It’s been birthday season

It’s been the birthday season in my life, so I made a whole bunch of cards and posted them before I took any pictures.  I always make some extra cards around this time as well though, because I’m never as prepared at other times of year. And I managed to take some pictures  of those cards.


I made quite a few of the log cabin cards but this is the only one left.I like making them but they make quite a bit of wastage with all the offcuts.

And then I was looking for an idea that would use up some of my stash of sequins and came up with using windows to frame them. I use the windows from envelops to hold them in. This gives a slightly frosted look but its free so I’ll stick with it for the moment. It took quite a bit of experimenting but it turns out double sided tape holds everything together best and doesn’t attach to the sequins. I have a whole load more sequins so I’m sure there’ll be of these in the future.

March 2017

How have two months already happened, I’m still feeling all at sea with all the change in my life. And while it’s all positive, it is all still taking more energy than I’d anticipated, which means both the making and blogging are on the backburner for the moment.

So here is a list of the things on the go, most haven’t really been touched

  1. Fingerless Gloves – I’ve lost  interest recently
  2. Fringed Handbag – No change
  3. Bead Embroidery Purse -No change
  4. Learning Curve Sampler Quilt – I’m still avoiding my machine
  5. Shoulder heat packs – No change
  6. Lip balm cozies – No change
  7. Wire wrapped seaglass necklace -No change
  8. EPP pillow case – No change
  9. A knitted cover for my hotwater bottle – I’m not sure about the sizing and might scrap it and start again
  10. A peyote stitch beaded case for business cards – this is going to be a long project but it’s using some of my carefully collected stash of purple bead and is beautiful already

And the finishes this month:

  1. The new romance necklace – I will post about this one, when the next ottbs challenge is announced
  2. Some birthday cards (I didn’t take any pictures before sending them though)

Winter Sparkle

I took part in another veryberry ATC swap just before Christmas, the theme this time around was Winter Sparkle. I was determined to bring my beads into my next ATC and this was the perfect theme to do so.

This is how I coral my ideas into some sense

After a little pondering – I draw sketches in my notebook – where I considered various frosty scenes, I came up with the idea of mimicking some fair isle knitting patterns with beads. Fair isle knitting is the knitting with rows of repeated motifs and contrasting colours. After looking up some Christmas patterns I found the reindeer and star motifs. I didn’t feel up to doing free form bead embroidery of something that is so geometric, so I used aida (cross stitch material) for the backing. I use frixion pens to mark out the pattern.

Work in Progress: you can see the frixion markings I use as guidance

I started with the star and once I got going quickly figured out a technique that worked for me. However once I’d done the star and border, I realised I was going to have a lot of background showing. At first I decided to fill it in with cross stitch, which I probably should have done first, but hey ho. I worked around the border beads doing cross stitch and quickly realised how long this was going to take. So I swapped to half cross stitch (diagonal line) – My background was sparkly white on white aida so the coverage was pretty good. It still look a long time. The second half of the ATC, where I did the cross stitch first was much easier than the 1st half – so I know for next time.

After all those hours doing the background, I kept the backing and edging very simple, simply whip stitched the two sides together (with seams folded inwards). I also just wrote on my details.

I return I received this beautifully packaged and gorgeous artist trading card from Jayne. I’m loving my little collection I’m building.

February 2017

After all my intentions to blog more regularly, life got in the way. I was super busy in January but now I’m a bit more settled and have working internet hopefully you’ll hear from me again. I’m still building my new routine and trying to figure things out with all the change that has happened. Which means my making is a little haphazard at the moment, however I do have a backlog of things to write about so fingers crossed that

All the upheaval of January actually left me with more things on the go than I planned but hey ho

  1. Fingerless Gloves – I’m so close to being done with the first glove but have lost some interest recently
  2. Fringed Handbag – No change
  3. Bead Embroidery Purse -No change
  4. Learning Curve Sampler Quilt – I’m still avoiding my machine
  5. Shoulder heat packs – No change
  6. Lip balm cozies – No change
  7. Wire wrapped seaglass necklace -No change
  8. EPP pillow case – I have sewn all the diamonds together but still need to square up the edges before I put it together
  9. A knitted cover for my hotwater bottle
  10. A beaded necklace based on the New Romance pattern from Sabine Lippert

And a very small list of finishes:

  1. A fun dishcloth
  2. Some Weaving – although I’ve not sorted the ends out yet or made it useful


From 2016 into 2017

2016 has gone from dragging along at the beginning to everything changing at the speed of light in the last two months. I’m feeling a lot more content at this end of the year – which is a nice feeling.

