29 June 2010

Sock Buddies...

I have been madly making these little sock buddies during the last week... I have made them using a sock, a few buttons, some stuffing and thread.  You really have to choose your socks well, some of them are really stretchy and you will end up with a humongous sock buddy.  It is also good to choose a sock with a nice coloured pattern (stripes are my favourite) and a coloured heel and toe as they will become the nose and the hands.  These socks were lovely and soft so they make cuddly sock buddies (I think they were initially intended to be bedsocks).

They were originally designed by kiwi artist and author Vasanti Unka  and then slightly adapted by me. Whenever I start something new I automatically start to think in multiples, if I do one, I have to follow it up with another, then another and another... I now have 17 of these little guys.

27 June 2010

We have a winner

Winner of our gorgeous giveaway, Koru forest folk goes to Redbeet Mama
Many thanks to one and all for entering

I live in a rural area, and my home is surrounded by many different types of trees
I awake to bird song every morning
Do look out for my first tutorial, coming up in mid July
How to needle felt rainbow birds

Cheers Marie

24 June 2010

A girls night out at the rugby!!!

June 23rd a night my daughter and I had been looking forward to for weeks. NZ Maoris vs England at McLean Park in Napier. Two days ago I decided that we would both need a lovely woolly "Neck Warmer" to wear, a quick trip to the local wool shop and I was all set to sit down and do some knitting. However Ruby the cat thought I had created a cool toy for her and Billi the dog decided he needed to be asleep on my knee, I managed to complete my neck warmer in a night and Latecias the following day.

We got dropped off at the rugby early to soak up the atmosphere, lots of people with there faces painted, lots of Dads with their kids... and me all rugged up looking like a Mitchelin Man with my layers of poly prop tops and merino, fleece lined wind breaker, hubbys thick socks, neckwarmer and 2 pairs of gloves. After getting our compulsary hotdogs and drinks we settled in the stands, the ground was quite foggy and a dew was starting to settle. Apart from this the hustle and bustle of everyone was great!

After a rousing Haka, that bought tears to my eyes we were into it...

England were first to score but with lots of cheering and support from the crowd NZ Maori managed to get quite a few trys and penalty kicks. After lots of nail biting minutes we WON 38 - 25. A great night had by all.

A sneak peak at some of the stock for my new shop "Take a Friend" that is due to be opened shortly. Make sure you check back regularly and meet my Joobys that will be looking for a new home. Joobys are sneaky wee things that like to eat blue jellybeans and look up naughty words in the dictionary like bottom and toe nails.

Don't forget to check out our giveaway on our last post!!!!

JO - Take a Friend

22 June 2010

Our First Gorgeous Giveaway

To celebrate our debut we thought it was about time to share the handmade goodness we've got going on here!  So welcome to our first giveaway, an amazing needle felted work of art by Marie of SoftEarthArt.

Koru Forest Folk
While walking in our native New Zealand forest, I was inspired by the beautiful Koru ferns, laid out on the forest floor.  KORU- The Koru is the Maori name given to the new unfurling fern frond and symbolizes new life, growth, strength and peace. They measure 6 inches tall.  Needle felted in pure New Zealand wool.
Cheers Marie

Here are the rules for the giveaway.  To gain an entry do one of the following:
  • Tweet about us (tagged with #NZHM) and then comment on this blog post with a link to your Twitter page
  • Blog about us and then comment on this blog post with a link to your post
  • Subscribe via email to our blog and comment on this blog post telling us you did so
  • Give us a shout out on Facebook and comment on this blog post telling us you did so
You can get 1 entry for each of the above, for a grand total of 4 entries!   Entries close 26 June, Saturday night 10:00 PM New Zealand time.  The drawing will take place and the winner announced on Sunday! So get clicking and typing so you can have a chance at these lovely little treasures.

20 June 2010

Introducing the New Zealand Handmade Team

What is happening behind the scenes at New Zealand Handmade has been and is phenomenal, as we have been working overtime to bring this fab new opportunity to artists and crafters living in NZ.

Introducing the team....







Take a Friend

Not pictured..



Look out for more about the New Zealand Handmade team in upcoming interviews


17 June 2010

meandering creations...

I am excited by what is waiting for me on my worktable. They are random scatterings, delicious murmerings of possibilities, collections of ideas, some experimentations and old friends waiting for a voice. I have been holding back from diving in because work life and study (Visual Arts and Design) have been more demanding, taking more space than I ever imagined. But now the time is here, the muse is whispering prettily in my ear, I hear her offerings and I have learnt to listen, NOW!
.... she doesn't wait for dinner to be cooked, the bath to be cleaned or the children to be put to bed.

So here are my visual clues, the prompts if you like, for me to follow when I arrive to the worktable, ready to create from the whispers...... I start here. Its never a straight line to where I end up, its a journey filled with gaps, longings and hope, and some good luck! AND just maybe, my handmade creations will breathe on their own and float out into the world..

15 June 2010

Crochet Stripes Tutorial

Welcome to Tutorial Tuesday!  Maybe this will become a regular feature here at New Zealand Handmade?  But maybe not, it's too soon to tell.

We all know that internationally New Zealand has a reputation for being very sheepy.  And I guess it's a deserved reputation, though the sheep:human ratio is decreasing dramatically lately, while the cow:human ratio is on the rise.  That's a rant for another day, but in the meantime, we've still got sheep!  This photo was taken on the hill at the end of my nice, suburban cul-de-sac.

So it's no wonder that the wool crafts have a strong history here.  I'm usually a knitter, but lately I've been trying my hand at crochet and I've been really enjoying it.  Still a total newbie, I thought I'd share a technique I discovered that is probably second nature to long-time hookers, but that I didn't find explained in any of the many crochet books I learned from.

