madison flower crown

So much has been happening lately that I haven’t had a chance to really take a breath, let alone blog about anything. I debated trying to catch up on everything, and then decided that if I did that I’d never get around to posting anything, so it’s just going to be a miss-mash of stuff I think.

Tonight Madison headed off to her first “formal”. Not technically a formal really, but a formal night (where you have to dress up etc) for youth group. Maddy was sooo excited. I was not ready for the transformation from little girl to teenager that magically occured when she walked out of her bedroom, ready to go. Where the heck did my little girl go?

madison evening light

gorgeous black and white

Don’t worry. She did wear shoes. But they were high heels and I made her take flip-flops with her and had her kick them off for the photos. Ugh. Time! Why do you have to go by so fast?

trampoline

The little girls spend almost every evening on the trampoline, especially now that it’s starting to get a little cooler and more bearable weather-wise. One more day of Summer left…  bring on Autumn I say. Cannot wait.

sock yarn blanket

handknit sock yarn blanket

And… with cooler weather literally just around the corner, I finally joined the bandwagon and started a sock yarn blanket. This is kind of huge for me since I hate having projects languishing (and let’s face it, a blanket is a big project and will take forever), I hate having more than one project on the go, and I am not patient when it comes to finishing things. The upside? It means I will need to knit more socks to get more sock yarn scraps, and also buy more sock yarn. Total win. I thought I had way more sock yarn scraps than I actually do though, so I’ll be on the hunt for some soon (so hit me up with links if you know of any good mini skeins vendors!).

cheeky monkey

Random photo of my little monkey. Because she asked me to take one.

chooks in the evening light

chicken in the evening light

Figured it was time for a chook update too. I can’t even remember the last time I posted a photograph of them! Yes, they are all still here, however egg production has slowed down big time. We’ve had them for just about two years now. They aren’t laying as many eggs now, but we still get a few. I have read that you should add/replenish your flock every year or so, but I don’t want to end up with a dozen chickens…

zoe and hoggle the cat

My kindergarten kid. Zoe is absolutely flourishing since starting school. She has always been incredibly reserved and shy, but suddenly, boom! she’s this amazing little talkative social butterfly. I love how excited she is when she walks in the door of an afternoon, ready to tell me about her day.

Body combat instructor training

And finally, this happened. I passed my Les Mills body combat module training last weekend. This was one of the hardest, most thrilling, emotional, crazy intense and FUN things I have ever done. A couple of years ago I would have never, ever imagined (or even wanted) to do anything like this. I’m so proud of myself, not even ashamed to say that. I went into the weekend feeling super confident, walked out after the first day totally deflated and down, feeling like I was 100% going to fail (and spent the entire night feeling awful), and walked out on a ridiculous high at the end of the second day with my PASS! I almost fell over when I read that pass on the page. My hands were shaking as I held the paper and double and tripled checked to make sure my eyes weren’t deceiving me. Nearly a week later now and I’m still trying to catch up on sleep though…

So how about you guys… what’s happening in your world?

xox Amanda

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handknitting socks

Ahhhhh. Finally knitting something that isn’t a bunny. Or a bear. Or something for somebody else. See these? These are socks I started designing way back at the very beginning of November last year and had to put away while I was busy working on the mini patterns and so many custom orders. I’m still working on orders, but I just needed a break and to work on something just to break things up a bit. I don’t even remember finishing that first sock, but when I went to my project bag there it was, aong with all of my notes, crumpled up into a ball and with the second sock cast on with a few rows of ribbing.

kitten and handknit socks

I quickly got back into the rhythm of the pattern and managed to get a fair chunk of the second sock knit last night (while also re-watching Walking Dead episodes with my husband – eek, so excited for new eps!). I’m pretty confident I’ll have them finished before tomorrow.

lacey handknit socks

socks close up

The yarn is Madeline Tosh sock in a gorgeous silvery-greyish-blue colour.

handknit socks little labyrinth

Picking up this sock again has made me really wish for more time for personal knitting. Right now it’s almost impossible. There are orders (which I appreciate), and so much general busyness from day-to-day life of kids being back at school, and there is all of the hours I am putting into getting prepared for my upcoming Les Mills instructor training. To say our days are a bit of a busy blur right now is an understatement! But, spending last night knitting on these socks has reminded me how important it is to carve out a bit of time to knit just for me, for no reason other than I love love love to knit.

kitty paws on knitting

Sweet furry paws on my knitting. His colouring almost matches, don’t you think?

xox Amanda

 

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mini briar bunnies by little labyrinth

I feel like all I’ve been knitting lately is bunny after bunny after bunny! Not that I’m complaining… I love the thought of so many little Briar Bunnies out there in the world. There is something incredibly satisfying about knowing your creations are out there being loved on by so many different people. Most of the mini Briar’s go to photographers, which is even better since I get to see photographs of them snuggled up to darling newborn babies (love!) and that is truly special.

