Saturday, 19 April, 2014

Easter breakfast – the perfect boiled egg

I’ve recently discovered Heston Blumenthal’s method for the perfect boiled egg, and I must say I’m crowing about it.

wonkyspout

Place the eggs in the smallest pan available and add just enough cold water to cover them. Put the lid on the pan and place over the highest heat possible. (It’s really important to bring the water temperature up as fast as you can.)

When the water comes to the boil, remove the pan from the heat and wait for 6 minutes. (Depending on the size of your eggs you may need to adjust this time slightly.)

After the time has elapsed, remove the lid and carefully remove each egg. Cut the top off each egg before serving in egg cups. Season to taste.

littlewhitebox

Friday, 18 April, 2014

With bold needle and thread

Wellington-based writer Rosemary McLeod is well recognised as a columnist and commentator, but she is also well known in the maker movement as a knowledgable speaker about – and collector of – domestic handcrafted items. From pinnies to rag rugs, toys to tea cozies, McLeod rescues and values them all, both for the painstaking work they embody and the stories they tell about women’s lives.

 
apron

With Bold Needle and Thread, a touring exhibition created by McLeod and Tauranga Art Gallery Toi Tauranga, and currently on display at the Waikato Museum Te Whare Taonga o Waikato in Hamilton, showcases her vibrant collection in a way that immediately draws the viewer in and encourages reminiscence. In fact, I was not there more than a couple of minutes before I was drawn into a “My grandmother had one of those…” conversations with a complete stranger.

The pieces in this exhibition date from the 1920s to the 1960s, and what struck me first was the way even the most mundane and functional pieces were painstakingly decorated – even the robust hessian aprons and the linen bags for laundry and delicates.

Wash on Monday

My mother reminisced that her aunties wore very similar hessian aprons in the mornings – while doing the heavier household tasks like washing and cleaning – before they donned the pristine, fancy cotton and linen aprons in the afternoon for receiving guests and serving tea. This variety of aprons and pinnies was of course a necessity in an age when the washing of clothes was much more arduous than simply throwing them in an automatic washer.

One large wall display held 1920s and 1930s aprons that were near-identical in shape and clearly based on the same pattern, but all showed highly individual flourishes of embroidery and appliqué. Popular subjects included fashion-plate portraits of elegant European flapper ladies or more ‘exotic’ oriental and Maori women, as well as commemorative designs for coronations, Jean Batten and even Phar Lap. Perfect miniature aprons for dolls and little girls allowed daughters to imitate the roles of their mothers.

aprondetail (1)

The issue of gollies and stereotyped “exotic” racial representations was tackled, as these were popular subjects: appearing on bags, aprons and decorative embroideries, as well as in the form of dolls. Mute remainders of the colonial past, they remind us that this chapter of social history is still uncomfortably recent.

Vast numbers of bags for the various needs of the housewife – projects, handbags, laundry and storage – several carrying labels such as “dusters,” “stockings,” or “pyjamas,” in flourishing embroidery – show not only that there was a place for everything and everything in its place, but also that that place was ideally as attractive as the housewife could make it. Not only were tea pots wrapped in tea cozies (made to resemble everything from whares to Victorian belles) but those tea cozies were sometimes even topped with an additional decorative linen cover.

bagdetail

toy

A display of decorative and framed embroideries shows that English scenes were a popular theme – revealing the time’s nostalgia for the old country. Many of the period still referred to Britain as home, even though they had never seen it. Magazines such as Needlewoman and local department stores provided numerous patterns and transfers for those in need of inspiration.

What this exhibition highlights to me is the sheer talent of the (often forgotten and nameless) makers of this work. In a time when women were discouraged from pursuing “fine” arts and design, their skills and creativity shone through in the pieces they made for the home.

The exhibition also contains a display of replica pieces made by Rosemary McLeod and Marilyn Daly, and is supported by a sumptuous catalogue, With Bold Needle and Thread: Adventures in Vintage Needlecraft. The exhibition will be open at the Waikato Museum Te Whare Taonga o Waikato until 15 June, so make sure you don’t miss seeing this important collection of New Zealand domestic decorative work.

