Saturday, April 7, 2012

Egyptology for the Barbie generation?

At the moment I have three small art students on a Sunday morning who come to the studio to do various things. When I was talking to their parents about how I teach and what I'd teach I spoke about taking a holistic approach to a subject, so if, for example, we were looking at horses we'd look at paintings and statues of horses through the history of art, we'd look at the anatomy of horses, and we'd make models in clay as well as drawings - which is exactly what we did, since horses were the kids' first subject choice.

Then by popular demand we went to work on Ancient Egypt, and boy have we had fun! We've painted pyramids, looked at what Ancient Egyptians might have had in their houses, read books on the excavation of Tutankamun's tomb and tackled the exciting world of mummification! And so it came to pass that we needed a volunteer to become a mummy (or three), and the concensus was that Barbie dolls would be perfect thing! Little Bird had her own that she wanted to mummify, and had kindly donated her others to one of the students, which left one mum to go find a lonely Barbie doll at the Op Shop.

There were several varieties of wrapping, from crepe bandages to torn sheets (I ran out of bandages, or at least, wished to preserve some for their original purpose in my First Aid box!). It turned out that wrapping the three-dimensional form wasn't as easy as we thought, so little 5 1/2 year old hands had a little bit of help.

Some of us got very excited about grave goods and there was a lot of discussion about what the modern day mummy would need in their tomb to take to the afterlife. Suggestions included jewellry, something to sit on, and flip-flops ('thongs' for the Australian contingent). Little Bird spent ages modelling a precisely fitted mask and painting it to look like one she'd seen in a book!

And finally the Barbies were immured in their sarcophagi (we had a look at what that word means, too, much to everyone's horrified delight!) which we'd made the week before. A job well done.

Now all I need to do is think about next term's first project...

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Knitting in the round

Say hello to Lilly Rabbit! She isn't the most photogenic rabbit on the block (or should I say, in the warren?), mainly because I took bad photos in dim light at night, but she's sweet. And on a more practical note, she was an exercise in learning to knit in the round. I think she looks like a mini-version of me when I was a kid! The pearl buttons I used for the eyes have a rim which makes them look a bit like glasses, and she looks earnest, slightly nervous and gawky. Me all over.

She's knitted entirely on four double-ended size 3 needles in a 4-ply cotton mix I had left over from knitting darling daughter a rabbit hat when she was about 2 years old! I started off at the centre of the base with six stitches and cast on every two stitches, every other row. Then I came up the sides, decreased around the top until I had about 16 stitches left, and then I went all fiddly and managed to knit 6 stitches at the base of each ear in the round all the way up and all the way down! I must confess this isn't an original pattern: I adapted it from The Purl Bee's Big Cuddly Bunny pattern, and sort of made it up as I went along. The Purl Bee has LOTS of lovely patterns in knitting, sewing and crochet, if you're interested.

Why? You may well ask! Apart from thinking that a cute bunny would be a good gift inside one of those lovely German paper eggs that I hoard for Easter celebrations, I also thought it would be a great exercise in learning to knit in the round because my secret ambition is to conquer knitting socks! I have Swiss friends here with mothers who send them hand-knitted socks in gorgeous yarns, and as I don't have a mother any more to knit them for me (or, more likely, to ask me why I want knitted socks and tell me she's got better things to do!) I realised I'd have to do it myself. And I reckon if I can conquer 4-needle knitting in 4-ply wool on small needles I can conquer turning a heel, especially with the help of a book I've found that tries hard to explain how sock patterns work in plain English. Wish me luck! If I succeed, the results will be posted here.

Friday, February 3, 2012


New fabric from Bloom Fabrics! I was looking for needlecord to do a dressmaking project with Little Bird (we're making a skirt! Very exciting), and stumbled across Kerrie's website. She stocks a number of beautiful European and Japanese fabrics as well as the German Farbenmix ribbons. Well, as you can see, I was completely seduced and spent a reasonable sum on several short lengths for making bookcloth as well as the corduroy for Little Bird's skirt, some Farbenmix ribbon, and a little something for making summer P-Js.

From the top: two photographs of the lovely fabric for making bookcloth (would also be great for making bags and accessories), a photo of the lovely pink/red printed needlecord which will make a fabulous short kick-pleated skirt, and a photo of the cotton bird print that's going to make the P-Js.

Lucky for me, Kerrie's moving her business up this way soon so I'll get to meet her and see her showroom full of lovely material!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Hi, it's Little Bird again! I made a pencil case - isn't it cool? It is for all my Lira pencils; handy but cute.

(Rhubarb here!) This is our first attempt at a bag, and we got the pattern from the latest Spotlight quarterly magazine. I had to read and re-read the pattern instructions because I didn't "get" it at first! You make up each side, then quilt and top stitch it, then sew in the zip along the top edge. Then you stitch the lining pieces along the same line of stitching for the zip, making a very neat closure. Then you stitch together the quilted pieces (right sides together), including a handle along the seam line, and mitre the corners. Then you stitch the lining pieces together - leaving a gap so you can turn it all the right way in - and mitre the corners. Finally you turn it all in, push the lining into the bag, hand stitch the mitred corners together through the gap and finally sew up the gap! Et voila. And because it's going to school we also stitched a name tag into the lining.

See ya!

Little Bird

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Box making workshop

I enjoyed the company of my daughter and a friend's two girls the other day and we decided to make boxes. Darling daughter decided to make a case to hold the CDs she got for Christmas and her birthday; Amisha made a very swish bed for Fili, her toy elephant, complete with sleigh-bed sides and a lid, and Luana made a box to match the coptic-bound travel journal she made with me last year: the book is so full of tickets, notes and other ephemera that it doesn't properly close so this box is for the book and the collection!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

My Cat Bag

Hi everyone it's Little Bird again. I have made a Cat Bag!

Do you like it? It's easy and fun to make! In the pattern it was fleece but we used fluffy chocolate brown fabric. And I did almost everything on the sewing machine except the eyes, mouth and the ribbon. The stitch on the sewing machine was zig zag. And I used straight stitch for the mouth & ribbon.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Owls and cushions!

Hello! Little Bird here - this is my first blog post. I made these last week from a great book I got for Christmas. The owl's name is Owlie. And the cushion I made for my room!