Yarn Magic – Nurture your creativity and keep warm

As winter sets in and we have all started to feel that chill, what better time to turn to the magic of wool with its endless types, colours and textures, for a cosy & creative season. Our catalogue is full of vibrant titles, from classic reference craft bibles to the latest trend in knitting and crochet design. Whether at home by the fire, on the bus, at a café chatting with friends or in a cosy nook of the library, get those needles and yarn out of your bag and get creating. Here is a selection of titles for inspiration but there is nothing like spending a moment among the library shelves (look for call number 746.43), browsing for that special project you’ve been meaning to get going.

The most immediate and satisfying knitting project is often the accessory you can create in a weekend and start wearing to compliment your wardrobe and keep those extremities warm. So, let’s start with titles on gloves, socks, hats and scarves:

Syndetics book coverA good yarn : 30 timeless hats, scarves, socks & gloves
“These 30 projects are inspired by some of the most popular and fashionable accessories sold by the North Circular. Each project has clear instructions and pictures. There is also advice on ethical buying and sourcing local, sustainbable wool. Handmade doesn’t have to mean compromising on style or quality.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverUltimate mittens : 28 classic knitting patterns to keep you warm
“Offers an array of classic knitting patterns that are organized from simple to difficult and whose origins range from traditional Scandinavian and Canadian Maritime patterns to contemporary sewn and windblock patterns of Maine.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverCustom knits accessories : unleash your inner designer with improvisational techniques for hats, scarves, gloves, socks, and more
“Custom Knits Accessories is the third book in the Custom Knits series and showcases the ever-popular quick-knits: hats, scarves, gloves, mitts, socks, and more. Each of Bernard’s 25 sassy-chic patterns offers specific ideas for customization–from switching out yarns to personalizing fit and style details–and fun, glamorous photographs show off the finished pieces. Also included are formulas for knitting all types of accessories without a pattern, using a single body measurement as a starting point.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverWarm mittens and socks : dozens of playful patterns and skillful stitches to knit, crochet, and embroider / Eva Trotzig ; photography by Malin Nuhma ; translated by Ellen Hedstrom.
“Needlework queen Eva Trotzig shares her generous collection of tips, wisdom, and, of course, patterns that are perfect for crafting comfy knits for the whole family. Containing a colorful mix of styles, techniques, and projects, this is the perfect guide for hands trained in the basics of knitting and crocheting. Discover elaborate loops, delightful details, and patterns to make cold-weather clothes playful and fun to knit, crochet, embroider, and wear.” (Syndetics summary)

For the urban cool sartorialist,  here are a couple of our latest titles:

Syndetics book coverBeanies & bobble hats : 36 quick and stylish knits / Fiona Goble.
“Hip hats to knit yourself, including berets, hats for children, and even a headband or two Walk down any street and count the number of beanies and bobble hats you see–they are everywhere, and not just on cold winter days, but as a fashion statement to be worn throughout the year. Now Fiona Goble has designed 36 fun and fast-to-knit hats for you to make, for yourself or your friends. With great yarns and color combinations, and styles ranging from a fair-isle border beanie to a pixie pompom hat, you will stand out from the crowd. There are hats for men, women, and kids, including hoods, headbands, and even a knitted crown. As with Fiona’s previous book, ‘Scarves and Snoods’, many of the projects are quick and easy to knit, and only use a couple of balls of yarn.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverScarves and cowls : 35 quick and stylish knits
“A scarf or snood is one of the simplest and quickest things that you can knit. Whatever your skill level and however little spare time you have, Fiona Goble has a project for you. She has designed 35 scarves and snoods with something for everyone, from an animal scarf to a sparkly evening capelet, and from an extra-long “preppie” scarf to a cowboy-style bandana for kids. Every project has full instructions for knitting and making up, but most will need little more than the sewing on of a button to finish them off, and some can be knitted in an evening. An added bonus is that many of the projects require only one or two balls of yarn, enabling you to use up your stash of leftovers from other projects.” (Syndetics summary)

Once, you’ve created a few wearable accessories, why not turn to accessories for your home?

