30 October 2011

A Tool for Bloggers–Windows Live Writer

I know a lot of you - our valued readers and members - are bloggers yourselves, so I wanted to share my recent discovery - a very nifty tool that may well change the way I blog completely – Windows Live Writer.

Now before I go into it’s features and functions … let me just tell you it’s free, super simple, and works for most well know blogging platforms, eg Blogger, Wordpress, Typepad etc.

So in a nutshell it’s a Windows program with the rich text-editing format of MS Word which allows you to publish directly to your blogging platform (even if you use more than one).

It looks like this….

A Tool for Bloggers–Windows Live Writer - Windows Live Writer_2011-10-28_22-53-30

Well mine does, but that’s because it’s smart and pulls through the template we use for New Zealand Handmade Blog posts – handy for checking your sizing of photos etc.  And because it’s so smart, I can add pictures super quick, change the size of pictures to ANY size I want, add frames, watermarks, change alignment, add video’s, change fonts, and switch to another blog (if I have one, which I do) with the click of a drop-down option, and wallah,  same post, but with my Wildflower blog template, no cutting and pasting required :)

A Tool for Bloggers–Windows Live Writer - Windows Live Writer_2011-10-28_22-55-12

When you’re done, it’s a simple click of an icon to post your draft to your blog, or publish directly.  You can save your changes and retrieve the post later to make further edits.  You can preview your post (see next pic), add post labels, schedule posting, even play around with the html of your post if you feel so inclined.

There are even plugins you can add to suit.  I haven’t explored these yet but they look good :)

A Tool for Bloggers–Windows Live Writer - Windows Live Writer_2011-10-28_23-06-57

Honestly, it’s so darn easy it feels to good to be true… but IT IS!!  I swear in the short time I’ve used it, it’s saved me a considerable amount of time and stress not having to try and resize pictures and muck around with layouts. 

Bless you Microsoft , in my opinion, your Windows Live Writer is a winner!

If you want to experience this great program too … here is a link to read more and download free.

27 October 2011

A Conversation with Joe of Bibbles - Dribble Bibs

I so wish Bibbles - Dribble Bibs had been around when my children were babies - they are awesome!  Joe has managed to create super funky, colourful, absorbent bibs that don't hide a babies/toddlers clothes and yet are a fashion statement in themselves!  Read on to find out how Bibbles - Dribbles Bibs came to be and what inspires Joe to make and create ....

Who is Bibbles – Dribble Bibs?

When my daughter dribbled, her clothes got wet or she wore big bibs. When my son started dribbling I wanted to find something to fix this. I didn’t really look around, I just knew what I wanted to do. My Mum taught me how to use her old sewing machine and I made up some for my son. My coffee group then wanted some so I started taking them to other playgroups around Invercargill. I created a Facebook page and moved to Christchurch and it has grown from there, word of mouth is a fabulous tool. My son only wears his for lollipops now but I do love seeing other babies wearing them.

What’s your “handmade groove ?”

I am becoming more and more obsessed with fabric and love turning it into a Bibble. I can’t make anything else but think I make these well :)

What’s on your bedside table right now? (hey, no tidying up or censoring)

photos of the kids and lip balm

Who are your creative role models? What music, books, images, poetry spark your creative fire?

My Mum, she has always sewn and she taught me. I was very close to just telling her to make them but they gave me something to do when my son slept. Also I love meeting other crafty Mums, they keep me motivated and I love the support everyone gives each other. It’s a great group to be a part of.

What could you talk late into the night about with like minded people?

Absolutely anything!

If you could go to three free workshops/creative events this year which ones would they be? What are they about?

Marketing and self promotion? I love photography. I’m also getting into local markets.

How do you balance your creative life with your family, life commitments?

This is the hardest part of being a WAHM. With my daughter starting school in July and putting my son in Pre School a couple of days a week, it has made things a lot easier. I have dedicated nights where I sew and stitch but I like to work on demand so find myself on the computer or sewing machine all the time. Sometimes I just have to walk away from the Bibbles, but they’re always there waiting for me when I get back :)

What is your favourite creative screw-up?

