Friday, 29 July 2011


Every year there's a moment when I look around and suddenly notice with surprise the early signs of the changing seasons. The days are suddenly a little longer and the jasmine has clambered its way across its neighbours and is poised to explode like fireworks.
My poor neglected garden has been doing its thing behind the scenes through this long wet we've had in Sydney. Looking around I see the magnolias are blooming and the daphne is in full swing. Spring is on its way.
I've had my head down lately caught up in worry and boring routine, getting through the days, the chores, the routines and responsibilities. I'm much happier when the sun is shining, and days like today are just the tonic I need.

Thursday, 28 July 2011

cutest ever

I had a video post of a slow loris here but I've removed it because a little more research (thanks Vera) has led me to find out some alarming facts about the exotic pet trade in this endangered species and I don't want to condone that at all. You can read about the sad plight of the slow loris and the inhuman treatment of the animals taken for pets here:

Monday, 25 July 2011

New Zealand


One of the wonderful things to come out of my recent Brooch Swap was its really international flavour. Swappers came from Australia, New Zealand, England, Scotland, the US, Canada and South Africa. I still marvel at how the internet makes friends of people separated by miles and continents.

I tried where I could to match people from different countries, and though it made for some postal delays and mixups (especially when the Canadian post office went on a month long strike!) it also meant that lots of people got parcels with exciting stamps and customs slips arriving on their doorsteps.

Thanks to Megan from mousehouse and Melissa from tinyhappy, who posted about the Swap on their blogs, we had lots of New Zealand bloggers involved. And while we Aussies have a long happy relationship with our neighbours, I somehow didn't know many NZ bloggers, save these two lovely girls (though of course one of my favourite mags Extra Curricular is based in New Zealand). So it was lovely to discover a bit more about the scene and meet some more wonderful NZ crafters.

Anyway, I thought it would be nice to ask Megan and Melissa and Clare from greenvalleycrafts, one of our NZ brooch swappers, for some favourite blog links in this small but creative country.  I've asked each to share five favourite links to get us blog-hopping. I would love it too if anyone wanted to share more favourites or even your own blog link in the comments section and I will add them to the post. Especially if you were one of our lovely NZ Brooch Swappers.

Special thanks to Melissa, Megan and Clare. I had lots of fun looking through your wonderful picks, I've nearly been round all the links and there is some wonderful treasure there, some new favourites and lots more for google reader!


Melissa said:
"Some of my favourites include:
* - Felt- like a NZ-based Etsy,
* - 'let me be frank' by sarah laing- graphic novel/comic blog,
*  - 'vanette' by ella. i really like the way she writes about craft and life as a mother,
* - 'small town stories' by emma. i like her useful recipes, she's funny, and i've had coffee with her a couple of times and she's great company,
* - by my friend sonya. she's currently living in amsterdam, but through her blog she still seems close by. i love her photography."


Megan said
"I have so many favourite blogs but the NZ ones that I read pretty much every post they write would be:
Oh so hard to only choose 5!!"


Clare said:
"I've chosen 5 NZ blogs I love for you:
* This is Rhiannon's blog 'Toast and Life'.  Rhiannon blogs about her crafty endevours, life, her clothing label Toast and her crafty label Croutons, and her boys.  I especially love seeing her funky outfit posts!
* This is Stella's blog 'The Golden Adventures of a Very Dark Horse'.  Stella is a very talented illustrator and blogs about her new ideas, gorgeous daughter, and the beautiful (often thrifted and re-styled) things she makes for her home.
* This is Kristin's blog 'Hello Fallow'  Kristin blogs about an amazing array of crafty endevours, and her baking posts always make my mouth water!  She also regularly posts about her cute outfits and her two boys.
*  This is Dee's blog 'Dee-construction'  Dee is a mama of 4 who never ceases to inspire me!  Lately she's been busy making handmade dolls, and creating some amazing 'real life pins' and gorgeous outfit re-styles!"
*  This is Ella's blog 'Vanette' - I love Ella's blog for it's Indie feel and her honesty, humour and wit.  I love seeing the gorgeous crafty creations she comes up with, mostly for her two gorgeous children.


Leonie one of our lovely brooch swappers has emailled to say she hosts a Kiwi Mothers blog resource which lists lots of wonderful blogs from locals and expats here:

Kristin's all time favourite is prairiemouse :-) Love the felty doodlejumpers!

Greta loves

More brooch swappers :-)
Nin's favourites:
Heart Felt
and Imba

And these are Lis's picks:

Last but not least, brooch swapper Emily from Millicent Crow has a few more recommendations:

Saturday, 23 July 2011

scoutie girl

I got an email this week from the wonderful Scoutie Girl alerting me to this beautiful feature, which shows my Chalk Filigree tea towel and illustrates heart hopping on Etsy, one of my favourite pastimes, searching through other people's favourites to see the wonderful treasures they've discovered on this huge site. These days it mostly starts with my circle stream, my friends are so clever at finding beautiful things.
I'm sitting here checking my emails with Miss A practising her clarinet in another room, its such a beautiful sound, and it makes me happy too.

