Sunday, 31 May 2015

Oui Oui Henri - Mini Challenge Week 2

What a week it has been. I am still in disbelief that; a) Sophie finally had her surgery and; b) she is home already! She spent less than 24hrs in ICU and is home 5 days after surgery. We really weren't expecting this at all, first time around she was 10 days in ICU and 6 weeks in hospital all up. Crazy.
Henri - Made at the Royal Children's
Hospital Melbourne

It didn't take me long to make Henri for my Mini Challenge this week. Great pattern, easy to follow (especially when you get interrupted). It was good to have something else to focus on when Sophie was sleeping.

Sophie in ICU post op
On top of having open heart surgery, poor little Sophie has a virus, and so is a bit miserable. She may need another surgery in the future, we don't know at this stage, but it won't be anything like what she has already gone through and not for a while if she does.

Once she has fully recovered, we can get on with our lives! A holiday would be amazing... for now though, it's little steps while she mends, and on with the next thing to make!

Monday, 25 May 2015

Bonjour Henri - Mini Challenge Week 2

This week for my Mini Challenge, I am aiming to complete Henri by next Sunday, the 31st of May. I am writing this post on eve of Monday the 25th, as we once again are unsure if our daughter will be going in for surgery or not. So we keep our fingers crossed and I have my needles packed.

Henri, my little French distraction

Sunday, 24 May 2015

We have Lift Off! - Mini Challenge Week 1

I did it! I can't quite believe it, in one week, here is my rocket and astronaut by Amanda Berry at Fluff and Fuzz, my 1st toy in my 6 week Mini Challenge.
Blast Off!!

I would highly recommend this pattern, I wouldn't recommend trying to do it in a week, especially when you can only knit at night!

It's a good size, a small pillow for a child's bed. The finished rocket is about 40cm tall (including the fins) and the astronaut about 15cm tall. I did consider trying to do the pattern in the round, however I decided to knit as it was written, which I did regret when it came to sewing it up! It took a while, however I am pretty pleased with how it turned out.

I tied french knots instead of
buttons for buttons on the space suit

I love the pocket

I've not decided which pattern I will attempt next. However reading over all the patterns, it would appear I didn't chose the most difficult one first...

Stay tuned tomorrow when I'll let you know which pattern is next in my Mini Challenge.

Thursday, 21 May 2015

Fine and Dandi

I love to bake, I really really do. These days I don't do an awful lot of it I must confess. Which is sad. I'm not exactly sure why. Baking for my family and friends is one of my favourite things. I get the feeling I am still waiting for life to 'return to normal'. When we aren't waiting for Sophie to have her surgery anymore, we can get on with it.

Inspired to Iron?!
**photo from Dandi
Even though my baking has been non-existent of late, I was recently the very lucky winner of a gorgeous prize pack of goodies from Dandi. Dandi is a Sydney based design studio who design and create the most beautiful textile patterns, and turn those into equally adorable (and ridiculously useful) homewares.

In my winnings I received an ironing board cover, an apron and a heart shaped potholder. Immediately upon taking the apron and potholder out of the bag I was inspired to get into the kitchen and bake something. (The same can't be said for when I pulled ironing board cover out! Although ironing is much more appealing now)
Shake it & bake it!

There is no doubt that hot scones with jam and fresh whipped cream is my one weakness (of many). So in the interests of getting baking,
I am going to share my favourite, and extremely easy, scone recipe;

2 Cups S/R Flour
1/2 Cup Thickened Cream
3/4 Cup Milk (take the chill off in microwave) ** Tip, if you'd like hot date scones, cut up a few dried dates and throw them in with the milk.

Pre-heat oven to 210 Degrees Celsius

Mix all ingredients together gently with a butter knife until combined. Place dough on a floured bench and gently press flat to about 3cm thick. Cut out, and bake on a floured tray for approximately 10mins, or until slightly golden on the edges.
Fresh out of the oven

Pop them out on a cake cooler and cover with a tea towel to keep them warm, add your favourite condiment and enjoy with a lovely hot cuppa.


