Rabbit Rattle

Crochet Rabbit Rattle for my friend's new baby.

Gardening Apron

Gardening Apron for a friend's house warming present.

No Junk for Us!

Handmade "no junk mail please" sign in Finnish.

Meet Cyril!

Cyril is an amigurumi pig, made for my nephew.

Boxy Matryoshka Pouch

Boxy pouch made with very kawaii Japanese fabric.

Monday, 22 December 2008

One Skein Scarf

I really wanted to have a handmade Christmas this year, making all the presents for family and friends. Real life had other ideas, but I actually did better than I thought. This is what I managed:
  • 4 boxy pouches, filled with Finnish chocolates
  • A one-skein scarf from Happy Hooker
  • A beret from a pattern in Sept/Oct 07 Crochet Today
Photos to follow after the big day, so that in the remote possibility that someone from my family reads this the surprise isn't ruined. Although that already happened to my daft sister who "accidentally" opened the present as the postman handed it over. Quite how she didn't realise it was for Christmas when it was wrapped in Christmas paper and came in a Christmassy packet, I don't know.

Sunday, 21 December 2008

Someone might actually be reading this!

Perhaps because I am still stupidly chuffed about this and thus haven't quite got over it, it's taken me a whole 18 days to get round to reporting that Lauren mentioned my blog when she received the Uber Amazing Blog Award. This means that someone (ie Lauren) actually reads my blog and she isn't family or anything!

The rules of the Uber Amazing Blog award state:
  1. Put the logo on your blog or post. (Check!)
  2. Nominate at least 5 blogs (can be more) that for you are Uber Amazing. (Check!)
  3. Let them know that they have received this Uber Amazing award by commenting on their blog. (Will do)
  4. Share the love and link to this post and to the person you received your award from. (Likewise)
So, what are my fave reads? Before I name names, let me say that I am a Google Reader addict. I'm currently subscribed to a somewhat ridiculous 92 blogs (and I'm massively behind on my reading - 769 unread items to be precise!).

But of course I don't read them all religiously. Most of them get a quick scan before I'm on to the next post. But there are some that I always read and if time is tight, like it has been lately, I'll cherry-pick the following:

Lloyd and Lauren - the minutiae of their daily lives brighten up my breakfast every day.
The Hook and I - Amy is a crochet genius, blogging from the far reaches of Alaska and by all accounts, a mean cook too.
this mama makes stuff - tftcarrie refashions thrift-store finds with great style, often for her children who must be the coolest kids on the block.
laughing purple goldfish designs - more great crochet, with a thrifty-twist.
Today we are... - seamstress joleo hails from south-east England and her blog helps me feel less homesick.

So, there you have it. All of the blogs I love have one thing in common - personality. They are all written by people who tell you a little (or a lot) about their everyday lives and I like that. Craft and/or real people = happiness, at least for me.

Saturday, 6 December 2008

Matryoshka Keyring and a Daft Badge

I made this quick keyring to go with the Matryoshka pouch that I made the other day, which is now lined:

The lining isn't exactly professional, but it's not too bad and doesn't catch on the zip, at least. To make it, I just followed the directions for the pouch, but omitted the zip. Then it was a not quite so simple mater of sewing it to the outside (I used dark thread in the bobbin and light up top so that the stitching didn't show too much).

Since this was a birthday present for my oldest friend (we've known each other since we were babies, she's not that old) and she's about to go on maternity leave, I wanted to make her something baby-related too. So, here's the daft badge that I whipped up:

I used scraps of fabric, some cardboard and a safety pin to make it, along with the lettering stitch on my machine that I've been dying to try out. The lettering is on some bias binding and I've zig-zagged the edge of the middle layer of fabric. It's all stuck together with iron-on hemming tape, although the base fabric (some orange needle cord left over from a dinosaur I made for my nephew) is attached to the cardboard with stitches, as is the safety pin (not shown).

As I was writing the card it suddenly occurred to me that "not long now..." could be misconstrued when sent as part of a birthday gift :)

PS Please excuse photos - had to use the camera phone at night (which is pretty much all the time here in Finland).

