Sunday, 3 September 2017

Long Time

It has been some time I know. But a lot has happened.

I endured my second pregnancy. Less horrific than the first as the outcome was well worth all the pain and general unpleasantness. My symptoms this time around, not dissimilar to my first experience, included pelvic pain, restless legs, bunged up bowels, popping ears, lessened coordination, massive pregnancy brain, extreme flatulence, the list is endless.

Our first bubba, little Amos, was just 335gms, and stillborn at 23 weeks. Needless to say, it was with some trepidation that I faced this pregnancy. Liam, my constant companion, best mate and husband, was more practical about the situation reminding me of the unlikeliness of a repeat.
"That pregnancy was one in a thousand and they found out about your blood condition which you're now managing," he said.
Still, there were several frantic drives to the hospital as I erred on the side of caution with some odd symptoms including bleeds and weird pain.

The birth itself was quite quick (8 hours) and I managed it without pain relief although the trauma of forceps and an episiotomy I will never forget.

I worked three weeks up until our gorgeous bundle of pure joy, Wylie Skye leisurely (three hours of pushing!) ejected into the world. One year and 1.5 weeks after we lost wee man. Serendipitous? Dunno. We feel so blessed to have our little lady.

Craft has been created before, during and since the pregnancy but not a lot of writing has been undertaken, time to get back on the horse!

Our little poppet Wylie Skye at five weeks.
The crocheted headband and matching vest
were lovingly made by my mum, Lo.
My small business Craftdyllic is happening. I’m not the most organised businesswoman but in the last year I’ve lost count of how many Tummy Time rugs I’ve crocheted. There’s been a few beanies too but the rugs take quite a lot of time and effort so I haven’t been able to pump out many other creations. I made a prototype of a baby bib I had designed after using numerous different ones with Wylie. I’m pleased to say it’s still going strong but did I find time to make anymore? Nup! Raising a baby is time consuming!

I attended my second Perth Belles CWA Stitch n Bitch, helping out as an ‘expert’(?!), teaching participants to knit squares for baby blankets for a wonderful Perth hospital, King Edward Memorial Hospital for Women. This is the city’s public maternity hospital and they have looked after me and my babies so well. Many women go there who have quite serious problems with their pregnancy and many who can’t afford private health cover. These squares were knitted up into beautiful little blankets for mum’s who may have limited access to such handy baby items. You can never have too many baby blankets!    

Wylie has usurped my dog Genki as the number one model
for my Tummy Time rugs. Such a cutey!
In previous places I’ve lived overseas, Canada, Mongolia and even in Tjuntjuntjara, the remote Indigenous community we lived in for three years, I hosted a weekly Stitch n Bitch at my home. I’ve been lax to instigate such an event here but finally made it happen at the end of July. It was a sound turn-out, a fun day and we hope to replicate the event every month. Everyone is always so madly busy these days but hopefully they can make it that often. It’s such a great forum for ladies to get together, swap crafty skills, have a good natter, eat cake and drink tea! What more could you want on a Sunday arvo?! Although I overdid the cake, pretty sure I had a sugar hangover on Monday!

In September, I’m going to host my first paid Crochet Class. I’m excited today as my stickers arrived from Vistaprint for my Craft Packs, a bag containing all you need to crochet, a crochet hook, ball of wool and instruction leaflet. Some of the women I met at the CWA asked about a class when I was clacking away with my two needles, “Can you teach us to crochet?” they asked. They were in the know. One of them follows my Craftdyllic Facebook page and had seen my crocheted rugs and beanies. “But we want to learn to make a granny square.” No problem! I said. Now I just need to refamiliarize myself with the pattern, it’s been a few years!

My crafty friend Britta and I whipping up some knitted squares.
Coming up in October are two other events I’m excited about. My great friend of 17 years who recently moved to Perth from London (we met in Thailand and ended up flatting together in Auckland some years later). Bex is a legend, so kind, caring and madly creative, she just designed my new logo and business cards! Such a creative talent. She’s a graphic designer, wife and mum of two fabulous girls but her altruistic side doesn’t let her stop there. She’s campaigning to raise $3000 in just a few months for the very worthy One Girl charity, supporting girls in the African nations of Uganda and Sierra Leone to get an education. These are two of the world’s worst places to be born a girl. The organisation’s website ( states: A girl born in Sierra Leone is more likely to be forced into marriage as a child than she is to go high school. Farrrrrk! I mean for f&*#s sake. The world is so truly effed up sometimes isn’t it? Then it shows its true colours by the existence of someone like Bex. She’s organising about five events, the one I’m involved in is a knitting night at the old world National Hotel, in Fremantle. We’re hoping about 30 people will attend and get their knit on! I’ll be teaching knitting but anyone can come along and bring whatever craft they are working on.

