Monday, February 28, 2011

A baby's smile

There's nothing quite like a baby's smile to brighten your week. One of my lovely customers sent me this photo of her daughter wearing a Cotton Kiwi onesie. A gorgeous smile to brighten a horrible week.

Isn't she gorgeous? I love to see my t-shirts and onesies in action so do send photos through if you get the chance. I will always ask your permission before I post them on my blog.

I had a little time over the weekend to make some more onesies for an order (and to restock my market stall).

On another note, if you are a kiwi and have access to Trade Me, there are some great auctions of handmade goodies going on to raise money for Christchurch. Check out Handmade for Christchurch. Cotton Kiwi has donated two brooches and a fairy skirt to the auctions so head along and bid if you can.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

My Creative Space - Design

I've been thinking a lot about design lately.  In my opinion, the design process is as important as the making of something. For me and for many of my fellow crafters and artists, it's the design part of their work that makes it individual. When I make something for my Cotton Kiwi line, I might follow a pattern to construct an item, but the fabrics I chose and it's ultimate look will involve some elements of design and the finished product will be a reflection of my style.

A Cotton Kiwi sock monkey.
My sock monkeys, for instance, are based upon the original sock monkey pattern that has been around since the turn of last century. My version or design of sock monkey is very much a reflection of my style and technique and I'm sure that even if you followed my sock monkey pattern to the letter, your monkey would look different again. You would chose the colours of the socks, you might stuff it more firmly and place the ears and mouth further up or down the head and the final expression of the monkey would look different. That's the joy of handmade. No two things are the same.
Classic sock monkeys.
Image from here

The Maori Tiki (or heitiki) is a much repeated design in both art and popular culture. Although keeping the same approximate design is important for both cultural and recognition purposes, it can and has been interpreted in many many different ways.

Detail from Songbirds by Sarah Bird January 2011
I've been playing around this week with my version of a tiki. I've been recreating the same design using different techniques and materials and seeing how it changes the look. The first one is applique using stretch knits onto a bobbly red synthetic fabric that I found in an op shop. I've turned it into a cushion.

I'm really happy with the colours of this version. The texture of the red fabric and the stretchy nature of the applique fabric has led to quite a naive look.

Here's the same design recreated on Monday night with a simple back stitch, using embroidery thread onto an old wool blanket. It's much simpler but still very recognisable as a tiki. I don't need any more cushions so I'm thinking that I will turn this one into a laptop case.

My plan is to use the same image and do both a reverse applique and free motion embroidery version of it but it will have to wait a bit. I've got sock monkeys to make for Christchurch kids via Kiwi at Heart . Please do what you can to help.

For more Creative Spaces, pop along to Kootoyoo.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011


Yesterday Christchurch (and many areas outside of the Central City) was hit by a devastating earthquake.

Photo from here
I can't begin to imagine the sense of devastation and loss that those who live in the area (and their friends and family) have experienced since yesterday lunch time. There have been some miracle escapes and some awful tragedies.

image from here
Whilst the amazing work to find survivors continues in Christchurch by the professionals, many of those who have survived unharmed in the vicinity are working to help those in need. Imba's wonderful parents drove to Hagley Park last night and collected a bus load of people which they found shelter for in their own home and in the homes of others. It's actions and attitude like this one which will ensure that this City and it's people recover from this awful time.

Here in Auckland, there is little we can do but wait until we are told how we can help. There are a number of places you can go to find out what  you can do at the moment. Paisley Jade has a list on her blog of ways you can help so I won't repeat them here.

Leonie from Kiwi at Heart has set up a Softies for children of Christchurch appeal

My daughter's school is having a mufti day this Friday to raise money for Christchurch. A child at her school suggested the idea and asked the principal if he could email all the other schools in the country and ask they do the same. If all schools in New Zealand hold a mufti day (and charge each child $2), then they could raise as much as $1 million for the appeal. Go that child. I believe that all the schools have now been emailed so if your kids are at school in this country, please encourage your principal to take part (even if you don't have a uniform, the kids could pay $2 to come to school in their PJs or something equally fun).

If you are in Christchurch or have family and friends there, our thoughts are with you. xx

Monday, February 21, 2011

We were actually quite busy for a change...

Friday night is pizza night in our house. It's a great easy meal and it allows Richard and I to eat more 'grown up' food because we have our own pizza and the girls have theirs. It also lets us use up lots of wonderful garden veggies. This one has spinach, red onions, baby tomatos, basil and mozarella on it. Yum. The girls love to make their own and they take it to their Wendy house and pretend they are in a restaurant (with lots of bossing waitress Mum around!)

