31 March, 2010

Linen and red

What's that I hear you say? Another close-up shot of linen with red embroidery? I do seem to have a bit of a mania for it at the moment, but I assure it will end and I'll be off in some other direction shortly. I'm a bit like that with breakfast cereals too...  When another blogger gets on a bit of a theme and post after post is variations on X, Y or Z and I often wonder if it will ever end. I kind of understand them now!  Forgive me bloggers who I have silently maligned!

Linen reverse

This the back of my latest WIP, hopefully it'll be ready for proper viewing soon, though I've had a bit of a hiccup in the colour-selection line. If I'd just stuck with the red it would have been fine but noooo, had to get all fancy and now I have to go back and rip it out and redo it. In pink. Because Hazel insists it must be pink. And considering how she's been behaving in the last couple months I'm damned if I'm going to fight her on it, it's too emotionally draining!

Everyone says the Terrible Twos are so awful, they even have their own name for goodness' sake. Then I was told that three is worse and I should just start drinking while she was two. Pfft! A walk in the park.  I'm here to tell you that 4 may be delightful but 4.5 is frightful and I've never been angrier with her or more frustrated.  Or more in love.  But hoooboy, I'm glad I've got the 4.5 years practice under my belt because it's taking every ounce of self-control I have to negotiate conversations like this on a daily basis:

Me (very casually and following our usual routine): Ok, let's just brush you hair and braid it and then we'll go swimming with daddy.
Hazel: No. I don't want to.
Me: Well you have to have your hair braided otherwise it gets tangled in your googles. C'mon, just a quick brush and we'll go.
Hazel: No. I don't want to.
Me: Well we can't go until we've done your hair.
Hazel: But I want to go!
Me: Well let's do your hair then.
Hazel: No. No. No!
Me (in my laying-down-the-law-even-though-she-wishes-she-hadn't-started-it voice) Well we're not going to go swimming until your hair is done. What do you want to do?
Hazel: I don't know
Me: Well that's not an answer, yes or no?
Hazel: I don't know
Me: Ok then, we're not going
Me: Well let's brush your hair.
Hazel. No, I don't want to!!!
...........................repeat ad nauseum for about 10 minutes until Hazel is placed in her room crying hysterically and I repair to the living room wishing the sun was over the yard arm. And we don't go swimming.  I'm assuming it's a "stage" and that it's about exerting control over her life but geez, does she have to choose such illogical things to control?  She knows they are too I think, which adds to her stubborness.  Today we had an episode after which she actually came out of her room after 10 minutes and said she was willing to get dressed and go out now. Oh please please please let it be the light at the end of the tunnel!

30 March, 2010

More fiddling with technology

Is there anything, anything, that sucks up more time than fooling around with your blog layout? I'm having 'fun' with the new Blogger Template Designer available over in Blogger-in-Draft and yes it's more flexible but it's also driving me batty with the bits that aren't! Oh if only I knew html properly and could just whip up a snazzy blog and make it exactly how I want it. But then I wouldn't be an archaeologist so I guess I'll just live with someone else's template. I've also started adding in menu tabs just under the header to try and get some of the clutter out of the side bar but I'm darned if I can figure out how to move the Blogger gadget things like blog roll up there without having to do it all manually! I tried just moving the gadget but of course it wants to show them all rather than having them on a separate page. If anyone's done it successfully I'd be more than grateful if you'd pass on the trick!

On a happier note, if you're on Blogger have you seen the background images they have available? There's some really lovely ones, including a nice quilt and a stack of fabric. Almost a good excuse to ditch the custom header and go with something plain so I can have a lovely background! I suppose you could probably put in your own image and get it to work in with your header but that would be like the ultimate black hole of time wasting for me :)

I decided that once the crafting ethics poll below hit 100 I'd do a wee summary but it's sitting at 93 responses - maybe in the next day or so? If anyone hasn't voted then please do! Though you can anticipate my upcoming post quite easily by just looking at the results :)

25 March, 2010

Crafting ethics: A poll

There have been some great posts recently (here and here for example) about the ethics of crafting - what should people be able to copy or sell, how do you know when a line has been crossed, what you can do about it if it has, what does the law say and so on. It's fascinating to see the range of responses in the comments sections too, although I wonder how honest people are when their names are associated with their comment. To that end I put together a wee poll, strictly anonymous of course :) I've tried to come up with a range of responses but of course I have my own take on this which may have influenced my answer choices so I've also included an 'other' option if I haven't reflected the range of options adequately. You can also pick more than one answer if you feel it best represents your position. The more the merrier on this one so please pass on the link to anyone you think might be interested in expressing an anonymous opinion!

Feed readers will need to click over to the blog to vote.

22 March, 2010


...is sometimes always the best policy. Or so I'm lead to believe. I had a bit of a moan about my photos in the last post and so I thought I should probably come clean about what I sometimes do to them in case anyone actually thought that they were even half-decent because of my mad photography skillz. It's Photoshop baby, alllllll Photoshop. Well ok, I shouldn't be too modest, I take a pretty decent photo sometimes, I don't cut people's feet off, I know the rule of thirds, and that you should fill the frame. And then I Photoshop the hell out of it. Sometimes they don't need it but it's rare! Usually all I do is crop it a little, use curves to lighten it and sometimes unsharp mask to sharpen it up. Sometimes I get a weird colour cast and have to pull the reds out, or the yellows. But I don't usually get much fancier than that.