The same weekend is the second ever Festival of Forgotten Skills which I was involved with last year. Quite a few people popped into my stall to learn to crochet, it was pretty busy! Hopefully this year will be too.

The events side of my business hasn’t really transpired until now so I’m feeling very grateful that somehow the universe is looking down going ‘onya’!

Bub is now 10 months, can’t frikn believe it, she’s huge! Time has flown. It seems to go faster the older I get. So time to get cracking on a new project!

My greatest creation yet. 

Friday, 21 October 2016

Make & Do

Yes I know it's been months since my last blog post! Very naughty but I have been bloody busy :)
Check out the pics and captions below to see what I've been crafting.

One of the things I've been quite busy doing is growing a frikn baby! It's quite tiring work, plus working full time up until two weeks ago. I'm well and truly showing in this pic! This was at my baby shower, I was 33 weeks here. We decided to get one of my volunteers from my Vinnies store, who is an fine arts student, to draw a portrait of us rather than a bunch of cheesy and super expensive photos. This is the pic she is going to use. 

Above are some pics from the shower which was high tea themed, and specified no games! We were planning on doing some crafternoon tea activities too but were too busy stuffing our faces and talking crap!

As our pregnancy is high risk there have been a lot of visits to hospital for check-ups with lots of waiting around. Knitting in hospital waiting rooms is a winner. Especially when your bump is getting huge, it's an inbuilt table to rest your project on! Here I was knitting on joined needles to get continuous horizontal stripes, great for cool looking scarves and blankets. Love that look. My Coles Bay nana Ruth Shelley used to make the most beautiful blankets on these kinds of needles, but huge, to cover single, double, queen, even king size beds. She gave Liam and I one as a wedding present and it is so prized I still have it stored in a cupboard, I'm saving it ok! This one was a small blanket for a new baby. Below you can see my great friend from the Bay Amelia's brand new bubba Margaux enjoying the bright stripes and soft textures. Unfortunately Ruth died last year, she was in her late 80s, but she lives on through the inspiring crafts she created and her strong pioneering Tassie spirit.

Above and below show some of the preserves I've been making.
 The old Hungarian bloke down the road has been bombarding me with the most delicious grapefruits for months, his tree is laden and they don't eat them. They are not bitter at all and require no sugar to eat straight up. However there are only so many grapefruits one can eat everyday for breakfast so marmalade they became! 

And now we are inundated with mulberries from our two beautiful trees. I love these berries, so juicy but not super sweet, the only downside being they stain the beejesus out of everything, so be careful when picking. Don't wear white! They are good to pick with kids too as the lower droopy branches are right at their height while the higher up limbs are perfect for adult pickers. I chuck these babies in smoothies, straight on my cereal or the other day I had enough to make some jam. I also threw in some strawberries which are ridiculously abundant and cheap at the moment and some stewed peaches I had in the freezer from a while ago. I cut down the processed white sugar levels by adding some honey.

My unending op shop discoveries continue to inspire, here everything old is new again in this crochet pattern book from decades past. Crochet was so hip in the 60s! Everything from bikini's, dresses and stylin men's vests! I sometimes think I was born in the wrong era.

I love my birdies! I bought this material from Ikea about two years ago and have finally used it to cover the cushions for my rocking chair. The sewing of the cushion covers wasn't too time consuming but as I made up the pattern it required a lot of brain cells to work it all out. I love the overall combo, but that's me, loving my brights! Not everyone's cup of tea :) 
I completely restored the chair itself which was a mammoth project, it's definitely not my favourite thing to work with furniture, far too much work and time involved! A lot of sanding, thankfully I had an electric sander which cut down the elbow grease for that part. Then multiple layers of white undercoat followed by multiple layers of the bright yellow top coat. This of course all involved multiple swear words which I reckon really do help! Haha! They are a necessity when undertaking any craft or DIY project! A rocking chair is also quite tricky as it has movable parts underneath so you have to wait for some parts to dry before you can touch them and move the next bit out to paint.
Husband Liam and I took off on a winter sojourn to Margaret River in August to celebrate 15 years of madcap adventures together. Five days away from busy city life and some time to rest and chill before bub arrives was ideal.