Syndetics book coverModern crochet : crochet accessories and projects for your home
Modern Crochet offers a new and exciting take on this popular craft. Clear and colourful, the book is full of ideas and inspiration for the thread and hook. Molla Mills demonstrates how to crochet a variety of home furnishings, including rugs, cushions and storage baskets, as well as stylish accessories and jewellery for both you and your friends. The book introduces the tools and yarns you will need, then outlines basic crochet techniques, and follows with over 30 projects for you to make. The stunning graphic designs and patterns will bring a modern edge to any crocheted article. Mills is a Finnish designer whose products have been exhibited worldwide, and this book was inspired by her popular Virkkuri blog.” (Syndetics)

Syndetics book coverKnit Nordic : 20 contemporary accessories inspired by 4 traditional sweater patterns
“Traditional Nordic patterns have become all the rage, and this fashion-forward collection from designer Eline Oftedal offers a modern spin on four iconic Norwegian patterns: Marius, Voss, Setesdal, and Fana. Twenty contemporary projects range from an iPad and phone cover to a teddy bear and hot pants. Oftedal delves into the inspiration behind the designs, exploring their origins and worldwide appeal.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverYarn, yarn, yarn : 50 fun crochet and knitting projects to color your world
“Follow interior decorators Susanna Zacke and Sania Hedengren as they redesign their world with vivid colors and playful patterns. Their exciting new crafting guide, offers delightful and creative projects guaranteed to inspire and personalize your home, wardrobe, accessories, and more. Don’t buy a spool of ribbon when wrapping presents for the holidays–crochet an ornate cord instead! Protect your laptop with a crochet cover, and make a matching one for your iPhone. Make a shawl for a friend made of colorful granny squares, and crochet teddy bears for the kids. Yarn, Yarn, Yarn is perfect for everyone in love with knitting, crocheting, and decorating with yarn.” (Syndetics summary)

If you are looking for vintage patterns, here are a couple of books that took some literary and mid-century fashion patterns and recreated them for today’s fashion conscious crafties.

Syndetics book coverLiterary knits : 30 patterns inspired by favorite books / Nikol Lohr.
“More than 30 projects inspired by classic literature Literary Knits features 30 knitting patterns inspired by beloved characters from classic books; from Pride and Prejudice to Moby Dick, The Catcher in the Rye to The Chronicles of Narnia –and many more in between. Inspired by some of the most beloved characters from favorite books, including an elegant Daisy Cloche inspired by The Great Gatsby and a late ’50s-inspired Holly Golightly Dress imagined from Breakfast at Tiffany’s , the more than 30 knitting projects in this unique collection will inspire knitters and book lovers alike. If you’re a book lover who knits, or a knitter with an appreciation for vintage patterns, Literary Knits is a timeless collection of one-of-a-kind knitting projects.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverVintage knit : 25 knitting & crochet patterns refashioned for today / Marine Malak with Geraldine Warner.
Vintage Knit offers lovers of retro style 25 beautiful knitting patterns from the 1940s and 1950s, regraded to fit modern sizes (small, medium, and large) and to knit with yarns easily available today. A short introduction describes each garment and suggests how to style it, followed by clear instructions for knitting and making up. Details of the exact yarn used are given to ensure perfect results at home. Each garment is photographed on a model, letting you see how the styles of the past can be part of a very up-to-date look.” (Syndetics summary)

Stitch bibles

Sometimes, all you want is to find the perfect stitch for your next knitting project: here are some amazing collections to make your fingers twitch in anticipation.

Syndetics book coverPop knitting : bold motifs using color & stitch
“Celebrated Swedish textile designer Britt-Marie Christoffersson has studied color and texture in knitting for more than 25 years. Pop Knitting showcases her intensive work, demonstrating how minimal ingredients can be combined in seemingly endless ways to create striking, graphic knitted fabrics. Using a variety of innovative stitch manipulation techniques, this book explores how to construct highly textured fabrics and gorgeous knitted strandwork. You’ll also learn how to create knitted fabrics with holes, pleats, double-fabrics, and more. Knitters of all skill levels will love the projects and inspiration Christofferson presents and the aesthetic masterpiece of Pop Knitting will have the most advanced knitters eager to experiment.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverVogue knitting stitchionary [1]. Volume 1, Knit & purl : the ultimate stitch dictionary / from the editors of Vogue knitting magazine ; [foreword by Carla Scott].
“An essential reference for knitters from novice to expert, this fully illustrated sourcebook is the first of three “stitch dictionaries,” to be written by the professionals at Vogue® Knitting . Some 300 stitches are detailed, and hundreds of charts, photographs, and illustrations make it easy to understand how to construct each stitch, as well as the ways they can be used in projects. The experts at Vogue® Knitting demonstrate rib stitches such as brioche, herringbone, chevron, and quilted patterns; traveling patterns like parquet, ripple, and diamond stitches; lace, including daisy and wave patterns; and such unusual stitches as eye of lynx, bobble block, peppercorn, and bamboo. The most complete book of its kind, this is the definitive stitch reference!” (Syndetics summary)

