Tag Archives: gift

Frogo and the Quest for Attention

I don’t know if you’ve worked it out by now, but I’m a bit of a crochet nut.  And I’m at my nuttiest when making gifts for friends and family.  There is a part of me that will not rest until every person I care about owns something that I made for them.  I think it might be something primal.  Like I’m marking my territory or something.  When I get it right and the gift is well-received, it is exhilarating.   But when I get it wrong, it is mortifying.

Anyway, for a long while now I’ve been wanting to make a frog for my friend Strider.  Strider has been my friend for around eighteen years now, and along with his obsession with all things Tolkein, he is also deeply interested in conservation and other environmental issues and has a great love of green tree frogs.

Recently (no, not recently, this post has been in my drafts pile for a few months now, but let’s pretend), Strider had a small birthday party, a strictly ‘no presents’ affair.  I like when friends have ‘no presents’ parties.  It means I can give something hand-made without any pressure for it to be good.

So anyway, I made this:

small crocheted frog

I couldn’t find a pattern I really liked (I have no time to be sewing bits together or faffing about with pipecleaners), so I designed one myself.  It took a bit of experimentation, but I got there in the end.  I must give credit, however, to Lucy Ravenscar:  I was very much inspired by the techniques she used with her bazaar animals in putting this together.  I couldn’t help but feel rather chuffed with how it worked out.

When I got to Strider’s house (‘Gondor’?) , I waited until I had come inside and our respective children had finished exclaiming over each other, before presenting my gift.  Strider smiled and thanked me politely.  He did not, however do any of the following:

  1.  Jump up and down making high-pitched squeally noises;
  2. Accost everybody who arrives at the party brandishing said frog and exclaiming, “look what Kate made!”
  3. Ask for a full report on what yarn I used, what size hook, stitches, pattern – wait, what?  You mean to say THIS IS AN ORIGINAL DESIGN?
  4. Ask how it came to pass that his friend Kate got to be so brilliant as to design her own frog;
  5. Place the frog in a prominent position, where guests can use it as a conversation piece and talk all about me and my epic skills.

crocheted frog - side view

In fact, he put the frog away, where nobody could see it.  How was I supposed to show off now?

But I was not defeated.  I turned a few strategies over in my mind.  Strider’s sister-in-law is nice and loud.  Perhaps I could get her to broadcast the news of my triumph?  So I sought her out and gave my orders.

“You must ask your brother-in-law to show you what I made him!”

So Strider’s sister-in-law (“Galadriel”?  I don’t know…) dutifully sought out the host of the party and asked to see the frog.  She got a look at it, but didn’t take it out of its hiding place.  Then she came back to tell me how great she thought it was.  Nobody overheard.  The frog remained hidden.

But now, I knew the where the frog was hidden.  It was in the kitchen.  I decided it was time to get myself a drink.   Then I decided the frog was exactly where I wanted to put the bottle of mineral water.  so I moved it to the other side of the bench, where it would be out of my way and, incidentally, more visible to anyone who happened by.  Then I stationed myself next to the bench so I could answer any questions (“Whence came this miraculous creation?”).

crocheted frog - from above

But nobody asked any.  And then I had to go home.

I had almost got over it a couple of days later when I met up with Strider’s family again for a church group picnic.  “Now, Kate,”  I told myself sternly, “you made that frog as a present to your friend, not to your ego.  You really must get over this need to be in the centre of attention at all times!”.  I arrived at the picnic determined to listen to others and not dominate and give other people the opportunity to get a word in edgewise.  It was as I was listening (with all my might) to a new friend as she told me about her work designing jewellery and selling it online, that Strider broke in.

“You should sell your work online too, Kate.  That frog you made me is just brilliant.  Tell us all about it”

Oh, well.  I suppose I could manage that.  If I must.

Busy Fingers #3

I just thought I’d share with you what I did as a card for the two weddings I went to in December.  Both were the sort of weddings where money was the most appropriate gift.  This always feels a little impersonal to me, which is why I like to include some hand-made accompaniment.

