Friday, December 31, 2010

PHB: Day 4&5

After the trauma of having yet another heel-prick test done (my babies are pincushions!!) the new kid looks remarkably calm and so cosy in a merino handknitted vest which I scored for all of about $10 plus postage from someone on The Nappy Network forum.

PHB: Day 3

Day 3 was transfer day: from the big hospital in the city with loads of noisy alarm bells going off at the midwives' station right across from my room... to the maternity unit in the 'burbs where I had a lovely quiet room with a shared courtyard right outside (complete with garden, benches and the occasional leaf-blower keeping it beautiful).

Taking up loads of bedspace is the new kid, still sporting the cotton beanie that I knitted, and the lovely cream garter-stitch cardigan my mother knitted - originally for the wee guy but she's as bad as me (or is it the other way around??) at not finishing crafty projects.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

PHB Day 1&2 (6-7 December 2010)

Hmm, bit of a delay in getting the photos up. The New Kid's arrival into the world was a little dramatic and traumatic all round so it has taken a few weeks to get back to a tiny bit of normality.

SO! Here's Project Handmade Baby: Day 1 and Day 2

I had a well stocked bag of knitted and sewn goodies along with the staple onesies and gowns in neutral colours, but made sure I had a good selection. And hooray I managed to start right from Day 1!

The New Kid is sporting a natural cotton beanie which I knitted in a slightly generous premmie size, but it's super stretchy and still fits him (phew!). He's also wearing a darling cream wool cardigan knitted by my mum. I wasn't able to move much in the first couple of days so he did wear the same outfit both days.

And yes, it's another boy! Everyone was so sure it would be a girl... I tried not to listen to inklings so would be surprised either way. And I love him.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Project Handmade Baby!

Yay! Launch time!

I have spent much time and effort getting things ready before the arrival of our second baby who will be the model/guineapig/subject for PHB: Project Handmade Baby.

On the occasional blog-hop I've been inspired by different little things. A design student who challenged herself to only wear clothing and shoes made by her for a year. Mothers who challenge themselves to make new things for their wee ones. Mothers who use their maternity leave time to have creative hobbies as their side project ... oh how I miss Mila's Daydreams!

SO! Here's the deal with PHB. Project Handmade Baby: A fun project with creative outlet for me, and also hopefully a chance to introduce you to some of my dear friends who also ride the geek wave and blog.

The Challenge:
Every day for his/her first year of life, my second child will wear at least one piece of handmade clothing.

The Rules:
  • 365 days duration, starting from day of birth
  • Photo to be taken of what is worn each day
  • Handmade clothing includes handknits, crocheted items and sewn garments
  • Clothing may be full-cover headwear, underwear (including nappies), tops, bottoms, dresses (if it’s a girl), overalls, footwear
  • Clothing may be made by me (bonus points), a family member, a friend, purchased (brand new or second-hand), gifted to us, handed down or on loan (bonus points)
  • Clothing from mass-produced origin with embellishment by hand is last resort only (eg. A bonds singlet with hand-embroidery, a onesie with appliqué etc.)
  • Items may be worn more than one day in a row – it is a baby after all!

Reasons for PHB:

  • Inspiration from a conversation: “A baby in (major baby retail label) looks like a little person, but a baby in knitwear looks like a baby.”
  • Save money
  • Increase my knitting repertoire and skills
  • Have another excuse to have some 'Me Time' at my sewing machine, and use up some of my fabric stash
  • Support local crafty types who make beautiful handmade goodness

So... that's the first project launched, I'm sure you can all guess what the other project I've been working on for the last few months is!


Friday, December 03, 2010

PHB Prep: Little Shoes

When I was younger I learnt how to knit. Just the one way: needle in, wool around, needle through, stitch off. Mum wrote those instructions on a little square of paper for me and I knitted my first peggy square at age 5. Sure, there were holes and added stitches, but boy was I proud!

Two decades later I'd barely done any knitting, but still retained the little square of paper as a memory.

I decided to try my hand at knitting again. I tried to learn to purl. Fail.

I learnt how to cast on, but was doing it wrong so my cast-ons were terribly loopy.

Thanks to the patient minds and clever hands of mum, my aunty and my cousin's wife, I relearnt how to knit, then I learnt how to purl, and started creating a bit more. Scarves were my staple creative diet.

Then motherhood came. Beanies were made, I even managed to make most of a 3-6mo sized cardigan (shock! horror!) which my mother-in-law finished off for me. Gotta love nimble fingers when I'm a verrrry slow knitter...

When I started thinking of PHB I remembered that my sister a) had told me that "anyone can knit booties" and b) owned the most delicious hard-cover spiral-bound book called 50 baby bootees to knit by Zoe Mellor. I'd marked half a dozen pages with little boots, slippers and funny footwear to put in my order for my the wee guy 2 years earlier but as my super-busy sister hadn't quite finished any I thought I might just try my hand at knitting booties. (I know the spelling's different... I like it my way!)

