Friday, December 30, 2011


There is something supercute about foxes. Pretty and fluffy with a reputation for being quick and clever, no wonder they make a great motif for art and craft.

So I couldn't resist a competition by one of my favourite stores - the challenge was to send something foxy in the mail. I adapted a pattern from this awesome amigurumi book, intending to make a tiny fox that could double as a Christmas tree ornament. But it came out bigger than I thought, so once I had made the head I added a bow tie and mounted it to a postcard instead. You can see the amazing winning BOOK (yes, a book!) on the Foxes blog - and my special mention as official runner up!!! Not bad for a crochet newbie    ; )

If you haven't browsed Foxes before, it is full of pretty things and perfect for buying presents, here are some of my favourites:

I was meaning to post about this a few weeks ago but forgot until we happened to watch Fantastic Mr Fox on DVD last night - a really gorgeous and funny adaptation of the Roald Dahl book.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

DIY Christmas Wreath - beach style decorating!

This year the girls and I wanted to bring the beach to our Christmas celebrations, in honour of our new house by the coast. Visiting Spotlight on their VIP Christmas night was my starting point, when I found bare Christmas wreaths that you can decorate in your own style and various shades of blue tree decorations.

Beginning with the wreath, Maddie and I gathered up a variety of shells from our favourite beach spots, and wound them onto a continuous, long string of picture hanging wire - circling them around the wreath as we went. We fashioned a dangling feature of a clam, spiral shell and drift wood at the bottom, and then went through the decoration box until we found some white and blue wavy ribbons, and red beads that wouldn't be needed for the tree. The red beads wrapped the wreath in between, and become the only traditional part!

Next we tackled the tree, focusing on blue, navy and white decorations, but adding some colourful lime green, dark pink and gold decorations for our summer fun colours.

Dad hung the icicles on the front porch - oops, I mean the surf white wash - and our efforts were complete.

Well, except for wrapping the presents in the white and wrapping paper - but with a very curious 2 year old and 5 year old - that will need to wait until late Christmas eve!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Christmas Hearts

I found a free crochet pattern for a 3D heart here, and have become a bit obsessed... they are so cute! Vic's Christmas party at Punky and Me inspired me to share (and you have to see her amazing fabric tree).

They are all I have managed to make for Christmas so far this year - I have tried lots of colours but the red ones definitely look the best. If you are going to try them each one uses about 9m of wool and I have been using a 4.5mm hook (and they take me about half an hour in front of tv).

They will be perking up some presents too, and after Christmas they might become bunting or a baby mobile... 

Also linking up with Creative Spaces as this is my first 'making' post for ages!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Some DIY Christmas Ideas

Wreath tutorial here

There is still time (what, only 3 weeks? eek!) to make some handmade presents for Christmas - these are some of the ideas I have seen and bookmarked...

Meet Me at Mike's has a HUGE list of tutorials here. I like the ideas with jars like paper-covered jars and pencils at Design Sponge, cookies in a jar and Martha Stewart's memory jars. I also love these tiny paint-sample notebooks and Pip has made a list of her crochet tutorials.

Epheriell Designs has an awesome list of ideas here, including decorations, gift tags and edibles. How cute are these meringue trees from penguin says feed me.

Everything Etsy has a list of 101 tutorials here. After a quick look I found this sock owl tutorial, a recipe folder (I love the spoon but would have to simplify the embroidery!) and this braided headband.

Ideas I have saved through the year on pinterest are here, I love this spotty canvas, a personal photo collage (I was going to do a version of this for Christmas cards but am running out of time) or some kind of button picture. I would also like to try spraypainted spoons and porcelain paint pens but I am trying to avoid investing in new craft materials... maybe I should ask Santa for some paint pens!

Kara's Party Ideas has some cute food and party ideas, I might actually be able to manage the choc-dipped marshmallows with sprinkles... and speaking of food, I highly recommend the creamy fudge recipe on Cat Taylor's blog, a gift I would be very happy to receive!

Please feel free to share any of your favorite tutorials too   :)

Friday, November 18, 2011

Save the Penguins!

Five weeks ago New Zealanders were horrified by the oil spill on Bay of Plenty beaches and kind-hearted crafters sprung into action to help out. A knitting pattern was posted online for a penguin jumper to help rehabilitate any affected little happy feet.

A cuter feel-good project would be hard to find, so the call for jumpers went global on websites like Etsy.

Soon there was a surplus of jumpers (you can read about it here on the Skeinz blog). But you can now buy your own penguin, and help the sick ones!!!