And its companion titles:

Syndetics book coverVogue knitting stitchionary 2 : the ultimate stitch dictionary. Volume two, Cables

Syndetics book coverVogue knitting stitchionary 3. Volume 3, Color knitting : the ultimate stitch dictionary

Syndetics book cover Vogue knitting stitchionary 6. Volume 6, Edgings : the ultimate stitch dictionary

A lot of these titles are also available as ebooks. Make sure you check our ebook collection here

Finally, check out our magazine collection which includes titles such as Creative Knitting and Simply KnittingInterweave Crochet & Interweave Knits are also available from our in-library shelves and in our Zinio emagazine collection.

cover crochet




iPad vs. paper : win-win

Syndetics book coverIn The Repurposed Library by Lisa Occhipinti the books themselves become the craft material – it’s full of projects that require you to gut, slice, fold and glue old books to create a range of adornments, containers and decorative yet functional items. You could choose to make a Bestseller Bookshelf, a Pagework Quilt or a Literary Lamp!  A great way to reincarnate old books that you can pick up cheaply at booksales.

The project that caught my eye was the Kindle Keeper.  I adapted the concept to make it work with my iPad – the perfect combination of my favourite digital device and the aesthetics of a hardback book.

iPad keeperThe first step was rummaging around at the booksale to find a book that was just a bit bigger than the iPad, then I was underway.  Lisa Occhipinti suggests using velcro strips to hold your e-reader inside the recovered bookcover.  I felt this would be a little insecure and instead combined her idea with the classic “book safe” where a cavity is cut into the book block.  I used a craft knife to remove an iPad sized chunk from the middle of the pages …  this takes more time that you might think!  Then I glued the remaining “frame” made of pages together and to the back cover of the book.

perfect fit!
perfect fit!

Now my iPad can nestle safely inside.   I used purple sugar paper to cover the frame made by the cut pages. This looked a lot better than the left over edges of the pages and also disguised where my cutting was less than perfect.

A stripey lining glued into the back of the cavity made a satisfying contrast and I replaced the original cover with a piece of heavy paper in a leaf design.

inside with stripey lining paper
inside with stripey lining paper
new dust jacket
new dust jacket

I really like the way there is still a hint of the old red book that this once was.

I had thought my next project might be transforming a vintage cookbook into a kitchen utensil holder.  Though after seeing the trailer that includes the author making a bookmobile (shown on the book cover above) I might just get the glue out again and try that first …

Do check out her blog for further inspiration.

Red hoodie for winter

red hoodie frontNow that it’s a bit colder, I’m taking every opportunity to wear my cosy new red hoodie. This is designed by Ysolda Teague, one of my favourite knitwear designers and a bit of a knitting rockstar. Her patterns balance cute, feminine details with very well-constructed, flattering tailoring and they are a total joy to knit. red hoodie side

red hoodie bkHer book Little Red in the City came out last year, and as well as having 7 lovely jersey and cardigan patterns, it has a solid reference section with extensive information on tailoring, technique and garment care. Wellington City Libraries also has a couple of zines, Whimsical Little Knits & Whimsical Little Knits Two, which are treasure troves of modern, sweet treats like this Ishbel shawl.


(click on the photos to view larger version)

Handmade at the office

Laura Bennet’s new book, Handmade Chic:  Fashionable Projects That Look High-End Not Homespun featured on a recent new books list.  It caught my eye as I’m a big Project Runway fan and Laura was one of my favourite contestants.  Her book has great designs that are sophisticated and in her words, not homespun.

diaryShe uses a lot of leather in her designs, and machine stitches with a heavy needle.  I had quite a few vinyl scraps at home from a previous project and thought the designs could easily be hand stitched.

I started with the business card holder.  I used magic tape on the vinyl to draw the stitch line, and to hold both of the pieces together while I sewed.  I was really pleased with how the card holder looked, so moved on to the book cover.

