Monday, 31 December 2012

The year that was...

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It's hard to believe that 2012 is drawing to a close already.  Didn't we just celebrate the new year a few months ago?

It's been a busy year in the Fitzbirch households.  Children moving from school to university (and the exam stresses that go hand in hand with that process) and moving in and out of home, trips to the emergency department, holidays, spending time with family and friends - these last twelve months really do seem to have been a whirlwind of activity.  Through the everyday dramas of family life though,  Louise and I did come up with the idea to start this blog, which has been a beacon of calmness in our busy lives.  We've loved sharing our crafts with you, along with the thoughts and processes behind every project, and we've been delighted with your feedback, follows and likes.  We truly appreciate that you choose to read and craft along with us.


Among our favourite projects for the year have been learning how to crochet roses and we've loved them so much we've used them in a few of our blog updates including our Knitted Tea Cosy and Doorstop.  






We also can't go past Louise's teenage son actually asking for a knitted jumper and the wonderful result (which you can see here) plus the  delight of learning to use a knitting loom, which has produced a few quick and easy items including a pair of stripy leg warmers.



What's in store for 2013 in our world of craft?  Embroidery, crochet, afghans, knitted mittens and gloves and that's just for starters.  Louise is all signed up for the Debbie Abrahams 'Mystery Blanket KAL' (http://www.debbieabrahams.com/site/mysteryblanket) and I personally can't wait to see the final result!  Of course it also goes without saying that a bigger yarn stash is also something we're both aiming for in 2013...

Happy New Year

Deb

Friday, 28 December 2012

Our Newest Blogger ..

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Leonardo Da Vinci - WIP
My daughter (and Deb's Niece) Hayley, has just opened her online cross stitch business - XSquared.  She has been stitching for years and has decided to sell patterns and threads of all the wonderful old Masters as well as some amazing fractal designs.

Just as I surround myself with Yarn from all over the place, she has been doing the same with threads and patterns and, let me tell you, our house is full.  I can only forsee one problem - I know I am going to want to get back into cross stitch but it means sacrificing knitting time.  Dilemma!

Unpacking - Exciting Day
XSquared - Contemporary & Fine Art Cross Stitch

XSquared - Facebook 

and Pinterest

Hayley ...  "I like the calming aspect of cross stitch.  I like the fact that I can zone out from work and University and sew for hours and hours,.. and to be able to create a fine art masterpiece is something I never tire of"


We wish you well Hayley.

Happy Stitching,

Louise 

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Saturday, 22 December 2012

15 Days of Christmas Craft

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“Christmas waves a magic wand over this world, and behold, everything is softer and more beautiful. ” 
Norman Vincent Peale



This time of year is usually frantic and Christmas is upon us before we realise.  Deb and I have taken some time to create some Christmas decorations that, in some cases, are made in just 5 minutes.  Some can be given as gifts, some can to used to embellish presents.  All of them are simple (relatively) and some can easily be made by children. We hope that they inspire you to create your own "Crafty Christmas".


2 Sisters Crafting ... 

Miniature sweaters that look adorable on the Christmas tree. Little coat hangers can be made using florists wire.  A link to the pattern is provided.  
           

Button Wreaths

These simple decorations take next to no time and can be made by children with just a tiny bit of adult supervision

Simple Knitted Christmas Baubles

A great way to use up small amounts of yarn using DPN's and they look beautiful on the tree. Any stitch can be used - and the addition of some beads is always a lovely touch.

No-Sew Christmas Elf Tutu

Perfect for the little ones who feel the need to dress up as Santa's little helper.

An Edgy Christmas

A knitted garland using the 'sawtooth' knitting pattern.  It's a surprisingly simple pattern.

Woolly Christmas Wreath

A simple way to create a welcoming wreath for your front door.

French Knitted Decorations

What do you do with all the french knitting created by children?  Turn it into these cute little decorations.

Crafty the Snowman

This snowman was made in 5 minutes using items that were already in our craft basket.  AND, he is completely re-usable.

Crochet Snowflakes

These beautiful little snowflakes can be used as Christmas gift tags, Christmas tree decorations or strung as a garland.  Let it snow .. let it snow .. let it snow

A Cosy Christmas

A simple pattern for a cute little cosy for the 'after christmas dinner cup of tea'

Sequin Christmas Baubles

How effective can one decoration be?  These baubles are full of bling and catch all the light from the Christmas tree.

Christmas Wine Cosy

Are you giving wine as a gift for a work colleague?  These knitted cosies are the perfect 'gift wrap'.

Shabby Christmas Garland

Christmas fabric and lights combine to create a beautiful (and simple) garland.


