Category Archives: A Midsummer Day’s Dream

Day 9 – Getting a Grilling: Interview with Susan Moloney

I need some inspiration today…a kick up the arse, to be more exact. I have things to create in my mind, projects to complete, plans to make and I just can’t seem to get into gear. So instead I thought I’d have a wee break and get some much needed inspiration from an interview with artist, and honorary Irishwoman, Susan Moloney.

Do you have a cup of tea in hand? Or are you a coffee person? That’s grand too. OK, quick. I’m giving you three minutes to go, make yourself a cup and meet back here…don’t forget the biscuits…

Right! Is everyone back? Did you remember the biscuits? Brilliant! So now we can sit back, take a load off and drool over Sus’s amazing workspace. One day I’m going to have a room like that…one day…

Getting a Grilling – Susan Moloney

Susan Moloney is an artist from Pennsylvania, USA. She paints, photographs, collects, deconstructs, reconstructs and sews. She blogs about her new creations at and has three etsy stores: susarto (plush toys, prints and ‘bookzines’), Susan Moloney (“paintings, prints, photos and other wierd stuff”)and Sanford Salvage (arty and household ‘junque’).

1* Describe a typical day in your life.

must. have. coffee. i check emails, i’ve been trying to be good about doing my wii fit, then i get to work! i often forget to eat, and i also forget to stop, so when the boys come home (my husband and my son), they give out to me because they want dinner ;)

2* You currently have three different stores on Etsy. How do these stores link together? How do you juggle the demands of three stores?

i don’t think that they really do link together. that’s why i have 3 ;) besides, i’m partial to the number 3. i will let you know if they ever get demanding ;)

3* How would you describe your artwork?

i think my artwork could be described as little fragments of my life, my surroundings, and what interests me. but the fragments of each piece have to somehow go together…like a puzzle almost.

4* Tell us about your favourite piece of artwork at the moment.

i guess i’m going to say my newest one, sanctuary. i wanted to add more painting into my work (which was almost minimal in most of what i was doing before this one), and i think i got it to work. i also like that it hangs from a chain, sort of mimicking the one included in the piece.

5* When faced with the dreaded ‘Blank Page’ how do you get started?

just put paint on it. it’s easier to start if you’ve got something already there. even if it’s just a smoosh.

6* I’m particularly taken with your plush dolls. What tips could you give someone who wanted to make their own plush ‘person’?

do you mean the weirdos? i don’t know that i have any good tips. i never knew how to sew, really, and it was just a fluke that it worked out for me at all. i think if you want to make your own, you should draw something out first, and just cut out the pieces. that’s all i did. trial and error. but try to make it your own. there are so many people out there now who copy from other plush artists (and artists in general). i think that is really sad. artists work hard to come up with designs. people shouldn’t just take them.

7* What’s the most important piece of advice you would give any young or beginning artists?

i know it’s difficult, but don’t let people discourage you from doing your thing! do what makes you happy. make it your own. make it something that comes natural to you. and if it makes you happy, it is bound to make somebody else happy too! don’t just make stuff “to sell”.

8* Where do you find inspiration?

everywhere! i think that’s how i got dubbed “weirdo” i am always spacing out looking at things and when somebody asks me what and why am i looking at that, i usually get “weirdo” as a response ;)

9* Describe your workspace.

my workspace is BRAND NEW and beautiful! and it is amazing to work in! i love it!

(LittleFire – How sweet does this workshop look?! Jealous, or what!!)

10* Who would play you in the film of your life?

jeez, well, that would be a boring film, but i dunno. sandra bullock? she’s just a normal person (at least she seems like it) not all glamorous and artificial. (she just popped into my head outta NOWHERE)

11* What is the most important lession Art or Crafting has taught you?

i guess that i had to make sacrifices. i have to do without a lot of things to do what i love. but i have a very supportive husband and son, and they make that part so much easier. it also taught me to appreciate (every day) that i’m able to do what i love to do!

