Category Archives: craft

20 for 2020: week 33

Week of 10 August

My 20 for 2020 list.

What did I want to do better this week?
Start packing up at 10.15.
Schedule 15 minutes of creative time every day and do it.

So how did that go then?
That did not go well. By the weekend I had I only gone to bed on time on Monday. One night I didn’t get to bed until 11.30. I didn’t sleep well that night and I woke up at some stupid time in the morning beginning with a 4. Not surprisingly, my sleep score has been down this week too.

I’m also struggling with the 15 minutes of creative time. I had it scheduled for 5pm, which is probably a completely unsuitable time so I need to rethink this one. The days I have stuck to it, it hasn’t been at 5pm and I’ve worked for a lot longer than 15 minutes because I was enjoying it. I’ve probably done the whole week’s 15 minutes in one or two days. Much as I appreciate the idea of doing 15 minutes every day, I’m not making it work, so I need to review that one as well.

On to 20 for 2020
I got a phone call from the sewing machine guy on Monday afternoon (thing 2). He said he was leaving his last job and asked if now was a good time for me. It was fine. I was home and I’d finished work, so I told him to come over. Because it was so unexpected, I started freaking out that someone was coming to my house in 20 minutes. Frantic moving things off the sewing machine cabinet for him to be able to access it. Wondering why I have never put my graduate diploma on the wall and just left it propped up against the cabinet since I’ve been in this house. (Thinking that, all going well, in three months time I will have a newer one to put next to it.)

People who haven’t known me long are surprised when they find out I have a sewing machine. I guess I don’t talk about it now that I don’t actually use it. In the past, my one sewing job a year was a Book Week costume for Kramstable but I stopped doing that around grade 5 when he started to put his own costumes together. Long-time readers might remember that these were long, drawn-out affairs, where my vision and enthusiasm were unmatched by my skill, but somehow I managed to pull off some pretty good costumes. I’m not sure if I was more proud of the cat outfit (for the Cat in the Hat) or of the Dame Washalot outfit that I designed the pattern for myself based on illustrations in the Faraway Tree, having absolutely no clue what I was doing.

And I don’t think I’m creative. Pffft. Begone, doubters.

The sewing machine guy arrived. After giving him a vague description of the problem (“It doesn’t work”) I left him to it.

(It is a slightly more specific problem than that, for which I had initially sought advice from sewing friends and the internet, because I thought maybe it was a setting I’d mucked up somewhere and that I just needed to move a few dials and everything would be back to normal. Clearly, given I had to call in an expert, this was not the case, though I still had doubts about my ability to use the machine properly and set it up to work.)

He spent a bit of time doing fidgety-looking stuff to it and pulling bits off. This involved a highly vile smelling oil that I feel is going to linger in my room for the next week and him holding various bits and pieces up to the light. I heard him say a few things like, “oh, that shouldn’t happen”  and, if nothing else, I was relieved that there actually was something wrong with the machine and it wasn’t just me not knowing what lever to move.

The verdict, after all that, was that it was a workshop job, not something he could fix at my house. He would have to pull it apart and it would cost at least $150, more if any parts were needed. I don’t know how much the machine was worth as I got it as a gift, but his advice was that I’d be throwing good money after bad if I tried to get it fixed and that for not much more than the repair cost I could buy a new machine that would be more suitable for what I use it for. It wouldn’t have all the features of this one, but given that I never used them anyway, this wouldn’t be a problem.  From what I understand, this is a lower-priced machine trying to cram in features of a higher-priced machine and not succeeding very well. Apparently, this brand performs very well at the high end of the market with machines that do fancy stitching and embroidery but that this doesn’t translate to the lower end of the market, which is where I am firmly planted.

So there you have it. After two years and two lists, I have still not got my sewing machine fixed but at least now I know it isn’t worth fixing and can decide where to go from here.

I also had to borrow some money from Kramstable to pay for the service call because he’s the only person in the house who has any cash. How awkward is that!

20200811 Sandy Bay Rd & Queen St 356pm

Sandy Bay Tuesday afternoon. From Hobart Street Corners.