So 2016 – I finished my PhD. The 1st three months were pretty stressful but writing up came easier than I expected – I didn’t enjoy the lab work so maybe I should have expected it. The actual finishing, paperwork and viva was pretty drawn out and was finally done by the end of November – I’m officially Dr Shyeni now. And then in a major rush I managed to get myself a job and a new house in a different city for the new year.

Craftingwise I actually achieved quite a lot – especially learning new things. Looking back over my posts reminded me what I’ve made of the year, some of which I had forgotten forgotten. I learnt how to make hats, do bead embroidery, knit socks, bezel using peyote, how to weave, Hawaiian quilting  and practiced a tiny bit of quilting.


Looking back over them, the piece I’m most proud of this year is the bead embroidery diary. It was a bit out of my comfort zone but I really enjoyed the process and love the look of the final outcome.

Blogging wise I’ve been coming and going a bit but that was expected. I also advertised my blog to people I know for the first time. I sent off three ATC’s as part of verykerryberry’s ATC swap – and received three  wonderful cards in return. I also started participating in the tips and tutorials Tuesday link up by Quiltingjetgirl with my making on a budget series. I’ve really enjoyed my foray’s into connectivity with the community and this is definitely something I’m going to try and continue.

So back to tradition, this is what I’m taking into the next year with me:

  1. Fingerless Gloves
  2. A knitted dish
  3. Fringed Handbag
  4. Bead Embroidery Purse
  5. Learning Curve Sampler Quilt
  6. Weaving
  7. Shoulder heat packs
  8. Lip balm cozies
  9. Wire wrapped seaglass necklace


And now onto 2017. It’s going to be a slow start, I’ve got plenty going on in the first month but I’m going to try and keep the blogging steady. I want to continue to stay connected with the blogging and sewing community by participating in more things. I don’t have anything specific I want to learn although I did receive a kit for making resin objects for my jewellery making – so I guess you will hear about that.

As for the rest – lets see what happens


Christmas Crafts

I know christmas has been and gone but I made a few christmassy things this year and thought you might like to have a look at them.

I got into Ravelry this autumn and its opened up a whole range of patterns to me. I was  especially attracted to some of the christmas patterns and ended up knitting a christmas wreath and a partridge ornament for my mother.

The partridge is slightly less demented looking in real life but I didn’t get round to taking any decent pictures. The wreath was a very fun quick make – one day it may get baubles but they can wait.

Another set of ornaments I made was these ribbon christmas trees. This one was gifted to my sister and I kept a purple one. I really enjoyed making them and they are very quick to make so I’m sure I’ll make some more one day.



I also made christmas cards, using an embroidery to make christmas trees and stars. However I was very rubbish at taking pictures of them so here are the few I captured.


For my sisters fundraising for guides I made her some  beaded snowflakes. These were very fun to make and a good chance to play with design and colour even in a winter white palette.


She sold most of them, which is good to hear. I’ve also got a couple of unfinished beaded ornaments which I’m hoping to finish before I pack my ornaments away. I’m building up a pretty collection.




Making Plastic from Carbon Dioxide

Today’s post is a little different from my normal craft related posts, but as I use this blog to catalog the things I’ve made I reckon this counts. So today I’m going to be telling you about my PhD thesis. It took me three years and was an interesting if not always pleasant experience.

I was working on turning carbon dioxide into plastic, specifically ‘switchable catalysis to make block copolymers‘. But don’t worry I’ll explain that later.

