Sewing/Refashioning Day

A friend hosted a small crafty day on the weekend. I took some refashioning projects. As always, I forgot to take ‘before’ shots, but here are my ‘afters’:


I picked up this dress at a vintage fair. It fit fine from the waist down (unfortunately, the leglessness of the dress model makes it drape strangely), but the top was too big. Pinching in at the sides was all it needed – and I replaced the rather small press stud side opening with a zip.

It took a lot longer than I expected, so I only got two more smaller refashions done.


This had a polo neck. I like polo neck tops, but the fabric is very thick and I found it too hot. This was the simplest refashion – all I did was cut the collar off so no sewing required.


When I bought this is was a bit snug, so it wasn’t long before snug became too tight. The answer was my standard ‘add a side piece’.

It felt a bit weird doing summery refashions when it’s too cold to wear them. I guess I like the instant gratification of being able to put on something I’ve just ‘fixed’. But it was great to be making something and hanging out friends.

Blackwork Beginnings

I’ve started the sampler:


It’s gonna take a while.

As for my growing list of the WIPs, I’ve made progress on most of them. The Hunky Hank Blanket might turn into a jacket. I’ve been playing with arranging squares on my dress model and have come up with a few designs I like the look of. I’m two squares short of the number I need for the design I prefer, but I figure I can do them with a different black yarn and put them under the arms, where they won’t be seen much.

Tomorrow I’m off to a Craft Day with a small bunch of friends. I’m taking some clothing to alter and some refashioning projects. Hopefully I’ll have some finished pieces to post in a few days.

Turning a Corner or Three

Spring is definitely in the air, despite it still being technically winter. Plants are waking up. Weeds are sprouting everywhere. Two weekends ago we put in what I hope will be the first plant that doesn’t end up dug up again: a mandarin tree a friend gave us for our housewarming. We also transplanted some rhododendrums and, the weekend after, spread half of a huge pile of mulch.

Last week I decided that I was tired of waiting for the garage planning permit and would focus on getting the kitchen garden finished, so we felt like we were getting something done. It was last on my list of areas to landscape, though in my original plan now was when I’d planned to tackle it – I just expected to have had the rest of the garden sorted by now.

So I made a list of tasks to be done and began with sourcing raised garden beds. I did a whole lot of online searching and I tried to buy corrugated iron ones from two companies, but the website of one didn’t work and the other never rang me back. I wound up buying cheap pine beds from Bunnings and got Paul to cut down some drums he’d bought for a photography project a year or so ago.

Of course, the day after I wrote out my plan and bought seed potatoes, some herbs, soil, compost and pine garden beds, the permit came through. With some amendments, but we essentially have approval to build a garage.

So I cut the kitchen garden plan back to doing only what I bought materials and plants for. That is: potatoes and mint grown in the drums, and herbs in the pine beds. The paving and gravel will have to wait.

Then Paul checked a few details with the council yesterday, and it turns out that we can’t start on the garage – and the garden beside it – until the amendments have been stamped.

So I figure I’ll get to work in the kitchen garden and see how far I get. Today I filled the first of the potato drums, which I’m setting up as wicking beds. I didn’t have enough scoria for the base of the second one, so that’s top of the to-do list.


In the bases I planted two kinds of mint: spearmint and common. They can spread out and aren’t in danger of infesting garden beds.


I dug a big square hole to set the first of the three pine garden bed into, loosening up the soil and covering it with straw mulch for now.


Being inside the cat run, their main function is as cat toilets. We finally had a cat door put in a few weeks ago. Since then we’ve had the litter box sitting outside as the first step of training him to ‘do his business’ outside.


So far just getting him to go outside at all has been a bit of a battle of wills.

On the Go

I’m still weaving two-yarn squares while watching tv:


I have nearly 30. Though I only had one ball of black and three of the multi-coloured, the black ball weighed twice as much as one multi-coloured ball and is slightly thinner, so won’t have as much leftover multi as I’d expected. I’ll join the squares with it, and do a crochet border. While I intended to make a blanket, I like the fabric so much I’m tempted to try making a garment of some sort. There might be enough for a simple kimono style jacket.

One Scary Tea Towels has been woven:


Two more to go.

I’ve started two new projects. The first is to de-boringify a cashmere cardigan. I bought it for travel as it’s light and warm, and easily layered:


After trying several embroidery methods, I’ve settled on using a crochet hook to do chain stitch. It’s fiddly, and very slow. I’m hoping that using some tearaway stabiliser and putting it on hoop will make it easier and faster.

The other project is a hat knit from frogged Inca yarn:


Yes, that’s hand knitting. I’ll stick to a couple of rows a time, every couple of nights, it the hope of avoiding an RSI flare up. The thing is, weaving the yarn didn’t appeal, and it’s a bit thick for the knitting machine. I’ve got to use it somehow, so hand knitting it is.

Lucky Stand

I’ve not done any embroidery for a while now. Mostly because the projects I want to do require larger stretchers and hoops, and I’ve found the weight of them hard on my wrists. So I’ve been looking at stands. There are a lot to choose from. Stands that hold a hoop at one point. Stands that prop up stretchers at either side. Taller stands that rest on the floor.

