Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Minty Apple Fish

In the coming weeks and months, I am going to be launching a new business.

Minty Apple Fish.

That's the name of the business.

At first, I will knit and crochet toys to sell at markets and online and will accept commissions. My goal is to use 100% wool (sheep and alpaca) hand-dyed with natural dyes.

Then, I will expand into larger-scale dying as well as spinning alpaca fleece to sell at markets and online. I will use fleece from my own alpacas and plan to establish a small-time alpaca breeding program. I will also buy local alpaca fleece. 

Later, when I get enough capital and exposure, I hope to find a brick-and-mortar location in Wyong (it's an up-and-coming place - even has it's own coffee roasting business!) where I can sell my creations, my own hand-dyed and spun wool, the hand-dyed and spun wool of local Central Coast and Newcastle fibre artists as well as high-quality commercial yarns. I will use this space as a studio to dye, spin, knit and crochet and will offer classes. 

So that's the plan. If you are interested in commissioning me to make something (or know someone who might want to commission something), please send me an email:

Watch this space.

Remember the name.

Minty Apple Fish.

P.S. If you need ideas, check out I'd love to make you almost anything featured there. For something more specific, check out patterns by Susan B Anderson for toys, Tin Can Knits and Kate Davies Designs for things to wear, and Moogly for crocheted items. I'd love to work with you to create something special for you or for you to give as a gift.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Dabbling in design

Until a few months ago, I would have been the first person to tell you that I do not have "an eye for design".

That was, until, my boss asked me to throw together a poster for an event our department was doing - something that was too last-minute for the marketing department at our school to have a crack at. Although that first attempt was rather basic, I found that I enjoyed the creative design work and continued to dabble in creating posters, programs and flyers for events. Using the resources at (check them out - absolutely amazing free hi-res photos available for any use), I started volunteering to design the promotional materials that we needed at work. Here is a sampling of my most recent things:

(P.S. As a professional courtesy, please do not reproduce these images as your own...)

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Two more birthday parties = Two more gifts

The boys have been invited to two birthday parties this month. The first one is tomorrow, and both boys have been invited. It is a Minion Disco Party! We haven't seen Despicable Me yet - but have plans to watch it tonight. Even though the boys haven't seen Minion movies, they both know about those crazy characters and LOVE Pharrell William's song "Happy."

Since it is a Minion party, I knew I needed to make something Minion-inspired. I was going to make another pencil case like I did for a party we went to last month, but then I saw these fingerless mitts and knew they would be the perfect gift. I adapted the pattern to use 8-ply (DK weight) yarn and a size G crochet hook, but otherwise I followed it as written. The result was the perfect size for a pre-schooler!

I'm so pleased with the way they turned out. Here they are, modelled by Desmond...

If I make them again, I will make the cuff in a rib stitch so they are easier for little hands to put on.

In a couple of weeks, Vincent is going to another party - this one is at the local bowling alley. Vincent helped me pick out a pattern from Rebecca Danger's The Big Book of Knitted Monsters. The one he selected, Tony - the toy-box monster, looks remarkably like a bowling ball!

I hope that both boys will like their handmade toys!

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Another birthday gift - Crochet Minion Pencil Case (from Petals to Picots)

This weekend, Vincent was invited to another birthday party. This time, it was a 6th birthday party for one of the first boys he made friends with at daycare-preschool when we moved here from the US two-and-a-half years ago. (Has it really been that long??) Last year, I made his friend this snake, which was apparently a big hit. Since this friend is now in kindy, we don't see him as often as we used to. I wasn't sure what to make him for a gift - I wanted to do something special, but didn't really want to give him another toy. Then, I remembered that his mum said that one of his favorite songs was "Happy" by Pharrell Williams - the theme song from"Despicable Me." We haven't seen the movie, but my boys really like that song.

So I did a quick search for minion patterns - there are lots of cute hat patterns out there, but since it is now coming into summer here in Sydney, I didn't really want to make a hat. Then, I came across this great pattern for a crocheted minion pencil case by Kara at Petals to Picots. I really like her patterns - they are cute and useful. And her patterns are very clearly written and easy to follow. I made some of her apple cozies for teacher gifts at the end of last year (for the pattern for one, see here and then scroll down to links for the other apple cozy patterns - I love the monster ones! I have pictures of mine somewhere, but I can't find them right now...)

Making adjustments in hook size and stitch count to account for the DK yarn I used, I made my very own minion pencil case.

