Thursday, November 27, 2014

Pineapple Cross Stitch

I read somewhere that watermelons are the new pineapples, so I feel really rather dejected because I haven't been keeping up with what's fashionable.  I'm sure you're sick of my mono coloured cross stitches ~ I just like stitching and hate changing colours, so DMC variation threads have allowed me uninterrupted stitching and made this piece more colourful.

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The pattern is from a French cross stitch book called Vert: Motifs de broderie traditionnelle et au point de croix and I used  90 (yellow) and 94 (green).  I made this for my Dad's birthday ~ for the Chinese, pineapples ("wong-lai" which means "luck will arrive") symbolises wealth and good fortune, and it is often present during celebrations.  The cross stitch is mounted on Cristina Re's embossed window card.  Wishing you a very happy birthday Dad and good fortunate!

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Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Cherubs Heart Cross Stitch

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My colleague was married last weekend so I stitched these cherubs for her and her husband.  I used my favourite DMC 666 red, and the pattern is from Made in France: Cross Stitch and Embroidery in Red, White and Blue by Agnes Delage-Calvet and Anne Sohier-Fournel.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Fish Cross Stitch

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I've been neglecting my blog...because there are not enough hours in the day!  Since I prefer to read after work, I leave a lot of activities for the weekend and I never seem to fit everything in.  My craft time therefore suffers so I need time sensitive projects to make me focus.

I had a little more time with this project because Charles was actually overseas during his birthday on a scuba diving trip.  Even though I have heaps of patterns, I couldn't find a cross stitch motif for a scuba driving mask so I stitched a fish instead ~ I just love the bubbles! The pattern is from Made in France: Cross Stitch and Embroidery in Red, White and Blue by Agnes Delage-Calvet and Anne Sohier-Fournel. Happy 70th birthday Charles!


Monday, September 22, 2014

Rocking Horse Cross Stitch

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I made this for my colleague KK's baby daughter who was born in mid September. Not that they're Chinese, but I chose red (DMC 666) for good luck, and since it's the Year of the Horse, I thought a rocking horse would be apt. The pattern is from one of my favourite cross stitch book, Anne Sohier-Fournel and Sonia Lucano's Pictos, Logos & Autres Tags Au Point de Croix.

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Spring is definitely here ~ aren't these yellow tulips gorgeous?! We've had lots of lorikeets visit the garden since I've been buying sunflower seeds by the bag full (and boy do they eat a lot!).

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Sunday, September 21, 2014

Basketweave Baby Beanie

Melbourne CBD is hardly littered with craft and fabric stores so I was rather sad that Lincraft closed its store at Australia on Collins in April.  I had been going there for years ~ not because they stocked particularly interesting items, but haberdashery has a calming effect on me so it was a regular haunt during my lunch time walks. They reduced all their stock, first by 50% (then 75% ) and I managed to stock up on yarn, rolls of silk ribbons (I've been thinking I should revisit ribbon embroidery) and sewing threads.

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Even though we had some unseasonably warm weather in Melbourne during May, June to August was certainly frosty so it was the perfect time to take out the knitting needles.  I bought some Lincraft Lullaby 4 ply baby wool during the sale as some of my work colleagues are expecting babies this year, so a relatively quick present to whip up are baby beanies.  I've knitted seven beanies this year (with enough yarn to make one more), two have been presents and the rest will be donated to KOGO.

This is a pretty easy pattern from Better Homes & Garden and I've been knitting while watching The West Wing on DVD (I've just finished season 2).  It's such a dynamic series that I really had to concentrate on the pattern.  I even dropped a few stitches, something I haven't done in years!  I've sat through series like Breaking Bad and Game of Thrones, and the one series that makes me lose concentration is a political drama!

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Sunday, August 3, 2014

Cross Stitched Penguins

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Even though I haven't been actively blogging, I've still been buying craft books and making things!  These penguins are from a Japanese cross stitch booked filled with 1,500 motifs which arrived a couple of weeks ago. Since the book is Japanese, I can't tell you the title, but I bought it from Etsy from a Japanese craft book retailer that I've been buying from for a few years.