I enlisted Matilda’s and Christopher Robin’s help creating the backdrop (I asked them to write the word ‘love’ everywhere), then I crocheted the heart using this neat pattern from Skip to my Lou.

After that, I glued it all together with a co-ordinating button.  I may have become a little obsessed with my hot-glue-gun of late…

crochet heart card

Perhaps not as good as my lopsided cake card, but I like it, just the same!

Barking

Sometimes I think I might be a crazy person. Especially when it comes to crochet.
An idea will drop into my head, perfect and fully formed, that will send me into a frenzy of wool and stitches. I won’t be able to rest until I’ve snipped and woven in the last end of yarn. And I won’t know until the moment the handmade gift is opened whether I’ve created something special and wonderful and right-on-the-mark; or lame, attention-seeking and deserving of pity.

I wanted to share with you my latest piece of insanity.

Mr Knightley’s sister, whom I’m going to call Audrey (if he were called Mr Darcy, I could call her Georgiana, I suppose, but I digress…), lives in a different city to us with her husband and two daughters: two-year-old Holly and newborn Eliza.  They also have three big and very loveable dogs.  Now, when Eliza was born, I put my head to thinking what I could make for her.  Unfortunately, my brain had other ideas, and thought instead of a great present for Holly.  I figured Holly might need a present more than her baby sister, babies get enough fuss!

Holly is devoted to her three big dogs, which is what gave me the idea.  What if I made her three toy puppies, modelled on her favourite playmates?  And the idea wouldn’t leave.  So I had to make them.

Crocheted Dog - Fudge

Here is Fudge, a brown Labrador, and the eldest of the three;

crocheted dog - jet

This is Jet, a black Labrador who is very excitable;

Crocheted Dog - Trumpet

And here is Trumpet, a black poodle, who is more shy and sensible than his friends.

Trumpet's Tail

And he has a curly tail.

Each dog has his own collar, bed and blanket in a matching colour.  I like to think this makes them all very Montessori.  I don’t like to think that pointing this out makes me all very pretentious sounding…

I didn’t want to forget Baby Eliza entirely, so I made Miss Doolittle a soft ball which makes a crunchy sound when you squeeze it. I spent many of my days testing various plastic wrappers for sound quality before putting the best ones in with the stuffing.  People think I’m odd.

Crocheted Ball

It’s not as round as I would like it, but thankfully Eliza does not yet understand the basics of geometry, so I think I’ll get away with it…

The pattern I used for the dogs is the very clear and well written “Puppy Love” by Beth Ann Weber on the By Hook By Hand blog.   The dogs’ collars, beds and blankets are my own design, as is the ball (which explains the wonkiness).

presents

And here are the presents all together.  My parents-in-law were travelling to visit Audrey and her family, so I packed it all in a shoe box (I resisted the temptation to use a “Hush Puppies” box), wrapped it nicely and gave it to them to deliver.

Now I was stuck.  I wouldn’t know until the gift was opened if the present was good or not.  And I wouldn’t be there to see them open it.  While the box remained closed, the present was simultaneously lovely and lame.  This is a paradox known as Schrödinger’s Dogs.

Thankfully, my sister-in-law called to thank me soon after they received the present.  Holly had fallen in love with the little dogs and had been playing with them all day.  Huzzah!

As for me, my fingers are starting to itch again!

Wedding Boast

I just wanted to show off.

A couple of weeks ago I went to a beautiful wedding.  I got to spend the day feasting with friends and celebrating a very exciting event.  I was aware that the happy couple would be living in a small apartment that was already fixed up with toasters and cutlery and wine glasses and towels and that the present they would most like would be money, but I couldn’t help feeling like it was a little impersonal. Cold hard cash.  How could I turn it into soft, friendly currency?