I'm very pleased with how it turned out. It worked up quickly and it was fun to do something different. Hopefully, the birthday boy will like it too.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

R2-D2 Hat

This weekend, Vincent was invited to a birthday party for one of his preschool friends. It was a Star Wars-themed birthday party. Since we don't own any Star Wars stuff, I thought I'd make Vincent a hat to wear to the party. There are lots of Star Wars patterns out there, but Vincent and I decided on this cute R2-D2 hat pattern. I adapted it to suit DK (8-ply) yarn (the most widely available yarn here in Australia) and changed a few of the elements of the pattern (like the vertical white lines). It is just a basic crochet bucket hat with a few embellishments, but it it resembles R2-D2. And,  I figured that if we ended up not being that "into" Star Wars, it would at least look like a robot hat.

He was the only R2-D2 at the party. There were four Darth Vaders, a couple of Luke Skywalkers, one Princess Leia, and a Spiderman.

Then, of course, there was the matter of a gift for Vincent's friend. I tend to make birthday gifts, so Vincent and I decided I would make a R2-D2 hat for his friend as well.

And, of course, Desmond didn't want to be left out. So I made one for him too!

Three R2-D2 hats in less than a week - I think that might be some sort of record!

Until the invite came, Star Wars hadn't hit our house yet. But in the last week, Vincent has become much more interested in it. Yesterday, he drew this picture of Star Wars characters and ships.

1st row (L-R): Storm Trooper, Darth Vader, R2-D2, C3P0
2nd row (L-R): Death Star, Millennium Falcon, and two different spaceships/fighter jets 

I think this is just the start of the next "big thing" for the boys. (And I'm just waiting until Vincent realises that there are Star Wars Legos!)

I would be happy to make and sell these hats (or other hats/toys/accessories/sweaters/etc) to order. Please send me a message if you are interested and we can work out the details.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Temperature Blanket Pattern

Some of my knitting/crocheting/fiber arts friends have asked me for the pattern for the Sydney-Decorah Temperature Blanket. (For posts about how this blanket as come to be, see here, here and here.) It is basically a bunch of mitered squares that are knit-together-as-you-go. I got the idea for this type of pattern from this website, and I made a few modifications to so that the squares would work for my project.

Today, I had some time to type up the pattern. It has not been tested. But I thought I might as well put it out there. So, if you find any errors, please let me know.

As I am just over halfway through the blanket, I have not yet worked out how I will do the border around the outside of the blanket (thus incorporating the temperatures of the last five days of the year). As I decide the border, I will update the pattern.

In the meanwhile, here is the pattern. If you do make this blanket, I'd love it if you would share a photo of it with me. And all the standard "rules" apply - please treat this pattern and the associated pictures as you would want your own to be other words, please don't sell the pattern as your own and don't use my photos without permission. However, you may sell any finished items. Happy Knitting!

Sunday, August 31, 2014

A long overdue blanket update...

Ok - I admit it.

I am waaaaay behind on my temperature blanket.

All was going well, and at one point in April, I was completely caught up. Then I got behind again and decided to take the blanket and yarn with me to the US when the boys and I went to visit my family in June/July. I was on track to getting caught up when I ran out of orange yarn. The mild winter in Sydney and cooler summer in Iowa resulted in an insane number of totally orange squares (days where the temperatures in Sydney and Decorah were within the same 5-degree range: 21-25 degrees Celsius). I had underestimated the amount of orange yarn I would need.


After we came back to Sydney in early July, I started working on the blanket again, trying to get caught up. But I then made the decision to start on Christmas presents so I would not be in a rush to get things made right before the holidays. So I've been working on a variety of smaller projects that will be gifts for family members and teachers. (Lots of cute things that I can't post pictures of here - don't want to ruin any surprises!!) And I've been working on the blanket here and there.

The end of July marked the half-way mark for the rows on the blanket. And I finally knit up those squares about two weeks. It is amazing to see the blanket half finished. There is a lot more red, orange and yellow than I had expected - the temperatures in Sydney this winter have been nearly constant and there has been little variations in the daily high temps in Decorah. Even though I reached this milestone several days ago, I kept forgetting to take some photos of the blanket. Of course, it doesn't help that it has been raining and raining and raining and raining - not good photo-taking weather.

At any rate, here is the blanket at the halfway mark. I'm pretty pleased with how it is turning out. (The light yellow looks like white in the photos).

And I am kind of excited to see that the Farmer's Almanac is predicting a harsh winter for the Upper Midwest (sorry Iowa folks!!) That means lots of blue (there are three shades in my colour scheme) and grey and hopefully some purple (for the REALLY cold days). I'm crossing my fingers that Sydney has a few hot days in December and January so I get the opportunity to work some pink into the blanket as well.

The last day for the blanket will be 30 January 2015. That seems like a long time from now, but it's not. Hopefully, I will be able to get caught up on the blanket now that I am almost finished with Christmas presents.