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I used DMC 791 on 14 count aida fabric, and the piece will be stuck on cardstock and made into a card for Janice's birthday.

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We didn't grow these beautiful ornamental kale, but they look gorgeous with our orchids which are in full bloom this winter.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Washi Tape Balloons

Inspired by washi tape projects by Omiyage, I made this card for my friend Christine's milestone birthday in July (she got her present in January!).

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General instructions are to overlap pieces of washi tape on waxed paper, trace the desired shape (on the back of the paper), cut out the shape, peel the tape off the waxed paper and stick onto cardstock.  The instructions are simple enough, but Canada must have waxier paper because I couldn't peel the washi tape off my waxed paper!  That didn't matter as the tape and paper are so thin I was still able to cut the balloons and glue it on the card. I also attached gold sewing thread to the balloons and of course, it's finished off with my signature bow.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Bendigo Woollen Mills - The Backroom

I haven’t done as much traveling as I would like, and there are still many destinations I would like to visit such as Italy and New York among the top of my list.  I managed to visit one destination that I’ve pined for …and that is… the Bendigo Woollen Mills (BWM)!  I’ve bought yarn from them online over the years, but I’ve had my heart set on the famous “back room” filled with discounted yarns. Discount and yarn ~ just music to my ears.

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Alexandra Fountain, Bendigo

Recently I discovered that my friends Tess and Julie also knit so what a great way to spend Saturday (thank you Julie for driving two hours each way). It was also the weekend of The Australia Sheep and Wool Show and I heard from a colleague that BWM re-stock their back room during this weekend.

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The sun was out and the sky was blue, Bendigo was truly glorious despite the cold. We trawled through four thrift stores around the city, and if you're looking for craft supplies, head to the RSPCA op shop at 98 Queen Street where the knitting needles are neatly wrapped and buttons packaged in snap lock bags and sorted by colour ~ super organised!

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After lunch at The Good Loaf Sourdough Bakery, we headed to the BWM and passed a yarn bombed tram (regretfully I wasn't quick enough to take a photo).  Yarn prices online range from A$12 ~$17 per 200 gram ball, and the prices in the back room are not that much cheaper; but in comparison, other pure wool yarns retail from around A$6 for 50 grams so BWM yarns are very reasonable.  I found a blue ball (bottom left in the photo below) for A$10.50 but the tab doesn't indicate which range it's from, and the rest of the balls are from the Luxury range at A$12.50 per ball from the main shop.  The yarn in the bags are an excellent back room find. The two bags of mauve wool/alpaca blend cost A$12 per bag (200 grams), and the cream and marled grey priced at A$25 per bag (10 lots of 50 gram balls in a bag).

The back room also had some beautiful colours in 5 and 10 ply (from memory the 5 ply was around A$3 for 50 grams), baby wool, some cashmere/wool blend at A$6 per 50 grams but unfortunately I don't need a pack of 10.  I was tempted to buy more Murano for another cozy blanket, but the price remained at A$12 (and now I'm kicking myself ~ I should have bought it since I was there).  Anyway, I sort of stuck to my wish list (with the Luxury yarns anyway) and was under budget... so I should have bought more!
 
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As we were kicked out of the BWM (which closes at 3pm on Saturdays), we managed to fit in the Undressed: 350 Years of Fashion in Underwear exhibition at the Bendigo Art Gallery.  Despite its restrictiveness, there were some beautiful corsets (one was hot pink from the late 1890s!), lace negligees and one of my favourite pieces, a pale pink tulle petticoat from the 1950s.  They had some male undergarments on display as well ~ not many pieces preserved since they were not kept clean, ick!

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A wonderful day at Bendigo, I would return in a heartbeat... sure is closer than Italy and New York!

Friday, July 18, 2014

MH17

Although I usually write about the things I love on this blog, I need to express my sheer sorrow and devastation for the loss of  298 lives on MH17, flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur when it was brought down over Eastern Ukraine on the 18 July 2014.  Rest in peace to the innocent souls whose lives were so cruelly taken away, and my deepest condolences to families and friends directly effected by this tragedy.  I, like so many people around the world mourn with you.