Mini Briar Bunny pattern by Amanda Keeys / Little LabyrinthMini briar bunny by Amanda Keeys / Little Labyrinth

And speaking of the Briar Bunnies, I finally released the Mini Briar Bunny pattern last week. The pattern for these mini’s is different to the original and I love love love them. I may even love them more than the original size bunnies. You can find more information on the Mini Briar Bunny on the pattern page at Ravelry (or etsy or craftsy).

mini brambles bear pattern by Amanda Keeys / Little Labyrinth

I also released the Mini Brambles Bear pattern. These tiny guys are again extremely popular with photographers but I also love the thought of them being popped into little pockets and treasured by kids. Again, more information on the pattern can be found at the Mini Brambles Bear page on Ravelry (and etsy or craftsy).

knitsonik book and coffee

I purchased this gorgeous book, Knitsonik, a few weeks ago and it arrived in the post yesterday. I first heard about it from Ysolda’s blog (I think? though I have seen it mentioned a few places) and had to snatch up a copy straight away. I’ve only just started to delve into it, but this book is filled with so much beautiful, colourful inspiration. I definitely see a few new colourwork projects in the very near future. I think the last time I did stranded colourwork was waaaay back when I was working on my own book, so that’s a long time now! Even if you’re not a colourwork knitter, this book is just truly beautiful to look at and worth purchasing for the photographs alone.

Hoggle the yarn hog

And in stash enhancement, I bit the bullet and purchased some glorious Hedgehog Fibres sock yarn that I had been lusting after for a long time. The photographs of this yarn do not do it justice (never mind Hoggle who thinks it is his right to try and sleep on any yarn I try to photograph). The colours are so lustrous and deep, I bought the Cabaret colourway, but I have my eyes on soooo many more.

Hedgehog Fibres sock in Cabaret

Hedgehog Fibres sock yarn in Cabaret

Seriously. Just look at those gorgeous colours! I can’t wait to get this baby on my needles.

xox Amanda

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Piper's 3rd birthday

THREE! It hardly seems possible that our little miss sunshine turned a big three years old this past week. Piper has been excited about this birthday for probably the three months prior, and woke up on the day-of practically jumping up and down until she got that special birthday crown on her head.

Piper at age three

Piper dancing in the street

Piper in her birthday crown

Unlike the last two years, she finally understands what birthdays are all about. She told everybody we saw that it was her birthday, how old she was, and didn’t hesitate to say “But it’s MY birthday!” when one of her siblings wasn’t doing whatever she wanted them to do. Sassy pants.

girls on piper's birthday

As with every year since the day she was born, we headed down to main street and into the thick of the Country Music Festival to celebrate in the evening. We really did go down on the day she was born, too. So it’s become a special tradition all of the kids look forward to. We wandered up and down the street to listen to buskers (Piper twirled her way up and down), the little girls had their faces painted by a faery, before having dinner out.

face painting

Piper on her third birthday

dancing in bubbles

How fun to dance amongst shimmery bubbles on your birthday.

birthday jewels

Birthday jewels. Piper is obsessed with everything sparkly and “girly”. She will exclusively wear tutus and what she calls her “dancing” dresses if given the choice.  She loves Star Wars (much to Daddy’s delight), and playing shopping games with her sisters. Unbelievably, Piper is starting preschool in a couple of days time (just two days a week), and she cannot wait to be able to play with her friends all day long.

faery garden in a tea cup

Tea-cup faery garden we purchased from the face painter. Isn’t it adorable?

jakob and piper

Happy Birthday sunshine girl.

xox

Amanda

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Freckles on her nose

A face without freckles

is like a night without stars

Zoe freckles on her nose

bunch of weeds

tiny flower

messy hair and freckles

summer sun kissed girl

xox Amanda

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mini brambles bears by little labyrinth

