Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Trying a new clay

Now most of you, even those of you who have bought beads off me, probably haven't even given a thought to the brand of clay I use, why would you? Well normally I use Du-kit, there are a number of reasons but the main one when I first starting using polymer clay was that this is a New Zealand made clay and I love the idea of buying locally when I can. Yesterday, however, I was in one of the local emporiums and they had some Cernit clay. The colours were lovely, lots of pearlescent effects, which are not available in the Du-kit, and they were well priced. I treated myself to three blocks and some other things that I needed, well they just called out to me so I did the decent thing and gave them a home!

As soon as the kids were sleeping I unwrapped those blocks of clay and started to condition them...oh the shock, they crumbled, why? I was horrified, had I been sold some terrible unconditionable clay that I wouldn't be able to use? Well no, but it is very odd. It is crumbly and dry when you first start using it and then it gets soft, VERY soft. I was struggling to get it to stay in one place it was that soft. Finally, conditioned and in rolls I popped it in the fridge for a few minutes. That was much better. So here's a tiny cane I made with it, I only made a little thing to start with as I wasn't sure how it was going to work. The really odd thing about it though is that it slices wonderfully, no drag and yet the blade goes though very easily. I'm looking forward to playing some more, now I just need to find the time.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Learning to Knit on a Circle Loom

I bought a set of circle looms from our local craft store about 8 months ago and they have been sitting in my big bucket of wool and needles since then. This weekend I decided I really should try and learn how to use them. A quick Google of "Loom Knitting" gave me plenty of sites to choose from but this one is just brilliant "The Purling Sprite", her "Loom Knitting Basics" tutorial is great. I had a little practice of the basic stitches and then decided for the sake of speed I would just knit using the very simple twisted knit stitch. It is SO simple, I remember doing French knitting as a child with a wooden cotton reel with some little tacks in it, this is basically the same but on a larger scale. 

I set about making a hat for Evie and quickly realised that I should have been knitting on the next size up of loom, no problem I just unravelled and started again and because it was so fast to do I didn't spend ages wondering if there was a different way around it. It knitted up quickly, I had some really chunky wool which in the UK I would call double double and which I think in America is called worsted. It was perfect and I was soon finished. Then I just needed to make a little pom pom for the top, all done. 

Except that Callum, aged 2, decided that he needed to have one as his big sister did. He only likes things in the colours of Thomas (blue) or Percy (green) so I rifled though my wool and found some that I thought would suffice, it was thinner though so I knitted it double, a strand of each colour. Back to the loom only this time the smaller one that I had discarded for Evie's hat. I gave it him when I was done and it's been on his head ever since! A success I think. 

The top photo shows some green wool he chose yesterday when we were out as he wants one knitted in this colour too!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Choc Chip Banana Muffins

I had a friend coming over this morning for morning tea, this always makes me laugh as it sounds so formal which is hardly a Kiwi thing. Anyway I hadn't done any baking this week so nothing yummy to eat so the kids and I decided to make some muffins. I had a bunch of bananas sitting there getting over ripe so decided to try and use them up. On to the internet in search of an egg free banana cake recipe. I can't eat egg but most of the recipes I've tried so far haven't been great, some are dreadful, some OK but nothing great yet...until this one  you need to scroll down a bit as the site is a shopping site but they're there. I'll probably go back to ty some of the others too. It really was lovely and really easy to make. The kids just mixed it all up and hey presto yummy warm muffins. The only thing was they did deflate a bit after taking them out of the oven but they still tasted great.

Canes and Buttons

Last night I made a cute little cane because Gage was asking me how it works. I made one out of scraps of plain coloured clay to show her how one big plain pattern can turn into a really intricate one when you just reduce and then rebuild. She was amazed that something so simple could be so effective, I think it looks like a miniature quilt. I wish I'd taken a picture of the original triangle for a real contrast but alas I thought about that too late!!

