shaving yaks

And there I was thinking I was winding blue bottle tails.


Good thing Julian was here to redirect me.


See, in a burst of post-pneumonia energy, I tidied the bedroom floor.  That’s right.  Not the chest, or drawers, or dresser, or the corner between the wardrobe and drawers that is piled as high as head.  Just the floor.  And guess what!  There was a rug under it.  And floor space.


Not that the fabric and bits and bobs was ON the floor.  Nope – it was in all three laundry baskets and a couple of shoe boxes.  That’s why I had to tidy.  Everybody else was tired of balancing wet washing in their arms whilst hanging it out.  I suppose that’s reasonable.


At the bottom of one of the laundry baskets was a skein of hand spun, hand dyed wool I bought ages ago at the Stitches and Craft Fair.  It had turned into a giant tangle and was in dire need of rescue – and the tidying couldn’t be finished until the wool was tidy so …


Julian says that’s what is called “shaving the yak”.  So be it. :-)  And these are post-tidy muffins.  More of the reward yourself when you’ve done what you’ve been procrastinating over for months.  It’s still working well.


The cold that turned into a chest and sinus infection has turned into pneumonia.  What a fun three weeks I’ve had.  So many tissues, so many antibiotics, so many sleepless nights, so much COUGHING!


So, for the past three days, I’ve been sitting quietly in the sun, napping on the sofa, wishing for energy.  And when I have a little, I’ve been doodling on some linen …


it’s a poem by Robert Louis Stevenson that Abby and I read the other morning over breakfast and are challenging each other to memorise.


I was hoping that slowly stitching its words and rays each day would give me a distinct advantage.  But no, she still has to set me off for verse two.  Why is that?


And for when I’m to blah to stitch, I have these lovely new treasures to read …


oh my goodness, I think I shall start a swatch book, just so I can knit all these lovely patterns!  Wouldn’t that be fun – it could be something that accumulates slowly, year after year.


And this – ahhhh …. I’m truly smitten by Krommes beautiful art work.  I spend hours poring over the illustrations – so much detail.  And the poem is so peaceful.


And this – this is what a sick lily gets when she sends her man out for thread – isn’t he a dear one.  Now I want to stitch samplers as well as swatches.

Oh and I have just finished a wonderful novel – The Coroner’s Lunch by Colin Cotteril – oh my goodness what a fabulous read.  It is set in Laos in 1975 and is about Dr. Siri – the only coroner in Laos – it’s a mystery series.  Talk about atmospheric, wonderful character development, witty writing and fascinating detail.  I have other novels beside my bed but all I want is to head back to Vientiane, Laos.  Maybe Julian will indulge me tomorrow :-)

check the sky – there must be pigs flying

Abby is at a sleepover birthday part tonight – and guess what.  The party started at 4pm and the birthday present – a mushroom sprite pod – was finished at 11.30am.  Check that dear reader.  11.30am.  Four and a half hours before the party commenced.  :-0


This is a first for me – truly!  I am the QUEEN of the last minute rush.  I have seriously sent Abby to a birthday party with Julian and showed up an hour later with the present.  It’s almost an illness.   But now, Julian bought this book about procrastination – why we do it, what forms it takes, how to work around it.  I haven’t read it – I’m procrastinating on that – but Julian has and he has not only left it by the bed to seep into my subconscious thought whilst I sleep, but has passed the odd snippet on.


And one of them was to fully recongise the disability and use tools to trick yourself into getting around it.  So instead of saying, I’m going to knit for a few hours in the morning sun with a few cups of tea and then I’ll get stuck into the bag; I said, I’m going to make the bag and then reward myself all afternoon by doing what I want.  And I’ll feel good!


And it worked!  I sat down first thing at the sewing table.  Drew, cut, stitched, and voila.  Finished at 11.30am.  Then I got to knit, to embroider, to work on a quilted pillowcase for Abby, chat with my sister in Canada, chat with Carolann (we’ve both been so unwell we haven’t seen each other for over a WEEK!)  and there were no feelings of guilt, or panic or despair.


‘Cause that present was done and wrapped.  Very cool.  And the sprite pod – it’s super cute.  I love this pattern.

mrs. weasley pretty


I took your kind advice today, found a warm place in the sun, snuggled up under the dandelion stole, and let the day potter by quietly and peacefully whilst I worked at finishing my replacement shawl (the first one ended up around Nanny’s shoulders).


It’s a combination of Laura Chau’s Simple yet Effective Shawl – I really enjoyed knitting this shawl so followed her instructions for the increasing – and Orlane’s Recipe for a Textured Shawl.  I just love the stitch she uses in this shawl – and then added some more texture on top.