Saturday, 29 November 2008

Patriotic Baby Booties

These have to be the fastest booties I've made so far. The Hubby announced that his friend had just become an auntie and since he also knows the friend's sister and husband, could I make something for them? The catch? Just two days before the friend came to collect the gift before making the trip to Amsterdam to visit them.

I took a chance and made a start on some booties I've not made before, knowing that this could very well end in boots fit only for the tiniest baby ever (I crochet very tightly). I don't know about you, but even if a pattern works out really well, I always want to try something new when I pick up my hook. I even get bored making the second bootie of a pair. I chose the "victorian aster baby's booties" from 201 Crochet Motifs, Blocks, Patterns and Ideas, but left out the aster flower adornment and the second row of embellishment around the top. These were for a boy, after all!

I used some white yarn form my stash (Red Heart Dallas) and worked my little (OK, freakishly long) fingers off. I didn't quite make the deadline, so Hubby's friend had to play with VV for 20 minutes while I finished them off (I don't think either of them minded). I added a bue ribbon to make them a bit more boyish. It was then that we noticed I had made very patriotic Finnish booties. And when I quickly wrapped them in some orange tissue I had (in yet another stash), we realised that was a very Dutch colour to choose. Almost as if I had carefully planned it all.

The booties looks a little Wellington-boot like to me, but I think the shape is good for fat baby legs and feet, so they might actually stay on. And they are probably too big right now, which is an achievement in itself.

Monday, 24 November 2008

Boxy Matryoshka Pouch

Finally made a start on my Christmas presents, with this practice boxy pouch:

I used three bear's excellent tutorial and fabric from Japanese specialist nuno.plus. I found the ebay version of the nuno.plus shop quite by accident and only noticed that its the same shop mentioned in the tute later on. Yet another spooky coincidence.

I think I'm going to do lined versions for the actual presents, but in a non-properly way, just by using two pieces of fabric together. That will still put the seams on view on the inside, but it will make the pouches a bit stiffer and it will keep the make-up time short.

Right, better get on with them then! Now that my get-up-and-go has come back (it went away for a week or so, I know not where, hence the silence), I'll be in a veritable making frenzy. At least that's the plan...

Tuesday, 11 November 2008

Pass the Pigs - crocheted!

Brigitte over at roman sock has made the most amazing crocheted version of Pass the Pigs, which she's named Pass the Piglets. Look at how detailed and cute it is:

Strangely, rather than spurring me on to make fab handmade Christmas gifts myself (as is my plan), it's thrown me into the doldrums. There's no way I could make anything that cute, dammit. And certainly not two things exactly the same - none of my booties have really been true matching pairs so far...

Hopefully Pass the Piglets has the opposite effect on you, so go and check it out for yourself now. I'd certainly love to receive something like this as a present: Brigitte's friends and family are lucky indeed.

Thursday, 6 November 2008

Thread-Catcher Cube

"What's this?" I hear you ask. "A slightly wonky fabric cube, in a cute colourway?" Well, yes, but that's not all...

See that stuff on top? That there be threads, caught neatly by this, the all-new, ingenious Thread-Catcher CubeTM!

I had a "eureka!" moment when I was clearing up after a sewing session the other day and noticed that my trousers had threads stuck to them. It was but one small leap from that to a custom thread-catcher, with fleece as the grippy fabric of choice. The dotty fabric is a tea-towel, the fleece from an old top.

Up until now I've been chucking the threads in origami boxes made from magazines, but now I'll use the cube ("Use the cube, Luke, use the cube...").

Wednesday, 5 November 2008

From Runner to Clutch

This clutch bag started life as a table runner, which I bought back in July with a load of other fabric. As soon as I saw the runner I knew I wanted to make it into a bag, but it's taken me until now to get round to it.

I used a pattern from Making Handbags: Retro, Chic and Luxurious Designs, finally assuaging the craft book guilt I always have when I've bought a book and not made anything from it.

I'm quite pleased with the way it looks, but in reality it's a bit soft and squishy, so I'm not sure it will be all that great in use. And the question is - with or without the tassel?