 We had a busier than usual weekend this weekend. It wasn't planned that way but we seemed to do an awful lot. We woke on Saturday to discover the girls (including Maisy Kitten) were 'camping' in the lounge. They had packed their suitcases and draped blankets over chairs to make their tent.
 So cute.
 I'm getting ready to teach my Sew Inspired course out at Corban Estate this coming weekend and M helped me hang out the freshly washed blank tea towels that we'll be using for part of the course.

 We also managed to take all the furniture out of Maddy's room and fit a new carpet in an attempt to make it more asthma friendly.
 It's incredible how much stuff a 7 year old can own. It almost filled our bedroom (and our room is twice as big as hers). Thank heavens for good storage!
 We managed to get the room back together again by 7pm and took the girls out to the Lantern Festival in the city. They thought they were going to a music concert and dressed 'cool'.
I don't think they were too disappointed when they realised there'd be no dancing.
The lanterns were incredible. I'll post more about that later in the week.
And no Saturday is complete without a something wonderful in the letterbox.
I was lucky enough to win the Tiny Eyes Valentines giveaway on Lil'Magoolie last week. Isn't she gorgeous? E was so excited to open the parcel and find her. She's sitting on my (very messy) desk at the moment and I'm loving looking up and seeing her smile. Thanks so much Dee. I love her.

Hope you had a lovely weekend too. x

Thursday, February 17, 2011

My Creative Space - all over the place

I was going to show you some of my knitting today but it's a little all over the place.

It's here
 and here
 and here
 one end of the house, to the other.
Did you do this Miss Crazy-Maisy?
 No? You were busy doing Kitty Yoga and looking cute?

 Very impressive Kitty Yoga but are you sure you didn't do this? You were the one inside looking suspciously interested in the knitting-that-I-forgot to-put-away when I left the house this morning.

How about you Mr Kipper?

You were testing puzzle boxes for size and strength?

Well... I think there may be some little white lies being told here by certain pussycats.
Well what am I going to show these lovely people now that you two have destroyed my knitting? 

Another photo of the heart cake? Oh alright then.

Ta Da!

For more (hopefully less wrecked than mine) Creative Spaces, pop along to Kootoyoo.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Miss Pink

I made Miss E a little patchwork quilt for her dolly's pram the other day.

 The pram isn't getting used for dollies at the moment.

Miss Crazy-Maisy is one very tolerant kitten.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

With all my heart

How was your Monday? Did you celebrate Valentines Day? I am a complete sook at heart and when you come across awesome tutorials like this one (via Lil Magoolie), and you are me,  you just have to have a go.

 Richard took me to see Lloyd Cole for my Valentines gift.  I love his music. I love my man.

So I made him this cake. There was a surprise inside.

The Mr was very impressed. You know what they say about men and hearts and stomachs.
This cake is a perfect fit.
I shall be making one of these for my parents wedding anniversary too
 (so act surprised if you are reading this Mum and Dad!).
They celebrate 40 years of marriage in April.
Here's a photo of them with all their grandkids.
It makes me smile.
Happy Valentine's Day.x

Thursday, February 10, 2011

My Creative Space - cupcakes and princesses

My oldest, Madeleine, is rapidly growing out of most of her clothes. Being a November baby means she crosses two seasons and I've always had to top up her wardrobe with a bigger size at the end of Summer. She has a school uniform for most of the time but her nighties and pjs are all getting far too snug and short so I made her a new nightie last night to tide her over until the end of this season (and hopefully last a little into next Summer too!).

Miss Madeleine is quite fussy over her clothes. She likes comfort above all. Definately nothing tight across her chest (so empire and princess lines are totally out). She hates to wear layers (unlike her sister who is the layering queen) and stiff fabrics are definately a no no.

Making her clothes has always been a bit of a hit and miss affair. Sometimes I can't get her to change the outfit I made for her and other times, she hides it and refuses to wear it. When I find a pattern that she likes I tend to stick to it and adapt it. I've made dozens of House on Hill Road's twirly skirts for her and Kwik Sew 3169 has been another well used pattern. It's very easily adapted and I've used it to make tops and dresses (and now nighties) for both my girls. It's so quick and easy.