McLeod

Jo Drysdall has had a variety of alter-egos over the years, running the gamut from librarian to corsetiere, archivist to horticulturalist. These days she is the friendly face behind the customer service keyboard at Felt’s HQ. When not facing identity crises she enjoys ogling books on textile art and vegetables.

toyredjacket

Thursday, 17 April, 2014

Learn the art of letterpress

Would you like to learn a new skill? If you live in Auckland here’s your chance. GTO Printers have one space left in this weekend’s workshop “Learn the Basics of Letterpress in One Day.”

You’ll learn to design and print a page of a font catalogue using the eclectic collection of lead and wood type and ornaments and also design and produce a set of personal cards with your own choice of subject.

A place in this workshop is $140 plus GST. It’s run by Graham Judd, owner of GTO Printers and qualified letterpress machinist, with help from other letterpress enthusiasts. The class runs from 9.30am – 4pm this Saturday 19 April, so get in quick. See their website for class details, to book for this class or to view more class dates.

GTO Printing

One a penny, two a penny…

Got the urge to do a bit of baking this long weekend? How about spending your Saturday making some Classic Hot Cross Buns? (Recipe from Allyson Gofton.)

Dough

4 cups high grade flour
1 tsp salt
½ tsp each ground allspice, mixed spice, cinnamon, nutmeg
¼ cup brown sugar
1½ tsp dried yeast or 1½ tbsp Surebake
1 cup warm milk
100 grams softened butter
2 eggs
1 cup mixed dried fruit

Cross paste

½ cup flour
1 tblsp butter
¼ tsp baking powder
about ¼ cup milk

Sugar glaze

2 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp hot milk

yummykids

1. Put the flour, salt, spices and brown sugar into a food processor and pulse to sift.
2. Stir the yeast and milk together and set aside in a warm place for 15 minutes or until the mixture is frothy.
3. Beat the eggs and softened butter into the frothy mixture.
4. With the motor running, pour the yeast mixture down the feed tube as fast as the flour can absorb it to form a soft dough. Process the mixture for 1 minute. Add the dried fruit and pulse to blend.
5. Turn the dough over in a greased bowl and cover with greased plastic wrap. Set aside in a warm place for about 1 hour until the dough has doubled in bulk.
6. Turn out onto a lightly floured board and divide into 16 equal portions. Roll into balls and place on a greased baking tray with about 1 cm between each bun.
7. Cover with a clean tea towel and set aside in a warm place for about 30 minutes until well risen. Brush with milk.
8. Cross paste: sift flour and baking powder together. Rub in butter. Stir in enough milk to make a thick batter that can be piped. Pipe thin crosses onto the buns.
9. Bake at 190ºC for about 20-25 minutes.
10. Sugar glaze: dissolve sugar in hot milk. Brush buns with the sugar glaze just before they come out of the oven.
11. Cool on a cake rack.

Wednesday, 16 April, 2014

Fresh on Felt

 
Black and white, soft pastels or brilliant colours – whatever your colour penchant, we have fresh products that are sure to please.

designer decor and original art

burd – curvy and stylish wooden homewares
pigeoncrafts – original decor and homewares using upcycled materials
hstarnesart – art and design inspired by New Zealand and the natural environment
theuphstudio – retro bespoke furniture, revived or made from scratch
oliveandme – modern lampshades in striking, bold designs

children’s clothing, accessories and toys

marcelandbear – cute screen printed children’s clothes, homewares and accessories
weemitz – elegant and lively one of a kind cloth dolls
canbelle40 – practical and attractive knitwear for children
sweetpeas_nz – gorgeous children’s clothing made from upcycled wool blankets
amity-crafts – personality-filled soft toys
riverview – pretty, traditional children’s clothing

 

clothing, jewellery and accessories

fleuresque – gorgeous textile flower clips and brooches
mk0924 – colourful fabric bags and ukelele cases
ajnur – intricately embellished crochet scarves
krdesignz – colourful beaded jewellery
dzinegallery – funky and fun necklaces
littlepretty  – sweet, feminine earrings

gifts and goodies

marktaylor – modern and artistic screen printed tea towels
legopixels – quirky pictures and portraits made from lego
ttowelco – beautiful screen printed tea towels and pillowslips
gngrbrd_hse – unique and fun crochet doll patterns
mrscrafty – beautiful gifts with a vintage twist

 
amity-crafts

burd

Tuesday, 15 April, 2014

Fabulous fabric under the hammer

Mark this in your calendars, Wellington – the good folk of the Newtown/Mount Cook Plunket are about to hold their sixth annual fabric auction. This year they have a fantastic collection of beautiful fabrics generously donated by Wellington designers, upholsterers and retailers.

