Sydney Craft And Quilt Fair June 17

Last week I spent a couple of day at the Sydney Craft and Quilt Fair. This year it returned to Darling Harbour in the newly built International Convention Centre. The venue was nice, I spent the Friday and Saturday at the show.

Day 1
On the Friday I decided to do what workshops I could that day as I was expecting it to be very busy on the Saturday with the weekend crowd. The first workshop I did on the Friday was to make a little wallet that had a double opening. This workshop was a lot of fun and we were taught by a Ninja! Our teacher was dressed like a fabric Ninja and kept us all entertained. He kept telling us little Ninja hints and short cuts to do our work. For the workshop Ninja had pre stitched our fabric panel that was in the pack so in the class we could do the assembly of the wallet (Ninja tip to save us time he said) He needed to show to everyone how to measure and do the folds of our fabric panels, I happened to be sitting where he was standing so he demonstrated on mine. I was paying attention and understood it so I was able to show others how he did it. When it came to inserting the metal press stud closure he again demonstrated on mine.

I inserted the 2nd press stud closure on my wallet myself. On the 2nd side you actually go through more layers of fabric and I thought it would be difficult but it was very easy to insert. Ninja supplied us with special Ninja press studs that you could insert entirely by hand without a press or pliers. Even through the extra layers the just snapped into place. I did pull a thread when I was piercing the holes so there is a slight dip on my purse front but I am not fussed about that.

To assemble the wallet together you do a Ninja sashiko stitch that he discovered thanks to all the crafters in the room was like a herringbone stitch. He started mine off and I continued working on it. I have almost finished this side in the class. This wallet is almost finished, at some point I will finish it off (hopefully by next years show)

The 2nd workshop I did was to make a leather pouch. I always like to try working with different things if I can at the shows and leather was something I had never stitched before. For the workshop we each got to choose what we would like to make, I chose a leather pouch. The leather already had the stitch lines marked out so we basically just had to place our needle into the marked spaces. The leather itself was lovely and soft and very easy to work with. What was unexpected was we used wax thread. This was a texture I was not used too and that was an experience… It was very tacky and if you are one who hates have sticky hands when you are crafting it was very different to what you are used too. It worked great on the leather but I must admit I couldn’t wait to wipe my hands with a baby wipe after the class. This is something I’m also aiming to get finished.

Day 2

One of the reasons why I was doing 2 days at the show was that I booked into hear Kerry Lord speak and demonstrate how she makes her toys. I will be perfectly honest and say that before I read up about this years show I didn’t know much about Kerry. Kerry makes these amazing crocheted animals and creatures. Up until a few months ago I hadn’t tried amigurumi until I made the football so I hadn’t really looked at patterns for it. I purchased a couple of Kerry’s books and her patterns are so cute and simple to make. Her toys are divided up into skill level from basic to more advanced toys. Seeing her demonstrate how to do all the toys in the different stages was great. She kept giving us great little tips and reminding us it just comes back to the fundamentals, the different levels might be working with different colours or doing slightly different shaped parts. We all came away from her talk thinking yes I can do this. Also as a special bonus she emailed everyone who attended her talks a set of crochet patterns of all her Australian animals, how is amazing is that!

Kerry’s stall was so much fun to visit, all her toys were flying in mid air. Even if you weren’t into crochet you fell in love with her toys. She made an interesting comment a lot of toys are made for adults or teenagers so that is why all her toys are designed so they can sit upright on a computer or shelf and not be floppy. I guess we are all big kids at heart.

I did do a hands on workshop and managed to break a sewing machine…… Ok so I don’t know if I technically broke it or I just happened to be using it when it had a hissy fit and protested. I was doing a free Janome workshop and was making an “in the hoop” pouch when I noticed the sewing machine started to skip stitches during the stitching out of the design. The machine had to be retired for the day as it needed to go off for servicing. They were going to offer to let me finish it off on another machine but I know that during shows like this timing is tight between classes that they run so I decided that I will finish it off at home. They gave me a sample one since mine didn’t work. I’ll easily be able to sew up the side seams and still use my one.

