28 February, 2011

The great Scandinavian craft book smack-down

Well ok no, there will be no fighting, no nastiness, just some nice pictures of pretty things and everyone is friends and there are fluffy bunnies and icecreams with cherries on top. Really.

Seriously though, I have a couple of the more popular Scandinavian craft books at the moment, and since I'm always unsure with books like this which one might appeal to me the most I thought I'd do a quick side-by-side comparison in case anyone else out there is wondering too!

I bought Scandinavian Needlecraft by Clare Youngs for myself for Christmas and love it. It's focused on felt, either commercially produced or felted old sweaters etc. (technically I suppose that would be felted and fulled respectively) and lots of simple hand embroidery. The sections are Bags, Gifts and Decorations (Xmas stuff mostly), Kitchen, Clothes and Accessories and Soft Furnishings.

Crested Bird Chair pad
Applique Bird Pillow
Tree Treasures
Blue Herring Tea TowelSami Felt Mittens
Folk Bird Garland
Embroidered Gift Tags
Sampler Linen Dress
Log Roll with Twig Detailing

Scandinavian Stitches by Kajsa Wikman is out from the library and while it's really very nice it's not quite exactly where I'm at at the moment. Having said that I found plenty of projects to show you and I'm quite sure I'll return to it at some point! The projects focus more on fabrics, stuffed items and free-motion stitching done on the machine. That might be part of my reluctance with this book, my machine doesn't do it well and I don't trust that I'd do a good job as some of it requires precision work.  The book sections are done by season Winter, Spring, Summer, Autumn and Yule. One thing I will definitely be doing are these little Tomte stuffies

Bird Nest Quilted Bowl

Yule House ornament  from

At the Summer House

Gardening AngelMerry Mouse pouch with zipper

So there you go, both great books with a wide range of projects and pretty much no overlap at all if you're thinking about getting both!

27 February, 2011

Sunday morning, 8am

Spot The Difference kittens on the iPad, the best thing in the world if you are 5. Except for maybe Spot The Difference ponies.

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26 February, 2011

Saturday morning, 8 o'clock

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23 February, 2011

Softies for Christchurch

As many of you probably know, Christchurch down in the South Island of New Zealand suffered a devastating earthquake yesterday afternoon, with much loss of life and destruction of infrastructure and so many beautiful old buildings and homes. It's really heartbreaking, and although I'm safe and sound in Auckland I, like most Kiwis, are finding the images and stories hard to deal with.  Leonie at Kiwi at Heart has started a softies drive for the kids in Christchurch, much as has been done for the survivors of the Queensland and Victorian floods. If you'd like to get involved pop over to the blog and leave your name!

20 February, 2011


I'm a bit slow on the uptake sometimes, and while I've been reading posts here and there about Pinterest I hadn't really thought much about what it was. I know Tumblr has been around for ages but I'd never really felt much of an urge to jump on that bandwagon for some reason; but Pinterest suddenly took my fancy and I signed up! Well actually what you do, if you haven't been invited, is submit your name to be invited. I figured it would be months before anything happened, but it took about 24 hours or so.  Pinterest is essentially a site where you can store images of things you find as you troll through the internet. The only drawback I can find to it (other than possibly too much inspiration) is that if you read your blogs via feeds and they use Feedburner or something like that, you don't get a proper attribution link and have to actually visit the site in person. I know, how awful right? ;)

I'm slowly adding pins, but it looks a bit thin on the ground at the moment! I'm sure it'll fill up fairly quickly though :) There would be more, but I've recently moved over to a new computer and I decided to start with a clean 'bookmarks' menu so I don't actually have most of the gazillion of things I'd collected in the last few years. And sadly, I rather think I won't even miss them much at all - how often did I ever really go back into all those folders and find something anyways? Pinterest gives you those visual clues that are missing with bookmarks and I think it's going to be great.

18 February, 2011

Soul Blossoms sunglasses case

I was on a roll after I made my iPhone cover (which is working out well though a touch hard to get the phone into sometimes) and needed something for my sunglasses, so I took a deep breath and cut into my little stack of Amy Butler's Soul Blossoms fabric. I'd like to make a quilt from it but figured there was no point in being totally precious about it and I'd imagine that, like most of Amy Butler's other lines, it'll be around for awhile if I desperately need any more (did I just jinx myself?).

