Friday night saw us madly screen printing round here - a design that's been on the drawing board for a while (its quite crowded on that old drawing board!). I'm so happy with how it turned out and I can't wait to share it! So though there's a fair bit to do before these are ready to post and list I can't resist giving a little sneak peek here! I love the fabric colours against the white, really striking. There are some other fabrics too not shown.
Thanks to everyone for your feedback on the photo post. I hope to have part two up this week. Spent most of yesterday running the spring gardening bee up at school with my friend Marg. We had lots of enthusiastic volunteers and got so much done, we all earnt our sausage sizzle and cold beer at the end!
I'm always tickled when people ask me about my photography and camera gear. I love taking photos, I take millions, and I'm always trying to improve my skills, so I take it as a wonderful compliment. In light of recent questions I thought I'd put together some posts about my camera gear, what adjustments I make to my photos (editing etc) and my methods for posting them online in case it helps anyone. Here's the first instalment - about my camera gear.
My current camera is a Nikon D90 and I bought it online here. Its my second Nikon DSLR (my first was a D50), and for those of you who don't quite understand what that means I found a great description and comparison of SLR cameras here. If I had one piece of advice to improve your photography it's this, if you can afford it buy an SLR. The prices are coming down all the time and there are always second hand bargains around. And for those of you intimidated by these cameras let me tell you that despite taking photography as a subject at art school I always use the automatic settings. I'm always in a hurry and they work just fine for me. I know shock horror! For those of you who are happy with your own camera I'll include some tips for shooting and editing with compact cameras (like our Canon Ixus) in later instalments.
Though my camera is quite bulky and not as easy to carry around the place as our compact camera I do find myself carting it along most places. At the end of the day its worth the inconvenience to me to have better quality photos. I found out this year when I went shopping for a new lens that the standard 18-50mm lens which comes on the Nikon is actually a great lens. It has a really close focus capability so I can get up close without having to drag my bulky macro along all the time but also goes out wide enough to take landscapes in the next second.
Saying that though I do love my macro and its one of the great things about an SLR that you can swap lenses depending on what you want to photograph. My lens is a Tamron 90mm Macro and I got it for a birthday/xmas present a couple of years ago. A macro lens brings the magical miniature worlds of flowers and textures into tight focus and gives great 'bokeh', that wonderful blurriness you see in the background of some photos. Its lots of fun and great for flower photography.
I'm also saving up for a cheap zoom so I can take photos of the birdie visitors to my garden. Maybe next birthday ;-)
To show you the difference between lenses I took some photos of the same scene with both, macro first and 18-50mm second. These photos have been tweaked and cropped using the basic iPhoto program on a Mac, but I'll save the info on that and some tips for shooting and uploading for another post.
All week I've been hearing aid workers on the radio talk about how Pakistan is the worst natural disaster in recent history. Worse than Haiti or the 2004 tsunami. But it was hearing an 11 year old Pakistani boy tonight, begging aid workers for food to feed his little brother that sent me to the computer to donate online to our favourite international charity, UNICEF. I like Unicef because it is set up to support children and women throughout the world with immediate aid but also other long term programs to provide education, health and safety.
I first got to know Kate Ulman when I joined the pincushion swap on her FoxsLane blog earlier this year. It was the first swap I'd ever done and I nearly choked on my tea when she emailled me back to inform me my swap partner was none other than Pip Lincolne from a little known blog called Meet Me at Mikes!!! Luckily Kate was very encouraging and I went on to have great fun making my pincushion to send to the lovely Pip.
Since then I've been a big fan of Kate and her blog FoxsLane. I love her honest, busy posts and her thoughtful view of life. And as I told her when I asked her to be a Show and Teller, I also like living vicariously on her organic vegie farm, but without the mud and early mornings ;-)
Kate is a talented and innovative crafter who absorbs new skills with awe inspiring speed and talent. I'm sure I'm not the only one who watched amazed as she picked up the knitting needles a couple of months ago and turned out a cardigan, with an intricate lace pattern as one of her first projects.
One of my favourite posts of Kate's, and I have a few (like this one and this), tells of when she was walking down the street of her local town and ran into a woman who's tablecloth she was wearing - reused, recycled and turned into a wonderful dress! It's a perfect illlustration of why the label she uses for her clothing line is called Everything but the Thread - everything in the making of her clothes line is thrifted and recycled, except the thread. What a wonderful way to work. Another thing to admire about this talented blogger. Welcome Kate!
Short description of your blog/style/work...
I guess I am what my Farmer Boy would describe as a Jack of all crafts but a master of none. I work in lots of different crafts and I love it when I can combine a few of them at once. I love having a new idea and figuring a way to enable it to become a reality, to learn a new stitch, to see something I've made, loved. I don't like making anything twice or sewing in the ends.
1. Why blog? How did you start?
My farm blog came first. My sister set it up for me as a way to have an online presence after we won a high profile award last year. So there I was writing a farm blog when I realised that all the blogs I was reading were craft blogs. After much thought about whether or not I could commit the time to another blog, I realised I had no choice. My sister came back over, set me up, and Foxs Lane was born.
2. Family taught/Self-taught/Trained?
I am a really bad student. I can't stand being told what to do. I'd much rather muddle through it myself and come out of it holding the needles in the strangest way but at least the stitches are right.
3. Workspace - studio or kitchen table?
My whole house is one big studio. I have a sewing table and some shelves for fabric storage in our office and then the rest of the house is dotted with little nests of projects. I know from experience that if I pack an unfinished project away it will forever remain unfinished.
4. Blog/Shop name, where does it come from?
It's where its at! We live on Foxs Lane.
5. Favourite medium to work in?
I am a textiles chick through and through. I love to cut it and stitch it and tie it and measure it and crochet it and knit it...
