New love

In addition to  my recent enthusiasm for knitting, I have been spending an inordinate amount of time on my very favourite new thing – Pinterest. What a work of genius! Perhaps it isn’t a novel concept, but it is the first time I’ve come across it and it struck me as a perfectly brilliant idea, done very well. It is essentially a virtual pinboard. Many, if not all creative types keep some kind of inspiration board with fabrics, colours, designs, ideas they like. Many people also bookmark pages they come across on the internet, in order to record project ideas, images, concepts that appeal. I for one have hundreds of bookmarked pages and have them in good order, but rarely do I go back to look through them. I forget what I have and if I need, say, a tutorial for inserting a zipper, I just google it again, rather than hunting for the tutorial I bookmarked. This is where Pinterest comes into its own for me. It always me to virtually ‘pin’ anything I come across onto any number of ‘Boards’, so the image is recorded on the Board and clicking on the image links back to the original site. Cool, huh?! Now I can pin craft project ideas for the children and actually find those great ideas when it comes to spring break holiday! I can also collect ‘Dream Home Inspiration’ images for that elusive day when we build our own house on an acreage somewhere.

Another exciting aspect of Pinterest is that you can follow the pins of other people. Not only that, but you can ‘Like’ what they have pinned, even if you don’t want to ‘Re-pin’ it to your own board.

If you fancy having a look, these are my Boards. I haven’t quite settled into a system yet, but am loving the process! There are so many amazing things out there and now I can pin them to my board and go back anytime I like to see them all in one place. Well done to the Pinterest team!

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Hurrah for hats!

I’ve been working away on the knitting project bag and also on a needle roll and will post about my progress soon. I’m planning to put a clear fronted pocket in the interior of the bag and decided to hold off on sewing up the prototype until my new teflon foot arrives. The call came today and I’m really looking forward to finding out whether it will make sewing with leather and vinyl as easy as I hope. I have also been doing some knitting and the project list is no doubt expanding faster than my skill rate! If you are interested in what is on my needles and in my basket, pop over to  The Winking Frog. I’m also in the planning stages for a series on sewing tips, which I hope will inspire a few people to lose the fear.

My most recent and exciting acquisition is a fantastic hat rack from Eddie’s. You are probably aware by now that I have a certain fondness for hats and the top of the loom can no longer hold all of my personal collection, not to mention the hats belonging to the rest of the family! In addition to the need to storage at home, we needed a display mechanism for upcoming shows, so I bit the bullet and ordered this little beauty:

metal hat rack for storing and displaying handmade hats

Hat Rack

Snow is in the forecast, so I’ll not be starting on the sunhats just yet, but I have my eye open for some great summery fabrics. In the meantime, I’m off to continue my knitting!

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Knitting bag plans

One of my personal goals for this year is to learn how to knit. Properly. Not just basic knit and purl, but proper casting on, a variety of stitches, following a pattern and making something other than a scarf (of which I have made several over the years). Despite by accomplishments with fabric and the sewing machine, I honestly thought that real knitting was beyond me. Every time I have looked at a pattern, the lines have looked just as unintelligible as a foreign language. One I haven’t studied at that! To cut a long story short, I am thrilled to bits to say that I have overcome my fear and am totally hooked! That said, most patterns are, no doubt, still incomprehensible, but I at least have the confidence that it isn’t totally outside my capabilities. To be honest, up to now I have still only made 2 scarves, but the first was a good ‘swatch’ and I used a variety of stitch patterns. My Mum then showed me how to do cables, so I felt confident enough to attempt a pattern from the Debbie Bliss book, “The Knitter’s Year“. The Chunky Cable Scarf has a 16 row repeat and involves cables, bobbles, seed stitch etc, so posed a fair challenge! I enjoyed it immensely and am keen to expand my knitting experience.
The point of this post is that, not surprisingly, I’m also using this as an opportunity to design a new bag! I’m planning a knitting project bag and am keen for any input from more experienced knitters about that features they would love to see in a bag. As you know, I am driven by function and practicality, so there will be plenty of pockets! These are some of the features I am planning to incorporate into the bag:
– firm base
– comfortable handles
– structured sides so that the bag stays upright
– pockets for needles and/or separate roll for needles
– zippered pocket
– clear-fronted pocket for ease of finding stitch markers etc

One thing I am not sure about is whether people would want a separate project bag or a handbag that carries a knitting project too. I would appreciate any feedback on this! Obviously, each knitter will probably have different requirements and my bags are custom made for each individual, so they can certainly be tailored to suit. However, I need a starting point and asking more experienced knitters seems the most sensible way to go. If you have any thoughts, please email me.

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Mine, all mine!

I’ve been planning to make myself a new bag for weeks now and finally did it! Of course, I made myself a bag recently, using a new design I had sketched out over Christmas, but I still wanted something dark to work with my typical winter attire. I have been saving some black chenille and a few weeks ago found a bird and leaf print which I loved. I decided on a messenger bag, as it is a very functional and streamlined style. For the interior, I used a blue floral print which worked well with the colours in the second print I found. I also used some coordinating fabric for the pockets, key clip and closure tabs.

Black chenille messenger bag with bird/leaf print

My winter bag, 2011

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Latest custom orders

A belated happy new year to you all! After a lovely, peaceful family Christmas, everyone is content to get back into a normal routine. New year, new projects, new goals. It is going to be a great year!

