All through my life I have loved books and reading. Growing up I had quite a vivid imagination (and still do) and I enjoyed getting lost in the fictional stories I read. Throughout High school, I would often escape to our public Library where I would browse through non-fiction books about art, history, and the natural environment. I also discovered a love for poetry and begun collecting my favourite poems and quotes in notebooks, which I still have today.
I like reading a variety of genres from romance and drama to historical fiction. I have recently started enjoying fictional stories set in the outback, or on ranches…give me a cowboy love story with horses in it and I’m happy! I have read a few biographies, I enjoy reading about other people’s life journeys be it about art, craft, making, baking and gardening. I haven’t delved too deep into classics, but do enjoy Jane Austen. I admit I was late to the party when it came to Harry Potter, but I’m a massive fan now. Likewise, I didn’t discover a love for The Lord of the Rings until my twenties, admittedly after I had seen the movies. I’m not too much into fantasy and sci-fi, I tend to enjoy human lead stories, but a little bit of fantasy is ok.
I knew when I had my daughter Matilda I wanted to encourage in her a passion and love for the written word. I started reading to her at night whilst I was pregnant and continued to read to her nearly every day after she was born. She is now three and we both look forward to the half hour before bedtime when we read some story books together. I admit I get a little bit bored at reading the same book over and over again, as like with most young children I’m sure, Matilda has her favourites that she is happy to read every night while it is the flavour of the month!
Now that she is getting older I thought it would be nice to introduce her to our local Library. I signed her up and she now has her very own Library card. Of course, a trip to the library means you need to have a Library bag, and so I decided to make one.
I searched on Pinterest and found this great free tutorial for the Library Tote Bag by Amanda Niederhauser of Jedi Craft. The two main fabrics I bought on our Victoria Roadtrip last year and paired them with fabric from my stash. I decided to hand embroider with some variegated pearl thread the initial ‘M’ and of course the bag wouldn’t be complete without some signature mini EPP, so I made two 3/8” hexie flowers which I appliqued on.
I’m really pleased with how the bag finished. It was pretty quick and easy to whip up and Tilly loves it. I’m planning our first trip to the Library soon. A morning out with some books, reading and maybe a hot chocolate and some cake…what could be better than that?!
Last year I discovered the wonderful world and community of Knitting and Crochet Podcasts. I immediately fell down the most amazing rabbit hole as I discovered so many beautiful and talented makers, designers and dyers. All of a sudden I was exposed to beautiful hand dyed yarn, the colours and textures dazzling and surprising me. Here was this whole variety of yarn outside the realm of the commercial yarns I had been buying at my local big box craft store. I also discovered many amazing crochet & knitting designers and patterns and I rode the wave, collecting projects on my Making Wish List.
I can’t remember how old I was when Mumsie first taught me to crochet and knit, but I do remember it didn’t ‘stick’ with me the first go around. I had already discovered my passion for English Paper Piecing which was starting to take over my life! Like many mums-to-be, I first picked up a crochet hook again when I was pregnant with our daughter, Matilda. I wanted to make her a blanket, a cardigan and a toy (to start!). Instagram had shown me the wonderful world of Amigurumi and it was at this point that I fell in love with crochet. I hadn’t yet discovered podcasts at this point, so knitting still flew under the radar for me. I always considered crochet to be the easier of the two as dropped stitches seemed easier to fix and mistakes hid better!
One of the first podcast I watched was lovely Jooles of Sew Sweet Violet. Watching her talk about the projects she was sewing and knitting was very inspiring and she is such a delight to sit and chat with while I sew. Soon I also discovered Sandra of Cherry Heart Podcast, Dani of Little Bobbins Podcast, Sam of Betsy Makes Podcast and Molly of The Homespun House Podcast. I noticed a similar thread…they all knit or crocheted, and they were all knitting socks….beautiful patterns and designs from equally beautiful, stunning hand dyed yarn. I needed them, I wanted them. I had to have them. What an utterly indulgent item of clothing to have! So for the second time, I asked Mumsie to teach me to knit.
We started out with learning the basics, garter stitch and knit stitch using cheap acrylic yarn and bamboo needles. I have to say, not very thrilling or enjoyable. I found my tension to be really tight with the bamboo needles and the yarn a bore. Mumsie suggested my tension might loosen up with metal needles, so I gave that a go and it felt much better. I was still bored though. I thought I might enjoy the learning process better if I actually made an item from some nice hand dyed yarn. I decided to knit Matilda a simple garter stitch scarf with some 8 ply hand dyed merino yarn from Jazzy Makes. I cast on 30 stitches and used size 4.5 straight needles. After plodding along for some time I started to get a bit bored. My tension was going well and I hadn’t dropped any stitches, but I needed the project to be over and I was itching to learn more skills. I decided that the scarf was probably a bit too wide for Tilly but that if I was to join the ends together it would make the perfect size cowl for her, so that’s what I did.
