keeping up with the household making

Oh my.  Last week, my glee over our successful weekend “hard-rubbish-thrifting” led to me embarking upon several new projects.  Painted goods were lined up on the front porch.  Fabric and stencils were mounded up on the table on the back porch.  I spent the week dirty, paint smeared, with dust in my hair, and glue under my nails.  It was bliss :-)

However – there’s always a however – nothing was finished and today, I must admit, everything looked a little overwhelming.  It was time to “tidy up” and cross finished projects off the list.


The hot glue gun needs to go back into it’s box and downstairs – yo-yos stitched, glued onto the lampshade, lampshade finished. Excellent – lots of tidying up done.


But it’s not really a lampSHADE is it?  I stripped off the daggy, dirty cream satin with gold braid number, scrubbed the frame down with methylated spirits, wrapped the frame with 1/2 inch strips of patchwork fabric (modge podged on) and then added the yo-yos.  I tried not to – but I think they make it look ever so pretty :-)


It still needs rewiring – but after spending an hour trying to wriggle the cord up the base, I’m leaving it for Julian – definitely more his cup of tea than mine.


Now, time to put this morning’s cookies away – cocoa and cranberries.  Our cookies have been living in the sweet little ebay canisters – in plastic bags.  I don’t like to have the food touching the inside of the aluminium containers – they are a bit pitted – but I don’t like using the plastic bags either – yuck.  So, in order to put away the cookies, they needed a bag.  Stencilled osnaberg.


Boy oh boy, am I loving freezer paper stenciling – before long, everything will be yo-yoed AND stencilled.  It is foolproof!  Truly!   And when you add a bit of embroidery and a bit of applique it is so pretty.


All done – cookies away.


And a bag for the five stones.  I used the two back pockets from Julian’s old jeans.  I stitched them together along the old stitch lines, added a draw string and five buttons.


And look what Abby’s brought home – an order list for more five stones – 11 sets!  They were a huge hit at school!  For those who haven’t met five stones before – they’re like knuckles.  I was introduced to them in primary school in Malaysia.  Everyone made their own from scraps of fabric, filled with rice or lentils, and hand stitched across the top.  To play, you sit in a circle (like you would for marbles) – you toss the five stones into the middle, pick one up, throw it into the air and snatch up one of the remaining four and catch in the same hand.  Repeat this until all four have been collected.  On the next round, you have to pick up two at a time.  The third round, you pick up one and three.  And the final round, you pick up all four.  Any misses or drops, you lose your go and it passes to the next player.  It’s a lot of fun :-)

A productive day – much tidier – and happiness all around.

quotable sunday :: Elizabeth Zimmerman


[ tools of choice this week ]


[ adding the personal touch to the soon to be re-covered vintage ironing board ]


[ discovering english oak under layers of white, red, green, and mustard paint ]


[ recreating the five-stones of my childhood, out of an old pair of Julian's jeans, for Abby ]

” You know, if our ancestors had thrown out their furniture every decade, as we do, where would we go for antiques?  Let us give some thought to the well-being and enjoyment of our descendants, patch up our lares and penates, and hang on to them, so that the future will inherit at least some relics of our heedless and wasteful age.  Working over something, and repairing it, – whether we re-finish furniture, fix over an old house, or put new cuffs on a sweater – not only gives things new life and makes them look cared-for,
but embeds them still deeper in our affections.”  (The Knitter’s Almanac, p. 27)

quotable sunday :: William Morris


~ Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful ~

Oh I so try to live by this mantra.  Sometimes Julian has to remind me, point out the useless, the silly, the downright ugly :-)  But I’m so much better now that I’m getting old and sensible :-)

We’ve been having such a wonderful time lately, cruising the suburbs on the Sunday before the council’s hard rubbish collection, finding items that we consider very useful and sweetly beautiful – but that which others have left on the kerb to be munched into splinters. Honestly, as I clean and repair and paint my finds during the week, I am counting down the sleeps until the coming Sunday!

A marvellous haul tootled home with us today – a vintage wooden ironing board, a couple of serving trays, an antique cane chair, an antique spoon backed chair, a vintage woman’s bike with front basket, back luggage rack and stand, a wooden standard lamp, a wooden and linen laundry hamper, a wonderful vintage lowboy – cupboard with drawers inside, and the piece de resistance – an antique CHAISE LONGUE!  Can you believe it!

We had to ask the owner/disposer if we could move it back into his front garden whilst we hurried home to unload what we had previously considered to be an amazing collection and then come back for the chaise.  He was highly amused, but amiable and as we carried it back inside, warned “You do realise it’s broken?”  “Do you mean here, where the dowel has come unglued on the back rail?”  I asked, having already sat and laid down on the chaise and looked underneath, checking for wonkiness.  “Yes,” he replied very seriously, “We have the whole suite upstairs – matching armchairs, and a sofa, but when this chaise broke, it was just no good to us.”