When I started putting the domes on I wasn’t lining them up and went through a whole packet before I figured it out but I’m really glad I got it in the end as I wasn’t keen on Velcro or attaching it.

Kitchen table or studio?

At the moment kitchen table, floor, cupboard, bench but have made the decision to move to a bigger house so I can have a room they can live in.

Do you have a wish list? Can you tell us what’s on it?

I really want to feature in baby boutiques throughout NZ, also I want to remain a working at home Mum so I can still be that stay at home Mum.

You can find Bibbles - Dribble Bibs products ... here
And follow on Facebook ... here

25 October 2011

Creative light

This is where I create, in my country home on a table in the living room.
Where do you create, I would love to know

Cheers  Marie

24 October 2011

Beginners’ Class anyone?

It is really hard to believe that you don’t need to have had any experience in jewellery making and still go away with beautiful pure silver pieces like these!

No matter what background you have, from first concept to finished piece you are guided through the design process and learn how to work with “Art Clay Silver”, a precious metal clay.

And there is a great “green” fact to note regarding this medium: while creating your own original jewellery you are working with a recycling product- the tiny silver particles which make up the precious metal clay are extracted from metal-containing waste like x-ray films and photographic waste but also discarded cell phones and monitors.

Art Clay instructors are happy to help you realize your ideas, and before Christmas various classes are coming up where you could create very special Christmas presents for your loved ones.

And don't forget, vouchers for classes are well received gifts too!

Ingrid of Silverworks

20 October 2011

A Conversation with Lisa of Little Cupcakes

What strikes me first about Lisa of Little Cupcakes work is her amazing product shots which tell a story in themselves (you'll learn why they are so good when you read on).  Truly gorgeous knitting patterns designed and developed by Lisa and featuring modern twists on babies/children's knitwear filled with pattern, texture and colour....

Who is Little Cupcakes? Lisa Craig

What’s your “handmade groove ?”

Knitwear/Textile Designer

What’s on your bedside table right now? (hey, no tidying up or censoring)

Jamie Oliver mag.. brought for me from my kids, Ripple Stitch patterns book, Knitting on the Edge book and Tricia Guild Pattern book. Wool and knitting needles.

Who are your creative role models? What music, books, images, poetry spark your creative fire?

Rowan yarns, Kaffe Fassett, pinterest, all knitting books and magazines.

What could you talk late into the night about with like minded people?

Photography, composition, art and design, colour, wool, knitting, textiles, vege gardening and travel.

If you could go to three free workshops/creative events this year which ones would they be? What are they about?

Something on knitting, colour, drawing, painting or design. What I would really like to do is have a few spare weeks and work on some Gobelin Tapestries.

How do you balance your creative life with your family, life commitments?

Creativity is apart of my family, My husband is a photographer and photographs my patterns, our three kids all model the garments. At the kitchen table we all create… drawing, sticking and making. Amelia is 7 and has just learnt to knit, takes her knitting everywhere… she now knits in the car too. As a family we like to go on Adventures, 4 wd to beaches and mountains, theres always a chance to sneak in a few pics.

Kitchen table or studio?

Kitchen Table and my own studio space with a comfy chair great view looking through the trees out towards Rangitoto Island, with cubby holes jammed full with wool and a tall book shelf full of book, magazines, buttons, trims and beads.

You can find Little Cupcakes patterns... here
And Follow on Facebook ... here

17 October 2011


(Unfurling by Misty Mawn)

I accidentally bought this book from Amazon a few months ago... I thought I was putting it in my basket for thinking about later and didn't realise the button I was clicking was confirming the order... Oh well, I was pretty sure it looked like a goodie. I am really glad I clicked that button as I wasn't disappointed. It is truly an inspiration for me, just looking through it gets my mind spinning along a creative path, if I ever find myself a little lost.

The following is a blurb about the book that is way better than I could ever put into words...

