Sunday, July 31, 2011

Kids' Crafternoon with Kathreen of WhipUp and a book giveaway!

Thanks, everybody. Comments are now closed. 

It was my pleasure to do a quick e-mail interview recently with Kathreen Ricketson (shown here in the garden with kids, Orlando, 9, Otilija, 11 and {the late great} Milo the cat). Kathreen is the craft maven behind, author of WhipUp Mini Quilts, and recently editor of the new Kids' Crafternoon book series published by Australian publisher Hardie Grant:

Larissa (LH): Kathreen, I was so delighted to be included in the contributors for the Kids' Crafternoon book series, and it was nothing but fun coming up with the owl card design. Can you tell me a bit about how the idea for the Kids' Crafternoon series came about?

Kathreen (KR): The concept for the book is all Hardie Grant's - I think they saw a gap in the market - and I am glad they did! The chose me to curate/edit the books for a few reasons - my experience with kids and craft, and because they loved my Mini Quilts book, and they love too.

(LH) They made a great choice! What age range would you say is ideal for the books?

(KR) It is most suitable for 7-12 year olds, however I think slightly younger children would love to do many of these projects with their parents and old teens/adults will have a lot of fun with many of these projects too!

(LH) I see quite a few I'd like to do myself. My kids may have a problem getting some time with the books. Did you have some creative influences when you were growing up?

(KR) My Nanna was/is my creative hero. She made all her own clothes (even underwear, suits and gowns), could knit, crochet and sew like a demon, and was a marvelous cook too.

(LH) Can you share a memory of a craft you did as a kid?

(KR) I made a little red and blue squares patchwork cushion when I was about 7 or 8, and my kids like to use it as a comfort pillow when reading. I also used to sew little Kaftan dresses for my dolls.

(LH) That's so cool your kids are now using your handmade pillow! What does the future hold for you and your blog? Can you reveal any future projects?

(KR) Mmm...I am hoping to travel soon with my kids, and expand my Action Packs and maybe even hire an editor for eventually.

(LH) Finally and perhaps most importantly, what are your feelings about coffee?

(KR) mmm Coffee. I love a really good brewed cup of coffee. My hubby used to make me my morning espresso - but he has recently given up drinking it and so now I only have an occasional cafe made coffee - a flat white or double shot latte depending on the need - I also love a shot of espresso with cream - so luxurious. I love my local coffee roast house - Wagonga Coffee.

I just knew you were a kindred coffee spirit. Thanks for the interview, Kathreen! It was great to work with you on the project for the book.

Now let's get better acquainted with the books. Let me tell you I was pret-ty excited to get my copies! I spent a long time looking through them and was just thrilled to my toes. They are so well done and I love the covered spiral binding. The books lay perfectly flat when open, great for quick reference while you are working.

The clever hand-drawn illustrations alongside the instructions give the book an fun, informal vibe and the beautifully lighted and staged photos are just icing on the cake. Here are some images from Sewing:

From top to bottom left to right: pencil pouch by Laura Lynn Wilson, pencil pouch diagram by Rob Shugg, hanging art pouch by Shannon Dréval, lavender birds by Joanna Stott, softie badges by Lisa Tilse, iPod creature cozies by Holly Keller.

The books are packed with a wide range of crafts of varying complexity, enticing the kids to turn off the TV and start creating. The crafts are designed to appeal to both boys and girls, with no project taking longer than an afternoon to complete. Sweet. Here are some images from Papercraft:

From top to bottom left to right: owl cards by Larissa Holland, kirigami snowflake and star by Elod Beregszaszi, paper house by Cate Holst, rolled flowers by Olivia Kanaley, shadow boxes by Lisa Tilse, paper beads by Kathreen Ricketson.

My girls were a bit awed when they saw my owl cards actually in and on the book. "Momma. Those are YOUR owls. Like on real book paper. That's so cool." I'm pretty sure it raised my craft cred a few levels with them.

