Monthly Archives: March 2014

Preparing for the Passion

Easter is just a few weeks away. That was quick.

We don’t celebrate it big in our little family, but the memories of childhood make me feel that I would like to create that magic for my children too. I come from a Polish, Roman Catholic family, and though we did not continue going to weekly mass after I was about 11 or 12, we kept alive the Polish traditions and customs right into my siblings and my adulthood.

Some of my dearest childhood memories are of Easter time: taming my desire for something chosen during lent, days of preparing the feast for a large brunch after the fast, dying and decorating easter eggs and preparing easter baskets for blessing, dressing in the traditional costume posted to us by my babcia (grandmother) from Poland, the joyful Easter Sunday mass and blessing festival attended by family and friends,  sharing the egg before the feast and giving blessings to each other, celebrating with what family we had here in Australia and the friends who had become our family. These memories weave together a feeling of richness and depth, meaning and reverence, and it is something I find I miss in every-day adult life.

I do sense that now I have a little person to cherish and share with, some of these traditions will live on. Last year I was still too new to motherhood to be able to contemplate the preparations, this year I feel quite excited about getting together the basket for blessing and going to the Polish church with Miss K to experience the festival. I don’t expect to celebrate as large as we did when I was a child, but I am taking the first real steps towards a nourishing tradition for the Winters.

Hem of Easter dress for Miss K

Hem of Easter dress for Miss K

The last few days I have been getting Miss K’s costume ready. My auntie made her a dress out of an heirloom european pillowcase and I’ve been hand stitching a decorative border to it that my babcia in Poland gave me when she gifted me her treasury of lace and edgings from since she was young.

Hand stitching on heirloom decorative border lace

Hand stitching on heirloom decorative border lace

Traditionally, girls wear strings of spherical beads, red or in other colours. I decided to be a little different and make Miss K her own block and chain necklace to match the decorative border on the dress.

Block and chain necklace for Miss K

Block and chain necklace for Miss K

I’ve also started on a handmade Easter basket in which to put all the important things (mainly food) that need blessing. You can begin yours too by following my video tutorial on how to make coil baskets.

This is just the beginning of my preparations for the Easter celebration. A number of you have requested that I post a tutorial of how to dye easter eggs with onion skin the way I was taught as a child, I will gladly acquiesce to your request!

I will also post on what preparations are necessary for a great easter basket – a symbol of abundance and life, of plenty, of spring.

Of course here in Australia the seasons turn toward autumn, or the Nyoongar season of Djeran, the season of adulthood, which is the precursor to Makuru, the season of fertility in June and July. In this part of traditional Aboriginal Australia, fertility occurs in what is commonly called winter. This is because water is needed for fertility and summer has a way of drying and burning the landscape to a gold against a sky of relentless blue. We certainly do not have that sense of abandon and creation as one feels during a European Easter time, but as the heat subsides, green appears after autumn showers and with it the possibility of a mild and habitable landscape is once again here.

I hope you will join me during this last part of Passiontide. To explore the good and meaningful moments that busy hands can create. To remember what it is to be deep in the service of others, no matter what our belief; or as Leunig wrote:

“Let us live in such a way
That when we die
Our love will survive
And continue to grow.

Amen.”

 

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Today I used a bit more of my birthday cash on some fabric paints. I am really looking forward to seeing what is possible with these. Anyone out there had experience with Setacolor inks? I got mostly transparent ones and want to try and do watercolour painting with them.

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Colour and collage for a toddler

Drawing is a fairly new discovery for Miss K. At this present point in time she is not much interested in using walls, furniture or people as a canvas, although there are signs of this blossoming soon. I take full advantage of her partiality to paper. We have been making a family artwork recently and I wanted to share our creation thus far.

colour and collage

colour and collage

We have been using the Stockmar and Aretemis pencils, that I love so much. Ripping paper is fun and when I showed Miss K that using glue, these ripped pieces could be stuck onto the existing artwork, she enjoyed doing that very much.

Toddler colour and collage - Miss K pulling off a piece of collage to place it elsewhere

Toddler colour and collage – Miss K pulling off a piece of collage to place it elsewhere

It’s on a roll of paper that I hope will one day be completely covered in our efforts. It is so lovely to watch her discovering how to use the pencils.

A detail from Miss K and our joint colour and collage

A detail from Miss K and our joint colour and collage

Actually, it feels really good not to draw anything in particular. Miss K lets us know when we should draw and when she prefers to work alone. This reminds me of a post by Janet Lansbury in her blog post ‘Why Not Draw For a Child?‘. It’s all experimentation and we are all playing. I think Schiller would be pleased.

Miss K doesn’t seem at all phased or intimidated by what we are doing and in the end I feel she owns what is happening on the paper. Actually the artwork has been on the table for a few days and she comes back to it whenever she feels is right, beginning by asking me to open the pencil case.

Miss K placing down a collage piece. She also discovered that her toy car does not draw, although it makes rather satisfying sounds when used on paper.

Miss K placing down a collage piece. She also discovered that her toy car does not draw, although it makes rather satisfying sounds when used on paper.