This first bag is one I made for a customer for his wife for Christmas. It is a spacious, but sleek shoulder bag with a removable hard base, padded strap, magnetic clip closure and key clip. It also has several divided pockets, both under the flap and in the interior. The exterior of the bag is an Amy Butler print, whilst the interior is a combination of two super soft, coordinating cotton fabrics.

This second bag (picture on the right hand side) is a special order for a lovely returning customer. The main exterior is heavy weight chenille fabric, combined with a vibrant cotton accent panel. The rear of the bag has a messenger bag pocket and a concealed zippered pocket. Under the flap there are divided pockets and a zippered pocket. The interior of the bag has bellows pockets to accommodate the customer’s belongings.

Custom order messenger bag

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Get in the spirit!

The Oh my! Handmade Goodness giveaway is now in full swing! Jessika has put together two fantastic baskets of handmade loveliness showcasing the work of more than 30 artists and craftspeople from all around the world. One of the most unique aspects of this giveaway is that you can nominate yourself and/or a worthy cause or organization that could use the basket to generate income through a raffle, silent auction etc. Honestly, it doesn’t take much – check out a couple of the artists and leave a comment on the post at OMHG. Just follow the link. Good luck!

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Oh my! handmade goodness

Further to my last excited post about being included in the OMHG giveaway, here’s the link to a wee sneak peek (

See if you can SPOT my submission in the images!

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Grab & Go Lunch Mats

I am very excited to reveal that my Grab & Go Lunch Mat is being included in a gift basket giveaway on Oh My! Handmade Goodness. OMHG put out a call for submissions and my handy little product was accepted (eek!), so here is a bit of information about it:

“The concept of a waste-free or litterless lunch is gaining ground across the country. Many parents and schools are looking for ways to reduce the waste generated on a daily basis. In addition to this is the concern about where you child is putting down their lunch. We all hope they will wash their hands before eating, but do you think about the table they put their food on?

The Grab & Go Lunch Mat from Pip ‘n’ Milly Creations was designed by Fiona Ballard to provide a sanitary, stylish and functional addition to her daughters’ lunch bags. In keeping with the Pip ‘n’ Milly philosophy of minimal waste, beauty, function and practicality, Fiona designed a simple, yet innovative product that eliminates the need for disposable cutlery and paper napkins. The mats have ample space for food and feature a secure pocket for cutlery and a pocket for a cloth napkin. The mat simply rolls up, is tied with the straps and fits neatly in a lunch bag, back pack or handbag. Children love using them and parents love that it keeps their food off the table! Perfect for snack-time, lunchtime, picnics and fast food meals.
Each and every mat is unique and individually handmade in Nanaimo, BC by Fiona. All mats feature a variety of coordinating cotton fabrics and are interlined with fleece for durability and a comfortable feel. Care is super simple – machine wash and dry. Iron if you feel like it!”

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Winter in Nanaimo

The snow is hanging around and the forecast is promising more will come tonight. Yippee! I am embracing the season, especially now that I have a warm pair of boots! The children are thoroughly enjoying the snow and hoping it stays all winter. The change in temperature has been, I think, instrumental in a resurgence in P’s interest in knitting and she has found a willing and able teacher in Grandma. A Grandma who hadn’t picked up a knitting needle in 24 years, yet was able to knit a beautiful cable wrist warmer at her first attempt! She is definitely a better bet than mommy!
Here are a few photos of the happenings around here over the last few days:

3 year old shovelling snow

M. shovelling snow

Line up of sleds, snow boards outside portable classroom

Snow shack

sun rising over the housing in the Departure Bay neighbourhood of Nanaimo, BC

Sunrise over Departure Bay, Nov 2010

Sun rising to the top of the trees, Departure Bay, Nanaimo

Sunrise, Departure Bay

handmade Christmas stockings

Christmas stockings

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Here in Nanaimo, on the east coast of Vancouver Island, many people will tell you that we don’t get snow and it stays relatively warm all year long. Yes, it rains a fair bit, but there is hardly ever snow. Well, DON’T BELIEVE THEM! I think there may be some technical term for the condition, but we call it weather amnesia, because it does snow here. We’ve been living here for 8 years and visiting for 18 and it does snow almost every year and it does get cold (-1.8 C so far this morning). Of course, it is all relative. I lived the first 12 years of my life north of Edmonton, Alberta and the average winter temperature was -30 C and the snow sometimes started as early as September and stuck around until April. Other Canadians may scoff at what the Islanders call cold and snow, but it all depends on what you are used to. Anyway, we got snow this weekend (which was unfortunate for all the craft events taking place over the last few days) and the kids are ecstatic about it. Me, not quite so much! I genuinely love the look of it, but I’m pretty sensitive to the cold and am more than a little concerned about the very real possibility of falling over. I’ve had a herniated disk problem for 21 months and the thought of falling and wrecking any progress I’ve made in my recovery fills me with dread. Still, I am determined to put my biggest, safest boots on and get into the garden to take some photos of the fantastic scenery and the brilliant snowman the girls made with Daddy. I’ll be back!

Note: Now -3.5C, schools are open, snow still coming down.

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