The first idea I had was to buy them a tea-pot and make a cosy for it and put the money inside, but then I remembered that the wedding was going to have a bit of a Star Wars theme, as it was being held on May the forth (be with you).  Also, they might never open the tea-pot.  They might spend the rest of their days drinking only coffee and thinking bad thoughts about their tight-fisted friends…

So, after talking it over with a few friends, I came up with this:

Crocheted Yoda

I got the pattern from Lucy Ravenscar on Ravelry.  I don’t usually buy patterns, but I bought this one as it was exactly what I wanted and there wasn’t anything as good for free online.  It was worth the money – a clever pattern, beautifully written with plenty of pictures.

Loaded Yoda

And here’s how I included the (warm and fuzzy) monetary element.

Naked Yoda

And here’s how he looks without his robe.

Yoda from above

And here’s an aerial view (OK, now it’s getting ridiculous)

Having done such a great job on this one I decided I was a creative genius and went on to do a handmade card as well.  I’ve received cards before that involve simple motifs sewn onto card with a basic machine stitch.  I had an idea of doing something clever with lace.  Cute and personal.   Fresh, clean lines.

Sewing isn’t really my strong suit.  I aspire to be a clever sewing lady, but I’m not there yet.

So I got up a design and I pinned everything in place and I tried to sew it and it got a bit wonky so I tried to fix it but it was definitely asymmetrical and you couldn’t tell what it was supposed to be, so I drew all over it and it was no longer chic or minimalist and it looked a bit of a strange mess, but I’d spent so much time and energy on it that I decided to go ahead with it anyway and in the end it looked like this:

The Card

Hmmm.  I need to learn to quit while I’m ahead…

 

The Joy of Giving

I just had to share:

teapots with cosies

I made these tea cosies for my two dear friends, Pippi and Lovely M.  You might remember Pippi as my friend who made the soap for my blog candy giveaway.  She gave it as a gift for the blog and wouldn’t accept any payment for it.  If your memory is really good, you might remember Lovely M from my socially awkward misadventures in Label Fail – the Sequel.  I wanted to give M a new name as everyone else in the blog seems to be named after some literary character (or Brady Bunch member).  In some ways, M is like Little Friend Susan to my Milly Molly Mandy.  But Little Friend Susan is sensible and hardly talks, and that doesn’t describe M at all.  Anyway, Lovely M is happy to be called Lovely M and I think it rather suits her.

In a world of self-contained school mothers with blow-waved bobs and glacial conversational skills, Pippi and Lovely M provide an oasis of genuine friendship and spray-coffee-through-your-nose laughter.  That, in itself, I think, is enough to warrant a present, but as it happens, both Pippi and Lovely M have recently moved house (from near by to even nearer by!), which means I get to make them housewarming presents (my favourite kind!).

When Pippi and Lovely M received their presents, they made all the right exclaiming noises to ensure plenty more handmade gifts come their way.  In a strange way, I love that something I made will live in their home.  Does that make sense or is it vaguely stalker-ish of me?

Anyway, here’s the most exciting part:

The pattern is my own design!

I’ve never designed my own crochet pattern before, unless you count my star snowflake, which is really more of a modification than an original design.  I think I will call it Pippi and Lovely M’s Granny Square Tea Cosy.   When I get organised, I will put a tutorial (with rather dodgy photos) in the “Hooky Business” section of the blog.  Just like a real grown-up craft blog!  And I can put it on Ravelry and everything!

I’ve also just finished a blanket for my brand-new nephew.  I struggled a little with this one, but we got there in the end (meanwhile my nephew is six weeks old):

blanket

I wanted to sew a cloud motif on in the corner, but with the variegated yarn it just looked weird, so I left it off.

And finally:

parcel

This parcel is bound for Tennessee, for Sandy from Craftsnotherstuff, the winner of my birthday blog candy giveaway.  I’m thinking of sneaking in some Tim Tams (choc biscuits) and other Aussie treats, but I’m still working out how to do it without getting chocolate over everything…

Oh!  It’s all so exciting!  Giving gifts is even more fun when I can boast about it all over the internet…

I Want Candy!