The only other thing I worked on this week was my uni work (thing 8), which is going to have to be my focus for the next nine weeks. This mostly involved a very long, agonising process in which I made a decision about the workplace project I want to work on for this unit. I had to submit a draft 500-word project proposal on Sunday so that the unit facilitator could give feedback and direction to make sure it’s on the right track and is gong to be manageable in the time I have to do it. (Did I mention that it’s only nine weeks? No pressure.)

500 words.


I spoke to the facilitator on Friday about it because I wasn’t sure if what I wanted to do was appropriate, especially since it’s not a project that is directly relevant to my workplace. She said it absolutely was, so all I had to do was get an official tick from the relevant person at work and submit the proposal. As of Friday afternoon, I hadn’t been able to make contact with the manager I needed the okay from and I had a 1500-word proposal. This left me with the weekend to think of all sorts of reasons why work wouldn’t support me and to cut 1000 words out of the document.

One of these things I had control over and one I didn’t. I decided to focus my attention on the one that I did have control over, hard it was to try and put the doubts aside. What reassured me was that other people I had spoken to, including people in the area that the work most directly related to, were positive about the idea and thought it would be valuable work.

And if worst came to absolute worst, the facilitator said that if I don’t get my work’s support to do this work, it will be possible to throw the whole thing out and start again with something else.

I hope it doesn’t come to that!

And I submitted the proposal, without having any authority to do it, but minus 1000 words, on Saturday afternoon. A whole day early.

Now, I wait.

What did I do well or what did I achieve? (Did I do what I said I wanted to do better?)
My biggest achievement this week was to make the decision on the project I wanted to do. This might not sound like much, but making that decision was actually a huge thing for me.

What didn’t go so well?
I think we know that already.

What do I want to do better next week?
Go to bed on time.
Plan my days and stick to the plan. This will be really important over the next two months as I complete my uni work.
Abandon the idea of 15 minutes of creative time every day and find two time blocks within the week when I can work on my creative projects.

20200816 The Sea Priestess

This week’s reading. This had been on my bookshelf unread for at least 15 years.

Summary for the week

  • Things completed this week: 0
  • Things completed to date: 11 (1, 3, 4, 5, 6, 10, 14, 15, 16, 18, 20)
  • Things I progressed: 2 (2, 8)
  • Things in progress I didn’t progress: 5 (7, 11, 13, 17, 22)
  • Things not started: 4 (9, 12, 19, 21)
  • Days I stuck to my 15 minutes creative habit: 2
  • Days I read a book: 7
  • Days I did yoga stretches: 0
  • Days I was in bed by 10.30: 3

crafty fails – the end of the story

Someone asked me today whether I’d finished my scrapbooking organiser. You remember, the one that ended up covered in white paint . . .

Well yes. I’m pleased to say that the salvage operations were successful and I have a functional (not white) crafty organiser.

Here’s the finished product.

ImageAs you can see, it has lots of card-sized compartments. The outside ones hold 3×4 cards and the inner ones hold the 6×4 cards.

Like this:

ImageI was surprised that the entire contents of my Project Life Sunshine kit fitted in a 3×4 compartment and a 6×4 compartment with still heaps of space to spare.

ImageI’ve also put in the packs of Project Life theme cards that I recently got.

ImageWhat I did was cut down the cover sheet of the packs to 6×4, cut off the title of the pack to use as a tab, and make the cover sheet into a divider to keep the theme kits together in one place and organised. Pretty neat hey.


crafty fails

Today I was going to post a photo of my super new scrapbooking organiser that I was going to use for my Project Life supplies this year. I was going to have it all set up today, with all the cards neatly organised and it was going to look brilliant.

I decided to use the “Magic Happens” collection from Kaisercraft on this project, because it’s cute and has fairies and stars, and I don’t get much opportunity to use it on scrapbooking layouts.

This is the product, from Kaisercraft.

There are a couple of examples of what it could look like on that page.

Mine currently looks like this:

ImageI’ve only ever done one similar project, a desk caddy, and I remember it took me a long time to finish. There were a few little tricks and tips that I probably picked up during that project, but had totally forgotten about when it came time to do this one.

So for my own future reference, here are some things to keep in mind when putting together one of these “beyond the page” products.