12* Which living artist do you most admire and why?

i’d have to say jan svankmajer. he wouldn’t be a “traditional” famous artist, but his imagination is sensational! :D

13* How do you relax?

i don’t do that very often, but when i can, i go down to my dad’s boat…he’s had it since i was a baby. it’s like my childhood home. anywhere by the water though. i love the beach too!

14* What do you consider your greatest achievement?

i had my son one month before i graduated from art school. counselors at the school were telling me i should quit and come back after he was born (yeah, right!) but i did it. i had him in my arms at my graduation :) also, the fact that i got myself through art school on my own! (see question 7)

(Sus with bonny baby and fellow graduate on the BIG day…congrats!)

-Quick fire-

~Pretty interesting or interestingly pretty?  pretty interesting!

~Rolling Stones or Beatles? that’s a tough one. stones?

~Boxers or Y-fronts? boxers

~Abstract or Realism? a mix of both?

~Blondes or Brunnettes? (or redheads?!) brunettes!

~Clooney or Depp? depp

~Classic or Modern? also a mix of both.

~Custard or ice-cream? yes please. either.

~World Cup or World Series? i don’t like sports much but if i had to pick, world cup.

~What’s your favourite colour? aqua

~When are you happiest? when my boys are happy and everything seems to be working out :D

~Tell us a secret. well, then it wouldn’t be a secret, would it? (to be honest, i can’t think of one. do i even have any???)


Day 8 – Midsummer Stitched Hearts Card

I haven’t sewn in year but today’s project makes even the most embroidery-phobic feel able. The tutorial has lots of ridiculously useful information about how to format a pattern using your computer, but these cards would also work just as well with a free-hand sketch as the pattern.

I love the raised texture they give the card and makes what is often a throw-away token into something creative and personal. Best of all, the sewing part looks really easy…good news for me!

Thanks Nic! I can’t wait to give these a go…

Midsummer Hearts Card

by Nic Faull

Stitch yourself a handmade card for any occasion using printed shapes or hand drawn designs.

It’s surprisingly easy and very effective. Use embroidery floss, lace weight or sock weight yarns. Anything a bit shiney is nice. Subtle variations in colour can be effective too. Mohair could be intriguing.

This project is suitable for anyone who can wield a needle without losing an eye. (Their own eye or any other eye.) Some supervision is needed for children.

For the Hearts card you’ll need:

  • Blank card of your choice
  • Computer and printer
  • Microsoft Word or suitable other. I’m an equal opportunity word processor.
    (Please note, earlier versions of MS Word may have a different menu system for these features.)
  • Alternatively why not hand draw the hearts or any shape you like? G’won, it’s easy.
  • A selection of yarn for the embroidery
  • Any sequins or embellishments you’d like.
  • A sharpish tapestry needle appropriate for your yarn choice and with a suitable eye for threading

Tutorial Steps for the Heart Card:

  1. Create a new document in Microsoft Word and change the orientation under the ‘Page Layout’ tab to ‘Landscape’. That’s side-to-side, instead of up-and-down, OK?
  2. Insert a BIG table that has 1 row and 2 columns. Fiddle about until it looks something like this.
  3. Click the cursor into the table column on the right.
  4. Insert a heart shape using the ‘Inset Tab’ and selecting ‘Shapes’. After you’ve clicked on the little heart icon, draw the heart by placing the cursor, clicking the left mouse button and dragging the mouse downwards and to the right. All at the same time. Go ahead. Have a little practice. Position the heart where’d you’d like it.
  5. Change the settings of the heart shape using the styling options. This sample is a red dashed line, but it doesn’t really matter, you’ll be sewing over this line. There are lots of different shadow and 3-D effects you can try out.
  6. Change the fill options to whatever you like. Pink in this instance.
  7. When your shape is finished, select it with the cursor and then copy and paste a few more.
  8. You can make them smaller or bigger. Fiddle about with these to your heart’s content. (Geddit? HEART’s content…sheesh! Never mind.)
  9. Remove the table borders by changing the border style to ‘no border’. Like so.
  10. Don’t forget that you can add a text message while you’re here.
  11. Insert the blank card into the printer and print your design. You’ll have to fiddle about with the width of the printer paper feed to keep the card feeding straight. Practice on spare card or blank paper to determine which way up the card has to go into the printer in order for the motif to appear on the front of the folded card. Usually the printer prints on the downside of what is in the printer tray so the outside of the card faces down. You may have to move your shapes around so that they appear where you’d like on the card. Or try moving the little tabs in the printer feeder to the middle or the other side. Printers are tricky, you know that right?
  12. Using a sharp thick-ish needle, prick out a line of small holes along the outline of the heart.
  13. Thread your needle with the yarn and sew a line of backstitches around the outline. You can use a running stitch or another stitch if you prefer.
  14. Repeat for the other hearts. You can sew other lines of stitches inside or outside the heart shapes if you wish. Just leave a gap between the lines so the heart doesn’t fall out. We can’t have that happen.

