Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Meet Our New Knitting Tutor!

Last Sunday, we held our very first knitting workshop! It was a complete beginners class in which the six students were taught to cast on, knit, purl and cast off and started to make a pretty pair of fingerless mittens to take home. 

The class was taught by our new tutor, Melanie Edgar, who was super stoked to be passing on her love of all things woolen to newby knitters! The other day Holly invited Melanie to the Cafe for a cuppa and a chat about her art. We thought we'd share their conversation with you as inspiration for any aspiring knitters out there!

Holly - OK, so let's start with a bit about you! Can you tell us a little bit about your background?

MelanieMy name is Mélanie. I was born in Orléans, France where I lived until my mid-late twenties. I then moved to London, United Kingdom, where I worked as a web programmer / designer. That’s also where I met my husband, Nick, and where our son Lucas was born.
In 2012, we made the life changing decision to move to Christchurch, New Zealand (my husband’s home city). And that’s where we are, right now!

Holly - And we're so glad to have you! I think my next question has to be, when did your love affair with knitting begin?

Melanie - I started knitting when I was about 7 years old. My mum was a knitter. One day, she was knitting and I was bored. I asked her to show me. She cast on for me, taught me how to do a knit stitch and that was it! I made a tube dress for my Barbie doll and that’s how it all started!

Holly - Lucky Barbie! And what is it about this particular craft that really grabbed you?

Melanie - I’m not sure! I like a lot of crafts, but knitting is the one I am most faithful to. I love the process of knitting (much more than the finished products, which I enjoy too). But I just love watching the yarn transform into a fabric, and the fabric into a garment or an accessory. It’s like magic, especially when you turn the heel on a sock or when the combination of increases and decreases create a lace pattern!

I also like the endless possibilities that you get when you grab the needles and the ball of yarn. You can make so many things with just this combination!

I also like that it’s portable. I do a lot of quilting, but that means being stuck at the table cutting or at the sewing machine (let’s not even talk about the pressing!). With knitting, I can take my craft everywhere. I’ve been known to knit while walking around the garden, or even while walking around Orana Park with my 3-year-old boy!

Holly - Tell me a little about one of your favourite projects....

Melanie - Oh la la! What a question! Just one? They are ALL my favourite projects (well, all the ones I’ve kept, haha!). But if I had to choose just one, it might be my colourwork yoke jersey (is that how you call them here?). I designed it and it turned out even better than what I had in mind. Don’t you love it when something like that happens? The yarn is absolutely lovely, the perfect combination of frivolous and practical (Rowan Felted Tweed, Alpaca blend that’s machine washable – I’m all for washing washable).
And the colourwork. I love love LOVE the colourwork.
It’s one of my favourite thing to knit, but it can be tricky to design, especially when there’s some kind of shaping going on as well. Here, I had to integrate the increases that make the round yoke into the colourwork. In this one, well, it’s perfect! It’s just smooth and everything flows. And I absolutely adore the little scallops around the neck. Just perfect!
I toyed with the idea of publishing the pattern. Is anyone interested in knitting a sample / testing the pattern, ha?!

Holly - I'm sure there will be a few keen to try it out! Do you have a favourite place where you like to go to knit?

Melanie - Hmm, not really. Of course, I love to knit sitting on the sofa while watching a good movie. But I don’t get to do a lot of that lately – and I will get a lot less of it soon as we are moving to a new place without TV!
I like to knit everywhere. But if I had to choose a favourite, maybe that’ll be the beach. There’s something utterly decadent about knitting on the beach (or maybe it’s just me? No, don’t answer that!)
I find that knitting makes me able to deal with otherwise stressful or boring situations / locations. I HATE waiting, so knitting while in the doctor’s waiting room, or in-line at the bank / post office just takes the edge off of things.

Holly - What items do you enjoy designing most?

Melanie - Anything with colourwork? Socks? Socks with colourwork?! I’m quite varied in my designs, so far, from baby clothes to lacey shawls, and socks too, of course (which you can all see on my Ravelry designer’s page).
What inspires me is the challenge of taking a stitch pattern (be it colourwork, cable or lace) and combine it with a definite shape, such as a sock, a cardi or a shawl. Items that you wear need to have a certain shape and slapping a stitch pattern onto that is just not that straightforward.
And if you are adding multi-sizing to the equation, you can have an Excel file that would scare a statistician (I had to find a job which uses a lot of Excel files, they do, don’t they?).
But that’s what I enjoy when I design, the problem solving. That and creating stuff that people will wear – I wanted to be a fashion designer when I was 13. Well, I sort of got there in the end, right?