Oh – my – goodness!  What a strange world we live in! So very indulged materially, that we have become terribly, terribly wasteful.  You wait and see, with a minimal amount of effort – but a lot of love and joy, this chaise longue will be beautiful and give us many, many years of useful comfort.  We also rescued quite a lot of smaller household items – a perfectly good pruning saw (Mum’s been meaning to buy one at the hardware store for months), a blackboard/easel for my nephew Oscar, a expandable safety gate for the doggles, a new laundry trolley for Mum, a pair of wooden curtain rails, a rattan blind in perfect condition and a wooden planter box.

So, long may the words of William Morris guide the nesting of the Boot family.  Useful and beautiful.  I think we can manage that :-)


p.s. this is my new work-a-day apron,
perfect for hard rubbish thrifting, painting, sanding and cleaning,
and it’s ticking both boxes for me – beautiful and useful – and tonight, dirty!

For more Quotable Sunday visit:

hanky pretty


I am a keen fan of SouleMama and her handmade life choices.  So when I saw her Hankerchief Bag earlier this week,  I was not only smitten, but thrilled that here was another, previously ignored, aspect of our Boot life that I could handmake.  I adore stitching the accoutrements of our home.  As the years go by, more and more corners of our home bustle with handmade goodness and I love looking around and seeing it all being loved and used.  And this Hanky Bag will be put to good use too – we are a family of sneezers – especially me.  I’m the Queen of Early Morning Sneezing.

(I’m hoping that one of Soulemama’s commenters was right when she said that tissues actually irritate your nose and make you sneeze more!  Maybe my conversion to cloth will grant more blessings than just those that are pretty and gentle on the earth.)


Out came the osnaberg and the button jars.  I made mine quilted on the front – two layers of osnaberg with a layer of bamboo batting in between, quilted with the buttons.

I cut the osnaberg pieces long enough to go round to make the front, the backing, and the back.  I stitched the front pieces together on the inside, folded them back to make the quilted section with its opening from which to pull out the hankies, then folded the final third to the back where I added a metal zipper for adding the freshly washed hankies.

Then I stitched on a long piece of pink woven tape, around the back first, then the front to form a handle from which to hang the bag.  I left the ties long so that it could be shortened or lengthened depending on where it was to be hung.


Of course, whilst making it, I thought of ways to improve it – I could add a wooden rod to the inside of the top and that would make it hang straighter.  But no mind.  It still works well and looks good.


Hankies were needed.  After years of tissue consumption – all that paper, all those boxes and plastic, all that transport, all that waste – we had NO hankies :-(  Keeping to the re-use theme, I’ve had a look on ebay and have bids in on two bulk lots of mixed florals, embroidered, and lace edged pretties.  But until then, I’ve whipped some up from cheap, thin, soft florals I bought at the local fabric outlet last year to wrap around wooden coathangers.  They’re so pretty.  Julian wants plain ones – goodness, fussy!  So I’ve dug out some very soft pale purple cotton which will be just right.


No matter where we find ourselves, or what the weather maybe, this hankie (stored up the sleeve, of course) will always take me back to towelling jumpsuits on the front lawn with the sprinker. :-)


To my Harry Potter fan, the hanky bag is a cousin to the “sorting hat”.  It does look a bit like that huh!


For washing the hankies, we have a small trug to toss them in after use, a small bucket next to the washing machine for soaking them in before washing (I make up a solution of warm water with a few drops of tea tree oil as an anti-bacterial – I use warm to start so that the oil mixes in nicely) , wash them in the machine with the usual load, then iron them (hee! hee! hee! no truly I do!) after a little spray with water and a few more drops of tea tree oil – makes them smell lovely, and helps clear the nose.


Thanks Amanda, for prompting us to find more ways to walk gently.  Delightful!

it’s a tricksy thing


this quilt photography isn’t it?

I fell in love with a Moda French General Jelly Roll – Rouenneries – the smooshy reds, and cocoa-greys quite tickled my fancy.  I haven’t made a quilt from a jelly roll before.  Seemed a good idea.

So I sliced some in half lengthways, left some whole, stitched them together, cut them up.  You know – the stuff we do when we make quilts.  Take perfectly good fabric and chop it into little pieces.  :-)  Only this time, the pieces were mostly cut already, and the resulting blocks weren’t that little.

It seemed to be asking for some Moda American Primer – truly, I mean, think on it, the French love embroidering the alphabet and here’s a beautiful piece of alphabet fabric – and the same font as used on the selvedge of the Rouenneries fabric.  Match made :-)

And the border – the never ending border – the “I have now sewn a couple of kilometres around the block and the quilt is now ridiculously big” border.  I didn’t think it would ever end.

