18 November, 2015

Spoonflower organic knit fabric

I was so excited when Spoonflower had their annual free shipping day just when I was wanting some neat knit fabrics to make tshirts from, and I ordered two fabrics for me, and one for Hazel, all from Andrea Lauren. I was surprised how thick the fabric was when it arrived, although I suppose I should have been able to figure that out from the weight given for the base fabric. Anyways, I washed them (the ink was very stiff and had a strong smell) and made them up and they look great at first glance but I have some real issues with how the fabric behaved after that which is super disappointing.

Spoonflower organic knit issues

I mostly sewed them using my overlocker and despite having ballpoint needles in, and never having this issue with any other knits, the fabric developed little holes where the needle went in. Here you can see it along one of the side seams. It's almost like the fabric is brittle, in that where it's bent back on itself the stitches have cut at the fabric, along with the hole caused by the needle going in. It's not all that obvious when the seam's not pulled back, but I don't know how long until it looks really tatty. The first wash didn't make it look much worse so I'm hoping for the best.

Spoonflower organic knit issues

Here it's happened particularly badly at the thick point where the shoulder seam meets the neck binding. The crappy stitching is my machine catching on the seam, can't blame that on Spoonflower! You can also see how it's pulled at the stitches along the shoulder seam.

Spoonflower organic knit issues

And then to add insult to injury, I discovered that I'd managed to miss a giant slub in the fabric - and placed it dead centre on the front of course.

Spoonflower organic knit issues

So yeah I have a couple of cute tshirts that are wearable but I definitely won't be buying the organic knit fabric again. Anyone have experience with the woven fabrics? I bought some tea towels on the linen/cotton canvas that I'll be curious to see after they've washed.

15 November, 2015

Impeccable timing

Kitchen sewing

Half way through quilting a Christmas present my machine has decided to start skipping stitches and to get all funky with the tension. Poor old thing, it was never designed to do as much sewing as it has over the last 15 years and it's definitely starting to feel its age. I just need to nurse it through a bit longer until I can afford a fancier one, so I hope the repair place can sort it out asap and I'll see if I know anyone I can borrow one from for a bit. Of all the times for it to happen though - I've got a couple more projects to get done before Xmas!

I'm using our crappy old outdoor table to sew on as our kitchen currently looks like this and will shortly be lacking walls and a ceiling. I wanted to get as much done as I could while I had the space, although the state of the floor means that even if I wasn't planning on washing the quilt before I give it to my brother, it would certainly need it now! The straight lines of the floor boards are just too good to not use for sandwiching and squaring up though, my only quibble with them is that they seem to be metric boards, not in inches :D

Kitchen sewing

04 November, 2015

Crocheting with hemp yarn

My friend Yumiko has a huge collection of Japanese craft books of all sorts, and she brought a few of her crochet ones to our stitch group a couple months ago to show me. I fell in love with two of the flower ones so I searched them up on Yes Asia and bought them, along with this book on hemp bags (ISBN978-4-7778-1482-4). I had no idea what was in it really, I managed to find a few photos online, but it was a bit of a gamble! When they arrived I was pleased I'd taken the chance and am looking forward to doing several of them.

Hemp Yarn Bag Collection. ISBN978-4-7778-1482-4

Hemp isn't the most common yarn but luckily the Hemp Store on K'Road here in Auckland carries twine, which is the same thing I think, and there are sources online. I don't often go down to K'Road so it was a nice outing and the Hemp Store was pretty much as I'd expected - incense, reggae, bongs and a really good assortment of different weights of hemp twine, along with rope and some webbing. I did feel like I should have a big sign with me that said "I'M ONLY HERE FOR THE TWINE" though. That's probably hopelessly middle-class of me! Actually I probably looked hopelessly middle-class with Hazel in tow and no-one had any illusions about me at all, but I'll pretend I'm hip enough for there to be doubts ;) I was hoping Yumiko would be at group this morning to help me get started but she wasn't, so I puzzled through the pattern instructions with the help of Christina. Yumiko did tell me that Japanese patterns aren't nearly as prescriptive as western ones, so there's no gauge or hook size, and as usual, very little in terms of instructions just good illustrations. It's not like a bag is hard though, do a rectangle (this one is just back and forth) and then start up the sides by going around and around. Oh boy though, it's hard work doing the actual crocheting because the twine's so stiff! The others were laughing at me making little noises of effort at the end as my hands tired, and I'm pretty sure they will be sore tomorrow! It's clearly not a project I'll be done in a hurry, an hour here or there will be the only way I can survive. The twine itself is nice to touch as it's waxed so it has a smooth texture and a pleasing stiffness when crocheted. It does twist and curl though, so depending on whether the sides push the bottom flat, or if they twist themselves, I may need to investigate how to block hemp.