Please post links to your family actives below to share with others. I’d love to get some more ideas too!

 

 

 

Quick sashiko cloth basket

Every now and then my dear husband comes to me with a very serious problem… there is a hole in the crutch of his jeans. This usually comes with a side comment that he was hoping to wear them the next day. I usually tell him to deposit them into the mending box, from which very few things return, though surprisingly they are often the only things that actually come out. This actually has nothing to do with how much I love him and much more to do with the fact that mending jeans reminds me of sashiko. Needless to say I have been known to eye off said jeans for months until they just get too worn to mend anymore. Poor jeans, poor husband, happy Mrs Winter.

Stitch detail - sashiko on old jeans

Stitch detail – sashiko on old jeans

I was particularly happy to finally get a pair of grey jeans from him, where the inside is much darker than the stone-washed outside. I started stitching the front of one leg many months ago with no real idea of what it might become; then a few days ago I looked at it and it came to me, I wanted to make a cloth basket. I have seen them around made of canvas in neutral, gold and bright colours and I had been thinking how much I’d love to make one.

There are many tips, designs and tutorials online on how to do sashiko from what I can gather, so I’m not covering that here. Below is a tutorial for the basket itself. It is quite large, perfect for a medium sized knitting wool collection or a small bin. The best fabrics to use are stiff and fairly thick. This was so quick to make and I really look forward to making more.

Large cloth basket tutorial

You will need:

pattern pieces

pattern pieces

80cm (30in) x 20cm (7.8 in) of feature fabric – this is the sashiko stitched jeans in my case
80cm (30in) x 12cm (4.7in) of hessian
one hessian circle with a 24cm (9.4in) diameter
one strong cotton (calico/canvas) circle, also 24cm (9.4in) in diameter

Instructions:

1. Finish off all the edges of the hessian rectangle piece. Finish off the edges of the hessian circle by zig-zaging or overlocking (surging) together with the strong cotton circle.

finishing off edges of hessian fabrics - circle detail

Cloth basket tutorial – finishing off edges of hessian fabrics – circle detail

2. Pin the hessian and feature rectangle pieces together at the desired edge and sew together

Sewing together the hessian and feature rectangle pieces

Sewing together the hessian and feature rectangle pieces

3. Fold this out and refold lengthwise, right sides together. Sew together side seam

sewing side seam

sewing side seam

4. Cut excess material from this side seam

Cloth basket tutorial - cutting off excess material from side seam

Cloth basket tutorial – cutting off excess material from side seam

5. Turn right side out and sew the same seam again (making a french seam)

stitching a french seam

stitching a french seam

6. Turn inside out and pin in circle piece to bottom edge.

(If you find the circle is too big, pin down half and hold the basket upright to see how big it should be. Mark this size, cut the new circle, finish this edge and pin this correctly sized circle to the bottom edge.)

Pin circle piece to the bottom edge

Pin circle piece to the bottom edge

7. Sew the circle to the feature piece using zig-zag for extra stiffness

8. Turn right side out and fold the lip down 1/3 and then 1/2 again. All done!

Folded down basket lip - here with a peg to keep lip and bin bag in place

Folded down basket lip – here with a peg to keep lip and bin bag in place

The lip does not stay in place so easily, but I really wanted the option of folding the edge of a bin bag into it so that rubbish doesn’t fall into the actual basket. I’ve used pegs to keep it in place. Did you solve this problem differently?

 

 

 

 

Coiled basket children’s toys

I was gardening and noticed that there is all this long, dried, leaf material just looking messy on the ground. It is flexible even though it is dry and so I figured it would be perfect to make into a basket. That was a little ambitious as there wasn’t enough for a large, adult basket, so I decided to make something for Miss K instead.

Basket making children's toys

Basket making children’s toys

In the beginning we were going to plant some succulents in there, but then she preferred to rip those up into pieces. The vessel quickly rose to prime place in her private outdoor kitchen.

Basket making children's toys

Basket making children’s toys

These vessels are quite quick and easy to make. You can use many things to decorate  them – feathers, shells, flowers, coloured thread, anything really. I just kept these ones quite plain.

Coil basket making - in Miss K's kitchen

Coil basket making – in Miss K’s kitchen

Making a basket out of found or unwanted material is very satisfying for me. It fits with what my friend once called my ‘wartime mentality’. Make do and mend, waste not want not, all of that jazz. As I couldn’t find any tutorials or how to-s online that I liked, I decided to make my own. This is my first video tutorial and I hope that it is helpful for those of you wanting to try this craft!

Watercolour Paeonia

Among a cacophony of longer-term craft projects I have going at the moment, I decided that I would like to do some watercolour painting. I needed something a bit more instantly gratifying and I’d seen some photos on Pinterest of beautiful flowers that I wanted to have… desire is one of my most motivating feelings, I’ll admit.

It’s my birthday today actually, and I have received some lovely cards. Nan sent me a little something with which I bought myself watercolour paper on Saturday. I got painting pretty quickly and these are my 4 favourites. Enjoy!

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