"This inspiring, creative manual offers a unique, participatory experience that teaches core art skills and shares a range of exploratory techniques for the aspiring artist, photographer, craftsperson, novice, and anyone in between. The exercises include drawing, painting, portraiture, collage, photo arts, stamp carving, origami, still life, and more-each presented with an eye toward expanding your personal artistic voice. The exercises are supplemented with inspirational advice, quotes, poetry, and photography. Several projects integrate special extra materials that are enclosed in a pocket in the back of the book. The author, Misty Mawn is a popular artist and sought-after instructor, and writes a thoughtful, beautiful blog" http://www.mistymawn.typepad.com/

I have a few books just like 'unfurling' that sit right beside me when I am working in my studio {aka: kitchen table} and reading them is like having a good chat with a like minded friend.

16 October 2011

Reminder - Xmas Ornament Swap - Closes 23rd October

The New Zealand Handmade are running their annual Christmas Ornament Swap - which is open worldwide. We would like as many people to join in as possible so tell your friends about it and come over to sign up here.

Entries close in one week on 23rd October, when I will be distributing your swap partner details. So don't forget to sign up soon :)

For more details on the swap or to sign up go to our post http://www.newzealandhandmade.co.nz/2011/10/christmas-ornament-swap.html


13 October 2011

A Conversation with Brenda of Go Benny Go

Go Benny Go is a partnership of two artists - Brenda and Mike, together, they are all about creating exciting, high quality, vibrant, and energetic art designed to stimulate a child's imagination.  With everything from limited edition canvas prints, posters, reward charts and gift cards produced using only premium inks and materials and with the fab tag line... 'It's cute, but it's cool'.  Let's learn more...

Who is {Go Benny Go}?

Brenda Sutton and Mike Howie; we are a kiwi couple (one very short and one exceptionally tall!) who have a background in traditional animation. We met in Sydney while working for Walt Disney Animation Australia, and we returned to New Zealand together about 8 years ago.

What’s your “handmade groove ?”

With our animation background we lean towards all things illustrated. Our first collection features limited edition canvas art prints, reward charts, and posters. We have greeting cards planned for release shortly, and a whole host of paper and print goods in mind for the future. We are fussy artists and everything has to be just so – we take pride in our products being high quality.

What’s on your bedside table right now? (hey, no tidying up or censoring)

I’m very messy and disorganized. This gives you an idea…

Oxford Dictionary and Thesaurus

Politically Incorrect Parenting by Nigel Latta

Views From the Loft – A Portable Writers Workshop

My Mistress’s Sparrow is Dead (Great love stories from Chekhov to Munro)

Bounty pregnancy pack (I am currently 26 weeks pregnant)

DVD of my baby’s 12 week scan

A HUGE stack of loyalty cards and coffee cards

A timer - with instructions- for the heater (we bought it two years ago and I am yet to read those instructions and get the thing going!)

Always about a million cups

And that’s just half of it but the rest is too boring!

Who are your creative role models? What music, books, images, poetry spark your creative fire?

I am fascinated by Janet Frame and Katherine Mansfield.

I love Charlotte Grimshaw’s short story collections and find them very inspiring. William Trevor’s too.

My favourite book is The Elements of Style Illustrated by Strunk, White, & Kalman.

(I love books about writing and writers.)

Music: Lately I’ve been enjoying Micah. P Hinson though we haven’t had any new music in the house for so long, it is more out of desperation than it being first choice!

I write a blog called Kitty as a Picture (www.kittyasapicture.com), and in this I showcase all kinds of surface design for kids. It keeps me inspired and up to date with what’s happening in the industry.

I love Print and Pattern Blog. (www.printpattern.blogspot.com)

And I love Orla Kiely.

What could you talk late into the night about with like minded people?

I like to compare a reading experience with someone who has read the same book as me.

I love to hear about people’s lives and challenges. I would talk all night with anyone who is open and honest; I love to be surprised by people, to find that there is so much more to them than I considered.

