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Archive for November, 2009

Three more sleeps until the start of summer!

To celebrate, I changed my website header to a photo I took today (well, technically yesterday now, on Saturday) of these gorgeous daisies in the afternoon sun. Don’t they just make you feel summer rushing through your veins? Below is an alternative, but I think I like the colour and the out of focus nature of the one I chose (good for a header).

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Especially big hot pink heart-shaped earrings! Big fun earrings suit my huge mass of brown wavy hair :P

Hopefully I will have something crafty for you all next week. Have a wonderful weekend!

♥ ♥ ♥

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I spent several hours in Perth City today asking complete strangers if they would complete a short survey to help a friend with her PhD research on domestic violence against women. Over 200 people were kind enough to give their time and they received nothing in return but profuse gratitude. I sincerely thank all those people for their kindness – including those who did not have the time to complete the survey but were kind in how they declined! The issue of violence against women is one that needs to be talked about a lot more, and it is even more relevant that I am posting this now because today (25th November) is White Ribbon Day, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women.

Violence perpetrated against women by their current and ex- partners is a leading cause of illness, injury or death in Australian women between the ages of 15 and 45, and one in three Australian women will experience physical or sexual violence in her lifetime (click here for more info). And while the name of the day focuses on women, in truth we all know that domestic violence occurs against children and men too.

People in abusive situations need help, whether that abuse is physical, verbal, emotional, sexual, or financial. No one ever wants to be in an abusive relationship, but they will remain for many reasons: whether it be out of love, fear of reprisal, fear for children,  lack of power, lack of support, or simply because they are not aware that what is happening to them is abuse. Those who have suffered and are suffering abuse need our help.

Most of us are sadly unsure and afraid of how to respond to domestic violence if  we become aware of it. There are many reasons why: we might be afraid of making the situation worse, getting abused ourselves, shaming a friend or family member, or we might be uncertain whether abuse is actually happening.

If you are experiencing abuse, or become aware of (or suspect) abuse occurring to someone else, do not remain silent. What you need to do is call someone who can help. Unless you are a professional who knows what to do, don’t try to wrack your brains about what to do (and then stay silent because you are stuck) –  just call a helpline where people are trained to give you appropriate advice that will suit your situation. Even if you aren’t sure anything is wrong, just call anyway. You will not regret an anonymous phone call, but you may regret staying silent.

If you are in immediate danger or witnessing an act of violence occurring do not hesitate –  call the police. This is regardless of whether it is happening to a stranger or someone you know.  Also do not assume that if there are many people standing around watching that someone must have called – call yourself to make sure. If you are concerned that you are actually causing abuse, do not stay silent and be ashamed of yourself: you must get help too, so call the domestic violence helpline.

If you are in Australia, call the Police (000) if there is immediate danger, or anonymously call the National Confidential Helpline (24hr) on 1800 200 526, and they can either help you directly or put you in touch with a service that can (other services for Australia are listed here).
If you are not from Australia
, make sure you know your emergency number, and do a search for the appropriate domestic violence helpline (quick hotline links for the USA, UK, New Zealand, and some services for Canada because I couldn’t find a national helpline). The phone number for most helplines will not appear in your phone bill, and their websites typically provide advice to stop the website from showing up in your history.

Please make sure that you do not stay silent about this issue. Speak up against domestic abuse when the issue is raised, educate other people about the issue and how they can help if they know of abuse, and make sure you do not stay silent if you suspect abuse.

1800 200 526

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Well I reached my 1000th visitor last Thursday and I have had over 250 visits since then so I feel this post is slightly behind! I have been busy and away on holiday, but I am determined to catch up. I promised in my previous post that I would write about two lovely visitors to my site, so here they are:

Etheriel Musings

Grace of Etheriel Musings is a really lovely woman and was one of the first to comment on my site. Her website is full of all her gorgeous writing. She mostly writes film reviews, but she also writes observations of life around her. Grace is truly talented not just with how she writes, but the way she has actually thought about a movie or situation in life. You don’t have to take my word for it either – Roger Ebert (the famous film critic!) has noticed Grace and has gushed about her writing too ;). Another fun thing is that Grace is going to be visiting Perth soon, so we hope to catch up :) Go on, go visit her site!