Tuesday, 4 November 2008

Mohair Capelet

I finally got round to doing something with the excess Schachenmayr nomotta idena Mohair Lux I have, although there is still a lot left over (see here for why I have so much. And yes, I abandoned The Tapeworm). Since I couldn't really see myself wearing anything made from mohair, I let my husband choose from three shawl patterns. He chose Cold Shoulders from Stitch 'n Bitch Crochet: The Happy Hooker.

Using two strands together to get an approximation of the correct weight of yarn, the pattern worked up really quickly. I also got to make my first pom-poms (the first since childhood at least, and that was a looong time ago).

And here's the finished project:

I actually really like it (although I think the pom-poms are a little large), but I'm still stumped on what to wear it with - any suggestions greatly received! I know that all things wooly are currently in vogue, but I'm not sure if I have the guts to wear it with my normal casual clothes.

And still the question remains - what to do with the rest of the mohair?

Monday, 3 November 2008

The crochet crocs are finally on their way

I finally got round to buying the extra buttons and finished off the crochet Crocs. I didn't have a suitable box to wrap them in, so I hacked up a box we already had and wrapped that. I also used some fluffy packing material that came with something we ordered recently (I forget what). So, while I didn't do that great a job with the wrapping, at least it was recycled.

Now if only I could find my other friend's address, I could post the bear booties as well...

Saturday, 1 November 2008

Aalto Origami

Ok, not Alvar Aalto origami as such, but rather a beautiful Iittala Aalto vase filled with box origamis.

My husband received this vase as a present for 10 years' service to his company and we wanted to have it on display. However, a clear glass vase gets rather lost with nothing in it and since it's a long time before anything grows here in Finland, flowers are out of the question.

We both looked at the vase together, chorused "origami!" and so the idea was born. I've just spent a couple of hours maniacally folding the boxes. Note: very few of my attempts reached the vase when I threw them, so I shall not be giving up my day job to start a career in a basketball anytime soon. (My husband points out that the vase's shape means it is harder to slam dunk than a hoop, but he has to be nice, he's my husband...)

Friday, 31 October 2008

Celery and Cashew Soup

Having a bit of an excess of celery in the fridge, I decided to make some soup. Celery and Cashew might sound a bit odd, but it is very tasty. Of course, if you don't like celery (like my husband), you won't like this, but you don't need to love the stuff to enjoy the soup. I now have three lovely portions in the freezer ready for future lunches. All in all, a nice creative couple of hours while VV was asleep.

Sorry there's no photo, but the soup wasn't very photogenic and I missed the ever decreasing window of daylight here in Finland.

I can't reproduce the recipe for the soup here, since it's from a book, but I can tell you the book - New Covent Garden Book of Soups: New, Old and Odd Recipes. I've made a few of the recipes in the past and they've all been very tasty (I highly recommend the Pistou).

EDIT: I read up on copyright law and I *think* I can publish the recipe, so here it is:

Celery and Cashew Nut Soup

  • 75g (3oz) butter
  • 2 heads of celery, roughly chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 150g (5oz) unsalted cashew nuts
  • 1.5 litres (2.5 pints) vegetable stock
  • To garnish: 50g (2oz) unsalted cashew nuts, chopped, and celery leaves
  1. Melt the butter and cook the celery and garlic gently for 20 minutes in a covered saucepan, without colouring.
  2. Grind the nuts finely in a food processor and add to the pan along with the stock.
  3. Cover, bring to the boil and simmer for about 30 minutes until the vegetables are tender.
  4. Cool a little, then puree in a liquidiser.
  5. Pass the soup through a sieve into a clean saucepan.
  6. For the garnish, put the cashew nuts into a frying pan over a high heat. Shake frequently until the nuts brown. Cool.
  7. Reheat the soup gently and serve garnished with toasted chopped cashew nuts and chopped celery leaves.

Thursday, 30 October 2008

My First Beanie

And it turns out that the title is more accurate that it first seems. How so? All will be revealed in good time!

I decided it was about time I tried my hand at a hat and thought I would make one for my brother, who has recently started up his own business doing flat roofs. Not quite sure what that involves, but I think hot black sticky stuff features somewhere along the line.