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Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Effie & Ollie Felt Elephant

It's been a busy couple of months, and I've neglected my craft projects (and this blog!).  I'm still crocheting the chevron blanket, but was conscious that I haven't crossed off any projects from my New Year Craft Resolutions list in a while.  I was looking at the polka dot felt I bought from Daiso and been mulling over what to do with four rolls.  Then inspiration hit on the tram one evening, why not a spotty elephant?! So I dug out my Effie & Ollie elephant pattern and a roll of felt, and there it sat on my chair for a couple of weeks...I had inspiration but zero motivation!

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One of my colleagues has been feeling down, so I thought she should be a recipient of a spotty elephant. Elephants (I'm sure even spotty ones) are symbols of strength and wisdom, and we need all the support we can get to help us through rough patches in life.

The great thing about making the elephant with felt is you don't need to use interfacing, worry about fraying fabric or iron! I was a bit concerned that it will be too thick, but the felt was great to work with and I didn't have to worry about wrinkling the fabric.  Unlike the first elephant I made which took over five hours, I managed to whip this one up in about an hour ~ more spotty elephants to come!

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Update 8 August 2014: I made a couple more spotty elephants!

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Felt Fruit Flan

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I bought a few sets of felt sweet kits from Daiso in Singapore a few years ago, and I was in the mood to make one on Saturday (it's a good thing I have a well stocked craft cupboard to suit my craft whims).  Not only are they super cute, but they are functional as well because they are actually fridge magnets.

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The kits come with pre-cut felt pieces, stuffing, embroidery threads and a magnet, and instructions are in English and Japanese.

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It's a pity my edible pastry never turns out so well! Mmmm... creme patissiere, my absolute favourite!


To make the flan a little "healthier", add a couple of strawberries and a piece of kiwi fruit. Decorate with a swirl of whipped cream (to boost your daily calcium intake).

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It's a long time between felt sweets projects because I made the cupcake below about three years ago.  Two more kits to go!

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Monday, March 10, 2014

Sneak Peak: Pinky Purply Chevron Crochet Blanket

Since this is a project that will take quite a few months to complete, I wanted to give you a sneak peak! Starting a new crochet blanket is on my New Years Craft Resolutions, so this is the fifth project on the list.  After eight crocheted blankets over the past two years, I can still only crochet two stitches ~ chain and treble, and wanted to try a new pattern so I was really pleased to find The Royal Sister's Chevron Granny Blanket pattern.  I've been hunting for a chevron pattern that is easy to follow, but many patterns requires one to increase and decrease stitches, so this was perfect for my limited skills!

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Friday, February 21, 2014

Red House Cross Stitch

Look what I've been up to! I've finished another project from the New Year Craft Resolution list so that's 4 finished projects!  In all honesty, the finished projects were close to completion, but having the list has made me more focused and motivated. 

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Since we've had unbearably hot weather (with temperatures reaching up to 45*C), the most low impact craft activity I can do is cross stitch.  This pattern is from Rico Designs' Woodland Walks (see my other project here) and I've crossed stitched it on a aida panel tea towel (I bought 6 of these tea towels last year ...only 4 to go!).

Not that I have anything against deciduous trees, but the left tree in the pattern looked a little scrawny so I stitched a full evergreen tree to signify abundance instead (ok I'm a little superstitious even for a tea towel design).  The house reminds me of a McMansion near by with bright red bricks which I had dubbed "The Lego House" when I was a kid ... come to think of it, I still refer to it by this name!

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Pastel Square Crochet Baby Blanket

Here is another project I can cross off the New Year Craft Resolutions list, that three projects within a month!  If I knew I could finish projects just because they are on "the list", I would have jotted them down years ago.  I hope I can keep up the enthusiasm, fingers crossed!
 
