we have been planning in secret... so it has the added benefit of me getting to spend one-on-one time with each child, which they love. They are so excited about the making process, so I'm hoping it will become something that they look forward to each year.

Now... all of this of course means that I must make their gifts, too.

Master Nine is into all things alien at the moment. So I suggested to him that he could make a playdough model, or draw a picture of an alien... and I would make it into a cuddle toy for him. He loved the idea, and has come up with this:

sam's alien - model

Just in case you are wondering... those bits sticking out the side are wings!

Now, of course mine won't look exactly like this model. It is simply my inspiration. Stay tuned to see how it comes together...

rag wreath

It was time for a new Christmas wreath at our place...

I love to place a wreath on the front door for the holiday season. I bought a really nice simple one, several years back... but last year I had to throw it away. Our front door gets a strong dose of morning sunlight - remember - I'm in Australia... so Christmas time is SUMMER. Anyway, the embellishments on the wreath were made from coated styrene, and they cracked, popped and exploded last season.

Of course I didn't actually throw the wreath away. The decorations are gone, but I have kept the base. I was planning to re-decorate it for this Christmas... but then I had a change of heart, and decided to make a rag wreath instead!

finished wreath on door

Because of the strong morning light, I was concerned that my colours would fade too quickly. So I decided to make this up in very neutral tones.

Bad move...

I hate it!

Well... I don't actually hate it... it's just not very ME. It's subtle and neutral, and OUT OF PLACE on my front door! I need colour

So, I will be making another one... with a bit more life to it.



bright rag wreath

But for the moment, I will show you how this one came together. It's a very simple process.

I have a plentiful supply of rag balls here, so I grabbed a handful in the colours which I wanted (or thought that I wanted)

marked out a large circle on a piece of strong cardboard

and a smaller one inside

cut out the ring shape

started to tie on the rag pieces

added some more

and some more

just to give you an idea how the back looks at this point...

then tied on some more rag strips until it was full

I made a twisted cord from rags, tied it into a bow... and stitched it into place... click here for twisted cord instructions

I've also trimmed the tails on some of the rags to a shorter length.

Fast - Fun - Easy - which is good news for me, since I now want to re-make it in a more colourful manner!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

finished stockings

I always find it very hard not to 'take over' when the children are working on craft items. But I know how important it is for me to sit back, and allow them to be guided by their own imaginations.

katies stocking
Little Miss Four crafted this one. She needed help to thread the needle and tie knots... but handled the remainder of the task by herself. She hasn't done any type of sewing before, and I was really impressed with how quickly she picked it up and developed a rhythm.

bens stocking
Master Six worked on this piece. He also needed assistance with threading and knotting, but had quite good control over the needle... working the stitches successfully into the shapes he was after.

sams stocking
The final one was crafted by Master Nine. Entirely by himself. No help needed with threading, knotting, or separating strands. He has decorated both sides of the stocking, and then went ahead and made some pipe cleaner candy canes to put inside.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

kids get in on the action

Before I start talking about the kids... I just wanted to say a super big THANKS to everyone who posted their 'curtain ring' ideas for me yesterday. I seriously loved hearing all those suggestions... some of which I would never have thought of in a million years. It was wonderful to get a different perspective on things... and I really, really appreciate your input.

On to the kids now...

Mine are aged nine, six and four years... boy, boy, girl... and they are ALWAYS wanting to be a part of whatever I am working on - which is lovely, but not always practical!

Especially now that I am starting work on Christmas themed decorations. They loved the embroidered felt stocking from the other day, so we planned for them to make their own. These ones will be to hang on their bedroom doors... and apparently will be filled with a never-ending supply of lollies!

They each chose their own felt, and I have cut out the stocking shapes for them. Today they are working at decorating them, and I will share the results when they are done.

kids felt stockings

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

ideas please...

Alright all you crafty folk... I'm looking for ideas...


I have a bunch of these old wooden curtain rings. What can I use them for?

Whatever comes to mind... tell me about it... even if it sounds ridiculous... most of my plans start out that way anyhow!

Maybe you think your idea is obvious? Tell me about it anyway... it might not be obvious to me...

What are your thoughts? Brain storm with me, and we'll see what we can come up with...