I made the book cover for my diary.  I used  three pieces of vinyl and  again used magic tape to hold the pieces together and to draw my stitch line on.  I picked the tape off opendiary1when I had finished.  This gave the project a very tidy finish.  I had so much fun making these items, I designed my own smart phone case!

As well as projects for the office, Laura’s book includes a number of sophisticated designs for the corporate wardrobe: belts, bracelets and handbags. While the patterns do look good, I’ll stick to accessories.

open phone case phone case

Canine Craft Weekend

Autumn is round the corner and my dog tends to feel the cold, with her greyhound like thin constitution. Having come across a gorgeous woolen tartan at a fabric sale, I decided to make her a cosy coat she could wear outdoors on crisp winter mornings, or indoors, when she needs that extra bit of warmth.

So, at the end of a crafty weekend, I went for a walk with Manu and took a few pictures of the model.

Check out our collection of dog knits books for stylish ideas to keep your pooch happy in the cool months ahead. (Click on the image to check our catalogue)

syndetics-lc      syndetics-lc     syndetics-lc

Making things with Milly Molly Mandy

The Milly Molly Mandy books by Joyce Lankester Brisley were among my favourite stories as a girl.  I felt very nostalgic recently when I came across the book  Milly Molly Mandy’ things to make and do by Sam Hay; based on the stories by Joyce Lankester Brisley. It’s packed with all the favourite things Milly Molly Mandy, little friend Susan and Billy Blunt loved to do.

french knittingIt was fun trying to  remember  which story the activity came from; like the one when Milly Molly Mandy learns to cook with Teacher. My daughter and I started with  French knitting.  She was so excited at the sound of  knitting, she announced that she was going to knit a blanket. I persuaded  her to instead knit a  length long enough to make a small knot that would be big enough to embellish  the end of a hair clip.

While Milly Molly Mandy suggests making a bracelet for a friend, we got the  idea for the hair clip from the book State of Craft edited by Victoria Woodcock.  The book has pulled together a lot of ideas from different makers and designers.  The French knitted hair clips are a simple idea, that can easliy be modified for the beginner.

Instead of two strands of knitting, we used one, and made the length quite a bit shorter then suggested, so not to waste any of our precious knitting.  The clips look very cute, and now that my daughter has got the hang of French knitting, she’ll be able to get started on that blanket she’s so keen to make.  But in the mean time, we’ve got a lot of activities to try in our Milly Molly Mandy Make and Do book.

More make and do books for children

Cherry cake and ginger beer by Jane Brocket

Ripping things to do by Jane Brocket

50 things to make and do by Fiona Watt

Crafting the taste of summer

Summer’s just around the corner, and there’s nothing better then a glass of cool homemade lemon cordial on a hot day.  Lucky for me, a friend of mine recently moved into a house with a magnificant lemon tree in the garden.

I took my recipe from Robyn Paterson’s book Tips from your Grandad: you can do it.  Don’t be fooled into thinking this book is just about car maintenance and shining your shoes – it has got heaps of great tips and recipes (we’ve also enjoyed making the sherbert on numerous occasions).

The recipe is called old fashioned citrus cordial and  couldn’t be easier.  I’ve previously made it with a mix of citrus as suggested, but prefer to  use just lemons. I made a batch to give to friends for Christmas and thought I’d make the bottles just that bit fancy by making my own labels.

Print workshop: hand-printing techniques + truly original projects by Christine Schmidt has very do-able printing processes for the  home crafter.  I tried the water-slide decal jar labels for my cordial bottles. The process reminded me of how we soaked the  paper off the back of stamps as kids.  With a little bit of practice and reference to the troubleshooting tips, I managed to produce very cool, rustic labels.  I’d like my labels to be a  bit darker, like the ones in the book, and I think that will come with a little more practice.  I didn’t need any of the optional material suggested for printing, and the labels stuck to the bottle without the use of sealent.  As the  labels are clear, they are best suited to bottles or jars were the contents is a light colour.

