New year, new life… – again

As much as I swore to myself to try and keep blogging consistently, the end of the year and the beginning January ended up being pretty silent…again. Packing during Christmas and moving at the beginning of the year seems to be a recurring theme in my life, well this was the second time in a row. If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you might know that I moved to New Zealand from the north-western corner of Spain at the beginning of last year. Back then we settled in Chan’s lovely house, about 20 mins away from Wellington city centre by car.

However, after a few months of struggling with commute and trying to make a truly HUGE space feel like home, we decided that life in the suburbs was definitely not for us.  Although we didn’t move continents this time, in a way, this was still definitely the biggest move I’d ever done. See, in my adult life I’ve been careful not to accumulate too many belongings, mainly because I never really lived anywhere for more than a couple of years. Chan, however, is the opposite.  So, it’s been a stressful couple of weeks over the “holidays”, but now it’s mostly done. We still have to find the right place for a few things and get rid of other stuff, but I’m happy to report we now have a place we feel at home at. And I must say, it’s a pretty good start for the year! Happy 2017! 🙂

But let’s get to business, plans and goals for the New Year:

  • Be organized: I always feel like I want to do so much more than I actually do, and that I also really should be able to, if only I managed to be a bit more organized with my time. Of course, I probably also want to do way too much. Running, cycling, knitting, breading, reading, blogging… these are all pretty time consuming hobbies after all. In any case, the challange is on, I want to do more of all of these and get better at them this year.
  • Finish what I’ve started – knitting: As usual, I have quite a few projects going on, some of them nearing completion. This might mean a series FOs coming up in the first half of the year, hopefully! Bring it on Waterlily, Improvised sweater and Little Wave Cardigan!

Waterlily tee in progress

  • Patterns: Although I really, really, really want to venture more into trying my hands at knitwear design, somehow I always shy away. I guess all too often I just want to do some mindless knitting – i.e. following a pattern someone else already made up – instead of having to worry about doing maths for stitch counts myself. This year I finally published the RUN beanie pattern, and, who thought, some knitters actually liked it. I was so very happy to see this beanie made by a Portuguese knitter!

RUN beanie

  • Jewellery: Because I cannot just do one thing, I ended up taking up beading again last year. Not only that, I eventually made the leap of opening my Etsy shop – árbore·do·fogo. I’m yet to find out where this project would take me, but for now I’ve enjoyed learning about all kinds of things related to starting an online business. Not to mention the thrill of creating beautiful jewellery pieces! I will really need to put my organizational skills to work to create at least a few new designs, maintain the website and social media accounts. But that’s where the fun is, right?

Double Triangle earrings – arboredofogo

  • Learn something new: I am definitely one of those people who’d prefer that their days last 48 hours. There are so many things I would like to try/learn, especially when it comes to making… This year I would really like to get better at photography – maybe do a course? – and try dyeing and/or spinning.

DIY Gift Box from Recycled Cardboard

I’ve always had a love-hate relationship with wrapping and boxes. On the one hand, it is in a way what turns something into a gift. You wrap something in nice colourful paper, tie a ribbon on it, and voilà, it’s a gift! On the other hand, wrapping – no matter how nice – will most likely end up in the rubbish soon after a gift is received. I hate to think of all the surplus material that necessarily goes to waste. This is the kind of excuse I’d use to avoid wrapping Christmas presents for years…

But lately, as a “blooming” handmade business owner/starter, I had to reconsider my position. These days packaging is an important part of the product. A nice box makes you think that its content is bound to be special, and sparks the urge of wanting to own it.

While I’m still in the phase of experimenting with most aspects of my handmade brand Árbore·do·fogoI really wanted to create that ribbony special thing for the Christmas season. That is how the current Gift Boxes made of recycled cardboard – originally containing bottles of NZ craft beer – were born. And, I must say, I’m quite satisfied with myself here! They are just what I needed to add that authentic kiwi touch as well as the gift glamour to my jewellery.

With that said, I present you with the recipe of the DIY Gift Boxes.


What you need:

  1. Cardboard (a sheet of at least 12 cm*16.5 cm)
  2. Scissors and/or utility knife/box cutter
  3. Pencil
  4. Copy paper
  5. Ruler
  6. Glue
  7. Ribbon – optional

What you have to do:

  1. Download and print the cutout blueprint of the box on copy paper. If all is fine, the square part should be 5.5 cm*5.5 cm, which will make the size of box on the photos. If it doesn’t happen, try playing around with your printer settings, or just make a box in a different size.
  2. Cut out the blueprint following the outer edges.
  3. Trace the cutout on the cardboard. Try align the edges to the sides to save yourself some work.
  4. Now cut the cardboard. I find it is faster – but more painful for the hands – to do this with scissors. The smaller parts may require the use of the box cutter. I try to cut just on the inside edge of the lines that I drew. If using the cutter, a ruler will help you cut in a straight line. Also, don’t forget to place a cutting mat or a cutting board underneath (your table won’t be happy otherwise!).
  5. Place the cardboard box cutout on the cutting mat with what is going to be the INSIDE of the box facing you. Now trace the inner edges – i.e. where the box will be folded – using the cutter. Be careful to use only a light touch, you only want to cut through the surface layer of the cardboard. Alternatively, you can use a ball point pen, or another pointy/sharp object to do this. Again, use a ruler to help you mark straight lines.
  6. Fold the box at the inner edged and see how it looks.
  7. Glue the small flaps to the inside of the box. Note: I found standard glue sticks quite useless for this task, and ended up getting a handy craft glue (see photos).
  8. Place your gift inside, and tie a ribbon around to box. Et Voilà, you have a gift!