So, out came my trusty Stitch 'n Bitch Crochet: The Happy Hooker. Flicking to page 125, I started in earnest on the Boy Beanie by Laura Killoran (check out her own site here - I rather like the look of her Applejack Cap, as it happens).

Merrily I crocheted away, sitting on the sofa drinking tea, as is my custom. And I was pretty pleased with the result. That is until I tried it on. It's like wearing some kind of mediaeval torture device! Luckily there is one small-headed person in my family and it fits him just perfectly - six-month-old VV. And here it is - both mine and his first beanie:

I suspect it was my yarn choice - leftovers from the Rabbit Slippers from the same book, plus some random orange wool - that was the culprit, helped in part by my super-tight stitches. Oh well, it was about time I crocheted something for my son. The hat was a doddle though, so with the right yarn in hand, I'll try again sometime...

Tuesday, 28 October 2008

Book Review: Sew Everything Workshop

Although I am not a total novice when it comes to machine sewing, I am self-taught and have a tendancy to bodge things when I don't know how to do them properly. With this in mind, I decided it was about time I got myself a how-to book and S.E.W. Sew Everything Workshop by Diana Rupp, came to the rescue.

And it's great! It's fun to read - I read the whole thing in one sitting, it's so engaging - and very easy to understand. The book also comes with 25 projects to do (and these are ones you will want to make, from clothing, to accessories and gifts), along with 10 paper patterns in a folder at the front. The whole book is ring-bound, which should make it hard-wearing.

The only downside to this book is that it inspired me to upgrade to an electronic sewing machine, which was a bit of a shock to my purse moths. The machine is a Singer 9940, discontinued now so I got a good deal on it. And it does practically everything except make tea!

But back to the book - I have already recommended it to my non-sewing best friend, who rushed out and bought it and is now hoping for her first sewing machine at Christmas. I'm planning to make some projects from it too, which I'll post here.

I had hoped that the author, Diana Rupp, had a blog, but it has the dreaded "under construction" message at the moment...

EDIT: I did find the SEW Flickr group, so you can check out some of the projects people have made from the group:


Monday, 27 October 2008

Crochet Baby Crocs

Not the animal, but the shoe. I spotted these, or rather the pattern, on Etsy and just had to get it and make some. This is my first attempt, which is why it's in boring old white - I've got a huge bargain ball of it. There's only one in the photos because I had a "doh!" moment in the shop and only bought two buttons, instead of four.

The pattern, available from The Hooker in Me, comes in two sizes, 0-3 months and 3-6 months. The largest size comes out at about 4 and a quarter inches long, when crocheted loosely with a big hook. You might be able to make them bigger than me though, since I crochet really tightly (I now have a really bad joke about skinflint hookers in my mind, but I won't share).

I had hoped to make these for VV, but sady he's got kipper feet like his mother and at six months is way too big for these. Not to worry though, I've got plenty of newborns to make for in the next few months. I think I'll make a pair for each one and add a couple of other gifts too. They only take about an hour each to make, so they're perfect for running up in front of the TV of a cold wintery evening.

Friday, 17 October 2008

RSS Reader Must Reads

Since I've neglected this blog for a couple of weeks, here are a few highlights from my RSS reader that I would have shared. Hope you enjoy them.

Crochet Eyeball Doorknob cover by bella_domanie on Craftster. She generously shares the pattern too, so you can make your own (via Cthulhu Crochet and Cousins):

Ann Wood's cardboard castle diorama caught my eye - it's cardboard box modelling for adults (via CRAFT Magazine):

I love the idea behind Fallen Fruit, a website that maps the location of fruit trees in public spaces so that people can pick and eat it. I'm all for a bit of foraging (this blog should probably be called the crafty and somewhat hippy cactus lover) ; it's a real shame that perfectly good food goes to waste. Fallen Fruit is a global site, but there's not much mapped yet - add your local trees and help kick-start it. I found out about it from 365 Days Of Trash.

I can envision these shadow decorations at an upmarket Halloween party. Create your own by following the tutorial over on Folding Trees:

The anatomist in me loves this wine carafe from Etienne Meneau (via sub-studio design blog):

I'm working on several projects of my own right now, so I'll post some WIP pics soon. I also made a major purchase yesterday which I must share...