Would you like to win a free copy of Kids' Crafternoon Papercraft, courtesy of Hardie Grant? Yes, I thought so! Leave me a comment below and you'll be entered in the giveaway. And more entertaining for me by far if you also share a childhood crafting memory. I'll choose a winner Wed, Aug 3rd.

If you miss out on the giveaway, you can still purchase the books via Booktopia, which ships internationally. There are also some sellers available via Amazon.

For more sneak peeks, giveaways, and reviews, you can find the full schedule of blog stops for the Kids' Crafternoon tour on WhipUp.

Friday, July 29, 2011

big news! cottage industry update

I receive many, many requests to make items from my patterns to sell (thanks so much for your enthusiasm!). After MUCH research, pondering and mental wrestling I've decided on a new policy that I'm certain will make enterprising home sewers out there very happy, and at the same time not generate a huge logistical headache for me.

If you are a home sewer and have a cottage industry personally making things with your own little hands and selling them to your friends, in a craft booth or personal online shop (read: no mass production), you can purchase my patterns for that purpose, with my blessing. Go forth and make it a success! Make as many as you are personally capable of. Sew for your friends. Sew for your shop. Sew for craft fairs and bazaars. Sew up a storm! Of course there are terms. But not that many:
  • A reminder that the copyright on my patterns still stands: That is, you may not copy and resell, distribute or publish (online or otherwise) any portion of any of my patterns without prior permission from me. Period.
  • Each sewer must purchase a pattern for themselves. If you have a friend who is interested in partnering up with you, or you are hosting a craft party, please refer each of them to my blog or shop to purchase their own pattern. Thank you! (Exceptions may be made in the case of charitable sewing, just be sure to check with me first!)
  • Production is limited. To honor the 'no mass production' spirit, please limit your listings (or display in your booth) no more than ten MmmCrafts items at a time. This means a total of ten of any pattern combination, for instance 6 Mikey Monkeys + 4 Baby Binky Bunnies = limit of ten. 
  • Include credit where it's due. Please list a credit for the pattern on each listing and also on each hang tag for the item: Pattern by Larissa Holland,
  • Minor derivatives are ok, but even if you make changes in the way a pattern is made, please still give a credit to me for the pattern, along with a note that it is a variation.
  • Please note that it is really really really NOT OK to use any of my photos, images, logos, badges, or graphics to promote your site or booth on signs, flyers, tags, headers, etc... Don't do it! Those images are copyrighted.
You might be saying to yourself:

"Hey, I don't want to sell it, man, I just want to make it!" Of course, if you are interested in making stuff and not selling it, all my patterns are still unlimited for personal uses like gifts and charity drives. Just like always!

"I already bought the pattern a while ago. Can I still sell stuff made from it?" Yep, according to the terms above, and as long as I have a record of your purchasing the pattern via Etsy, you are good.

"Is there a way I can let MmmCrafts fans know about my shop?" Judging from the number of requests I get, there are a lot of readers out there who don't have the time or inclination to sew for themselves and they would appreciate knowing where to find your MmmCrafts handmade items. Let's get you two together! You can purchase either a sidebar ad or a more economical link on a Mmmakers page that is listed on the nav bar so folks will know where to find you and buy your MmmCrafts stuff. More information on that is here.

"What about the free patterns like Molly Monkey and the tooth pillow?" You can make and sell from those patterns also under the conditions above, although I'd greatly appreciate a donation if you do. I have plans to offer a much improved tooth pillow pattern for purchase in my shop that will have no glue required and some great accessories. That will come eventually.

Corresponding to the change in policy I've made a small increase in the cost of the patterns in the shop. I know you understand about that, since that's the only fair way I can think of to share in some of your selling success and compensate myself for the long hours without making it a huge pain in the tuckus. Thanks so much for your support!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

corners of my house: beanie baby tower

Recently checked this small project off. I bought this cool hanging storage thingie at IKEA a (long) while ago and just now got around to putting it up. It was too intimidating for me to hang it myself since it required 1) finding a stud and 2) making a hole in the ceiling, so I put it on the laundry room shelf for later and forgot about it for um, two years. 