Holly - Who is your favourite knitwear designer and why?

Melanie - Oh Gawd! You are doing it again! I can’t choose. And I don’t want to get any of my friends angry! Having worked as a technical editor, I got to meet either virtually or in real life quite a few of them and I love them all.
Ok, here are a few, in absolutely no special order:
-         Kitman Figueroa: A-MA-ZING shawls. I knitted her Jaali pattern and I love it. I wear it so often. I’ve got her Damask in my queue and I just need to take the time to choose the yarn and cast on.
-         Cecily Glowik MacDonald: I knitted her Leaflet, which is one of my most worn items and I can see myself knitting / wearing any of her other cardis / pullovers pattern. They are just simple enough with the right attention to the killer details.
-         Sarah Hatton: she designs a lot for Rowan and British and international magazines and her patterns are always so nicely written.
But there are many many other designers who are inspiring me either to knit or design and it just feels wrong to only name a few!

Holly - I know, tough question! Sorry! Let's talk about where knitting fits in these days. Do you think people's perceptions of knitting have changed in the last ten years? If so, in what ways?

Melanie - I think it has. I can’t quite talk about how knitting is viewed in New Zealand as I’m still brand new here (only arrived last August!).
But I think people’s perceptions have changed. Knitting (and other crafts) are much trendier. There has been this whole ‘Make Do and Mend’ thing that has come back to the UK – and everywhere else. People now want to make stuff. They want to buy a ball of yarn and knit their own scarves. Not necessarily because it’s cheaper to make (yarn is expensive), but there’s been this rejection of fast fashion and how cheap shop bought stuff is actually not that cheap! Yes, knitting a scarf can cost you $100, but if you take good care of it, it will last decades. Try that with a scarf from Kmart.
Also, making your own stuff means that you can show your personality through the yarn you choose, the colours and the design. I think people are craving for a little bit of individuality.
It’s not so much about ‘knitting grandmas’ anymore, though there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that – I cherish the stuff that my grandma has knitted for her grandchildren.
There’s a younger crowd in knitting, and they are more fashion aware, and also they are more involved in the worldwide knitting community through blogs and Ravelry (3 millions users!!)
People want to learn, they are booking workshops, private lessons, asking relatives or friends to show them and that’s terribly exciting.
You don’t get this weird look when you say that you’ve knitted your pullover or scarf or whatever. Now, most often, you get a ‘wow, that’s great. I wish I could too’. Well, the thing is, you can. I truly believe that most people can learn. If I could learn as a child, then anybody can too!

Holly - What are you working on right now?

Melanie - Right now, well, right now, it’s not too bad. I’m not a very faithful knitter. But if you ignore the couple of projects that are hibernating (one silk stole and one beaded stole – I just don’t have it in me to work on them at the moment, they are just not that enjoyable, right now), then I only have 3? (mental check) projects on the go.
-         A colourwork (I guess I could say fairisle, but I think colourwork works better for non knitter) sleeveless top for myself. It’s quite slow and intense, partially because the colourwork is very involved (it changes on every round) and partially because I’m making it up designing it as I go along. For these reasons, I’m only working on a few rounds at a time. I’m halfway through the armholes and I’m kind of looking forward to the moment when I’ll have to open the steeks (that’s when you take your scissors and deliberately and without alcohol involved CUT YOUR KNITTING). I love knitting this project, but it takes a lot of brain space.
-         A pair of stripey socks in gorgeous Knitsch yarn (Wellington based indie dyer). This is brainless and exactly what I need when going somewhere. I love knitting socks, they are the ultimate portable project. And you get this befuddled look on people’s face when you tell them that you are knitting socks, which is priceless. I give a lot of my socks away to deserving relatives and friends, so I don’t have that many myself. Which is why I always need to knit some more.
-         I’m just about to cast on a pullover for myself. With our move here, I got rid of most of my wardrobe, so I need to add more key pieces. Like, you know, warm pullovers. This one is going to be very straightforward: top-down, with a cowl neck and either a round yoke (if I can be bothered to do the maths) or raglan sleeves. All of that with a yarn that’s been sitting in my stash for almost 3 years.