I'm kind of hopeless with sunglasses - I frequently forget to bring them out with me, or if I do they're in my bag with no cover getting damaged. Not anymore!

Soul Blossoms sunglasses case

I used the One Shabby Chick tutorial again and this time did it "properly" which I must admit is easier but the case doesn't have the stiffness of the iPhone cover and so gets a bit distorted with the glasses in it. Personally I think people will be blinded by the fabrics and not notice anything so trivial (I know I am!).

Soul Blossoms sunglasses case

Hey, have any of you come across a good quilt pattern for Soul Blossoms that isn't the official one for this line, or Red Pepper Quilt's? I love RPQ's but I'd like something a bit more intense and saturated, while the official one is just too much!

Inside out patchwork

I'm about half way through making the placemats and have put the tops together. I've never done piecing on a small scale like this and I like the geometry of the backs very much!

Inside out patchwork

I suppose it would be very impractical and the edges wouldn't look crisp for long, but it would be neat to have a quilt like this!

Inside out patchwork

16 February, 2011

Phone cover (aka 'Well bugger')

And you know what, I did measure twice and cut once and it's STILL too short.

Echino iPhone cover

Oh well, it's a simple enough pattern (via Jenna Designs) so I'll add another cm to the length and try again!

Echino iPhone cover

I won't change a thing about the fabric though, it's perfection. I used Echino Collage Stripe in Cool for the front...

Echino iPhone cover

...and the same fabric in Fresh for the back.

I'm kind of annoyed at the waste of time and resources though, I'm going to see what I can do to make it useful.


I made up another one in the same fabrics with an extra cm in length and it's perfect. I left out the elastic at the top this time, I don't think it's necessary as the cover fits fairly snugly.

iPhone cover mark II

Unfortunately I couldn't get a bird in without wasting a huge amount of fabric (fussy cutting stresses me at the best of times!) but I did end up with a butterfly on the back.

iPhone cover mark II

Boy my stitching looks distinctly dodgy in the photos but not nearly as bad in person. My machine hates sewing really thick layers so close to the edges, even with the walking foot. And the foot has a tendency to get caught on corners which doesn't help. Funny how it stands out so much more in the photo though, I couldn't live with it if it really looked like that!

Here are my measurements for a iPhone 4 (with a thin case) using the tutorial at One Shabby Chick - they include a 5mm seam allowance and a 2-3 topstitching allowance:

Two outside pieces, two lining pieces and two batting
Width 9.4 cm
Length 14.0 cm

The only difference from the tutorial is that I did it with two separate pieces, sewn together along three sides. To be honest I only did that because I didn't read the tutorial right and see that she folded a long piece in two and only had two seams!

15 February, 2011

Hipstamatic bedroom

On Sunday it was just so stinking hot and humid all I wanted to do was collapse. So I lay on our bed and watched Mat rip laserlite off from over the deck in preparation for our house being painted (!!!yay!) and Hazel sat next to me chattering away and sewing a lovebug of her own design and asking me to do help with pretty much everything. In between that I played with Hipstamatic.

I'm not used to seeing the sky out of window like this, it's really very nice! The light floods into all the rooms that open onto the deck and it feels much more open. On the other hand the rain comes in, the shoes get wet, and sunbeams heat the house up. We're liking the openess so much that we're thinking of painting the beams white so they blend in with the house more and don't look so massive when we replace the cover.

On an entirely unrelated note - ever since I was a kid I have stared at ceilings imagining how it would look if the house was turned upside down and the ceiling were the floor and I had to walk around the house that way. Am I alone in this? If I am I'm sure it indicates sheer untapped genius :)

The problem with having these high ceilings would be the getting in and out of doors.  I do love that moulding though, it has the most beautiful changing shadows throughout the day. The print is by Judith Kunzlé, an artist we know in the Cook Islands. I love her dancers but the landscapes are my favourites, they capture Polynesia so perfectly! I should start saving up for an Aitutaki one (where my PhD research was based).

