Thursday, 30 September 2010

My Creative Space

A little show and tell from my afternoon at Mu Xi Yuan, the enormous and amazing Beijing fabric market.

I bought blue cotton yarn on impulse, thought it would be good for something. Sitting in the traffic on the way home (90 minutes - not bad for Beijing) I started to knit it with my fingers. 
Yes it is possible to cast on 5 stitches on my digits!
No, I was not driving at the same time!
 I realised I had bought the perfect yarn to knit a basket like this.
It is going much better now I am off my fingers and onto 10mm needles. 
Maybe we'll be having croissant from it on Sunday!

I was on a hunt for white linen, red linen and cotton tapes.
 I didn't know there were babushka's waiting for me...
or adorable wooden buttons 
or 30 yards of sock monkey pyjama fabric! 
(He's called Sam Simian!)
This gorgeous print makes me think of Anthropologie, 
I want to try to make some place mats like these. 
Success. 3 types of beautiful white linen, red and grey too. 
Great fabrics for bread baskets like these.
It's going to be cosy at Christmas in our sock monkey pj's.
Off to get started on the first of the tablecloths. 
Check back soon and I may have finished one.

Wondering how much fabric I came home with?
Over 80 meters!
That may be my record!

Today I am playing along with Kirsty and her Creative Space
Do drop by and add your link to her space if you have time.

Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Start now and you can be ready by Christmas!

Yes it's still September and I am daring to mention the C word!

Today I am starting a weekly column to get ready for Christmas 
and I am inviting you to join me
 every Wednesday C.M.T. (China Me Time) and get involved.

 Rather than adding to the pressure, the plan is to enjoy making and creating 
some unique, fun and stylish things for Christmas. 

Let's start with an image that I discovered on Flickr a few months ago 
and began my creative christmas crusade. 
Isn't this amazing?
Image by Jane Schouten

Jane's inspirational mural is just perfect for people like me 
who have boxes of little treasures - too lovely to throw away 
but on their own too random to make much with.
 Now we have the answer!

This afternoon I started to delve into my boxes and soon had a starter pack for my tree.
I encourage you to make a little box this week and start collating things to go on your wall tree
How big should they be? 
Well that depends on the size of your final tree. 
I intend to have a wall tree about 5 foot high (1.70m),
 so objects between 1 and 4 inches (2 -10cm) will be fine.
Don't worry about to fix them to the wall - I will come back to that nearer the time. 
Having some little pegs will be handy and nothing wants to be too heavy.
Don't be limited to Christmassy things- think of it as a winter wonderland tree.

I am not going to pretend I have all the answers yet but I never let that stop me in the past!
Won't it be great to create something from all your long forgotten ephemera? 
Of course you may just need to go buy a few key extras but don't buy anything yet.

To encourage you to get started 
I am putting together a little starter pack of decorative eclectica  
for a wall tree 
which I would like to give away this week. 
There will be goodies in the bag from Thailand, China and other exciting places! 

Competition closed
  • The winner was Debbie and she promises to send me photos when she has used her goodie bag for a wall tree.
  • Check out these creative ideas for how to do it without hammering a nail in your wall 
  • here 

  • If you have a wall tree to share, I'd love to hear from you.

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Ingrid inspires Ingrid

Ingrid is not a name I come across very often,
 so when I spotted a blog called Ingrid's blogg I had to take a look.
I love the blog that I found 
and ...
there was a photo of a fabric basket for bread...
 that I had been wanting to make for ages.
Photo source here

So thanks Ingrid for inspiring another Ingrid to get sewing again.

If you would like to try to make one too, then I used the fab pattern on Pink Penguin.
Ayumi is such a generous blogger and shares her ideas for your personal use.

I made a simple version of Ayu's with no piecing or stiffening. 
This red, white and black IKEA fabric is just the perfect weight to hold itself nicely on the table.
It is reversible too, so twice as much fun
Below is my first attempt in linens and though I love the petit brioche fabric, 
it does not have the same body, 
so it does not do quite the same job 
as the IKEA one does.
 I love to encourage everyone to make it their own - 
so here is my little logo... a black pompom on a red tab. 
When you make your basket be sure to add your own mark. 
It could be a printed label you have produced especially for you, 
or you could improvise like I did and come up with something more original. 
Whatever you decide, don't forget to add something!

If you need more detailed instructions for this little creation let me know in the comments. 
I'd be happy to do that for you.

Think I need to go bake some bread to fill them... well maybe stop at the baker tonight, 
save baking for next time.

Monday, 20 September 2010

Individually, we are ...

  • Just a ripple each week to spread good thoughts
  • Photo taken at Mariendal, Denmark by me
  • Quote read here
  • Please comment and feel connected

Thursday, 16 September 2010

The View from Here: 1 {Where is here}

This is Rufus, the Irish soft coated Wheaten terrier, 
emerging through the bamboo jungle 
in our garden here 
in Beijing, China.

This is the first week of The View from Here
a photo challenge from my online friend a fellow expat, 
living a bit south from us in Qingdao, China.
Kiley explains: 
"The point is to have fun, to motivate creativity, and to take photos. Its that simple. Its not about critique or technique. Its not about what camera you have or how long you have been taking photos. Its just about sharing what you see, and how you see it, from where you are. "
Why not take a look and join in on her blog, sharing where you are now?
Each week Kiley will post a theme on her blog,
 anyone who wants to play along will do the same 
through the Linky tool on her post. 
She welcomes everyone from round the world. Hope to see you there. 