All of these are extremely obvious to anyone except me.

  1. If you’re covering any of the panels in paper, only do the inside walls and panels before you put the thing together. If you want the paper to cover the join between the panels and the base, don’t cover the outside panels until you’ve put the thing together.
  2. If you do cover the outside panels first, only cut out the slots on the inside. Don’t cut out the slots on the outside or you’ll be able to see the bottom of the tabs when it’s assembled. (Yes, I really did this. Luckily I had another sheet of the paper so I could cover it over again.)
  3. Paint getting into the slots where the tabs of the panels goes makes the slot thicker and makes it harder to slide the tabs together. Don’t get paint in there, or the whole thing will not go together very easily. (Hammer anyone?)
  4. The chipboard drawers are horrible. If anyone knows how to get them to hold together, I’d love to know.
  5. The recommendation in the instructions that you cover the entire front panel, including the front of the drawer, with a single piece of paper results in a lovely unbroken look, but it is a pain in the arse to get lined up exactly.

Anyway having learned all this the hard way, by lunch time today (I’ve been working on this on and off over the last few days, sticking, painting, waiting for stuff to dry) everything was finished and all I needed to do was seal it with a coat of Gesso.

Sorry, you said Gesso?

Yeah. That’s the stuff that seals everything so the paper will be a bit more durable. I used it on the desk caddy I did a couple of years ago. It gives it a nice finish. Goes on white, dries clear.

Um, are you sure you mean Gesso?

Yeah, Gesso. Look – it “creates a smooth, sealed white painting surface . . .” ohhhhhh


It doesn’t dry clear does it?


I was supposed to used Mod Podge wasn’t I?


Ohhhhhhhh . . .

And what was the damage after that little painting frenzy? Let’s see . . . the base, the back, the side that I’d already re-covered once because point 2 above, the front that I had painstakingly managed to keep as an unbroken piece to line up with the drawer (point 5), and of course, the drawer itself.

All white.

Oh yeah.

Ohhhhh shit.

Salvage operations are currently underway.

Book Week – the result

Since I wrote about the fun I had with making Juniordwarf’s Book Week costume, I thought I should post a picture of the result.

So here it is.

Hat by Spotlight. Makeup by Slabs. Cat-like outfit by me.

Unfortunately the photos don’t show the tail. The skill, imagination and improvisation used to create the final part of the costume should put me fairly and squarely in the running for Crafty Mama of the Year.


This week is Book Week. Juniordwarf’s school is having a Book Week Parade and the kids are all encouraged to dress up as a character from their favourite book.

Two years ago he wanted to be The Very Hungry Caterpillar, and I did this.

Last year he was a pirate, which was easy because he already had a pirate costume.

This year he said he wanted to be The Cat In The Hat.

I figured this wouldn’t be too hard, and set about planning how I was going to do this.

I always thought one of the fun things about primary school-age kids would be doing stuff like making costumes. You know, in all that spare time I have.


I can remember my mother making me a Wild Thing costume in primary school for something our class was doing around the book Where The Wild Things Are.

(It looked like this:)

