winter warmth

:: A simple recipe for a warm winter’s eve ::

stained glass lamp

light the lamps

slippers and flannel skirt

pull on your fleecy slippers and a cosy flannel skirt

shawl

snuggle a soft knitted shawl round your shoulders

tea

share steaming cups of tea

hot water bottles

& whilst brewing tea, make hot water bottles

muscat

add a wee glass of muscat – warms the throat so sweetly

lucy

then make like the doggles … 

quilt

… & burrow into a quilt

doggles

if hot water bottles aren’t your thing, make the most of smoochy doggles

knitting& settle down for a very warming, very peaceful start to the weekend
with a basket of knitting

This family recipe has been well tested & guarantees success everytime!

squishy baby bottoms – a quilt!

 

on the fence post

I am pleased to report that the May Gibbs/Blue Cross Quilt – known in Bootville as the Squishy Baby Bums Quilt – is finished and there was no further loss of fabric.  In fact, the final stage went smoothly and quickly and all were satisfied with the outcome :-)  Very satisfied.  Thank goodness the lovely Miss Amy posted her Crosses quilt on Instagram – I would never have thought of putting blocks together in this way.  Huzzah for Miss Amy!

It has such an old world look about it, this quilt.  I love it!  I love the striking big blue crosses. I love the higgledy-piggledy Blossom babies with their squishy pink bottoms and rolls of delicious baby fat nestled in amongst the Australian bush.  And oh the red border – how it sets it off.  Yum!

all at once

from the right from the left

Apart from all those squishy babies, the other feature I especially love about this quilt is one particular fabric … the yellow background with gumnut babies lazily resting in the trees watching the sunrise.  These particular illustrations have a beautiful slow buzz about them – a real Australian, summer bush buzz.  That still, almost hot beauty of an Australian summer morn when you stand in front of the open window and sigh with deep satisfaction as a soft breeze caresses your body, knowing that in a few hours, it will be too hot to move, but right now, it’s perfect.

facing the road on the bench

The image of the rising sun is one I’m soooo fond of.  You see it everywhere from the turn of the last century through to the 1930s.  Check out this lovely example – we see heaps of these gates around our neighbourhood and you can be assured, if I ever see one in hard rubbish …  Ooooh and this is such a lovely one too.  Here’s a rising sun in a lead light window – gorgeous! The rising sun is all through Art Deco sculpture and architecture … the Empire State Building is crowned with a beautiful rising sun, as are many of the lovely old buildings surrounding my university.

I first became aware of this image when watching the wonderful English film “Hope & Glory” – the Boorman family had a rising sun in their wooden front gate – as did everyone in the street – and Mac (cynical family friend) mocked the sun along with the street name (I think it was Rose Avenue and as Mac pointed out there were no roses and a treeless street does not an avenue make) and the whole intention of the new purpose built family friendly suburbs declaring it all to be part of a government conspiracy to delude ordinary British folk into thinking life was good and the times ahead would be prosperous and glorious.

rising sun aqua stripe blossoms red blossoms baby birds

Whilst I know there are some things in life that are safest viewed through my rose coloured glasses, I cannot agree with Mac’s sentiment.  Whenever I see the rising sun, be it illuminating Gumnut babies in May Gibb’s illustrations, welded into humble 1930s garden gates, or delicately painted onto Clarice Cliff’s gorgeous pottery, I am filled with an optimistic warmth.  It symbolises that a new day lays in the palm of my hand, promising opportunities filled with light, life, strength and indeed hope.  Even on the dreary days, the stretched out fingers of the rising sun remind me that no matter what, she will return tomorrow, just as beautiful.

I’m sure that that is what people, who for thousands of years and in every culture around our globe, have thought/felt as they’ve included the rising sun in their art, mythology and literature. Such good and powerful stuff.  You’ve only got to look at those little squishy bummed babies perched high in the gumtrees – unlike their friends in the other pattern ways who are all busy and bothered, hurried and excited, the babes facing the rising sun are completely satiated and calm.  There’s nothing else they need but that lovely warmth :-)

folded with the dandelions

Now, where are those quilting pins …

 

the second last block … a very silly tale

block pieces

Remember the May Gibbs fabric?  I made pillowcases and laundry bags, fat quarters and goodies were posted to a lovely reader, and I even tried putting together a block that by the end of the evening I hated.

