Wednesday, December 29, 2010

mini art journal challenge: weeks 38 and 39

Week 38: "I wonder...". This is the last stretch of my pregnancy, and we chose not to find out what we were having, so the only thing on my mind at the moment is "what" this baby is! I love surprises, but the waiting is killing me. Up to recently, I thought it could well be a girl (or maybe I really want it to be a girl!). Now I'n not too sure. Whenever we ask Tahi, he says it's a boy. A couple of weeks ago I had a vivid dream: I was giving birth, a natural birth (yay!) by the sea, alone. I held the baby and then there was this close up of the genital: it was a boy! It doesn't get much clearer than that as far as premonitory dreams go... (or maybe it's the baby telling me something!).
(Flea is the nickname we gave the baby)

Week 39: "Someone spesh". It had to be my best friend, my sister, my childhood accomplice. We've known each other since we were kids, we grew up in the same town, went through teenage hood and then adulthood side by side. We've gone separate ways, she lives in Germany with her husband and I live in New Zealand with my (expanding) little family, but whenever we see each other, it's like nothing's changed. I am lucky, we only grow up once, and childhood friends are unique, you can't replace them.

Whenever I think of my best childhood friend, I have this song that pops up in my head (like in movies), it's a song we used to listen to a lot, and it was "our" song...

Sunday, December 26, 2010

The day after Xmas

We had a lovely Xmas day, with first a very flash lunch with some friends ( included an entree of crayfish, a main of ham and raw fish in coconut sauce and 5 different desserts!), then the rest of the afternoon at the beach with other friends, it was nice and relaxed, perfect!
While Europe is struggling with the bad cold weather, we are getting to the peak of summer with some pretty hot days. Best thing to do is to spend some time cooling off at the beach! Our local one has some nice little swimming holes at low tide, perfect for little toddlers!

This is my favorite time of the year, I am not a winter person, especially not when living in a house that gets as cold as outside.
The bump is coming along!

I've managed to spend a bit of time in my workshop, haven't got round to Xmas presents yet, but I did make myself a couple of night shorts since I had none and my winter pants were definitely too warm.

I made the shirt a while ago (but had no camera to take any pics), from two different shirts I found at the op shop.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

mini art journal challenge: weeks 36 and 37

It's been very interesting doing this challenge (and trying to stick to it!), I've found quite a few of the weekly themes related closely to my personal situation at the time. It's never been so true with the card for week 36. The theme was "strength". It took me a while to figure out what I was going to do, but I knew it would resonate.
When I was pregnant with Tahi, I got this condition called obstetric cholestasis. We only found out I had it the day before Tahi was born, and it kind of triggered a series of events that made my birth experience a bad one, or rather a non eventful one since it ended up being an emergency cesarian. I have to add that on top of that Tahi was breech, and even though we were ready and willing to have a vaginal breech birth (call me crazy), the obstetricians wouldn't have a bar of it.
Anyway, three years later and pregnant again, I knew it was highly likely I'd get cholestasis again, and I was wasn't looking froward to the complications it involved. It is considered "high risk" and as such has to be supervised by obstetricians and specialists. Since my first experience of a highly medicalized birth wasn't that great, I am willing to avoid having to deal with hospitals and doctors as much as possible.
When my liver functions came back high, I found it hard to think positively. I'd felt it coming back a few weeks before and had started taking some herbal remedies and watching what I ate (I'll get into more detail in a future post). Josh was away working in Wellington and I was on my own with Tahi, cycling everywhere since we only have one car. I was pretty tired (still am actually!). I knew this card had to help me keep my head cool. I think this is my favourite card so far. I stuck it on our computer, so I see it everyday and it really uplifts my spirits. Just for this card, I'm glad I started this challenge and managed to stick to it (so far!)!

I painted the card with yellow and red paint then cut out a fabric butterfly and sewed it on the card. I also sewed a cross I cut out of some nice paper I had, then stuck on a yin and yang sign, a tree and a foetus wearing a high hat (!). I used an alphabet ruler to write the words "believe" and "be positive".

Week 37 also helped upflift my mood: "life is beautiful". Nothing like looking at what's positive in your life to help you feel better. I realized I am pretty lucky to live the life I am living, sometimes I feel like I'm living on a little fluffy white cloud. I am blessed, in a lot of ways. And I am still two months away from my due date, which means I've got that much time to try and minimize the seriousness of my cholestasis (which I have managed so far!).

