Wednesday, October 31, 2012


I'm in the middle of a huge assembly line on my dining table, but had to take a break to give you a look at my packaging for the embroidery kits. It's a hectic week, but I hope to have them listed in my shops this Friday or Monday at the latest.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Sweet home

I hope you're enjoying the sunshine today (if you're in Auckland anyway)! It's a good day for a picnic in the park, and to look at the fourth design in my DIY series.  

It's a little house with a jewelled roof and a long story.  This house is based on a photo I found online and pinned here, but at the time I couldn't find the source.  I originally used a version of it in my 'In the Neighbourhood' print a few years ago now, and when I was looking for a house for the kit, I went back to the Pinterest image for inspiration. I recently discovered that that Pinterest house is a real-life copy of the adorable house in the movie Up. 

As far as the embroidery goes, I'd rate the difficulty level as intermediate.  It has French knots around the windows, but they can be replaced by beads if you like.  French knots are actually not difficult at all, but I think if you've never done them, they can be a bit intimidating. It just takes a bit of practice!  I've also used scallop stitch for the roof tiles, which is an adapted version of a stitch I saw in Sublime Stitching. The rest is all running stitch and back-stitch or chain stitch. 

Next week I'll show you the final design, and get ready for Craft 2.0 next Saturday in Wellington (read about me here), where I will launch these kits and some lovely new decals I've also been making.  That means just one more week of late nights doing the final assembly of the kits. I can't wait to show you the final product; it looks great if I say so myself!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

A weekend away

Craig and I took the boys to Wellington for a few days over Labour weekend.  We've only ever gone there without the kids, but after this trip I really hope we can do it again soon.  I thought I'd share a few tips in case you'd like to go there with your little ones:

  • We took the scooters in our suitcase.  It was well worth it, as we could cover so much more ground than we would have otherwise and the boys stayed much more entertained while us oldies enjoyed the view (and the sun). 
  • Don't get stuck on Level 2 at Te Papa; the 4th floor also has an amazing kids area with pretend shop, scales, toy food, puzzles, etc. When we went it was completely empty. 
  • We walked to Oriental Bay (in the photo above) and were very impressed with the playground by the little beach.  There's so much to do around there.  Plus, the toilets were really good.  Huge (space for push chair/children), with natural light, a large mirror to make it look even lighter and bigger, a bench to put all your gear on.  It's little touches like these that make it easy for parents and show why Wellington is such a family-friendly place. 
  • There's another awesome playground and skate park at Waitangi Park (by the Chaffers Dock Building where the City Market is held on Sundays).
  • We had lunch at the Southern Cross, a huge pub with space for everyone.  Honestly, you could have a rugby team, coffee group, book club, whatever in there and they won't even know about each other.  The friendly people at the bar gave the boys little goody bags with stickers and colouring activities to keep them busy. Will definitely go there again. 
  • One afternoon we took the cable car up the hill to the Botanical Gardens.  It was great fun; the boys scooted around and spent ages playing on the WW2 Krupp gun while us oldies... yes, enjoyed the view and the sun. 
  • We stayed at these serviced apartments right behind the St James Theatre.  It's not very flash, but really central and one of the first bus stops in town when coming from the airport. We walked everywhere and only needed the bus to and from the airport.
  • And finally: take Metservice forecasts with a pinch of salt. We took hats and jackets for the predicted weather, but we only needed them when we landed back in Auckland on Sunday. Thanks for putting on the weather for us, Wellington!
What are your travel tips for Wellington? I'd love to find out about more day trips you can do with kids. 

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Spring outfit

It's been absolute ages since this blog had a new look, so just because I feel like it, here's a fresh new look for spring.  I hope you like it; I designed the pattern a little while ago and thought I should use it somewhere nice. Hope you're having a great day, by the way :)

Monday, October 15, 2012

Assembly line

If you popped in for a coffee in the next couple of weeks, this is an example of what might see: 

A table full of beads, thread, needles, instruction booklets and so on.  In various states of being measured out, folded, assembled.  It's all going quite well, but I had a disappointment last week when my long-awaited thread arrived minus one cone.  The worst thing about it wasn't even the cost, but the time it was going to take to unwind the replacement skeins.  If you've never done it, know that a skein can go from a lovely little rolled up loop to a knotty tangle in the time it takes to pull the wrong end or do something similarly small but disastrous.  Craig knew about this; he's helped me with my kits before.

When he saw the look on my face this weekend, he said he had an idea.  Five minutes later he had made this contraption with the boys' Kid Knex.  It works perfectly! It's like two little revolving 'fans' that turn when you pull the thread. Our boys are very keen to become inventors one day and it's easy to see that they certainly have the right genes to get there!

Thursday, October 4, 2012


The third design in my range of embroidery kits is a tree.  This is the easiest of the 5 and would be an ideal project for a complete beginner. I only used running stitch and straight stitches with beads as embellishment, but it's up to the stitcher as to which stitches they want to do, of course. 

I'd like to share the origins of this design, even though it has evolved so much and looks very different to the first one I made 3 years ago.  It started as a very personal project but I would like to talk about it here because I am always interested in other artists' process and inspiration.  Besides, the person who inspired it was very special and I would like to remember him here. In 2009 my cousin Hugo passed away in a microlite accident on his farm in South Africa and I found it very hard to deal with it because I was so far away.  One night I felt compelled to draw this little tree to symbolise his death (the fallen leaves), but also new beginnings in the form of blossoms on the tree. You see, his fiancee was pregnant with their first (and of course only) child. I made it into a little embroidery you can see over here and found the process very cathartic. While the design had a sad origin, I look at that hoop with fondness and know that it helped me to work through something really difficult.

Trees have always been symbolic of life.  I hope that everyone who stitches up one of these has a story to relate it to: a new baby, a change of direction, a new skill learnt.