6. Ambitions/future directions/future projects/medium you'd like to try?
I won't know until it wakes me up in the middle of the night.
7. Are you neat and organised or, ahem, creatively messy?I think I can safely say that I am the messiest person you have ever come across. I struggled with it for years, trying to pretend to the world that I was a domestic goddess. But a few years ago my dad posted a description of me on his blog for my birthday and called me messy. It was then that I decided the charade was up. I had tried and failed as a pretend neat person, it was time to embrace the mess.
8. Favourite handmade, handcrafted item you own?
I have a framed painting my Indi did in her first week of prep. It is a self portrait done with all the naive confidence of a five year old before they grow up and become self conscious. I have to walk past that painting to get to my sewing table and it is a constant reminder that the best work is unselfconscious and proud.
9. Favourite food/recipe?
I am an eat to live rather than a live to eat person so this a hard one for me but I really can't go past toast spread with fetta, some thinly sliced tomato and more than a sprinkling of salt.
10. Favourite colour?
It changes daily but today I think it is green.
11. Star sign?
Scorpio. There are three of us in this house!
12. Favourite place, landscape (not necessarily Australian)?
I like home. I do love to travel and see new places and experience new things but at the end of the day I like my own space and my own stuff.
13. Any tricks for juggling life/work/family with creative pursuits?
None! I just make it up as I go along. Oh actually, I do believe strongly that a parent can only be a good parent when they are inspired and expressing themselves. To me that means crafting, so I ensure there is always a little bit of crafting time to balance me.
14. Favourite artists?
It changes according to what medium I am working in at the time. At the moment I am knitting-obsessed so I am cruising knitting sites, Googling knitters and spending way too long on Ravelry.
15. Favourite blog post/thing you've made/photo?
Usually it's the latest thing I've made because it means I've answered the niggly questions that were keeping me up at night. Would it work in that yarn and how could I get it to take that shape and if I put that bit there will it sit right? I also love that I can use my craft to outfit my kids and love nothing more than to watch them choose something I've created to wear.
16. Three words to describe you?
Maker, obsessor, looker afterer. (My farmer boy just yelled out talented, amazing, sexy)!!
17. What do you like to do besides creating?
Be with my family and friends, farm, play.
As you can see I've been having fun making more cushions, but I wanted to drop in here to tell you that Show & Tell is coming early this month!!! My lovely guest is away next week when the interview would usually be posted so we're putting it up early so she'll be around to see it. So this month's Show & Tell will be posted this Friday!
I say this every month but its true again, you are going to love this interview. My guest is another wonderful blogger with a great individual voice, a great way of looking at things and some inspirational crafting. I'm looking forward to sharing her answers :-)
I might pop back again tomorrow to show you what else I've been up to, but make sure you come back on Friday for sure, for Show & Tell.
A month ago I got an email saying that Moo were having a 48 hour sale and offering 30% off a range of products. The good news was that they were also extending the discount to full size business cards for newsletter subscribers, like me. I'd been wanting cards for a while but with the expense of international postage they were an indulgence I felt I couldn't really justify.
The quality of Moo cards is wonderful and they are deservedly popular all over the art/craft/design world. You are sure to have received a mini card or two at some stage if you are an Etsy buyer. And the truly unique and fab thing about them is that unlike regular cards, each card can have a different image on it.
By the time I read the email the deal was nearly over so I quickly uploaded a range of images from my Flickr to the Moo software. I couldn't resist making them all different, with the result that I now have this wonderful little box of business cards like a mini portfolio!
The only problem is deciding which ones to give away. I might have to order another set just to keep for me ;-)
p.s. I have a code for a 15% discount on your first pack of Business cards if you're interested. Just email me, my address is on my card!
Last year I spoke confidently about how I'd mastered putting in invisible zips and said cushions would be coming soon to an Etsy shop near you... its taken just a bit longer than I planned to get my act together (surprise surprise) but here at last are the first two. I've got more planned soon too - but maybe don't hold your breath this time!
Invisible zips are very cool, and surprisingly easy to sew once you get your head around it. They give a really professional finish to your cushion, the zip hides beautifully out of sight and gives a great line. The cushion I made last year has survived family life amazingly well - both the fabric and the making, and its a hard life round here for cushions.
If you decide to sew an invisible zip (yes, do!) you need an invisible zip foot. My new machine came with one but I think you can get cheap plastic ones for a few dollars.
The other thing you need to do is iron the zipper teeth flat before you start. Sounds confusing but look at the picture below and it makes more sense. I've shown the ironing and a before and after. In fact I've put together a few photos to show the process. See, easy!
I was so excited when the wonderful Notebook magazine contacted me a couple of months ago asking to feature my work. Here is my Chrysanthemum tea towel in their list of 'Things we Love' for Springtime, in the September issue which arrives in stores today.
I love Notebook which does a great job of covering all the good stuff, and gives lots of support to local designers and crafters. This issue has some great interiors, articles, recipes and making. And me!
I'm always most delighted by the little jewels that flower in winter, for some reason I'm never expecting them, each year I forget they come so early. This is just a small selection of the early flowers in my garden. Most exciting is the little daphne cutting that was planted last year has survived and blessed us with five or six little bouquets. It smells divine, like old fashioned perfume.
Hopefully I'll be back to doing, and sharing, some creative stuff soon but I've been happily distracted with family staying for a few days and then today we went to watch Miss A running and jumping in the regional athletics carnival. I loved watching all those amazing kids doing their thing, so confident and talented. Then we have the NSW school band festival at NSW Uni for the second time at 8am this Sunday morning, D and J's Junior Band this time. More talented kids making their parents all smily and teary (well me at least!)