Some textured stocking stitch, and two bands of a very wide basket weave which I then popped buttons on.  The button idea was inspired by the cape in here (check out the back cover!).  And then I added a Cinnarbar edge to the Malabrigo kettle dyed worsted … oh dear!  I don’t know what shade of pink it is!  I threw away all the tags!  Is it Pagoda, Damask or Dusty?  Hmph.


This is glorious wool – it has an almost felted quality and a lovely subtle variegation to the the colour and texture.  Oh and the pink in the fringe is a Debbie Bliss Tweed.  So pretty. So delicate.


And the Mrs. Weasley bit  – w-e-e-e-e-ll – I have to confess, I secretly love Mrs. Weasley’s sense of style and home decorating.  I adore layers of colour and pattern and clutter and prettiness and eccentricity.  I would love to live in the Burrow and have my needles knitting away in the corner.  :-)

And if I cannot be Mrs. Weasley, I would be happy to take up Professor Sybil Trelawney‘s position!  I even went dressed as her to the last Harry Potter Book Launch – teacup and all – and even got to read our esteemed Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd’s, tea leaves.  All very funny!  Of course, the funniest bit is, I didn’t have to buy anything new or visit the thrift store for my costume – much to my mother’s dismay, my own everyday clothes were just perfect! :-)


So now I have a bona-fide Mrs. Weasley shawl.  Only someone else is wearing it.


She says she will return it when her poncho is done.  Huh!  I’ll just wait till she goes to bed.

what to do with sweet lions

Thanks for all the garden quilt love!  It makes my morning when I get up and my mail box is full of your lovely comments and wishes.  :-)


I bought a dear little 30cm of fabric from Amite when they visited Brisbane a few months ago for the Quilters’ Show.  As with other story telling pieces of fabric, I have spent many weeks looking at it, pulling it out from the stash, wondering what to do with it, and then putting it away again because I don’t want to chop it up and lose its sweetness.


Today, I finally jumped in.  Adding the rich, bright fabrics that are still on the table following Sunday’s garden quilt, I cut the lion fabric into 3 1/2 inch squares so as not to waste a millimitre and stitched them into very simple little blocks.


There were not enough sweet lions to “fill” the 7 x 7 square, but that’s okay.  I just added some lovely French blue and Momo’s Wonderland for the corners.


I’m almost out of the orange Wee Play.  I did have over 3 metres to start with – there’s now only 40cm left!  I’m always a bit wistful when I use up all of a fabric I love, but fortunately, there’s always a new fabric to take its place.  And it’s not usually a “new” fabric, but one that has sat quietly on the shelf, smiling shyly each time I pass it, until one day I realise how wonderful it is – and then it comes home to take its place as the “must-use-in-every-quilt-I-stitch” fabric!  Obsessive or loyal?  :-)

I just love how the colourful borders form little paths and corners and appreciate the clean lift the white floral West Hill provides.  Very crisp and what a hand to that fabric – so beautiful to touch.


I think I shall machine quilt it – haven’t yet decided between stippling, of which I’ve done none for ages so it would be a good opportunity to practice, or a concentric square.  Hmmmm … I think the concentric square could be too much – it would probably be so strident that the gentleness of the paths and corners would be swallowed up.  Stippling it is.

I have 30cm of pirate fabric – not the Johnny Depp look alike stuff – but a really quaint Japanese one – very sweet – it may look good in a similar layout.  Now I’ll just have to get to the store to buy some backing and batting – one day, when I have a sewing room, I shall keep a whole ROLL of each!  Won’t that be indulgent.


But first, I have to lose the chest infection, sinus infection and bout of asthma that have been plaguing me for over a week now – excuse me whilst I go stick my head over yet another steaming bowl of menthol!

the back garden quilt


There’s a new quilt here.


The brown fabric has been beckoning for some time and I wanted to create something that was resolutely cheerful and vibrant, full of energy and sparkle.


Actually, I was greatly inspired by some antique Amish quilts – hence the design – which obviously are never to be found in fabrics of such patterns, but they are often in amazingly rich colour combinations that just take your breath away.


I was thinking this quilt would be for the spare ‘oom, when we get one.  But once I laid it on the grass to show Abby and Mum, it sang out to me that its true calling is as a lovely quilt to cart into the back garden with some pillows, a novel or some stitching, some cookies or fruit, and soak away the afternoon in the wonderful winter sun.


Abby suggested she try it out and look at that.!  Perfect!


Until the living, breathing critters arrived … :-)

to start the day


in the early cool of morning
the soft white light pours down upon me.

smooth my cheeks with your rosiness

add your sparkle to my eyes

let your warmth permeate my voice

and fill me with your strength

so that I may fully live this day.

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 …


… 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.


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 …


… and some for her.


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 …


… so’s I could adapt this …


… 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 ::


:: tinkering ::


:: trying out fabric and thread ::


:: enjoying our river ::


:: lunching with friends ::


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


:: 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.


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.


“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.


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


“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!)


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


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.


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.


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.


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.


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 …..


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