I assume I could actually breathe in this outfit
I figured if my mother could create such a thing out of an old blanket, I could come up with a cat costume pretty easily. Black pants, a black and white top, a tail and OH MY GOODNESS, HOW THE HELL DO YOU MAKE HATS?
(Luckily a nearby craft supply store just happened to stock red and white striped hats exactly like the one the Cat in the Hat wears, which I discovered when I went in to get my supplies for this crafty endeavour. Enormous relief.)
I got out the sewing machine. Yes, the very same sewing machine I got for Xmas two years ago and had not actually used. The same sewing machine listed at Number 24 on my 100 things to do in 2013 list (24. Sew something. Anything. Just use the damn sewing machine!).
Once I worked out how to thread it (which could be a whole post in itself – my mother’s old basic Bernina it is not), it was time for action.
The black pants were going to be easy. I based them on the same pattern I used for the caterpillar costume.
OK, not quite so easy. Fluffy polar fleece isn’t quite as easy to sew as I thought it would be. I mean, it moves when you sew it. What kind of sorcery is this?
Anyway, I got there eventually. The pants were done. I’m totally rocking this crafty mama thing.
I didn’t have any sweatshirt patterns. No drama. How hard can it be? It’s just four pieces, right? A front, a back and two sleeves. So I can just trace one of his sweatshirts and copy that.
Seam allowance? Pfft, who needs that? It’s a cat outfit. It’s meant to be tight.
See, it fits him.
Oh, you know what? You should have sewed the sleeves into the shoulders before you sewed up the side seams.
Well, I’ll just trace the top of the sleeve using the arm hole as a guide, extend it to the length of his arm, and narrow it in at the bottom. Then I can just sew the sleeve in to the arm hole. No worries.
True. In most garments, the sleeves actually join up under the arm.
By this time I was getting somewhat frustrated at this whole exercise. Who said the crafty mama thing was fun? I actually wanted to do this? What was I thinking?
Juniordwarf was watching me. “So I don’t think this is going to be a very good costume,” I said to him.
He looked at me.
Then he said, “I don’t mind. It doesn’t have to be perfect. In fact, I don’t want it to be perfect.”
I thought back to where I’d heard this before. It had come from Juniordwarf’s teacher. His class is doing Art this term, and the teacher has been stressing the point very strongly that their art doesn’t have to be perfect and it doesn’t matter if it doesn’t look exactly like what they’re drawing and painting or if it doesn’t look the same as anyone else’s work. The idea is to capture what they see and reproduce it the way they see it themselves – so how one child sees something and draws it will be different to how any other child sees it.
The displays around the classroom are testament to this, and it’s fascinating to see each child’s style in their work.
While I was thinking about this, Juniordwarf then proceeded to quote what I’ve often said to him, right back at me. “It doesn’t matter if you make a mistake. We all make mistakes. Mistakes are how we learn.”
And you know what struck me most? That while I’m encouraging him not to be hard on himself and not set himself impossible standards, I continue to expect myself to be perfect and to never make a mistake.
It’s not going to be enough for him to hear these messages is it? I can’t really tell him not to seek perfection if I continue to expect it of myself. He’ll catch on to that one day, and how am I going to explain that?
“Well . . . it’s OK for you not to do things perfectly, but I’m different. I have to.”
Not really convincing is it? I’m not different.
So for him to truly embrace these messages, he has to see them in action. That means he has to see me make mistakes and see how I learn from them. He has to see me accept less than perfect. He has to know that I believe what I’m saying. And therefore, I have to believe it.
Maybe I should go back to Grade 1.

(P.S. Costume is not quite finished . . . but it will fit him and I expect it will hold together for a day. So all is well.)

P365 – Day 361 – the pirate caterpillar (and year in review 8/12)

Juniordwarf helped me in the garden.
What I mean is, he played in his sandpit while I spent hours clearing out vegetation from various parts of our yard. Then he wanted me to fill his little clam shell pool up.
I didn’t want to say no, because I’d already told him we weren’t going to the pool today and I didn’t want to disappoint him again. But the clam shell pool is located off to the side of the house, under shadecloth, in the fenced off area where the dog can’t go, and I was working in the main yard.
He’s not at the age where he can be left unsupervised in water, so I had a problem.
Luckily there was a shady area just near where I was working, and the beauty of the clam shell pool is that it can be detached from the sand pit part and moved. So that’s what I did, and Juniordwarf played happily in his pool while I continued the clearing out process.
After he got out and had dried off, I told him he could put his same clothes back on. He didn’t want to, and insisted wearing an ensemble that included the green stripy pants that I’d made for his Very Hungry Caterpillar costume for Book Week
Ok, well they weren’t intended for general wear, but he didn’t seem to care. He put on his antenna headband and his pirate eye patch and announced that he was ‘the Pirate Caterpillar’.
I’m just glad that something I made has actually been worn more than once. 
And . . . now that I have my very own sewing machine (courtesy of Lil Sis, Mr Tall and my mother), I’ll be able to get out the pants pattern I used for the costume and make some more pants for Juniordwarf that fit around the waist and in the legs – something that has proven to be more and more of a challenge when shopping for clothes.
Year in Review (8/12)
Since my Project 365 is rapidly coming to an end, I’m going post a link to my favourite post from each month this year over the last 12 days of the year.
A post, and a day, I am really proud of. Somewhere between the miserable post from July that I posted yesterday and this one, I started to feel like I could make some of the changes in my life that I think I need to make. This is an example. 

