bit of knitting :: bit of shopping

Ahhh now, I’ll let you in on a secret.  I’m completely besotted with knitting at the moment.  Thanks to the Tangled Yarn and Ravelry, I have been accumulating stash and patterns like there’s no tomorrow.  I have PILES of wool near every comfy sitting spot in the house, and of course, knitting in the take-along bag.  On the needles are crowns and dolls and a sweater for Julian and more handwarmers for Abby and handwarmers for Carolann and lace and a poncho for Abby.  I’m longing to start a cardie for me – but am resisting the pull – and settling instead for this …

busy-working-on-this

… knitted in this, that is.  It’s my first play with kettle dyed Malabrigo merino and it’s so very beautiful and soft.  It’s very hard to photograph my quickly-knitting-up-shawl ’cause it’s on a circular needle and just looks – well, lumpy.  So it will be a few more days.

But I have buttons for it.

buttons

See?  The sales assistant was a BIT dismissive about buttons for my shawl.  In fact, she was a tad incredulous and then a tad patronising.  Hmph!  She’s just lacking in imagination.

Or maybe we had ticked her off because Abby had bought just 20cm of a gorgeous Australian mohair.  And I was going to buy some glorious brown wool for a skirt – and then put it back.  I did, however, buy $36 worth of buttons.  I don’t really know how – sounds ridiculous, but I did.

Abby has already put her mohair to good use – some for the ghostly girl …

mohair-girl

… and some for her.

cosy-pink-mohair

And I bought patterns – Vogue patterns on sale for $12 each!  Goodness!  I haven’t bought a Vogue pattern in YEARS ’cause they are so expensive.  I have hopes that there will be some dressmaking on the weekend.  Hopefully.

I also bought this …

baby-knits

… so’s I could adapt this …

perfect-sleeping-bag-top

… into a sleeping bag.  I have searched and searched and searched – I wanted a sleeping bag that had a lovely simple bag bottom with a plain yoke for buttoning.  Perfect … now I have to head back to the wool store to buy more wool. :-)  And I bought it from Harry – who was singing James Blunt in the back of the store whilst reshelving children’s books and then had a fascinating conversation with me at the counter about babies’ skeletons – do you know, they don’t grow knee caps until they are between 2 and 5 years old.  Harry is studying radiology and he loves babies.  I pointed him out to Abby – discretely of course – I said, “Abby when you are older and searching for a nice fellow to bring home – bring a Harry.  He sings, likes babies, knows about knitting, can recommend a good novel and is studying radiology.”  Honestly, what more could you want :-0

winter days

brisbane style … cool mornings, mild sunny days … and it’s school holidays.

hunting-earthworms

:: hunting earthworms ::

tinkering-with-bikes

:: tinkering ::

stitching-dollies

:: trying out fabric and thread ::

enjoying-the-river

:: enjoying our river ::

dining-at-posh-restaurants

:: lunching with friends ::

harvesting-chilies

:: gathering the bounty of mum’s pruning ::

riding-our-bikes

:: heading off on adventure ::

household bartering

Thank you all so much for sharing your lovely thoughts on handmade yesterday!  It was so wonderful to see that so many of my friends share the passion for creativity and individuality – what a wonderful contribution we can make to our world.

me

Hmmmmm … a new way of thinking is blooming here in the Boot house.  The daughter has discovered the pleasures of bartering.  It goes like this.

theres-a-way-to-go-yet

“If you wash up the lunch dishes sweet one, I can cast on your hand warmers.”  She ran in, filled the sink and was at it in seconds.

knitting-on-the-back-steps

“If I cook breakfast, will that give you time to finish the second hand warmer?”  I think so!

its-a-thumb-hole

“Why don’t I clean the guinea pigs’ cage whilst you go buy the wool for my poncho?”  Y-e-s!  (How I have loathed cleaning that guinea pig cage – even with her help!)

theyre-done

I think this new way of thinking is going to work very nicely.

new-wool

p.s. these hand warmers – which came from here – introduced me to knitting with four little pointy needles, cabling, picot bind off, and making a THUMB HOLE!  (this last one was the most thrilling moment – I couldn’t believe for a second it was going to work – and then it DID!)  They were super fun and super quick to make.  Give them a go!

handmade sunday

Abby chose.  I stitched.  Julian twisted (silver that is).  And all was ready for a birthday party.

the-present

A mushroom take-along, lined in orange, trimmed with pink.  A pair of mushroom earrings.  A wee ladybug card .  Happy Birthday Caroline!