Voting closed in Lisa's Big Button Challenge. It turned out to be quite a race for first which was eventually taken by Penny for her fabulous bag, congratulations Penny. My flowery brooch came a respectable second, though obviously I would loved to have won at least now I have entered one thing I may be brave enough to try another.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Yummy Giveaways

I have just been browsing all the blogs I check into regularly and thought I'd share one. It's called Etsy Finds & Giveaways  so all you crafty people may already have spotted it. Their current giveaway is just too much for me to resist, Roseknits makes the most adorable bags and totes and I'm itching for a little box tote for my Evie for her ballet shoes and drink when we go to class, it would be perfect. If I don't win one then  I think I'm just going have to get one for her birthday or Christmas (yes I'm thinking about it already!!).

On a personal note I have been mainly knitting for the last couple of weeks. It has turned really cold over here now (which I know all my family and friends in the UK are really laughing about. When I say cold I don't mean so cold you need a big wool coat, boots, gloves, scarf, hat etc. I mean better get a jacket and a scarf out, it's about 16 degrees C, but hey I'm acclimitised now!) so I have been knitting scarves. I have knitted 6 of them, a couple are short neck-warmer ones which I intend to put a button on and the others are really long draping ones. I also have another three which I am in the middle of! Not sure what I am going to do with them all. I have used lots of wool that I already had in all sorts of colours and then I went out and bought more!! It's becoming an obsession. I think it's because they knit quickly and I'm not a very patient person. Anyway here they are. Any suggestions on what I can do with them are more than welcome.

Friday, May 15, 2009

A Plate Full of Hearts

I have been making my clay hearts by hand previously and although they are quite sweet I was really only manipulating the swirled lentils I had made and they didn't make a statement. Then a couple of weeks a go I bought a latex mold to try something a bit different. The first ones I made I was quite please with, until I decided to double bake them for strength. They ended up overcooked, not burnt but just cooked a little bit too much so that they discoloured. Still Evie thinks they're beautiful still so she has had them for her dress up.
My second batch were much better I just haven't had time to sand a buff them yet, this weekend maybe?

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Big Button Challenge Vote

Lisa has opened voting on her challenge, there are some fabulous entries and I'm really proud to have taken part in it. Here's the link to take you straight there. 

Monday, May 11, 2009

Big Button Challenge

I may have already mentioned that I was taking part in Lisa Clarke's Big Button Challenge and how I had managed to lose my button, imagine losing the focal part of your challenge! How silly did I feel? I had to email Lisa and explain and then wait for the new button to arrive. It was like being 6 and waiting for a birthday, every day I checked the post box and every day it was empty. It actually only took about 9 days to arrive it just felt like forever!!
Whilst I was waiting I made my piece, I wanted the button to be the centre, literally, and wanted to make sure that the rest of the piece didn't detract form the beauty that is one of Lisa's big buttons. Here is my finished brooch, simple but pretty I think and designed to brighten up the cold autumnal days that have now arrived in Auckland. I can pretend it's summer again.

The brooch is based on one a friend of mine had, I think it comes from an Amy Butler pattern. I have left mine looser and also added the tiny seed beads and of course the button. For the pin I used a small kilt pin as I wanted to make sure that it held straight and I didn't think a traditional brooch pin would be large enough. Anyway I had a lot of fun. Thanks Lisa for the chance to take part with other talented craftpersons. Once all the entries are in Lisa is giving her readers a chance to vote on their favourite, I'll let you know when that is.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Crazy times, Happy times

Well the last couple of weeks have been insanely busy. The normal busy-ness of being a mom, working and trying to create didn't even come close.
Firstly I had applied to take part in Lisa's Big Button Ch
allenge and was working on a little something for that, unfortunately the button went missing and I had to buy another one, Lisa being the generous lady that she is sent me one FOC but it seemed to take an age to  arrive and the deadline was fast approaching.
On top of that it was Gage's school ball on Saturday and I had that dress to make, all good except I spent the best part of a week falling asleep on the sofa at about 8.30 each night, I was tired, lethargic and feeling lousy. I wasn't ill as such just really not myself so I have started on the vitamin tablets and have perked up a bit, just the normal winter blues I guess.
Anyway I got the dress finished and a necklace to go with it then I just had hair and make-up to sort and make sure Gage knew how to walk in her heels, she is ususally to be found in a pair of Converse or some Ugg boots so it was a bit of a challenge.
Here the photo's anyway, she looked gorgeous and like a girl...
who knew she'd scrub up so well?