Crocheting hemp twine. Great texture and look but it's a serious test of hand and finger strength! #crochet #hemp #hempyarn

02 November, 2015


After our quilt show at Alberton we decided to make them some coasters as a thank you for being so lovely and helpful and promoting us as they did. Four inches* square was the size we decided on and whatever we wanted to do after that. I was going to do a postage stamp one with really little squares, but then Mel did something similar and despite the fact she told me to just go for it with mine I thought nope, I'm going to go even tougher than little squares. The only thing fiddlier than that I could think of was little hexies and I knew there was a project with them in one of the Zakka books I have. It ended up not being what I wanted, but there were bright colours and linen, so I found a page of 1/2" hexies online and just whipped out this pretty thing.

Coaster for Alberton

And no I didn't actually "whip it out", it went in fits and starts and I've only just finished it today and our meeting is tonight. I work best to a deadline :D I was going to sew on the backing right sides together and just turn it out, but as I discovered when I'd sewn it all together, it was slightly smaller than the pattern I'd devised and only just made 4" at its largest dimensions. I ended up trimming it square and doing binding which was a pity as I think it looked great cut before the binding went on and the binding itself looks a touch bulky on a small item. I'm not even sure if turning it would have given that really nice straight-edge look but I don't know how you could achieve it without getting fraying.

Anyways, it IS pretty and I quite like it, I'd even use it myself I think! Maybe I'll have to make some more, although it's kind of a pity to cover it up with a big old mug, so perhaps mine would be used more like this

Coaster for Alberton

*yes it's kind of weird that we do these things in inches when in all other aspects of life we're metric! At the very least though, quilting has given me some idea of what 5 or 10 inches is, when before I would have had no idea (I visualise the cutting mat markings). Don't ask me about Fahrenheit or pounds though, or how many inches in a foot.

20 October, 2015

All my stuff looks the same

I was sitting on the couch eating breakfast this morning when I looked over and saw this pile on the shelf next to me

Patchwork and yarn parallel evolution.

There is an almost-finished crocheted coat hanger and yarn from that, and fabrics I've been making hexagons from. My first thought was "they all look so good together", my second thought was "they're actually mostly the same colour, I just need to add some aqua to the coat hanger" and then I thought "I'm going to make a matching hanger with aqua in the middle and orange on the outside". And then all my stuff will look the same! :)

11 October, 2015


We're embarking on a fairly major renovation which will involve knocking down quite a few walls so yesterday Hazel and I started drawing on them. Why don't we do this more often? I think it's because Pinterest makes it look super easy and cool but the indelible nature of sharpies make it a bit fraught!

I copied this from a pin on Pinterest, but to get it remotely symmetrical involved a lot of measuring and pencil erasing and a definite lack of effortless cool. It's still kinda cute though!


These others are more free-hand although I admit to copying the cat off Pinterest as well and depriving a vinyl wall art store of a sale.


Hazel's mouse is cuter than mine below, she got the eyes in a better place I think. The caption is because I made the mistake of thinking it was a French Bulldog when I saw it sans eyes, whiskers and tail. I should have kept my mouth shut as it caused the artist a fair amount of angst!



I can picture a whole house of cool little doodles but we're only at foundation stage for the new bit so there won't be any walls available for awhile and let's face it, I'll probably chicken out and go for plain, unadorned white with a few other colours - other than the ubiquitous Half Tea which the house is currently painted. Kiwis will know it only too well, for people who don't have Resene paints I've heard it described as 'new house brown' - the bland colour that's so inoffensive it's actually kind of offensive!


29 September, 2015

New Quilts for Alberton Beds

New Quilts for Alberton Beds - ballroom.

The New Quilts for Alberton Beds finished yesterday afternoon when we gathered up the quilts into big piles and took them away, leaving the house looking a little less colourful!  I think it went pretty well, we've had some nice feedback and quite a few people stopped by to talk to us on Saturday and Sunday as part of Heritage Week. Unfortunately the exhibition had been put into the Workshops section of the brochure, along with an invitation to come along for free workshops on quilting which sent (some of) us into a bit of a tizzy (ok me) but in the end it was ok. There were a few people who showed up expecting something, but I don't think they were too put out to get some time on a design wall making quilt patterns and then getting to try out hand quilting and binding. One lady, when we mentioned coming along to our group, announced she was a traditionalist and really didn't like the colours of modern fabrics and flounced off, apparently with a mouth like a cat's bum. We all just looked bemused I think! :D So if that was it in terms of active negativity then we did well.

New Quilts for Alberton Beds - attic bedroom

Now what the heck do I do with all these quilts I have back in my house?

New Quilts for Alberton Beds -sewing room.

New Quilts for Alberton Beds.

New Quilts for Alberton Beds.


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