WELL I have since knitted at least half a dozen pairs, gifted two to friends' daughters and put some aside for PHB. Pictured is my favourite pattern - some simple contrast-edged slippers that I've made the most pairs of. I used some alpaca-virgin-blend wool and edged it with 12-ply felted lambswool. They're deliciously soft and are a beautiful deep brown, and although the wool sheds a bit it was sooo lovely to work with.

More soon.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Newest Project... a little taster

Again, sorry, my bad for being non-existent in the world of blogging. I've been busy building up to my 2 new projects!

Soooo I'll give you a taster of one of them.

"PHB" (I'll tell you very VERY soon what PHB stands for, promise!!).

During a conversation a long time ago (months? perhaps over a year ago?) with a teaching colleague about dressing little ones, we were talking at length about how lovely it is to put something on your baby that you, or someone you know, has made for them.

This colleague and I share the experience of having babies prematurely who then spent time in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. When you reach the milestone of them leaving the incubator for a thermacot or open bassinette, you get to raid The Closet - which had me tickled pink! This is the closet where they keep all the clothes you can dress your babes in while they're still "inside". There were oodles of beautifully knitted cardigans, vests, bootees and beanies from crafty and generous ladies all around this fair city... and I will never forget finding the teeniest (mismatched) set of white and lemon knitted goodies to dress my son in. His first outfit (apart from the cotton all-in-one jumpsuit) looked snug and sweet, and represented hours of busy fingers, working needles and wool into sweet little garments for our precious bundles.

A lovely NZ young'uns retail giant whose name sounds kinda like 'Bump'n Catch' makes some beautiful baby garments and clothing for kidlets, and we have both had mixed success with the long-term durability of their clothes despite them generally always looking pretty darn cool when you put them on. There's something about a little boy in little dungarees! I digress. As usual. It's also kinda fun to turn up to coffee meets or check out friends' Facebook photos and say "Oh my (insert gender here) has that (insert garment here) too, isn't it CUTE!!!".

Soooo after this conversation about "Bump'n Catch" and handmade garments/blankets, I kept having a piece of it repeating in my head like those lines of songs that can bug you all day. (Or if you're a singer like me, it'll bug you, your spouse, kids, friends, etc...!!) "A baby in "Bump'n Catch" looks like a miniature kid, but a baby in knitwear looks like a baby."

It got me thinking.

A few weeks later my own fingers started getting busy with needles and yarn. Then a few more weeks later I had a really great idea for a new project. Then I stumbled on a few blogs whilst blog-hopping (geeky I know, but I love a good blog-hop once in a while!) that helped me flesh out a few details for the project. Then a few more weeks later, I had a really good reason to kick-start PHB.

I've been knitting (I'm very slow...), sewing, scouring second-hand sales when I am let loose from the house, and gearing up for PHB. Despite warnings from well-meaning family that it might be too much hard work while the other 'project' is kicking off, I think I'm prepared enough for the start date in the next couple of weeks.

More soon.

(Picture at the top shows the wee guy wearing my first ever attempt at a beanie, which I made whilst holed up in a hospital room before his imminent, early arrival. Very therapeutic job it was. I showed EVERYONE who came to visit me.)

Friday, May 28, 2010

I love my mama.

This week I'm a bit obsessed and giggly about the 'Perfect' guy from the 'Perfect Italiano Ricotta Cheese' ads - check out here on youtube if you haven't seen him already. I've been randomly quoting bits on my facebook page, around my house, in public and now here.

"Sometimes, when I cook, I weep." has to be the favourite!!

He often chucks in there "I love my mama." Well this week I'm really really really loving my mama! Three visits in three days to a grandson who adores her, one bucket full of feijoas, and a fruit bowl full of lemons. And brought along a darling hooded creamy super-softie alpaca/silk blend toddler cardigan she's knitting from a pattern I bought, made with bamboo, and passed on to the other grandmother who's making a dark grey woollen version.My sister and mother (both gardeners and landscapers extraordinaire) have offered to pass on recipes for the feijoas, but thus far I've certainly enjoyed just slicing them in half, scooping out the homegrown goodness and occasionally sneaking in a sprinkling of organic sugar to complement the tartness of the firmer ones.

As for the lemons, I have a recipe from this book (picked up brand spankers for less than NZ$20 at a book party thingie) which never fails for a concentrate lemonade syrup. Adding hot water or soda water to that...



Friday, March 26, 2010

I've only been sitting on these for what, 2 months?

Balloon bottom rompers. They've been sitting in a beautiful pile for weeeeeks and weeks waiting for me to get them photographed and listed on Felt, and into a store. I didn't realise how many weeks it'd take me to 'recover' from Rowing Season 2009/10. But here they are now, and there are some boy ones in production too, but these will be appearing next summer. Along with some new cutesy girl designs. Yes I'm unstoppable/insatiable/addicted/all of the above. Our lovely friends from Top Shelf Media transformed our home for a couple of hours and we had loads of fun dressing the wee guy up and keeping him entertained. Legendary man behind the camera indeed.