Poor Genki trying to find a spot to lay amidst the chaos of a busy craft day! Once I started my maternity leave from work I got a bit excited! There are so many things I wanted to finish before bub arrives! I realise now I'm not going to get to all of them, but I'll do my best! This large cushion I have nearly finished the cover for, it will be a great support for breastfeeding. I upcycled a 1950s woolen jacket that was pretty moth-eaten  and used lots of my various hoarded bright floral fabrics to make up a patchwork pattern. This takes a lot longer than you think because you are trying to fit random shapes together and work the colours to look their best. Plus not being a pattern follower, making up your own as you go is definitely more time consuming. But worth it!

We are always in the garden when time allows. There are never enough hours in one day, I swear! I go out to grab some greens for a recipe and end up staying in there for at least 30 minutes pulling weeds, de-seeding herbs, spraying bugs etc.This day we were getting some spring plantings in the ground, tomatoes, basil, carrots and various lettuce varieties. 
I have been pumping out a few Tummy Time Rugs also for little bubs all over Australia. The blue one here went to little Max in Queensland. He sure looks like he's enjoying it!

Here Genki is modelling an almost complete Tummy Time Rug for little Miri in Melbourne. As you can see below she seems to be quite happy with it!

Beanies were another hit over winter, these snuggly woolly hats were the first thing I learnt to crochet and I have made and sold them all over the world during my travels. An easy and portable thing to make and bring in a few extra bucks. And also easy to smuggle into hospital waiting rooms to kill some time!
This beauty I actually made for myself. It's only the second thing I've ever made just for me! And of course husband has snaffled it a few times, but he has a fight on his hands ;) This was also knitted on joined needles, great for making blankets on as you can cram heaps of stitches onto them. I used the Patons gigante yarn in Rose Quartz for this Beginner Throw, pattern available on their site. 
The next blog will be all about the Festival of Forgotten Skills which is on today, Saturday 22 October. It was originally scheduled for May but the weather was shocking and it was postponed. It's supposed to be 29C tomorrow so I'll have my sunhat and sunscreen at the ready!

Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Stitch & Bitch!

A couple of weeks ago I attended my first ever public Stitch & Bitch. Over the years I have hosted regular Stitch & Bitch sessions (or craft group) with groups of mates and had a good old time learning and passing on crafty skills, having a few drinks and nattering away, enjoying some girl time. Of course the occasional boy has also been present, my long suffering partner, now husband, included.

Stitch & Bitch Kit.

This annual event, focusing on knitting, was held at the National Hotel in Fremantle, Perth, and hosted by the Perth chapter of the Country Women's Association (CWA) the CWA Perth Belles. The CWA is the largest women's organisation in Australia, beginning firstly in 1922 in both New South Wales and Queensland, then two years later out here in the west. Members work to improve life for people, particularly in country areas. They provide much needed community service, support networks, welfare and the passing on of old skills like knitting, baking, sewing and more. Their shops are renowned for selling some of the best chutneys, relishes and jams, handmade toys, and other crafted gems like crocheted tea cosies, beanies and kids clothes. The CWA Perth Belles are one of the newest branches, only in their seventh year, attracting a younger breed of women in the 20-50 age bracket, or as they say, the 'non-retired group of the CWA'.

It was the eighth year the Belles had held this event to create squares which the dedicated Belles members would later sew into baby blankets for struggling mums and newborns at King Edward Memorial Hospital, Perth's main public maternity hospital. This year the crafty ladies linked in with the Fremantle Heritage Festival, their Stitch & Bitch scheduled as part of the festival thus reaching a larger audience. It also coincided with the WA Day long weekend meaning those not venturing out of the big smoke for the three day holiday could attend a fun happening and learn a new craft.

