Archive for the 'crafty business' Category

In sheeps’ clothing

If you’re a MavisandFrank regular, you’ll know how much I love wool. I love to knit with it, I love anything made from it. What you may not know is that wool clothing is enjoying something of a renaissance, particularly when it comes to babywear. Though it really can’t compare to the magic of a lovingly hand-knitted original, modern wool clothing defies many of the old complaints. Remember that itchy sweater your mother forced you to wear? The modern baby has none of these issues when it comes to wearing wool. The new generation of wool is machine washable, soft and wearable in both summer and winter. For anyone considering their Baby Bonus/Kindergeld spending options, the following are my recommendations:


For the beautiful colours and lovely designs, it’s hard to beat this brand of 100% merino wool clothing designed and made in New Zealand. I couldn’t be a bigger fan of their footed leggings. Rose lived in them for months and months during the first year. Beware, the sizing is VERY generous.

Vis stort bilde


This is the go-to brand for wool clothing for children in Germany. Lovely designs and beautiful construction mean they’re a worthy investment for European parents. As I again face the battle of keeping my children warm in sub-zero conditions I’m eager to test out their ribbed leggings and a felted all-in-one suit I recently bought for Theodore.


Nurtured by Nature

A very pricey New Zealand Brand. I bought a matching hat and romper for Rose on eBay. The romper became the victim of a sad incident involving a velcro tab in the washing machine. It was duly repaired and the good news is that both hat and romper are now getting regular wear by number two.

Nature Baby

This one gets my number one vote. I know this brand is Maggie Guillenhaal’s favourite, but don’t let that put you off. This is a family-run company who design and manufacture in New Zealand. I invested in a selection of merino wool bodysuits and long sleeved tops for Rose’s first winter. They survived countless machine washings and over a year of wear before being passed on to a friend. The second lot got us through the wilds of the German winter last year. There’s no sign of pilling, stretching or holes and they’re silky soft. My third lot are now on their way.

Summer Weight Sleep Cocoon - Bundle Special

There are many others of course, including some beautiful brands made in Germany. People’s main issue with wool clothing for children is usually the cost. There’s no denying it, a bodysuit made in China will always be cheaper than a merino wool bodysuit from any of the above. But as always, there are other things we should consider before taking the path of least expense; the environment, our health and the workers who are routinely exploited in the production of clothing. And of course the true monetary cost of an item is actually the price tag divided by the number of times it is used. I’m thrilled that other babies are now getting wear out of Rose’s woolies. And while most children in the spielplatz are decked out with layer upon layer of polarfleece and polyester, I resolutely tell myself that my babies are just fine wearing at least three layers of the original golden fleece.


From the trenches

With Christmas over and done with, it was tempting to think that winter must surely be losing its momentum, soon to be replaced by the graces of spring. But no. The European winter stumbles on, and I have to admit, it has me completely floored. It leaves me wondering how humanity ever flourished here, or anywhere else in northern Europe, and why the earliest Europeans didn’t all curl up and die, as I feel the urge to do, even with the blessing of central heating. Another thing I’ve wondered is whether hibernation is a viable option, and why it hasn’t been adopted by humans. But, however sluggish and miserable I feel, it’s extraordinary how the even the briefest sunshine leaves me almost euphoric. Remembering the cold excesses of March and April last year, and the many weeks we spent bundled to the eyelids after our arrival, I decided it was not too late to do some winter sewing. A coat, for the girl who’s growing quickly.

This was inspired by something that Margaret Hale wears in the BBC’s North and South. I’ve never been a purple chooser, but this deep plum look won me over. The outer was made from a remnant piece of hand-loomed Scottish tweed that I rescued from a box in Peppergreen. I had to plan my cutting so carefully, there was barely an inch left. The inner is a vintage piece of Liberty bought by my mum from a neighbouring shop. These two were obviously meant to be together. After many hours of research on the subject of underlining (or interlining, it depends who you ask), I added an inner layer of very thick cotton flannel and some ordinary cotton flannel to the arms. Make no mistake, this coat is meant for the German winter. I used an easy-as-pie pattern by HeidiandFinn on etsy. This is the fourth time I’ve made it up, with variations, so I’m confident I’ve gotten my $5.95’s worth.

And look, sunshine!

#9 Decking the halls

Christmas is a busy time for everyone, especially Australians. Unlike in Europe, Christmas coincides with summer and the end of the school year, creating a kind of “perfect storm” of social events. Perhaps it’s because we’re new in town, perhaps it’s the challenging weather, but I noticed a  lack of Christmas events in my life this year. So, I had my own. We ate lebkuchen, we drank glühwein, we listened to Christmas music, we made decorations. Paper, ribbon, beads, cinnamon sticks; we used it all. Remember salt dough? Petra brought along some salt dough ornaments, several of which are now ready to hang on the tree, bright with the creative touches of the Horne boys. Anne presented me with a boxed set of gold stars she had folded by hand. They’ll be in the permanent collection for sure. It was certainly the perfect way to round out my Christmas decor… and make the festive season just that little more festive.

MavisandFrank in print!

Good news for fans of MavisandFrank’s signature item –  the beaded necklace. All secrets are now well and truly out. For step-by-step instructions and special tips, see the most recent issue of Handcrafted Jewelry Magazine. Imagine my delight when Fed-Ex placed the following in my hands

Thank you to editor Danielle Fox for inviting me to be part of this issue. If you’re a collector of MavisandFrank memorabilia (Hi Mum!) and would like a copy, they can be ordered here from Interweave Press. You’ll find jewelry projects from many other designers to inspire your inner craftster.

A stitch in time

Remember this wool? A few months later and my German isn’t much better, but I’ve finally finished the cardigan. If only the former were as easy as the latter. The sweet little buttons came from my beloved flea markets, while the pattern was an ebay find. I love knitting in summer; there’s no sense of urgency or the fear that the weather will warm up as soon as you finish something. Sadly, this is one of those tragedies where despite diligent measuring, the child grows faster than the knitting. A bit of careful washing can usually overcome this, but alas (you may remember), I cleverly chose superwash wool which has done its job beautifully and refuses to change its gauge. I’ll dwell no longer on this sorrowful thought, lest I frighten summer away…

Skirts for summer

At long last, my newly designed Liberty print skirts are now up in the MavisandFrank shop! The idea is to show off the beautiful fabric with as simple a design as possible. With a wide elastic waistband and girlish ruffle, they can be worn high on the waist or lower on the hips, wherever your heart desires. A big thank you must go to my model – the gorgeous Keren Moran.

Happy birthday MavisandFrank

Oh la la Liberty Bunting

I can hardly believe it. Today my little Etsy store MavisandFrank turns one. It started with a borrowed sewing machine, some pretty fabric, a little boredom; a way to rescue my brain from becoming something resembling the texture of cooked eggplant. Though it’s been tough and tiring at times, my little enterprise has been a lifeline in these first few months in Germany. Simple things have become harder (buying beads, filling out customs forms), but I still get a little thrill each time I send a package off on a long journey to somewhere I will probably never go.

In other news, we’re now home safe from a glorious week in beautiful Burgundy (more tomorrow, I promise). Oh, and Australia has a new Prime Minister…

Oh la la Liberty Bunting by Ravenhill

About Me

A girl with a camera, a toddler and a sewing machine. Making sense of Germany... and life in general.

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 64 other followers

I Make…

Handmade Baby Shorts in Liberty's 'Cordelia'

Handmade Necklace in 'Fairford' $21

Handmade Bead Necklace in 'Wiltshire' $21

Handmade Bracelet in 'Fairford' $15

I Took The Handmade Pledge!