If you could go to three free workshops/creative events this year which ones would they be? What are they about?

They would mostly be writing events – listening to authors talk about their creative process and their new books, and I also like to participate in writing workshops. Every now and then I fancy doing some life drawing.

How do you balance your creative life with your family, life commitments?

It is a constant struggle. I get up super –early to work, and if all my work commitments have been met I use this time for my creative projects. I am constantly frustrated that there are not more hours in the day! Many of my projects, especially writing, are on hold while I have a young family.

What is your favourite creative screw-up?

Funny, I can’t think of one. I do screw up an awful lot ;) but ‘creative screw ups’… Sorry, nothing comes to mind.

Kitchen table or studio?

Neither. I guess you could call it a studio if you were imaginative, but it’s a tiny house – I use an old 1920’s sunroom which is also the entrance to our house. We have rigged up a trestle table and a pin board, a few bookshelves and, though small, it feels nice. It looks out onto the garden and I like it. But Mike and I dream of having a real studio one day :)

Do you have a wish list? Can you tell us what’s on it?

A bigger house. I soooo want a bigger house! Pretty please!

You can shop for Go Benny Go products ... here
Read their blog ... here
and Follow on Facebook ... here

11 October 2011

Am I crazy - How do others manage?

I have realized that there are not enough hours in the day!!! With working full time in a demanding job as well 4 BIG markets and shows coming up in the next 8 weeks I am starting to feel a bit frazzled!!!! Tod it dawned on me when I was looking in my diary to try and prioritise things that I think I am bordering on crazy!!!!

Tonight I was sitting in front of the tv making pendants, while my husband was trying to have a conversation with me...My mind was else where working out what I need to do next, hoping that the packaging turns up in time, thinking that I must order some more glass and the list goes on. My teenage daughter was wanting my attention as well, wanting to talk about her game of Indoor Netball she played tonight, the dog needed a walk and the cat needed feeding!!!! I always thought I was good at multi tasking but maybe I am not as good as I thought?

So tell me how do others manage? How do you manage to work fulltime, spend time with the family, do the every day jobs like cooking and cleaning as well as creating for up and coming events, do I as a mum put far too much pressure on myself? Who cares if the washing sits in the laundry basket for 3 days before it is folded, or that the floor desperately needs a vacuum or that the recycling hasnt been put out for weeks. I think I may need to book that overseas holiday that I have been talking about for the last month...On that note I am off to get hubbys credit card and have a nice glass of wine!!!!!

09 October 2011

Rugby Knitting

In case you hadn't heard, the Rugby World Cup is being held AS I TYPE here in New Zealand. We're down to the quarterfinals now, and it's getting quite exciting. Being in Napier, a smaller urban centre on the East Coast of the North Island, we only got two measly pool games played locally. Not wanting to miss out on New Zealand's once in a lifetime sporting event, my family went along to the Canada/Japan match on 27 September.

We have family in Canada, but local friends from Japan, so we couldn't settle on who to support. No worries, we supported both teams! To get in the spirit, I knit this Canadian Maple Leaf hat for my 6-year-old. I found the pattern on Ravelry, every knitter's online best friend.

And I also crocheted this Japan flag. It took me some time to figure it out, but I designed this one all on my own!  You may have noticed how convenient it was that both teams' colours are red and white.

In the end our cheering efforts for both teams were rewarded, as the final score was 23-23.  That's right, a draw!

Now that we're further along in the tournament, I think I'll have to break out some black yarn to support the local team. Go the All Blacks!

Have you done any crafty support for sports teams?

Kya of Clutch Creations

06 October 2011

A Conversation with Erica of FunkyGlam Jewellery

Erica of Funky Glam Jewellery has a passion for creating funky new looks in her jewellery using vintage
mechanical parts to create Steampunk syle works.  She also makes beautiful pieces utilising her favourite shapes of hearts and crosses and has a huge range with something to suit everyone!  Here, she shares some of her inspirations and thoughts...

Who is FunkyGlam Jewellery? Erica Yeatman

What’s your “handmade groove ?”
Steampunk inspired creations and unique pendants using hand stamped metals, swarovskis crystals, charms, lockets or images with glass cabochons

What’s on your bedside table right now?
Bits of my jewellery, a Martina Cole novel, phone, lamp and a fair amount of dust.

Who are your creative role models? What music, books, images, poetry spark your creative fire?
I enjoy books about strong independent women and movies set in gorgeous places. I always notice what jewellery the actors are wearing. My role models are any woman that is creative and successful without losing her softer side and becoming masculine and scary cut throat.

What could you talk late into the night about with like minded people?
Anything crafty and unique, what inspires them, where they get their ideas and supplies, and how they mange to afford to feed the kids at the same time.

If you could go to three free workshops/creative events this year which ones would they be? What are they about? Hmmm, maybe a workshop on finding more than 24hours in a day, another on how to sell ice to Eskimos and maybe an artists retreat somewhere gorgeous where they serve lots of great wine.

How do you balance your creative life with your family, life commitments?
I gave up a well paid day job to do this and the last child at home has just gone flatting, so I have a lot of time to indulge. The house does tend to look a bit unkempt at times now though. I am very lucky to have a lovely patient husband or maybe he’s just bright enough to know its best not to comment.

Kitchen table or studio?
 I do have a studio, but the kitchen table is in the sunniest room and over looks the garden and deck where our dog sits, so things migrate to the kitchen table a lot!

Do you have a wish list? Can you tell us what’s on it?
I would love to find people that want to stock my items so I could just focus on creating and not the actual selling. As much as I love Facebook, Felt and Etsy, they take me away from the hands on stuff, especially when ideas keep flowing, but I have to stop to take photos and create listings. They all require a lot of work to stay at the top of the everyone’s page to get noticed!

You can find Funky Glam products ... here
and Follow on Facebook .... here

04 October 2011

Christmas Ornament Swap

Given the success of our first Christmas swap we have decided to do it again.

At this time of the year it is very easy to become overloaded! That is why we have made this swap as easy as possible for this time of the year! It’s a very small swap.. so small in fact, that it’s made to hang from a Christmas tree… and one could be on your Christmas tree if you’d like to join us!!

The swap is open to all those with a blog in New Zealand and overseas.
To participate you must be willing to mail overseas and honour your swap commitment.
The details: All players will be allocated one (only) swap partner. You will send directly to your partner and they will send directly to you.
You will make and send only one gorgeous handcrafted Christmas tree ornament and one lovely Christmas Card for your partner . The ornament should be made to hang on a Christmas tree and should be handmade by you with love and care. Make something special that you would love to receive yourself. Please do not cut out a paper star and send it to your partner.)
Here is a link of a few of the ornaments sent from last years swap
All ornaments must be mailed by the 1st December and should be suitable to send in the mail. Postage to overseas will need to be sent by Airmail, so our partners receive their gifts by Christmas day to hang on their tree.
New Zealand Handmade will post links to more ornaments and some tutorials over the next few weeks and some finished ideas just in case you need some extra inspiration. Once you start receiving your swaps we will add them to a flickr album for all to see!
So…. if you would like a small tree ornament handmade especially for you by another friendly blogger sign up now!
Please take the button from the sidebar (or at the top of this post) to add to your blog and let’s have some fun making our Christmas trees the best ever this Christmas!
Sign ups will take place here until 23rd October.
To sign up please leave a comment on this post to say that you want to join our swap. **Be sure of this before you commit!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!**
Please also send an email to joy at kazzalblue dot com with your
Real Name, Mailing address (in English), Email address, Blog URL and Blog name.
**Please make sure you email me this info to be entered into the swap.**
Partners will be allocated the week after sign-ups have closed. Sign ups are open now!
Happy Creating!

02 October 2011

Gift Guide

Sharing with you some great gift suggestions from our members on-line shops. Absolutely something for everyone here!....