Then the moomin quilt didn’t fit the blue and cream checked vintage blanket – entirely my fault – I’d cut a strip off it to make the Christmas Gingerbread Bunting.  So then, in spite, I made it even smaller by cutting more off to make the Lighthouse Hottie Warmer.

And then Abby scolded me, telling me that the blue and cream checked blanket was in fact the cosiest of our blankets and she thought I needed to make it a quilt, measured to fit exactly what was left and stop chopping it up.

So I did.  I pulled the May Gibbs fabric back out.  Added a delicious blue floral that I’d bought to bind the Moomin quilt.  Became smitten with a glorious quilt the wonderful Mrs. Schmenkman treated us to a glimpse of on her Instagram account.  And with Julian away and university almost finished for the term, set to making blocks.

I thought alternating the blue crosses with red ones would be lovely.  Abby disagreed.  It’s her quilt.  We stuck to blue.

Then, with three strips of 6 completely sewn up and the last strip only missing its last two blocks – all because I cut the final piece of sashing at 10 1/2 inches instead of 13 1/2 inches and it was too tricksy to get the scraps back out of the cupboard and cut another piece – well of course it wasn’t, but you know how you get into a mindset – I neatly folded the May Gibbs / Blue Cross quilt and have admired it ever since as it has hung over the arm of the barley twist armchair.

laid out

Then, on Saturday past, I thought it was high time the last two blocks were added.  So stitched a piece of correctly sized sashing to the second last block.  And then neatly folded the quilt and put it back on the armchair.  I can’t remember why.  I can’t even remember what I did on Saturday night.  Did I knit?  I might have knitted.

So today!  I unfolded the quilt, laid it across the sofa and pulled the two remaining blocks out of the huge pile of fabric that has mysteriously gathered on the living room craft table.  Except that there weren’t two blocks, there was one.  And I knew there were supposed to be two.  And look!  You can see in the photo above, there are TWO blocks missing.  I knew I had sewn the sashing onto one of them on Saturday and now it wasn’t there.  It was 2.37.  I had to pick up a little one from school at 3.30pm.  I wanted to finish this here quilt and photograph it before the thin, cold sunlight disappeared and share it with you tonight.

I scoured the house – frantically.  Muttering Hugh Grant’s wonderful poetry from Four Weddings and a Funeral – you know the part when he’s in the teeny weeny car with Scarlet and they’ve missed the turnoff.  Could I find that block!?  I could not. At this point, if he’d been home (thank goodness he wasn’t) Julian would have hooted with laughter and exclaimed – “Of course one little quilt block is not jumping out at you!  The whole house is camouflaged with quilts you silly woman!  I’m amazed we can find anything!”

So with four minutes to spare, I ripped the May Gibbs scraps back out of the cupboard, hunted down the leftover blue floral – of which there was only one strip, the rest having been used to bind the Lighthouse Hottie Warmer – good job Lily! – and cut out another block – having to remeasure one of the original blocks because I could no longer remember the dimensions of each piece.  As for the combination of fabrics – the other twenty three blocks were carefully constructed with the hope of achieving the right balance of fabrics.  I couldn’t have cared less about this block and guess what!?  It doesn’t look any different to the others – there’s a lesson there.

only one block

a skerrick of bluethe scraps

Then it was off to school to pick up the wee one.  Home again for afternoon tea and homework.  And somehow, I managed to find an opportunity to finally stitch those two blocks onto the last strip.  Actually, it was simple – I offered the little one a chance to watch a little bit of The Borrowers with Abby.  Hey!  It’s classic literature – in film form.  Yes, that’s how determined I was to finish this quilt.  I bribed a small child.

popcorn

I laid the quilt back out – evenly this time – and guess what.  THE MISSING SECOND LAST BLOCK WAS THERE ALL ALONG – ATTACHED TO THE BLOODY FOURTH STRIP!  As my Nanny would say – Jesus, Mary and Joseph!  What an idiot!  I must have added it on Saturday when I stitched on the sashing.  See – have a look!  When you line it up properly there is only one block missing – not two :: huge forehead smack ::

wait a minute frantic sewing

The light outside was disappearing fast.  The sewing was speedy.  The ironing was patchy. The fourth strip was pinned and added.  Three borders were hurled on.  The light vanished.  The child needed a bath.  :: deep sigh ::  I had to declare defeat.

fu thinks its done grand unveiling

I laid the quilt out in the dim, golden light of the bedroom.  Fu liked it – she promptly climbed on and settled down to sleep.