Over the weekend we went to my FIL's 90th at a really amazing old house in Bulls called Lethenty. Built in 1915 and totally my dream house with original William Morris wallpapers, a rambling backyard and Secret Garden type walled enclosures. In one there was a huge planting of Honesty. This is the original photo:

Honesty before

Meh. The reason I took it was because the sun was shining through all the Honesty in the background, and the seeds in the front had a lovely translucent glow to them. This is not represented in the photo, nope, no sirree nohow. I needed to show people what I saw, not what I actually took a photo of! So I lightened it, increased the yellow saturation, ran it through a Pioneer Woman action, sharpened it, lightened it again and cropped it down.

Honesty after

Much better. :) It still doesn't have the translucent glow in the foreground that I was looking for but I'm going to work on that. I gather that the pixellation effect in the background is called bokeh, which always looks fabulous but sounds vaguely like a rude word. However, you can safely search for it on Google so obviously it's just me!

18 March, 2010

Felt finger puppets

We're heading off for my father-in-laws 90th (!!) birthday party this weekend and I thought I'd take along some handsewing to do. I asked Hazel what she'd like out of Kata Golda's Hand Stitched Felt and she chose the finger puppets. So of course I started them last night while watching our weekly dose of surreal tv (Flash Forward and Lost) and I made 3 out of the 5. I finished them off today. Not sure what I'm going to do while we're away! Actually I think might try and make another set for my little niece Rebecca.

Finger puppets

The thing I like about the projects in this book, and probably about handsewing felt in general, is how easy it is, nice to work with, and totally and absolutely satisfying! The fact that a little unevenness actually looks great is a total bonus :)

Finger puppets

Of course, mine don't approach the rustic feel of the originals because I Just. Can't. Do. It. I try. I try really hard to be wonky. But my innate anal retentiveness won't allow me. It's a total battle as I go, part of my brain is saying in a very James Kirk way "Must. Be. Wonky." and the other part of me is saying in a Church Lady kind of voice "Tidiness is a virtue"

Part of the fun of the finger puppets is that she suggests you make various changes for different animals (as seen in her examples) but the tails are a mystery so I had to come up with my own versions for each animal (except the mouse). From left to right that would be: dog, mouse, rabbit, cat, hamster. I probably shouldn't have placed the cat next to the hamster but on second thought the hamster looks big enough to take care of itself.

Finger puppets' tails

I'm feeling a little dissatisfied with my photos recently. I know why and it's Photoshop action envy. I ended up at MCP Actions via Pioneer Woman's photography blog, and I have this horrible lingering feeling that if I could just afford to buy one of those packages then my photos would suddenly be breathtaking. I hate the hazy, slightly faded look they have sometimes and while I can Photoshop them a bit by myself or use the PW action sets I have (limited but great I should add) I really wish they had the depth of colour, clarity and sparkle that the pros manage.

14 March, 2010


Spring primulas, originally uploaded by Hazelnutgirl.

Autumn's coming to Auckland, it's in the air. Still hot during the days but the nights are chilly and the viburnum is starting to turn. The poor old garden is frazzled from heat and the lack of rain, the lawn is burnt off and it's all looking pretty tired - except the hydrangeas. I took this picture of the polynathus in the spring so they will serve to cheer those of you still locked in to winter and daily anticipating spring and give hope* to those of us going into winter.

*Of course I'm totally misrepresenting how I truly feel about the seasons here - I loathe Auckland weather and in particular the summer mugginess, winter is marginally better but cold and damp, so autumn and spring are my favourites!

10 March, 2010

Mug cosy in linen

When I was in Visby (Gotland) for a conference a couple years ago I bought some fabulous handleless mugs from Szilasi Keramik. I love them for their colour and weight and texture, but I do not love burnt hands from trying to hold them with hot beveredges in. Maybe there's a trick to it that I'm not aware of but it meant they've languished in the cupboard ever since.

Mug cozy in linen

No longer! The other night I got mine out and had a think. I puzzled and puzzled, I drew up a pattern that had darts in it to get it to fit the angled sides. Nah. I puzzled some more. Then I went and googled 'mug cozy' and one of the returns had a curved template. It was for a Starbucks cup I think so not much use in practical terms but it was a "ah HA!" moment. But how to get the curve? So I thought a bit more and then realised I could roll the mug across a piece of paper and trace it and so the mug cosy pattern was born! After that it was simple as. A couple red buttons from the button box, a bit of red running stitch and I'm in looooove.

Mug cozy in linen detail

I'd like to make another one for Mat's mug - his is flat black and unglazed - well the shiny glaze anyways. I might document that one for a tutorial kind of thing in case anyone else is puzzling as well. I still find the shape of pattern to be somehow counter-intuitive although I can see the logic in it if I force my brain!