I am proud of my first finished object, and the yarn is scrumptious. Tilly really likes it too and I’m sure it will get a lot of use this winter.
For my second knit project I thought it would be good to make something using circular needles, knitting in the round that included increases and decreases…to prepare me for knitting socks! So I found a simple beanie pattern on Ravelry called the Lollypop Hat by Elena Nodel. I picked a skein of The Australian Wool Store, Merino, Silk, Nylon 8ply, 100g, 180m, colour Mint Santelmann to use as mint green looks lovely on Tilly. Mumsie helped me to get started and then I used YouTube tutorials to learn how to transition from the circulars to DPN’s and how to close the top of the hat. I am super happy with how the beanie turned out, only there is one problem…it’s a bit too small for Matilda. I can get it on her head, but it doesn’t really go over her ears properly, which I think is necessary for a beanie.
So, with my new found knitting confidence I cast on another beanie, this time making a larger size. I chose to use a soft acrylic yarn as I thought it would be a safer choice for Tilly as she will be able to wear it outside playing or at school. The yarn is Sirdar Snuggly Cofter Baby Fair Isle Effect DK in colour 0159. It was quite nice to knit with being a soft baby acrylic yarn. I had a fairly easy time knitting the second beanie, given it was my second go at the pattern and I started to get in to the knitting groove, developing and practicing my own knitting rhythm and technique. I still find it a slow process, much slower than crochet. I watch my mum knit and her hands flick the yarn and move the needles so fast I feel like it’s going to be years before I get to her level of knitting! I know that practice makes perfect though. Tilly’s second beanie is a tad big for her, but I’m super pleased with it and a bit of growing room is always a good thing with a hand knit item for a child.
My two beanies done, it was time to try socks and so that is what I’m currently working on…and loving it! I bought some Fiber Lily yarn a little while ago with the intention of making socks with it. I chose her Aussie Sock, 80% Australian Merino SW 20% Nylon in colour Carousel. I love how it’s knitting up. I’m using Mumsie’s Vanilla Sock pattern. We have the same size feet which is super convenient. We did a long tail cast on of 54 stitches, followed by 14 rows of 1×1 rib and then 42 rows of knit to the heal. Today Mum started teaching me how to knit the heal. I’m using Addi Sockwonder circular needles size 25cm/2.5mm with Knit Pro Zing 2.5 DPN’s.
So far I’m super pleased with how they are turning out. My tension is really good…Mumsie is quite proud of how well my tension is going, particularly considering how tight it was when I first started learning!
I can’t wait to get my first pair of socks finished. There are so many beautiful sock patterns out there I would like to try and so many stunning yarns to knit them in! However, my next knit project I’m going to try is the Dirty Lace shawl by Truly Mrytle. Mum and I already have our yarns picked out as we are going to knit it together. So stay tuned for more adventures in knitting!
To echo the words of Claude Monet “I must have flowers, always, and always.” Having fresh flowers in our home brings me so much joy. They instantly lift a room with their sweet scent and colourful petals. They nod happily at me every morning, greeting me with their showy smiles.
Monet was an avid garden enthusiast and his garden and home in Giverny is on my bucket list of places to visit. I too love gardening, although I am still trying to find my way and un-earth my own garden. I love watching gardening shows, especially anything by Monty Don who just happens to be my gardening idol. This year I would like to visit more gardens. I want to take leisurely strolls through the plants and flowers, marvelling at the wonders of nature.
Garden Path at Giverny – Claude Monet. I can picture myself strolling down this path, taking in the sweet scents and colour parade.
Madame Monet and Child – Claude Monet. Yes, I can think of nothing more pleasant than sitting amongst the flowers and doing some stitching!
Just as I love and must always have real flowers, I also cannot be without the English Paper Piecing kind of flower, the always iconic, hexagon flower. When I received a bundle of Liberty fabrics from Westwood Acres for their Monthly Liberty Club last year, the package was full of so many pretty florals I knew instantly that I had to create something with hexagon flowers.
I wanted to create a miniature quilt inspired by strolling through a flower garden. I used nine of the liberty floral prints to make the flower petals and three different solid liberty fabrics for the flower centres. I played around a lot with the placement of the flowers before finally settling on the final design.
I decided I wanted to connect the flowers a bit differently. I wanted the flowers to stand out as individual blooms and not to have their petals touching each other. I used diamonds and hexagons in soft green cotton fabric to separate the flowers. These green shapes both represent the leaves of the flowers, but also the crisscrossing pathway through them.
