Thursday, December 24, 2009

a christmas challenge...

bright rag wreath

click here to read all about the Christmas Challenge at my new site

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

things that make you go... ewwwww!

Today was hot… and I don’t cope well with the heat.

By the time that the kids came home from school, I was ready to find a nice quiet corner and have a quick snooze before heading out to the school picnic.

Just as I was getting myself settled, I hear Master Ten calling out from his bedroom:

“MUUUUUUMMMMM… I think that LIZARDY has escaped!”


Usually Lizardy doesn’t stay in the bedroom. But today there was a crochet meet at my place, and I thought that he might be safer away from toddler fingers. So Master Ten had hidden the pet box away in his room.

Which seemed like a good idea at the time…

And I was really puzzled about how the lizard could have possibly escaped…

So the questions began:

mum – “Where did you leave his box?”

boy – “On my bed”

mum – “How do you think he got the lid off?”

boy – “I didn’t put it on”

mum – “Why not?”

boy – “I didn’t know that I had to”

lizardy with sam

Well, after much searching, we finally located the the little creature INSIDE my son’s pillowcase! Glad he was discovered BEFORE bedtime…

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

those earrings...

first ever earrings

So, here are those DIVINE earrings that I was telling you about earlier. The ones I like to wear them ALL the time.

They are my first effort at making earrings, which was surprisingly easy once you see how it is done. I have used new wire and hooks, but the beads are all recycled from old pieces of jewellery.

Friday, December 11, 2009

personalized christmas stockings

green on pink

I volunteered to be a Swap Angel for the Christmas Swap over at Crochet Lovers Victoria. A Swap Angel takes over when one of the participants isn't able to follow through on the committment of sending their gift. Otherwise, someone who had sent an item, would miss out on receiving one. And that's not nice!

Anyway, it meant making a few decorations on fairly short notice. So I decided to stick with a 'tried and trusted' pattern... something that I had made successfully before, and knew wouldn't take too long. It kind of defeats the purpose if I don't get it made until after Christmas!!!

These Christmas Stockings are a Jean Greenhowe pattern. They're from her Christmas pattern booklet. Jean also has this free online pattern for a slightly smaller version (you'll just need to scroll down the page a bit to get to it) I've raved enough about Jean in the past... so I'll keep this one short, and just go on the record as saying... SHE IS A LEGEND.

Instead of just making a generic stocking, I wanted to make them personal. Cristina is the founder of the Crochet Lovers Victoria group, so I wanted it to be special. If it were not for her efforts in setting up the group, I wouldn't have had the opportunity to meet so many wonderful crochet friends in real life.

So, I know that Cristina loves hand-dyed yarns. In fact, she has just set up her own online shop, selling yarn indulgence packs... click here to take a little peek. Anyway, I decided to hand-dye some reclaimed yarn to make her stockings.

plain stockings

The pink coloured one I dyed using some concentrated raspberry cordial, and the green one was made using leftovers from a food dye experiment I did a while back. I used most of it to make this dragon for my nephew, but there was a small ball left in my stash.

So I had the hand-dyed thing going on, but I wanted to add something else. Something special that would jump out and say I MADE THIS JUST FOR YOU.

At one of our recent crochet meets, Cristina brought along some beads and wire so that she could show us some of the basics of jewellery making. I made the most fabulous pair of earrings - I wear them ALL the time - they are divine with a capital D - recycled beads of course - but that's a post for another day!

But it gave me the idea of incorporating wire and beads into the stockings...

M pink

I wired the beads, shaping them into letters... with the initial of each family member, and then sewed them onto the front of the stocking with a small piece of fabric in between. Four stockings in total, green for the boys and pink for the girls. I had been aiming for red when I dyed them, but the yarn turned out suck a pretty shade of pink instead - that I had to use it anway.

Now I know that Cristina isn't planning on putting up her Christmas Tree this year, but I'm hoping that she can find somewhere else to hang these stockings - to help with the festive spirit.

all four stockings

Now before you all bombard me with comments about the fact that I KNITTED the gifts for a CROCHET swap... it's a crochet group, but we could use any craft for our decorations. And Cristina is such an avid NON-KNITTER (we don't even say the K word around her)... that I couldn't resist sending her something knitted!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

christmas bat

bat with hat

Okay... before you start thinking that we must have some weird Christmas traditions here in Australia... let me just say, that the Christmas Bat is not something you would commonly see here. In fact, I'm pretty sure he is a one-of-a-kind!

I made him for my swap partner. She received him yesterday, and got a wonderful surprise.

Usually when I am participating in a swap, I like to make the gift as personal as possible. Do you remember the crochet hook holder which I made for Daphne? Well... she adores (and I mean ADORES) all things peacock... so, it was very easy to choose a theme for that one. Click here if you haven't seen it before - I'm really proud of the way he turned out.

Unfortunately, I haven't ever met Wendy, so I was starting with nothing. I decided to do a bit of a rav-stalk (you know... where you check out someone's profile on Ravelry, in the hopes of finding some useful personal information). I discovered that she is MAD ABOUT BATS... which I already suspected, since her avatar is a bat, and her rav-name is batwing57.

So now all I had to do was combine the bat theme with the Christmas theme... easy enough to do, right???