08 March, 2010

Rabbits rabbits rabbits

Do you say that first thing on the 1st of the month? I do. It's meant to bring good luck. Mat says "white rabbits" but just once. I don't feel that's adequate in this day and age of excess.

I have bunnies on the mind because the Hazelnuts bunny tutorial was posted up on Craft Gossip Felting and generated a bit of traffic and a few emails from lovely people who wanted to print the pattern but couldn't. I love it when people want to make the bunny! They deserve to multiply like, well, rabbits! The rabbits, not the people. Unless they want to.

More felt rabbits

Then in the hunt for the pattern for the giraffes we saw yesterday I came across this gorgeous jackalope over at Girl Savage

Betsy the Etsy Obsessed Jackalope Plush

and I was struck by the similarity of the pattern which is so neat! I mean, the idea behind the basic pattern is the same but they turn out so differently. I used to think that my bunnies were like some unknown thing which is why I made up the pattern, but I kind of like finding out that they're from a genre*. So I've decided to keep track of the genre, of bunnies that remind me of my bunny. The clincher on this were the bunnies from Chez Beeper Bebe that turned up in my Reader earlier today. Ohhhh, wookit da widdle bunny!

white bunny with carrot2

The heads don't really qualify them for the genre, but the bums definitely do!

Bunny trio derrieres

I'm so tempted to get my bunny down on all fours too, the tail is just so sassy!

And of course the bonus of these two lots of bunnies that you can buy them and don't have to make them yourself. I'm beginning to appreciate the wonder of that more and more (in theory if not in practice but I'm working on it!)

* I was reminded of the book Knuffle Bunny Too where Trixie sees Sonja with another bunny and "suddenly her one-of-a-kind Knuffle Bunny wasn't so one-of-a-kind after all".

Infringing or not?

On Sunday we went out to one of our favourite events - the monthly Coatesville markets. It's such a fun, relaxed market full of great food, produce and crafts. We haven't been since before Christmas and I noticed a real upswing in the number of stalls selling handmade softies. Actually I should say Softies with a capital S because I'd say 75-80% of them come directly from patterns published in the books Softies and More Softies by Viking Australia and Softies by Therese Laskey, plus a couple from Melly and Me patterns. Seriously. So what does one do in these cases?

I had a really good search through my two Softies books and couldn't find anything about copyright or selling items made from those patterns which seems unusual - does that make them fair game? Would seem to. I don't know about the Laskey or Melly and Me patterns, though I'd be surprised if they didn't have some sort of restriction. So there I am at the markets on a beautiful sunny day, my daughter falling in love with the beautiful stuffed toys - and they were lovely - and not able to enjoy the wonderfulness because I knew where those patterns had come from and I don't feel they should be selling them. But on the other hand it's just nice to see decent toys available at extremely reasonable prices (possibly too reasonable actually). Sigh. Moral conflict sucks. There used to be a woman there selling some toys from those books and I wasn't sure if I should say anything at that point, but now she seems to be selling more her own stuff and there's these new stalls with the knock-offs. I'm so not the kind of person to confront them over that, and hey, maybe it's actually legal if there's no disclaimer in the book? So what do you do? Look the other way? Blab to the market organisers? Tell the authors? How would they enforce sellers at an out-of-the-way country market? Buy them and save myself the trouble of making them? Or end up buying a legit pattern for a Melly and Me giraffe because your daughter and her friend just about wet themselves over the ones for sale? Well in the immediate future probably the latter, but the other options are still there...

ETA: it seems I might have been talking out my ear on this one (legally speaking if not ethically), read what Marielle has to say in the comments).

04 March, 2010

Shoes beautiful shoes!

This post is all about the shoes. I used to be a real shoe girl. I had lots and lots and I loved them. I even had some snide comments from a couple of people about my shoe choices while pregnant - apparently fecund earth-goddesses shouldn't wear kitten heels or red suede high heels (and I was just trying on my SIL's in that case!). But then the baby arrived and, well, you know how it is. This summer I was reduced to a pair of jandals and if necessary my slip-on Sketchers or runners. With teaching starting yesterday I got a bit of a panic on because while jandals might be a Kiwi institution they don't exactly exude professionalism in front a class of 200+ students. So I hit the discount shoe shop and did pretty well.

First-off were some nice sandals, because it's the end of summer and they were on sale. Hazel approves of them.


Then I found these cuties. They'll look so great with skirts, but also suit jeans. They make me feel slightly school-girlish. They'll lull the students into a false sense of camaraderie and then KAPOW!!! midterm. Because I haven't been a schoolgirl for over 20 years and I'm old and evil.


And lastly I went with these bad boys. Or girls. Whatever. I usually live in black ballet flats, they're my go-to shoe in the winter. I'm not sure how practical these will be (they rub a bit on the side of my foot) but I'll make the most of them while they last! It was a choice between a round-toed pair and these and really it wasn't much of a decision. I love me a pointy toe - I figure my genes resulted in feet with toes just right for wearing pointy toes so who am I to deny my DNA its true and fullest expression? Which technically speaking is Hazel but I think shoes come a close second.



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