I cut out a drawing of a girl out of a magazine, then used some purple stars from some wrapping paper I've had for years (yes I'm a hoarder). I cut some strip out from a purple balloon left over from Tahi's birthday and finally sewed a cute blue heart shaped button.

On this note, I would like to wish everyone a very merry Xmas, filled with joy and happy moments with loved ones. We started this little family tradition of planting a tree (instead of killing one!) at this tiem very year. So tomorrow we'll be planting a Tahitian Lime and a Kefir Lime in our garden!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

mini art journal challenge: weeks 30 to 35

Yes I am still doing my weekly cards! I didn't have a camera for so long this challenge seems to have fallen into a vortex. Anyway, I'm so far behind I won't comment much on them, just let the visual do the talking.

Week 30: "Count your blessings". I wanted it to look like these scrolls you can see hanging in buddhist temples.

Week 31: "No regrets". All I could think of was this french singer Edith Piaf, who sang a beautiful song about not having any regrets. I tried to draw her face from a photo, onto a background of a stone wall. Not exactly her but close enough! (watch the song here)

Week 32: "Quiet"

Week 33: "10mn". I thought I'd do better, this card is pretty plain an uninteresting.

Week 34: "Ha ha". Ok, so with this card I realized my drawing skills need to be polished, hopefully my sense of humour is alright though! Hair salons in New Zealand seem to like names involving a play on words, like a good laugh will make your hair shinier or something!

Week 35: "Draw something". Same comment as above. I tried to draw a water lily...

Monday, December 20, 2010

Pre Christmas op shopping

Is not usually that great, but I did find some gems last week! First, one of our local op shops always has a sale the week before Xmas, one of those fill a bag for $5. So of course I had to fill one, and I found lots of little shelves (very useful in the workshop for putting away bobbins of thread). I also found this beautiful Pyrex dish (I'm in love with Pyrex). Not that we need one more right now, but at the rate at which things get broken in this house, I figured I might as well stock up when I find a good one (and take a photo before it gets broken!).

I also found a mouli, which I had been looking for for ages. There are some aluminum ones in another shop, but they don't look nearly as cool and I don't like my food to be in contact with aluminum anyway. If you don't know what a mouli is, I'll say just that, it makes the yummiest lightest mashed potatoes and is well worth investing in! Sometimes op shopping reminds me of treasure hunting, all that excitement of finding an object you'd been looking for, the need to grab it fast before anyone else casts an eye on it and the exhilaration of putting it safely into your shopping bag. The thrill, the thrill!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Time spent in the kitchen...

I have been pretty tired, and haven't stepped into my workshop for over 2 weeks now. I'm dying to get in there and get all my ideas out of my head before it explodes, but by the time I get to the evenings I can hardly drag myself to bed, so I'll leave the sewing to later on (I hope!). One thing I can do while Tahi is awake though, is spend time making stuff in the kitchen, which has been really nice. I made strawberry jam, rhubarb cordial, crackers, cookies, failed miserably at making mozzarella 3 times but succeeded at making a really nice halloumi a few days ago! I looooove halloumi. It's one of my favorite cheeses. Simply fried and added to a summery salad, mmmm... too bad I'm not really supposed to eat dairy. I had to try it though, and I'm happy to say it tasted just like the best halloumi on the shelves. It was easier to make than mozzarella too, and added bonus, I managed to make a decent amount of ricotta with the left over whey!
I found the recipe on a cool blog called Alessandra Zecchini (that's where I also found the recipe for making rhubarb cordial).
Without doubt the best halloumi you can buy in New Zealand!  Photo thanks to Cook Almost Anything, where you can find a good halloumi salad recipe as well!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Merino singlet giveaway winner

Hello, sorry my posts have been very sporadic lately. I have to admit not being able to take pictures has left me slightly uninspired, and although this is usually a busy time of the year involving lots of crafty fun gift making, I haven't even stepped into my workshop for over a week! (I can't believe I've managed to stay away from it!). I'm taking things slowly and focusing on rest, it's not like I ever manage to get xmas presents made on time anyway, so these will be late as usual!
Anyway, the lucky winner of the merino singlet giveaway is Stace from Knightlight, congratulations!
Now all you need is to choose a size, design and color!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Dino party

Seeing Tahi's been pretty much obsessed with dinosaurs for a few months now, it was only logical to throw a Dinosaur party for his birthday!
So of course I made a dinosaur cake, with a hired mould. It looked horrible (I'm pretty terrible at making birthday cakes) because I didn't put the icing on properly. No photos. But Tahi loved it and couldn't stop staring at it, I think mainly because of the dinosaur lollies I had stuck on it. Of course that's all he ate from the cake!
We hadn't organized any games this year, Josh is away working in Wellington and I was busy enough making Tahi's costume and getting the food sorted. It took me a week to finish his costume but I was pretty happy with the result, and Tahi thought it was great so that made it all worth it.
In all, a lovely chilled afternoon with friends and kids, hanging out in the backyard, munching on strawberries and sipping orange tea (a special drink I'd made, well actually it's orange marmalade mistakenly turned into syrup, but it works perfectly for drinks!).