5 Minute Ways to Decorate with Yarn

Who doesn't want to be constantly surrounded by their yarn stash.  Here are just a few examples of how to display yarn at Christmas.

Rocky Road

What more can you say?  Delicious

Felt Christmas Trees

Adorable little trees that look magical anywhere.


Deb and I have really enjoyed these past couple of weeks creating all our Christmas items.

In the words of everybody's favourite author, Dr Seuss:

"What if Christmas, he thought, doesn't come from a store? What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more?" 

We would like to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Crafty New Year.

Deb & Louise 

Friday, 21 December 2012

Quick Coffee Cosy

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The purl bind off creates a nice brim 
In keeping with my quick little series about knitted gift giving, I have made a friend a coffee mug cosy.

Every morning she comes into work holding a *insert very large fast food chain*'s large coffee.  The take-away cup was just asking for a quirky little cosy and so I quickly knitted one for her for Christmas.

I made it the night before I gave it to her and when she effusively thanked me, I felt a bit awkward as it took next-to-no time to make.

The pattern I used is very simple and can be found at  Kureyon Coffee Cozy  It's a great example of the little things that a knitter can make and give as gifts and, as I had the Noro Sock wool in my stash, it really cost me nothing.

I did not use the crochet cast-on and my normal method (cable cast-on) worked well.  It knits up in no time.  In fact, there is still time to knit quite a few for Christmas and, if you made a coffee now, you could knit a cosy by the time it got cold.  Almost!

Noro Cosy
Happy Knitting and Happy Christmas,
Louise

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Wednesday, 19 December 2012

"I can make it myself" Felt Journal

Pin It I have always loved to watch the growing independence of my children.  From the  moment  they could first reach the tap to get themselves a drink or open what was once unreachable door, to the delight of being able to tie their own shoelaces or the poignant morning when they first walked themselves to school, I haven't made a demonstrative outburst at these small achievements, but I've quietly smiled and been thankful for the little people we've produced.  When Andie, my 11 year old decided that she was going to make herself a little felt journal, it was again a delight to sit back and watch the project develop before my eyes...and camera!

 


Materials

2 Pieces of contrasting felt, plus some small pieces for embellishment.
Tape measure
Tailors chalk
Measuring tape or ruler
Scissors
Paper (folded A4 is fine)
Cotton
Sewing needle





To make the cover, Andie cut one 23cm x 15cm (9in x 6in) and in the contrasting colour, two felt pieces 14cm x 11cm (approx 5 and  a half x 4in)















For the decorative front pocket , Andie cut a piece of felt 9cm x 10cm (approx 3 and a half x 4in), cut decorative felt petals and found a sparkly button.  Sew button as the anchor for the petals, fold the largest price of felt in half (this will be the cover for the journal) and sew the pocket onto the cover.  We used white embroidery thread for the sewing part of the project.

When the front cover is complete, sew the inner panels to the inside of the journal covers.




Andie then folded and cut several sheets of A4 paper to size and pierced holes in the centre fold with a large needle.  Sew and tie paper in place.



I'm not sure what secrets or ideas will be written in this homemade book, but regardless, an eleven year old spent a delightful afternoon planning and crafting!


Deb

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Monday, 17 December 2012

Owl Cowl

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I am always a bit nervous about giving things I have knitted as gifts.  I have a passion for knitting and all things fibre, but I have noticed that not everyone shares this - strange I know, but there it is.  This year though, it's time to get serious and I have all manner of hand knitted items to give away to friends.

The first is an Owl Cowl.  One of our Teachers at work is moving back to South Australia and earlier on in the year, she mentioned that she loves owls and all things owl-ish.

I spent a bit of time browsing for a pattern and came across the 'Hedwig Owl Cowl' by Jeni Anderson on Ravelry.  It is not a free pattern but I liked it enormously, spent the $3.41AUS for the pattern and I was ready to go.

Jeni has done a great job with the pattern.  It is remarkably easy to knit (I finished it in one evening) and is very cute and effective.  I used yarn from my stash, spent $6.00 on buttons so including the pattern, I have a wonderful hand made gift to give for under $10.00.
Happy Knitting,
Louise

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Friday, 14 December 2012

More 5 Minute Ways to Decorate with Yarn

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Made in 5 mins
I have a crafty snowman on my desk that I made in a matter of 5 minutes.  (You can read about it here)

I really like the idea that all the items were re-usable and this got me looking at my craft supplies in a different light  .. what else could I make?

A Plum Pudding ..