Monday, November 24, 2008

anyone for oranges?

orange bag - fence

Okay... I've reworked the 'apple bag' pattern... for those of you who do not have access to a 20.0mm hook

click here to see the original pattern

orange bag - closeup of stitches

body of bag

using a 10mm hook, ch 24 (I have used jute)

dc into 3rd chain from hook [ch1, skip1, dc] to end of row, ch1... NOTE: YOU HAVE ONLY WORKED INTO EVERY SECOND CHAIN OF THE FOUNDATION ROW

turn work upside down and work back along the foundation chain... INSTEAD OF WORKING INTO THE FOUNDATION CHAIN, WORK ACROSS THE FOUNDATION AND IN BETWEEN EACH OF THE DC... [dc, ch1, skip1] to last space dc, ch1... you have now worked a complete round, but DO NOT JOIN

continue working [dc, ch1] into the ch spaces of the previous round

work 12 rounds

mark where you want the handles to be

work in pattern to the first marker, ch 24 for first handle

resume pattern between markers 2 and 3, ch 24 for 2nd handle

pattern to end.. then sc... then ss to finish off


using a 4.0mm hook and DK yarn (I have used cotton)

work 2sc into the spaces between the dc of the final round

when you reach the handles, work 30sc into each

join and fasten at the end of the round

orange bag - closeup of flower

Sunday, November 23, 2008

he knows me so well

"I've already checked" said Mr Goldfish

"It's no good for carving. The timber is too old and split for crochet hooks"

broken broom

Not sure if I should be more concerned about my level of excitement when I spotted the broken broom... or the fact the Mr Goldfish knew exactly what I would want it for!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

return of the crazy yarn


You didn't think I had abandoned the crazy yarn, did you???


No Siree! In fact, I made this adorable shawl for Little Miss Four...


I love the way it looks when secured with a brooch or large pin... but she is not to be trusted with sharp objects at the moment. Ahhhh, the joys...

So we settled for tying the front with a recycled ribbon. She still feels like a princess... and I don't need to watch out for pins when I sit down anywhere!

Friday, November 21, 2008

tempted by the red felt...

I had my red felted jumper out yesterday, preparing the tongue for the snake...

and I couldn't help but start thinking about how I could use it for Christmas...

and I came up with this tree decoration:


so easy too...

first I cut my shape

then defined it with some yellow stitching

some random french knots in orange

and then some in green

a few blue stars, with white knots at the centre... and a hanging thread to finish it off

simple... easy... tasteful decorations... I love them!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

I should have been a surgeon...

Repairs are done... and they didn't take long at all. I don't know why I put off doing things like this. I feel so much better when they are finished and out of the way.

I've taken some 'operating room' shots... don't look if you're squeamish!!! And I've explained how I like to go about making repairs like these.

this one was required the most work, and I have been putting it off for about a year... so I felt a bit silly when it was done in about 20 minutes

somehow I've managed to attach the tongue a bit off centre... which makes him look a little bit drunk! never mind... gives him character...

first up, I needed a new tongue - this one was cut from an old felted jumper

(click here to learn more about how to felt a jumper)

I over stitched the tongue to the back of the mouth

then stitched back and forth a few times to make it secure

the seam across the back of the mouth needed completely re-sewn... go in and out with the needle on one side, as pictured above

then in and out on the other side, as pictured above

keep working back an forth in this manner... it's as though you are forming the rungs of a ladder

and look what happens when you pull the thread to tighten the stitches... they disappear completely... I would usually tighten after every couple of stitches

the finishing touch was to remove the pills from inside the mouth... all done... looking as good as new

I used the same seaming technique for Big Ted

working from side to side

like rungs on a ladder

then tighten, and watch the stitches disappear

For Rosebud, I am using a couple of strands of embroidery thread to replace her mouth

I've tied a knot in the end of my thread, then put my needle into the bear about an inch away from where I want to start the mouth... then I've brought the needle out at the point where I need it

Then I've pulled the knotted end of the thread into the bear. The idea is that the knot will disappear into the bear, then get caught in the stuffing, and not pull out on the other side with the needle. My first knot pulled all the way through... unsuccessful. So I made it a double knot... which also pulled all the way through! Finally a triple knot was small enough to pull into the bear, but too large to pass through the stuffing and out the other side... SUCCESS!!

working my way across

and then down


I've finished the mouth, but I need to secure the end... so I have brought my needle out at the flowers (somewhere a thread might not be noticed)

I worked a couple of tiny stitches at the base of the flower, to secure the thread... then gone back into the bear, and come out at a random spot about an inch away

the final step is snipping the thread close to the surface, then allowing it to slide back inside the bear