Now – it’s neatly folded awaiting its final border.  I think I know where that is.  Maybe I should pin it to the fridge.

As for you, dear folks – at least you’ve had a glimpse :-)  There is a May Gibbs / Blue Cross quilt here in Bootville.  It’s just about finished.  It’s lovely.  The girlie loves it.  There’s a blue and cream checked blanket waiting for it.

As for me?  I shall go to bed :-)

 

the dreams held in a fireside quilt

chaotic sewing table

Life in Bootville is by no means perfect.  Like most folk, and as I’ve sometimes shared, we struggle in many ways.  Some days – some circumstances – are certainly harder than others.  There are many things we have not yet achieved – home ownership being a glaring one of these.  Some long held hopes will not come to fruition – I’ve made my peace with these.  Others are dreams we hold close, accepting that at this moment we are only in a position to take them carefully from their box, lay them out to admire for a few moments, then gently tuck them back in * whilst we busy ourselves with the more everyday aspects of life.

This is not to say that such “everyday aspects” do not possess their own loveliness.  Oh they do.  Sometimes, when I’m scanning through the archives of block-a-day looking for a particular post or photo, I am struck by just how much loveliness we have created and shared over the last five years.

And I am very mindful, that whilst we Boots might feel that we are not yet living our perfect life, my goodness, we are living an incredibly privileged one.  One that is full of love and happiness, good health and security, opportunity and adventure.   One that should thus be savoured and gratefully experienced one moment at a time – even when it feels a bit awkward or worrying.  You would be amazed of what I’m capable of worrying about – truly, you would!

For me, right now, these feelings of have and have not, of what is here right now and what is missing, of what I dream of and what I must make the most of, are summed up in this quilt top.  It’s been at least four years in the making.  Possibly five.  I started it when I was working at the patchwork store in Brisbane, living with mum.  Standing in the store one quiet afternoon, I realised there was only half a bolt left of this sweet Heather Ross fabric so snatched it all up.  Along with the last of one of my favourite Kaffe Fassett’s – the richest of the millefiores.  After supper that night, I quickly cleared the dining room table so that I could began slicing and stitching.  Imagining a quilt that would rest draped over a rocking chair by the fireside in our soon to come Melbourne life.  I dreamed about it. Pieced a little of it. Photographed it.  Wrote about it.  Then it was tidied away and forgotten.

As you can see, I recently found it.  Tucked away in a box.  As I pulled it out, I ooohed at all that lovely fabric still pristine and uncut.  Then, as I opened the lengths of fabric out, small pieced squares and countless strips of varying widths and lengths drifted to the floor and I remembered what it was – what I had dreamt it would be.

heather ross fabric

stitching it up

I laid the pieces out on the bed and shook my head.  Well here we are in Melbourne.  There’s no fireside and no rocking chair.  Some of what we hoped for when we moved to Melbourne has come to fruition in wonderful ways – especially Abby’s school.  It is more than we could ever have hoped for and so very perfect for her.   Other things haven’t panned out as we thought they would, but there’s time.  Some things have been truly heartbreaking.  But what we’ve had instead has given us opportunities to grow – in wisdom, resilience and love.

Now, there is a finished fireside quilt.  In this our winter without heating (remember we are in Melbourne, not Moscow!) it will be promptly finished and put to very good use in our living room – Abby is so very stingy with the Moomin quilt and Julian declares that the 4 inch floral is his and his alone.

in the basket finished on the sofa squashed centre close up of centre beautiful sun looking down

This rich and glowing quilt, along with so many other treasures we’ve collected, restored and created with an eye to what we dream will come next, will be part of the here and now.  And it will serve to remind me that our dreams will not come bursting out of their box like a Jack-in-the-box on Christmas morning, with a marvellous “ta-da!”.  No.  They will be achieved slowly.  Some pieces will be hard won.  Some carefully chosen.  Some will fall blissfully into place.  Some will keep us awake at night.  Some might be elusive.