The End :)

Says Nic – ‘I’m a slightly obsessed knitter living in beautiful Co. Wicklow, Ireland, who has way more Stash than Time. I blog about my knitting adventures at and I occasionally attempt to design things. Please do not hesitate to contact me for any help with this project. nicknits AT gmail DOT com.’

Day 7 – Summer Solstice Aromatherapy

It’s mid-festival, Ladies and Gentlemen, here at AMDD and on this glorious day (hottest day of the year I believe so far in parts of Ireland and England) I thought we could all do with a little pampering…a little TLC. So here is the second part of Yoga instructor and Aromatherapist Jessica Powers’ article for the Summer Solstice, full of soothing and uplifting aromatherapy recipes.

My favourite thing to do after a day like this is to take a long soak in the bath and I make my own bath salts to enhance the experience. Here is my recipe (based on informations from Star Khechara’s ‘The Holistic Beauty Book’…brilliant resource for those you like handmade beauty products) for ‘Spoil Yourself’ bath salts.

  • 1 generous handful of coarse sea salt
  • 2 tblsp of oats
  • 2 tblsp dried rose petals
  • 2 tblsp finely grated cocoa butter
  • 1 vanilla pod
  • optional: 10 drops of Ylang Ylang essential oil

Place the sea salt, oats, rose petals and grated cocoa butter in a bowl. Split the vanilla pod lengthways and scrape the seeds into the bowl as well. Mix everything throughly. If the scent of vanilla and rose is enough, leave it at that.  I personally like a few drops of Ylang Ylang, which you would add now, blending throughly. Place the mixture in a pretty glass jar and leave to infuse for a few days.

To use sprinkle some in your bath, swishing about until the salt dissolves. If you don’t like bits floating round you, place it in a muslin bag or clean pop sock and use like a teabag for your bath :)

The oats make your bath milky and are very soothing for dry or sensitive skin (they’re supposedly meant to be great for eczema too). The cocoa butter will melt and moisturise your skin and the rose petals will make you feel like you’re in a John William Waterhouse painting! AAAhhhhhhhhh!

Summer Solstice Aromatherapy

by Jessica Powers

Now that you’ve had some time to tap into your inner creativity, enjoy mixing up the following potions, to help soothe you after too much time in the sunlight, or assist you in recalling that same brilliance later on in the year.  Your local health food store should have the basic ingredients, but try to be mindful of your purchases: buy local if you can, and definitely buy organic.  Two good organic retail brands of essential oils available online are listed in the Resources.

Sun Soothing Summer Spritzer


Cool and refresh your body and heart after days spent enjoying the heat and light with this combination of calming hydrosol (the water left over from the steam distillation of essential oils) and balancing essential oils.

  • 50ml Rose Hydrosol, Rosa centifolia if possible
  • 5 drops Lavender, Lavandula angustifolia
  • 3 drops Bergamot, Citrus bergamia
  • 1 drop Peppermint, Mentha piperita
  • 1 drop Roman Chamomile, Anthemis nobilis

Place all ingredients in a spray bottle and store in refrigerator.  Shake before use and take care to close eyes before spritzing on face.  Essential oils will ‘marry’ over time and the resulting fragrance may differ from your original mix, feel free to add more oils, conservatively, to the blend to create a spritzer that lightens your spirit with its scent.