I'm back!

I didn't actually go anywhere, just got in a bit of a "what is the point of this blog if no-one is reading it" frame of mind. But someone commented this morning and that was the cure (thanks kawaii crafter!).

However, just as I started to ramp up my enthusiasm, VV made a grab for my tea (lukewarm, so no danger) and threw it all over the laptop. I mopped up quick-sharp, but after a few minutes the laptop went into a coma. Whether it's forever or just a recuperative rest to dry out, I don't know. Luckily we're a nerd family with multiple computers, so I can still get my netfix.

And boy, am I glad I imported my Firefox bookmarks into iGoogle the other day. It was a random urge at the time, but perhaps it was fate...

Friday, 3 October 2008

How to tell someone you are batty about them

How? With a knitted bat of course!

Get your pattern from Mochimochi. I love the way their wings wrap around. I just wish I could knit: perhaps it's time to learn.

Via CRAFT Magazine.

Halloween Bento

In the same vein as my Food Craft post about kids' bento boxes, here's a fun Halloween one made by Zakka Life:

Gotta love the poison soy sauce bottle! VV is at least now eating food at six months, though it's still a long time before I can make him a bento box of his own...

Via Crafty Crafty.

Wednesday, 1 October 2008

Spiderville Balloons

"Spiderville" is what I once called the loft space in my old house and in our family, it's now used to denote any spider-inhabited domain. And here's a helium filled one, which gives me the shivers just looking at it:

If you must make such horrible items for your Halloween party (and even I'll admit they'd look extremely cool), you can find the tutorial over on Crafty Crafty.

Masking Tape vs Net Curtains

I know what I'll be using in the future:

It might be a bit of a faff for something that may not last that long, but for a rented place it's perfect. And since we are planning to rent for a good while yet, I can see it coming soon to a window near me!

This idea and the image above is from a book called Patterns in Design, Art and Architecture and were created by textile artist Claudia Caviezel.

Via My Weblog, via Apartment Therapy.

Slimeless Snails

My brother and I used to race snails in our garden when we were small - now we can recreate the fun indoors without bothering any actual snails with Ric Rac's Racing Snail Tutorial.

Made from felted jumpers, the snails seem pretty easy to make and the one in the tute has a really endearing expression:

If you want to go the whole hog, there's a racetrack to make as well (see below). I reckon the whole thing would make a great Chrimbo pressie (I'm mentally preparing a list of things to make already).

Via CRAFT Magazine.

Wonderful Woodland Fabric

There's something about this fabric - by Danielle of Of Paper and Thread - I love the colour and the stylised trees. I have a fantasy of designing my own fabric and printing it through Spoonflower, but since I have never tried that sort of thing before it's very much a back-burner fantasy. One day, one day...

You can buy Woodland through Danielle's Etsy shop.

Via True Up.

Saturday, 27 September 2008

Ruminations on living a freer life

About a year ago I read How to be Free by Tom Hodgkinson. A "joyful blueprint for a simpler and freer way of life", How to be Free offers sage advice, in an often irreverent way, on how to throw off the shackles of modern life and enjoy a simpler, happier existence. I had my head stuck in it every free moment and raved about it to anyone who'd listen (and some who would not). My raving was so passionate that my boyfriend (who's now my husband) and friends dubbed it "The Good Book".

But as time passed, my fervour lessened as fervour is want to do. I started thinking that what we needed was a house to call our own (flying in the face of chapter 19: Live Mortgage-Free). But today on our Saturday walk into town I finally was persuaded that buying a house is really not the be-all and end-all I thought it was. We're going to rent and that's that. We'll save up the difference between renting and what the mortgage payment on the same sized house would cost.

Having used a mortgage calculator last night, I was reminded that a 150k loan ends up costing 300k. Of course I knew that and still thought home ownership was the way to go.

Cuddly Dalek

Just received this picture in an MMS from my sister (excuse poor picture quality):

It's her friend's knitted dalek, sent to her by her (rather cool, I might say) gran. Not sure if it is capable of exterminating.