Megnificent Made

Megan has dropped by my site on more than one occasion to brighten it with her lovely comments. Her website is fairly new as well, but I am looking forward to the crafty posts she has coming up (I got a sneak peek by looking at her flickr photos)! She writes about her adventures in Australia, cool crafty finds, items she designs, aaannnnddd she has some cute felt craft tutorials (I have to get some pink felt to make her strawberries!). She also has a couple of guinea pigs with her partner which is extra cute. If you want some craft ideas, go check her out.

Now I am sure there are many, many other wonderful visitors to this site, but I don’t know who you are unless you leave a comment and say hello :D. I enjoy visiting the websites of people who visit (unless you are just a spammer of course ;)), so don’t be shy.

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I found Bazzil just buzzing about his business in my newly planted basil this weekend. He was having quite a feast on the flowers of my other herbs (just look at the size of him!) and was hoping to have some basil flowers to finish off his meal.

“You’re out of luck, Bazzil” I shook my head, “They won’t flower until the end of summer”.

I offered him some of my special sweet spring flowers instead and he cheered up so much he let me in on the secret to getting your own buzzing bumblebees. And here it is…

Bazzil the Buzzing Bumblebee Amigurumi Pattern

My patterns are written down as I create my amigurumi, but let me know if there is anything missing.

Techniques

You will use the basic amigurumi crochet techniques: magic circle, slip stitch, single crochet (sc), increase, and invisible decrease. But you will also learn a simple way to change colours.
Note: US crochet stitch terminology is used. ch=chain, sc=single crochet, 2sc in next sc=increase, sc2tog=decrease (crochet two sc together to make one sc). I use the invisible decrease method for all decreases.

Materials

* Yarn: Yellow, Black, and White (your bee can be different colours of course!)
* Safety eyes (I used 9mm black). You can also stitch your eyes or make them out of felt
* Black embroidery thread (for mouth)
* Black/brown soft fuzzy pipe cleaner for antennae (or crochet your own)
* Polyfill stuffing
* Crochet Hook
* Needle (one with an eye big enough for yarn, and one for your embroidery thread)
* Any other materials to decorate

Pattern

Bumblebee: Head/Body

Start with Yellow Yarn
RND1:  6sc magic circle [6]
RND2:  2sc in each sc [12]
RND3:  12 sc around [12]
RND4:  sc in next sc, 2sc in next sc. Repeat. [18]
RND5:  18 sc around [18]
RND6:  18 sc around [18]
RND7:  18 sc around [18] **insert safety eyes & embroider mouth**
RND8:  sc in next sc, sc2tog. Repeat. [12]

Switch to Black Yarn with a slip stitch
[How to: Insert hook into back loop/stitch only of the next stitch, yarn over with black yarn (not yellow), then pull through both stitches to make a slip stitch. You will now have a black loop over your hook. If you want a cleaner join, you will need to join each round: as soon as you finish a RND, slip stitch to next stitch (back stitch only if changing colour, and yarn over with new colour), then chain one, and continue to next RND]
RND9:  12 sc around [12] **stuff head**
RND10: sc in next 5 sc, 2sc in next sc. Repeat. [14]
RND11: sc in next 6 sc, 2sc in next sc. Repeat. [16]

Switch back to Yellow yarn with a slip stitch
RND12: 16 sc around [16]
RND13: sc in next 3 sc, 2sc in next sc. Repeat. [20]
RND14: 20 sc around [20]

Switch back to Black Yarn with a slip stitch
RND15: 20 sc around [20]
RND16: 20 sc around [20]
RND17: 20 sc around [20]

Switch back to Yellow yarn with a slip stitch
RND18: sc in next 3 sc, sc2tog. Repeat. [16]
RND19: 16 sc around [16]
RND20: 16 sc around [16]

Switch to Black Yarn with a slip stitch
RND21: sc in next 2 sc, sc2tog. Repeat. [12]
RND22: 12 sc around [12] **stuff body**
RND23: sc2tog. Repeat. [6]
Do a couple more sc2tog to close off the hole and make the bottom pointier.
Slip knot to finish off (you can leave a small yarn tail out as a “stinger” if you like).