Now all I need is a hot day and some sunshine… lemon cordial

Other printing and handy tip books

Tips from your nana: waste not, want not! by Robyn Paterson; photography by Tammy Williams

Mum knows best: exceedingly helpful household hints by M & J Hanks

Queen of crafts: the  modern girls’ guide to knitting, sewing, quilting, baking, preserving and kitchen gardening by Jazz Domino Holly

Lotta prints: how to print with anything from potatoes to linoleum by Lotta Jansdotter photographs by Jenny Hallengren

Crafting with gloves and socks

My daughter was really keen to make sock puppets during the school holidays.   I’d  also found a book about sock toys at  the library and thought we could make some soft toys from socks and gloves too.

So it was off to the local opportunity shop for socks and gloves only to discover someone had been in earlier in the day and bought all the socks.  Perhaps they had the same school holiday activity in mind?  We did find two non-matching gloves, but  thought that would be OK.     Sock and Glove by Miyako Kanamori is a lovely story about Billy the glove dog and Marcus the sock monkey.  They need some friends, so put lots of gloves and socks on mum’s table and hope she will make them some.  She does, and they have lots of fun together.  Mum even makes them  some clothes.

glove bunnyThe patterns are included in the back of the book, and are very easy to follow. I really liked the diagrams of the socks and gloves with cut and stitch lines drawn over each.  The patterns range from very simple (like the fish) to quite complicated (like Marcus the monkey).  We choose something made with two gloves, and something made with socks.  We think our sock bunny is very soft and cute.
Most of the sock animals need the whole sock (or two), so using socks with holes won’t work.  We found some nice stripped socks for the bird, and a coat toggle in the button jar at home for her beak.      Sock Bird and Glove Bunny are the best of friends…just like Billy and Marcus.

Other sock and glove books

Stupid sock creatures: making quirky lovable  figures by John Murphybunny and bird

Sewing: 25 projects for a crafty afternoon edited by Kathreen Ricketson

Sock Monkey boogie-woogie: a friend is made by Cece Bell (children’s picture book)

Sock Monkey rides again by Cece Bell (children’s picture book)

Weaving at the Central Library

The Library is a welcoming place where people like to come and spend some time, not only for our books or magazines, but also to be part of community life. The Maori collection area on the second floor is a quiet, peaceful area and Weaver Sammy found this was the perfect place to spend a day creating some beautiful flax woven items. I caught a glimpse of him at the end of the day and was amazed to discover the high quality pieces he had produced since the morning.

Recycled sewing

I try as often as I can to reuse fabrics, buttons, zips and the like when I’m sewing.  I really enjoy coming across new ideas for upcycling or repurposing, and found lots of new ideas in Sewn by Hand by Susan Wasinger.  While the book encourages hand sewing, I used my machine as often as possible.

apronMy favourite idea from the book was the business shirt apron.  Using the front of two shirts, including the button holes and buttons, the shirts are cleverly cut and resewn to make a really neat apron. I used a white striped shirt for the apron bib and a brown shirt for the bottom.  The remainder of the shirts could easily be made into the cafe napkins with built-in napkin rings, also from the book.  My daughter’s jeans are looking very cool as well, thanks to Sewn by Hand.  I’ve patched the holes in the knees with pretty cotton prints and stitched around the patches with embroidery thread.  She can’t wait for more holes to emerge so I can add a few more patches!

My next project is the pilot’s hat.  I haven’t sewn it yet, but I have sourced a couple of ribbed jerseys from the local opportunity shop.  I’ve decided against adding the contrasting trim and fabric flowers, instead keeping it as simple and plain as possible.  I’m keen to get going on that project – it looks so warm!

I’m sewing with Christmas in mind, and have a family member who loves baking cupcakes who I’m sure could use an apron.  I’m also sure a friend who experienced a lot more snow then me last week could use a new hat.  With the remainder of the jersey I’m going to try the felted slippers for another friend with cold toes…just hope they don’t read this post!

Other titles that reuse and repurpose

Eco – Craft by Susan Wasinger

The reclaimers: a complete guide to salvage by Sally Bevan

1000 ideas for creative reuse: remake, restyle, renew by Garth Johnson

The repurposed library: 33 craft projects that give old books new life by Lisa Occhipinti

Alabama studio style: more projects, recipes and stories celebrating sustainable fashion and living by Natalie Chanin

The joy of finishing something!

If you have been looking at the new craft books coming through the blog lately, you will have seen my on going battle to actually finish something!
Well on Wednesday I finally managed to finish a project! Admittedly a small one, but still. A family member requested this for his young son, and after a push of “you know it is cold” I finally got it finished. This was a great little knit, quick, simple and the wool was lovely to knot with! It’s a Bear hat, 1-2 years, Cashmere merino.