I made this cupcake nightie for Maddy last night. Instead of threading elastic through the sleeves (which I knew would make it uncomfortable for her), I cut them at an angle to make them quite floaty.
I also added a little diamante 'M' that she picked out one day in Spotlight to make it extra special for her.
I haven't shown Maddy the nightie yet because I need to make one for the small person in the house too or there will be a riot. Thank goodness I only have two girls! This is the fabric Eloise has chosen for her nightie.

Both fabrics are knit fabrics which I got in the Spotlight sale a few weeks ago. I'm actually terrified of sewing with knits as I always seem to mess something up. This pattern is so easy though and there is no attaching slippery neckbands so it's definately my kind of pattern for knits. I'm determined to be braver and do more sewing with knits this year. I think it's just a case of practice and know how. If any of you have any good tips, I would love to hear them.
For more Creative Spaces, pop over to Kootoyoo (thanks Kirsty!)

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Romantic gesture.

This is what counts as a gift of love in our house... *smirk*.
This was waiting for me when I walked into the kitchen this morning. I'm not entirely sure why the Mr tucked this enormous courgette that he grew into his running shoe. I think it was to demonstrate how big it was. I was of course very impressed at his manly gardening skills and am planning a suitable impressive vegetable lasagne with this as the main ingredient (the courgette, not the running shoe). Do you get strange romantic gestures from your Mr or am I alone with this one? 

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

A busy week

We had our first Devonport Craft Market of the year on Sunday. I usually go into a bit of a frenzy during the week before a market. I always panic that I don't have enough stock and end up staying up until the wee small hours making toys or appliquing t-shirts.

 After nearly 2 years of running the market and repeating this habit, my famly are getting pretty used to it. The housework tends to be neglected a little and dinner is often a last minute, thrown together affair (thank goodness for our beautiful veggie garden!)

I've made a promise to myself to slow down this year, to be more organised and to prioritise what is important. Keeping my family happy is obviously the most important thing to me so I made a real effort this month not to go into a making frenzy and to actually slow down and enjoy the process of creating. It helps when small fluffy things have you pinned down to one spot for long periods of time.

Sometimes, there is movement from the knee-hogger in the form of Kitty-yoga. Yes, those are Maisy's back feet round by her eyes. Very impressive.

 The only problem with the slowing down process is that I have to wrestle small children for stock that has mysteriously disappeared instead of just giving in and letting her keep them. (In case you think this is mean, the below pictured small child has a room full of dollies and soft toys and can hardly get into her bed she has so many).
So Miss Daisy here managed to make it to the market on Sunday. Nobody chose to take her home with them but there's always next month! I had such a lovely day catching up with friends, both customers and sellers. I nearly sold out of t-shirts and have a few orders to do this week which I'm really looking forward to completing. Applique is one of my favourite things to do and I love it when I have an excuse to do more.

This week started off really nicely too with an award from the gorgeous Wendy of Little Green Bums. Not only does this remarkable lady have 6 gorgeous kids, but she manages to fit amazing crafts and some yummy cooking into her very busy life (all with a great sense of humour that I love). So thanks Wendy.

Now what I need to do is:
1. thank and link back to the blogger who nominated you
2. tell 7 things about myself
3. pass on the award to 15 recently discovered blogs
4. let them know about their nomination

I've already completed number one so here are 7 things about me:

1. I'm not actually a Kiwi (I'm English). I ended up here in New Zealand whilst on a working holiday. I gatecrashed a party and met my partner Richard and the rest as they say is history.

2. There are toys in my house that my children aren't allowed to play with.

3. I'm trying to get better at playing Scrabble.

4. I believe coathangers have built a nest in the back of my wardrobe and are breeding at an incredible rate.

5. I need therapy for my op shop addiction.

6. I can speak a little Swahili.

7. I'm terrified of earwigs.

There. I've confessed. So now to pass on this award to 15 well deserving recipients.
Cat of Cat Taylor Design
Chantal of Chantal Vincent Art
Hanna of Craftykin
Dee of Dee Construction
Sarah of Dolls and Daydreams
Janelle of Heart Felt
Mel of Loved
Joanna of Little Minx
Megan of Mousehouse
Kristy of Paisley Jade
Lou of Seaside Siblings
Sarah of Songbird Designs
Jess of Teddybearswednesday
Stella of The Golden Adventures of a Very Dark Horse
Notchka of The Wardrobe

Do have a look at these blogs if you haven't already. There's some great reading there!


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