I decided to hand quilt, using coloured embroidery floss that picked out a colour from the flower fabrics. I hand quilted around each flower petal, as well as the cross seams of the hexagon diamond motifs between each flower. Lastly, I had quilted around the entire outer edge of the pieced quilt section.
I used a soft buttery yellow fabric for the border and binding to represent the sunshine that twinkles through the leaves and trees down to the garden below.
I really love my finished hexie flower garden. It feels happy and calm, and whilst it’s no Monet painting, for me it brings the beauty of flowers and gardens into my craft studio where it hangs.
Paper Pieces Used – ¾” Hexagons, ¾” 60 degree diamonds, ¾” half hexagons, ¾” triangle (diamond cut in half)
Last year a lovely friend commissioned me to make a dolls quilt for her little girl for Christmas. She had been inspired by my large scrappy hexagon quilt and was after a scaled down version. Naturally, I was happy to do this.
My friend had made a patchwork quilt for her daughter and so I asked if she had any fabric left over from that quilt and I would incorporate the prints into the dolls quilt as well. Knowing my friend was a lover of Liberty fabric, I also included some special floral prints as well as some other fabrics from my stash. I also pulled some fabric from the stash of scraps my friend had given me from her children’s clothing business Ecolier Kids.
I decide to use ¾” hexagons. This is a nice versatile size, the perfect scale for a quilt to go on a dolls bed, which measured 41 x 26cm. After I had pieced the hexagons to a size that would allow the quilt to hang slightly over the sides of the bed, it was time to quilt.
I chose simple quilting in straight lines vertically down the quilt that dissected the hexagons in half. I chose fabric from my stash for the backing in a lovely soft pastel brocade floral design.
For the binding, I also raided my stash to find a plain soft creamy yellow that went nicely with the backing fabric and didn’t overpower the quilt front.
Of course, I decided that you couldn’t have a dolls quilt without a pillow as well, so I made a ¾” hexagon flower using lovely liberty fabrics and appliqued it to a square of the same binding fabric. I made a two piece overhanging slip back from the quilt backing fabric. I then made a stuffed pillow that was sewn up all four sides to slip into the pillowcase.
My friend loved the finished quilt and the extra pillow. More importantly, her daughter loved it and has been busy putting her dolls to bed with their new quilt and pillow.
It is such a wonderful thing to create something so special and to know that it will be treasured for many years to come. I think it is a very true statement when someone explains that an item was stitched with love. I like to add that something was stitched with joy as well. Sewing gives me great pleasure and enjoyment, but the act of sewing something for someone else and seeing the joy on their face when they receive, well that’s one of life’s most beautiful and simple and pleasures of all.
Happy New Year! I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas and Holiday Season. It all passes by so quickly doesn’t it? It reminds me of a wedding, so much preparation and money spent on one single day of enjoyment. It is joyous though. We had a lovely time spent with our family at home and down the road at my in-laws. Tilly actually started to understand what Christmas was, that Santa visited and gave her presents. It was fun seeing her start to get excited. For days after I took our Christmas tree down, she would come into the lounge room in the morning and ask with saddened surprise “where has the Chrissy tree gone?”
I am currently still on holidays as the company I work for shuts down for four weeks. As usual, I have written myself a mammoth to-do list which I have no hope of actually achieving…but then that’s just the way I seem to operate. Give myself heaps of tasks and goals to do even though I know it’s not actually possible to get them all done… except in a world where I did not need to sleep! Still, I like having it all written down and working towards ticking things off my list, which is very satisfying.
This post is all about 2018 in review. My general thoughts on 2018 were that it was a pretty great year. There were definitely some low and sad points, Tim lost his Uncle and I had some up and down moments emotionally. My Mumsie quit her job which has been fantastic for her, though I’m kind of jealous has now she has even more time to craft!
It has been really fun watching Tilly grow and develop this past year…or though I could have done without the tantrums and poor eating habits. She is such a little chatterbox now, and it’s fun seeing her imagination develop in play.
We witnessed two great friends get married and had a little road trip adventure through parts of Victoria. We also enjoyed another great Easter camping trip with our friends.
I spent a lot of time last year really figuring out what it is that I wanted my business to be and where I wanted to take it. I decided that my true passion above all my other crafty pursuits is English Paper Piecing. From that The Maker’s Stash was born, my new brand for EPP supplies and my own Pattern designs. This is still a work in progress but I’m hoping to officially get it launched over the next month or so. I also decided what I wanted to focus my product making time on for Miss Leela Handmade. I have some exciting new items that are still in idea phase and I’m hoping to start getting these out and in my shop soon.