To a chemist, carbon dioxide is just another chemical, with which we can make new things, and actually its a pretty safe chemical – it’s not toxic and it’s not flammable. Chemists have been looking into using carbon dioxide to make other things for a while because it is a waste product. We all know about how we are producing significant quantities of carbon dioxide from our industrial processes and why that’s a bad idea. I do have to point out, that even if all chemicals where made from carbon dioxide, it still would not affect the levels of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere. However, using waste products is attractive because it saves money and prevents other ‘new’ chemicals from being made (which would produce even more carbon dioxide). Also as more incentives are being placed on manufacturers to capture waste carbon dioxide, having an out put for this captured carbon dioxide is a useful goal (as opposed to just storing it in a cave somewhere).

Carbon dioxoide is turned into a plastic by coupling it with another chemical called an epoxide. The plastic is called polycarbonate and research into this plastic is quite far along, there are several companies who are bringing it to market. It is being sold in the form of a polyurethane. Polyurethanes are made by taking the the polycarbonate and joining it with another chemical – an isocyanate. They come in many forms – but the carbon dixoide based polyurethanes are mostly being sold as foams (the solid sort) for things like insulation, mattresses and the cushioned bits of car seats.

The reason why polycarbonate is being turned into polyurethanes in order to be sold is the same reason why I was still carrying out research on it. Polycarbonate on its own makes a very brittle plastic, so if you try and make something from it, the object will crumble into pieces. One of the most common ways to change how a plastic behaves is to join a section of a different plastic – making a block copolymer, where the overall plastic has sections or blocks of different types of plastic.

My project was focused on developing methods of attaching the polycarbonate from carbon dioxide to other plastics which also have green credentials. The relative newness of these green plastics means methods of attaching them hasn’t been researched as much as with traditional plastics. Also even with traditional plastics, attaching them isn’t always easy and often involves several steps – which is not very efficient, in terms of time, money and environmental impact.

I was looking to find a method where I could use a single ‘pot’ for all my materials and make the block copolymer in one go. This is tricky because you have the materials for each plastic all mixed up and want to control which plastic gets made and when it gets made. Kind of like putting all the ingredients for a lemon meringue pie in a bowl, mixing it up and expecting to form the pastry, the lemon curd and the meringue and also for it to assemble into the pie. So it pretty complicated but fortunately for me I had a magic ingredient – a catalyst. A catalyst is a separate chemical, which makes it possible for a reaction to happen. In my case if you mix carbon dioxide and an epoxide together, nothing happens – it is only when you add the catalyst that the polycarbonate gets made. The catalyst I use to make polycarbonate has a trick up its sleeve – It can also make another green polymer, polycaprolactone under certain conditions. Polycaprolactone is considered green because it has the potential to be made from biomass (material that can be grown in some manner) and the plastic is biodegradable (it breaks down when in landfill). The key thing about this is that the catalyst only makes polycaprolactone under certain conditions, and these conditions are orthogonal (opposite) to the conditions needed to make polycarbonate.

This means if you mix the catalyst, the epoxide needed to make polycarbonate and the material, caprolactone, needed to make polycaprolactone, you can control which plastic is being made by controlling whether you add carbon dioxide gas or nitrogen gas (nitrogen gas just fills the space when you remove the carbon dioxide but doesn’t react).

When you add carbon dioxide, the polycarbonate is made. The polycaprolactone is never formed when carbon dioxide is present. If you take away the carbon dioxide, the polycarbonate can’t be made (because it is made from carbon dioxide). This gives the polycaprolactone a chance to be made. By switching the gas supply from carbon dioxoide to nitrogen, you are switching between making the two types of plastic – this is switchable catalysis.

During my PhD I used this method of switching to make several different types of block copolymer. I made plastics which contained three blocks, which had an ABA structure (the blocks on either end are the same but the middle block is different).The central B block was always polycarbonate  but by changing the A block  I could change the properties of the block copolymer. I used polycaprolactone, polyvalerolactone and polydecalactone as the A block and this meant the overall plastic changed from a slightly flexible tough plastic to a weak and inflexible plastic to a very flexible tough plastic respectively.

I then made a plastic containing 7 blocks of polycarbonate (A) and polycaprolactone (B), which had an BABABAB structure . I also discovered that you can add other starting materials to the mixture and switch between this new reaction (A) and the formation of polycarbonate(B) and polycaprolactone (C) to make a plastic containing 5 different blocks of three types of plastic (CBABC structure).

I hope you followed me all the way through and if anyone is interested in reading about my work in full detail, its been published here: