Author Archives: sophie

A year (or two) in craft

It’s been over a year since we last posted on this site, as much of our energy is now going into our farm project – see for more on that. We also have a busy nearly 2 year old son so much of our creativity is now funnelled into finger painting, play dough sculpture, cubby making, and cardboard kitchen construction!

However my fingers have not been idle on the sewing front, here’s a few projects I’ve made over the last little while:


Embroidery of a Stubble Quail (a bird we just discovered lives on our farm!) for Joel’s birthday


A pig and a goat knitted for Asher


A wedding “coat-of-arms” for friends Renee and Ben, featuring their daughter, dog, and other family interests


A “message in a bottle”, left on a seat in the neighbourhood


A wedding embroidery for sister and brother-in-law Abi and Shane, the house image is a replica of the one they share together (this embroidery inspired by Stitched Gifts by Jessica Marquez)


I ran a workshop as part of Adult Learners Week on “Repurposed planter pots” – the community brought in various secondhand vessels to become pot plants which they took home or gave as Christmas gifts


Little shoes made for Arlo and Asher


Knitted booties made for Arlo – an antique pattern that I’m never making again!


A bath mat made from a recycled towel

I’ve also been working on and off on a rag rug, I’m at the stage of stitching together the plaited part into a big coil, but just can’t summon the motivation to finish that job!



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Baby Anticipation

Some friends of ours recently had a baby – Mathilde. In the lead-up, we organised a Baby Anticipation Celebration as we wanted both men and women to be able to share in the culture of looking forward to bringing a child into the world. Though don’t worry, we did still organise some traditional baby shower games such as “Guess the flavour of the baby food!” (as well as some other baby-themed games of our own creation).

Our parent-to-be friends bought a chest freezer to be able to store large amounts of cooked food prior to the baby’s birth. So as a gift idea, we asked guests to the Baby event to bring along a frozen meal to help tide the parents through the crazy months ahead. After all, every parent needs food!

At the event, we set up a craft station where guests could sit and make various kinds of origami animals and nice things out of nice paper (we had books showing how). We also asked people to write messages inside the origami, wishing the baby well. This origami was then constructed into a mobile and given to the parents later which they then strung up above the baby’s bed. Years down the track with the child they will be able to open up all the shapes and read the messages together!

The completed baby mobile

As a gift for the baby, I made a knitted tortoise (my first attempt at stuffed toys!). It seemed a good way of using up lots of small amounts of leftover wool. I found the instructions in a book called “Knitted toys: 25 fresh and fabulous designs” by Zoe Mellor. I did sew on buttons for eyes, then realised buttons are a choking hazard, so I will add felt eyes instead. I really like the idea of making a series of Depression-era toys – toys that don’t require you to go out and buy any items whatsoever, you just use up things you already have – bits of string, cardboard boxes, wood scraps, buttons, fabric or thread. Wool could even be ripped back from an old jumper or something. Joel has a great old black and white family photo of his Dad and uncle as small boys, playing nude in a tiny pool of mud in their backyard with a boat made of wood shards and a leaf sail. Awesome!

The completed knitted tortoise

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50th Birthday Quilt

Hooray, I just finished my second quilt! This time I used a very simple pattern called “Avalon” from a great book called Material Obsession by Kathy Doughty and Sarah Fielke. Big blocks of nice fabrics whipped into a windowpane-like design. Timing didn’t allow for hand quilting to finish off, so it was machine-quilted by a little home quilting business high up on a hill, then bound off by my hand.

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Bulletin of events past

Sophie here, I’ve suddenly realised that the year is almost past and I was involved in some noteworthy Transition-inspired events this year that the world ought to know about, but hasn’t yet had the opportunity! Here are some of the things I’ve been up to in the last 6 months:

Recycled craft night: turning old stuff into beautiful new stuff!

In September, I organised this event at the Box Factory Community Centre as part of Adult Learner’s Week. There were five different workshops the punters could get involved in, and a Forgotten Project Graveyard Mega Swap where people could pass on their old projects to new caring owners. The workshops were hour-long and most had around 15 participants.

Joanne and I led a workshop making vintage grocery bags, encouraging people to bring along their old sheets and pillowcases and fabric scraps and turn them into reusable grocery bags. We used the morsbags template for the bags as it is so simple with such clear instructions (plus we were inspired by their concept of ‘sociable guerrilla bagging’ whereby they whip up masses of bags and hand them out for free at supermarkets in Britain!).

Making vintage grocery bags at the Recycled Craft Night

Success! Another bag well-made

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A wheat-bag friend

I made this wheat-bag friend one crafternoon, roughly using Claire Robertson's design in "Meet Me At Mike's" excellent crafty book. They're super easy to make! But look out, it's easy to become attached to their unique personalities, and then it's hard to part with them if they're a gift for someone!
I made this wheat-bag friend one crafternoon, roughly using Claire Robertson’s design in “Meet Me At Mike’s” excellent crafty book. They’re super easy to make! But look out, it’s easy to become attached to their unique personalities, and then it’s hard to part with them if they’re a gift for someone!

– Soph

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How to make a rocket stove!

A rocket stove is basically a very efficient transportable stove that runs on small twigs. It’s perfect to take camping, to boil a cup of tea while you’re down the back of the yard gardening, or for when we run out of fossil fuels. All you need to make it are tin cans which would otherwise go to waste, and a few other common household bits and pieces.