And we didn’t have to go birthday present shopping – everything was found in the stash – put together with fun and care – just how we like it.

This really strikes a chord with me.  As I look about my family and my home, I see more and more signs that we are kind of opting out of the constant consuming that pervades our society.  That’s not to say we don’t go shopping – all those craft supplies have to come from somewhere, and we enjoy a silly afternoon at the mall every now and then – but I’m just over the whole blindly following what I’m told I need and must have this season. Ick!  I want my family to behave like, look like, sound like US.  Not an ensemble that could be plucked out of a catalogue and held up as “Yes, this collection represents the average family in 2009″.

Just this evening I was reading Faythe Levine’s (Handmade Nation) thoughts on craft being political …

” My personal belief is that if you are making something by hand than that act itself is a political act.  We are living in a disposable society and we have so much being thrown at us of how we’re supposed to live, and how our house is supposed to look and what we’re supposed to wear, and so when you are stepping away from that, and taking control over your life to make something yourself, I believe that it’s a very quiet political act.”

Yes! Yes! Yes!

And it’s such a community spirited act too, isn’t it?  When I pick up a needle and thread, I make a quilter’s knot like Sue showed me.  When I pull out my fabrics, I’m inspired by the colourful energy and beauty of Amy and Nanette and Jessica and Kaffe and Jennifer and Heather and so many more wonderful quilters and artists who have become part of my life over the last 18 months.  When I cast on a new knitting project, I use the cable cast on that a dear old lady taught me at the knitting shop many years ago (I didn’t know I did this until last night, when I was reading a pattern for hand warmers and thought “Cable cast on?  What on earth is that?”).  When I think about what Abby and I will do after school, I am reminded of Amanda’s energy and commitment to her children.  When I choose to make more time for dinner and its preparations, I turn to the women and mothers on my shelves – Nigella, Jessica, Tamasin, Jane – and use their experience to give our meals – and my family – my best.

And then I find this (ooooh- aaaah, this animation is something else!) and this and this (perservere with this one – the dancing will fill you with smiles) – and they are so delightful and wonderful and add more sparkle to everything I touch and dream of.

Every day I dip into this community of artists and find that it lights my way with such energy and beauty.  Aren’t we so blessed to share this world with people of such great generosity and passion.  No wonder I’m oblivious to what the “must-haves” are this winter.

Me with my fabric and yarn, Julian with his old bicycles, Abby with her cheerful love of all that we make for her and give her.  We are busy making a handmade Boot family and sharing it with our family and friends.  That makes my heart sing.

for a folky princess

Years ago Interweave Knits printed a beautiful photo of two small children wearing knitted crowns.  I cut the pattern out (it was my magazine) and put it in a folder of things I wanted to make one day.

I lost the folder and thus, I thought, the opportunity to knit a crown, such a shame – they were so very sweet – very Lion, Witch and Wardobish.  Then, when I snuggled into bed the other night with my new knitted trims book, I realised, I had all the information I needed to make up my own knitted crowns.  Take an insert, mix it in with a lace and voila!  A crown.

wocr-knitted-crown

With some pretty reddy-pink Paton’s Inca lying around, I knitted it up.  And ripped it out three or four times.  The insert – which was labelled easy (as opposed to the lace which was labelled intermediate) was doggedly difficult to commit to memory and fingers – even with the instructions laid out before me.  And it involved so many tricksy steps that it was impossible to undo just one row – so rip – out it all had to come, over and over.  Finally, I found my groove – and the crown knitted up so very pleasurably.  I LOVE knitting lace.  Love it.  Perhaps I was one of those French nuns in a former life, who spent her days knitting cobwebby fine lace for the dowries of wealthy, noble daughters.