And in the meantime, with our dreams there to guide us, we shall make the most of every precious moment we share.

looking towards the door folded on stone ledge hanging on the doorknob

* this is not an original analogy, but an imperfect and much loved remembering of what Mrs. Darling told Wendy when describing Mr. Darling as a hero in the wonderful 2003 version of Peter Pan.

a very finished chess board

Yeah, yeah.  You’re sick of hearing about the chessboard.  And I didn’t live up to my promises last week.  I know.  The week kind of wobbled off course.  These things happen.

But today!  New week.  New to do list.  Board FINISHED.  Family playing. Good stuff!

raw edges

It only took an hour to move the board on from here …

looking at blue

to here …

corner with pieces orange

and then as soon as the girlie was home and tea was brewed …

abbys lineup abby little blue pawn knight king my hostages

Personally, I think chess is made so much more fun by having such darling little pieces :-) I bought them from a lovely local woman on ebay.  What a find!

Playing, I always imagine I’m Empress Matilda – wife to the German Emperor, heir to the English throne, and dogged combatant of her usurper cousin King Stephen.  Not that this brings me any luck or skill – bit useless at chess I am.

I first met Matilda in Ellis Peter’s marvellous Brother Cadfael books – have you read them? They are so enjoyable.  Fortunately, I was studying history at the time and was able to enrol in subjects that allowed me to dip further into this awesome woman’s life and struggles.  I wanted to name Abigail after her.  My family pooh-poohed the idea – a girl born in Australia and named Matilda will always be asked if she’s named after that blasted song with the thieving swagman!

her next move

After whipping me soundly, Abby prepared the board and waited for a more serious opponent …

julian and abby cosy evening… and from the sounds drifting down the hallway, I’m guessing the moves that swiftly defeated her mother just don’t stack up against her father :-)

fu

lucy

Meanwhile, the rain pours, the temperature drops further still, soup bubbles gently on the stove, lazy doggles snore …

Such is the perfect winter’s eve.

the consequences of finding oneself stapleless

ready to go

I know.  I promised there would be a quilted/upholstered chess board to share this evening.  And truly – it was going to happen.  Except that when I settled all my tools and fabrics on the kitchen table, I discovered there was nary a staple to be had for my staple gun – it being the essential upholstering tool and all.

Thus, a trip to the hardware store was in order.  And you know, with just a few gentle detours, I was able to include the Sacred Heart, Brotherhood of St. Laurence and Salvation Army Oppies on the staple gathering journey.  And that took a little longer than anticipated.  Who would know gentle detours could do that?

placemats

Oh but such treats were found!  Placemats with matching coasters.  Never used and such gorgeous colours and patterns!  They’d only just been popped on the shelf – I arrived at the perfect time.  It was kismet.

wool box wool

Two sweet boxes of L’Amour by Patons.  The box lids have a floppy sheet of clear plastic in them.  The yarn is so soft – a mix of lambswool and angora with a tiny fleck of nylon for strength.  They look so very pretty, part of me wants to leave them in their boxes for ever and simply admire them.  Only a small part :-)

DSC_8825

A belated wedding anniversary gift for my Jules.  A vintage leather briefcase.  The clasps and handle are in perfect nick.  The leather needs some conditioning and polishing.  It will still look well loved.  Good.  I can just picture my fellow strolling up to the train in his argyle vest (just waiting for the yarn to arrive from Shetland for that – small detail), thrifted tweed jacket, felt hat from a quirky hat maker in Ireland, swinging his briefcase.  Extra good stuff!

scarves

Two dear squares of printed fabric – I immediately thought bandana/head kerchief thing. The previous owner thought cushion and stitched them together and added a zipper.  I still think they will be much more useful as scarves so will be unpicking them asap.  Such pretty colours and the lovely pattern reminds me of glorious French tablecloths.