More mini Brambles knitting. These guys are so squishy and cute I couldn’t help myself and had to make a bunch of different colours. The pattern is still coming – I underestimated just how busy the holidays would be with six kids running around. But soon, soon. The trio above remind me of chocolate – light, milk and (my favourite), dark. Yum!

hand knit mini brambles bear

In more knitting-related news, have you guys heard of the new E-zine, Addicted to Sock Knitting? I was lucky enough to win a subscription thanks to Andi’s gorgeous blog, and I’m so thrilled. I’ve only had a chance to read a little bit / glance through the patterns but it is so promising! I know all my sock knitting-lovin’ friends will want to check it out cause seriously, a whole ezine dedicated to sock knitting, what could be better? This year ahead I want to (need to?) do some more “selfish” knitting, and socks are always amazing for that.

persian kittens 10 weeks old

Look at how big the kittens are now. I think they doubled in size (again! haha) in the last two weeks. We actually said goodbye to little Obi over the weekend when his new Mama came all the way from Melbourne to pick him up, and Oreo went off to join his new family this morning. Simba will be leaving on the weekend coming. Kind of bittersweet – I’m so glad they’ve gone to such wonderful homes, but we’ll definitely miss their playful presence in our house! Obi seemed absolutely content with his new “people” and I’ve already seen a bunch of photos of his adventure homeward and beyond.

Hoggle 10 weeks old

Hoggle is soooo fluffy. And yes, of course he is named after the Labyrinth character. Of course!

Luna 10 weeks old

And miss sassy princess Luna. She’s gone from being the teeny little runt, getting picked on by all of the boys, to still being the teeniest one, but with the feistiest personality! She totally thrashes her brothers in wrestling matches, but look at that sweet face.

Luna black cat

Hoggle the kitten

Can you believe it’s NEW YEARS EVE tomorrow?! Yikes. I’m not ready for 2015!

xox Amanda

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Brambles and mini brambles

I am finally finished with a huge wave of custom orders that came in. Lots and lots of little bunnies and bears and tiny newborn bonnets. My fingers actually kind of ache from so much nearly non-stop knitting with tiny needles over the last couple of weeks. The goods news is that I’ve also managed to complete the patterns for the mini versions of both Briar Bunny and Brambles Bear, and I hope to release them within the next week or two!

mini brambles bear by amanda keeys

brambles and mini brambles bear handknit

Look how teeny weeny Mini Brambles bear is! She’s so pudgy and adorable. I can’t wait to see her snuggled in next to a newborn. This one is actually off to a newborn photographer so it won’t be long before I see photographs I’m sure. The original size Brambles above is off to the same photographer. She’s knit from 100% alpaca and has the most gorgeous halo of fluff around her.

original size brambles bear

brambles bear by amanda keeys

Brambles bears by Amanda Keeys

Don’t they look so pretty together? I love natural coloured knits so much. There is something so soothing about those tones. I just wish I had a little baby to snuggle in there too. Living vicariously through others is pretty OK with me too, though ;)

blythe bear bonnet by amanda keeys

angora blythe bonnet by amanda keeys

I finally remembered to photograph a couple of the many Blythe knits I’ve made of late! There are tons more, but I couldn’t remember where I’d stashed them. Whoops. These two are made from 100% pure angora and are soooo soft it’s ridiculously. Super super super fluffy too.

newborn bear and bonnet set little labyrinth

More Brambles! This one is a matched newborn set – the bonnet is my Evie bonnet, with i-cord instead of lace for ties. Both are knit from undyed merino/baby alpaca yarn.

Hoggle the kitten at 8 weeks old

Hoggle in a flower crown

And of course, I can’t help but to share another couple of photographs of my little cutie, Hoggle. Look at that lil’ tongue poking out. He’s so flipping CUTE I almost can’t stand it.

xox Amanda

 

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DIY cardboard cat house

At 8 weeks old today (yes! Oh my that went so quickly) our kittens are super playful and inquisitive and love love love to wriggle into the most ridiculous of hiding spots. Pretty much anything and everything becomes a playtoy (they particularly enjoy destroying bits of paper) so we decided to get crafty this afternoon and make some fun cat goodies of our own.

Luna in the kitty house

pom pom on cardboard cat house

Cardboard cat houses! These were a lot of fun to make and really simple too. We used cardboard boxes made for storing files and cut doors and windows out before decorating. The trickiest part is probably cutting out the door/window, so best for an older kid or a parent to help. I used the blade of a pair of scissors to score the cardboard, then had to kind of wedge the blade into the cardboard and slice through.