Contraindications: Bergamot is photosensitizing, so be sure to slip/slop/slather the SPF on after using this oil; Peppermint can be sensitizing to the skin and is not appropriate if using homeopathics, during pregnancy or for individuals with epilepsy, circulatory conditions or pace makers.  Lavender may not be appropriate for those with low blood pressure or during pregnancy.

Summer Soles Salt Bath


Got hot feet?  Dunk them in this fragrant salt blend to refresh and restore.

  • 1 cup Epsom salts
  • 8 drops Grapefruit, Citrus paradisi
  • 5 drops Lavender, Lavandula angustifolia
  • 2 drops Peppermint, Metha piperita

Stir and shake the salts and oils together in a tightly sealed glass container (old pasta jars are good for making a large batch).  When you are ready to treat yourself, get a chair softly padded with pillows, lay a towel on the ground in front of it, and place a large container of warm water on top.  If your water is hot, allow it to cool just enough that you can place your feet in comfortably, soaking both or one at a time depending on the size of your bowl or dish.  You want to put several generous scoops of the salts in along with your feet, this way you’ll get the most fragrant foot bath possible.

Soak as long as you like, dry your feet off, pour the water out on a tree or in your garden with a blessing of gratitude, and go about your day with more spring in your step!

Contraindications: Grapefruit is photosensitizing and negates homeopathic medicines and oral contraceptives.  Peppermint is not recommended when using homeopathic treatments, during pregnancy or for individuals with epilepsy, circulatory issues or pacemakers, and can be skin sensitizing.  Also, Lavender is not suggested for those with low blood pressure or during pregnancy.

Litha Solar Oil Anointing Blend

A blend to bring you into alignment with the height of the Sun’s power.

Litha, the common term Neo-Pagans use for this Solstice, is a time to celebrate the strength of the Divine Masculine and the fertility of the Divine Feminine.  Whether we are male or female, putting our body in this form enables connection to the creativity that resides within us.  Whether your work is focused towards creating a new life, a piece of art, a loaf of bread; uses two needles, one hook, or a needle and thread; involves writing words, composing music, choreographing a dance, staging a play, or starting a business; harvesting organic foods, reducing excess consumption, increasing loving-kindness, or furthering global shifts towards peace: the ability of your creative spirit to manifest in this world is fully supported at this time of year.


Charge this oil outside so that you can call on its strength and inspiration throughout the year.

  • 10ml Infused Calendula Oil, Calendula officinalis – thought to be most potent at the midsummer, if you are really keen – grow, harvest, and infuse your own!
  • or 10ml Sunflower Oil, Helianthus annus
  • 8 drops Orange, Citrus sinensis
  • 8 drops Grapefruit, Citrus paradisi
  • 3 drops Black Pepper, Piper nigrum
  • 1 drop Cedar, Juniperus virginiana or Cedrus atlantica

Blend all ingredients in a 10ml dark glass bottle and place outside, nestled in the shaded abundance of Summer’s green growth, for an hour at noon.  Shake and store away from light in a cool location.  The bathroom is not recommended due to the heat and moisture there.  Be mindful that Cedar is a base note and may overtake the others; the essential oils will meld and the fragrance may alter significantly within 24 hours, if this occurs, you can add a small amount extra of whichever oil you would like to smell more of.

Usage: anointing blends are used in small quantities on energy centers and pulse points, somewhat similar to perfume oils.  Try dabbing this blend right onto your fingers and then on your temples, third eye (between the eyebrows), the wrists, solar plexus, sacrum, and bottom of the feet for an energetic realignment and calling in of solar power.  During the dark of winter it is very helpful to create a simple morning ritual applying the oil to these spots, or those of your choosing, to maintain the brightness of your inner sunshine when the outside world may be dark and draining.  If you have a regular home Yoga practice, try anointing yourself before the practice begins or before you take your final relaxation pose and tap into the solar energy through both body and scent.  If you are a meditation practitioner a few drops before you sit would also draw in the benefits of the charged oil.  One drop diluted in a base of Shea butter (Butyrospermum parkii) or a small amount of unscented lotion will make a lovely foot rub after your foot soak.

