Category Archives: Friday Five

Friday Five: Five golden rules of packing

Boxes ready to move

My stuff (well most of it) is now on the way to Auckland. Things are a bit more real. The 19th move is under way. Wait, no it’s not. The 21st move is under way. (I just realised I forgot to count moving to Clacton-on-Sea and back when I was 23. NOMADIC.)

As moving seems to be the accidental theme for this week, I thought I’d round it off with what I’ve learned from the many moves I’ve made. Some of these things are gained from long experience, some particularly from this move, which is the first time I’ve willingly decluttered and downsized extensively before moving.

1) You have more stuff than you think you do.

Doesn’t matter how well you think you know your wardrobe, or your fabric stash, or yarn stash, or furniture, or books…there is always more of it than you think there is, and usually a lot more.

I thought my yarn stash was down to one 60l tub. Then I found the rest of it.

Bear this in mind when you’re getting removal quotes where the amount of space you’re taking in a container has a bearing on the cost (bonus golden rule about this at the bottom!). Obviously, with all this stuff, you could just sit there like Smaug in the Lonely Mountain but, if you’re moving house, you’re going to have to pack it. Which brings me to…

2: You can take it with you…but you shouldn’t take all of it.

Moving is a really fantastic chance to declutter. It gives you a great question to ask yourself- “do I need/want this in my life enough to pay to move it to my new place?” (‘do I have space for this in my new place- and do I love this enough to make space for it?’ is also a good question). I’ve sold almost all the furniture I own, with two notable exceptions: a big chest of drawers, and a sewing machine table. It took me ages to find a chest in the style that one is, at the right price, in good condition. I like the sewing table, it’s the right size for my sewing machine or my laptop and the right height to act as a little desk. Neither item was easy to find, thus, they go with me.

On the other hand, while I like my bed, and it’s comfortable, moving it to Auckland when I got it second hand on Trade Me for $100, isn’t really worth it. So I sold it, and am taking the opportunity to buy an actually new new bed at the other end of the trip.

If you’re decluttering by donating, it’s worth noting that at least in NZ (and I suspect other places too), charity shops will often have a truck so they can come and collect large donations and take them away. If, like me, you’re getting rid of a lot of stuff and don’t drive, this is a godsend!

Once you’ve worked out what’s going to the new place, and what’s just going, it’s time for rule 3.

3: You will need more boxes than you think you will.

Yes, even if you decluttered with a will. But the chances are, friends of yours have boxes. Especially if they’ve moved recently. Ask around, or if all else fails go and see if you can sneak round the back of a local shopping park and grab a bunch of boxes out of their skips. Or if you’re more above-board, go into a big shop and ask if you could have some. But it seems more punk rock to go sneak them out of the skip to me. It’s a mini adventure! You know, if you look at it the right way. Yes, you COULD buy fancy packing boxes from the removal company but if they don’t insist on it, free is better.

4: Books are heavy.

Books. Are. Heavy. Pack them in smaller boxes. Don’t ask me how I know. Put it this way, I learned the stupid way.

5: Set up your bed first.

You are going to be tired when you get to the new place. Plan accordingly. However motivated you THINK you’ll be to unpack, the absolute best thing I’ve learned is that the very first thing you should set up when you arrive is your bed. To that end, it’s a good idea to have, in a readily accessible suitcase, your sheets and pillowcases, and to make sure that your duvet and pillows are the first thing you find. You could pack all said bedding in a box, clearly labelled. In fact I’d recommend it- put it all in one place, in one box, so you only have to deal with one thing apart from the bed itself.

That way, no matter what, you’ll have a place to sleep. Once you’ve made your bed, you don’t even have to unpack anything else! You could just go get some takeout, and then go to sleep. Trust me when I say this thought will be incredibly cheering on moving day.

Bonus round- 6: International freight is competitive- make the most of this.

If you are planning a move to or from the UK, where the other end of the trip is Australia, South Africa or New Zealand, there is a lively and competitive market made up of companies who want your business. This means even if you hate haggling, you can usually get a good price for moving your stuff, from the company you want to move with. Don’t just look at price, see what you think of the company. Are they reputable? Have they got good feedback? (word-of-mouth recommendations for movers are worth their weight in gold). Get prices from a few different places, then go back to the company you want to go with. Tell them you want to go with them, but you were hoping they could match the price of the lower quote. If they’ll match the lowest quote, great. If they can’t but will reduce the price a bit, then hey, you can still go with the company you want to use but pay less to do it.

Friday Five Bonus Round: Midnight in the lady garden of good and better…

This evening after work, I headed over to Made on Marion for the Dreamstress’ Make a Muff class. And what can I say? I, upon occasion (OK, more than occasion…often…one might almost say frequently. OK practically always), have a very filthy mind. 