Come along take part in the silent auction or get inspired by picking up a bargain “grab bag” or two – for just $5 each, they include a range of small pieces suitable for quilting and craft.

Whether you’re into fashion, craft, sewing or you’d just like to snap up a bargain, there’ll be something for everyone at the auction and you’ll be supporting Newtown/Mount Cook Plunket. What better way to spend an autumn evening?

The auction takes place at 7.30 on Sunday 4 May at Inhabit Design, 23 Adelaide Road, Mt Cook. $2 cover charge, with bubbles and nibbles provided.

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Monday, 14 April, 2014

Featured seller: Claire Le Blond

Dollmaker Claire Leblond is the maker behind the range of quirky, unique cloth dolls she fondly calls “Susie Dolls”, after her sister Sue. Each doll is one of a kind, made out of a combination of soft cotton, vintage embroidery and upcycled fabrics, and Claire also breathes new life into vintage dolls clothes. She works out of a slightly chaotic studio in her home in Birkenhead, Auckland, with a dog at her feet, music blaring, copious amounts of coffee, and two gorgeous children “helping”.

cld01 Betty

What do you make?
I make cloth contemporary cloth dolls using vintage and upcycled fabrics and trims.

How did you get into your craft?
I bought my first soft doll years ago on a trip home to South Africa, and it inspired me to make more when my daughter Madeline was born and I was looking for a creative outlet. I couldn’t find anything I loved for her room, and so I decided to make one. I then started making them as gifts, and my obsession grew from there.

My creativity started at an early age as my family are creative too – my twin sister is a photographer, my dad builds incredibly beautiful model boats among other things, my mum makes jewellery, my grandfather was a carpenter, Gran was a knitter and sewer… and so on. It was inevitable that I would be a “maker”!

Do you have formal training or qualifications in your craft?
Not specifically in sewing or needlework, but I went to the School of Colour and Design in Sydney. This added to my knowledge and love of colour, textiles and creative processes. Mostly I’m self taught, with the help of my Aunt Pat who patiently unpicks my mistakes and shows me how to sew things correctly! I like the idea of a craft being passed from one generation to another.

Your favourite materials, tools and processes?
I love anything fabric, embroidered, knitted or just beautifully handmade.

What inspires you?
Nature is my biggest inspiration. Colour combinations, the curve of a leaf, sunlight through long grasses…

Is there a philosophy behind your work?
Firstly I want to create beautiful things, beautifully, and secondly I want to teach my kids that not everything has to come pre-packaged and made out of plastic, and that not everything has to be new. I frequently drag them op-shopping to find fabric, and they often come away with a book or something second hand. I want this to be part of them – that reusing and recycling is how we should live.

cld01 haberdashery

cld01 thread

Describe your workspace:
A desk tucked into a nook between the kids’ playroom and the guest room. This way I can be with the kids but also do the odd bit of sewing while they play. I go through periods when it’s chaotic and piled with fabric and then I tidy up and all is in order… for at least a day! I love the fact that my workspace is whimsical and colourful and can act as a pinboard for things I love. I don’t have to worry about it being grown-up or precious.

Five words that describe your mind: Busy, creative, thoughtful, focused, quirky.

cld01 workroom

Your favourite feedback from a customer:
This feedback from a customer who bought dolls for her nieces:
“Oh my goodness, the dolls just arrived and they are even more amazing in real life! Thank you so, so much for creating such beautiful dolls! They will be treasures for years to come. Beautiful packaging and thanks heaps for the wee extras.”

What are you currently listening to?
Ray LaMontageTrouble (an oldie but a goodie!)
The LumineersHey Ho
HemRabbit Song
Bruce SpringsteenHigh Hopes

Recommend an album: Anything by Ray LaMontage.