What baked goods do you like to make? Or eat for that matter?

Monday, 18 May 2015

A Fluffy, Fuzzy Adventure

Too much for 1 week?!
I'm kicking off my Fluff and Fuzz Mini Challenge with Amanda Berry's Space Rocket and Astronaut. I hope I've started with the most challenging one first, although I've never cabled anything before which is why I bought Miles... Hmm, I guess we'll see how it goes! I couldn't very well take on this fluffy fuzzy challenge without asking Amanda about her Handmade Adventure;

How and when did Fluff and Fuzz come about?

I have been knitting since I was a little girl, and always loved making toys. I started designing my own toy patterns about six years ago, and at the time, there were very few patterns for toys that were written for a beginner knitter. I wanted to start writing patterns that were easier for knitters of all abilities to follow, and that is what I set out to do with fluff and fuzz. I started selling my designs in 2010, I started with 5 designs, and have grown with some amazing fans and customers ever since. Oh, and fluff and fuzz were the names of my pet hamsters, sadly no longer with us, but as my own name Amanda Berry was already taken on sites like Etsy and so on, I decided to adopt fluffandfuzz as my user name!

Red Riding Hood

Are you self taught at knitting and writing patterns?


Yes, I have been teaching myself to knit for years, although my Mum taught me the real basics when I started. There is always something new to learn, and thankfully YouTube makes everything easier to understand these days!

I knew I should've gotten Eric!
What is your favourite pattern?

Erik the Viking
! He is a design I had wanted to make for ages, and I finally found the time to make him last year. He has been so popular, and I have had so many requests for other designs of dolls, that I am slowly working through all the requests to expand my doll range.

What do you love most about what you do?
Senor Hector... argh too cute!

I love working for myself, and being able to respond and react to my customers is great and something I have never been able to do in other jobs. It isn’t always heaven to be your own boss, I have had a lot of long days knitting through the night ... I am a tough boss, I don’t get a lot of time off! But when I get lovely feedback about my designs, that makes everything worthwhile!

Do you have any new patterns in the pipeline?

Well I am working on expanding my doll range (so many customer requests!) and have a Robin Hood, Princess, Frankenstein and Dracula in the pipeline. I also have a half-finished cockatoo in my work-box, and some pretty rough sketches for a camel and piranha fish which I hope to get to work on before the summer.

Where are you planning on going next on your handmade adventure?

Well I would like to write a book of toys (hopefully one day!), but at the moment I am just enjoying the ride!

Moss the Sheep - Told you it was hard to chose!

That's Amanda's story. I'll let you know on Sunday if I've managed to turn a ball of wool into a rocket and an astronaut...

Saturday, 16 May 2015

Fluff and Fuzz Mini Challenge!!

Ok, I am really starting to lose my focus. Little Sophie was once again turned away from surgery last week. We were at the hospital before the sun came up, all the other kids had gone in for their surgeries from pre-op, and there we were, waiting, and waiting. No bed in ICU again, so we went out for breakfast...

My Handmade Challenge list is being ignored, well not completely, I am occasionally picking up Sophie's cardigan to work on. I am blaming the fact that the spare room, where my sewing machine and all other crafty goods belong, is currently in a state of much disarray. I don't even have a table at which to set up my sewing machine (it is living on the floor since I sold our bookcases).

So I have come up with a solution, MINI CHALLENGE! Now I hear you say; "that doesn't sound like a solution" and to be perfectly honest, it's not. It's just another distraction, but also a chance to finally make myself some Fluff and Fuzz by Amanda Berry that I have been drooling over.

6 Awesome Toys in 6 Weeks!

I have just purchased 6 Fluff and Fuzz patterns (it was extremely difficult to limit myself to just 6). The challenge is for me to make one a week for the next 6 weeks starting this Monday (18th May)... eeeep! I will reveal if I have succeeded (or failed) each Sunday.

Also, keep your eyes peeled for a feature on Amanda and her Handmade Adventure in the coming days.