So after a few scant hours I had this – and didn’t the strippiness of the wool really lend itself to the curve of the cinquefoil lace (which, after a bit of very primitive research, I know to mean – has five holes – or something like that) and the traditional insert provides a lovely stable band.

wocr-ready-for-beads

Of course, a crown needs jewels – of the Lion, Witch and Wardrobish variety – so Abby and I paid a visit to an amazing local store – the Bead Trimming and Craft Co in Merivale Street, South Brisbane.  It was so packed to the rafters with thousands of beads, Abby suggested we go somewhere smaller so it wouldn’t be so difficult to find what we liked!  We mused and “tried out” for over an hour before settling on some freshwater pearls (I always think they look like baby’s teeth – yellow ones perhaps being the teeth of baby goblins), 4 rose quartz tear drops and a resin flower – Abby was adamant it had to have a centrepiece.

It was tricky finding “jewels” that stood against the rich red background.  I’ll keep that in mind next time – I’ll try something softer.

wocr-very-regal

I added a fabric inner band and joined the two knitted ends with a small encased piece of elastic – the crown will fit princesses of 3 – 5 years.  I just need to find one that would like to try it on for me!  Abby refuses to wear it – she says red’s not her colour and besides, it’s a wee bit small.  She’s waiting for a soft blue crown and I bet she wears it!

I have a lovely soft purple tweed by Debbie Bliss sitting on the table – I think I may get out that book and make another – a sprite crown – with leaves.  Mmmmm …..

wocr-wee-bit-small

Wishing you moments of romantic magic in your day :-)

Wednesday

The end of last week kind of fell off the bus.  As did the weekend.  And then Monday and Tuesday.  Eeek!  There were a few of those earwax flavoured beans in amongst the lemon sherbet and raspberry cream and strawberry macaroon beans that I’m used to snacking on.  Never mind.

So we’ve had …

omgitswed-the-mess

:: swathes of mess

omgitswed-pencils

:: a beautiful cylinder of pencils from Smiggle

omgitswed-chinese-illustration

(I have coveted these for months … I have a pre-teen daughter,
I’m allowed to go to Smiggle :-)

omgitswed-gorgeous-vintage-braid

:: gorgeous braid from the bead shop – odd huh! – there was a small shelf in the corner laden with these braids that look so old and marvellous! I might have to go back and get more.

omgitswed-toadstool-beads

:: dear little toadstool beads – Abby and I are planning earrings – we’ve promised not to wear them on the same day.

omgitswed-knitting

:: and this knitting book from the bargain table at the local shopping mall for $5!  I love knitted lace and now I’ve been introduced to knitted bands, flounces, inserts and loops.  Huh!  The possiblities are endless.

So what do you do when you’ve struck a few earwax flavoured beans, it’s pouring rain, the house is full of unwashed laundry, and you can’t sew because the bobbin needs winding and the walking foot is on  … you take your treasures and curl up in the only tidy corner of the house, with your knitting and a cup of tea.

omgitswed-my-corner

That’s where I’ve been.

take-along

do you take-along?  I do.

eb-take-along-bag

knitting, hand piecing, applique, embroidery, knitting … a novel.  I couldn’t possibly go somewhere without something to occupy my hands.  Knitting is the best – and seems to be the most “socially acceptable”.  I’ve had people feel a bit put out if I needlepoint whilst chatting and drinking tea.  But knitting is universally smiled at.

eb-wonky-9-patch

but would you believe it – I had no dedicated take-along bag.  I was well known for using a supermarket re-usable bag! I have been given many such bags over the years – or bought them – but the project would kind of get stuck in the “take-along” bag and it would become the such-and-such project bag.  Bit useless – I’m determined to do better.

eb-bleached-denim

So this is my take-along.  Made from heavy duty bleached denim with a 100% heavy cotton lining.  With a simple appliqued 9 patch – and wonky top stitching.