Or, dilute 5 or more drops into 10ml of carrier oil (sunflower or other) for a softly scented full body application.

Contraindications: citrus oils are photosensitizing – be sure to apply SPF when going in the sun within 12 hours of putting on this blend.  If anointing yourself in the morning on your face, apply your SPF first and wait 30 minutes before using the oil blend.  Because SPF is so important during the day, it is recommended that full body oil application only be done in the evenings.  Grapefruit is photosensitizing and negates homeopathic medicines and oral contraceptives.  Also, citrus can be drying to delicate skins, and along with Black Pepper can be sensitizing to skin so take care and remember that a little oil with a lot of intention goes very, very far indeed.  Black Pepper negates homeopathic medicines.  Cedar oil is not recommended during pregnancy or for individuals with epilepsy.
  • Battaglia, Salvatore.  The Complete Guide to Aromatherapy, 2nd edition.  Queensland AU: International Centre of Holistic Aromatherapy, 2003.
  • Loughran, Joni and Bull, Ruah.  Aromatherapy Anointing Oils: Spiritual Blessings, Ceremonies and Affirmations. California: Frog Ltd., 2001.
  • Mojay, Gabriel.  Aromatherapy for Healing the Spirit: Restoring Emotional and Mental Balance with Essential Oils. Rochester VT: Healing Arts Press, 1997.

Yoga instructor and Aromatherapist, Jessica Powers is a native of the Pacific Northwest currently training to jump through hoops and join her partner in New Zealand.  Keeping her sane in during this endeavour are her cats, Yoga practice, scented potions, and copious amounts of yarn.  While sometimes there are only cat photos, she does blogs regularly at  Jessica can be reached at for questions related to the practice and recipes provided here.

Day 6 – ‘Sweetie’ Lace Beanie

I see a pattern emerging in the knitting and crochet projects that are part of this AMDD. They seem to have picked up on fashion’s current love for the light and airy. Lace is hugely fashionable right now, and perfect for the summer and today’s knitting pattern ticks all the right boxes.

‘Sweetie’ by Melissa J. Leavitt is a light, summery hat, perfect for chilly evenings after the sun has disappeared…or maybe all the time in Ireland when the sun hardly appears! I am particularly excited to try this hat in the nude and pastel shades which are so fashionable at the moment, and try it both slouchy and more fitted.

Also on show today are the two ‘Pilgrimage’ cuffs I have completed so far. I am so happy with how they turned out, especially the ‘beachy’ looking one with the shell beads. Looking at it reminds me of the amazing feeling as the sand squidges between your toes! I’ll be started a Flickr group for people to upload photos of projects from and inspired by AMDD and I can’t wait to see what people have made…

I love the contrast between the rustic, textured Noro Taiyo yarn that I used (a scrap of it I just couldn’t bear to throw away) and the clean, crisp satin ribbon threaded through it. I threaded the ribbon through the eyelets made on the cast-on and -off edge to frame the cuff and then laced the ends together at the back to make the lace-up closure.

The flecks of yellow in the yarn remind me of the specks of sand floating in the water as the tide rolls off the beach. The shell beads are from an old necklace I have cherished and when it snapped I dutifully kept the beads to use on something special.

I still don’t have a ‘centrepiece’ item for the fronts of the cuff but I think the ‘beachy’ one might not need it. Simplicity seems to suit it. The lace-up cuff might want for a bit of bling however to really dress it up. I’m keeping my eyes peeled…

by Melissa J. Leavitt

This lace summer hat has been provided for us as a beautifully laid-out PDF document and can be downloaded by clicking here —>‘Sweetie’Pattern PDF <— Below are the materials required and the gauge.

Check out Melissa’s website for other great original patterns, tutorials and her blog.