14 February, 2011

Valentine's Cards

I don't think Valentine's is as big a deal here in NZ as it is in North America - less institutionalised anyways. I asked Hazel's teacher what her policy was on cards and she was quite taken-aback and said she didn't really have one; but that we didn't have to give one out to everyone and that kids had to learn that sometimes they'd miss out on things like that. Fair enough but I'm glad it's Hazel who has to hand them out because they're only going to the girls! She's under strict instructions to be tactful with it too - although considering I had to explain what tactful was, and she IS 5 years old, I'm not entirely sure how it will go! Anyways, she's keen about it and they are pretty damned cute.

I saw the idea at Jenn Parker Photography and Hazel was all over it from the moment I showed her.

Valentine's 2011

Very simple and very effective, although I think a flatter lollipop would have caused less distortion to the photo. Of course she wanted the big round ones for herself so there was no way she was settling for less on the off-chance there would be extras (there were).

ETA: she managed to hand out about half of them, apparently she "ran out of time" for the rest. Actually that's more than I thought she'd manage, she's quite shy with that kind of thing and has only been at school with some of the girls for a week. OR she just wanted the lollipops for herself...

13 February, 2011

Felt bag with embroidered bird

Felt bag with embroidered bird

It's done! Man, this took a lot longer to do than I expected, thick felt is tough to embroider through! But it was totally worth the sore fingers. The design is from Scandinavian Needlecraft by Clare Youngs.

Felt bag with embroidered bird

The design itself isn't hard, and the stitches are simple.  I've never done a whipped stitch before and while it seemed like double-handling, it gives a lovely three-dimensional effect. I like how the design almost looks like yarn just sitting on the surface.

Felt bag with embroidered bird

The instructions say to use "thick felt" but don't elaborate so I really wasn't sure what to use. I went looking and found Jenny Hislop's gorgeous version, and it sounded like just putting together two layers of thin felt wasn't going to really do the trick.  In the end I bought the most beautiful 3mm white felt from FilzFelt on Etsy and it was perfect. I got the 1/2 yard and it's not cheap, but I discovered that there's enough in that to do 2 bags plus have some left over for other small projects. It's really just amazing after dealing with the much thinner felts, the body it has is unique - plus it still smells like wool a little bit which makes it nice to work with.

In general, although the instructions are perfectly adequate, I did rather want a bit more detail in terms of stitch spacing and construction techniques. So I thought I'd just pop down my thoughts in case anyone was casting about for guidance.
  • Cut it with a rotary cutter, even the cut-outs, it gives a beautiful edge. I just used a box cutter to trim into the points of the cut-outs and to get into the corners of the handle. I used a small cutter for the inside of the handle.
  • Cut out the front and embroider it before cutting out the back to match it, the front changed in shape and size a bit and then I had to trim the back down which was a pain.
  • You will probably need to tuck in the raw edges of the fabric behind the cut-outs and stitch it down to avoid fraying and to keep it tidier inside.
  • I did the cross-stitching down the side spaced 10mm and 5mm in from the edge. More tightly spaced at maybe 8mm might have been good too, although more work! I marked the lines out with water-soluble marker to keep things even.
  • You can do a lot of the embroidery without having to come through to the back of the felt which not only makes it much easier to work, but keeps the inside looking tidier.

So now I just have to work up the courage to actually use it - I have a really bad feeling it will get dirty around the handles fairly quickly and I'm not sure how well it will wash. I did briefly consider trying to put some sort of lining in it that would wrap around the inside of the handle but I actually think the thickness of the felt is particularly obvious around the handles and part of the appeal of the bag for me.

I pondered faithfully copying the original after seeing Jenny's interpretation, but in the end I decided that I'd seen the pattern and wanted THAT bag, not anything else, so it's not really a cop-out in terms of creativity. What do you feel about that kind of thing - do you always change things up a bit or do you tend to copy the original as closely as you can?

Felt tag

09 February, 2011

Projects for 2011

Why hello little blog, I've been neglecting you! It's been a busy week with Hazel starting back at school, a bit of paint stripping on exterior windows and slowly working away on my Scandinavian Needlework project - hopefully it'll be finished in a day or two!

In the meantime I thought I'd post a picture of the assembled non-clothing projects I want to do this year, the ones I know about anyways! I know there are two topsy-turvey dolls and maybe a bunny for Easter lined up as well. Some of these are still lurking from last year, some are with fabrics I bought in Canada.