Holly - Nice to here you're list of UFO's (unfinished objects) is long like ours! One final question, do you have any advice for knitters wanting to get their patterns published?

Melanie - That’s a tough one. I’m not sure I’m the best one to ask, because I got very lucky. I started with technical editing, which gave me the right contacts, after that, it was much easier to pitch my ideas to the magazines’ editors. Nowadays, you can start by self publishing, which is not a bad thing to do if you do it right.
-         Get yourself a Ravelry designer account. You can sell your pattern in a pdf file there, which comes to little to no cost to you. That’s a good thing when you’re starting out.
-         Get your pattern tested and / or technical edited. That’s probably the most important thing. You will want your pattern to be as free of errors as possible. It’s a massive turn-off when your pattern is riddled with errors. You don’t want to be THAT designer.
-         If you want to get published in magazines, paper or online, send out a lot of submissions. All the big magazines should have guidelines, moodboards, etc explaining what they are after. That’s your first clue. They will also explain how to submit. That’s important. You really don’t want to spam the editor with your submissions. You want them to be your friends. So just follow the procedures (unless THEY ask you otherwise).
-         If you don’t know already, learn to grade your pattern in several sizes. Excel is good for that and there are tutorials online to explain some of the process.
-         Don’t expect to make a living off it. You might, eventually, be able to, but certainly not until you acquire a certain level of ‘fame’. That’s ok, just be realistic about it (and don’t quite your day job just yet).
-         Knit, knit and knit some more. Try new techniques. That will broaden your design abilities and make you more versatile for publications.
-         But really, just be creative!

Holly - A big thank you to Melanie for taking the time to sit down for a chat with me! I hope everyone has enjoyed reading!

If you are interested in learning to knit, or would like to further develop existing skills, we have a number of workshops with Melanie coming up over the next couple of months. Head over to our website to find out more!

Sunday 26th May, 12 - 3pm
Sunday 16th June, 12 - 3pm

Wednesday 29th May, 6 - 9pm
Wednesday 19th June, 6 - 9pm

Sunday 5th May, 11am - 3pm
Sunday 2nd June, 11am - 3pm

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

At my desk

At my desk this week, is the most scrummy Apple Danish I have ever tasted.
You know when something is so good, that you realize you will never buy a store bought danish again because it just tastes fake next to a homemade alternative! GO HOMEMADE!!!So

I have to admit - myself and rising pastries did not sound like they would fit well together - considering my history with bread, but I am pleasantly surprised!

I used a Nigella food processor recipe, which I had to leave in the fridge overnight, but here is the fabulous point : You can leave it for up to 4 days at this stage . Perfect for the enthusiast who runs out of steam! I got to day 2, had to do that whole rolling and folding thing to smooth out the butter, and now it will keep like that in it's dough form  for a further 2 days apparently. It is also freezable - apparently

So perhaps we will be seeing some danish pastries in the cafe soon! If I can make enough of this yummy pastry!

Also at my desk this week is my vacuum cleaner (just peeking in there) - any other mums wish they had one attached to their arm?

And finally a very pretty embroidery design, created by our Singer Futura sewing and embroidery machine. I want to showcase the amazing capabilities of this machine at the upcoming Crafty Christchurch - so getting it together!

Whats at your desk?

Thursday, 11 April 2013

Here is your blog post

I will admit, I not only like cake but I love creating them and so does Justin. We have had 10 birthday's so far (between cakes) and I have enjoyed the creativity of each one. 

There have been times when we have stayed up late - many times!

There has been a lot of help from friends and last minute trips to the supermarket!

We love being creative, and there are certainly times when you push yourself to do just that, especially for the excitement and smiles of your children

but there are some days that a mummy is just tired, some days the supermum and dad have to hang up their cape, and you know what? that is ok! Today I am having a tired day and as much as I was trying to be a creative blogger I could not face it tonight (although looking back this is not bad!)
Much like this poor mum

As Deb mentioned in her blog today, it's just about being yourself and that sums up my day (did I mention I made the cafe carrot cake today? Well that ties in nicely!) ,

 so, ah-hmm, its late enough, I'm tired and here is your blog post. Goodnight!