Gorgeous wool shop is selling soft toys - complete with hand-knitted jumper - for $25, with 100% of proceeds going to a penguin rescue fund. And for $5 you can stock up on an extra jumper too (if you have a soft toy fiend in the house like I do maybe they will fit some other toys too). Christmas shopping anyone?

p.s. Thanks to @RachelRayner for penguin updates, she has even written a crochet pattern here

Monday, November 7, 2011

For a sure turned out cute!

Little Miss Two wasn't going to have a proper party this year - except for a family morning tea with our nearest and dearest. My nephew and Miss Two were born only 3 days apart and my sister and I shared a hospital room together for the first few days of their lives, so we wanted to celebrate their special day together.

Poor Master Two fell ill two days beforehand though, so our special boy and girl "orange and purple" joint morning tea became just for Miss Two. At the last minute, I changed my mind on my pre-planned "wrapped up birthday present"cake (my sister and I had planned two box-styled cakes with wrapping ribbons that would sit side by side). Instead I got inspired to create to a castle made with ice cream cones and lollies - it was a quick change but pretty effective!

Miss Five also helped her Dad to decorate the deck with streamers and we used all our colourful platters. Wearing a huge smile, Miss Two soaked it all in and Gran left afterwards with a big plate of snacks for poor Master Two and his brother.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Where to find... Jane Austen Gifts

I love Emma Makes pencils and these new ones made me think of other Austen-esque gifts I have seen lately that would be great for bookish friends or family (plus this pink magnet that just makes me laugh).

(Left) Sense and Sensibility charging dock by Rich Neeley Designs
(Right) Estate style vintage pendant from Not One Sparrow

(Left) Dishes tea towel (Costume Drama edition) by Dear Colleen
(Right) Pride and Prejudice Typography t-shirt by Brookish

Or if you want to DIY, how about a silhouette picture (like our ones here and here) or a quote written on a plain frame (via Paisley Jade on pinterest).

See also:

Thursday, October 27, 2011

I spy...extraordinary things for extraordinary people

Imagine being talented enough to go from crafting, to fashion design. Now imagine being talented enough to go from fashion design, to crafting, then back to fashion design- all with a life-changing earthquake in between.
Impossible? Not for our Nin. Nin’s one of our favourite craft bloggers, author of The Wardrobe. We’ve followed her sewing and knitting tutorials and coveted her cute crafts for children for a long time now. chatting We've also chatted through comments on our blogs, and belong to the same craft group of New Zealand Handmade. I was horrified when I heard the news about her gorgeous new studio space in Christchurch tumbling down in the earthquake, and really moved to tears to hear she’d lost all her stock. But Nin’s not one to put down her scissors and give up. Instead, I was amazed to hear that she’s now started her own women’s fashion line, called Sailor Spy.
Her clothes are right up our alley – with pencil skirts, flip skirts, belts and lovely tops perfect for work or a girly outing. (See Greta's Mad Men posts or her pininterest files.)
So as much as we thought we knew her as a crafter…it turns out that Nin is very modest, despite her large influence in the craft blog world. For she is actually a fashion designer by trade, who also grew up with crafting and explored it more after the birth of her daughter. So really this amazingly talented lady has actually come full circle. What she’s achieved is hugely inspirational to me and I simply had to ask her more:

Me: Did you have the idea for Sailor Spy prior to the earthquake, or has the idea come to you from having to start over? Nin: I actually started my first fashion label Seratonin pretty much the moment I graduated uni in 2000. I had to exit the rag trade for a few years due to health and financial reasons…but after several years an opportunity arose for me to open a shop, The Wardrobe, in Whangamata and start up again. But I was left with the nagging feeling that Seratonin didn’t reflect the growth I’d made, both personally and as a small business owner. Earlier this year the decision was made for me. All my branded materials went down with the ship that was my studio in the earthquake.
Me: So this move comes naturally to you? Nin: Yes, it’s quite ironic to me that I’m more known for my craft these days. Crafting is something I grew up with – all the women (and some of the men) in my family crafted for fun, for thrift – it was a way of life. When I had my daughter my label had to go on hold, but that didn’t stop me ‘feathering the nest’. I made softies, clothes, change mats, cross stitch tapestries…

Me: Wow! So as a mum so totally immersed in home life and crafting, is it hard trying to step aside and dream and think about women’s fashion designs? Is the process of conceptualising different? Nin: Actually the creative process starts in much the same way, the seed of an idea for a fashion collection or a new softie toy comes from everyday conversation, playing with my daughter, a movie, my dreams. Where it differs is in the research and execution. Creating craft is quite’s mostly my imagination reigned in a little bit with practicality, ie is it safe for kids? Washable? Durable? On the flipside, there are many hours involved in developing a garment – I might toile (make a muslin or mock up) and fit it to my model, then alter my paper pattern 4-7 times before I’m happy to send it for grading. When I’m designing I have a very clear idea of who the Sailor Spy woman is, what her life is like, what she does for fun, what she has to pack into her day…all this has bearing on fabric choice, cut and even the construction methods.