Your favourite childhood book? Enid Blyton’s The Magic Faraway Tree

What are you reading now? EyrieTim Winton; the latest Mollie Makes

cld01 Edith

cld01 Eloise

Tell us about someone creative you look up to:
My Dad. He is incredibly talented with his hands, and used to make model boats out of driftwood while we were on the beach as kids. He has a wonderful hobby room at home where he makes model ships among other things. I love the fact that he is interested in such a varied range of “makings”.He is currently carving the most beautiful wooden spoons and knives… I even remember a macramé phase in the 1980s! I think when you’re a creative person, or someone who needs to make things with their hands, It’s great to have different strings to your bow.

A favourite quote: Creativity is not an option, it’s a way of life

Do you have any pets?
We have a Bearded Collie x Labrador called Scout. She is a handful but I love her dearly!

If you were a crafty superhero, what would your name and superpower be?
The Dolliverer! (Geddit?) It sounds like a cliché but I would like any scared, lonely or hurt child to have something to cuddle, something that was theirs to treasure.

What was the last handmade item you bought? What attracted you to it?
I bought some hand knitted jumpers for my dolls from an op-shop. They were just crying out to be loved again… Someone had clearly put a lot of effort into those! I also bought some gorgeous bits from the talented Sarah at Songbird Designs. She has a great eye for colour and design is amazing and her dedication to New Zealand craft is really admirable.

If you’d like to meet Claire, her range of Susie dolls will be on sale at the Auckland Art and Craft Fair on 28 June – and of course you can check out her current selection in her Felt shop anytime.

But wait, there’s more! Claire has generously offered one lucky Felt blog reader the chance to win a custom doll – that’s right, a doll made with you or yours in mind! Just leave a comment below, telling us what inspires you about Claire’s dolls and why, and you’ll be in the draw. The draw will be made on Thursday 24 April and is open to New Zealand residents only.

cld01 doll group

Sunday, 13 April, 2014

Chocolate alternatives for Easter

Faux Fur Bunny Ears Headband by Marqosa

Knitted rabbit finger puppets by Yummy Kids

Beautiful Bunny Crayons by Crazy Crayons

Easter Cuties by Mimi & Rufus

We think these are a great way to broaden the focus from all that chocolate over Easter. For more ideas, check out all the Easter inspiration on our Pinterest board!

Friday, 11 April, 2014

Easter at home

How do you like your Easter mornings? Do they start with a tasty breakfast – perhaps a perfect boiled egg?

Crochet Egg Cosy pattern PDF by Alexandra Mackenzie

Ceramic Bunny Egg Cup by The Little White Box

What about making a few homemade Easter treats? Making bunny biscuits is a great activity for the kids, and a change from chocolate.

3D Printed Bunny Cookie Cutter by Making It

And while we’re on the subject of bunnies… we think this guy is pretty gosh-darned cute.

Cuddle bunny soft toy by Sweetpea Girl

Finally, take a break and send the kids out for an Easter egg forage in the garden – they’ll have worked up an appetite by the time those biscuits are baked, and maybe you’ll be able to sneak a few before they get back!

Upcycled Wool Blanket Easter Bunny, Made by Susie

Kid's Foraging Bag by Cherry Berry

 

 

Wednesday, 9 April, 2014

Fabric-a-Brac’s back in the capital

Look out, all you hoarders of fabric and keepers of stashes, Fabric-a-Brac is back in Wellington this Saturday for another great round of fabric re-homing.

Fabric-a-Brac started in Wellington in 2009 and has since spread around New Zealand and Australia. A fabric sale enabling lovers of projects with too many projects to shed some of their excess stash, you just know it’s going to be a fantastic place to find some great bargains and funky fabric.

This round of Fabric-a-Brac is happening at St Anne’s Hall, Emmett Street, Newtown from 11am until 3pm. As well as all that gorgeous fabric, haberdashery and other project-related goodies there’ll be coffee, tea and sweet treats, so why not make a day of it? What better way is there for fabric-addicts to spend a Saturday?

Fabric-a-Brac in Wellington raises funds for the Mary Potter Hospice. You can find out more about Fabric-a-Brac on their blog and by visiting their Facebook page.