The garden is looking pretty good at the moment, and we have been getting some nice veges from it lately, which is so very pleasing and rewarding! Below is my prize winning broccoli.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Making cheese

I tried to make mozzarella cheese for the third time yesterday... the first couple of times I got the temperatures wrong (we use Celsius here and all the recipes I found on the internet use Fahrenheit, duh!), it took me a while to figure out what was wrong. This time it sort of worked, but I think I might have overcooked it a bit. Instead of getting that nice soft ball of yummy cheese, mine was a bit harder, perfect for  melting over pizzas, not so perfect for the tomato-mozzarella salad I had in mind. I used a great little tutorial on this cool blog, by reading it it looks so easy, I guess I'm going to have to practice a bit!
Mmmmm... Fresh mozzarella

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Blue is for boys, pink is for girls

I had this interesting discussion yesterday with my midwife yesterday, about why pink and blue are the "designated" colors for respectively girls and boys. According to a friend, pink used to be the color for boys in the 19th century! My midwife has this book filled with little facts about birth, babies, etc... You wouldn't believe the meaning of these colors. I was a bit shocked at the misogyny behind it! So a few centuries back, the colors chosen for babies to wear were supposed to protect them. So because boys were considered superior they chose blue which represents protection from heaven. It didn't say what pink stood for though. I've never been a big fan of color coding babies and toddler, now I am even less!
Peapod cocoon by May22

Now that I am in the third trimester of my pregnancy (all going well so far!), I've also started doing a bit of reading, to refresh my memory and get ready for the birth. Have you ever wondered why women are expected to give birth lying on their backs? If you have had a birth experience and had freedom to move around and choose a comfortable position while in labour, you'll know that it is probably the most uncomfortable position to be in! Well it turns out a 17th century french doctor, Francois Mauriceau,  is credited for coming up with that idea. Because of course he knew what it feels like to be in labour pain... As read on "Vaulted Treasures":
He advocates a reclining position in bed rather than sitting on a birthing stool or chair for delivery. This “French Position” permitted the obstetrician to more easily examine the patient and perform procedures. Its use quickly spread in Europe and North America.
Why a man should dictate what is best for women is beyond me. I am not an extreme feminist, but I do believe in the power of instinct, and when it comes to a woman's business, who should be better placed than the woman herself to know what feels best? 

Monday, November 22, 2010

And I forgot to mention

We just happened to walk past Robyn Matheson's relocation sale too, and although the clothes are not my style, there were lots of fabric seconds that were! It's probably a good thing we're going back to Gisborne today!
Tahi in one of his dinosaur singlets

Friday, November 19, 2010

Wellington op shop finds

We are in Wellington for a few days, so of course we had to do a bit of op shopping. We went to one I hadn't been to before, the Salvation Army in Johnsonville and found some cool clothes! Tahi found two dinosaur singlet, so he was stoked and I found a pair of comfy pants, a Witchery woolen cardigan and a Max organic cotton cardigan. The quality of clothing is definitely a level up from Gisborne... Yay!
Max organic cotton cardigan, super nice and soft!
I played around this morning and modeled my new finds... funny!

 Being in summer mode in Gisborne, we came down with very little warm clothes and I didn't expect it to be so chilly, so it was lucky to find some nice cardis. Since this winter I've had a renewed interest in them, and I'm slowly accumulating some nice finds in my wardrobe. Speaking of which, it's "Embellish knits month" at Grosgrain, worth checking out!
Witchery woolen cardigan

Joys of summer

Gisborne is getting hot, it's been so nice to hang out in the garden and at the beach. Tahi's been loving playing in the water! Josh was back for a week end, so here are a few photos of our summer beginnings.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Sneak preview and giveaway

I've finally taken some photos of the new merino singlets I'd made for the Baby Expo, now I just need to load them onto my shop(s). Most will be on Etsy but I might also put some on Felt. And there is also one in this month's giveaway for one lucky kid!

The sizing ranges from 3month to 2 year old. The color and pattern will be free to choose, depending on what's available.
To enter this giveaway, four options:
- Follow this blog
- Post and link about this giveaway on your blog
- Heart me on Etsy (and tell me which items you like too!)
- Facebook or Twitter

Post a comment to let me know how you've entered, each option is worth one entry, don't forget your email so I can contact you. Entries close on the 10th of December (which should leave enough time to post the winning singlet before Xmas).

Good luck!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Working on a deadline - part 3

In this last part I will talk about the benefits of "mass" production. It seems odd to be using this term when talking about handmade.
Mass production can also be termed Fordism, after Henry Ford who is credited to have come up with the concept and created some of the first assembly lines. The idea was to produce inexpensive goods coupled with high wages to workers. That was before globalization encouraged companies to shift overseas and pay miserable wages to workers in developing countries. Modern big (and smaller) brands have no consideration for craft(wo)manship, the beauty of a product well made and the welfare of the people who make them. Let's face it, the only thing that interests them is how much money will end up in their bank account. This seems so far removed from the emergence of the handmade movement and individuals starting their own little ventures, making and selling their wares locally or on the web, Fordism is the last thing you'd have in mind when defining your business and philosophy.
Yet, we can all do with a bit of Fordism. Not the selling yourself cheap part, but optimizing your production costs. We all want to sell at a fair price without undercutting ourselves. Choosing to make in a mass production way can seem soul-less but has its advantages.
Henry Ford Quote by YourVinylAnswer

- We can make things faster. I wanted to make enough singlets for my stall so that people would have a choice of colour and size. So I cut out all the fabric first, then did one pass of sewing, one pass of pinning, another pass of sewing and finally screen printed them all. I saved a lot of time because I didn't have to go back and forth between the cutting stage and the sewing stage. As mentioned in part 1, I was able to "chain sew", sew all the bits of fabric in one continuous thread. Each singlet individually would probably take me 45mn/1hr to make each, I made 48 of them in about 20hrs.

- We are more efficient. If you repeat the same task 48 times, you are more likely to get better and faster at it. And I found I was less likely to make mistakes.
End Mass Production by DeadWorry

With this I will end my third and last post on the subject. I hope some people will find it useful. I wrote this based on my experience and observations, and obviously what works for me might not work for everyone. I think the most important to keep in mind when you are making and crafting with a deadline such as a market, a wholesale order or simply a custom order, is to know yourself and what works for you.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Working on a deadline - part 2

Now that your work and head space are clear and organized, it's time to get busy!

2- Allocate time

- I found that timing myself was quite useful. If I know how long it takes to achieve each task, I can plan ahead and know when I can expect the finish product to be ready, or how many hours I need to put in to be ready for D-day. In my case, the latter applied and I knew I would have to work a couple more hours a day to get everything done. It's also a good way to work out how much your work is worth.

- Set yourself deadlines and goals. I find that setting a time when each step has to be finished helps me get through it all.
Wood Clock Faces with a Salvador Dali Twist by porkchopshow

- Set a time for work and a time for "play". I made it a rule that I don't work when Tahi's awake. I used to dash into my sewing room if I had had a spare 10mn when he seemed to be playing and having a good time on his own. But it never worked, and he'd always end up coming looking for me then wanting to play with my tools or whatever he could find in the sewing room (scissors being a favourite). Plus I didn't feel like I was being very productive with all this stopping and going and Tahi wasn't getting the quality time he deserved. So now I use our time together to play or do house chores, so when he's finally in bed and asleep I can focus on my work. This way I get one or two hours of uninterrupted time to myself.

3- Delegate

Don't be shy to ask for help. If you have family or friends around you trust and that are willing to give you a hand, say yes! It will make less stressful for everyone and some people love being involved in projects. This time round Josh was away with the car, so I asked a good friend to look after the boy and some other friends lent me their car. It would have been near impossible without their valuable help!

I hope you find this useful, and stay tuned for part 3!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Working on a deadline

Being self employed can be great and is ideal for people who need flexibility in their schedule and find it easier to run their business themselves. This involves making your own decisions and overseeing the entire process your product goes through. It is very rewarding yet stressful at times.
While I was getting ready for the Baby Expo last week, I thought about all the steps I was taking to efficiently and productively sew some new stock (which sold very well by the way!). More often than not, we mums don't only have to deal with our business and time is very limited. I usually get about two working hours a day. Last week I stretched it to four, but felt exhausted on Sunday.