Me: How has working at Stitch in Christchurch (a lovely designer quilting/craft fabric store) influenced you? Nin: It certainly opened my eyes to colour and pattern! I especially like Saffron Craig’s contemporary yet still whimsical designs and it’’s encouraged me to use more pattern and colour in my women’s wear. While working there I created a couple of patterns and kits showcasing their fabrics (see the peg apron free tutorial on The Wardrobe blog) and it really increased my confidence to see these selling so well. It pushed me to launch my new line of Russian doll patterns and kits which I sell through markets and in my felt shop .
Me: How do you see things going in the future, will you still craft or focus on Sailor Spy? Nin: I plan to grow Sailor Spy to a point where I can employ locals to work with me. But the summer market season is fast approaching and The Wardrobe will be out and about at several local markets on the lead up to Christmas*.
Me: What are the influences behind Sailor Spy? Nin: The current collection was inspired by Lauren Hutton in a 1970s movie ‘Gator, a vintage 1930s pattern book and a Robert Frost poem. My summer designs are based around a vivid dream of holidaying in Santorini and a little bit of Audrey Hepburn in Roman Holiday – think deep indigo and turquoise waters, coral sunsets on whitewashed walls..billowing soft silks and cottons, tailored cotton jackets and Bermuda shorts. The overarching direction for Sailor Spy is the idea of sustainable design through mindful spending…check the range out here.

· See Nin’s crafts at Christmas Encraftment, Christchurch, 26 Nov.

Friday, October 21, 2011


Forevermore Creations on

If you are on twitter and would like to get our blog updates that way, you can follow me @gretbert and I will link to each new post.

I am a newbie but finding it an easy way to follow some of my favourite sites like Meet Me at Mike's, Li'l Magoolie, Foxes and draw! pilgrim, especially using the iPad.

Let me know if you have any recommendations of people to follow - my most embarassing exciting find so far has been Clarence House.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Crochet Cupcake Madness

I started doing crochet a few weeks ago so I could make 'amigurumi' (cute little toys). Crochet is totally addictive but I do not have the patience for lots of squares to make blankets - unlike Paisley Jade with her amazing Mario birthday mushroom!

I found this easy cupcake pattern on pinterest, it suggested dark brown for the base and I used pastels for the icing (see here for amazing bright colours). I figured a button would be an easy decoration instead of  sewing on bead sprinkles. Once I had made 3 (after you do the first one they are really quick), I decided that 4 would make a cute birthday present for a special little girl.

Inspired by another picture on pinterest, I made a cupcake tray because I thought little hands would like lifting the cakes in and out. If you have an old box (like this chocolate box) just cover the lid and the base, I used scrapbook paper and Mod Podge glue. Then turn the whole thing upside down so the covered lid is now the base.

Now you just need 4 circles evenly spaced in the smaller piece (the old base), so draw them on the wrong side and cut each circle into segments. If you did this for real cupcakes you would probably only need to quarter it, but the crochet cakes are soft and bouncy so they needed more 'teeth' to hold them.

*Note: Instead of covering a box, you could make a gift box yourself with a base and a lid (like a bigger version of this), but  make sure they are different sizes so one fits inside the other - I made an insert for the rose lid from scratch and missed by a couple of millimetres, aarrggh!

I was going to cellophane the whole thing but the tray fitted snugly sideways in a gift bag, easy! And I did this red velvet one with eyes for a grown-up birthday last week... now that I have eyes (from this store) I have lots more projects to tackle, watch this space...

Monday, October 10, 2011

Everybody cut, Everybody cut...

I saw the Footloose remake this week and it is fun! If you remember the original there are lots of cute nods to it, from the car to the music to the costuming... and yes, there is still some angry dancing...

I loved Ariel's red boots, very Wonder Woman. If I was brave enough I would buy some - there are lots of vintage ones on Etsy including the ones above.

The hot dusty setting got me excited about our coming summer, and there was a LOT of denim and plaid - it inspired me to have a play with Polyvore (I am going to need some of those bracelets by Evie Kemp).
Footloose for Summer

Footloose for Summer details on Polyvore (have you tried Polyvore yet? It is as addictive as Pinterest!)

And of course Etsy also has some vintage movie goodies - a new-condition original shirt, and recycled album cover notebook. Fun!

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