Into the planning stages... I had visions of Holly Bats hanging on a Christmas Tree - that's HOLLY bats, not HOLY bats!

Can you imagine little bats, with their green holly leaf wings and red berry bodies?

Nah.. I was having trouble with that one, too! I couldn't see them coming together, without looking like mutant holly, assembled by a three-year-old child.

So I decided to make a regular bat, and give him a Santa hat for the Holiday Season. The hat is only pinned in place, so that he doesn't have to wear it all year 'round.

I remembered that bats can be a bit hairy, so I crocheted the body using a strand of dark grey yarn, and a strand of black eyelash yarn worked together. As you can see, he looks pretty boring at this stage...
bat body

Then I assembled some embellishments... I cut some wings and ear pieces from a couple of felted jumpers, and added a few buttons for the nose and eyes.
bat embellishments

Everything was hand-stitched in place.
bat in tree

By this stage he was looking very much like a bat... but not very festive... so along came the Santa hat.
a hat for a bat

And here he is, ready for Wendy...
bat with hat

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

christmas swap

Once again, we have had a Christmas Swap over at Crochet Lovers Victoria on Ravelry. The idea being to make a few small decorations to send to one of the other members in the group.

I’ve really enjoyed my time at Crochet Lovers Victoria (CLV). The group was started on Ravelry by Stramenda, so that local crocheters could meet both online AND in real life. It’s always fascinating to see what other crocheters are working on… admire their finished projects… and share books and magazines with one another. The other bonus of meeting regularly with others, is that when you get stuck with a particular pattern… someone can always help to nut it out! Crochet Lovers Victoria is open to everyone, so come on over to Ravelry and check us out.

But for the moment, let’s get back to the Christmas Swap.

I haven’t been able to share everything I’ve been working on lately, because some of them are swap items – and I don’t want to ruin the surprise before they are received in the mail.

But I can show you what came in the mail for me today…

I loved the card… can you read it? Daphne has used all recycled and second-hand materials for this gift AND packaging… everything except the STAMP! How fabulous is that?


And inside, there were five of these beautiful crocheted decorations…

close up

Now I just need to find somewhere splendid to hang them…

on pot

There’s a plastic ring from the neck of a milk bottle inside each of these, isn’t Daphne clever???

and closer

Monday, December 7, 2009

japanese wishing pot - silly string challenge

Over at the Silly String Group on Ravelry, we have been challenged to create a Japanese Wishing Pot...

Well, my first task was to find out what a JAPANESE WISHING POT is!

Actually... it pretty much exactly what it sounds like. The idea is that you write your wishes down, and pop them inside the pot. Generally the pot would be porcelain or ceramic, and be decorated with lucky symbols. Like this one here:


Off to assess the stash... and decide what to use for this project...

plodding along with the cross stitch

close up progress 2b

I'm very, very good at losing things...

Well - maybe not losing as such - but definitely MISPLACING!

I MISPLACED my cross stitch project. You might remember I was talking about it in this post here. I was determined to get it finished before Christmas, and was working on it at every opportunity... but then one day... without warning... it just DISAPPEARED!

It's not as though I didn't look for it. I kept getting these fabulous ideas about where it might be - like UNDER the passenger seat of the car - or in the ironing basket... but no matter where I searched, I couldn't find it.

Then, just the other day, I wanted to work on some card-making. So I grabbed the bag of goodies... opened it up... AND THERE WAS MY CROSS STITCH!!!

No idea how... or why... or when...

But so glad that I have found it!

Not sure that I have any chance of finishing it before Christmas. Although it would be nice to complete it over the summer holidays.

So, here is my progress so far:


and you can click here to see where I was at the last time I showed you

close up progress 2a

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

frosty the snowman

Can't get my head around the fact that it is already December. How on earth did that happen? I feel like someone has stolen the second half of this year. I can't even remember August or September or October...

Mind you, it's been a crazy six months or so.

All of our decorations are up, but somehow it all feels a bit fake... like a Christmas in July celebration. I feel as though I am going through the motions, but that my heart just isn't in it.

I guess there's lots of factors in play. It's only just over a year since Mum passed away, which has left a huge void in my life. And then a few months ago, my Father-in-Law passed away... so it's been a time of great emotional upheaval in the Goldfish household. To top it all off, my eldest child now knows the truth about Santa. And I know it sounds weird, but I feel like a part of me is grieving for the loss of the fantasy of Christmas. Or something like that, anyway.

I thought that working on a Christmas project might help me to boost my holiday enthusiasm...


And it did!

How can you look at this little guy and NOT smile???

Mind you... the pattern nearly did my head in. I couldn't work out what was going on. I was following the instructions exactly as written, but at the end my crochet piece looked like this, and I couldn't figure out how it would become a snowman:

snowman - progress

The pattern is called Crochet Bird Seed Snowman. The theory is that you fill him with sunflower seeds, and then leave him outdoors on Christmas Day... for the birds to feast on. I've never heard of anything like this before. It seems such a bizarre concept to me. Is it just that we don't have that 'kind of thing' here in Australia??? Or does it seem unusual to all of you? Is this bird feeder like anything you have seen before?

I wanted a more permanent decoration (plus, I couldn't stand the idea of putting him outside to get pecked at by the birds) so I have filled him with a regular polyfill stuffing instead.