I got a lot of making done in 2018 (at least I feel like I did for someone that works full time and is a mother, wife, house cleaner etc.!):
Crochet and Knitting – Finished
Scrap Yarn Magic Ball Drawstring bag – to store my stuffing in
Braelyn Head Warmer by The Velvet Acorn for Tilly
Amigurumi Lamb by Anatillea for Tilly
Knitted scarf from Jazzy Makes Hand Dyed yarn for Tilly
Soul Soothing Mits by Sandra Cherry Heart for me.
Crochet blanket, crochet bunny and pear rattle for my Best Friends baby boy Seamus
Crochet and Knitting – Started
For Keeps Shawl by The Velvet Acorn – for me
Quilts – Finished
Quilt for Lachlan
Quilt for Ivy
Quilt for Archer
Quilts started/worked on
Flowers Floor Quilt – for Tilly
Scrappy 1” hexagon quilt
Mini Quilts – Finished
Liberty Mosaic One MQ
Liberty Mosaic Two MQ
Half Hexagon MQ
Flower Power MQ
Mini Quilts started/worked on/nearly finished
Garden of Patience Issue Three
Garden of Patience Issue Four
Hexagon Flowers MQ
Playing with Shapes Mini EPP
Liberty Mosaic Three MQ
Items made for my Shop and Markets
9 Small Hexie Hearts ¼” hexies, Hoop Wall Hangings
22 Hexagon Flower Pincushions
21 Liberty Flower Fabric Tags
9 Hexagon Flower Heart Decorations
Dolls Quilt and Pillow
Hexie Heart Hoop Wall Hanging for lovely Madeline
5 Crochet soap pouches for the girls at work
Mini Pin Pennant
Hexie Flower Pincushion Prototype
2018 was a great year for meeting and connecting with this wonderful Maker Community. My followers on Instagram grew from approximately 700 to the 2,606 I have today. I find this astounding and I am humbled by everyone that chooses to have me pop up in their feed. I have so many lovely Insta friends and look forward to making so many more.
I discovered the wonderful world of Knitting, Crochet and Sewing podcasts and decided to join in with my own podcast. I launched this Web-Blog and found myself keener to write and put up posts and content. I started going to my local Blue Mountains Brown Owls meet-ups with my Mum. I love being a part of this group and look forward to every meeting. I have met and made lovely new friends here also.
Many crafty adventures were had including Mumsie’s and my annual pilgrimage to the Sydney Quilt and Craft fair. We also attended the Orange Fibre Muster and went on our first (but definitely not last) visit to Skein Sisters.
I experimented with yarn dying, something I really enjoy but have set aside any dreams of adding this to my business (for now :winks: ). My Mumsie also started teaching me to knit (for the second time). I also held my first Make-Along the #sundayscrapalong2018 which was loads of fun and I look forward to holding it again this year.
I attended three local Handmade Markets, two of which I was involved in organising with the community group I belong to The Blue Mountains Makers. We had a great year in 2018. I set up a new web-blog for the group which I’ll be managing and writing for in 2019. We welcomed new members to the committee and I enjoyed getting to know our local makers/team members.
As a team leader for The Blue Mountains Maker’s I was very fortunate to have a trip down to Melbourne courtesy of Etsy for the Etsy Captain’s Summit. This was a great weekend meeting the other team captains and learning a tone of info about Etsy and business tools from some great speakers. My highlight was meeting the wonderful Maryanne Moodie. I had a total fan-girl moment and got her signature and photo with her. She was so gracious and chatted with me for a bit and was interested in seeing what I make. I found her talk very enlightening and inspiring.
My word for 2018 was ‘Discovery’ and I also wanted to achieve a more Mindful Life. On the whole, I feel pretty happy that I lived up to my word and goals pretty well. Some things I definitely achieved, some I am still working on. I feel I have definitely grown as a person this past year and I am feeling excited and optimistic for the year ahead.
My word for 2019 is ‘Balance’. I picked this word back in November. Even then I was starting to formulate in my mind what I wanted to work on and achieve this year. This word is definitely going to be a challenge as balancing all of my commitments, along with looking after myself and being present as a wife, mum and friend is definitely something I have struggled with the past two years.
I hope you all had a wonderful 2018 and I hope that this year brings you all of the best things…happiness, love, tea and crafty time.
Fabrics from – Free Spirit, Nicey Jane by Heather Bailey, PWHB070 Hello Roses, Duo by ? Free Spirit Splendor by ? Tilda Lemon Tree Collection, Flowerfield Yellow, Tilda Lemon Tree Collection, De Leon Design Group, The Alexander Henry Fabrics Collection, Countryside, Unicorns ?