I do love a project, so when I saw homemade yoghurt popping up on a few local blogs (like Tania's and Tammi's) I started dreaming about making my own.
I love cooking stuff from scratch, its a great way to understand the often simple processes involved in food production and helps me respect well made food. I also like the idea of making and eating food without preservatives,
added sugar and colourings and the other extras that so often go into
our processed food. I must admit I'm not a purist, for the sake of time
and convenience we eat a bit of processed and packaged food round here but we try and eat fresh and local when we can.
We also love yoghurt round here, the kids eat a lot of fruit yoghurt which makes me happy, and we all love Greek Yoghurt piled on curries and stews, and well just about anything.
There is so much information out there on making yoghurt so I won't add to that. Everyone agrees on the basics, you heat the milk, then cool it and add some good starter yoghurt with live cultures. The main difficulty with home production is that you then need to keep this mixture at a constant temperature for a few hours while the bacteria do their work.
Tammi and Tania have been using a slow cooker for this which they wrap in blankets. I don't have one (why not?!) but I do have a rice cooker and used an online tutorial which explained how to use that. I thought the warm setting would work but I came back an hour later to find the whole thing at 130F, too hot for the bacteria to grow, though the batch had already set. After squeezing out the whey it was more like cream cheese than yoghurt but a good first try.
Batch two later that day went into an old thrifted thermos instead for four hours and then was decanted to the fridge before I went to bed. It was delicious!! I like a creamy yoghurt so I strained mine through fabric to get rid of some of the whey, that watery liquid you often find in yoghurt, and we ate it this afternoon with homemade jam. It was very popular and I'm definitely going to try this again!
Thank you all for your great response to the return of Show & Tell for 2012. Your enthusiasm for the interviews is one of the things I really love about the series.
I'm still crocheting away on my Bullseye blanket when I get time. I'm loving the crochet! Its starting to feel much more natural and I'm really enjoying how quick it is. Another thing I love about this project is being able to choose and use lots of different colours. I'm trying to find different and interesting combinations for each circle, trying to get out of my comfort zone and mix and match complimentary and contrasting colours that I wouldn't usually mix, its great fun.
I'm often thinking about colours and choosing colour schemes for fabric designs so its good homework for that. I think I promised a post about some of my colour process ages ago. I really am going to come back soon and show you some examples in my work, what resources I use. I'd love to know where you find your colours and find some new combinations. What colours are you loving at the moment?
There is much to love about Jodie Carleton's Ric-Rac blog, I'm sure you could spend days lost there, learning new skills and admiring her amazing work. Jodie is a really talented crafter and a toymaker extraoirdinaire and she also writes with wonderful humour, she makes me laugh all the time!
Its fascinating reading her blog and sharing the process as her patterns come to life, she's a perfectionist and each stage is carefully tested so her patterns are just right. And come to life these little softies really do, Jodie shares some of their stories on her blog and if you haven't read dear Baxter's story or one of the others you're missing something great. It's no great surprise that her other role in life is as the 'Awesome Library Chick' at a local primary school.
Jodie is wonderfully generous with her knowledge, her blog is loaded with tutorials. In fact its quite apt that I discovered her initially through a zip pouch tutorial. If you want to make a racing snail or a computer bot, a party turtle or a pair of mice - this is the spot.
Lots of Jodie's projects are jaw droppingly amazing, but there are two I really should point out. The personalised doll she made of her son complete with accessories is one of these, and being Jodie she shares the pattern and instructions so you can make your own. The other is the now legendary Selvedge frock that she made with fabric made of selvedges, painstakingly sewn together. I can't even imagine the work and skill involved in this beautiful dress, its stunning.
Jodie's enthusiasm is contagious and her current rag rug project has been spreading like wildfire through the blog world. She is responsible for many a length of plaited fabric lurking in lounge rooms around the country, have you started one yet? Being one of Jodie's projects it also comes with fabulous instructions. I'm trying to resist but every time I see a picture of her growing rug I can feel my fingers twitch!
1. Can you give us a short description of your blog/style/work
My blog basically keeps a track of my makings. Sometimes I go off on little rants, or include the dog, cats or kids but usually it is about whatever craft has me excited at the time. I sew a lot of stuff and if you trawl through my blog you’ll find handbags, yip-yip suits, the occasional skirt and quite a number of selvedge items, but my real passion is toymaking. I think about toys all the time and imagine all the toys I could make if I had the time and skill.
2. Why blog? How did you start?
I accidentally stumbled across a blog when I was looking for a fabric online. I felt like Alice through the looking Glass. Having discovered this whole new world I just had to join in. It is the biggest and best ‘craft group’ I have ever belonged to. I have made so many virtual and real life friends and been involved in some awesome community events. I can’t imagine not blogging.
3. Family taught/Self-taught/Trained?
My mother sewed when I was small but I wasn’t all that interested. When I went to university and became a starving student, I turned to sewing to make gifts for people and have been sewing ever since. I got my first sewing machine 22 yrs ago and have made some spectacularly ugly things over that time. When my kids were small and unable to protest I made all sorts of hideous creations for them to wear. I just make it up as I go along and learn from the mistakes. The internet is a fabulous tool to learn new skills.
4. Workspace - studio or kitchen table?
I am lucky enough to have a dedicated sewing room, in fact I have just moved into what used to be my daughter’s bedroom. Rather sneakily I left my cutting table in the previous sewing room, along with a cupboard full of supplies.
5. Blog/Shop name, where does it come from?
I toyed with lots of blog names, but in the end Ric-rac was simple and it just felt right. I remember the era when ric-rac trim was seen as quite daggy, so that appealed to me as well.
6. Favourite media to work in?
FABRIC ! I especially love to work in wool fabric. Woollen toys are so warm and tactile – and they last and wear so well.
7. Ambitions/future directions/future projects/medium you'd like to try?
I would really like to try working with paperclay. Paperclay is airdrying clay and I can see little tiny jointed animals and dolls in the future. The scary bit is the painting – as a non drawer, I think I’d totally suck at that bit.
I got the chance to have a play with screen-printing last year and I am keen to take that further. I’d love to incorporate some screen printing into toy making. I have a slight obsession with mermen at the moment and can see a shaky plan evolving.
I would love love love to be better skilled in designy computer type stuff. I see the amazing things people create with spoonflower and I get so excited by the possibilities, but for now it is out of my realm. The thing is with a limited number of hours in the day (and most of those spent at my real job) I find it hard to dedicate time to learning computer skills, when I could spend that time sewing.
8. Are you neat and organised or, ahem, creatively messy?
I seem to buy lots of containers in the vain hope that they will magically keep me tidy. Certainly everything has its place, but when I am creating I usually can’t be bothered to put things away, so it’s a whirlwind of making followed by a tidy up and then back to the whirlwind. In theory I know it would be easier to tidy as I go –it just never happens.
9. Favourite handmade, handcrafted item you own not made by you
My friend Annie made me a quilt when I turned 40 and she used fabrics that she knew I would love. There is typography and crazy monkeys with their tongues poking out. The best part of this gift was that Annie is not at all precious about it. She comes to my house and sees it on the floor or crumpled on the couch-or under a cat and she doesn’t mind at all. The quilt was given to be used and loved, and that is a gift in itself.
10. Favourite food/recipe?
My favourite food is anything that someone else prepares. I am not an intuitive cook at all. I definitely have to follow recipes and while I dont mind baking that whole “whats for dinner “stuff just kills me. My son recently became a vegetarian, so we are all exploring new recipes which is both fun and a total pain in the butt at the same time.
11. Favourite colour?
At one point in my life I would have shouted Green and then for the past few years it would have been red. Just lately I find myself drawn to blues – Isn’t it weird? When I look at my fabric stash, the colour most underrepresented is purple.
12. Star sign?
13. Favourite place, landscape (not necessarily Australian)?
I love the beach – not in a bikini suntan kind of way – more like a winter walking kind of way. I love the smell of the beach and the flotsam washed up. I would like to live by the beach one day, in a town with a great craft shop.
14. Any tricks for juggling life/work/family with creative pursuits?
Lists! As anal and boring as that sounds, the only way the things that have to happen actually happen at my place is if they are on a list or on the calendar. If I don’t have a list then the toy that I promised to make for a shop sample will be forgotten in the rush of a new idea or a bit rag rug making. I have a list on my sewing table of things that absolutely have to happen that week and I love crossing them out as I do them… and if I manage to do something else out of the blue I add that to the list as well, just so I can have the joy of crossing it out!
15. Favourite artists, artisans, crafters?
Wow, this question is a killer so I am going to stick with toymakers. Abby Glassenberg of While She Naps is a brilliant toymaker, she investigates methods and theories and her toys are wonderful. She talks about the business of toy making and is always introducing me to new people or artists. I rarely buy craft books but Abby’s second book that she is currently working on is going to be a must-have for anyone involved in toy making or design.
Mimi Kirchner – Mimi’s toys are the toys that made me want to be a better toymaker. I distinctly remember seeing one of her robots and thinking, I want to make a toy like that, one that evokes an emotional reaction in people who see it. All my toys have lengthy often absurd back stories, sometimes shared and sometimes just kept to amuse myself. I look forward to owning one of Mimi’s toys in the future.
Jess from Teddybear Wednesdays makes toys with emotion. Each toy, whether it is a bear or a crocheted creature, is in turn, cheeky, shy and whimsical. I own one of Jess’ bears called Pikelet and he lives in my sewing room. He demonstrates not only beautiful design but a toy that is made with love. He is painstakingly cute.
16. Your favourite thing you've made/written/done.
My favourite things always seem to be the thing I am currently working on. Right now I am making a rag rug and it is a great craft, in that I can do it while I watch Dr Who. I love to multitask.
17. Three words to describe yourself?
Exasperating, irreverent, obsessive.
18. What do you like to do besides creating?
I am obsessively fond of animals, and am more than happy to cuddle a duck or stroke a llama at a moment’s notice. I could become a crazy cat/dog/lady with very little encouragement.
When I am not creating I hang out with my dog and cats, I am driven insane by the 17 year old and his constant noodling on musical instruments. I hang out with friends (often in a crafty context) and Mr Ric Rac (rarely in a crafty context)
I read a lot, mostly kids and young adult literature. As a library chick in a primary school this is part of my job but also something I really love. I usually read a few novels a week.
But no matter what I am doing, secretly, in the back of my mind I am usually creating something.
I've been meaning to drop in here for the last few days to tell you that tomorrow, Tuesday, sees the first in this year's Show & Tell interviews!!! So exciting! For those of you who don't know the series, each month I interview an inspirational Australian blogger. The interviews are always fascinating, I love finding out more about each person and I invariably find myself smiling and nodding along as they talk about life and work and making, and I always come away inspired by their creativity.
This is the third year of Show & Tell (isn't that amazing?!) and I've got a really inspiring blogger to kick off the year. This blogger is multi-talented, she's funny, she's crafty, she's nice, she's inspiring, she shares lots of clever stuff and well... you better come back and read a bit more about her tomorrow!
In other news we had our first teenage party! Aren't we brave?! Luckily the weather played nice and we had a backyard full of lovely big kids eating, drinking and talking as the sun went down and later a couple of sleepover guests. It was fun, it was exhausting. We all collapsed in a heap on Sunday in our lovely clean house and ate leftover cupcakes and drank endless cups of tea!
I'm still working on longer term projects over here (and look, photos from my camera, not my phone!). I've finished the layout and strips of this little baby quilt and am just laying it out to work out the best order to sew them together.
I love a scrappy quilt because it gives me a chance to mix and match all those bits and pieces of fabrics that I've collected over the years, and I usually have some left for the next project. And I just love the look of it, so homemade and so many stories. There are vintage, designer, cheapie spotlight and my fabrics in this mix. (And can you see a little bit of my precious piece of Cam's Go Granny Squares in there?!)
One of these days I'll buy fabric with a project in mind and cut out all the pieces first and then sew. That must be a nice relaxing way to make. Its coming soon but I still enjoy this muddly, pottery way of making something. It gives me a chance to play with my own designs and see how they mix and match, how they work at different sizes and what the colour scheme I've chosen looks best with.