I compiled a list of hot tips for busy mums. It is a bit long, so I will split it into three or four posts. Here's part 1:

1- Get organized!
To me planning is crucial to successfully get through a big workload. It may seem like a waste of time when you sit down and brainstorm for half an hour but that half hour could save you so much time later on!

- To make sure I don't forget anything, I usually have a list written on a piece of paper lying around and just take notes during the day of anything I might think of. This way, I don't have to "block" some of my precious time and I can write things as they come (I have a terrible memory, the sort where you walk into a room and forget what you went there for!). I have to admit though, I'm a bit of a list freak!

DIY notebook by TalkoftheTown
- Clean up your workspace. A well organized workspace where all your tools are in place, nothing is lying on the floor and you have free space to spread out later on will also save you time and minimize the risk of mistakes. When you're in a rush, you don't have time to stop and think where you last saw your pair of scissors or where you threw that piece of fabric that would be so perfect for making that cute top!

"Keep Calm And Carry On" poster by KeepCalmPosters
- Be methodical. I've never been a big fan of mass production. I like making each garment one at a time but when I'm trying to get lots of stock made in a short amount of time, this method doesn't work. So I get out the fabrics and patterns I will be using and proceed to cut everything. I cut various fabrics and sizes. It may take me days, but doing it all in one go means I don't have to keep going back and forth between the sewing machine and the cutting table (actually the floor for me!). It also means I can sew all the fabrics that require one color of thread together, and once they are all cut I chain-sew (haha) everything. I end up with a string of bits of fabric, which I then pin together and keep going until they are all made. It's tedious and boring but much faster than making one or a few items at a time.

In the next post I will talk about how to use your time efficiently. I would love to get some feedback and hear how other people manage to get through their workload!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

The day after

It's Monday and I'm glad last week's over. The Baby expo was a success, with people cueing at ten to 10 to get in, in typical Gisborne style. This is one thing that still surprises me here, when there is a bargain to be had, people come rushing. There will be cars circling around houses where garage sales are as early as 5.30 in the morning, no kidding!
The Gisborne Baby expo was giving out 500 bags of goodies, so people rushed to the doors so they didn't miss out!
Over the Rainy Clouds by Carambatack

This made for a very busy morning, things slowed down around lunchtime then got quieter in the afternoon. I had spent the week making some merino singlets and they were by far the best sellers. Josh is back this week end with our camera, so I will be able to post some photos soon and update my shop at the same time. I hadn't finished putting labels on though, and left it to the last minute, thinking I could do it while setting up and not expecting people to turn up so early. Big mistake! I was still putting labels on at 10.30 with people checking out the stall and a friend helping me put the singlets up on the racks... not a good look! Good lesson to lear for next time.
Tahi spent the day with my good friend and her daughter, which I am so grateful for and without which my day would have been much much harder. He was happy and chirpy when I picked him up.
That night I couldn't wait to get to bed! The next day I woke up and spent the day in a daze, just pottering around the house (and made marmalade jelly). It felt a bit like a hangover, without the bad headaches. So this week I am taking it slow and getting some rest!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

The rush

Josh is away for 7 weeks, and I've got 3 days left to get some stuck ready for the baby expo in Gisborne. Nothing's changed since school days so I left lots of making to the last minute (or week) and I am now rushing to get everything done. It seems deadlines have always been the way to get me busy!
Anyway, I'm planning on catching up with some sleep next week, and if you happen to be in Gisborne make sure you drop by!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Summer at the beach

Days can get pretty sunny and hot. And the sun is dangerous in New Zealand. There has been a hole in the ozone over New Zealand for a while, which means sun rays are not filtered as they usually are by this protective layer. So if you are living or traveling here, you've got to be very careful and splatter that sticky sunscreen over you thoroughly if you don't want to get sunburnt. A lot of people have commented on how they were surprised by the strength of the sun here!
Tahi's not very keen on putting sunscreen on, he just wants to run outside and play. So I made some kaftan style long sleeve tops with some light cotton fabric scraps I'd bought a while ago. Unfortunately I gave one away to a friend's daughter who really liked it and forgot to take pictures (a real bummer because she just looked sooo cute!), and I haven't got Tahi to wear the other top I made yet. So here are just some pics of the remaining top on a white background (and I didn't iron it, duh!). I am planning on making a couple more for him, and possibly another one for a friend's son's birthday we missed, so there will be more photos to come.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

My creative space

I tried a new technique: shirring. I was always curious as to how to get that cool effect, and I was surprised to see how simple it is. There's a good video tutorial here on Grosgrain ( and check out her Halloween costume giveaway while you're there!)