.. & Christmas Hamper Items and Cupcakes



However, I needed a Christmas tree so I had a quick rummage through my yarn stash and came across some Moda Vera Jazz.  I have never made anything with this .. the fuzz makes the yarn look so much thicker than it is.  This may be fine with yarn, but it's the last thing I look for if I'm trying to make flattering items.  This could be perfect as a Christmas tree.

Christmas tree pin cushion .. decoration .. craft organiser?

Materials Required


  • Silicone Cupcake mould
  • Plasticine
  • Knitting needle
  • 'Fluffy' yarn (and a wool winder if possible)
  • Beads
  • Pearl Head pins
  • Needle and thread (for stringing beads)

Step 1.  Wind the wool into 3 different size balls.

Step 2.  Firmly place a piece of plasticine into the bottom of the cupcake mould and place knitting needle. Make sure it is firm.

Step 3.  Place the largest of the balls over the knitting needle followed by the medium sized and then the smallest to create a Christmas tree shape.

Step 4.  String the beads together to make a garland and then secure it to the tree using pins in each end of the garland.

Step 5.  Time to decorate.  I used pearl pins to look like little baubles.

In the end, I have another re-usable Christmas decoration but this one helped me organise my craft items.  I wound some yarn, strung some beads and I have a cute little pin cushion for the festive season.

Now, let's see what else I can put my hands on ..

More FitzBirch Crafty Christmas Ideas



Happy crafting and Happy Christmas,
Louise

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Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Rocky Road

Pin It This really isn't a cooking blog, but in my defence, making Rocky Road is so simple that it's difficult to consider it cooking - more melting and mixing, with a teency bit of chopping for good measure.  Rocky Road is a very Australian treat and it makes a lovely home-made gift for chocolate lovers.    This is my own recipe, but feel free to alter the amount of ingredients if, for example, you wanted to omit the nuts and add more marshmallow or cherries.  The quantites given will only make about four small gift bags and I recommend doubling the mixture, because if you're anything like me, there may be quite a lot of taste testing along the way, and it may not leave enough left over to actually give out as gifts!

Ingredients

2 x 200g blocks of chocolate-One milk and one dark.
Half a cup of Glace Cherries - chopped.
Half a cup of unsalted peanuts - chopped.
One cup of mini marshmallows.
Half a cup of Desiccated Coconut.





Method

Melt chocolate in the microwave and add to dry ingredients in a bowl.
Mix together gently and pour out onto to silicone mat to set.  You can pop it in the fridge to set the mix, which is recommended in the height of the Australian Summer!
When set, chop into chunks and gift wrap. 




Happy Cooking

Deb

More FitzBirch Crafty Christmas Ideas

Crafty the Snowman



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Monday, 10 December 2012

Shabby Christmas Garland

Pin It A while ago I purchased some fat quarters of Christmas fabric with the intention of putting together some sort of patchwork Christmas decoration.  Whilst I was waiting for the sewing inspiration to hit, a non-sewing decoration came to mind, so I thought at least some of the fabric could be used now, while I put the rest aside for a sewing project later on.

This is a very simple project and all up took less than an hour to put together.


Materials

Four or Five fat quarters of Christmas fabric (or any left over scraps you my have)
A strand of Christmas lights
Scissors


Method

Cut fat quarters in half.  Fold cut pieces in half lengthways and cut strips of fabric in approx 2.5cm (1 inch strips).
Tie loosely around Christmas lights.
Hang over mantlepiece.


I used 5 halves of my fat quarters to fit a string of 20 fairy lights.

Happy Christmas Crafting

Deb

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 More FitzBirch Crafty Christmas Ideas

Friday, 7 December 2012

Felt Christmas Trees

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Using felt always reminds of art class at school. I'm not sure why, as I have no specific memory of making anything out of felt, unlike the macrame plant pot hanger, knitting or sewing, which I can recall in an instant. Perhaps it's the childlike comfort of the fabric that makes me recall my pre-teen years and maybe that's the reason I enjoyed this project so much.  It's an ideal project for children, but a lovely afternoon of crafting for adults too.

Materials

Felt 
Emboridery or crochet cotton
Sequins and seedbeads (for children I'd recommend glue, rather than sewing and using the seedbeads to hold the seqins in place)
Braid or Ribbon to hang


Method

Use double layer of felt in the colour of your choice, place Christmas tree template on fabric and cut around shape.

Rather than draw the tree shape by hand, I used a template I found on google images and printed it before cutting and pinning the tree to my felt. 

Once the tree shape is cut, sew using the embroidery or crochet cotton in the stitch of your choice.  I used a different stitch for each of my three trees, blanket stitch, running stitch and star stitch.  For younger children, I would recommend a basic running stitch.