The hat comes out of Simply knitting., the Feb 2011 issueBear hat 1-2 years

Stewart Island Artist Residency


This was my second trip to Mason Bay as part of 2011 DOC/CNZ Wild Creations Artists Residency. This time I concentrated on making. Here are some examples of what I made.

For this karanga manu I used the tuwiri drill to fashion the cup and for the relief carving I used metal scrapers and some nails I found in the workshop. The original is in Otago Museum and is rather famous.

The porutu is a longer open end cross blown instrument and is very much an instrument used in Murihiku. Here are two made from tutu and one from albatross wing bone.

The putorino is mentioned in Traditional Lifeways of the Southern Maori J.H. Beattie by his informants. Here is one made from tutu rakau in a northern style.

Tokere are played by putting the pikao loops go over the fingers and playing in a similar way to castenets. These shells are from the mouth of Martin Creek and the pikao is from Big Sandhill behind Hill Homestead

Here is a link to my taonga puoro blog  with extra content.

I was playing porutu to a tui when half a dozen bellbirds turned up and had a sing along. Listen here


Winter craft

With nights very long and dark at the moment, I’ve been looking for new things I can easily make in the evenings.  I’d love to sit in front of the telly kniting  scarfs, hat  or soft toys.  But as I’m not a knitter, I’ve been looking for other small, simple things to do.

purseA little while ago I made quite a few purses and pencil cases with stitched felt animals and small scenes on them.  I got the idea from The Cute Book by Aranzi Aronozo.  They looked great and were a quick way of adding a bit of interest to a pencil case. I made different sizes for different uses, like keeping the playing cards in.

I recently borrowed Cuter Book Felt mascot: cute and easy to make! by the same author which has a similar theme to the Cute Book. The book has patterns and ideas for creating palm sized soft toys and mascots from felt.  So simple, and perfect for making in front of the telly!

I liked how the patterns in the book are printed at actual size.  There was no felt dogneed to enlarge on the photocopier, although this could be done for making larger sized animals.  I was able to trace the pattern, cut the felt  and then get started.

The construction uses glue to hold bits in place (like eyes and legs), but with a little adaption, it was easy to do away with glue altogether.  I chose to cross stitch on eyes or use a french knots instead of small pieces of felt.  I thought this gave a nicer finish to the toys, and I wanted to be able to give them to small children when finished.  I also modified a few of the patterns so I didn’t have to cut out “fingers” on some of the patterns (like the frogs hands).  That was just a little too fiddly.

felt softiesThe finished toys look really cute and are a great size – just right for little hands.  And to keep them all together, I’m able to fit quite a few into one of my matching pencil cases.

Titles by Aranzi Aronozo:
Cute book
Cute dolls:  Lets make cute stuff
Cute stuff
Felt mascot: cute and easy to make

Knit-in at Kilbirnie Library

knit in 3It was a rather wet day last Saturday which was just perfect for our first knit in.  We had a nice friendly bunch of people that gathered to knit, chat, check out our knitting books and drink cups of tea.  We had a few international knitters and it was interesting to see although people knit all over the world there are different techniques. The Knit-in ran from 11am-3pm and we had knitters between the ages of 6-86 from beginners to experts.

Thanks to all the knitters who came along and if you missed out don’t dispair we will be holding another knit in on Saturday 22nd July from 11am-3pm.

knit in web

knit in email2

Yoga in style


Just whipped that up at the weekend. Carrying a rolled up yoga mat under the arm had become a bit of a nuisance. I can now carry the mat + the keys+ the phone all in one. No need for any more luggage.

Check out those books for some further inspiration to make yoga mat bags:

Last minute knitted gifts


The owner of Purl, Manhattan’s hip knitting supply store, presents more than 30 fun, beautiful patterns for knitted gifts that can be made in less than ten hours. Includes instructions and easy tips on how to incorporate knitting and other yarn embellishments into the gift wrap. Full color.

One-yard wonders


From the novice sewing enthusiast to the lifelong seamstress, readers will find a delightful array of simple, stylish projects that can be made with just a single yard of fabric. For each of the 101 projects, the book provides a full-color photograph, easy, step-by-step instructions, and simple illustrations

Crafts Extravaganza at the Central Library


The month of May has seen unprecedented activity at the Central Library in the field of Crafts.  Two Showcases on 13 and 14 April brought an enthusiastic crowd to the first floor where members of the public, young and old, watched, shared and experimented with a wide range of crafts experts.

