Category Archives: Uncategorized

Knitted Chickens and a Rooster

Many years ago I learnt to make knitted chickens during my Waldorf/Steiner teacher training. This is a quick and easy craft idea that can be used as a last-minute gift or an addition for the nature table this time of year. It’s also really great for using up your odds-and-ends yarn ends stash (I know, I just can’t bring myself to throw them out either!)

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The basic pattern is just a knitted square using garter stitch. This project is also perfect for a beginning knitter and does not really require counting or measuring.

I suggest starting with a smaller square – I often cast on 10-20 stitches using size 4-5 needles and corresponding wool in a ‘chicken’ colour. I knit until the piece looks like a square (you can fold the square in half diagonally to get more accuracy, matching length and width) and then cast off. Keep the yarn end long to stitch the chicken up.

I fold the complete square diagonally to make a triangle and use the left over yarn end to stitch up one side to the ‘right angle’ point of the triangle, and then a little more on the next seam. I leave a space through which to stuff the chicken, making sure to get stuffing evenly (not too full) to the ends of the triangle. I then sew the rest of the seam up.

If there is still a yarn end long enough, I guide the needle back through the body to the ‘right angle’ point. I secure it with a knot at that point and then bring the thread through the stuffed body out the back and back down again to the secured point. I secure the yarn again and this creates a dip in the back. I then weave the yarn in and cut it.

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To make the beak and other wobbly bits (they have a proper name right?) I use a crochet hook and another colour of yarn.

To be honest, I’m not a crochet expert, so explanations of my haphazard approach are rather futile – I just crochet until it looks about right. Maybe you are able to glean something from these photos? Sorry if this doesn’t really help…

And just to show what you can do with some embellishments and different coloured yarn, I made a rooster as well this year!

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As a basic guide with the rooster, I gradually changed from grey to green on one corner of a larger knitted square. Once I’d sewn it together (same as the chicken) I crocheted a series of chain loops at the tail end and added a few more flat chains where the wings are for extra colour.

I also found this blog post with more detail and a slightly different approach.

This really is a great last-minute make and a stash-buster. Enjoy making!

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Far from quiet

So I haven’t written for about 2 weeks, but this can not to be attributed to having done little. It’s been a very interesting, beautiful, sad and productive two weeks.

At the beginning of these two weeks, I had a very good friend come to visit us from Melbourne. She is a talented artist whom we got to know in Berlin. We have the most amazing conversations about philosophy as neither of us shrink from difficult and demanding questions in these moments. Somehow, even though we seem to be diametrically opposed in some way, we end in agreement, or at times in respectful disagreement and always much enriched and enlivened by the discourse. I’ll write about her work soon in a separate post as it truly deserves the attention.

Today I attended my friend and mentor’s funeral. It was a beautiful and joyous event. It was a sad and thoughtful gathering too. He is the second person I know who has passed away gracefully and beautifully and this gives his friends and family grace and strength. I was blessed with the honour of speaking to him only a week ago as he lay; my heart is warm and full of this moment and of all the things I had learnt from him. A great and passionate teacher always leaves a strong impression, and as teaching is also my passion his passing and memory is helping stoke the fire that has been quietly smouldering ashes during this time of raising Miss K. I go back to teaching in August, and I am slowly building an eager hunger for the work again. Thank you John.

On the subject of my going back to teaching, well that job is in Berlin and at the moment we are in Australia – which means we are moving back, in two months time! You know what occupies my thoughts the most?

How on earth am I going to complete all of my craft projects before then?

What ought I do with all my craft supplies? What should I take with me?

 

Here is a sneak-peak of the projects I have going at the moment:

Coiled rope basket project - Mrs Winter Creates

Coiled rope basket project – Mrs Winter Creates

Knitted baby camisole project - Mrs Winter Creates

Knitted baby camisole project – Mrs Winter Creates

Water colour and pencils - Mrs Winter Creates

Water colour and pencils – Mrs Winter Creates

Minimalist handmade jewellery - Mrs Winter Creates

Minimalist handmade jewellery – Mrs Winter Creates

Self-designed, printed and made baby jacket - Mrs Winter Creates

Self-designed, printed and made baby jacket – Mrs Winter Creates

Straightgrain improvisational pleating contest dress - Mrs Winter Creates

Straightgrain improvisational pleating contest dress – Mrs Winter Creates

So, stay tuned for a host of patterns, projects, reviews and new etsy items.

The last picture above is of the fabrics I am using for the Straightgrain improvisational pleating contest – it is the first sewing contest I am entering, ever. Here is the button:

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.”

 

Bloglovin for those of you who do

I’m on Bloglovin now, so if you aren’t a Word-press person you can now…

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

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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Playsuit with a pleat from Elegance and Elephants

I’ve been making this awesome playsuit since Miss K. was about 9 months old. I think the one I finished today is about my 5th. It’s an easy to follow and adorable pattern. It might seem impractical for a baby without the snaps at the crotch, but I would like to try and convince you otherwise…

When Miss K. was born in November in Berlin, when outside it began to snow and I had my mother placing tea, chicory coffee and water by my feeding chair every few hours, I would dress baby almost exclusively in footed overalls. When a baby is so new, the bonus is that such clothing doesn’t squeeze on their delicate little tummy.