Sew or glue sequins in place and add braid or ribbon loop for hanging.

These were originally going to be ornaments for our Christmas tree, but they have been seconded to act as gift tags for now.  Perhaps next year I might make a few more and string them together as a garland!

Happy Holidays

Deb

 More FitzBirch Crafty Christmas Ideas



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Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Christmas Wine Cosies

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At the end of the school year every Teacher that I work with is exhausted .. physically and emotionally.  Everyone is looking forward to the expanse of summer holidays to recharge and relax. 

All that anyone wants is a nice glass of wine (or 2) so this makes Christmas gift giving easy.  It's difficult to make a bottle of wine look personal and thoughtful though. 

That is, until I came across an idea from Pinterest to use the sleeve of an old jumper as a wine cosy.  I liked this idea but the more I thought about it, the more dubious I became.  I was a bit concerned that the bulk of the jumper sewn together on the underside of the bottle could cause the bottle to be a bit unstable and that the general increasing that is part of a sleeve, might make the cosy a bit loose.  Also, patterned sleeves are usually only patterned along the top - the underside remains plain and I wanted the pattern to be uniform all the way round.

I loved the idea of them though, so I decided to make my own.

I have come up with 3 very simple patterns that use scraps of wool and the decorating ideas are endless.

Festive, decorative and very personal.


Red Cosy

Using size 5 DPN's and 8ply, cast on 40 stitches and divide evenly onto 4 needles.
1st row: establish K2, P2 ribbing.
Repeat for the length of the bottle neck (usually about 7cm).

1st pattern row:  Knit increasing 4 stitches evenly across each needle.
2nd row: (mock cable - Leave 1st stitch on the needle, knit second stitch, then knit 1st stitch and slip both off at the same time,) P3, Cable 3 (slip 3 stitches onto cable needle and hold at back, K3, K3 cable stitches), P3.  Repeat for each needle.
3rd row: K2, P3, K6, P3 to end
4th & 5th row: same as 3rd row
6th row: Mock cable, P3, K6, P3
7th & 8th & 9th row: same as 3rd row
10th row: same as second
rows 2 through 10 form the pattern repeat.
Continue until your work measures 1cm from the bottom of the bottle.
K to end
Next row: decrease one stitch at each end of each needle
Repeat these 2 rows until you have 4 stitches per needle.  Leaving a tail of about 15cm, cut your wool and thread it through a wool/tapestry needle and pick up each on of the stitches and pull firmly.  Secure the tail and weave the end back into the knitting and there you have it. 

Creme Cosy


Using size 5 DPN's and a worsted weight wool (8ply) cast on 40 stitches and divide evenly onto 4 needles.
Christmas Spirit
1st row: establish K2, P2 ribbing.
Repeat for the length of the bottle neck (usually about 7cm).
1st pattern row: Knit increasing 6 stitches evenly across each needle (64 stitches in total)
2nd row:  Cable 6 back (slip 3 stitches onto cable needle and hold at back of work, K3, K3 cable needle stitches), P2, Cable 6 Front (slip 3 stitches onto cable needle and hold at front of work, K3, K3 cable needle stitches), P2, repeat to end
3rd row: P2, K6, P2, K6 repeat to end.
rows 3 through 7: same as 3rd.
8th row: same as 2nd
These 8 rows form the pattern.  Continue knitting until your work measures 1cm from the bottom of the bottle.
K to end
Next row: decrease one stitch at each end of each needle
Repeat these 2 rows until you have 4 stitches per needle.  Leaving a tail of about 15cm, cut your wool and thread it through a wool/tapestry needle and pick up each on of the stitches and pull firmly.  Secure the tail and weave the end back into the knitting.
To finish, knit I-cord and thread through a toggle or bead.

Green Cosy 

Using size 5 DPN's and a worsted weight wool (8ply) cast on 40 stitches and divide evenly onto 4 needles.
1st row: establish K2, P2 ribbing.
Repeat for the length of the bottle neck (usually about 7cm).
1st row: Knit, increasing 4 stitches evenly on each needle (56 Stitches)
2nd row: K4, P1, K1, P1, K1, P1, K1, K to end of row
3rd row: K4, K1, P1, K1, P1, K1, P1, K to end of row
rows 2 and 3 form the basis of the pattern.
Continue knitting until your work measures 1cm from the bottom of the bottle.
K to end
Next row: decrease one stitch at each end of each needle
Repeat these 2 rows until you have 4 stitches per needle.  Leaving a tail of about 15cm, cut your wool and thread it through a wool/tapestry needle and pick up each on of the stitches and pull firmly.  Secure the tail and weave the end back into the knitting.
To finish, knit a tiny scarf using 8ply on size 3 needles.  5 stitches of garter stitch until desired length.
Finish with a bit of fringing and sew on 3 little buttons.