On 21 May guests were invited to mingle with our crafts collection afterhours, during our Crafts Lock-in where they could share and exchange craft techniques and secrets with fellow crafters. Participants had a chance to review and borrow the latest in our crafts books collection, to everyone’s delight. The event was an all out success.

Fairy tale craft

My daughter loves fairy tales.  While Cinderella is her all time favourite,  she can happily recite almost all of the well known fairy tales.  I recently came across a couple of patterns for fairy tale characters in More Softies that give funky, modern twists to classic characters.  I was especially taken by the Princess and the Pea and knew as soon as I saw it, I had to make it.

princess in bedI used a mix of cotton fabrics and recycled blankets for the mattress covers and filled them with foam so they would stack nicely.  I used polyester fill for the top mattress and pillow  to give the pile a snug look.  My pea is quite a bit bigger then the pattern for some unknown reason, but as a result we haven’t lost it!  I finished the set by making a matching draw-string bag to keep it all together.

princess and the peaGive yourself plenty of time to make the complete set.  The book gives very clear step by step instructions and making it is not difficult. It’s just that there are a lot of pieces to it…  but well worth the time.

And my daughter loves it!  The only disappointment is that the Princess doesn’t have arms!

Red Riding Hood is another neat pattern in the same book.  Have a look at the following titles for more modern, funky soft toys.

Softies only a mother could love edited by Jess Redman and Meg Leder.

Simple softies: for the whole family by Julie Renouf.

Bobby Dazzlers make your own misfits by Julie Kamijo and Rosie Short.

Crafts Showcase @ Wellington Central Library

CarouselYou are all invited to watch craft makers at work as they demonstrate their inspirational works of art, sharing their knowledge and offering their expertise on a wide range of craft activities. From ceramic artists creating pottery to spinners and weavers turning their spinning wheel of colour; embroiderers showing stitching techniques and jewellery artists making a variety of jewellery items being only a few of the craft demonstrations happening on each day.

These events will be taking place on Friday, 13 May from 11am to 3pm and Saturday, 14 May, from 12noon to 4pm on the ground and 1st floor of the Wellington Central Library.

Get inspired and be creative, learn new techniques and experiment with textures and colours and make the most of this series of fun, friendly and free events for all ages!
Look forward to seeing you there!

Craft Showcase Participants:
Calligraphy in Wellington
Creative Fibre Wellington
Jewellery making – Margaret Elliot
Traditional Maori Carving
Wellington Embroiderers’ Guild
Wellington Handweavers & Spinners
Wellington Potters’ Association

One of my favourite craft books

There are so many great sewing and craft books in the library.  Occasionally   I come across one that really inspires me.  Handmade Home by Amanda Blake Soule is one such book.  Everytime I pick it up I find something else in it I want to make!

I’ve  already made several of Amanda’s projects, and found them to be straight forward and reasonably simple.

bookmarksOne of my favourite ideas from the book is the handmade bookmark.  Like the book suggests, I used drawings my daughter did as a pre-schooler.  I found it easier to photocopy the drawing and then turn the copy into an iron on transfer using a transfer pencil.  Much easier than drawing directly onto fabric.  That way I got to keep the drawing too.

bathmatI’ve also made the bathmat (I recycled a candlewick bedspread) and the fiber garland.  I’m keen to update our mouse pad, and think I’ll be stepping out in a sweater hat this winter.  So many great ideas!

pincushionIf you’re looking for quick, easy sewing projects as well as ideas for living, this is well worth a look.

Kids, paper, glue and paint!

What could go wrong? Normally I am not one for looking at kids craft books. But I was recently dealing with a pile of new books and came across 3 great new kids craft and art books:

Syndetics book coverThe Usborne book of origami and other paper projects / Eileen O’Brien and Kate Needham . This book has great ideas while using simple tools, and yes the paper water bombs work really well, my nephews had a blast with them, and all we used was a pile of coloured paper. Mind you their dad is still in mourning for the back yard.