grey sweater cream cardie

Woollen jumpers – a shop bought one from Germany – a beautiful dark grey and white fair isle.  It’s currently a jumper but I’m dreaming of steeking the front, adding almost black bands with red icord trim and frogging, and unpicking the ribbed hems – more red icord.  Hmmmmm …. still pondering.  The creamy-grey cardie is certainly hand knitted.  And beautifully too!  The only thing that needs a bit of a lift – the buttons.  They are terribly cheap and dull for such a lovely cardie.  I’m thinking a trip to the Glenferrie Button Shop is in order – and maybe those lovely woven leather buttons – yes?

baby patterns

Vintage knitting patterns – who can say no!  Not I, that’s for sure.  I tell myself that even if I never knit the precise items in them, they are still a wonderful resource for stitch patterns and ideas :-)  Mind you – there’s that baby wool that needs knitting up and there are some dear little bonnets and cardies in the Baby Encore booklet.  Oh yes!

staples

Oh! Finally!  Staples.  Extra short ones.  The wooden chess board is a fairly flimsy affair.

first step done

And voila!  We are one step closer to a quilted/upholstered finish.  The quilted top has now been stretched and stapled into place.  This afternoon, after that slow trip to the hardware store, the rain poured down, the wind whipped round, and darkness fell extra early. Meanwhile, the little girl sat at the kitchen table writing spelling sentences and completing word building exercises whilst telling me endless Star Wars stories and crawling around under the table with the over-excited puppers.  And I listened and helped, coaxed and suggested, laughed and scolded (the puppers that is), whilst pulling and straightening and stapling and ripping out said staples and doing it all again until it looked good.

So, because there were no staples, there are now yet more thrifted treats tucked into the corners of Bootville.  Each with its own story forever unknown to us.  But that’s okay – I’m good at creating their histories, imagining who bought them – the placemats, a 21st present don’t you think, kept for good but then never used – the balls of L’Amour, a treat to herself with a special pattern picked out and yet, knitting for the children and grandchildren filled her knitting time until it was too late – the briefcase, it’s already been to the train station thousands of times maybe with the daily newspaper, a sandwich, perhaps essays to mark, or a colleague’s proposal to peruse.

Now we shall add to their stories whilst they make ours a little more beautiful.  And tomorrow – I know there will be very good progress on the chess board.  Truly I do!

 

pottering

goodness me!  Sometimes these days just hurry by, don’t they.  Here we are and it’s Tuesday night already.

Mum has been and gone – she’s in Brisbane now, visiting with old Nanny and Grandad who are relishing every moment of having their eldest child at their beck and call :-)

Lucy is having her holiday here with us … well, a combination of holiday and convalescing – she had a paralysis tick a couple of weeks ago and being an old lady, she really suffered and is still getting her strength back – it was very touch and go for a while there, nerve wracking stuff.

Abby is off to Year 10 camp tomorrow – with a streaming cold.  After a day of resting under the quilts on the sofa with plenty of vitamin c, hot lemon and honey tea, hot water bottles, chicken soup, and paracetamol she’s still sounding/looking/feeling awful.  Oh dear.

Mother’s Day came and went – lovely stuff.  Croissants with jam (so decadent!) and cheese for breakfast.  Woodwork in the shed with Abby and Jules.  Shoppings with Mum.  Cosy hours of knitting with the Nan, the Mum and the girlie, whilst Julian prepared a marvellous Mother’s Day Feast.   Oh yes :-)

And me … well pottering around as usual.

knitting

We visited Wondoflex on Friday – ostensibly to choose wool for baby knitting – my cousin Clara is expecting her first babe in August.  Oh!  So many lovely things to knit for little ones born into cold climates – wee dresses, cardies, snuggly stockings, tiny booties.  And yet somehow, along with the baby wool, 20 balls of heavily discounted 12 ply tumbled into my basket and somehow they wound up on my needles where they are miraculously turning into this.  Such a sweet and easy pattern – knits up wonderfully quick and has nifty little inset pockets for keeping hands cosy.  I have one and a half sleeves left to go – and a bit of finishing on the pockets.  Yum!  But where’s the baby knitting?  you ask.  Oh she’s not coming ’til August … heaps of time ;-)

knitting booi

Found this treasure trove of a book at our local post office.  Yep, the post office.  You know the deal … standing in a long queue waiting to collect a parcel, surrounded by shelves spruiking all manner of goods that a post office has no right to sell :-) But dang!  I’m glad they had this one … it is sooooooooo good!  A real how-to bible of knitting, full of so many wonderful techniques I don’t know where to start.  Makes my heart beat faster just looking at it.