Hope you enjoy knitting them as much as I did .. I now have 3 Christmas presents done so I am very pleased.

Other Holiday Cosy Ideas

Halloween
Floral Cosy 1
Floral Cosy 2

More FitzBirch Crafty Christmas Ideas

Crafty the Snowman

Happy knitting
Louise

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Monday, 3 December 2012

Sequin Christmas Baubles

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"Less is more" is a saying I firmly believe in...unless it involves lights and sparkles on a Christmas tree.  I like our tree to have bling and these quick and simple decorations are a fantastic cheap way of adding shine to the holidays.







Materials

Polystyrene Balls (purchased from craft shop)
Sequins
Sewing Pins
Ribbon










Method

Using sequin curved side facing down, push pin through centre of sequin into the polystyrene ball.  Continue to cover the ball with sequins, ensuring that they overlap, until ball is completely covered.  Tie ribbon in a bow and attach using a pin.




It really is that simple and these shiny little baubles will refelct the lights from the tree to every corner of your room.


Happy Holidays


Deb

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More FitzBirch Crafty Christmas Ideas

Crafty the Snowman
Crochet Snowflakes
Christmas Tea Cosy




Saturday, 1 December 2012

A Cosy Christmas

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A while ago, Louise came up with a fabulous idea for a collaborative project where she would knit some tea cosies and I would crochet the decorations for them.  It all went very well with our first cosy, but the second has been a very long exercise in frustration for me, culminating in a phone call bemoaning the fact that I was completely stuck and had no idea how to proceed.  The only thing that was keeping me going was that I was desperate to start loom knitting a bag and had promised myself that I wouldn't even select the yarn for that  until this cosy was complete...turned out it was the perfect motivation!

The knitting pattern for the cosy is:

BASIC KNITTED PATTERN TEMPLATE

Medium sized tea pot
Cast on 84 stitches and set up a K1, P1 rib and then rib 4 rows.
5th row - Rib 40, cast off next 4 stitches and Rib to end
6th row - Continue in established rib pattern for 40 stitches, turn
Continue for 38 more rows.
Join wool to remaining 40 stitch and continue to rib.
Change to DPN needles (10 stitches per needle)
1st row - Rib to end (join up)
2nd row - decrease (K2tog) at each end of each needle.
Continue row 1 & 2 until 2 stitches remain on each needle.
Using a wool needle, thread the wool through the stitches and pull together. 
Sew the bottom of the cosy together and you are done.

Pom Pom instructions. 
These pom poms are just the right size for a tea cosy.  No mess, no fuss.  They couldn't be easier - Quickest, Easiest Pom Poms made using a fork - Instructions

Initially I decided to decorate the cosy with crochet snowflakes and had a wonderful time selecting patterns from the internet and crocheted enough to cover the little cosy in a flurry of flakes, however it just didn't seem to look right.  To make the snowflakes the correct size to fit on the cosy, I had to use a small hook and crochet cotton, but then they looked far too delicate against the thick rib and comforting nature of the cosy.  I spent a good week or so pinning the snowflakes in different positions and at one point even started to crochet a little overlay that could slip onto the cosy with the snowflakes attached, but I still wasn't happy.  Then, in a moment of clarity I decided to follow my instincts and use the lovely rustic feel of this cosy and go for a country Christmas theme.


As a person quite new to crochet (you can follow my crochet journey here) even the simple act of crocheting a flat circle requires a bit of research.  I found this youtube video which was enormously helpful and for the snowman's head crocheted a circle with 3 rows and for the main body, I did five rows.  The pattern for the hat is:

Chain 7, Single crochet into second chain from hook and continue to single crochet along remaining chains until row is complete. turn
Chain 1, Single crochet into second chain from hook and continue to single crochet until row is complete. turn
Slip Stitch into first two single crochet.  Single crochet next 4 stitches, turn
Single crochet along row,
Cast off.

Once the crochet is complete, it's a simple case of dressing the snowman.  While I didn't have a scarf, coal or carrot, I did have beads, buttons and ribbon and slowly our little wintery friend came to life.  To finish the cosy I sewed snowflakes using embroidery cotton over the front and back of the cosy.

Now I can start my loom knit project...hooray!

Deb

More FitzBirch Crafty Christmas Ideas

Crafty the Snowman
Crochet Snowflakes


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