So yes. We worked on our muffs. And I decided that having not posted on Monday or Tuesday, you guys deserved a bonus round of Friday Five. And because I just have that sort of mind, it’s time for…

VAGINA CRAFT.

Yes really.

I don’t know why, but ever since I accidentally gave an owl plushie I made a little heart-shaped snatch (a story for another time, watch this space), I’ve started spotting things Yonic (the female equivalent of Phallic. Yes, there is in fact a word- derived from the classics no less- for things that look like vaginas.) all over the place. Some of them are overt- like the snatchel, or the Anticraft’s entire issue devoted to merkins. Some of them…well, some of them are more subtle. And so I present to you the moderately NSFW…

Five Craft Things That Look Like Vaginas

First, please enjoy this Love Cypress Paisley fabric from Amy Butler. It was discovering this fabric, and then establishing that it wasn’t just me, that ended with me working on a Lady Garden quilt. Because, as my flatmate put it, “those are some great big lady gardens”. 

Next, there’s Lee Meredith’s Krewe cowl pattern. Not everyone agrees with me on this one but just look at those little ovals, and the way the stitches give the appearance of being two separate…well, lips. I refuse to believe it’s just me. 

Spoonflower? Chockabloc with vajayjays. From this print designed to heighten awareness of Female Genital Mutilation (a very worthy project, about a very serious and awful issue), to this exquisite uterus fabric (no really, that’s the name), to all the avocados and pomegranates in between…yep. 

Scarlet Tentacle on Etsy is famous for her hand-embroidered vaginas, which are both yonic/feminist and very classy, I think. You could display one of these proudly in your home. Probably a better thing to display to your guests than your own vagina…though how do I know? You may have very different kinds of parties to me. (Oh, she also makes adult erotic colouring books, and is a super-lovely seller, who I’ve purchased from in the past, just FYI). 

Finally, there’s the Fertility Blanket from Wooly Wonder- the link will take you to her free patterns page, where you can download the PDF. This is on my to-knit list. Yonic imagery is fun. And this particular field of genitals looks very snuggly!

Flaunt your Maps of Tasmania with pride (well, the crafted ones anyway…unless, as I said, different kinds of parties) and have a great weekend. Want to know more about the muff-making? You’ll have to wait until Monday. 

Friday Five- Five favourite quotes

So I’ll admit, I’m new to Instagram. But I adore it. There’s something about photos- it’s much harder to post a negative photo, than it is to write a negative Tweet or Facebook status. Maybe that’s just me. It just feels like a happier place, does Instagram. Maybe it’s the colours, people posting pictures of themselves doing fun things, or tasty food, or fun quotes, or street art, or cool stuff they see.

Also I am unreasonably fond of futzing around with the different filters picking just the right one for each photo. One day I will master Photoshop and then you’ll all be sorry. Or you’ll just enjoy the pretty photos. ANYWAY…

I’m doing #radicalselflovejuly on Instagram at the moment, and day 16 was favourite quotes. If you’re following me on Instagram (please do! I’ll follow you right back- @mannersmagpie, come say hello) by the way- then you may already have seen that I can’t choose just one quote. Just like I couldn’t choose just one favourite book. One? ONE? How am I supposed to narrow it down? There are so many quotes I love for so many different reasons.  Here are five of them.

Your journey has molded you for your greater good, and it was exactly what it needed to be. Don’t think that you’ve lost time. It took each and every situation you have encountered to bring you to the now. And now is the right time.- Asha Tyson

There are many people out there who will tell you “you can’t”. What you’ve got to do is say “watch me.”- Jack White

Forgiveness is an act of creation…how does one know if she has forgiven? You tend to feel sorrow over the circumstances instead of rage, you tend to feel sorry for the person rather than angry with him. You tend to have nothing left to remember to say about it all. You understand the suffering that drove the offence to begin with. You prefer to remain outside the milieu. You are not waiting on anything. You are not wanting anything. There is no lariat snare around your ankle stretching from way back there to here. You are free to go. It may not have turned out to be a ‘happily ever after’ but most certainly there is now a fresh ‘once upon a time’ waiting for you from this day forward– Clarissa Pinkola Estes, from ‘Women who Run with the Wolves’

100 years ago, buying something you could make was considered wasteful; now making something you could buy is considered wasteful. I am not convinced this is a step in the right direction. ― Stephanie Pearl-McPhee, from ‘All Wound Up: The Yarn Harlot Writes for a Spin’

And finally, a quote from one of my idols:

Moi strongly believes in self-help. Wherever I am, I help myself to whatever I can– Miss Piggy

Feel free to share your favourite quotes in the comments, I’d love to read them, and why you love them. And have a great weekend!