Bumblebee: Wings (make 2, use the white yarn)

Chain 2
RND1:  3 sc in second chain from hook [3]
RND2:  2sc in each sc [6]
RND3:  sc in next sc, 2sc in next sc. Repeat. [9]
RND4:  9 sc around [9]
RND5:  9 sc around [9]
RND6:  9 sc around [9]
RND7:  sc in next sc, sc2tog. Repeat. [6]
Slip st and finish off. Leave long yarn tail to sew to body.
Sew wings to body using the yarn tail.

Bumblebee: Antennae (make 2)

These are optional – if you have a black/brown pipecleaner you can use that instead (I used a brown pipecleaner).
1/ Chain for as long as you want your antennae (I chained 7)
2/ Starting from the second stitch from the hook, slip stitch into each stitch along until you get to the end.
3/ Finish off with a slip knot, cut yarn leaving a long tail for sewing.

Your bumblebee can be decorated with other facial features (eyebrows, eyelashes, different mouth shapes), clothing (scarf, hats, pins), and whatever other embellishments you can think of.

Now your bumblebee is off and ready to travel the world! Perhaps you might want to make some flowers for your bee to rest on?

Note: You are free to use this pattern to make as many bumblebees as you like, but please do not post this pattern anywhere else. If you follow my pattern and  blog about it I would appreciate a link back to my website (so others can make it too!). I do not mind if you sell items you make from my patterns, but please be fair and acknowledge the pattern source. More information about pattern use here: http://amysodyssey.wordpress.com/2010/07/26/my-crochet-patterns/

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My partner lived on these in Singapore! The icecreams cost $1 Singapore and you get a thick rectangular chunk of yummy icecream wedged in between two wafers (or rainbow bread…but I eat so slowly I imagine it would go soggy for me :P). They had all kinds of flavours, from the traditional chocolate, raspberry swirl, mocha chip, to Durian, Honeydew, Red Bean and the Sweet Yam in the above photo (yes, it is purple, and yes, it is actually really nice!).

Mr Icecream Man...the photo is blurry because it was dark and I had no tripod (longer exposure = more shake :P) but I wanted to show it anyway :D

You buy the icecream from street vendors like in the photo above. We found several vendors along Orchard Road, and there are often about 3-4 on Clarke Quay near the Swissotel Merchant Court (where we stayed). To get to the part of Clarke Quay I am talking about you can just get the MRT (mass rapid transit = underground train) to the Clarke Quay stop, then follow the signs that will take you to the Clarke Quay exit.

If you go to Singapore, make sure you get some of these cheap yummy treats. You will definitely feel like it with their hot weather!

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We are in the last month of spring here in the southern hemisphere, and before we move into the sultry days of summer I thought I had better make the most of the spring flowers! Thanks to the late regular September showers there has been an abundance of flowers in my area. And who can’t feel sunny and happy looking at flowers?

Some of the flowers are starting to fade into the summer greens (goodbye dear Jasmine!), and for those of you in the northern hemisphere your autumn hues are going to change to the winter starkness. I think we all need some everlasting vibrant flowers to brighten up the place!

So here is the pattern for some simple super sweet everlasting spring flowers. I made flowers first from the delightful tutorial by maedchenmitherz (the pink and purple 6-petal flowers under my double flowers are from her pattern), then decided to adapt the pattern and make my own  smaller ones that followed the more amigurumi format for crocheting in a round.

Techniques

If you are new to crochet and/or amigurumi, this pattern is perfect for you. This pattern is simple, will teach you some of the main stitches used in amigurumi, and is so fast you can make lots of flowers to practice your stitches! Techniques used: magic circle, slip stitch, single crochet (sc), double crochet (dc), and half double crochet (hdc). Note: US crochet stitch terminology is used.