eb-red-buttons

Handles put on across the bag rather than one on each side – makes it really easy to get things in and out.  And it hangs on your arm super neat and straight so that you can use your hands for other stuff.  Aren’t the buttons beautiful – they’re from Tangled Yarns (where I buy my Brown Sheep) – they are really big and glossy.

eb-wool-packed

Very good – all packed, ready for the piano lesson. See you soon!

the delderton girls – ida

ida-loving-her-hair

Yep – that’s who these girls are – the delderton girls – and this is Ida.

ida-more-brown-sheep-wool

Delderton is the name of the “progressive” boarding school in Devon that Tally attends.  Tally being the heroine from Eva Ibbotson’s new novel “The Dragonfly Pool” – another beautiful story set in England and Europe during World War II that Abby and I are captivated with at the moment.   Ibbotson’s World War II novels clearly come from the heart – she was born in Vienna, abandoned in an orphanage after her parents separated when she was just 3 and later, fled to Scotland with her Jewish father when the Nazis came to power.  You should definitely look out for her – her novels are a marvellous read aloud with older children and introduce so many interesting historical events.  Her prose is very descriptive and her characters very vivid – the good are so wonderfully good that you cannot help but cheer them on, and the bad are truly dastardly.

ida-done

Back to Ida – she’s knitted in more beautiful Brown Sheep lanaloft.  I learnt a little more about this wool – it is Worsted – which apparently means 10 ply – and whilst it has wonderful colour, thickness and texture, it is also perfectly soft – not an itchy moment to it.  You knit it up on 7mm needles – it knits up so quickly.  The colour range is superb – I have ordered almost every colour!

ida-meeting-the-newest-poodle

Embellished with wool felt, hand stitching and, of course, a wee apron from the stash.  I cannot remember what this fabric is – I’ll have to check next time I’m at the store – but I just love its prettiness – the pattern is so very delicate, quite different to many of the modern florals that are available at the moment.  (The above image is Ida meeting Abby’s soft poodle – the only dog in the house who’s behaving tonight – the others are trying to pierce my eardrums!)

ida-and-horses

She’s a daring young woman who longs to explore the icy forests with her beloved horses.  Which brings me to another book – we have a great picture book about the Swedish red horse – the Dala (they have statues of them at Ikea – I wish they’d sell me one, I’ll have to make do with this gingerbread pan instead!) – and a young girl.  It involves a freezing night, a mysterious forest – but it’s in storage and I cannot find any reference to it on either Amazon US or UK.  Gee!  That’s all very helpful isn’t it!  It’s a wonderful book – you should look out for it :-)  I will too!  But that’s where Ida likes to hang out – in the forest.

ida-sisters

Audrey – our red Delderton girl from yesterday – was very pleased to bump into Ida.  Looking at them together, I’m thinking … Audrey’s orange velvet ribbon was bought especially to wear with the wonderland fabric – I’m not sure it looks so great with Ida’s turqoise – perhaps I’ll try out some lovely natural twill tape I bought today.  Hmmmm ….

ida-ready-for-bed

But now, it’s time to blow out the candles and head off to bed on this chilly, chilly night.  I’m taking Grandmother Winter to bed with me tonight – another book! – it arrived today from BetterWorldBooks – a very noble organisation that sells second hand books and uses it profits to run literacy programs all over the world – their homepage claims they have raised over 6 million dollars for this so far and saved 24 million books from landfill.  Isn’t that a scary thought – why would 24 million books wind up in landfill.  Bizarre.  My copy of Grandmother Winter comes from the Patchogue-Medford Library – it’s in good condition – can’t imagine why they wanted to get rid of it – but I’m very pleased to have it.  The text is very simple, but the illustrations are DIVINE!  They are by Beth Krommes – a terrifically talented artist who specialises in woodcuts and scratchboard.  Look at this – it is utterly beautiful – in fact, settle down with a cup of tea and just browse – her art really fills me with contentment.  Oh the detail – now you see why I will sit in bed for hours, carefully poring over every beautiful page.