Right, now to decide which awesome pattern should kick off this challenge!

Wednesday, 13 May 2015

Pansy, Fern & April - Delightful Dolls

A few months back, my folks visited Tasmania. They went to the Salamanca Markets which are amazing (my husband and I went on our honeymoon). At the markets, my mum stumbled across a lady making the most stunning little dolls and had to bring one back to the mainland for our Sophie.

Sophie's Doll - Pansy, Fern & April

After Sophie had received her doll, I was so impressed that I got in touch Jenny, the talent that is Pansy, Fern & April, and asked about her Handmade Adventure. Without further ado, in Jenny's own words;

My Mum and I started the business in 2001 after we had moved to Tassie (Tasmania) from Adelaide. We lived in a lovely old farmhouse with a brilliant separate studio and made lots of lovely things including embroidered handbags and cushions, ceramic buttons for embroiderers, embroidery kits, painted cloth dolls and doll house dolls (among other things!)  We sold them at craft fairs around Tassie, mostly at Salamanca Markets in Hobart.

Ballerina Doll
In 2005 I became ill with chronic fatigue syndrome and couldn’t really do much for a couple of years. Mum and Dad looked after me and it was good having the crafty things to do as I could make something when I had the energy. This kept me going, and gradually I got back into things.

Over the years, the little dolls became our biggest seller, so we concentrated on them and developed lots of different ones. I use lots of different techniques to make them, some from my background in embroidery design (I worked as a teacher and project designer for ‘Inspirations’ embroidery magazine before we left Adelaide) and some from my background in drawing and painting.

They're off to see the Wizard!

Mum retired from the business a few years ago when she became ill, so now I am all three- Pansy, Fern & April! Split personality! I think I must be a bit mad to make so many of these things but people love them.

I make the dolls full time. Selling them at Salamanca Market in Hobart on Saturdays. This is the best outdoor market in Australia and well worth a visit. I also sell online via Etsy and to shops in Tassie and on the mainland.  Being at the market every week is handy though, as I get lots of customer feedback - from my little customers too. I remember once being told by a small boy that my Santa was too skinny... he was right!

Rapunzel Rapunzel
The doll designs just appear in my head- as soon as I think of a new one, there it is! I have a separate room in the house to work in. It’s amazing how much stuff you need to make something so small. I love being my own boss- never was very good at taking suggestions. I also love the little dolls- they all have their own character, no matter how many I make. And this can be a great many, especially just before Christmas.

Other things I like to do when I have time are watercolour painting, painted cloth dolls, embroidery (I love traditional cross stitch samplers) and my dogs get really cranky if I don’t take them for a decent walk every day! 


If you have some little people to buy for (or even if you don't) I highly recommend getting your hands on a doll from Pansy, Fern & April.

Sunday, 3 May 2015

Handmade Challenge April Update

It's May?! Wow, we got here fast. I didn't actually make anything off my list in April. I figured I already have 5 in the bag, I could take a little break (I know I'll pay for this come December!)

Here is a re-cap of what I've made thus far;

1. Crochet Cake   2. Crochet Pear   3. Love Heart Pinata   4. Royal Icing Cookies   5. Easter Bunny Egg Cosies

Instead of making anything from my Handmade Challenge List, here are a few other projects I have been working on in April;

A mobile for a Labyrinth themed baby nursery! I LOVE the film Labyrinth, and when our friends announced that they were going Labyrinth for baby #2, I just had to be involved.

Goblin King Mobile

The pattern for the owl is called The Obligatory Owl by Sara Elizabeth Kellner and can be downloaded for free on ravlery.

I have also started making felt signs which I am looking to place in an online Etsy shop! It all started because Amy at My Little Play Pack was looking for some playroom signs and I couldn't bring myself to get rid of my accucut machine.

These 'Play' banners (pink and blue options) will be available only through My Little Play Pack. However once our little girl is through her final heart surgery, I am going to get into full swing of production of some other designs I have been working on.

So that's where I am up to. How is your handmade challenge list progressing?