Materials

* Yarn in any colour (you won’t need much – use up any scraps)
* Crochet Hook
* Any other materials to decorate (buttons, pins, hair ties, etc).

Pattern

Instructions

I have written out the basic instructions in the text for those of you who are familiar with the stitches involved. For those of you who are unsure or are still a beginner, the photos and the captions underneath will give you more detailed instructions. If you want a bigger photo, just click on it and it will take you to my flickr page where you can choose larger sizes :)

 

RND 1. How to make a Magic Circle: 1/ Wrap yarn around fingers to make a double loop, 2/ Insert hook under the double loop, yarn over, and pull back through. This first move does not count as a stitch. Continue by making 5 single crochets by hooking under the loop. 3/ When complete, remove circle from fingers. You can see the 5 stitches around the outside. Pull the yarn tail lighty until you see which loop pulls - pull this loop to make the other loop smaller. Keep doing this to make both loops pull in tight until you get... 4/ Your little circle! Starting from the hook, you should be able to count back the 5 stitches. Next: do a slip stitch to join to the first single crochet.

RND1: Make a 5 single crochet magic circle. Slip stitch into the first single crochet of the circle to join. You should now be able to identify 5 stitches around the circle.

RND2. The 10 single crochets - you can count them, starting from the hook. How to Single Crochet: insert hook through stitch, yarn over, pull through. You will have two loops on the hook. Yarn over again, and pull those loops through. You just made a single crochet!

RND2: Make 2 single crochets into each of the 5 stitches around the circle. Repeat. You should now be able to see 10 stitches around the circle.

RND 3. How to Add Colour: 1/ You will need to add the new yarn in at the very first slip stitch for RND3. 2/ When you insert your hook into the stitch, yarn over with the new colour yarn (instead of your usual yarn), then pull through for your slip stitch. 3/ The yarn over your hook will now be your new colour, which you will use for the rest of the flower. 4/ When you turn over your flower, you can see the two yarn tails close together where you changed. Cut the old yarn and leave a small tail. The two small tails can be knotted together and the spare thread cut. The remaining new yarn (the yellow yarn leading out of the photo) will be used to crochet the rest of the flower.

RND3: Slip stitch into first stitch of the circle [for colour change see photo above]. Chain 2. In the next stitch along, do a double crochet and a half double crochet. This will create one petal (so for each petal you make, you will use two of the stitches in the circle).

RND3. The Petal: 1/ Do a slip stitch then chain 2 (don't do another slip stitch if you just did one for a colour change). 2/ Yarn over, insert hook through next stitch, then yarn over again. 3/ Pull through and you will have three loops on your hook. Yarn over again. Pull through the middle two loops on the hook. 4/ You will now have two loops on your hook. Yarn over, and pull those two loops through so you just have the one loop left. Steps 2-4= one double crochet!

RND3. The Petal: 5/ To make a half double crochet: Follow step 2 (in previous shot) , then do step 3 the same except that instead of pulling through just two loops, you will pull through all three. This will leave just one loop on the hook (so step 4 is unnecessary!). Hooray you have now made one petal!

You will need to repeat the steps for RND3 (i.e. slip stitch, chain 2, double crochet, half double crochet) until you have 5 petals total.

Slip stitch and finish off. Add buttons, beads, ribbon, and other embellishments as you please :)

You can use these flowers for many things. Add as embellishments to clothing, bags, hair pins, hair bands, journals, and more! String together to make a garland, attach hooks to make earrings, stitch a couple together with potpurri in the middle for your cupboard, or pop on your tree as Christmas decorations. What are some of your ideas?

Now make many, many more flowers in all different colours to make a whole garden!

Note: I developed this pattern myself, but it is so basic it would have been made many times before! I would still love a link and to see your creations in the comments if you found this helpful :D More information about pattern use here: http://amysodyssey.wordpress.com/2010/07/26/my-crochet-patterns/

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