Friday, 26 September 2008

Science Geek Cross-Stitch

This appeals to both the scientist and creative in me:

It was made by Geek Crafts reader Jennifer, for her botanist father. I always loved microscopy when I studied anatomy way back in the midsts of time and this makes me want to try cross-stitch out.

I'm in a bit of a craft rut at the moment, to be honest. I realised I was putting pressure on myself to churn out all manner of home-made stuff and actually got quite stressed about it, so I relaxed for a while (though I still made some things, like the booties for my friend). But now I'm itching to make things again, hence the collating of inspiration. Hopefully I will be inspired and get going on something new soon.

Via CRAFT Magazine.

Gorgeous Log Bowls

These log bowls from the Loyal Loot Collective are truly lovely:

Via sub-studio design blog.

Saturday, 20 September 2008

Come join me on PMOG

I've just joined PMOG, The Passively Multiplayer Online Game and so far, so good. I love the concept - there's no virtual world or universe, but instead you play the entire internet. As you roam the web you encounter mines and loot left by other players, and deposit your own wherever you fancy. You can also follow quests, though I've yet to do that.

PMOG is a refreshing new MOG in what's becoming a crowded market, so it will be interesting to see how it develops. It's certainly got me quite excited. So, come and join me (I'm ione) - you can by my first friends!

Via Community Guy - Jake McKee.

Thursday, 18 September 2008

Bear Baby Booties

Can't resist a spot of alliteration. Finished these cuties last weekend, for my friend's new baby (as yet unnamed). I'm pretty pleased with how they turned out, although I think the bears' faces are a little too cartoony:

They're from Baby Crochet: 20 Hand Crochet Designs for Babies 0-24 Months by Lois Daykin and they're the first project I've done from the book. Instructions were easy to follow, although they lacked the step to sew up the bottom of the booties. Pretty obvious it needed doing though, so no biggie. I used about half a ball of the pink yarn and next to nothing of the beige and white - helpful to know in case you plan to make them yourself. Luckily I have two more female babies to make for, so I'm sure I can think of a use for the pink!

Wednesday, 17 September 2008

Yarn crazy? Then you need Crazy Yarn!

Pure genius by Laughing Purple Goldfish, Crazy yarn is random stash yarn knotted together to make balls of yarn. The perfect way to use up your stash - those lone balls that aren't enough to make anything can make friends and be something!

She made this Crazy Yarn:

And then made this bag with it:

Via CRAFT Magazine.

Bookcase with integral steps

We've just admitted that we are true book hoarders and got ourselves some more Ikea Billy bookcases. Boring, I know, but we have some already and they are reasonably priced and not too bad looking. One day I'd love to have a whole room full of books (I think these rooms might be called libraries) with floor-to-ceiling bookcases. In which case, this bookcase by Danny Kuo would be most excellent:

It's a prototype at the moment, but what potential!

Via Unclutterer.

Rasterbate and then take photos!

Quite possibly the coolest thing ever (at least until the next cool thing that catches my attention...) - Rasterburation. A simple idea (always the way), but with many possibilities. The Rasterbator rasterizes any image you upload, so that you can enlarge it. And that's where the fun begins - you enlarge your image and then print out your image on multiple sheets of paper. Each sheet looks like nothing much, just a bunch of dots, but put together and viewed from a distance and you've got yourself a masterpiece!

Here's a cool example from the Rasterburation gallery:

I've got the inklings of a crafty idea brewing in my brain - surely there's a way to make dots out of something 3D or doing something stitchy. Ponder, ponder...

via My Weblog

Sunday, 31 August 2008

Queen Victoria was a Hooker!

As in crocheter, of course! While we were in England visiting friends and family we visited Dover Castle (definitely worth a visit, although possibly the windiest place on earth up there on the cliffs). While hubby took a peek in the keep (too tricky for me and VV in his stroller), we popped into the Princess of Wales’ Royal Regiment Museum and among the endless uniforms, medals etc etc, we found this:

The last place I expected to find some crochet, I have to admit. And by none other than Queen Victoria! Apparently she made 8 scarves for "brave soldiers" (her stipulation) of the Colonial Forces in South Africa. Sounds like the soldiers wore them with their dress uniforms, which seems a bit of a shame, but then I suppose it's not that cold in South Africa.

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