Wishing you a lovely, quiet time with something beautiful to look at :-)

red loveliness

ilr-strawberries

red is my favourite colour

ilr-knitting-body

knitting red in the morning sun keeps you warm all day

ilr-pretty-face

and she’s all done

ilr-beautifully-rounded

and I’m completely smitten

ilr-dear-little-face

isn’t her face sweet

ilr-yet-again

and so beautifully rounded

ilr-candlelight

now the lanterns are lit, the red mohair rug is tucked around my knees,
and there’s more lovely Brown Cow wool all the way from Nebraska on my needles.

a sister perhaps?

monday busy

The wee one is home from school for the day – round two winter sickies.  Just a cold this time thank goodness.  And probably a bit of malingering.

We had a big weekend.  Abby made her first communion and confirmation on Saturday evening – apart from the theological side, this involved special dress shopping for her (made easier by the fact that I left her at home!), special dress shopping for me (I bought my first dress from Laura Ashley – dropped waist no less – in 14 years – ah it was a beautiful moment), special dinner cooking for the communicant and her guests, and special home tidying (my god! there was a dining table under all that fabric!)  Then Sunday was her school musical afternoon – lots of little pianists and guitarists and the junior band and her senior orchestra – and oh they were wonderful.  And I baked a cake.  And helped set up the hall.  And made tea and coffee. And helped pack up the hall.  I’m a bit glad she didn’t go to school today – I needed a rest! :-)

So to make us feel good about it being a Monday at home in the cosiness with Julian (who’s working in Brisbane this week – yay!)  I was homely busy and she was lazy, I mean recuperating.  The perfect combination

Gingerbread was made …

monsi-dry-ingredients

and eaten (ooh – you should try grated apple in your gingerbread – it was very yummy)

monsi-endproduct

My great grandmother’s cane chair – which I just love, especially it’s calamine lotion pinkness – was stationed in the kitchen.  I love sitting in the kitchen, listening to the radio, in between cooking and washing dishes, enjoying the warmth and cinnamony-ness. Oh and I stitch of course.

monsi-chair-in-kitchen

btw, today I listened to a repeat of Margaret Throsby’s interview with Professor Chris O’Brien – beautiful man, husband, father, cancer surgeon, and patient advocate, who sadly died last week of an aggressive brain tumour.  Go here and listen to the interview.  I’m not an especially maudlin type, and I understand that people die – it’s part of the human condition – but Professor O’Brien was a truly marvellous person who gave so much to so many -  his story is really worth your time.  Most importantly, you’ll get to hear him speak of love.  He is a man who clearly believed in love, cherished love, and shared his love with those in his life.  It’s listening to him talk of his love that will make you cry.  Put your chair in the kitchen, put something lovely on to cook, and listen.

Dollies were stitched up …

monsi-sewing-up-dolls

and cuddled.

monsi-cuddle-therapy

Doggies were cuddled too – they are better than a hot water bottle ’cause they don’t need reheating.

monsi-furry-kind

A new Moomin book arrived – the parcel man obviously knew Abby was home sick today so came especially :-) – and was deeply enjoyed.

monsi-new-moomin

And some long-plotted, gleeful knitting was done in the most glorious red variegated wool.  Yum!

monsi-knitted-dolly

Abby probably won’t be sick tomorrow.  This is almost a shame – life will go back to normal.  Wishing you a lovely Monday – may it be the sign of a good week to come.

update 1:  bread sticks = I made them again this evening.  The added parmesan was a treat, and instead of rolling the dough out flat, slicing it into narrow widths and then trying to form these into bread sticks, I kneaded the dough well and then broke small chunks off, rolled them in my hands til they were smooth, then rolled them, playdough-style,  into long thin sausages – worked a treat and was much faster.

update 2:  little stitched circles = I’ve definitely done enough now and later this week, will be sewing them up so all those who were curious – tune in!

