Category Archives: Craft

Knitting – Dollies

It’s been a while since I posted about the amigurumi knitting I did, so I thought I’d share a bit more of my crafty world with you. Knowing how I like to knit, my lovely London sister sent me a copy of “Knit Your Own Royal Wedding” by Fiona Goble. (This was back in 2011, as a tribute to the wedding of Kate and Will.)

Knit Your Own Royal Wedding - Fiona Goble

I have gorgeous twin nieces, and I thought they might love to have a dolly each with a wardrobe of clothes!

The need for decoration on these tiny clothes saw me feverishly collecting sequins, buttons, ribbons and all manner of other embellishments – I love a good excuse to make a new stash!

Fiona’s book is beautiful, her instructions are clear and concise, and shoes, hats and handbags abound.

Knitted Dollies

I adored creating these girls for my pair of sweeties. Who knows, one day I may just get busy and make them little dolly husbands – and corgis!  🙂

painting miniatures ~ and other artistic pursuits

When I was younger, I had no idea that I had any artistic talent. In fact I thought I was devoid of it – that being able to ‘do art’ was something you were born with, and I wasn’t. It took me a long time to recognise some things about art.

Ogre Ninja Maneater

One of the things that started me thinking I had an artistic bone in my body was when my son encouraged me to have a go at painting his Warhammer miniatures. (Warhammer,  you ask? Picture toy soldiers meet Dungeons and Dragons meets chess.) These guys come as little grey metal or plastic pieces (the standard ones are around 5cm high), which you have to glue together and – paint. I couldn’t paint to save myself.. could I? After a year of his cajoling and convincing, I finally gave in – and instantly discovered a passion. My early attempts weren’t the best, but I read and researched and practiced – I got better at it, and even won a prize or two for my efforts!

Warhammer Night Goblin Giant

One of the first things I realised is that art can be found in many mediums. ‘Craft’ can be a form of ‘art’. So the ability to knit and sew and embroider and crochet can all be artistic talents. Gosh, huh, who would have thunk?

Warhammer Malagor

The second thing is that artists can be made as well as born.  Painting and drawing (and all those crafty pursuits) are skills that you can learn! I amazed myself when I went from being a bad stick figure drawer, to being able to freehand draw realistic three dimensional pictures of jewellery in just a few lessons!

Warhammer Giant

The third thing is that practice makes perfect. Sure, we all know those three year olds with the freakish ability to pick up a pencil and make masterpieces – but for those of us without that fortune, just keep trying, keep experimenting. It will come!

Warhammer Shaggoth

And finally – art is in the eye of the beholder. I’ve seen some expensive ‘masterpieces’ that anyone with a sponge and some poster paint could have slapped together – and some divine works of art that go practically unrecognised. Each to their own – just have the courage to appreciate (and do) what you really like!

And if you’d like to see more of my Warhammer painting efforts from this previous life, you can visit my ‘Cool Mini or Not’ gallery. There are some TOTALLY awesome artists there if you browse a bit further afield!

Knitting – Amigurumi

Blogging about the knitting we did for the Addis Ababa Fistula Hospital recently got me thinking about the many other craft pursuits I have. Yes, long before becoming a silversmith, craft was already in my blood! My mum is a very creative woman, and taught me just about everything I know about most of the various handcrafts I’ve taken up. My granny is a fantastic artist, I have two of her beautiful oil paintings hanging in my home – one of them I keep in my workshop, which always inspires me! My dad loved to play the guitar, as did my uncle; my grandfather was an author, and as I’ve blogged about before, three of my ancestors were blacksmiths, just to mention a few. Lots of creative juices in there!!

Anyway, back to the knitting. Even though I’m left handed, my mum is right handed so that’s how I learned to knit, back when I was six! A few Christmases ago, she gave me the most divine book, Amigurumi Knits, by Hansi Singh.

Amigurumi Knits

Amigurumi is more often seen in crochet, but Hansi has created the most wonderful knitting patterns for all kinds of amigurumi creatures and things – everything from tomatoes and earthworms:

To octopi and deep sea black devil angler fish!