Craft show always equals shopping. This year I did have a few yarn related products I was hoping to pick up. I got a wooden yarn swift as well as some new clover crochet hooks. I picked up a ball of yarn after falling for the pattern and now I have to learn short row knitting. I was a bit indulgent and picked up some embroidery and applique packs from Sarah Fielke. Sarah is one of my favourite quilters and this year she had her own shop so I picked up a few things.

Books are always something I enjoy and this year I got a couple, mostly crochet but I also got one of Sarah’s and have also ordered another of Kerry’s too. There is just something special about holding a book in your hands.

So one tradition of the Craft and Quilt fair is the morning dance. Just before the doors open for the day stall holders come out and dance in front of the crowd. It is a bit of fun and gets everyone in the happy mood. After they dance they select people from the crowd to dance with them and they give you a lovely prize. I am happy to dance around like an idiot so this year I did it and I was given some amazing quilting templates and crafting supplies. It was fun and set the mood for the day.



Knitting Camp 17

Not this past weekend but the weekend before that I went to my first ever NSW Knitter’s Guild camp. Camp is held every 2 years. Knitters and crocheters from across the state come together for a weekend of fun and relaxation. It is not what some would think “Granny Camp” as we had members age from 17 – 90 with a lot I would say in their mid 30’s – 40’s.  This year we had a guest knitting artist (yes I would consider her an artist as what she produces is amazing) Norah Gaughan who joined us for the weekend. Norah is a really nice person and I have been told was an amazing speaker.

So what happens at knitting camp? Over the weekend a series of free workshops and talks are held that members can participate in if they wish. If you don’t want to attend any of the organised events you can just sit and knit and enjoy the company of others who all share the same interest as you. Oh and you can always shop.. Who wouldn’t want to shop for yarn supplies. On the first day we had yarn retailers set up shop in a room for the day and members could shop as they pleased throughout the day. I brought a few extra knitting needles that day to continue making WIRES pouches. On the second day Guild members who owned shops or a business set up and sold their items. I may have gone a little crazy that day. After saying no no I don’t buy more special yarn as I never do anything with it I managed to come home with some yarn. The 2 plain blue skeins are called Smurfette, how could you not fall in love with them. For some random reason the magenta yarn also appealed to me and I am not a pink person but it felt so soft (it is silk) Each of these will become some sort of shawl I think.

I attended 2 workshops over the weekend. The first was on continental knitting. Continental knitting is a style where you hold your working yarn with your left hand to make your stitches. You form your stitches in a slightly different way to regular knitting as your working yarn is coming from a different direction. Once you get used to it this style is a faster way to knit. As I crochet holding the yarn in my left hand wasn’t an issue but working it around the needles felt all foreign. It is one of those things the more you practice it the more natural it will feel. I will do a dishcloth or something simple to get myself started on it I think.

The second workshop I did was with Wendy McDougall  a professional photographer who has snapped many great Australian bands as well as Australian identities. I really want to improve my photography skills so that I can take better photos of the items I make so it was an awesome experience to do a workshop with an industry professional. Wendy went through ways to take great shots and gave us heaps of tips. We went outside and practiced what she taught us, it was fun putting theory into practice. Inside she set up some lights and a backdrop and we got to take photos in a professional type photo shoot. You would never think a photography workshop would be at knitting camp but it was perfect for us who want to take photos of our work for Instagram or our blogs or those who just want to capture for their own private memories items they have made. You work so hard in making nice things it is lovely to have photos to remember them by as most of us give away a lot of things we make.

One member Kris Howard gave a talk “Knit One Compute One” . It was a really interesting talk and I do urge you to go and watch it, this is the shorter version but there are longer ones if you google it. She went through the similarities between knitting and computer coding. In my day job I do some code writing and it had never occurred to me that it was like a knitting pattern, every time I write a code a work now I shall have a slight grin on my face and think of knitting. Kris talked about how different people across the world are combing codes into knitting patterns, I really want to do something with a code in it now.