Already a darling friend has whipped up one of the 12-18 month sets of reversible rompers (I LOVE reversible stuff!!) for her little one... how encouraging!

Naomi the Janome kept me so happy throughout, with some beautiful stitching around the appliques and handling my ever-increasing demands for ensuring things look just as good one way as they do the other. I think I'll buy her some new needles for a treat.

Monday, March 01, 2010

Finding my Fingers

While holed up in hospital for weeks expecting to be whisked into surgery any day to prematurely deliver the wee guy, I decided I was going to be one of those mums that knitted. I set to, and knitted a prem baby hat for him and showed every visitor my efforts when I'd finished. It was supposed to be a ribbed bottom (as in the picture) but it ended up being moss stitch ... I didn't know I had anything other than garter or stocking stitch in me!
We were blessed with six weeks more than initially expected, so I managed a second attempt and made him a beanie with the single rib at the bottom. I can't remember or find the website where I got the pattern so sadly can't publicly thank them (sob!). He wore the beanie while he was hanging out with us for some good ol' kangaroo care before being returned to his incubator. Great therapy for mum and bub.

I've also knitted a cardy for the wee guy out of beautiful bamboo, kindly finished by my mother-in-law who is something of a knitting maven. Among other projects I've also finished a knitted lambie for a friend's new baby which I was most proud of, even if it screamed home-made with its slightly wonky legs.

The latest project to adorn my bedside table is a pattern for a pair of pants for the wee guy, along with my rough start efforts. Forgetting temporarily how to correctly increase stitches the right way has resulted in rather a bumpy beginning, but hopefully I can hide them in the final sew-up. I've had to alter the pattern in the process though as the wee guy has inherited my extra-long pins, and knitted capris on a boy won't cut it.

As with all my knitting projects, it's just taking a reeeeallllly long time (said in my best whiney voice!). At the rate I'm going he'll grow out of them after maybe two wears. Hmm... deja vu??!!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

One little picture. So many bits of life.

It's not a perfect shot, it's not a posed shot. It may not look like much to you even. These two boys are looking a little shabby (and one is trying to steal even more of the other's drink...) but I could just look at this shot for ages. It says so much to me.

The first EVER bib I made way back in 2008. I loved it so much I made 2 more for a friend for her baby shower. Someone commented at the baby shower that it was a Gay Pride bib... I hadn't made it with that in mind, but ok! Whatever you like. It's still in great nick after the wee guy's spilt milk, spilly reflux, first foods, colourful foods, and many stormy trips through the washing machine. goshorty.

My husband of four years, back from a week away at training camp.

My darling friend's four children on the calendar behind (I left up my December darlings well into January, I couldn't bear to put them away!).

Milk moustache? Pah. Try drinking chocolate face-ring. Much more impressive.

My Sabco floor swiffer. It's microfibre, wet & dry, and is a dream for keeping my tiles clean. I have two feet for it and it's used SO often and still comes up as good as new in the wash. I don't even need to use any chemicals to clean the floor. ahhhh, Earth Motherly goodness.

My wine rack with bottles still in their gift-wrapped state. One day I'll stop breastfeeding and then they'll be fearing for their lives!

T-shirt applique-ing. I didn't do the adidas applique (obviously!) but I am applique-crazy right now.

Those two boys mean everything to me. I have been very blessed indeed!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Ask and you shall receive...

Some of my customers live overseas, and some send overseas. I am so proud to be called a New Zealand designer! New Zealand has a rich and beautiful history which I loved studying while at university - particularly the concept of one's Hawaiki. The general gist for those not in the know is that the indigenous people of New Zealand came from a place called Hawaiki - Pacific Nations people migrated in their canoes from Hawaiki to various Pacific Islands, New Zealand being one of them.

Many who now reside in New Zealand have a Pacific Island as their Hawaiki, and looking at the beautiful pattern of paua (or abalone for foreigners, hehe!) always takes me back to my Pacific studies, and a trip to the Cook Islands to teach some darling children gave me the opportunity to gather more pictures for the album of memories in my mind. The gentle waves and rich blues remind me of the ocean around Rarotonga and Atiu, and of the relaxed way of going about life that I lived in Atiu.

A couple of customers, and a stockist, were chatting with me about some garments and accessories that were Kiwiana themed, but not in a tacky obvious sense (thank goodness!). I've also had many customers grateful for the dresses I've made that are not pink as it's such a sea of pink in stores across the region. I did some thinking, some shopping, some designing, some fishing out of an applique design I used on a skirt made from a pair of jeans in 2002 (remember how cool that was in the early 2000s?!!) and I came up with this darling.

And oh how much fun I had making my own bias binding to match!

The NenaBella dress in Pacifica Paua.