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

african drought

east africa appeal
You don't need to be a parent to be devastated reading the stories of mothers losing their children in the African drought, but that's what has driven me today to donate to the cause through our favourite charity, UNICEF. Children under five are the most vulnerable to the effects of malnutrition.
You can go here now to add a small or large donation to this emergency appeal, to help families threatened by this natural disaster. The extent of this crisis is mind boggling.
Coincidentally I've just finished reading The Poisonwood Bible, an amazing book, set in Africa, in the Congo which talks about the extremes of weather that shape this continent. Its an amazing story, have you read it?

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

show & tell - susan rees osborne

Susan Rees Osborne has been writing her Pea Soup blog for over six years now. If you haven't already come across it you must visit soon. I've been reading for about a year and its one of my very favourite places on the web. Suse's place is calm and capable. Its full of wonderful landscapes and ideas, books and music, food and craft and humour. And a rescue greyhound with the sweetest face. As many of you would know Suse lives this handmade life on the bushy outskirts of Melbourne "amongst the kangaroos and mudbrick houses".

I was lucky enough to do a small swap with Suse this year which means I've been using her fabulous handmade soaps for the last couple of months. Luxury! For others not so lucky, Suse shared her soap recipe last year with lots of great tips and advice. She's generous like that, she also helped me when I took on knitting my first cardigan this winter and I emailled her out of the blue for advice.

Here is a small taste of her beautiful photography and wonderful crafting skills and a chance to find out more about the person behind them. Read on to learn how Pea Soup got its name and discover what she considers her best collaboration. Thanks again Suse :-)

Susan Rees Osborne
Shop (in fits and starts ...)

1. Can you give us a short description of your blog/style/work
I suppose pea soup fits into the broader craft blog community, but it also serves as a bit of a brain-dump as well. I do like to rabbit on about all sorts of other things besides knitting.  Books, photography, adventures with my sewing machine, the juggle of a job/family/part-time study, general miscellania inside my head.


2. Why blog? How did you start?
I first came across craft blogs six years ago when I googled knitted flowers, as I wanted to embellish a hat I'd made for my best friend's fourth baby. The google search came up with Loobylu's blog and I was first intrigued, then hooked.  I read all the blogs on her sidebar, and watched the craft blog community from afar for a few weeks, but when I came across the Self Portrait Tuesday project for bloggers I leapt right in.  I still can't quite believe I've kept up the blog for six years; it's the amazing and ever-evolving community that keeps me participating, that's for sure.


3. Family taught/Self-taught/Trained?
My mum taught me to knit and crochet. And sew. My aunt was an amazing embroiderer. YouTube has been marvellous for instruction in the execution of the perfect short row heel.

4. Workspace - studio or kitchen table?
If I'm sewing I tend to take over the dining table for several weeks at a time and we eat at the breakfast bar or on laps until someone cracks it and I clear it all away again. The woolly arts are far more portable - my fleece, yarn and spinning wheel live right next to my chair by the fire.


5. Blog/Shop name, where does it come from?
When I was 17 I went to a tiny little town in Idaho, USA for a year as an exchange student.  My host mother immediately nicknamed me
Sweetpea.  Many years later when I met my husband he gave me the same nickname, which he quickly shortened to Pea.  He still calls me Pea more often than he calls me Susan.

6. Favourite media to work in?
Wool.  Although I'm quilting at the moment and those fabrics are verrrry pretty.


7. Ambitions/future directions/future projects/medium you'd like to try?
I dabble a lot; dyeing, spinning, lace knitting, quilting, photography, soapmaking.  Sometimes I feel a bit overwhelmed by all the things I like (and would like) to do.  I do plan to extend my natural dyeing (ie. plant-based) experiments a little more, maybe at the end of next year when my studies are fiiiiiinally complete.

8. Are you neat and organised or, ahem, creatively messy?
Ahem. Let's not go there.

9. Favourite handmade, handcrafted item you own not made by you.
I had been watching Eva's naturally dyed textile jewellery on Tinctory ( for a long time, promising myself that one day... one day... I would own one of her pieces.  And now I do.


10. Favourite food/recipe?
Maltesers.  Raspberries are a close second.  Recipes, meh.

11. Favourite colours?
Plum. Duck egg blue.

12. Star sign?

13. Favourite place, landscape (not necessarily Australian)?
Oh lots.  London, my birthplace.  The landscape of the Palouse
where I lived in Idaho. Last year we camped in the desert outside Broken Hill (flickr set here - that was stunning. Venice lives on in my mind after a brief visit in 1985.