We played games at camp including knitting blind folded which I just had to have a go of because it sounded fun, you can see an Instagram photo here. We were allowed to see our needles to cast on and do the first row then the blindfolds went on and for 3 minutes we knitted. If you are used to not looking at your work all the time but feel the stitches on the needle like a lot of us do it was pretty easy to do, the hard part was working with such large needles I am used to 4mm not 12mm which felt like broom handles in my fingers.

Our sleeping quarters had bunk beds. The last time I slept on bunk beds was over 10 years ago on Contiki, I had forgotten how small they are. We were basically only using the rooms for sleeping so it didn’t matter. I do apologise again to my roommates for my snoring though…

Camp was a lot of fun. I can’t wait for the next one in 2 years time. It was great to have a weekend where you just sat around eating, knitting and crocheting. You have a chance to indulge in yarn porn, that is correct I had a lovely sweet old lady who would be in her 70’s tell me she told her friend there is yarn porn at camp, you look at the yarn, you stroke the yarn and then decide to keep it or not….. I want to be like that lady when I am in my 70’s.



Valiant Cowl Shade 16

I love my first valiant cowl so much that I have knitted up another.

Originally I purchased 3 balls of the Noro Tokonatsu yarn all in the same colour shade 7. When I discovered this fantastic pattern by Doris and Wilfred Designs and found out I only need 1 ball to make it I went back and exchanged the other 2 balls for different colours. This is shade 16. I love this colour (perhaps even more than the blue) It is this really deep rich burnt orange, generally I am not an orange person but this colour is gorgeous. Once again I did add the extra pattern repeats to what the original pattern says, this just make it a little bit longer. It is so soft and squishy. I have been wearing my blue one a lot so I know it will be nice and warm.

This is a great little pattern and if you ever do want to spoil yourself grab a ball of this yarn and whip this up in no time.


Naughty Corner – Owl

I don’t often send projects to the naughty corner for a time out but I have decided to on this toy.

This pattern is by a designer which I have made many of her toys before and loved them but this pattern just isn’t working for me at the moment. I had gotten to this stage couple of months ago and never got back to it. I don’t know what it is about this pattern but for the moment I don’t have the enthusiasm to finish it. I have had this pattern for many years in my stash and have never made it and now I am thinking I know why… It isn’t screaming out “make me finish me” like other toy patterns have done. This was due to be a gift for my niece and I have come up with plan b (a different owl pattern) This one shall sit in the naughty corner and eventually I will finish it off and donate it to Softies for Mirabel. I hate seeing waste and if I was to just bin it (which I could never do) this would be a waste of fabric, wool felt and time so I will just set it aside for now. I’m trying to keep sewing fun for myself so I have decided if I don’t find the project fun or love it I’m not going to sew it. I’m sure this project will be fun one day but just not a the moment.


Finishing Needles

Finishing needles are something I saw in a Facebook crochet or knitting group earlier this year and I am so glad that I found these little gems.

They are a set of plastic needles that come in various sizes for use on different weight yarns. Instead of having a little eye like regular needles  they have a large eye or gap that extends down the length of the needle that you separate slightly to place your yarn though. I can easily place my thumb into the gap so you can see how easy they would be to thread your yarn into. No more yarn splitting as you try to feed it through the tiny needle eye.

They have double pointed ends allowing you to use them in any direction to weave in your end tails to finish your work. When I first saw these I thought they would be useful to join the squares of my sunny log cabin blanket together because you would use a needle to do the whip stitch with.  These were brilliant and I think one of the reasons why the blanket came together so fast including weaving all the end tails in. They work just like a regular sewing needle except easier to thread. I have used these on range of different yarns and they are great. I got mine from Crochet Australia but you can get them from various places online. I can highly recommend these. Some gadgets you won’t use a lot but these you will.



Sunny Log Cabin Progress

So after not working on my blanket for many months last week I decided to start joining the squares together and before I knew it they were all done. Just like making a traditional log cabin quilt you first needed to join the squares to form rows and then join all the rows together. They are joined with whip stitch not crochet so you get mostly invisible seams that sit pretty flat. The colour yarn you use depends on what squares you are joining, the instructions have you use a colour that matches the side of one square. The only time you may see a few tiny stitches is when you are joining the vertical end columns in the block as they don’t match your yarn colour. My gamble of not blocking the squares did actually work. Each square is the same amount of stitches on each side so when you are matching up your seams if you line up your stitches they come together, I didn’t have to really pull or push any to make them fit.