Big book of papercraft / Fiona Watt ; designed and illustrated by Antonia Miller, Non Figg and Katrina Fearn.
This text is full of fun and challenging things to make and do with paper, from paper crocodiles to 3-D bugs, book covers and embossing. It contains over 45 activities, each accompanied by simple, step-by-step instructions and clear illustrations to make them easy to understand and complete.

365 things to draw and paint / Fiona Watt ; designed and illustrated by Erica Harrison … [et al.].
This book is perfect for the young artist.

Garden craft

I’ve spent a lot of time in the garden this summer, and I’ve had a bumper crop of cherry tomatoes.  This month I’ve been thinking about how I can take my love of craft outdoors.  I started with bunting flags, inspired by Danielle Proud’s, House Proud.

bunting flagsHanging in the porch, they have livened up the entrance to our house and were very quick and easy to make.  I used bias binding rather then string and spaced my flags to fit the space where I wanted to hang them.

I’ve come across a number of other titles that have great craft ideas for the garden.  Have a look at the wire birds and butterfly I made from Jennifer Swift’s Creative Bloom: projects and inspiration with fabric and wire.

wire birds and butterflyI used soft wire and a pair of pliers to shape the birds and butterfly to the template provided .  They are now at home sitting in the tree in my front garden.


Other titles with craft ideas for the garden:

The craft & art of bamboo: 30 eco-friendly projects to make for home & garden by Carol Stangler.

Garden craft for kids: 50 great reasons to get your hands dirty by Diane Rhoades.

Saint Valentine got crafty

Making a something for your beloved or the person whose attention you want to grab is a great tradition in these times of the clamouring heart.

Is doily manipulating the way you’ve operated in the past? Something created by hand (or foot, if toe painting is your thing) carries a wealth of meaning and sentiment.  Try some new twists on the creative path to romance…

Papercraft is a fanatstically accesible medium, The Pop-up book, by Paul Jackson has some great step-by-step instructions to create an unforgetable gift or card.  He has several other titles in the library if you want to check out origami to enfold a message or paper planes to deliver your rendezvous location.  Use tags for papercraft to discover other authors and titles.

There’s some eye pleasing inspiration in Beading with world beads: beautiful jewelry, simple techniques. Wellington has some fantastic sources of beads (google Wellington beads). You could use other stringable items such as shells from your favourite beach or other pieces of interesting flotsam.

If you’re looking for a project to keep children busy while you plan a romantic evening, try Gifts from the heart.  Karori library has dibs on this one, so use your card for a reserve to collect it from any branch.  Or peruse the section in the Children’s non-fiction area with the call numbers J745.5 onwards.

A Door to Creativity

DSC02285Over the years, Mary had collected all of her favourite greeting cards and textured wrapping papers from the gifts from her friends and family. She kept them in a special box inside her closet which she opened from time to time to indulge in the sweet memories of cherished moments. It was only recently that Mary decided to paint the white door to the living room in her family home. She was struggling to find an appropriate colour when a particular wrapping paper came to mind. She opened the box and her imagination took over. The collage on the left was the result.

Mary never gets tired of looking at the door as each image reminds her of a significant moment or a special person in her life.


Some reference titles to help you with your own collage are:

Syndetics book coverCollage : assembling contemporary art / Editor, Blanche Craig.

Syndetics book coverCollage sourcebook : exploring the art & techniques of collage / Jennifer Atkinson, Holly Harrison and Paula Grasdal.

Syndetics book coverCollage for the soul : expressing hopes and dreams through art / Holly Harrison and Paula Grasdal.

If you on the other hand like to use coloured paper to decorate any surface combining different media such as paint you can find useful information in the following titles:

Syndetics book coverGlorious papers : techniques for applying colour to paper / Ruth Issett.

Syndetics book coverHandmade home : simple ways to repurpose old materials into new family treasures / Amanda Blake Soule.

There are so many practical items we can create by reusing materials we have at home and there are various books in the library collection to give you ideas and practical tips as to how you can be artistic. After all, there is always an open door to creativity!

A blast of winter

I really felt last week’s “wintery blast” and it got me thinking about things I want to wear/knit for this winter. My usual MO is to get cold, then to start knitting something warm and have it ready just in time for summer. Which of course is no help. This season I have decided to be pro-active and start something now, in the vain attempt to have it ready for winter. I often look at Creative Knitting magazine as it has great accessories like the scarf pictured. I have also knitted a couple of their gloves for friends, which went down a treat!