Hansi’s book is really well written, with very clear instructions. I learned so many new techniques from knitting these fabulous creatures, I feel quite competent now! Knitting – satisfying, creative, relaxing, and very Zen. Speaking of creativity running in the family, It is a shame I can’t ask my grandpa about his experience of it. I believe he wasn’t a bad knitter himself!

Craft Swap

Christine from Scissors Paper Cloth recently organised a craft swap for members of Australian Wandarrah (an Etsy team I’m part of). I’d never been part of a craft swap before, but it seemed like such a nice idea! A good way to get some feedback from some fellow creators, too.

By chance, it happened that I was Christine’s craft swap person. She did some research, discovered I have a little person, and sent me this divine creation for his room:

Scissors Paper Cloth Hot Air Balloon

This gorgeous hot air balloon came with a light fitting, and can be used as a mobile, or as a lamp or wired in to become a light. My small person and I are both just delighted with this beautiful creation. The little bunting flags are made from pieces of maps, all ready for a journey around the world!

My craft swap person was Deepa of Tunic Botik. Deepa makes gorgeous polymer clay jewellery like this. What a talent!

Tunic Botik Brooch

I sent Deepa these olivine green Swarovski crystal earrings. They’re a one off creation, so she’s the only person in the world with a pair.

Sterling Silver Green Olivine Swarovski Crystal Earrings

What serendipity that the colour of the pieces I sent and received was the same!

I really enjoyed participating in this craft swap, and would definitely sign up again for another one. It’s all about sharing the love! Thanks, team!

Knitting for a cause – Addis Ababa Fistula Hospital Ethiopia

Silhouetted Tree - Ethiopia

Silhouetted Tree – Ethiopia (photo credit April Lahti)

I don’t quite recall how I came across the Addis Ababa Fistula Hospital (on Facebook I think) but the more I read, the more the story of the Hamlins and their fine work touched me. In our western world, we take it for granted that we have access to medical facilities, in particular obstetric facilities should something go not quite right while we are giving birth. (Both my children were delivered by emergency caesarean section, so I know how that can be!)

Hospital By The River

Catherine's Gift

It wasn’t until I read ‘Hospital By The River‘ and ‘Catherine’s Gift’, written about Catherine and Reg Hamlin’s life in Ethiopia, that I started to really understand what life might be like if I had not been able to have those caesareans. For thousands of Ethiopian women, their lives are torn apart when they have difficulty in birthing their babies. First, their baby dies. As if that wasn’t more than anyone should have to bear, as a result of days of labour with the baby pressing down into the pelvis, blood supply is cut off to the walls of the vagina, and tissue dies, resulting in holes that are known as obstetric fistulae. The contents of the bladder and bowel leak uncontrollably through these holes. The woman is usually ostracised by her village because of the leakage and the smell; often her husband leaves her, and sometimes, there is nerve damage to the legs and feet, making walking difficult. Also, from lying still over many weeks in an attempt to stop the leaking, she can suffer atrophy and tightening of the tendons making it impossible to walk.

Catherine Hamlin

Catherine Hamlin and her late husband, Reg, have dedicated their lives to assisting these long-suffering women, not just by providing life-changing surgery to repair the fistulae, but by helping these women to make a dignified return to their lives; and also by providing them with ongoing support to ensure that they are able to give birth safely next time.

Hamlin Shawl Knitting

One of the items that the women are provided with during their stay at the Addis Ababa Fistula Hospital is a new shawl. My mother, sister and I are in the process of knitting one to send. Acrylic yarn is required so that the women may wash their shawls in the river and have them dry quickly. Information about sizing, a basic pattern, and when and where to send your blanket can be found here.

I highly recommend you read either the books I mentioned above or have a look at the website to see the story of these wonderful people, and of some of the courageous women who suffer so much and sometimes travel hundreds of miles in order to have the operation which will make them whole again. Donate if you can, knit or crochet if you can. Every little bit helps!

This month, 10% of all Silver Forge sales will be donated to this very worthy cause. Head to The Silver Forge shop now, and see if you can help out, and get yourself something lovely at the same time!