I have also been rearranging parts of the house... sort of. The thing with living in a house in constant change is that there are a  lot of transitional states that can last quite a while. Our bathroom and kitchen have been in that mode for a few months now. The bathroom is not much more than a building site and the kitchen is awaiting restructuring, and there are boxes of food lying around along one of the walls. The problem with these in between phases is that we end up living in a mess. Now I'm not particularly a clean freak or anything but I like some sort of order. Especially when we have all sorts of cats and mice and toddlers walking around. So I upgraded the kitchen from transitional building site to student flat, and it makes me feel a bit better! I used some bits and pieces found in the garage, including one of josh's beer crates. He wasn't very happy about that but I said he could only have it back if he found something similar to use. We all know bribery works best most of the time, so now I'm hoping it can only get better! (either he swaps it or he upgrades the kitchen completely, no more cardboard boxes on the floor).

Head over to Kootoyoo for more creative goodness!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Shoe shopping

I swore myself a few years back that I would never buy new clothes or accessories without knowing where they came from. This actually goes for as much of the shopping I do as possible. I try not to buy something new if I can help it. I also try to buy things I know will last me a while. Why you may ask, it sounds like I'm making my life much more complicated. Well, maybe I am, but I have come to enjoy the part of shopping where I challenge myself to find what I need. It can sometimes take a while, but I do find it eventually. I have this mental list in my head that pops up whenever I walk into an op shop. What a thrill when what I've been searching for is sitting on a shelf waiting for me! I realize this might not be a very practical to shop for most people though. And when it comes to shoes, finding the right pair at the right size is near impossible in op shops.
We don't realize how much power consumers have. But we do, all of us. Consumers were the ones to put pressure on big brands like Nike, Adidas, Levis to be more responsible about how they produce their goods. There are so many fair trade eco friendly options for buying clothes and shoes nowadays, no excuse to at least give it a go! 
I thought I've share my little network I've been building up. This post will about shoe shopping. I hope you enjoy it and find it useful!
I am not a huge shoe collector, but I like my feet to be nice and comfy. I'm a big fan of sneaker type shoes, they are the best comfort wise and there are so many cool styles out there. 
In small towns like Gisborne, or in New Zealand in general, you'll find it hard to source even just one brand of ethically made shoes. Luckily the internet helps fill in the lack of local resources!
I go through phases of browsing on TradeMe (our local Ebay) for shoes, and recently bought a pair of sheepskin slippers for $11. They are ugly, but oh so warm. I found out when I received them through the post that they are from a NZ company too, Canterbury Leather International, and they look so much more durable than the previous ones I bought (Emu).

Ugly but warm!
I find that asking in stores some information about the product can be useful. I bought a pair of El Naturalista shoes in Paris, and the store owner happily explained to me that it was a company owned and based in Spain and that they source sustainably made natural products. The shoes are manufactured in Spain too, where there are strict rules for workers' rights. I felt happy to buy them, the price wasn't any different than any other pair of similar shoes and I found a color and style that suited me.

my El Naturalista shoes
Using search engines on the net to get more info about the brands you like is a good way to get informed too. You can also search for new brands too.

One of my favorite shoes sites of the moment is Toms shoes. They are not particularly eco friendly but for every pair you buy, they give one to a child who need some too. They also make sure the shoes are produce in a good working environment for their employees. I loved the idea, so I bought a pair in a shop in Melbourne, and recently ordered another pair online. They are very comfy!
Bodas by Toms shoes
So here's a short list of other brands I found searching through the net and in like minded magazines:
- If I was rich, I would definitely buy a pair of Po-Zu, they make the coolest sandals, shoes and boots
- Terra Plana, heels, sneakers and boots
- Autonomie Project, flip flops and sneakers
- Common Soles, flip flops
- Keen, lots and lots of styles, mostly casual wear
- Groundhog, shoes and boots
- Wombat, simple and casual styles, sell gumboots! (Also do clothing)
- And of course handmade websites such as Etsy are good ones to browse. I currently have my eyes on this neat pair of mocassins...
Handmade mocassin by willymocs

More articles about choosing "green" shoes: Green Your Sole, Economically Sustainable Footwear, Tracking the Future of Sustainable Footwear, Fashion from Spain (an article about Pikolinos and El Naturalista).
And if you're keen to do some more reading on the subject, here are a couple of links: Fair Trade Sweatshops? article and Organic Clothing and Eco Friendly Fashion Sources.