So Monday last week I decided to check out what was on eBay. There just happened to be an auction for a adjustable-width floor stand ending that night, for a bargain price of $12.50. I bid, won and picked it up that night. All that was required to attach my stretcher was two drill holes and some longer bolts:


Two days later, on an op shop tour with friends, I found a stretcher exactly the same width as the stand for $4.50.

So I’m obeying the messages of the craft gods and setting up to do my first blackwork sampler. And I’ve a hankering to try tambour embroidery, so I’ve ordered some hooks.

Blue Sleeves

The weekend before last I whipped out the Bond and made new sleeves for the remaining part the Gift Yarn Jacket.



It was fun using the knitting machine. What I made was really just a long rectangle, cast off by hand at either end after latching some ribbing. I had the itch to do more and have been looking at some of my stash yarn and thinking about what I could make with it. But this last weekend I got the gardening bug instead. Well, I got some sunshine at least!


I’m not sure what to make of this winter. Normally I like winter. Yet while it was the warmest June on record, but it didn’t seem like it – perhaps because there were some very cold nights and frosty mornings either side of the unseasonably warm days, perhaps also because we’re discovering how hard it is to keep warm a house with no insulation. Thankfully, we have insulation installers booked to fix that this week, so the house may get more comfortable soon.

July has felt unbearably wintery. The head cold didn’t help. I was well enough to go on an interstate trip the weekend before last, but came home exhausted. It was followed by a week with two social outings I couldn’t really cancel, so I skipped art class in order to be rested enough for the first, and cancelled all plans for last weekend so I had time to get over the second.

I’m feeling a lot better for the rest, too. I read a while back that we’ve lost the art of convalescense. That we dive back into the demands of everyday life before we’ve truly got over an illness, instead of easing back into our full routine.

Though I feel like I need to hibernate for the rest of the year, I’m setting my sights on spending the weekends of August convalescing. I’ll be curling up in sunbeams like a cat, reading books, and doing a little weaving or stitching or sewing when I have the energy.

Until I can’t stand the sight of the weeds any more, that is.

Neon Blue Blanket

I’ve had a head cold since Monday last week and have spent my days sleeping, reading, watching dvds and, when I was at my most energetic, doing a little weaving. I was most of the way through tying the Scary Tea Towels warp on the table loom, so I finished that Monday morning and wove about 8cm.

I also turned this:


Into this:


The squares were joined with a crochet hook and then I did a simple hooked edge around the outside. I had just two tiny balls of yarn left. I’m going to give this to my parents – they can fight it out between them who will use it of a night.

The pin loom bug has bitten deep, so I’ve started a another small blanket. This ones has two-colour squares. I’m using black paired with some multicoloured yarn I bought in New Zealand years ago.


I tried the multicoloured yarn with the hexagon loom, but the colour sequence didn’t look that good, so I’ll have to dig something else out of the stash for a hexagon project.

Hung Up

The housewarming we had a few weeks back gave us the push we needed to tackle more artwork hanging. We’ve now used most of the methods I covered in this post about avoiding putting nail holes in walls: this post.



The wall shelf is from IKEA. I’m not 100% happy with it. For a start, our level was not level so the shelf is slightly off straight. And it’s too shallow to safely overlap artwork of this size, which I was hoping to do here. But I’m planning to repaint this room in a few years, so this is only temporary anyway.

Top of a bookcase:


You can just see that I have wooden picture supports, that Paul made, to ensure these don’t slip off.

Picture rails:

We decided against installing any, as combined with the dado rail it would be a bit too busy.

Picture hanging system:


This was the main pre-housewarming project. It’s not cheap, but the versatility of the system makes it worthwhile. We can put artwork anywhere along the walls, and put two or three pieces on each set of wires. It’s not so good for clusters of small artwork, however, but…

Removable plastic hooks:

I’ve used these all over the house:


The cat art wall is a work in progress. As we get more I’m adding them to the wall. And the map and paintings below are in the toilet, ’cause why not?


And the hooks are great for more than artwork:



The clear ones are practically invisible from a distance, so much nicer for items where the hook shows, like with the old traveller’s coat hangers above. And you can get removable velcro strips, which I used to hang the map in the toilet. However, the paint in the kitchen did not like the removable hooks, and even very light pictures like the small fruit ones below kept falling off so I had to use hooks.


Display easel:


I was hoping to get all of this related artwork on the wall, but there just wan’t room, and the odd sizes weren’t coming together in a balanced arrangement. I had a few pieces leaning against the wall while I was working this out, and realised they looked good like that. So I dug out a display and table easel. It’s another way to overlap artwork.


This is where I’m displaying finished portraits until their owners claim them.

So I’ve utilised nearly every hanging option I thought of last year. We’ve still used nails for mirrors, clocks and heavier artwork where there’s no hanging system, and I’ve reused existing holes as much as possible, like in the passageway:


There are still more pieces to go up – we have a dodgy shelf to remove in another room which will free up some more wall space – but most of it is hanging now. Funny thing is, after filling the living room and hallway walls, along with having the housewarming, I feel like we have finally settled in to this house.