Well, perhaps not officially, but it is getting pretty cold outside early in the morning on our way to school. I knitted Arlo this hat from some lovely soft alpaca/wool blend (Sirdar 'Peru' Alpaca) sent by my mum last winter. It took me a year to get around to knitting this. But I'm happy with it- mostly because he happily agrees to wear it. I'd been looking for a simple ear-flap hat pattern for a while, and in the end just decided to wing it and make it up as I went along. This meant picking up stitches and knitting the earflaps on afterwards, which I don't think is very good knitting technique- at least, not how I did it. I'll try to knit the hat all in one piece next time.
And here's Tom's new hat, also finished this week. To accompany him on his cold bike ride downhill to school with his bag full of books like these. I wasn't so happy with how his hat turned out- the shape isn't quite right- but I think I know how to improve it for next time. And he's a good sport about wearing my not-quite-right creations. I used a Norwegian yarn: Viking Naturgarn in chocolate brown.
A few soft tree ornaments from this oldish but great pattern by Stephanie Congdon-Barnes. These were simple to make, and the small people helped quite a bit- cutting out the fabric and pattern, and stuffing them with the wool and rice. My embroidery attempt was a bit hopeless- i didn't think hard enough about the direction of the trees until i'd sewn them up! oops.
So these are my little offering for today's Christmas-gift idea. I think a coordinating set of these, wrapped with brown paper and string, would make a nice small gift pre-Christmas.
Because so many of our friends and family members live far, far away, I've made a decision about our present-giving this year. Tom and I will make a donation to Oxfam 'on behalf' of all the adults we'd normally buy for, and send them a card and ornament for their trees instead. I feel much happier about spending money this way, rather than on something that may or may not be liked, and the same amount again on postage across the world.
Oxfam also have a programme called 'Unwrapped' where you can directly choose specific 'gifts' to give on behalf of others- like 3 ducks, mosquito nets or a family emergency center. I like the 'plant 25 trees in East Timor' option.
Still embroidering weeds/wildflowers, even though they are a rare sight these days. I loved this dandelion-print fabric, so I made this little purse for today's shop update which is heavy on gift-type items. Long live the dandelions!
I had an wonderful present in the mail today from my friend Karuna in NZ, who is a weaver. She sent me a bag of hand-woven embroidery threads, each one slightly different and exquisitely coloured. Thank you, K. I would say I'll treasure them always, but in actual fact I think I'll just use them up! Minutes within opening the parcel, I'd abandoned any idea of doing housework, and did some experimenting with them instead.
Yesterday I forgot to give details about this little fresh-off-the-needles hat for K. It's the 'Little Flower Top Hat' pattern from this book by Cosette Cornelius-Bates. Knit up in some worsted-weight yarn in grey and green. I'm really enjoying doing a bit of knitting at the moment, after having a long break from it. Next up, a hat for me...
There's a little interview with me posted up at Home Life today. Thanks, Stephanie!
This is my little tribute to Helen Clark, New Zealand's first elected woman Prime Minister.
I've been working on this free-form embroidery since New Zealand voted
in a right-wing government last week, and I watched Helen's concession speech online and felt so
sad. She resigned as leader of her party, thanked her supporters, and
gave an awkward little bow before leaving the stage.
I want to say, thank you Helen!
I voted for you in the first election I was eligible to. In 1990, the
Nurses Amendment Act you introduced while Health Minister ensured that
I, and many other women, enjoyed excellent, free care by an
independant midwife, allowing me to have two home births without a
single visit to a doctor. While Prime Minister, along with many progressive social policies, you introduced the 'Working
for Families' benefit, and because of that, I could stay at home with
Arlo and Keira and still have enough money for groceries. Under your leadership, I was truly proud to be a New Zealander.