14. Any tricks for juggling life/work/family with creative pursuits?
There are no tricks.  But I know that it's worth juggling, as I am a much nicer mother, partner and friend when I make the time to do things that are important to me.

15. Favourite artists, artisans, crafters?
India Flint is pretty inspiring. Jude Hill, Eva from Tinctory, some of the amazing knitting designers like Anne Hanson, Veera, Jared Flood and Kirsten Kapur. Too many others to mention.

16. Your favourite thing you've made/written/done.
I made three extraordinarily beautiful babies, but I collaborated on that project.


17. Three words to describe yourself?
Hopeful, curious, loyal.
How do you answer that without sounding like a pretentious git?

18. What do you like to do besides creating?
Take photographs, play the cello (I'm up to my fourth song now, so proud!), garden, read. Drink cups of tea in bed on a Sunday morning.


Monday, 18 July 2011



Look at what's flowering in my garden, heavenly!

Its the last day of the school holidays today and I'm slowly catching up with myself - cleaning, folding, packing, posting, paying bills and finding school hats. We've had a busy social time this last week and the house feels a bit chaotic.

In between I'm starting to get a blog post ready because, can you believe it, its time again for Show & Tell! This month's interview goes up tomorrow.

Please pop in then to meet my guest, another great Australian blogger. As usual I'm keeping her identity a secret. I will say that many of you know and love her fabulous blog and will love reading more about what inspires her. For others it will be a wonderful new discovery. Hmm, I'm not sure which I love more!

Thursday, 14 July 2011

my creative space - time

daisychain embroidery kit
DSC_0025facesop shop

If it wasn't for the cough I took away with me on holiday it would have been the perfect break. We managed to fit in a trip to a country nursery, some op shopping and old waresing (spoils above), lunch at a cafe, lots of family catchups and big dinners, a long walk around my sister in law's bush block  and pruning my mother-in-law's 30 plus roses. Not to mention finding the right buttons for my cardigan and some new jeans for growing boys.
It was cold but not cold enough for snow, which I was sort of happy about.

When I got back my Daisychain sampler embroidery kit from Alicia was here! I couldn't resist ordering this a couple of months ago. I think the fabric is such an interesting colour and it will be a great way to learn some embroidery stitches. A good long term project to potter away on. I'm always happy when I've got something to pick up and work on when the mood strikes.

For lots more creative space don't forget to check in here.

(p.s. Can you see the four little kangaroo heads in that second landscape!)

Thursday, 7 July 2011

my creative space - custom bokeh

custom bokeh
custom bokeh
custom bokeh
rocky road

My girl was at a loose end the other day (school holidays don't you know) and we came across this idea online. By using a custom made filter you can fashion the out of focus shafts of light, or bokeh, to shape the light.
It's probably much easier and better at night, but we used dappled light through trees to get the same effect. Her heart shape and my star were cut out small in black card that we just held over our lens, we didn't bother in our experiments to make a complete cover. That way we had access to the manual focus on the lens, which we blurred.
These are the best, though we should probably go back and read the instructions more closely to perfect it ;-)

Inspired by MasterChef (we never miss a show!), the boys and I made our own custom rocky road, with maltesers and fresh coconut and cranberries, marshmallows and glace cherries. We got nine out of ten from all the judges.

We're going away on Saturday to visit family out west and I can't wait, I'm planning lots more photo and food adventures.

For lots more creative space action here.

Monday, 4 July 2011

The 2011 Flower Press Brooch Swap!!

Dear Brooch Swappers,
One last post as promised to share all our amazing brooches and to tell you how fantastic you are :-) What a completely fabulous bunch of swappers I was lucky enough to enrol in this mad scheme of mine. You took my little idea and made it something really amazing!

I can't tell you how inspired and delighted I've been by all your clever brooches. I've marvelled at your inspiring ideas and the many different techniques and skills you've used. And your generosity has touched me. I'm sure our Flower Press Brooch Swap Flickr pool will live to inspire many people in the future.

Brooch Swap Mosaic 3
On top of that I was blessed with a delightful group of swappers. I've had so many lovely emails over the past few weeks, full of inspiration, enthusiasm, and excitement. And gratitude. Thanks.

Did you know that there were 88 of us in the end! That's pretty amazing!! My little list is all crossed off (wow!), though I know a couple of brooches haven't made it to their final destination so if you are still waiting for yours give me a yell. My aim is that everyone who made a brooch receives a brooch and I'll work it out somehow. Thanks to everyone for fulfilling their commitments and making this such a great swap.

I think I need a little break now. In fact I might need a long one. But a tiny twinkle of insanity in the back of my mind is thinking this might have to become an annual event. What do you think?

Susie x

Brooch Swap Mosaic 1