As you may know, my humble blog turned one on Monday.  In honour of this momentous occasion, and because I want to thank you for being such faithful and engaged readers, I’m having a BLOG CANDY GIVEAWAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Do you want to see the loot?

bells

Here are some blue bells similar to the ones I used to yarnbomb Bells Beach;

snowflakes

And here are some snowflakes, similar to the ones I stressed out about last year, including a star snowflake, which is my one-and-only original pattern published on this site.

soap

Aaahhh…if only this blog had smell-o-vision!  Here is a delectable soap made by my dear friend whom I will call Pippi.  It’s hand-made from all-natural materials and really makes your skin feel nice.  I hear it’s good for those with allergies too.  Plus it smells amazing.  And I have a thing about smells (there are many fragrances I can’t stand.  If Mr Knightley buys scented baby wipes or scented toilet paper, I throw a small temper tantrum)

swap cards

Finally, here are some fun educational swap cards about Australian animals.  Our supermarket gives these out with each purchase, so this part of the prize is really only for an international winner – I’m pretty sure if you’re Australian, you have enough of them floating about!

loot

And here we have the complete prize haul.  As you can see, I made a rather lame attempt to fashion the loot into the shape of a Christmas tree, but didn’t think about the position of the sun, hence the lovely shadow.  Plus, can you see the alluring glimpse of t-shirt at the bottom of the photo?  Pure photographic genius!

So, would you like to get your hands on all this sugary goodness?  Here’s how you can do it:

1. Follow this blog, or like the FB page, if you haven’t done so already

2. Leave a comment after this post – you don’t have to write anything profound, but it will act as your virtual raffle ticket

I will give each commenter a number and use a random number generator to pick the winner.  I will draw the winner at 12:30pm next Thursday November 14 and notify the winner by email (so make sure you don’t use a fake address).  You don’t have to be a regular reader to enter, so feel free to tell your friends and family to put their names in the hat too.

A note to my male readers – I’m sorry this prize is a bit girly, but if either of you were to win, you could use the prize as gifts, so please enter just the same!

Happy Blogiversary!!

pom poms

Can you believe it?  Laptop on the Ironing Board is a year old today!  On this day last year, I tentatively uploaded some awkwardly worded posts and reshaped some humorous anecdotes that began their life as family emails.  Back then, the blog was called “James James Morrison Morrison”, but I got tired of spelling it out for people, so it quickly changed to “Laptop on the Ironing Board”.  It wasn’t long at all before I was totally addicted to blogging.  It’s still my favourite thing to do.  And now that my blog is having a birthday, it’s time for some serious celebration!

Matilda's Bed Cake

Blog Candy!!!

I’m going to have a little giveaway to celebrate this blogiversary, but I haven’t quite got the booty ready to photograph.  I want to raffle off some gifts to thank you for being such delightful readers.  I’ll have another post up this week to tell you all about it.  Sorry for my lack of organisation!

Gorgeous Bunting

What’s that?  A gift for me?  Oh, shucks, you don’t have to get my blog anything!  But if you insist, what my blog would most like for a birthday present is some new readers.

Laptop on the Ironing Board Birthday Gift Registry (choose one, if you like):

  • Think of someone you know who might like this blog and tell them about it (or email them a link).  This might be your hairdresser, your child’s teacher, your parish priest, your mums group, your maternal and child health nurse or the lady at the post office.
  • Share a link to your favourite post on your Facebook page (or Twitter or other new-fangled social media I’m too un-hip to know about).  This is a good one, because the person is already online when they get the link.
  • “Like” Laptop on Facebook
  • Put Laptop on your blog roll (and let me know so I can put you on mine)

DSCF4887

Vital Statistics

Finally, I thought I’d share some fun (well, fun for me) stats with you:

53 Posts (counting this one)

284 Followers (and I love you all)

6,755 views

and 463 comments

from 75 different countries

The most hits I got in one day was a whopping 233.  This happened when my friend promoted my blog on her Facebook page.  I couldn’t stop smiling all week after that.

fake cupcakes

Thank You, I Love Youse

So, thank you so much, dear readers for taking the time to read and engage with me.  You are what makes this such a joyful and affirming experience.  Every time you leave a comment, I just about fall over myself with glee.  You make writing exciting.  You really do.