But it did, and it was time to photograph it for you.  After trying several yicky ways of showing you, I threw it to the bare Frangipani and told her to do her best.


She wasn’t bad – she said she’d always had a fondness for cocoa-grey (I think she’s biased)…


and the twirly cartwheely blocks made her miss her leaves a little less.  But it wasn’t quite the whole quilt.


So I asked the washing trolley.


She too was fond of the colours, but was adamant it should be folded neatly.


Neatly! she demanded.


Ahem.  So I chucked it on the sodden winter weeds that try to pass themselves off as our lawn.


There you go – Rouenneries – stripey hexagons – lots of border.  I’m thinking of asking a long-arm quilter to baste it for me and tying it.  With red.  Or not.  Maybe I’ll just get her to quilt it.  It’s SOOOOO big.  Silly big.  What was I thinking?


Hey!  Isn’t the fabric’s gorgeous! And when this giant’s done – she’ll keep ALL of us cosy :-)  And that’s what quilts are really for, aren’t they.

we love …


~ giant dandelions, collected and displayed by my girl  ~
(they’re really members of a royal family)


~ stitching dolls ~handsewing

~ embroidered hankies ~


~ learning to print ~
(book on its way – SOOO looking forward to it)


~ strange beauty, falling from the sky ~
(straight onto my freshly painted bookshelf … hmm … )


~ busy best friends … and curious doggles ~


~ having the right tools for the job ~


~ the strange and wonderful creatures that appear on my oven ~
(it’s the most satisfying drying spot)


~ hard rubbish thrifting ~
(finds for the week = vintage, WORKING sewing machine with case (circa 1957) + wooden bookcase + pair of cane chairs + wooden standard lamp + wooden art supply traveling case + Ikea little wooden chest of drawers = AWESOME!]



~ a tool used to wind yarn (painting by Simm Stickerin)


~ it’s many arms, simple yet beautiful


~ may I wind?


~ so whispery fleet


~ so marvellously graceful


~ so very satisfying


~ all the way from Sweden, such delight it filled my eyes with tears of delight

from the book friday :: mindful movements


An almost hot cup of milky tea – with honey for Abby – draws us out of our sleepy heads and into the wakening day.  We potter, make breakfast together, and eat it at the table with candles lit as a reminder of the light and joy that is waiting for us as we travel through our day.  Often we share a poem over our breakfast – some weeks we set to memorising one.  This morning, with the sun rising earlier, and earlier, we made our tea, rugged up in our tracksuits and with the morning air cold and crisp on our cheeks, headed into the back garden to start our day with something different.


“Mindful Movements :: Ten exercises for Well-being “ by the wonderful Buddhist monk, Thich Nhat Hanh.  Just the introduction offers much inspiration.  There’s a brief biography of Thich Nhat Hanh and he describes mindfulness, the pleasure it can bring us as individuals, and the power and importance of it for our communities.  There are seven miracles of mindfulness ::

1.  Being present and mindful of the miracle that is our world - looking up to see the beauty of the sun as it slips through the branches of our glorious trees, noticing that the avocado tree is already clustered with buds, awaiting the flowers of spring and the fruits of summer, watching our frosty breaths leave our warm bodies, listening to the ever-cheerful doggles as they snuffle through the leaves and flowers of the garden.

2.  To make these miracles of our world present – only then can we truly feel appreciation and respect.

3.  To provide the object of our attention – whether it is our chatting child, our daily chores, a young mother at the park who shares the stories of her day with her babes, or cooking our family meal – with our full awareness and appropriate attention (I think the sense of appropriate here relates to the Buddhist teachings regarding disturbing emotions – granting people and objects inappropriate attention, i.e. I must have this dress so that  I will be happy when I attend my school reunion, or if my husband does not do this task to my specifications, I will be deeply let down).  Being mindful of the object of our attention allows us to both appreciate the people and activities of our day, and be aware of that which will disturb us and does not need our attention, thus making us more peaceful and happy people which is good for us and for those with whom we share our lives.

4.  To relieve the suffering of others.  What a gift this miracle – to have the capacity for compassion, kindness, generosity, and love.  Every sentient being is deserving of us treating them with these gifts.

5.  Looking deeply into the nature of self and others.  I think the second half of this miracle must be something that only comes after many years of mindful practice and awareness of self.  :-)

6. Understanding.  When we are mindful of the present moment, we receive clarity which in turn helps us to relieve suffering and share our love and happiness.  I find this to be so true when parenting.  Sometimes, Abby will share something that she has found difficult or upsetting and it is important to listen carefully to her feelings and thoughts because when I can understand where she is coming from, I am able to be a much better listener and then provide the parenting and support which SHE needs.