Friday Five- Five tips for crafting while travelling

Inspired by regular trips up to Auckland and back, including one coming up in, oh, a few hours, I thought I’d share this. Reading books on a flight is all very well, and I still make sure I always have a book with me- owning a Kindle is very useful in that regard, it means I never have to suffer that awkward moment of getting delayed, finishing what you’re reading and not having anything else to read. But for the most part, I like to spend time on a plane and waiting to board crafting.

Of course, knitting on a plane isn’t always easy, as the Yarn Harlot can attest. But in New Zealand, at least, people seem to be all good with my on-plane crafting. Last time I flew, in fact, when I got out a mini-skein to wind it the woman sitting next to me got terribly excited about the colours, and we ended up talking about quilting for a good part of the flight. But here are a few things I recommend if you’re worried:

1: Pick your craft-and tools- carefully.

Crochet, cross stitch (with a lower-count Aida, say about 12-14 count and thus a less sharp needle), or embroidery are all good choices for on-plane crafting. If you, like me, have the overwhelming urge to knit, I recommend wooden or other non-metal needles if you can. They are much less likely to cause issues at security (though there are posts out there on how to get metal needles through).

2: Keep it simple

This is not the time for something complicated. You may be only half way through the row of stitches when suddenly it’s time to board, or to put things away because you’re landing. Think you’ll be able to remember where you were? Yeah.

3: Keep it small

It’s also not a good idea to make this the time you work on that giant blanket- UNLESS said blanket is made up of itty bitty squares (or in my case hexipuffs). Consider how much space you need to work on the project comfortably and then compare that with how much space you’ll actually have on the plane, especially if you’re on a full flight and have to keep your elbows tucked in. Small projects are best. They also don’t take up so much room in your bag, leaving more space for clothes or souvenirs or what-have-you.

If you’re in business or first class, of course, then this doesn’t apply. Work on a project any size you like! Though if I was in first class I’d be taking full advantage of those flat beds…

4: Photocopy your pattern if it’s in a book.

Do you really want the extra weight, or to have to deal with flipping around pages when you’re in mid-air? I thought not.

5: Be prepared to talk about your project.

Because people will ask you what you’re making. And tell you that they craft, or that someone in their family used to. At least 9 times out of 10. Mostly, these conversations will be pleasant and interested, especially if you’re working on something colourful (sock yarn, in particular, seems to draw in non-knitters just as much as it does knitters). But also be aware that it may not always be pleasant. A lot of non-crafters just don’t get why you would spend time on something like that. Well, let them think what they want, and don’t worry about what they think. Just be ready for the comments, and ready to ignore them. One of the great things about crafting is getting something tangible out of what might otherwise be time spent just zoning out in front of the TV (which does have benefits from time to time). And you’re not crafting for them, you’re crafting for you.

Happy flying! What are your tips for travel crafting? I’d love to see your project recommendations, or hear your stories about your experiences.

Friday 5: 5 things I know for sure about DIY and crafts

Making things yourself is highly satisfying

From playing with fabric combinations to putting the final stitch in a quilt, casting on to taking your dried, blocked piece of knitting and trying it on, admiring the completed scrapbook page or sewing that yarnbomb in place… it feels good to make something with your own hands.

You are more capable than you know

Everyone, even experienced crafters, have moments of “oh, I could never make *that*”, and yes, we have them about crafts we already know how to do.But that doesn’t mean you should let that sneaky fear voice stop you from trying.

Yes, your attempt at a lace shawl may end up a tangly jumble of yarn ramen…the first time. And maybe even the second time or third time. But if you keep trying- and most importantly look at where and how you went wrong and do it differently next time, you’ll get there. And when you do, the victory dance will be totally justified.

Just remember the wise advice of Stephanie Pearl-McPhee, the Yarn Harlot: Your significant other will not agree that a knitting achievement, however significant, is worth you waking them up.

Having good tools and materials makes a difference

Even if you’re just starting out. A lot of beginner knitters, for example, buy squeaky cheap acrylic and needles, but if you’re doing something for yourself, especially learning a skill that you hope will become a passion, why not start as you mean to go on? A beautiful chunky merino wool, and some good wood needles, will make the experience of learning and practicing that much more pleasurable- which means you’re more likely to keep going, and get good. Plus which would you rather have as your first finished item: a bright but plasticky scarf, or a squishy, soft one? Which do you think you’re more likely to wear and show off?

Whatever you want to learn, there’s someone out there who can show you.

Google the technique. If you want to learn in person, Google it with the name of your town. Enough said.

Never, ever go DIY when cutting your hair. Especially not your fringe.

Go ahead. Ask me how I know.