My next step is to do the border around the outside. I’m glad these are finally joined. You can actually see the pattern now formed by the different columns of colour. I haven’t taken the labels off each square yet although I could take off the ones in the middle and just leave the outer 4 squares so I know which way I am going for the border. They have waited this long they can wait a little longer.


Gertrude The Guinea Pig

There is a new lady guinea pig in town Gertrude.

Gertrude is the latest toy from Funky Friends Factory. I seem to be making a lot of Funky Friends Factory toys of late but it was love at first sight when I saw this toy and I instantly went and purchased her. She will be a gift for a 3 year old next month.

This toy is a great scrap busting project and I made her all from scraps but you could also do it from a set piece of fabric or two. This is not a difficult toy like some of the FFF toys can be but I will be honest and say I did struggle with trying to get the pattern pieces to fit with the scraps. Some pieces were easy other pieces you had to do one in reverse and it got me. I messed up 2 pieces during the cutting stage but luckily I was able to salvage them or cut more and later towards the end I discovered a big boo boo which I think related back to the cutting in reverse issue. I think if I slowed down and really thought before I cut I could have avoided a few errors but I must admit I was just wanting to jump in and make her.

Sewing wise I didn’t have really any issues with her. I did a lot of hand tacking first and she even has stuffed limbs! For those who have read my previous posts about toys know I hate sewing in stuffed limbs. I hand tacked each limb then went over each one with a basting stitch on the machine so by the time it came to sandwiching them in between a seam they were not going anywhere. On some seams as I was reversing or starting the seam my sewing throat did eat the fabric a few times, when I got to the ears which were light weight and had nothing in between them they jammed down in the feed dogs. To over come this I cut a narrow strip of tear away stabiliser (about an inch wide) and used that just under the tip of each piece. It feed much easier through my machine and didn’t jam. I then just tore it off after I finished that section. When it came to do the other end of the ear I grabbed my strip again and placed it underneath, once again it didn’t jam. I’m now going to always have a piece next to my machine to use on ends when it looks like my machine will eat the fabric. If you didn’t have tear away tissue paper or even a bit of old computer paper or envelope would also work. It was easy to pull away from the seam line at the end.

So my big boo boo. Once I had sewn on the head I noticed she had a hunchback (Kyphosis – yes I looked up the official terminology) I laughed and called her the Hunchback of Notre Piggy but she didn’t look right. At first I was going to leave her but she looked like a rhino or buffalo not a guinea pig. It was when I looked at the pattern pieces again I realised I had cut one the wrong direction or got confused which was the way I was meant to pin it on the fabric or something along those lines. At this stage I only had 2 small seams to do to close her and I really didn’t want to pull her apart and start from scratch or ditch her. I decided to do a bit of cosmetic surgery to remove her hump.

From mid way down her spine to her head I pinned her and drew a curve with a pen. I machine stitched from my original seam line on her back to down past where her head was joined. I went over the seam twice then cut the hump away with pinky shears.

She looked much better after her surgery and it was a very simple way to fix her. Ok so she is a little more rounder than the one in the picture but I have never known a skinny pig, all the ones I have ever owned became round.

Pauline has created a tutorial to go along with this toy. I only followed it in sections as the construction of this one is pretty straight forward. If I was to make another one I would as mentioned take more time to make sure all my pattern pieces were the right way up. I need to do more research on how to easily do one piece in reverse. I tend to cut my pieces double layers, for non directional fabric that isn’t an issue but if I am working with scraps or want things the same direction I need to learn some tricks. She was fairly quick to sew up. Her facial features were just some leftover wool felt scraps from my stash.

Don’t be put off by my little adventure with her she is a fantastic toy. She is a nice size too, great for cuddles, now I want to be a 3 year old so I can have one too.