7.  The miracle of transformation.  When we practice mindfulness, we are changing ourselves and thus contributing to positive change in our community.  I believe this to be true.  Every time we extend kindness and love to others we are enriching their day in a simple and small way – and this leads to them creating more moments of kindness and love.  It’s part of the circle.


So how does all of this translate into ten mindful movements.  Thich Nhat Hanh devised these simple exercises as a means of stretching between long periods of meditation.  For us – they are means of mindful meditation.  They are simple – yet there is an element of challenge in some – balancing on your toes whilst squatting, and circling your legs whilst slowly breathing in and out, my balance is a bit wonky but I am looking forward to using my mind to focus more and more on achieving these :-).  And when you finish you have spent almost half an hour, concentrating on your breath, feeling and appreciating your body and its movements, and noticing the world that is around you.  It is a very refreshing, energising and joyful way to start the day with your child.

The book includes a dvd of Thich Nhat Hanh and students performing the ten mindful movements (we are yet to watch this) and is cheerfully and thoughtfully illustrated by the Dutch artist Wietske Vriesen.  There are people from all corners of the world happily performing these exercises – black women, asian mothers with their children, muslim girls in their headscarves, silver-haired women with their cats, funkily-dressed teenagers, middle-aged men in their ties – it reinforces that teaching that we are all part of the same community, we have the same desires and needs, and thus, we are all deserving of the same love and kindness.

Mmh.  It’s a good book.  Especially for sharing with our children – a gentle introduction to the meditative and breathing practices of Buddhism, and an inspiring account of a very brave and dedicated man.


a riddle for you

What do you get when you cross a half finished poncho with a muma who cannot knit fast enough?

That’s what I was wondering as I cast off the front of Abby’s striped poncho – at a stage where it was taking 20 minutes per row there were SOOOOO many stitches.

Hmmm … I bundled the poncho into my take-along, added all three colours so I could continue working on the fringe, Old Maid, a handful of GemNuts (my own cookie invention from this morning – peanut butter and cranberry), a homemade chocolate milk, the sit-upons and the cello.  It’s always a challenge to walk down the front stairs on a Tuesday afternoon, as opposed to falling down them, when I heft all this along.


‘Cause Tuesday afternoon is Cello Picnic.  Abby’s lesson is at school at 4pm so there’s no reason to go home.  Especially when down the bottom of the hill upon which the school is built is the Brisbane River and a beautiful park of huge trees and green green grass.


We dance down the steep path each week – and stagger back up! – and have a little picnic, read a book together, play a game, or just sit and watch.  There’s often a dog – of the Inspector Rex variety – that comes with his owner to play catch in this little grove.  And lots of students traipsing across the green bridge to the University.


Today we had Old Maid – a gorgeously old fashioned edition, complete with story book and the funniest, pompous introduction to the game.  We put on our best Admiral Bluster voices, stiff upper lip and all,  and read it out loud.


“Do not be hoodwinked!  Do not be deceived!  It would appear that this devilish, dastardly spy is heavily disguised.  This card sharp, this vagabond, this slippery fellow, may well appear as an Old Maid, a sweet old lady with an innocent smile.”

As we read on, I was alarmed to discover – I was the Old Maid.  Truly!


“She may well try and sew a sack to encircle you like a web, or pin you to the wall with one of her poisonous needles!”

Mmmmhmmm.  There I was, in my requisite shawl, needles poking out of my bag, and no husband to be seen. Oy!  Of course, you cannot really play Old Maid with just two players – if you try, it’s all over rover in one turn – so we had a jolly game of snap.  Which is quite tricky with these cards because they are so very finely detailed.  Good fun!


Then I remembered I had the half finished poncho – I pulled it out and asked Abby what she thought a half finished poncho was – waiting for her to smile politely and respond, “A shawl like you and Nanny wear.”  But she didn’t – she held it up with delight, draped it across her shoulders and pronounced it …

“A cape!”


Good show! Now hop to it Old Maid with those needles.  Sharp’s the word and quick’s the action!


p.s.  by the by, I finished the Nimbus cardigan on the weekend – I’m in the process of stitching it together – painstakingly.

patched jeans at flickr

Hey!  If you make some patched jeans, take some yummy photos and post them on my new Flickr group – Patched Jeans.  I would love to see them.  It’s so much fun to peer at someone else’s patchwork and marvel at their wonderful colour combinations and the fabrics that you recognise and love.  You know “Oh-er!  I’ve used that one in my Alice quilt!”  Makes it seem so real and cosy.


So here’s the group – Patched Jeans. Join up!