Friday Five: Five great places to get a retro sewing/knitting fix

Subversive Lesbian Anarchic Knitterseriously, how can you not love a site with a name like that? And she has some utterly beautiful vintage knitting patterns available, for free, on her site.

Mrs Depew Vintage has patterns from a range of eras, all downloadable and print-at-homeable. While there are quite a few for ‘intermediate’ sewers, the styles are just beautiful, and a good way to learn some new skills. At least I think so.

If you want to go REALLY retro (or you have a thing for Steampunk), then Truly Victorian is the place for you. I’ve made several of their patterns- they take a LOT of fabric but the results are gorgeous. If you’re serious about the Victorian look (at least the womenswear) the bustle petticoat is a must. And if you have a thing for trim, Victorian is the era for you. Basically it’s Step One: add trims until you think there’s probably too much and too many, Step Two: add more trim, Step Three: Fabulousness. See how I give you an excuse to buy more trim? Or maybe to use a bunch of the trims you already have lying around- if you’re the sort of person who HAS trims lying around. I don’t assume- I read a craft magazine once that presented a project for “your stash of gorgeous vintage silk handkerchieves.” Who has a stash of vintage silk handkerchieves? (If you do, then yay for you. It’s nice to have a stash of something.)

For a little knitting snack, how about this gorgeous polka dot ascot and beret from ZilRedLoh? Haven’t you always, when someone asks “what are you knitting?” wanted to be able to answer “an ascot”? Of course, it’s also fun to be able to answer “a ball gag”. I know this from experience. But it’s not so retro-chic.

And finally, for an easy way to retro-ify your outfit (admittedly this won’t work if you’re wearing a onesie, or a tracksuit, but it would probably work on jeans and a striped top, for example), here’s a tutorial for making a retro turban out of an old t-shirt. Retro AND waste-not-want-not upcycly goodness. I’m planning on making one of these very soon, and accessorising with a fabulous brooch or maybe some feathers. Or both. Because why not get all Norma Desmond with it? Exactly.

Friday Five: Five things that are better than ‘Twilight’

‘What We Do in the Shadows’, a New Zealand vampire mockumentary, was released last night. I went to see it at the Embassy and it was great. Gory in a funny way, fab performances, with the main characters likeable (especially Taika Waititi as Viago) but still monstrous. In honour of that, I’d like to present five great alternatives to watching or reading ‘Twilight’.

An alternative movie: ‘What We Do in the Shadows’, obviously- go see it this weekend. In the Q&A last night the directors, Taika Waititi and Jemaine Clement, said that this weekend, being the opening weekend, is really important for them. So definitely go see it this weekend if you can! You won’t regret it. Also it has Rhys Darby as a werewolf and it’s everything you would expect from that.

If you’re a fan of vampires: Read ‘Sunshine‘ by Robin McKinley. This is a beautifully-written story, a masterclass in ‘show, don’t tell’. There’s the sympathetic vampire, under no illusions that he’s anything other than a monster. And a badass heroine. Also it will make you want to eat cinnamon rolls (don’t say I didn’t warn you).

If you love supernatural romance: Read ‘Lips Touch: Three Times‘ by Laini Taylor. Three short (but not too short) stories, utterly compelling stuff. ‘Goblin Fruit’ will break your heart, but you still won’t be able to stop reading. I got put on to Laini Taylor by my flatmate Jenni, and I’m very glad I was. Now I just need to wait for the sequels to ‘Daughter of Smoke and Bone’ to be available at the library…

If you think Edward and Bella have the best relationship: Read the Women’s Refuge’s power and control wheel. I’m not kidding. Others have said it much better than I ever could, but the relationship between the two of them is unhealthy and abusive. He takes the spark plugs out of her car so she can’t drive anywhere, because he doesn’t want her seeing her best friend. Um…WHAT? It’s definitely worth understanding how their relationship is unhealthy. Love is not an excuse for mistreating another person.

If you love supernatural romance and want to be IN the story: get four friends together and play ‘The Silver Kiss of the Magical Twilight of the Full Moon‘. As well as one person running the game, the four players play two sets of best friends. One pair are human, and one pair are supernatural (you can be any kind of supernatural being you choose). One of the humans falls in love with one of the supernaturals. Teenage angst and drama ensue. While I’ve run a session of this that went very dark and serious, most of the time in runs of this game you’ll be laughing your ass off. I know one friend who had to go and lie down for 5 minutes in the middle of a game because she couldn’t breathe, she was laughing so hard. Full disclosure, my flatmate wrote the game- but she wrote it long before she was my flatmate and I thought it was fab from the off. It’s got easy rules, it’s a lot of fun, you get to be in the story, and it involves candy!

How about you? What are your go-tos for supernatural entertainment (that aren’t by Stephanie Meyer)? Let me know in the comments