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I was suffering from a serious bout of crochet withdrawal in early March 2013 as I had not crocheted for a few weeks. I was waiting for two lots of yarn orders ~ one from my favourite Bendigo Woollen Mills and the other from Deramores, a retailer from the UK which I was super excited about because I bought some delicious looking Stylecraft Special DK yarn that I've been drooling over in some British crochet blogs.  I needed to crochet with the yarn I had on hand so decided to make another blanket to donate.

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I bought five 50g balls of Rosie's Studio Basic 4 ply baby yarn from The Craft Spot during 2012's Craft & Quilt Fair. Although I appear to use a lot of bright colours in my projects, I like softer palettes too, and at A$10 for the lot, I was super pleased.

To be honest, it's not a great yarn to crochet with, but the result is soft and cosy blanket. Following Meet Me At Mike's tutorial because I can only crochet two stitches, I had intended to make four squares from one ball of yarn and sew the square together. I then decided I didn't want to make squares any more so I joined the four pink squares together, and crocheted one big blanket.  The completed blanket measures approximately 73cm x 73cm and is the pastel version of the square blanket I made a couple of years ago.  Although it's not on the craft list, I'm in the mood to knit...

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Red Vespa Scooter Cross Stitch

I was in the mood to complete a mono colour cross stitch during the Australia Day long weekend, so I selected the scooter pattern from Vert: Motifs de broderie traditionnelle et au point de croix.  I know it's not vert, but when I picture a Vespa, it's rouge!  I used my favourite DMC 666 on 14 count Aida cloth, and it took about four hours to complete.

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Agnes Delage-Calvet and Anne Sohier-Fournel are my favourite cross stitch designers, and I have several of their books in English, French and Japanese.  If only I wasn't so time poor because I would love to stitch all the patterns!

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This is my second project off my New Year Craft Resolution list (making at least two mono colour cross stitch pieces) so I'm traveling well!

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Granny Square Cushion

I've been taking my New Year Craft Resolutions seriously and finished one of two crocheted cushion covers on the list.  Hooray, I have just the person to give it to as it's her birthday coming up.  I must confess the cushion was actually completed in early January 2013, but it took me a year to buy a cushion insert and sew it up!  Yep, I'm a major procrastinator!

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I had left over yarn from the crocheted blanket I finished in 2012 which I was keen to use up because wastage is tomorrow's shortage (gasp, one can't run out of yarn!).  The tiny bundles of brightly coloured yarn were just begging to be made into something useful so they were transformed into a cosy cushion!

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Each colour square consist of five rounds of treble stitch which is edged with white acrylic yarn. I had an extra pink square left over from the blanket...because I can't count, which came in very handy because it became the back of this cushion. Two thumbs up ~ I used the left over yarn and found a use for the extra square! I now have an excuse to buy more yarn (chuckle, like a need an excuse)!

Friday, January 31, 2014

New Year Craft Resolutions

Do you keep do-to lists?  I'm meticulous at work as I record everything to help ensure nothing slips through the cracks, but in my personal life, I've been more relaxed about personal fulfillment.  Academically I've achieved and I've a job that I'm content with, but my goals have always centred around my career, and I haven't given much thought to what I would like to achieve in life overall.  I would like to have a more balanced approach to life, so even though it's a minuscule step, I've made a list of craft projects that I would like to realistically complete in 2014!  See, it's even hand written!  Sure, there are more substantial, life affirming lists I should jot down, but for now, it's craft projects.  A tad frivolous, but Laozi did say that a "journey of a thousand miles beings with one step"... and that step, is craft.  You may think I'm a bit late with new year's resolutions, but it's Chinese New Year today, and since I'm Chinese, the clock starts now! (Phew!)

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On reflection, it is a rather paltry list because I've thought of more projects to include, such as crocheting a new blanket and knitting children size beanies to donate, and sewing a blouse I've had my eye on from a Japanese sewing book, etc so an addendum to the New Year Craft Resolution list is that once a project is complete, I can add another to a list.  I shouldn't limit myself to what's on a list so it's an evolving process. So which project should I tackle first?