:: from the book :: – Patchwork Style

ffps-fabric-and-book

After staying awake many nights, piling the spot where Julian occasionally sleeps with books, humming and haaing over what would be my next ::from the book:: project – I settled on the easy – and that which required no forethought or purchasing.

ffps-pattern

The curved pot holder from Suzoko Koseki’s breathtakingly pretty “Patchwork Style”.  A book that promises a cozy and colourful life – that’s certainly my cup of tea!

I’ve had this book for a few weeks now and can honestly say it has accompanied me to bed on several nights, been sighed over whilst eating lunch, and had many projects pointed out to my mum in the evening.  It is a VERY pretty book.  The photography is beautiful, the rosy-cheeked model – very whimsical – can I look like this when I grow up – please?

ffps-dress

The projects are gorgeously arranged, everything is very fresh – lots of white and neutral (like last week’s Linen, Wool, Cotton) but also lots of red and blue highlights.  Koseki clearly loves detail – most projects include a lot of embellishment – so despite being frequently mentioned in the same breath as Mano’s book, it is not the same.  The complement each other well and I’m glad they are both on my shelf.

So, after quickly perusing the photo and requirements, I assembled my goodies.  Immediately, I decided the template – which says it is actual size – was too small – no problem, I scanned it into the computer at twice the size, printed it out and began cutting out my peanut-shaped template.

The pattern calls for a linen front (which will be mostly covered in appliqued patchwork) and a heavy cotton back.  I had no heavy cotton, so cut both my pieces from linen.  I then sliced my patchwork fabrics into various sized squares and rectangles – I’m not very good random so my arranged pieces look very neat :-)

ffps-cut-the-fabric

I lay them out in a manner I thought would be pleasing – and then completely changed them around when the time came to pin.  Unllike the book, I couldn’t bear the thought of all those raw edges, disintegrating with every wash, so I used Amy Butler’s trick of ironing under a scant 1/4 inch seam on the edges that would be on top.  I was worried this could be a tedious and finger-burning exercise, but it was easy-peasy.

ffps-ironed-hems

I stitched them to the linen front – using my walking foot – nice and close to the edge – starting at the top, and working my way down.  This ensured that no “bubbles” were made.  All was kept smooth and flat.

ffps-quilt

Then I came majorly unstuck.  Unstuck with a potholder – you may ask incredulously.  Yep.  Why?  Well, at first I thought it was sloppy pattern writing.  In fact, there were some alarmingly sloppy errors.  I downed tools, made my lunch, and sat on the back porch to read the directions more thoroughly.  Still it made no sense.  It was time to adopt my nanny’s approach – I sat down in the living room and had a quiet look.  Still no better.  So I stumbled along myself, shaking my head, wondering why on earth they did it like THAT!  And I finished up with a pretty potholder that I love but already had plans for improvements for future potholders.

THEN – I sat down to write this post, and clearly had a VERY QUIET look at the pattern and realised what I had done.  There are two pages of potholders – I was making the rounded potholder from the first page – and following the directions for the potholders on the SECOND page.  OMG!  What a twinkie!

I wasn’t even supposed to have a front piece of linen for the template.  hee! hee! hee!  The pattern says to layer the patchwork straight onto the three layers of batting.  But I must say – I’m pleased that I layered my patchwork onto the linen backing – it sits very smoothly.

And this is the best bit – the “wrong” pattern called for me to lay the patchwork front on the plain back right sides together, stitch a 1/4 inch seam, leaving a gap and then turning it right side out – WITH THREE LAYERS OF BATTING.  I was amazed – how bulky would those seams be!  Needless to say, I didn’t do it.

ffps-on-with-the-binding

I lay my front and back WRONG SIDES together and stitched them together around the edge – which is precisely what the “right” pattern says to do.  However, next potholder I make (which will be asap) I will cut the front piece of linen out according to the template.  Then I will cut out an appropriately sized rectangle for the back.  This means I will be able to lay the three layers of batting on the back, put the patchwork top on top, pin like a mini quilt and quilt through the front, three layers and back.  The pattern does not call for the back to be quilted but I think it would sit better and look more professional if it too was quilted.