As she has gotten older, she has especially loved playing in sand and as you know, that stuff gets everywhere. With a properly legged playsuit, that particular problem is pretty much solved. Sure, it isn’t as easy as taking off some pants or leggings for those less than desirable parenting moments, in winter it takes some practise getting the straps undone under her jumper or jacket, but it has it’s perks and is called a playsuit for a very good reason. I would also generally rate clothing as easier to clean than sand sticking to a soft baby bum.

Pleated Playsuit from Elegance and Elephants

Pleated Playsuit from Elegance and Elephants

This design from Elegance and Elephants is an easy and enjoyable sewing project. It is actually the first PDF pattern I have ever made and has exceeded my expectations. It is so much easier to follow the instructions given with photos and I’ve traced multiple sizes of the pattern onto baking paper. Best of all, I reckon the finished playsuit is a great gift for other little people.

The first one I made in all peach fabric with just the straps, lining, pockets and cuffs in a contrasting fabric. It was the size 12 months version. Here are some photos:

The first Pleated Playsuit (Elephants and Elegance) I made for Miss K

The first Pleated Playsuit (Elephants and Elegance) I made for Miss K

Strap detail of Pleated Playsuit from Elegance & Elephants

Strap detail of Pleated Playsuit from Elegance & Elephants

It actually still fits on her, albeit rather tightly, 6 months later. Sadly, I don’t think I will be using it again, so I needed to make another. I decided to skip the size 18 months and go straight for size 2. It is definitely too big, so I guess I will need to make an 18 months one as well.

The Pleated Playsuit (Elephants and Elegance) I made for Miss K

The size 2 Pleated Playsuit (Elephants and Elegance) I made for Miss K

As you can see, I got a bit creative with the fabric combinations. That’s because I don’t see the point in hiding a brilliant Nani Iro print and I wanted it for all to see on the bodice. If you are wondering where to get Nani Iro fabric from, I highly recommend buying it from Frances at Miss Matatabi on Etsy. Although I’ve never met the lass, she is very helpful and stocks an excellent range.

Nani Iro print in Elegance & Elephant's Pleated Playsuit

Nani Iro print in Elegance & Elephant’s Pleated Playsuit

As the bodice is contrasting I made the straps and lining in the pant material and the pockets and cuffs in the beautiful double gauze Nani Iro print. The pants are made of a thicker, but still fairly soft, cotton for wear and tear.

I’m making another at the moment for a friend with Liberty print in the same way. In fact I really like how you can show off a nice and delicate fabric in a not so delicately used item of clothing.

Pleated Playsuit (E&E) in use. A reclining Miss K.

Pleated Playsuit (E&E) in use. A reclining Miss K.

Time to play!

What are your favourite PDF patterns. I’d love to try some new projects.

I’m on Etsy!

I’ve taken the leap. It is a relatively small leap, but I pressed the button and opened shop at Etsy.

I’ve started with block and chain necklaces (tutorial here), many of which I have made just because I think they look great and someone out there might fall in love with them. Have a look to see if you might be that special someone, I’d mighty appreciate it (and any feedback on the store).

Other than that and sewing, I’ve been getting very excited by two books from the dye and fabric artist India Flint. Today I collected some leaves, nuts and flowers at a native park near here to play with. Some exciting news is that my friend at Lebenskünstler and I are ordering an Indigo dye bath to experiment with! I just can’t wait.

 

Hot Chilli Summer – how to make chilli oil

It was hot again today. Yucky, sticky, muggy hot. So I thought, let’s make chilli oil!

chilli baby - how to make hot chilli oil

chilli baby – how to make hot chilli oil

If something survives my style of gardening and the heat at the moment, then it deserves some recognition. Our chillies are really taking to the treatment they get, and surplus is my favourite thing. This post is not much more than a homage to our chillies.

hot green chilli - how to make chilli oil

hot green chilli – how to make chilli oil

On the topic of brave fruit, Miss K. is fascinated by the chillies, which just seems to pop up so quickly. Today as we picked the chillies to make the oil, she took a bite out of one. I was rather worried, forgot to stay calm as I ran to her saying ‘no, no’ and fished it out of her mouth. I took a bite to see how hot it was and whoa, that was some potent heat I had in my mouth, but you know what – she did not flinch. Amazing girl.

hot chilli oil

how to make hot chilli oil

Anyways, I needed to do something with all these chillies, so I thought oil. This way I could preserve them and be able to use them countless amounts of times. Below is the simple recipe.

Ingredients:

1 cup of chopped fresh chillies
500mL (17oz) of oil – I used grapeseed oil for it’s higher temp. threshold and mild flavour

Chop up chillies and put into pan with all the oil. Let it simmer for 5 or 10 minutes just to make sure it won’t grow legs. Allow this too cool while you boil or steam the glass jar/bottle in which you will preserve your oil. Carefully get the oil inside your jar/bottle.

Careful of what your hands touch and clean up thoroughly so you don’t blind anyone accidentally.

Actually, I hear from quite a few people to just cut up the chillies and put them in the oil, without cooking or anything. Either way, the oil and chillies have to sit for a week or so before getting the chilli flavour. Once mine has the flavour going I’ll post a recipe using it.

My jar of chilli oil in a rather unglamorous photo

My jar of chilli oil in a rather unglamorous photo