This snazzy design was dreamed up by Aprovecho, a US appropriate technology organisation ( It was taught to Joel and I in a workshop at the Village Building Convergence 08 in Portland, USA, and we have since gone on to run several stove making workshops at home in Adelaide, Australia.

lighting the stove at the Academy of DIY workshop

stove-making workshop at the Academy of DIY

group stove-making workshop, Academy of DIY

To make this stove, you will need about 1.5 hours and the following items:

1 x 2950g (1 gallon) can – with the base still attached, and the lid kept
4 x 400g cans
Can opener
Pair of tin/aviation snips
Insulating material (ie perlite, sawdust, wood ash, dry soil, aluminium foil, clay/straw mix etc)

the equipment

For safety’s sake, you may also want some leather gloves, or alternatively, just use band aids!

Band-aid help

1. Remove the top and bottom from 2 of the small cans. Use the texta to trace the circumference of a small can about 1cm from the bottom of the big can. Cut out this circle with the tin snips, it can be tricky to get started, you’ll need to punch the initial hole with a few strong jabs with the end of the tin snips. Check that the hole is big enough to fit the small can!

2. Trace the same diameter circle again on the small can that still has its base intact – trace as close to the bottom as possible and cut. Then insert the can, will take a bit of playing around to get it to fit snugly.

3. When the cans are fitted in the elbow, trace the excess metal that juts into the airway into strips, then cut these strips and fold them up as tabs so that the airway is as open as possible.

4. Fit the third can on the top, some cans work better than others for this, so you may need to play around cutting inserts to either fit it inside or on the outside of the bottom can.

first stages

5. Connect the whole airway in and around the large can. Next, trace around the top of the protruding top can and cut it off to just above the top of the big can.

6. Cut V-cuts (about 2-3cm depth) around the top of the large can, making around 16 tabs in total. These are what the saucepan/kettle will end up sitting on!

7. Trace another circle in the centre of the lid of the big can, and cut out this hole too.

8. With small cans in place, fill the large can with your chosen insulation material, make sure you pack this down well.

second stages

9. Cut small tabs around the top of the chimney at frequent intervals.

10. Fold down a third of the tabs on the large can, place the large lid on top, fold down another third of the tabs on the large can on top of the lid, and the rest of the tabs on the outside you leave up for the pot to sit on. Then fold all the small tabs on the central can down over the lid to lock it in place.

final stages

11. Halve the last can, flatten it out and cut into a square shape. Cut slits in the front piece of the chimney, and insert the flat can. Your twigs/sticks will sit on this flat piece.

12. You are ready to light your stove! Load newspaper and small twigs in the top, once you have a good flame, feed in bigger sticks from the front. Initially there will be smoke, but this should die down within a few minutes and then you’ll have a super warm little place to cook yer stuff.

Bring on the future!

Bring on the future!

Blog entry by Sophie.

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Blessings for Freya


Freya in her special dress, made by her Great Nan

Freya in her special dress, made by her Great Nan

April’s new moon marked the fifth lunar cycle since Freya’s birth. We chose this day to hold a special ceremony for blessings and to bury her placenta (which was being stored in the freezer).  Prior to the ceremony we chose a lilly pilly tree to be planted above the placenta. This marked the perfect middle ground between Shani’s desire for a fruit tree, and Pete’s desire for a native! 



The rain had been coming down for two days straight, a reminder of the rain that had fallen just after her birth. For this reason, we assembled in the Little House Zaguan and prepared ourselves for the ceremony. We had asked family and friends to join us and bring with them a special bead and blessing for Freya.  We began by acknowledging the Kaurna ancestors whose land we live on, grounding and casting a circle. Once this space had been created, we called in the directions and blessed Freya with the powers of Earth, Water, Wind, Fire and Spirit. For the purpose of this ceremony, we adapted the directions to be place specific. We called in Earth from the East, where the Plains and the Adelaide Hills lie; Water from the South, the direction of our oceans; Air from the West, from where our weather and cool changes arrive; and Fire from the North, direction of the midday sun. 

The elements; Earth, Water, Wind, Fire and Spirit. Alongside the blessed beads.

The elements; Earth, Water, Wind, Fire and Spirit. Alongside the blessed beads.

We then called into the circle, ancestors passed and all living creates with whom we share common origins (i.e. everything). Freya’s Goddess parents, Joel & Sophie then called in the God & Goddess and read a blessing for Freya. Next, Shani returned the placenta to the Earth, to nourish and sustain the lilly pilly, which Pete then planted. 

Freya's Lilly Pilly, with placenta underneath

Freya's Lilly Pilly, with placenta underneath

Then came the most tear jerking part of the whole ritual – the blessing of the beads. Sophie and Joel called forth each person to first charge their bead with love, protection and their own individual blessing. Working in a clockwise direction, everyone (either aloud or silently) gave their blessing and placed their bead in a circle around the lily pily. There were wishes for ‘love of family’ & ‘community’, ‘freedom of speech’ and the ‘strength’ for Freya to be ‘true to herself’. We then made an offering to the Earth and closed the circle, sending away all the spirits and helpers who had come to take part in the ceremony. Pete & Shani then offered bread to Joel & Sophie to thank them for being Freya’s Goddess parents. Then we feasted!!

Freya with her blessed necklace

Freya with her blessed necklace

Following the ceremony, Shani made a beautiful necklace for Freya, with the beads offered to her during the blessing. The necklace will hang above her bed, until she is old enough to wear it and will provide her all the love and blessings given on this day.

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