My husband just put it in for me and it is perfect for the girls army of beanie babies. It is meant to hold stuffed animals but it was NOT designed for heavy beanie animals though, because it is really straining against the velcro loop that holds it on the chain and it has fallen off a couple of times. But it is so cute and handy for storage that I'm willing to let it suffer. I have some of the weight supported by letting it rest on the floor instead of swinging free, but I need to take it down and reinforce it somehow. Later.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

music we like. thanks, robyn.

Try it. Sing the first few bars of Beethoven's 5th Symphony with these words:

Beethoven's very biiiiiiig
Beethoven's wig is long and curly and it's white!
Beethoven takes his wig off when he sleeps at night!
Because it's big
It's very big
It's really biiiiig!

See? Funny. And you'll never forget who wrote that symphony.

I owe a good bit of our girls' musical CD collection to my BFF. She's gifted us with so many great musical finds for the kids, and they invariably love them, like Elizabeth Mitchell and Dan Zanes. Richard Perlmutter's Beethoven's Wig series is just the latest. There are several CDs in the series. We have the first two.

Check it out if you have kids and especially if you home school. Your little dears will secretly learn useful facts about classical music history without ever knowing it. He takes well-known piano and symphony pieces and sets them to completely silly but sneakily educational lyrics. The songs are really funny for adults too, so you won't want to stab your ears when you are listening to it in the van for the tenth time. We all sing along. I'm still trying to keep up with Can You Can Can?, especially with the exaggerated french accents thrown in. You must just go to the website and listen to sample songs, and you'll see what I mean.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

you'll be missed, Marina!

An across-the-body tote bag for a young Miss who is moving away to North Carolina. Made from dark olive and bright turquoise canvas, wool felt, and grosgrain ribbon. The leaf motif repeats on the other side.

The bag is based on the messenger bag dimensions, but it has grosgrain ribbon for the strap and a velcro closure. 

And an owl card tucked inside.

Monday, July 18, 2011

micah's tooth marshal

This latest Tooth Marshal was made for a very special baby boy Micah and given at the shower this past weekend. I had fun doing him up in chaps and a mustache this time. I made some changes to the way I sew the pocket too, so that it is not glued at all but is a floating pocket that's sewn all the way around. I like that better. I also made the pocket a bit bigger. Wow, the light was really dismal the day I took these! It's hard to see the colors clearly, but his gun belt and mustache are brown. It's fun to think of future big boy Micah tucking his little teeth in the pocket.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Gramma Wolfie two-faced doll pattern available in the shop!

Hi! This Red Riding Hood inspired pattern is finally finished and available in the shop. It was a somewhat painful process to get to the final design, but you can rest assured this pattern has been thoroughly tested and edited! It is in PDF format and includes detailed step-by-step instructions, lots of diagrams, and color photos. This pattern includes a 1/2 inch seam allowance, which is a bit bigger this time and easier to work with.

There's an option to make the bonnet out of either eyelet trim or wide grosgrain ribbon. I've included a Resources section that lists specific colors and where to buy in the end of the pattern.


I'd say this is an advanced beginner/intermediate level pattern because of the number of steps, but it uses only basic machine and hand sewing methods. It is written for folks who are familiar with sewing terms. You can read more details in the shop if you are interested.

Here are more sample photos:

The Little Red pattern is coming next. Stay tuned for updates!

Monday, July 11, 2011

dolls in the shop

I have listed five (well, now four, sorry, the one on the far left is sold) Gramma Wolfie prototype dolls in the shop. They are all not quite the same doll as will be in the final pattern, but rest assured, they were made with painstaking care. They need loving homes and lots of small, tasty children to play with.