Isaiah's house

luna's cardboard cat house

Isaiah made this one for little Luna. The take-away coffee cup on top is meant to be the chimney with a little puff of paper “smoke” coming out of it. He also made a toy from hessian twine that dangles from one of the windows.

kitties playing in their cardboard houses

We decorated with gold and silver sharpie markers and washi tape just for fun. The kittens went crazy jumping from house to house, climbing through the windows, and hiding from each other before dashing out for sneak attacks.

persian kittens playing

Hoggle

Hoggle, loving his “second story bed”. All of the kittens are enjoying playing up there, but since it was made for Hoggle… well, he reigns supreme haha.

hoggle persian kitten

kitten cardboard cat house

Kitten playground!

making felted pom poms

pile of rainbow roving

We also made a big bunch of rainbow wool felted pom poms. Easy enough for kids to make with a little bit of guidance. You just need wool roving in whatever colours you want and some hot sudsy water. Pull off little tufts of the roving and kind of layer into a vaguely round-ish shape, then scoop up between two hands and dunk into the water. There are probably better ways to do this step, but this is what worked for us.

kitten watching

making wool felted pom pom balls

Then you just “roll” the wool between your hands, kind of like rolling a ball of playdough, until the fibers start to felt together. Once you’ve got a roundish shape, you can be a little more vigorous with the rolling.

making wool felted balls

Squeeze out the excess water between a couple of layers of towel and then let the pom pom dry.

rainbow wool felt pom poms

These make the best cat toys but I can also imagine them looking adorable hung on the Christmas tree as ornaments  maybe we’ll do that next year!) or maybe thread a whole bunch together for a fun necklace.

Hoggle with his ball

Piper kissing Simba

xox Amanda

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mini "gingerbread" house

School Holidays have already begun, and so has the holiday fun. My kids have been loving the Reindeer Cam and of course, the Christmas Countdown clock (kind of addictive to watch the seconds and minutes tick by..). Our lights are up, our big tree is going up tonight, and I am ready to start feeling some of that good christmas cheer.

Today we made some adorable little mini “gingerbread” houses. Seriously super simple and fun! I saw the idea on Pinterest, but none of the links went anywhere so I figured I’d do my own little “DIY” since we were going to go ahead and make them anyway.

Depending on how many kids are decorating, you will need:

1 – 2 packets of Arnott’s “nice” biscuits
As many/whatever lollies you like.

For the icing:
2 egg whites
2 cups of icing sugar
To make icing: Use an electric mixer to whisk the egg whites until stiff peaks start to form. Then sift in your icing (I must admit I didn’t bother to sift, but if your icing sugar is lumpy you might want to go ahead) a little at a time until mixture is thick and goopy. You can put it into a piping bag, but because I had so many kids decorating, we just put spoonfuls into zip lock bags. When ready to use, simply make a small snip at the corner of the bag.

step 1

step 2

step 3

I think the photographs give a pretty good idea of what you need to do, but basically you want to ice the inside edges of two of the biscuits, then join them together over the top of the third biscuit in a triangle shape. Add an extra line of icing down the top center. This step could totally be done ahead of time if making these with little kids, or let older kids put their own together. And now you’re ready to decorate!

decorating supplies

I gave each kid their own cupcake liner full of lollies and icing bags to save arguments, then had pots of sprinkles and such to share in the middle of the table.

zoe decorating

Piper eating icing

(Some people may prefer to eat their icing straight from the bag… haha)

decorating mini gingerbread houses

decorating mini "gingerbread" houses

christmas time decorating

lilly decorating

The best part? This activity kept them all entertained and busy for well over an hour, and much closer to two for some of my more adventurous decorators. I honestly thought they’d have it all over and done with within half an hour so I was very pleasantly surprised.

isaiah cookie decorating

lilly admiring her house

lilly's finished house

And look at how adorable they turn out! So easy, so cute.

finished mini cookie gingerbread houses

Will you give these little cookie houses a go?

xox Amanda

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Christmas kitten

adorable kitten in christmas scarf

December 1st. Happy Christmas month! Woohoo. Time to bust out the holiday crazy. I knit a teeny weeny little scarf for the kittens. Not sure they are as impressed with it as I am, but it’s stinking cute.

Now I have to get moving on the ten million things I want to make before Christmas. Time is ticking… eek.

carolling kitten

xox Amanda

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