6 Knitted Christmas Decoration Ideas

I cannot believe that we are already in December – especially because when I look out the window all I see is brilliant sunshine, green trees and birds happily picking around in our garden. Clearly I’m not the only one having trouble tuning in to things that are topically considered Christmassy in other parts, though. Air New Zealand has just released their version of a Southern Hemisphere Christmas song, Summer Wonderland, with a cool video starring none other than Ronan Keating and the young kiwi actor Julian Dennison. There you have it dear Northern Hemisphere readers, Christmas is not all snow balls and sleigh bells!

With that said, I still couldn’t stop myself from going through the Christmas-themed projects I’d favourited on Ravelry over the past years. Only to conclude that, yet another year, I’ll most likely not be knitting any Christmas decorations. I mean, who doesn’t dream of having all sorts of beautiful, although sometimes kitsch, handmade things in their home this time around? But, there is the downside being that most of this stuff actually takes a lot of time to make – hence requires… ehm… planning ahead.

Take for instance Christmas stockings. These would be the knitted Christmas item par excellence in my dictionary, but they are pretty time intensive colourwork projects. Of course, this doesn’t mean that there aren’t some relatively quick Christmassy options available for us with less foresight / enthusiasm / both.

Eventually, I ended up with two lists: 1. Kind of cool Christmas things I definitely won’t knit this year, or maybe never, 2. Christmas items I could potentially knit in the following few weeks, but probably won’t. The fact that I’m not (yet) possessed by the Christmas spirit should, of course, in no ways hold you back from making your pick and getting inspired by the projects in each list. That is the whole point!

Kinda cool, but definitely not this year – maybe never

1. Knitted christmas stockings

As I said above, these seem to me as the knitted Christmas item par excellence – well, after really kitsch Christmas sweaters, but I won’t even go there. Whether you opt for solely decorative stockings to be stuffed with presents or a more practical pair of wearable Christmas-themed socks, you are in for some serious stranded knitting. For me, the ultimate Christmas stockings would look like the ones proposed by Dorene Delaney Giordano. I mean, some traditional motives and your name on it, hanging above the fire place! How cool is that?! Never mind the fact that we haven’t got anything remotely resembling a fire place. It is still cool! A wearable alternative for practical minded knitters is this pair of socks by Drops design.

2. Mitten Garland Advent Calendar

One thing I particularly loved about Christmas as a kid were those advent calendars with a cardboard cover having a “window” for each day of December. Behind each window you would find a piece of chocolate. The chocolate was not the best quality, but the fun of finding the window with the right number – they were scattered around in no particular order – and seeing what shape the day’s chocolate would be were something to look forward to on each gloomy winter morning! I also always thought it would be kind of fun to have an advent calendar where the “gift” of each day was a real surprise, as opposed to yet another piece of chocolate. This is far from impossible to create, but I’ve always been too lazy to do it. So, imagine knitting 24 different tiny mittens to hold these gifts! I would have to start today to be ready for next Christmas! It is kind of cute though; just have a look at Kat Lewinski’s Mitten Garland Advent Calendar.

3. Christmas Mice

A Christmas round-up wouldn’t be complete without Alan Dart’s Dickensian Mice – the outdoors and indoors Christmas party edition. This must be the future old lady me speaking, but aren’t they adorable? If you are into mice, but low on time, the designer has a free pattern called Furry Fairies, which, as you might have guessed, are tiny mouse fairies to be used as Christmas ornaments.


“Quickies” that I could potentially knit, but probably won’t

All of the “quicker” projects I’ve found are of course Christmas ornaments. If you have some time on your hands, they seem like a good way to get rid of all those leftovers in your stash. Also, they can make cute and inexpensive gifts.

4. Stjärna

Stjärna by Karolina Eckerdal is by far the most appealing to me. I can see these cute stars made in some roustic natural colour wool as well as red / purple. Oh wait, I even have that in my stash! Maybe, maybe…

5. Balls Up !

There are a lot of Christmas ball patterns out there, the reason why Balls up! by General Hogbuffer caught my eyes is the Nordic-style motives on the newer in blue, white and red versions. I’m not sure what’s the point in knitting Christmas balls when you can buy nice sparkly and shiny ones, but again, they are handmade and CUTE!

6. Gingerbread Boy

Of course there is no Christmas without gingerbread! Be it star-shaped, house-shaped, man-shaped, gingerbread is a must! Gingerbread Boy by Sara Elizabeth Kellner is just what you need to produce a non-edible, hence permanent version.

P.S.: If interested, I have collected a few more ideas on my Christmas knitting + crochet Pinterest board.

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