Friday, July 8, 2011

we like drawing books

We sure like drawing books around here. The girls spend a lot of time lately with a basket of crayons, cup of markers and a step-by-step drawing book. They are like me that way, I guess. I always loved to draw those 'Can You Draw Bobo' type of ads. You know the ones, they were placed in magazines for years by the Art Instruction Institute, (no tracing permitted), with the gracious offer to look it over (for Free!) and tell you if you had what it takes to be an artist? I even sent one in for evaluation at some point when I was an adolescent. I slaved over it and it was almost an exact replica. I was so proud. I just knew they'd fall at my feet. So I was a bit crestfallen to receive their tersely worded reply. Something along the lines of 'You should be more original'.

The girls are dog crazy so they especially enjoy this book lately, 1-2-3 Draw Dogs. It has an easy to understand progression and the finished drawings have a pleasing amount of realism for the girls.



There are other titles if dogs are not your thing. Some samples from my dog artistes:

I fell in love with Ed Emberley's books when we saw them at the library recently. Apparently he is a drawing book legend and has tons of books out that I have totally missed it until now. We really love his humorous cartoon style, the imaginative variety of subjects, and the range of difficulty in the books from blobs with eyes to a line-drawing opus that would be a challenge for even me:

It's really clever the way the doodles are built from steps that are never any more difficult than simple lines or curves. It's genius. But a complex drawing has a lot of steps.


A sample piratey pirate from Thing 2:

And I couldn't resist drawing some too. It's really addictive:

For younger kids, I highly recommend these Usborne books, I Can Draw Animals and I Can Draw People. We have gotten so much use from them over the years, and the girls still go grab them quite a bit. The skill level required is minimal and the results are always so cute.


I love how each simple drawing is built with crayon first and then layered with marker colors so that the crayon acts as a color resist. It gives some really striking results for such simple drawings.

Just thought I'd pass along some that we've enjoyed having. I don't believe, as some do, that step-by-step drawing books kill true creativity. I think they can be used to get your kids started if they are intimidated by a blank piece of paper, or need a jumping off point for their ideas. I think it also builds skills that they will use to come up with their own original compositions once they get their drawing legs under them.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Kathreen's Crafternoon giveaway

Quick FYI: Trip on over to Whip Up and enter the giveaway if you are interested in winning a copy of both Kids' Crafternoon books!

I want to thank you guys for the prodigious list of potential summer reads I have in my power now. I will have it with me on my next trip to the library. Now I just hope they have at least some of your titles on the shelves. Also thanks so much to those who offered must-see sights and to-dos for London. Those are going on the list too. I cannot. Tell you. How excited I am about that trip. But I will probably try to anyway as the time draws near.

Friday, July 1, 2011


  • Happy 235th birthday, land that I love. "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." Preach on, Thomas. Here's a link to an earlier Independence Day post. If you are a US citizen and you've never read the Declaration, why, this is a great time to fix that. 
  • Speaking of the British Empire (no hard feelings), what would you do if you were a clueless colonist in London for five days this coming September? I need some tips.
  • My swoopy plate wall was mentioned on Apartment Therapy (brief flourish of celestial harp music). Wow. Love that site. Thanks, Abby, for the tipoff.
  • I think I may have a little problem with Netflix streaming. I'm kind of obsessed with it. I've completely lost interest in 'real' TV. I've watched all four seasons of Battlestar Galactica in an embarrassingly short amount of time. Now I'm on MI-5. All this good TV that I didn't know existed. Evil, evil Netflix.
  • I've never had such a terrible dry spell at the library. Every likely book I check out is so lame. I've taken to just grabbing books off the shelf at random and crossing my fingers. You guys reading anything good?
  • On the homestretch with the Gramma Wolfie doll. Yeah, yeah, you've heard that one before. I have made several prototypes that will be going in the shop soon, because I don't really need six Gramma Wolfie dolls in my studio.
  • My hair is getting really long. I'm at that critical juncture where I'm thinking, 'is this too long for a 40ish woman to get away with?' What is the standard with that? Is there a standard? I could always just keep it up in a granny twist. Which I do 90% of the time anyway. I have a permanent sore spot on the top of my head from the clips.
  • Stay tuned toward the end of this month for a Kids' Crafternoon blog tour and giveaway!