So, I'm getting some things made for Christmas, and for the Christmas market I've signed up to do in our little town. I couldn't resist joining in with a 'proper' Christmas market- outdoors in the snow and dark, with candles, carol singers, lanterns and hot chocolate. At least, that's how I'm imagining it so I don't freak out about how cold it's going to be. Last week I promised I'd share some gift ideas each Thursday, so here's this week's one: a coffee-cosy/cozy/warmer thingy. I've included a tutorial in case you'd like to make some too. We are big coffee drinkers, and always use a French Press with one of these covers to keep the coffee warmer for longer. Let me know you notice any mistakes/strange things with this little tutorial.
You'll need: piece of fabric measuring 5.5" X 14.5" for the outer layer piece of fabric measuring 5.5" X 14.5" for the lining layer piece of quilt batting or Insul-Bright or thick wool or similar for the inner layer, measuring 5.5" X 14.5" 2 buttons (i used mis-matched vintage ones, about 2 cms diameter each) 2 pieces thin elastic (i used 4mm wide), cut into 3.5" lengths sewing machine and thread
Finished measurements: Laid flat, the French Press Cosy measures about 5" X 13.5". It fits our standard, 8-cup (I think), glass Bodum coffee plunger that measures about 8" from base to lid.
Method: 1. Cut the three layers of fabric to the above measurements. I think quilt batting or Insul-Bright would be best for the middle layer of the cosy, but I can't seem to find either in my little town so I used an old, clean towel! In the past, I've also used thick wool fabric/blanket pieces. Feel free to get imaginative with the outer and lining layers- I like to use patchworked fabric for the outer piece- here I've used bits of Japanese linen, denim and wool from my scrap basket.
2. Make a sandwich with the layers like this: place the batting down first on a flat surface, then lay the lining piece on top, right side up, then place the outer piece on top of that, right side down.
3. Pin around all the edges, leaving a gap of about 4" in the centre of one of the short ends of the rectangle, as shown above. Sew around where you have pinned, being careful to catch all the layers as you go. Reinforce stitching if you need to, then clip the corners. Turn piece inside out, and press with a warm iron.
4. Fold over and press together the raw edges where you have left the gap. Fold the pieces of elastic into loops, and insert the ends into the gap, near the edges of where you have sewn. (like below.) Pin them in place.
5. Sew across the edge, securing the elastic loops as you do so. I'd sew this seam a few times, just to be sure the elastic is well and truly stuck in there.
6. I like to do a bit of machine quilting on the finished piece, to secure the three layers together. Then sew the buttons on to the other end (I use doubled-over thread to make sure they're really strong) to correspond with the elastic loops. You might need to try it on your French Press first, to see where they should be. And there, all finished!
(I can never stop at one. It's quite fun to match them to your friends' kitchens/crockery...)
Two new dolls and a pair of skirts to add to my shop update today, sewn purely for the joy of it- because they're not very practical for our current weather situation. Perhaps that's why I wanted to make them. Keira insisted on having one made for her, too, and has confirmed their dance-ability.
We've just discovered the latest Michael Franti album All Rebel Rockers and it is a huge hit- with the dancing girl especially. I've always held a special place in my heart for Spearhead's music. I bought Home when I was a student. When Tom and I first got together, he gave me a mix tape with lots of songs from Stay Human and then when Keira was born we had 'Everyone Deserves Music' playing in the kitchen every day. It's both politically-charged and truly joyful music. Have a listen (and dance) to it if you get the chance!
the children playing in a small patch of sunlight on the weekend,
and, my personalised bookplate-style stamp (ordered from here) so i can make my own 'business cards' from my gocco-print-offcuts. I am quite pleased with this low-tech way of doing it- and also, having my own stamp feels Rather Important.
The sky here has been full of birds, lately. I'm not sure how much longer they'll be around for; I guess they will be heading south soon. But I'm enjoying watching them circling above me whenever I go outside. Here's a small poem I wrote about them.
walking home with boots and hems dark with rain the children are fishing in puddles for feathers: silky and slicked thin, their small hands holding them tightly like candles while above, a milky way of gulls circle and soar a black constellation.