The hook (pun intended) to get people along to the Stitch & Bitch was:
Want to learn how to knit and help a good cause? 
Well. Who wouldn't! I contacted the Belles and said I was an intermediate knitter, could my skills be of some use? Yes, they said, we'll put your name on the door. Sweet! I was there.

Women from various backgrounds and levels of expertise knitting squares for King Eddy's Hospital.

Over thirty women from all walks of life took over the spacious top floor, monopolising the bar and many tables. Those with gold stars were the specialists, teaching keen beginners how to do a garter stitch square. Beginners signed up online and received a kit on arrival containing size 6 needles, a ball of 8 ply wool, and a simple garter stitch pattern. Garter stitch is simply when every row is done in knit. It’s great for beginners and produces neat, uniform rows. 

Garter stitch, simple and great for beginners.
Every time a stitcher completed a square a great din of cheering was heard as glasses were clinked and she stood to show off her completed square. I completed mine later that night and am well on the way to knitting up a wee lil blanky for a newborn soul.

Beginning my first garter stitch square.
If you are interested in making your own squares to contribute to this worthy cause follow the pattern below courtesy of the CWA Perth Belles:

Garter Stitch Square for Baby Blanket

1. Cast on 35 stitches (try to make your stitches neither too loose nor too tight to help ensure uniform squares).
2. Row 1: knit
3. Row 2: knit
These two rows form the garter stitch knitting pattern square.
4. Continue knitting as per these two rows until you have knitted square.
5. To ensure your square is 23cm either use a measuring tape or form a triangle by folding one corner of your square over to meet the opposite corner, if all sides are equal then you have a square!
6. Cast off.

Tip: Leave a one metre length piece of yarn attached to your work after casting off to join the squares together later.

To contribute knitted squares to King Eddy's to be transformed into blankets for newborns get in touch with Claire at CWA Perth Belles:

Or if you already have some finished post to:
CWA Perth Belles,
c/o CWA WA PO Box 97,
West Perth,
Australia   6872

Wednesday, 1 June 2016

Shipwrights Cottage Handmade Soft Toy Workshop

A couple of months ago I attended my first ever handmade soft toy making class. This was held courtesy of the aptly named Fiona Hook at her lovely home Shipwright's Cottage.

Fiona has been into craft in many forms since a young age, learning her skills from her mother, who in turn learnt them from her mother. Much the same as I learnt my crafts. It's such an organic and natural way to learn, sitting alongside another woman, passing on knowledge like that, in such an ancient, instinctive manner.

The beautiful unicorn Fiona made for her daughter, upcycled from an old silk dress,
she also whittled the horn herself from some acacia.

And that is how Fiona describes her craft lessons, as 'ancient skills for modern living'. She defines her workshops as 'helping you feel connected to people and the earth'. The lesson I attended was how to make a toy horse, but she also teaches spinning, felting, basketry, sewing children's costumes and a number of cookery, preserving and gardening classes.

My chosen material cut out and facing right side to right side,
 ready to be hand stitched.
We started off with a lovely hot cup of fresh herbal tea in her back craft room, the herbs picked fresh from her garden. Fiona had a variety of pretty materials to choose from for the horse, all of which she had upcycled from various op shop clothing. She showed me a beautiful white silk unicorn that she had handmade from a white silk dress from an op shop as a gift for her daughter.

I love that stuff. If I could make all my craft completely sustainably I would be stoked. That's why I learnt to spin wool, so I can knit and crochet from my own wool. One day I would love to have some sheep and alpacas too, then I can even source my own fleece from my own happy woolly creatures. Dreams aside, Fiona also spins her own wool and uses the raw fleece, washed and scented lightly with lavender oil, to stuff her gorgeous toys with. That connection to the earth again.

Me, concentrating hard!
After choosing two kinds of the brightest material (of course!), one for the sides and another for the underside, Fiona went through the pattern with me. It is easy enough for a beginner, although I have some experience machine sewing and a bit of hand sewing knowledge, Fiona took me through the process slowly, explaining it simply. I improved as I went along and after only a few hours, and not that many swear words, I had the body pretty much together, ready for stuffing.

Each step required specific instructions, for example when stuffing the body you must shove the fleece in really hard with a crochet hook to ensure the legs, body, head and neck are firm and not floppy. This way the horse will stand up properly. Doing a course with an experienced crafter like Fiona provides personalised one on one attention and you can question and go over details that are easy to miss when you watch a lesson on You Tube.

