Sunday, 31 January 2016

Shearing time at Winter Creek

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It seems like an age since I have made any projects.  Moving interstate, starting a new job and setting up our small holding 'Winter Creek' has taken up every ounce of my spare time. 

My craft room is set up and ready to go but each time I go in, I can't seem to string enough hours together to make starting a project worthwhile.

However, all that changed on Friday with the arrival of our shearer.  That's right .. I finally have access to a supply of wool and what's more, the wool is from our very own alpacas - Martha, Sally, Jefferson and Little Bear.

Grazing happily before the big shear.
Being newbie alpaca owners, we were a bit concerned when the shearer said that we needed to round them up in a pen because, firstly, we didn't have a pen and secondly, how do you 'round' them up?

We improvised by enclosing our chicken coop with some pickets and wire which took about an hour and when we turned around, our girls (and Jefferson) were lining up at the entrance - couldn't have been easier.  Just called them in and shut the gate.  They are easier to handle than our dog.

I was really looking forward to seeing how it is all done.  Growing up in Australia, everyone knows about sheep shearing.  We learn all about the importance of wool in establishing the colony that went on to become our nation - but very little is known about alpaca shearing.

Happy smiles - before the wrangling started

I invited Deb and Andie along to have a look as it's always nice to have a day out in the country and it was lucky they were there when Sally made a bolt for it after shearing and we needed all hands on deck to gently coax her back to the chicken/alpaca holding pen.

Genuine wrangling in action

Sally is in there somewhere

She doesn't look all that impressed with her new clip

Glorious alpaca fleece
I must admit I was a bit shocked when they were completely trussed, feet tied like a pig on a spit.  Surely they must find that distressing, but to their credit, they were really good.  I think they handled it better than I did.  The end result though was a large number of bags filled to the brim with what seems like acres of
Cleaned fleece - fluffy like a cloud

Then the fun started.  I picked the fleece to get out the debris (or VM as it is called), washed and soaked it in hot water, picked it again to get the clean fluffiness I was after and carded the fleece using my hand carders.  

1st rolag - decided to get a drum carder
after about 100 of these.

It didn't take too many hours to realise that hand carding just wasn't going to cut it, so, as I type, I am eagerly awaiting the delivery of my new drum carder.  Let the games begin.

A gorgeous basket of lovliness

Time for some serious carding action

Finally, some spinning action
In the meantime, I was thrilled to be able to get 'Evie' out and begin to spin our hand fed wool.  I can't begin to tell you how wonderful that felt.

The end result - I hope Sally is proud.

 .. and here is the end result.  My first skein of 'Sally'.

Sally says 'Hello'

Thanks so much for visiting.
Louise, Deb & Andie

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Sunday, 24 January 2016

Sari Silk Crochet Cowl

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I've been a bit obsessed with recycled sari yarn lately.  Not long ago I made some crochet placemats out of sari ribbon and while I was purchasing the yarn for that, I became intrigued by the silk yarn and one thing lead to another (as they do) and I ended up placing an order for the silk yarn as well.

The yarn itself is as soft and silky as the name suggests and while mostly uniform, there still is a little texture to add interest along with the muted colour palette.  My original plan was to use it for weaving, but sadly this time of year there simply isn't time to get the loom out and so with my trusty crochet hook in hand a cowl was soon under way.

You will need:

1 skein Machine Spun Sari Silk Yarn
Size 5mm crochet hook


Chain 70 and slip stitch into first chain to form loop, being careful not to twist the chain when joining

*Row 1:   Chain 2 (forms first double crochet) Double crochet (DC) into front of each chain in the loop. Complete entire loop and slip stitch to join.

Row 2:  Chain 1 (forms first single crochet) Single crochet (SC) into front of each chain in the loop.  Complete entire loop and slip stitch to join.*

* to * forms pattern. Continue to crochet until cowl is desired width (our cowl repeats the pattern 8 times)

Weave in ends

I really enjoyed working with the sari yarn, this is a one skein project and lucky for me I purchased a few skeins when I placed my order, so I might just get to weave with it after all.