Okay – pattern botching over.  Now was time to bind.  The pattern calls for either 1/4 bias tape, or home-cut binding.  I did have some 1/4 inch binding (yes, it’s the orange that has been binding everything since I bought four packets last April!) but when I tried applying it to the five layers, it was way way way too narrow.  Didn’t have a hope of wrapping neatly around the thick edge.  So I cut some straight edge binding from my stash – I cut it a bit wider than usual because of it being 3 layers of batting and all, but with hindsight – this wasn’t entirely necessary – 2 1/2 would have been fine.  This worked o-k-a-y.  Straight edge binding vs. peanut shaped pot holder.  Y-e-e-e-s.  It required several little pleats to be added.  But – once finished this looked fine.  What would I do next time – still make my own binding but definitely cut it on the cross. Oh!  And I hand stitched it to the back – I really don’t like machine-sewn binding.

ffps-workable

The pattern calls for a ribbon to be placed across the middle of the front, with a loop in the middle for hanging.  I didn’t do this.  I forgot.  I may or may not do it next time – I have no where to hang it so it doesn’t really matter.

Verdict on the pattern – it’s great!  I really like it – the shape is lovely, the pieced front is so pretty.  It works really well and looks ever so cozy and colourful in my kitchen.  Definitely a make again project and perfect for presents.  Oh and the size thing – I like my twice as big potholder but having used it, I can now see the benefit of a smaller one too so I thought I would make a matching little one – this would make it even better for presents.  Not matchy-matchy – but you know, include several of the same pieces and bind in the same colour.

The rest of the book – as I said earlier – is beautiful and I’m looking forward to making many more projects from it.  Many of them are bags – but lots of variety in the shape and size, so very useful.  I’m very keen on the kitchen mat, and the log cabin work, which makes up the first chapter, is really beautiful.  And I really, really, really want to have a wee clothesline hanging in my kitchen with my cozy and colourful potholder collection hanging up with wooden pegs.  Ahhh – so pretty.

ffps-almost-a-purse

The project list includes

Log Cabin – change purses, minibag, quilt, pillow cover. (All lovely)

Applique – red bag, black bag, bag with metal frame, flowered bag, change purse , coaster, place mat and tray (Very pretty and lots of variation in the bag shapes)

Patchwork Squares – minibag, tote bag, lap quilt (very sweet), fan-shaped bag, pocket tissue case, fan-shaped mini bag, red party bag, blue party bag, shoulder bag, pillow cover, quilt (sooooo lovely – I would like it right now to lay over my chilly lap)

Free Stitching – pocket tissue case (I can only imagine that Koseki suffers – like me – from sinus!  And I’m going to make some – will be so much prettier to have in my bags than crumpled tissues!) pillow cover, lap quilt, pot holders.

Square Applique – shoulder bag, curtain (divine – I love it and want to make it asap – I adore patchwork curtains), tote bag, folded pot holders (yes!  the one I wanted to make), pot holders (the one I inadvertently made but changed because it just didn’t look like the photo!) pocket tissue case, apron (very pretty – very useful for when I’m cleaning and washing etc.) floor mat (especially want one now that it is 10 degrees in my kitchen each morning – I’m soooo cold!).

ffps-kitchen-still-life

Rating – 7 out of 10 ( more complicated and prettier projects than last week’s book but more bags than I would have cared for)

I love Suzuko Koseki’s Patchwork Style – whimsical, useful and pretty.  A very approachable book and a sheer pleasure to read and re-read.  Just make sure you’re on the right page when you start sewing!

before school contentment

bsc-drawing

Contentment and before-school are probably not two words that most mumas would usually put together.  I know I certainly would not.  Especially when we’re running late like we were this morning.  And I woke up as snappy as a turtle like I did this morning.

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But we found it.  Abby perched on a chair in the kitchen finishing off some last minute preparation for a special event this Saturday evening.  I in my flannel pyjamas and apron, stirring porridge, rolling breadsticks, discussing with her the philosophies and hierarchies of the Catholic Church.