First I'll set the stage.  I'm making a cardigan hoodie for my soon-to-be-born niece in North America.  It's all in double crochet (single crochet in US terms) and it's striped in two colours (or colors in US terms).  Each stripe is just 2 rows high, so according to my crochet reference books, I can just carry the yarn up the side and not worry about weaving in hundred of ends at the end.  What these books don't tell me is how to carry the yarn up the side.

I started with the front left panel instead of the back because this piece could double as my gauge swatch.  I'm efficient like that.  And since no books said anymore on the topic, I figured the carrying the yarn is just straight forward: drop a colour when done with it and pick up the new one.  But this is what I was ended up with on the yarn-swap edge:
Not horrible, but I didn't like it.  I thought it would be fine since it would be hidden in the side seam, but then I realized the right front panel would have the yarn-swap side on the buttonhole edge in the center.  Even with a double crochet border around all the edges I thought this would be less than ideal. So I worked out this way to produce a cleaner edge while carrying yarn up the side.

 I'll start at the end of a stripe.  1dc before the end of a main colour (MC) row.

Do the first part of the dc: hook in stitch, yarn over, pull through.

Drop the MC yarn and yarn over with the contrast colour (CC) yarn.

Finish the dc by pulling the CC yarn though both loops.  By switching the yarn this way, the colours stay in their correct stripes.

Turn your work and reposition your hook.  You can see the MC is sticking out towards us now, while the working CC yarn is coming out the back.

Chain 1 to get to the correct height for double crochet.  Pull the MC yarn forward snug, but not too tight.

Now's the tricky part.  Pull the MC up and over the work, to the left of the loop on the hook, up snug to that loop.

Insert your hook in the first dc, to the left of the MC yarn you've pulled back.  This is the view looking down at the work.

 Yarn over the hook with your CC and pull through.  The MC yarn is now between these 2 loops going from front to back.

Finish the dc: yarn over the hook, pull through both loops on hook.

This is what it will look like from the back now.  The MC yarn is coming out the back.

Finish the CC stripe: dc to the end, turn work, ch1, dc back as usual, to 1 dc before the end again. 

Now we're back to where we began, just with the colours reversed.

Insert hook into the last dc, pull through a loop, then drop the CC yarn, and grab the MC yarn.

Pull through both CC loops on hook, and you've finished your stripe!

Here is the finished edge!

What do you think?  Please leave a comment and let me know how you like this, my first ever tutorial!

13 June 2010

Craft 2.0 - The Road Trip

Saturday dawned a beautiful clear and crisp winter morning, as Joy (Kazzalblue), Katherine (Sleep and Her Sisters), and myself (Mel – Wildflower Designs) met in Hastings ready to begin our Craft 2.0 Wellington Road Trip.

4 or so hours of lively conversation and beautiful scenery later, we arrived at The New Dowse in Lower Hutt.

So much to see (and buy), it was fantastic to meet fellow crafters and artisans in person. There was such a variety of products and artistic mediums – being a jewellery designer, I was of course, drawn to the jewellery stalls first … mmmm shiny!

Often, you go to a market or fair and the number and similarity of jewellery stalls is a total put-off. Well yes there were several jewellery stalls here, but to my delight, styles were completely unique and varied and the quality was top notch – from wood-based laser cut pendants, to Japanese washi paper decoupage, to Victorian style necklaces, to fabric based designs and everything in between – diverse and inspiring.

Of course there were other stalls too (!) and a large range of crafts and wares were represented – knitted goods, printed lampshades, cupcakes, linen, vintage print coasters, sewn book covers, to name just a few – and I could go on and on.

Another of our members, Marian, of the artisan clothing design brand ‘Marian Smale’ was in attendance. To see her creations all in the one place and be able to feel the fabrics was a real treat.

Presentation of stalls and point of sale material displayed was of the highest standard and it was easy to see why Craft 2.0 has the fantastic reputation it does – all credit to the organizers for their commitment to such a high-quality, accessible event.

Our ride home was a full of chat on what we’d seen and who we’d met, and a dinner stop in Palmerston North capped the day off with a lovely meal at Trio CafĂ© (ask me what Fruity Bubble Tea – a drink - is – unless you’re of Thai origin, I bet you won’t guess :) ). A debrief was hastily noted down on the only available paper – brown paper bags!

We’d had a great day, seen lots, come away with a real sense that ‘handcrafted’ is being valued and appreciated more than ever before.

As well as a fun day out, this was a reckie mission for several of us who would like to sell at future Craft 2.0s . Watch this space for details of who successfully applies, and which event they can be found at.

And my thanks to Joy and Katherine for being great travel mates – I so enjoyed spending time with lovely people who ‘get’ handmade, and have a passion for what they do.

11 June 2010

New beginnings...

(I'll save a place in my heart)

Our beginnings were small and a spur of the moment thing, born out of the need to talk and be with like minded people... I had made the front page of etsy for the first time and while doing my grocery shopping I excitedly told the check out girl at the supermarket of this accomplishment. She had no idea what I was talking about but nodded and smiled anyway, hurrying my groceries through as fast as possible. It was not long after this that we gathered as a group of local etsy sellers together for regular get togethers to talk about all things etsy. After these small beginnings our little local get together has rapidly grown into a group of passionately creative Kiwi's with a diverse range of skills and expertise.

We have started this blog to promote ourselves and other creative beings where we will feature regular tutorials, studio visits, giveaways, interviews, shop updates and lots of other crafty bits and pieces... so stay tuned.