Thursday, February 28, 2013

Jeanette's Crochet Chick Egg Cosy

Look what arrived in the mail yesterday! This "chook" is crocheted by Jeanette who we met during our New Zealand trip in December 2011. Jeanette is a Great Grandmother (!) and among her many talents, like being an actress (having starred in a play in her village last year), writer (she once wrote a memoir about her time in PNG), enjoys creating and making things for her friends and family as well as charity organisations. She supports the Addis Ababa Fistular Hospital in Ethiopia by knitting squares for blankets, and played Secret Santa by making little patchwork Christmas stockings for members of the village who wouldn't be seeing family during the holiday season which I thought was a very kind and sweet gesture.

I've seen pictures of Jeanette's craft and have been impressed and awed by her talent and creativity ~ fine cross stitch, patchwork blankets, yo-yos and she even made some bonnets for the Roses from the Heart initiative (as she is a descendent of the 1788 First Fleet).

In her letter to me, Jeanette relay her tale of sewing her thumb in the sewing machine breaking the needle with the cotton still attached! A big ouch! Removing the needle was less painful than pulling out the cotton which must have made a stitch ~ ick! The nurse told Jeanette to go home, watch a movie for the rest of the day and not to get into any more trouble. Yeah right! Jeanette just put in a new needle and continued sewing!

If I'm half as active as Jeanette at her age, I would consider myself blessed! Thank you Jeanette for the Easter chook!

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Moonbrand Embroidery Floss

Given the time and effort I spend on my sewing and craft projects, I generally like to buy good quality fabric and supplies to ensure the finish product looks good and won’t disintegrated after a few washes. It would be heartbreaking to see the colours run on your patchwork quilt that you spent months (and in my case, years) working on, and stitching fall apart by using poor quality thread. Good quality products however come with a high price tag and I’m sometimes tempted to skimp when there are so many things on my wish list, but I usually bite the bullet and hand over the cash with a guilt ridden sigh (I know, first world problems). 

This craft purchase is out of character, but I adore the rainbow of pretty colours. I bought a bag of 36 skeins Moonbrand embroidery floss for A$12 from Riot Art and Craft. I haven’t even heard of Moonbrand and from what I can gleam from Google, very few people have either. There doesn’t appear to be a DMC or Anchor conversion chart available, but like the major brands, Moonbrand is cotton and comprise of 6 separate strands. The difference I can immediately spot is that it lacks the lustre of DMC threads, but since it works out to be around 33 cents per skein (compared to an average of A$1.20 per skein for DMC), one can’t be too critical. I’m ambivalent about using the threads for a major project as I'm not confident of its colourfast and fade resistance so I've found a perfect project for it that doesn't need to be laundered. I'll share the project before Easter, but I'm really pleased with how it has turned out!

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Chinese Flower Knot using Clover Flower Knot Template

A few years ago, I bought a Flower Knot Template by Clover for making, you guessed it, flower knots! The flower knot is a symbol of longevity, so I decided to make a few for our Chinese New Year tree with red nylon cording. I found some gold stickers with the Chinese character for prosperity which I stuck to the knot, so "live long and prosper"! I've obviously watched too many episodes of The Big Bang Theory, who would have thought I could combine the Vulcan Salute with craft?!

The template is easy to use...that is, if you read the instructions properly (I foolishly thought I would wing it so I attempted the knot three times before I got it right!). You need 65cm of cording for each knot, and the template has arrows and numbers to guide you through the steps but you need to refer to the diagram for a couple of steps.Once you get the hang of it, you can churn out a knot within minutes.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Chinese New Year Bunting

I buy a pair of lanterns each year for Chinese New Year which I leave out in the garden until the next new year. I made a quick and easy bunting using red and white bakers twine and  red envelopes. String the twine, fold the envelope flap down and staple the envelope to secure. Don't staple the twine, just the envelope so you can adjust the spacing of the envelopes.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Chinese New Year Tree

Since I've received a few compliments for our origami chanes tree, the theme for our tree is now Chinese New Year which falls on Sunday 10 February. I bought the paper ornaments from Daiso when I was in Singapore about 4 years ago, and the only ornaments I could find in Melbourne were mini lanterns. I'm sure I would be spoiled for choice if I was in Asia with a plethora of ornaments like pineapples (which symbolises gold), peaches (longevity) and red chillis (good luck), but lanterns are fine - illumination is better than darkness!

Our friend Janice added parcels of gold wrapped chocolate and chocolate in tiny whiskey glasses to ensure sweetness and good times during the year of the snake. The whiskey reminded me of the Kitchen God, a Chinese deity who, during the new year report the activities of every household over the past year to the Emperor of the Heavens. Since we only want a positive report which will be rewarded with good luck, it is tradition to smear honey on the lips of the Kitchen God (paper effigy or plaque) so he will only speak sweet words or keep his lips stuck together. Wine is also offered as a extra incentive as the Kitchen God will surely give a stellar report after a few drinks (supposedly a happy drunk)!

Our friend Debbie gave us Chinese New Year presents ~ if I had know that having a tree for major celebrations resulted in presents, I would have started this years ago. I'm thinking of an Easter tree...mmmm, chocolates!