I haven't shared photos of our garden recently ~ these were taken late December before the super 40*C plus days we had a couple of weeks ago.  Sigh, more hot weather to come!

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Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Craft Supplies from Daiso

It is apt to say that I like shopping, and that's any kind of shopping from clothes to grocery.  I've noticed in recent years, my shopping appetite has curbed (some would say otherwise) which is probably due to a combination of being wiser with money, and the fact that I already have so much stuff that acquiring more stuff is unnecessary. I have three stitch unpickers, do I really need one that is pink polka dot? The answer is yes... and I had to get the matching tracing wheel too...even though I have one...which I've never used...and while I'm at it, I might as well buy the matching fabric pen!

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I recently had a shopping frenzy at a few Daiso stores which is always filled with fun items and I feel less guilty when I shop there because everything is A$2.80.  Look at the lovely craft goodies I bought recently! On closer inspection, there are 35 items totaling A$98 in these photos so perhaps I need to re-evaluate my spending habits after all.  I have made a new year's resolution to sew more, so I'm searching for ideas on what to do with the polka dot felt and stripey zip. Stay tune!

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Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Bricks Patchwork Quilt for C & D

I always get a burst of crafting enthusiasm after the Craft and Quilt Fair, so when inspiration hits, I need to start projects straight away or it will fizzle away.  My friends C and D bought these fat quarters from Lancaster County in Pennsylvania in 2010, and it was presented to me when I visited them in Singapore in December that year.  It was a very special gift because I was touched that C and D thought of me during their trip, and I've always wanted to be adopted by the Amish community so this is the closest I'll get!

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It was always my intention to make something for C and D, but I wasn't inspired until I searched for images of patchwork quilts using 10 fat quarters (isn't it great that you can search for anything these days?!).  Since the fabrics are quite different, I needed a pattern that would showcase its individuality but not clash, so Diary of a Quilter's Easy Bricks Quilt is the perfect design for the fabrics.

For me, the most odious part of the patchwork quilting process is cutting out the fabric.  I'm rather envious of people who can use rotary cutters, I have one but can never manage to cut straight despite my best efforts. So I spent a couple of quiet, rainy Saturdays in August 2013 using templates to trace and cut rectangles (18 cm x 9 cm) from the printed fabrics, and squares (9 cm x 9 cm) from IKEA's Ditte cream fabric.  I could cut 15 rectangles from one fat quarter, except for one piece which was a little smaller from the rest so I added another fat quarter that my friend Bernie gave me, so this is truly a friendship quilt. The quilt consists of 160 rectangles and 160 squares.

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Don't you love chain piecing? I certainly do, as sewing (always with 100% cotton thread) the rectangle and square pieces together was completed relatively quickly.  I finished the quilt top in November and it was washed, iron and ready to be quilted...which didn't happen until late December.

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My least favourite part of the quilting process is sandwiching the quilt together.  Although I like the idea of using spray adhesive, I don't like the idea of using chemicals so I basted the quilt by hand (using 100% cotton batting and backing fabric).  I was afflicted by a First World Problem which saw me get a couple of neck and shoulder massages to relieve the tension caused by sitting on my marble floor sandwiching the quilt together.  Appalling isn't it?  I'm too pampered and it made me realise how lucky I am to sew for pleasure compared to the factory workers who sew ridiculous number of hours in horrid conditions for pittance.

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This quilt comprises 8 rows of 20 bricks, and measures approximately 150 cm x 190 cm.  I machine quilted "in the ditch" for four days wearing a pair of yellow knitted gloves with little rubber dots which I bought from Daiso. The quilt was bound with store bought wine coloured bias binding.  As I said to C, the quilt is riddled with imperfections, but made with love and good thoughts

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An early birthday present for C (ahh, seven months early) which I personally delivered in early January.  I'm afraid the quilt is only big enough for Christine so profuse apologies to D (sorry sweetie!).  Dis convinced that the quilt is big enough for the both of them, but I heard from C yesterday that De used her quilt last night, so I guess it must be used on a rotation basis!