Gives me lots of inspiration for the next collection :-)
Skating in late with my creative space today. Here's a peek at something I started on a whim the other day when I was cutting squares for my baby quilt. Its a larger quilt, a work in progress that I can cut pieces for as the mood strikes. I'll be back to show you more when I get a bit further. The pattern goes by the apt name of Wonky Stars, which certainly sounds like my kind of quilting! I've been playing with my button collection too for #febphotoaday on Instagram (I'm @flowerpress). The other day the subject was button, which is right down my street!
I've still been cooking a bit too. Don't you love that bananas are cheap again. I actually had overripe bananas the other day to make banana bread with. This taste.com.au recipe is a winner. Only problem is I should have made more, just a few lasted long enough to get cool and they were snaffled in school lunches.
I must apologise again for being an absent blogger this year, I'm still catching up after the holidays (and I took the day off to have lunch with friends today, hence the figs!) I really am hoping to get back here more regularly soon.
My post the other day about finally clicking with crochet seemed to chime with lots of other people having the same struggles and also with a few like me who had recently 'got it'. To those still trying, give it another go. Really! If I can get it after my multiple attempts, then anyone can. Find a simple, inspiring project and give it another try. I kept pulling out stitches until they looked right and somewhere along the way it just got easier.
Of course with the basics conquered I couldn't resist taking on something harder, I do love a challenge (!) and when I saw this amigurami pattern for Luma from Mario Galaxy I quickly picked up some yellow yarn and a hook and cast on.
The really great thing about this pattern, apart from the fact that I knew a couple of boys who would think I was pretty clever if I made it, is that there is an online video tutorial which walks through every step. The bad thing is it involves lots of counting stitches and keeping track, which is impossible when people come and talk to you all the time while you're counting. Aaagh.
I find the starting bit hard, but if you use the magic circle technique and make sure your stitches aren't twisted, and take it slowly, it gets easier.
I'm also enjoying the february photoaday challenge, organised by fat mum slim on Instagram. Here are two of my first entries, my boys' perfect little mirrored hands for the theme 'hands' and my 'view today' of my garden from our back deck.
I've set my own Instagram challenge too, of posting a pattern a day, I love pattern and this is a great way to record some favourites. My username is @flowerpress, come and see, and if you feel like joining in I'm tagging them #patternaday, you don't need to do it everyday and it doesn't need to be fabric. And if you don't instagram don't worry, I think I'll do a mosaic catch up on the blog sometime. Happy Sunday.
These last two weeks have seen my brother's family, and then my sister
and her boy staying, and so we have managed to squeeze every drop of fun
from these holidays! My kids have gone happily back to school this week too and we've been lucky with
classes and teachers and classmates, so that's a relief. I hope the new school year started well for everyone else going back and especially for the little people starting out :-)
Taking advantage of all this space and quiet I made a trip yesterday to Remnant Warehouse to get some more basic white quilting fabric and to take advantage of their range of tempting precut fat quarters. So hard to choose! I've decided to make a girlier quilt for darling little Poppy who arrived five weeks early on Christmas Day and I'm having fun mixing and matching fabrics and choosing colours. This one will have lots of Flower Press fabrics in it just like the baby quilt I made late last year (can you pick the nine flower press prints in this pic above?). I'm dreaming of different quilting designs though and trying to settle on just one.
I have some new fabrics going up into the shop this week, yardage which turned up during the holidays. I have good stock of the larger format Blue Marbles fabric which I used in my Pillowcase tutorial. I've bought some for myself to make a duvet cover for Mr J. The boys adore their marble pillowcases and they haven't been off their beds since I made them, and those lego pencil cases have travelled everywhere this summer and went off to school on Monday. Don't you love it when your handmade objects become part of life and not just left on a shelf. I do.
Another creative pursuit I'm joining in this month is a #febphotoaday on Instagram. Today's theme is 'words', which I love, here's my contribution, my bookshelf, above. More creatives here.