  • 1 skein (3.52 oz Or 100g each) Araucania “Ruca Solid.” This is a DK / 8 ply (11 wpi) yarn which is 100% sugar cane. Color: 106
  • 4mm (6US) set of 5 double pointed needles or circular set in same size with appropriate cord length.
  • Tapestry needle
  • Optional: stitch markers
  • Optional: 4mm (6US) straight needles for casting on.


22 stitches and 30 rows = 4” in stocking stitch pattern on 4mm (6US) needles or whatever size needles to obtain correct tension.

Melissa J. Leavitt B.A., B.F.A., is a knitwear designer living in the beautiful East Coast province of New Brunswick, Canada. Melissa started knitting as a small child and the thrill of creating with sticks and string still has the power to make her forget laundry and such chores. When not in her studio, you can find her petting skeins at her local yarn shop.

Getting a Grilling: An Interview with Helena Close

Getting a Grilling: An Interview with Helena Close

Helena is the author of three novels, ‘Pinhead Duffy’, ‘The Cut of Love’ and ‘The Clever One’. She writes from her home in Liscannor, Co. Clare and is currently working on her fourth novel.

* Describe a typical day in your life.

Rush the kids out to school. Make coffee. Open laptop and sit down to get a head start writing, then do everything except write – feed the animals on Farmville – chat to pals on facebook – clean the cooker. Finally settle down to some writing and am just hitting my stride when the kids are back from school!

* How would you describe your writing style?

Pared back, minimalist, modern, contemporary, hopefully relevant!

* Tell us about your favourite piece of writing at the moment (yours or someone elses).

Cormac McCarthy’s The Road and Claire Kilroy’s Tenderwire – two unforgettable novels that I’m dead jealous of. And Claire Kilroy is not only a terrific writer she’s also skinny young and pretty – not fair. Am loving working on my new novel  – The Day you Left. So exciting to create a whole new world of characters and situations.

* When faced with the dreaded ‘Blank Page’ how do you get started?

I just write any old thing. Writers block is only for people with no bills and no kids at college.

* I am in awe of anyone who can write an entire novel themself, the task seems mammoth. What tips could you give someone who wants to start writing their own novel?

Think of something that you’d love to write about – something that keeps buzzing round in your head  and just won’t go away and then write from the heart. Forget about style, trends, markets. Believe in your characters and they’ll do the talking all by themselves.

* What’s the most important piece of advice you would give any young or beginning writer?

Write write write write write. And read as much as you can.

* Where do you find inspiration?

All around me. Snippets of conversations in Penney’s , at rugby matches in the steam room. Faces I see on the street, children and their wonderful innocence and wisdom all rolled together.

* Describe your workspace.

Kitchen table, half cleaned by one of the kids. Incredible view  – rolling fields and then the Atlantic – I am so lucky.

* Who would play you in the film of your life?

Penelope Cruz and Almodavar to direct!

* What is the most important lesson your Art form has taught you?

That I have to keep raising the bar. Every book demands more and more.

* Which living artist/writer do you most admire and why?

Eminem – terrific poet and he actually makes a ton of money out of it.

* How do you relax?

Swim, run, walk the dog. Glass of wine watching the footie or the rugby.

* What do you consider your greatest achievement?

Still being a Liverpool fan after a string of lousy seasons….

-Quick fire-

~Pretty interesting or interestingly pretty? Both of course.

~Blur or Oasis? Oasis all the way.

~Boxers or Y-fronts? Boxers, preferably on a member of the Italian football team.

~Fiction or Non-fiction? Fiction

~Blondes or Brunettes? (or redheads?!) Brunettes. Blondes are cheap and redheads are like dodos, on the way to extinction.

~Clooney or Depp? Tough one. Clooney. No Depp. No Clooney. No Depp. A draw.

~Classic or Modern? Modern.

~Custard or ice-cream? Ice cream

~World Cup or Wimbledon? World cup but love tennis.

~What’s your favourite colour? Blue.

~What’s your guiltiest pleasure? Glee – absolutely addicted.

~When are you happiest? Writing.

~Tell us a secret…I tried to write a rap song last week and failed miserably – very complicated form!