Saturday, June 26, 2010

down at the docks with hipstamatic



I used to live in the house at the top of that hill

beautiful sans beret


save yourself
one glove

iron lungs

two tanks one hill

Hipstamatic is an i-phone application that is downloadable from your phone for a couple of dollars. More than just cheesy polaroids, it has 3 film and lens options and juicy colour saturation.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

potatoes and lavender

Yesterday, the 3 year old and I decided that we wanted to sew some lavender bags as gifts -from fabric printed with potato stamps and hand cut stencils.

Instead of buying specific fabric to print on, I cut up an old linen shirt- which was about six sizes too big for me.

Linen takes on the fabric paints beautifully and the weave in it suits these forgiving, organic looking techniques.
I cut some really simple stencil shapes free hand from an old soy milk container with a X- acto knife and carved up the flat side of a potato cut in half.

We mixed up two different shades of blue fabric paint onto saucers and went for it in own own instinctive way to cover all the panels of the shirt.
I got engrossed in the repetition of the potato stamp.... paint, press, lift, paint, press, lift...
For the stencils, we used a proper stencil brush -which you use in a vertical dabbing motion to prevent any bleeding of the paint under the surface of the stencil.

After we had dried and heat set the paint with an iron, we cut out some 26x19cm rectangles, including a 1 cm seam allowance around 3 sides. We opted to include some of the shirt cuff for interest and folded them in half long ways with right sides together ready for sewing.
We also made some small strap loops- kinda like bias binding, so you can hang them in your wardrobe (lavender repels moths) and on door handles (great for freshening up a stuffy room). They were sewn into the bag, with the ends extending beyond the seam edge.

Once two sides were sewn, we turned them right side out and stuffed them full of lavender that we had harvested earlier in autumn, ironed the opening inwards and top stitched it shut.

The wee man loves getting to push the foot control peddle on the sewing machine. It's got to be the next best thing to driving a car.

Also, just so those of you with children don't get the wrong impression, this was done over two afternoons- the printing on one day and the sewing the next. It's important to have realistic expectations and outcomes, especially when you're crafting with kidlets!

Et voila!
The printing resource book. You can get it here or here
Nothing nicer than falling asleep with a hottie AND a lavender bag in your pillow (it will exert a soporific effect)

... MMmmm bliss

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

kiwifruit jam

A friend of mine has a huge triffid-like kiwifruit vine strangling everything within reach, on an empty section he owns. He very kindly gave me and my gleaning ways, the full go ahead to help myself to them whenever the time was right. So, for the last six weeks I have been eagerly checking up on the ripening process, squeeze testing them and hoping to sense some softness. The birds finally let me know when they were ready and that wasn't until after we had a few frosts and the vine had dropped most of its leaves. I guess they are like some grape varieties and they need the frost to concentrate the sugars inside. It certainly looks a lot like a grape vine...on steroids!
They are best picked when they are still a tad firm, as they will ripen quickly in the fruit bowl at home ...nothing worse then having over ripe kiwifruit, which aren't too good for anything once they start to taste fizzy and alcoholic. If you have a lot that are ready all at once, they are quite nice frozen for sorbets and smoothies and slushy ice blocks for the kids.
I was a bit dubious about the idea of cooking with kiwifruit - it seems sacrilegious, but I quite like the idea of trying a kiwifruit cake and muffins for school lunches etc. I also read about fresh kiwifruit as an accompaniment to a curry which sounds delicious. I was however, completely sold on the idea of trying out kiwifruit jam and I'm so glad I did.
The recipe is basically the same one from this book, but I omitted the oranges that were recommended in favour for four lemons which I had on hand.
It goes a little something like this...
2 oranges
2 lemons (or 4 lemons as I did)
1.4 kg kiwifruit
6 cups sugar
Peel skins off citrus with a peeler and place peel in a piece of muslin tied with string.
Squeeze the juice form citrus into a preserving pan and add to this the peeled and chopped kiwifruit and the muslin bag. Cook gently on low until kiwifruit is tender. Add the sugar and stir continuously until dissolved. Boil until setting point is reached. Pour into warm jars and seal with jam covers.
I am a jammer. I love making jams. Previously pear and ginger was my favourite ...or grandmas raspberry jam. But now it's kiwifruit jam. Seriously divine. The lemons weren't dominating. The kiwis can hold their own. My taste buds were dancing and I can't wait for breakfast.