Rufus loves to disappear through our bamboo 'curtain' in search of 
unsuspecting cats and hedgehogs - 
luckily the cats are quicker and the hedgehogs pricklier.

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Discovering your passion...

Pandas are passionate ... about bamboo!

A couple of weeks ago I invited you to be an explorer in your life.

Today I want to share thoughts on exploring to find your passion 
by doing less and achieving more.

My starting point was the interesting guest post by Cal on zenhabits.

The key point for me was to remember this:
To discover your passion requires you to make time for unstructured exploration

  • you need to be open to many things
  • expose yourself, even though you don't know if you will be interested
  • if you find something to catch your interest, actively follow it up, see if it sticks
  • allow yourself unstructured exploration
  • schedule time to explore 

It is important to allow time to follow up on the things that catch your interest. 
Don't come back to it, seize the moment when your interest is captured.

Reading Cal's post was a validation for all the times I happened upon something by chance and the unexpected discoveries that changed the pattern of my life.
Too often we stifle these chances by being too busy with the 'important' stuff, thereby missing the wealth of interesting ideas that are just waiting for us.  

After posting this I plan to follow up on a couple of blogs I came across by happenstance this morning. Hope you enjoy reading the full article by Cal and check out his excellent blog, Study Habits

PS This is how I discovered Pinterest, a fountain of inspiration I love.
PPS Let me know if it works for you.
PPS I photographed this panda in Chengdu, China. The most playfully passionate panda you could ever wish to meet! 

Thursday, 9 September 2010

I just wanted to share with you ...

Just started an e-course with the inspiring Holly at decor8 and Leslie of a creative mint, and loving it.
Our first homework is to look at the blogs we love and why.
I have loved reading the answers from fellow blogging your way students and it made me want to stop doing my homework and share some of my faves with you.

Here, in no particular order, are some I offer to you, as places to drop by and enjoy.

Would love to know which blogs you enjoy, if you want to share.
Ok back to finishing the homework!

1. Marley&Lockyer
2. Lottie Loves

3. Haus Maus
4. Be Yourself.... Everyone
5. Red, Red Completely Red
6. Haven

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Never too old to learn ...

I just wanted to share an inspiring email I received this evening.
It is a true first.
It is just like the first piece of art work your child brings home from school except ....
this is the first email I have received from my 87 year old mother who lives half way round the world in the UK.
Why amazing?
Because she was given an iPad for her birthday 2 weeks ago - not something she ever wanted or ever used but she is determined to be in contact and even though 'The letters keep changing into numbers,' and she doesn't know why! She has persevered and sent me an email.

It is the 'Zing.hi!' that gets me laughing every time I read it and the 'Ypad'! 
Hope it gives you a chuckle too.

Zing.hi! So pl ease d. To see how the scarves  a re. Growing(,, I a m not ver6.very good on t)the Ipad  today lovely to hear from you though!   Nic has sent me six photos but I do not know how t o get them on my Ypad! Jenny. Is coming in the morning She can perhaps s rot me outIha d a long   E mail. From Susie she.s. E. Ems t o earn  al ot of money  ddoimg something on her com puter Jenny and Sa r a  enjoy e d  being at the Rectory on Sunday the beans are. Overflowing!, we have eaten so many Ihave had enough this year tt. The weather is still lovelyLove to hy. Ou all sorry about all the mistakes. Mormor,
Mormor (recovering from breaking her leg here)

3 ideas about blogging and life in general

"You don’t have to be the best. Walk with easy steps, with some friends to accompany you on your journey, without being overwhelmed by anything. Let it be light. That is success." Katie Tallo

This is just part of a great blogpost I read today on Write to Done, and not only does it help me with blogging but with life in general. Anyone who blogs will agree that it can be exhausting, even though you start doing it for fun!

"Only you know where it is you want your blog to go and what you want it to become. Be open to adventure and other people’s ideas, but choose your own way to get there. If it’s a path that feels right, take it. If it’s a mistake, try another, tweak it, or change course." Katie Tallo

For blog read life ... it reminds me why I started blogging ... for the adventure of not knowing where mine or other bloggers ideas would take me. All the time knowing that it is my path and I choose where to go. My life and my blog have many mistakes that need tweaking, it's only by trying that I find out.

"Sit back once in a while and read through your archives and comments..... learn from what you’ve done, look ahead at what you could do next, but take moments to just look, learn and love your ... life. That is gratitude."  Katie Tallo

I am taking time today to look back at photos and think on parts of my journey so far... 
not the blog but life in general and be grateful for so much... 
family, places visited, friends and not forgetting Rufus (the one with the goggles)!
Places and people part 1

Monday, 6 September 2010

There's nothing like.....

Stage 1:

  • blue and red lines stitched onto hemp fabric - success
  • Jane Austen quote - success
  • hand stitched words in red quilting thread - success
  • ironed creases out - failed
  • found zip to sew into cushion - failed
Stage 2:
  • go shopping
  • learn to like creases
  • learn to take better photos
Will return with finished cushion soon.
Hope this encourages you to try sewing some lines onto fabric and stitching your own favourite quotes.
"There's nothing like staying at home for real comfort"
Jane Austen

Saturday, 4 September 2010

A message on a ..... pillowcase

Saw this idea on one of my fave blogs - Lottie Loves.

She had discovered it on Australia's Chunky Chooky .... and this is now another great blog to follow.

Think I am going to try sewing it today.
Since I don't have striped linen I am going to sew the blue lines and red margins by machine.
Come back soon and I'll show you how I got on....
That's my incentive to start sewing and stop surfing!

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