Happy crocheting


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Sunday, 13 December 2015

Homemade Chutney

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I've been doing a lot of preserving lately and while not quite obsessed, I have spent the last few months collecting every glass jar that comes into the house with thoughts of filling them to the brim with pickles, preserves and jams.  One thing I've been wanting to make for a while is a really good tomato based chutney.  When I mentioned this to a work colleague she raved about a friend's chutney, but had no way of getting the recipe so I've been biding my time, looking through recipe books to see if one caught my eye.

In the end it wasn't a recipe book that caught my imagination, but Mary Berry's TV show and in a fantastic twist of fate, the recipe is on youtube and so simple that anyone with basic cooking skills could make it.

Sadly, my small container garden is no where near as productive as I need it to be to provide a couple of kilos of veggies, but we do live very close to a market and so as I was spending my Saturday morning driving children to where they needed to be, my husband was sent on a mission to the markets with a long list of vegetables and spices to purchase.
Making any preserve is a long and satisfying project so you do need to set aside a couple of hours while pots of lovely vegetables and spices simmer gently on the stove.

In the end, the chutney smelled divine and I filled every jar I had to the brim.  Mary says it will last up to two years, but given how delicious it is, in this household I don't think we'll be having to worry about use by dates.

Happy preserving


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Thursday, 10 December 2015

Joyous Gingerbread Gift Pack

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We've been busily (and excitedly) coming up with a project for Lincraft this festive season.

You can get all of the details of our "Joyous Gingerbread Gift Pack" over at the Lincraft website

Happy crafting

Deb and Louise

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Sunday, 22 November 2015

Charming Advent Pouches

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Many years ago, I made an Advent Calendar for Deb and her family when they were living in North Yorkshire.  (The original post can be found here.)

I was so happy that she loved it and, what's more, uses it every single year .. and it got me thinking.  A handmade advent calendar is a wonderful present for the little ones - but it doesn't have to be elaborate.  The little fabric pouches can be used in many different ways.

We thought we would show you a very simple way to make the pouches using charm squares (or if you would like to make your own - simply cut your fabric into 5" x 5" squares)


52 charm squares.  If you wish, the inside can be a plain fabric in which case, you would only need 26 'Christmas' squares of fabric.

Embroidery thread and needle

Fabric pen


1.  Line up your charm squares - right sides facing each other
2.  Stitch along one edge.  This is a fabulous project for chain piecing.
3.  Snip the chain between the fabric.
4.  Iron each set open
5.  Once the set is open, iron the sets in half lengthways, ready for sewing.
6.  Press closed and begin sewing from the corners.  
7.  Once you have stitched about 1.5" past the fabric join, stop, lift the needle and pull the fabric through the machine for about 1.5" - essentially making a giant stitch.  Picture 7 shows that the needles left the fabric at 'a' and didn't start sewing again until 'b'.  Finish the seam and then snip through the thread of the large stitch.  This creates the opening that the pouch will be pulled through.
8.  Using the gap that has just been created, turn the pouch inside out, press and then hand sew the small gap closed.
9.  Push one end of the pouch into the other.
10. Using a fabric pen, either draw (if you are confident and trace if you are not) the number of the bag.  Position the number towards the bottom so that the number is not distorted when the bag is closed.
11.  Using embroidery thread, chain stitch each number.

Once you get a system going, the pouches come together very quickly and then you can spend a relaxing evening in front of the television hand sewing all the numbers of advent.

If you are a bit stuck for ideas, what about - 
Action fabric for a little action man

  • Green combat fabric can be used for the little 'Action' man in your life.  It is green after all. Using a red ribbon to secure the pouches will give them a festive feel.  

Christmas 'Funk'
  • The 'hard to buy for' teen in your life might appreciate something tailored specifically for them.  What about some funky fabric in Christmas colours?

Super adorable faeries.

  • And we can't forget all the little Christmas Faeries in your life.  The fabric can be fussy cut to ensure that there is a faery on the front of each pouch.

The pouches can be used in so many ways - in a basket or a box.  They can be pegged onto Christmas twine with little pegs or you can create a 'hide 'n seek' advent by hiding one each day.  The little ones will love that.

Happy Christmas,
Louise & Deb

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