Did you know that fabric is slated to increase about 30% in the next year or so? That's what I was told by one lady in a quilt shop, so that's not only quilting fabrics but ALL fabric, even that used by clothing manufacturers. Something to do with the fabric mills in China. Pretty sobering!

Projects for 2011, originally uploaded by Hazelnutgirl.

So let's think about happier things shall we? So from top left and going clockwise: a quilt for Hazel made from Far Far Away fabrics. This one has been sitting around for far too long. Stack of Amy Butler Soul Blossoms FQ, destined for a quilt (pattern undetermined), a couple of panels of Saffron Craig fabric, some hand-printed fabric from Heleen at Ruby in the Dust, destined for a lapquilt. My red quilt top and back, all ready to be quilted. I think this one will be first cab off the rank. Pile of fabrics, mostly from It's a Hoot by MoMo, also for a quilt. Green and brown fabrics for either coasters or placemats for a gift, haven't decided on which yet. This has some urgency, maybe it should be first... Yellow, red, orange and pink print and solid set to make a quilt from Practical Guide to Patchwork. My friend Sarah gave me a gift certificate to a fabric shop for Xmas, so the working title will be "Sarah's quilt", some Echino fabrics to make pillows with.

So that's the line-up and aside from anything very small and utterly necessary to one of these projects I am placing my hand on my heart and saying that I will not buy any more fabric this year and will work solely from my stash, amen. And I really do mean it and part of the reason for posting all this stuff up here is that I'll feel like I've got the world watching - I respond well to the threat of public shaming.

05 February, 2011

Safety Mes

My sister-in-law Kate gave Hazel the most gorgeous present for Christmas (well one amongst many amazing things she gave!) A giant matchbox:

Which opens to:

A tiny mouse! It's made by a Danish company called Maileg, who I'd never heard of before, though heaps of places carry their stuff so I'm just a bit late onto the bandwagon is all :)

The mouse really is gorgeous, and comes dressed in a wee red skirt and there's a ticking mattress and pillow, and a small knitted blanket to keep her snug in her matchbox. 

I tried for the retro Hipstamatic look with these photos but ended up with a weird green cast so it wasn't entirely successful! I don't have Photoshop on my new computer yet so am stuck with what iPhoto and Picnic can do, which in this case isn't much!

Some of Maileg's stuff is very reminiscent of patterns in the various Scandinavian books that have come out recently, the Tomte that they sell are almost identical to a pattern in Scandinavian Stitches, which I'm picking up from the library on Monday. Woot!

The whole set-up reminds me very much of the tiny little doll in The Little Girl and the Tiny Doll, there is something about beds in matchboxes! It's such a great book, one of my childhood favourites I've recently rediscovered by chance and Hazel loves it too. The mouse is also reminiscent of the Jofus and Lally mouse pattern.

03 February, 2011

Paintchip collage

This afternoon Hazel and I sat down to some cutting/gluing/drawing/cutting/stickering and I decided to do something with this huge bag of paint chips I had. Many moons ago my friend Jess sent me a stack of Martha Stewart paint chips from Canada - I can't remember why but I'm sure I must have asked her to and I do remember going through them and loving some of the combinations. They appeared again when I was looking for a NZ paint chart for the outside of our house and were sitting there begging to be used. I've seen some really cool things done with paint chips, like using them for wallpaper, but I decided to be a bit more modest in my ambitions! I just cut the edges off to get rid of the names/numbers and then cut each strip in two lengthwise. Then I glued each strip of four colours onto a big piece of card in horizontal lines. It's rough and ready but I'm very taken with it!

02 February, 2011

Small things

Felt tag, originally uploaded by Hazelnutgirl.

I did something! It's small, literally, but it's little steps to something bigger and totally awesome.

01 February, 2011


I'm still on an enforced sewing break with my machines in the shop, which means I can legitimately pester you all with Hipstamatic photos.

I pruned back the hydrangeas yesterday so we could get down the side of the house and salvaged these flowerheads

The rest were antiqued, which I know people will pay a lot of money for, but I really only like them true blue. Or white. Or pink. Just not antique.

Hopefully there will be some sewing soon, I need to start prepping a few things and considering some UFOs and upcoming birthdays.

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