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Traveling Back

Sew much to do, sew little time they say, but just don't stop moving and you somehow get there and sleep better at night too! Seen that it is 11:45pm as I write this I better hurry up.

I managed to paint these <-- while the ruffle cake workshop was on tonight for our dressers in the workshop room.

Look --> at the cake Gail from Petite Prints created!

We are going to run a Mother's Day ruffle cake workshop on the 11th May if you want to make something different for Mum this year. This workshop is a complete beginners class.

So this afternoon I spent close to 2 hours making 5kg of buttercream. Have you ever attempted 5kg of buttercream? See that full bowl multiply it by 3! Now that is a lot of mixing!
Did you know that each ruffle cake uses just under 1kg of buttercream!

So if you come along to our ruffle cake workshop, you now know that the sugar fairy did not in fact produce all that buttercream or maybe she did!

Early today the bloggers got together to work through their finishing touches on the Bloggers Connecting event this weekend, and The Press came to take a picture and they did a fabulous story on the event and some of our best ♥'d bloggers! You can read all about it by clicking on the link under the picture.
Read The Press Article here
Even earlier than that I popped over to the Op shop (as you do when it's next door) and found some great things for $8! 5 old Dr Seuss books, 2 more milk jugs for the cafe and a handy craft storage cupboard. More creating to be done. Pack it in I say!

So that was my time traveled day in the world of The Make Cafe, goodnight

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Tea Party

Look how organised I was today! BTB day 2. I took a picture during the day and even started thinking about my blog post then!

We have a high tea booking for 20 next week, so today over lunch I truly  felt like I was playing tea party again as customers saw me mixing and matching and counting the sets!

I managed to find 5 more sets at Riccarton Market on Sunday, the kind lady who sold them to me (including my new favourite lemon one up front) has been at the market since it started. ♥ it, a clear market supporter!

Speaking of markets, watch this space, as since Bronwyn & Alsion have both taken some very much needed family time off this round for Encrafment, the crazy me has decided to still run it on the Queen's Birthday weekend, 1st June - pop it in your diary!

Back to food, I am the lucky sampler of our new gourmet sausage rolls, we changed the recipe a bit and I have to say, with that homemade chutney and salad dressing like ya mum used to make, it was truly delicious! 

And what is this we see?? Another diy project is on the go! A vintage teal suitcase (brought in my our loving neighbours at the shop - who somehow have caught onto our love of vintage!) At this stage I am thinking of keeping the outside the gorgeous teal and then using that yummy typewriter fabric to reline it. Wish me luck!

BTW - the orange loaf tasted amazing on the inside but burnt and bitter on the outside - FAIL. But I am now going to try a baked cheesecake slice (after I've done the dishes that is! ) and the suitcase... mmm

Monday, 8 April 2013

A Whole Orange

With bloggers from all over the country ascending on Christchurch and The Make Cafe this weekend, I felt it only fitting to get back to blogging (BTB) and I will write a short post each day this week, giving you a bit of insight into the world of "The Make Cafe"

Today did not start off as planned, I was meant to be in the shop but ended up at home with a bug. Fantastic staff meant that I did not have to drag myself into work and infect everyone! But it does mean a down day which is not great in the world of busyness!

Tonight I am on the mend so decided to have a go at a Whole Orange Cake. Well this involved boiling a Whole Orange in a pot for a Whole hour. Now sitting down with a cuppa and a cinnamon donut while we wait for the cake to bake - bliss!

I followed a recipe from one of my favourite BBC Good Food books, don't know about you but I trust certain recipe books more than others and this is one of them!

I have had a few conversations this week about copying things, somehow it seems to have come up at least 3 times over the last few days, so I though I would share my thoughts

Three Things:
1) Perspective  think about how many people live in this world and if you think that you are the only one person who thought of that idea, then go with it, stand your ground, however I think you may be surprised how similar we all are.
2) Creativity inspires creativity - this is kind of my motto, I use it in many things, and copying is one of them, sometimes, all we need is a bit of inspiration, (you can cleary see how Pinterest was started!)  If you are a no-brainer-copying-type of person this just won't work for you and you won't be able to think beyond what someone else has created. If you have creative spirit within you, you will find your own unique touch.
3) If you are the one being copied, don't waste your time grumbling about it, you are clearly a trend setter, so keep moving forwards and leave the others behind, focus your enegry on creating your next masterpiece!