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Still can’t see where the contentment came in? :-)  Well stirring and thinking and discussing things with your daughter that are so easy to simply accept unconditionally and repeat, drone-like is a really good way of banishing snapping turtles.  I must confess, despite being raised a “catholic”, I am more drawn to the teachings of Buddha – particularly when he says, don’t accept this because I said it, think about for yourself – embrace it if it makes sense to you, discard it if it doesn’t.  I’m also big on love and tolerance and compassion and it’s this aspect I find most appealing about the teachings of the new testament.

Oh my goodness, I’m still digressing.  Contentment.  Found here …

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and in these …

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This is a fabulous little cookbook.  The recipes we have tried so far have been simple, easy to find the ingredients (apart from the fresh ingredients, everything else is of the store cupboard variety), quick to cook and super yummy.  Last night we had the :: fantastic fajitas :: (and I remembered to say it right CarolAnn – fa-HI-tas – is that it?)  Today for lunch, Abby took the leftover chicken and salsa and  … breadsticks.

And if you don’t have a food processor – we don’t – you just rub the butter into the flour with your fingertips – I actually really like this technique – I can imagine I’m on the beach, staring out to sea and burying my hands in the soft sand.  Then you have your child – who is ruminating on the idea of judgement – slowly pour the iced water in (fantastic on your fingers when it’s 10 degrees outside and not much warmer inside!) whilst your hands pretend to be a food processor – the dough comes together beautifully.  After rolling them into little sticks, I then sprinked them, most ineffectually with fresh rosemary and a little bit of dried parmesan – next time, I’ll add that to the dough.  Then they baked, filling the house with a beautifully toasty, fragrant warmth whilst we hurriedly dressed.

This is contentment – making simple, wholesome food for your child to enjoy.  I love it.  And it will take plenty of willpower to keep my hands out of this box!

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We were a little late now but that was all soothed away by before-school contentment part II.  This …

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I’ve come to realise the last few weeks that despite trying really hard to maintain Abby’s child life for as long as she is indeed a child (whilst acknowledging and marvelling at her growing maturity and sophistication), I’d let some areas slide and music has been one of those.  We had heaps of wonderful music for Abby when she was younger – lots of Dan Zane, Ella Jenkins, Ralph’s World (she particularly loved these – the humour and whimsy is great) and Elizabeth Mitchell.  We even had Burl Ives, Pete Seeger, Lead Belly …  So, after listening to  snippets of Renee and Jeremy on Amazon, I decided some peaceful music that sang of love and hope was something that would add to our days.

And it has.  Just last night, we were driving home from art class and Abby was jabbering herself into a stressful state about a grocery shopping project she had to finish.  Abby does this REALLY well.  I whipped Jack out of the cd player, and put on R & J, and told her to listen.  She stopped talking, sat back in her seat and stared out at the blinking red and white lights of peak hour traffic.  Then I played it again.  Then we talked about what a miracle she was – being created her – Abby – in a split moment – and all that she could be and do and the faith I had, that she would.  It truly worked.  We played it again and by the time we were home she was humming under her breath, her body relaxed, her mind free, and whilst I cooked, she laughed and worked and finished her project effortlessly.

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Check it out – they are beautiful and so many of their songs – whilst simple and probably aimed at a much younger audience – have really lovely sentiments that it doesn’t hurt mull over no matter how old you are.  It’s a bit like prayer isn’t it – whether you are catholic or buddhist or hindu or jewish – whatever! – concentrating on a particular message or thought helps us to embroider it – often unconsciously – into our day.  The more we draw our minds to it – the more easily its power slips into what we say and do.

Make sure you visit Renee and Jeremy – you can listen to all their songs – with lyrics provided – and the artwork is beautiful.

There – have I rambled on long enough :-) ?

Have a lovely day and may you find some good moments of contentment where they fall.

p.s. the other photos are just for added pretty – what’s on the table this morning – to give you a break from all these words of mine!

p.p.s I have really itchy eyes – if you’ve never met me before, you’ll recognise me today – I’m the woman with the scarlet rimmed, watery eyes who is frantically – and grotesquely – rubbing them.  Argh!