Saturday, November 29, 2008

Almost December

We all say it's hard to believe but it is almost December. I was asked quite a number of times this week if I had done the Christmas shopping or am I ready for Christmas - the answer predictably is no. However, I did get into the Christmas spirit yesterday ... ate some chocolate sultanas and nuts, helped Brandon punch holes and thread ribbon on cardboard stars, and prepared the making of Christmas cards from Dylan's drawings for our daughter Naomi. Brandon and Dylan are our two older grandsons , aged almost 5 and 3, so Christmas is a very exciting time for them.
This week, I also prepared a sample beaded star for the Hello Dollies Christmas party activity and am madly trying to make things for the Handmade Treasures Christmas Sale here next Saturday. I was excited that the feltfollies (last blog) were popular and I had ETSY sales on the day they were put in the ETSY shop.
This weekend, however, I am going to get started on writing on Christmas cards. That will be between going to the Christmas pageant at the Donkey Sanctuary this evening and helping at the Rotary market tomorrow. Our exchange student Riikka also has her friend Sodabeh (from Norway ) staying for the weekend. And everyone wonders what we do in "retirement" ?

Sunday, November 23, 2008


These are FELTFOLLIES - embellished felt shapes which magically develop personalities of their own. I made these three during the week, showed them in Sydney at Hello Dollies on Saturday, and today they are in my ETSY shop. Clockwise from left to right are Feltfollie High Five - a cheerful but thoughtful character who gives you a high 5 rather demurely; Feltfollie Fashionista who is a fashion statement with silver handbag, and high heeled shoes and a fascinator with Swarovski crystals; and Feltfollie Faith - a quiet meditative type. They are a bit "way out there" but such fun to make. Each has a brooch pin attached to the back, to make them into wearable brooches, handbag accessories or just special treasures to uplift one's spirits. The felt shapes have been made with my felt embellishing machine (Janome Expression) and include wool, novelty yarns, mohair, silk rods, silk ribbon and even a piece of heated tyvek.

I was very excited on Saturday to have my White Knight and Owl Woman returned, with blue ribbons and red rosettes from the Sydney Doll and Bear Guild Show 2008 - which was held in Hornsby last weekend. I was even more thrilled to get such positive critiques from the judge - 100 points for the beaded knight and horse ( it also won first prize in the mixed media section of the Contemporary Clay Competition last month) and 98 points for the owl woman. Congratulations to Dolly friends, Ann Maullin who won the professional section with the really stunning doll she made for the last challenge, and Marg Laughlin whose beautiful doll, Hunter Belle, won the cloth doll section.

Remember to check out the great items in the ETSY DUST team sale ( this month - only a few days left- to get a bargain in the Oceans and Islands theme sale. Just look for items with the tag 'DUST TEAM SALE '. DUST (Down Under Street team) is a group of Australian Artists, Craftspeople and Artisans who support ETSY and wish to promote independent handcrafted goods here in Australia and worldwide.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

This Week : Family Fun and Felting

Last Saturday we had a large family gathering to celebrate my Aunty Jeanie's 70th birthday. Most of my cousins whom I rarely see were there - a big get together from the Yan side of my family. It turned out to be a really beautiful day and some of the family meeting for the first time! We all had a great time, but I think Dylan, our grandson, enjoyed the birthday cake most of all.

This week was also a big week for our oldest grandson, Brandon, who completed his week long orientation at school. He was very happy and excited about being at "big" school and really didn't need his mother to accompany him. We looked after little brother William while their mum, Kellie, went to school to learn about Jolly Phonics and Numeracy to support Brandon next year.

Felt is still my creative passion of the moment. This week, I prepared a few samples for my felt embellishment demonstration at Dollies today. I am really happy with my 'Underwater Fantasy" felt embellished bag and my little needlefelted elves (photographed near my felted bag, now complete with handmade wooden button). The idea of using cookie cutters to provide a template for needle felting was also a hit with some of the Dollies members - the sample shown is the little needlecase. All the other samples will probably be arty brooches, pieces of fabric to make dolls from, or additions to my handbags. Busy week!

I gave Bobbi her birthday present today - another little "felted" item, a collaged felt covered journal. It features a stamped image on a used tea bag paper, applied to cloth with gel medium. Bobbi told me how to apply your own art work onto a used tea bag and I decided to try it out. I stamped the images instead just as an experiment. The yo yos were also from a piece of silk scarf Bobbi collected in Thailand. Hope she liked it.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Felt and crochet - new obsessions

It doesn't take long for a new interest to become an obsession. I was asked to demonstrate some embellishing on my new felting machine for a Dollies meeting this month, so I started to make some samples and have become more and more interested in needle felting, wet felting and "fulling". Here's a definition I found from a website
Fulling is the process of fluffing up an already woven or knitted piece of woollen cloth. It's to be distinguished from felting, which takes raw fleece and puts it through the same process without having any initial structure. Felting usually yields a fabric that's a lot stiffer than fulling, since it needs more felting to be able to hang together at all.
It's hard to believe that this little red handbag was crocheted with a 6mm hook and was very big before I washed it with a pair of jeans in my washing machine. I loved the sample as soon as I saw it in Brisbane My mum bought me the pattern and wool as she saw how much I wanted to make it. You might wonder why that bit of tree is beside the bag in the photo. Jim, my husband, will soon be making me a beautiful timber button from that piece of wood for the bag closure.
My daughter, Naomi also has a new obsession. She has just learnt to crochet and has done really well, even learning to crochet an edge just by looking at another blanket. Here she is with a baby blanket she has made for her new nephew in England.
Others who have caught the crochet bug are the women in Mando village, Eastern Highlands Province, Papua New Guinea. When I was there as a volunteer last month, the women were not only quick learners, but were excited to learn a new skill, hopefully to supplement their meagre incomes as subsistence farmers. Here is Susan, with a cap she crocheted... doesn't she look happy with herelf ?

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Riikka joins our family

Riikka Uusamaki from Finland has come to stay with us for a few months. We are delighted to host her as part of the Rotary Youth Exchange Program and will try to ensure that Riikka has an enjoyable year in Australia. I am particularly happy to host a Finnish student as I had such a wonderful time in the south west of Finland in 2001, as a Rotary Group Study Exchange leader, and have such great memories of everything Finnish. We have also had such positive experiences from hosting students from other cultures in the past and love having such special young people as part of our family even for a little while.

We met Riikka when she came to Australia last July, and have taken her on a whale watching cruise from Nelson Bay (only one whale sighted that day) and spent time with her at various Rotary functions and meetings. Many thanks to our friend, Pam, who was Riikka's first "host mother ' for organising so many things like school, bank accounts, health card etc for Riikka in her first few months here. Riikka moved to us last Monday, and on the first night, we went to the Rotary Club of Myall Coast (Tea Gardens) for their annual debate - Rotarians vs Tea Gardens Primary School. On Thursday, Riikka joined other exchange students on the Warren Wander - four days of sightseeing and experiencing rural life in the western NSW.

It's a busy life for exchange students!