Monday, June 21, 2010


Castle Rock - up on the summit road. There's a track that loops the whole way round.
A great place to watch the sunset. Think we'll take a picnic next time.

Friday, June 18, 2010

stan the man

This is what happens when you're naughty. At least this is what happened to Stan The Naughty Fimo Man. He got tossed into our diorama prison and was left lying in a bed too small beside a blocked toilet. Was it an crime of passion? A robbery or sorts? The word on the street is that, I quote "he stole our money and used all our water and smashed our car up and smashed up our house too"

This recent stint at model making was prompted by a visit to the historic Oxford jail. The boys got to see first hand what these formidable jails they have heard so much about really look like. I was reluctant to explain that now days they have access to t.v, sky, junk food, drugs and a higher education, just in case it started to sound appealing.

The Fimo modelling compound we used to make Stan's hands, feet and head out of, is like plasticine, except it sets hard when it's been baked in the oven for ten minutes. We put holes into them first so we could stitch them onto the rest of his body, which was made with some bits of scrap wool rolled up into tubes. We inserted wire into them to make them bendy.
You can read a bit more about Fimo here, we're awfully fond of it.
Crusket boxes are easy to come by round these parts, so we cut one up along with some corrugated cardboard and painted them with poster paints to make the jail. Matchsticks were used for the bars on the window with plenty of PVA as always. It was a pretty quick and crude set up that took a couple of hours tops.
I am happy to report that I am getting some good mileage from it though. The addition of police cars and a zoo full of animals are making for some pretty interesting dramas being played out.
Actually, considering how tired I'm feeling today, it looks like the perfect place to get some peace and quiet and clock up a whole lot of sleep. I think I'll rename our villain Lucky Luke, set him free and get myself into some serious trouble.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

fair isle

We are lucky to have quite a few Grandmas in our family. Six in fact, including Great Grandma Pearl. Even luckier for us, they all are tremendously skilled knitters, have taught me to knit and make gorgeous garments for their Grandchildren. This fair Isle cardigan /jacket came in the post last week from Nana Bec in Wanaka.

Nana Bec likes to improvise and draw from exciting colour palates when she knits. Her garments always have such flare and originality. She especially seems to enjoy all the multiple colour and woven pattern options of the fair isle and intarsia techniques.
I think the wee lass will be lucky enough to see this coat through three winters. Currently she wears it with the sleeves rolled up and it just stops short of her knees. I'm guessing next winter it will almost be a perfect fit and the year after she will probably start to out grow it.

Another one of our many knitty Nanas visited us yesterday. Being impressed, but quiet and slightly competitive, she was checking out the craftsmanship of Nana Bec's coat, paying her respects to the detail and execution.

She then went on to tell me everything she knows about knitting historically and about the pattern of fair Isle coming from the island of the same name in northern Scotland (apparently the fisherman who were particularly gnarly and rugged from all their time out at sea, would knit in this tradition.)

She explained that the Guernsey style jumpers (with the split at the hem) come from the island (also of the same name) in the English channel and the Aran cable jerseys are from Ireland.

Tho this is of interest, it is not the actual facts themselves that are particularly meaningful.

It's the way she imparts all she can recall ...while the memories are still there, graspable and wanting to be heard... that I love.

I cling to these facts, accounts, stories, whatever they may be and hang off her every word in hope I will remember the moment of her sharing them with me.

It's these pieces of handmade clothing and the stories that go with them, that I will keepsake and cherish forever.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

birdie sling

Amy Butlers 'Birdie Sling' comes highly recommended.
It's a beautifully designed bag with wide contrast strapping, a big tear drop shaped body and two internal pockets. The pleats on the exterior and the interfacing of the bands and handles make for some satisfying sewing. With its modern styling and dynamic proportions, I know I'll definitely be making more.
I bought the pattern on line. You can get it here here and here.
The fabric I used for the outer main body, is a floral denim I found at Global Fabrics quite a while ago. It reminds me of the lupins through the Lindis pass in summer or a Monet painting in macro. I lined it in a baby blue cotton and used a dark navy denim for the bands and the handles. What have you been making lately?

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

murals on buildings part 2

Elvis is alive on Stanmore Rd
Old ladies having a laugh on the wall of Bronskis dairy on Ferry Rd

and the intimidating mafia thugs...
...with ear studs, cigars and attitude.

Monday, June 14, 2010

kids and cameras

On why you should let your kids loose with your camera occasionally.
They sneak mine when I'm asleep. And I love the surprises they snap.