P365 – Day 340 – 19 days til xmas

A few years ago, in a rare fit of Xmas nostalgia, I bought a ‘beyond the page’ wooden Xmas tree from Kaisercraft. 
Kaiser had a few example trees on their website and in their workshop magazine, but they all looked a bit too, well, Christmassy. (Yes, it is a “Christmas” product, designed especially to count down the days until 25 December, so um . . .  if you don’t like Christmas stuff, why did you buy it?)
Not being a huge fan of the traditional seasonal decorations (cue blog post on why I shall call the 25 December festival whatever I want to, and how I find it weird to be doing wintery stuff in the middle of summer*, and how I rather despise fake snow), I wanted to make mine look a bit more ‘summery’. So I went for red and gold colours to look a bit like the sun. It didn’t really work – it still looks Xmassy. Never mind. At least it doesn’t have fake snow!
This year is the first time Juniordwarf has really been interested in the festive season, and he has designated himself as the official day changer on the tree.

I’ve also come up with some grand plans for the seasonal tree that we’ll be decorating soon. The plans don’t include snow or holly. I might be persuaded to use some tinsel. Maybe.

*You wouldn’t actually know it’s summer here right now. But according to the calendar it is.

P365 – Day 316 – show time

This weekend is our local Garden Club’s Flower and Horticultural Show.
The show is mainly for flowers, but there are sections for things like produce, home brewing and photography, and there’s also a kids’ section.
For Juniordwarf’s age group, there were classes for photographs and for models of a flower. 
I asked Juniordwarf if he wanted to make a flower during the week for the show, and he was very keen. He said he wanted to make flowers from felt, which luckily we had, so he used his developing cutting skills to cut out three different coloured flowers. He then stuck green icy pole sticks to them for stems and foam circles to the middle.
This morning we weren’t sure what to put them in, and thought of filling a jar with dirt and topping it with grass, then sticking the flowers in so it looked like they were in the lawn. So we went outside to do that, then headed off to the show, with Juniordwarf very proudly carrying his little jar of flowers.
Unfortunately we had a little hiccup on the way, with the flowers falling out in the wind*. This upset the poor little boy terribly, but I rescued them and told him we’d fix it when we got inside.
Once we’d set his model up with the other entries, it was time to go and let the judges do their work.
* Note for next time: if you’re going to push things into grass, make sure you push them all the way through the grass into the dirt below.

P365 – Day 286 – a day in the life

Apparently it’s my birthday today. I took the day off work, because I really don’t like to be at work on my birthday. Last year I had Juniordwarf with me – this year he was at school, so I had a rare day at home by myself.

Here are some photos of what I did today.

Juniordwarf ‘helping’ open my presents.
Whose birthday is it again?

Waterfall card from the wonderfully talented Lil Sis


Catching up on my blog

Playing in my craft space

Wondering how I’m going to journal in all this.

Solution: put the writing somewhere else

Catching up on washing I didn’t do on Tuesday

The scary shed. Who dares enter . . . 

It’s starting to take shape

Time to say this is finished and to move onto the next project

Out to dinner

Well what other table would I want?

Entree tasting plate


Not a bad laksa. I’ll be back!

Cheers Mum, Happy Birthday.

P365 – Day 274 – crafty wood projects

I’ve got a few craftwood projects stashed in my bottom drawer.

I got most of them for my (now very tidy) craft space, but have no idea what I’m actually going to do with them, so they’ve sat there for quite a while.

I decided that if I wait for inspiration I’m never going to do anything with them and they’re going to stay stashed in the bottom drawer forever. So today I got a few of them out and painted them – the first in several steps.

Time will tell how long it will actually take to finish them, but I really want to make my space ‘mine’ so I have a bit of inspiration to get them done quickly!

Crafty wood projects

Hmmm, looks a bit more grey than metallic silver.
We’ll see how it turns out.