I view it a bit like recipes, like this Whole Orange Cake, I have already decided to put it in a loaf tin to see what occurs - lets hope magic!  Once I  decided on the loaf tin, I popped onto pinterest and typed in Orange Cake, and up came a load of images, I decided white icing with grated orange rind on top is what I like.
Point: - This recipe is basically a sponge with ground almond and a whole orange added, will I stick to the recipe ? probably not (most recipes have way too much sugar anyhow), was the Good Food magazine the first to think of an Orange Cake or a Sponge - well I'll leave that up to you.

The orange loaf is now looking rather dark on top, not sure the loaf tin was a great idea! But I will continue. Making all our food from yummy home made recipes is quite a challenge but one I totally enjoy, especially when you get the great comments back from customers and I get to do lots of experimenting and sampling!

If you have a well loved recipe do let us know, we would love to try it out in store.

So BTB here we come and lets see what tomorrow brings!

Monday, 1 April 2013

Workshops in April

We hope you've all been eagerly awaiting the release of our workshop dates for April! It's going to be a great month here at The Make Cafe, with some popular classes returning for another term and a few new additions to the roster too!

If you have questions about any of our workshops, please feel free to email us on info@themakecafe.co.nz or call us in store to speak with one of our crafty ladies on 03 348 6187.

Learn to Sew    Wednesday 3rd April    7.30 – 9.30pm    $35

In this complete beginner's workshop, you will get plenty of one-to-one tuition to help you learn how to use a sewing machine to make a basic cushion cover. Maximum of four students.

Learn to Crochet    Sunday 7th April    1.30pm – 4.00pm    $45

Get Hooked! It's time to learn how to crochet, in this 2.5 hour workshop you will lean how to crochet a beanie (adult or child size). All materials included and take home your first crochet hook to keep creating!
Cover a Fabric Lampshade    Monday 8th April    7.30 – 9.30pm    $45

Learn how to cover a bedside lamp with beautiful fabric! Choose from our huge range of designer fabrics; there's something to suit everything setting.

Cake decorating – Ruffles     Wednesday 10th April    7 – 9.30pm    $45

Over the course of 2.5 hours, you will learn several culinary craft techniques, including how to create a ruffled effect with butter cream and how to make a fondant flower.

Bezel Necklace and Earrings    Monday 15th April    7.30 – 9.30pm    $45

Make your own necklace and pair of earrings whilst learning the techniques behind making resin jewellery. A very addictive hobby!

Learn to Sew    Tuesday 16th April     7.30 – 9.30pm    $35

In this complete beginner's workshop, you will get plenty of one-to-one tuition to help you learn how to use a sewing machine to make a basic cushion cover. Maximum of four students.

Cake decorating – Vintage Cupcakes    Wednesday 17th April    7 – 9.30pm    $45

Decorate six cupcakes using a range of culinary craft techniques, including icing, embossing and creating edible flowers.

Ottoman Class     Thursday 18th April     6 – 9pm     $75

An all inclusive workshop in which you will create a comfy fabric pouf to put your feet up on!

Fabric Decoupaged Furniture     Saturday 20th April    9am – 5pm     $75

In this full day's workshop, you will learn how to cover a piece of your own furniture in stunning fabrics. A perfect craft for fabric addicts who don't sew!

Beginner's Knitting    Sunday 21st April    12 - 3pm    $45

In this three hour workshop, you will learn how to cast on, knit, purl and cast off in order to create a lovely warm pair of fingerless mittens. All materials included and take home your first pair of knitting needles!

Charm Bracelet    Monday 22nd April     7.30 – 9.30pm   $45

Use pretty charms to create a bracelet that is full of your personality! 

Sew a Heart Quilt Block    Tuesday 30th April     7.30 – 9.30pm     $35

Learn to foundation paper piece. This is technique by which fabric is sewn to paper to make a quilt block.

And we're sure you've all been waiting to hear what children's workshops we will be running over the school holidays? Well, we've got some exciting news! We will be running a series of 10 sessions of crafty goodness for your little ones between 22nd April - 3rd May!

Follow the link to see the full range and information: http://sewpretty.co.nz/workshops/kids_workshops