The finished product.

I finished this little beauty later that day at home, just in time for a friend's daughters third birthday. The present was well received!

For more information on upcoming workshops check out Fiona's website:

Friday, 13 May 2016

Festival of Forgotten Skills

Unfortunately due to extremely inclement weather the inaugural Festival of Forgotten Skills was rescheduled for sometime in October. Hopefully we won't see a repeat of the gusting winds, horizontal and torrential rain, and did I mention the horizontal hail!!!? Thank god the organisers postponed the festival as I think if it had of gone ahead we would have all been drenched, frozen and blown away!

Coming up soon is the first ever Festival of Forgotten Skills, to be held at Glen Forrest Community Garden in Mundaring, May 21, 2016. The festival is about sharing skills and having fun without money. Sounds good to me! So I got in touch and am going to host a crochet workshop. Come along and check it out! There's heaps of other stuff you can learn too such as pruning, building a wicking bed (raised permaculture garden bed), paper making and cooking wood fired pizzas, byo tray. Plus if you have something you no longer need bring it along and share. The festival was inspired by Mark Boyle's book The Moneyless Man, in which the author lived for a year without spending money by coming up with some ingenious ways to survive.

In my crochet workshop I'm going to attempt to teach people how to make a beanie. Or at least start making one. It's the first thing I learnt to crochet and after many multiples of swear words over the years I have pretty much mastered a pattern of my own making. Of sorts. The tricky thing is trying to convey this hard won knowledge to others. The gripping of the hook, the coordination required to maneuver said hook in and out of stitches whilst grabbing and wrapping new stitches. It's a frustrating thing for a beginner. Getting the tension right too is pretty annoying for a first timer. Too tight and you can't get your hook under the stitch, too loose and it looks like a big loopy noodle. Practice is key of course. We will go slowly and do lots of basic steps a number of times, plus I will have some diagrams to hand out as people learn in many ways and having a visual aid is quite helpful.

I have taught numerous people before, at my previous job at the Tjuntjuntjara Women's Centre, in the remote indigenous community of Tjuntjuntjara, overseas in the small towns in Canada where I lived over a three year period with my husband. I used to hold Stitch n Bitch sessions at home. A fun and relaxed evening of cake, biccies, wine and craft where ladies could get their stitch on or just have a good old natter.

It's a been a couple of years between drinks though so I'm feeling a little nervous about this very public foray into teaching one of my favourite crafts to complete strangers. But whatevs, she'll be right, what's the worst that can happen!?

Saturday, 12 March 2016

It begins

Welllll. I have been procrastingating about starting this blog for a bloody long time! Finally I gave myself a good kick up the arse and enrolled in a Blogging for Beginners course through the Australian Writers Centre.

The ebullient and knowledgeable Trae Flett of renowned blog site Where's My Glow? gave us tonnes of very useful information, particularly about the back end part of blogging, ie all the technical crap. Highly recommend.

So now. My first post. Basically I love crafting. I have been surrounded by it from a young age with my very talented mum knitting us all sorts of cute-as little jumpers when we were kids, whipping up curtains, jam and preserves (if that comes under crafty?? I reckon it does!!) and more. Now she is an amazing quilter, her quilts look like works of art.

A quilt I made for a friend's baby inspired by a design my mum created.

I love the self-sufficient, sustainable aspect of craft. It's so much more meaningful for me to make my own baby blanket as a gift for a friend's newly popped bub than buy some generic, expensive piece of crap. And I like to think they appreciate it more too.

Of course this blog will digress into the other aspects of my life which also include this sustainable outlook; the chooks, the garden, kitchen experiments, particularly in baking; adventures in travel and more.

But mainly it's going to be a mash-up craftiness. I don't even care if anyone reads it. At least I can extend the therapeutic aspect I find making craft brings me through also writing about it.

This is some of the first wool I have ever spun. Pink tops. Tops is woolen fleece you can get already processed.

I'm still not sure what my first actual craft post will be about. The current baby blanket I'm knitting (seriously people, cease with the breeding!!)? Some aplaca fleece I'm spinning on my wheel? Or perhaps the soft cotton face flannels I've been crocheting for a friend's gift hampers? Who knows. Better stay tuned to find out ;)