scraps quilted chess board

Dusted the old chess board that came with these dear little hand painted sweeties and had a flash of brilliance.  It would look so much better quilted!  And I’ve always wanted to make a quilted chess board.  So I made the wee quilt this morning, and after being interrupted by the girl child and her sneezing, came to the perfect realisation of how to finish it off.  There’s nothing quite as good as a forced break.  I do find it allows me to ponder where I’m heading and how best to get there.  Wait til you see.  Oh yes!  It’s going to be so cool.  Hopefully tomorrow.

little sickie lucy

I know she’s sick and all and feeling crummy, but oh, how I love it when my girlie is home with me and I can fuss over her.  The house is so much lovelier when she is in the next room.  And sweet little Lucy – she loves it too.  A snoozing teenager provides the perfect cosy spot to warm her old bones, specially since the vet had to shave all her fur (her winter coat!) so as to find that wretched tick.

ultimate toy lottie man trees wooden toys

The current favourite toy in Bootville – the scroll saw.  It is the BEST fun.  It’s almost like free motion quilting – but easier!  On Saturday, Abby and I made some trees and birds (still to be painted).   And on Sunday, I made a funny little replica of Green Cape Lighthouse (bit obsessed really) for old Grandad to remind him of his wonderful adventure last summer, and Lottie and her Gentleman for old Nanny.  Every time I see these two quirky folk, I expect to be able to pick them up and shake out the salt and pepper!  Such fun.

Days filled with family and love and handmade.  My favourite things.  And yours too, I bet :-) 

we took a leaf walk

branchbranches leaning out

red against blue around the corner the first shot

We are so very fortunate to live in a neighbourhood that is filled to bursting with beautiful trees.  In spring, streets of frothy blossoms fill me with speechless pleasure.  In summer, thick, vivid green canopies cast a beautiful, peaceful light upon us.  In winter, gnarled trunks and branches stand to stiff, cold attention.  A year round of loveliness.  But it is autumn that truly captures our hearts.  We turn down one street and breath out long, wonder-filled oooohs.  Around the very next corner,  we give sharp, delighted intakes of ahhhh.

I don’t think it will matter how many times I journey round this sun of ours, such autumn trees will continue to enchant.  Today, I brought the camera with me to collect the little girls from school and asked them if they’d like to take a leaf walk.  With the camera – in turns, strap around their necks, taking as many photos as they wanted of whatever took their fancy.

Well.  What a treat.  A beautiful, slow, stopping every few feet to admire, inspect and wonder, afternoon.  They declared it the best afternoon we’ve had all year.  I’ve never enjoyed a leaf walk more … watching them choose what they wanted to capture.  How best to capture it.  Working out how the light worked.  Learning to adjust the focus.  Choosing how they wanted to compose their pictures.  Taking turns.  Being gracious and patient.  It was so lovely.

So here is a small selection of their photos – interspersed with a few photos I snapped of them.  As much as I was enjoying the autumn foliage, it was their enchantment with what they saw in front of them and how being a “photographer” provided them with such a good opportunity to slow down and really notice, that filled my heart today.

looking up up the street getting the shotamazing leaf with seed pod the honey above us arranging the leaves leaves in grass holding the leaf hedge two of them green veins milky light infront of yellow sun silhouetteFinally, the camera battery expired, the sun dipped even lower, and there were empty tummies to fill.  So, with hot chips and a picnic quilt, we found the prettiest tree in the park to settle under.   After hunger was satiated, there were swings to raucously sing upon, newly working fountains to race around, bumbling friendly puppies to play with …. and a wee pocket of time for stitching.

hot chips

my basket

under the treeIt was a very fine afternoon.

a felt pocket book

I love baskets … especially old ones.  Each time I find one by the side of the road, or at the oppie, home it comes.  After a good scrubbing they are usually filled with one of my many “current” projects.  This means there seems to be a perpetual need for extra baskets in Bootville :-)

last supplies the finishing touch

in my basket

It also means that the baskets regularly venture out with me.  To university, to babysitting, to the shops, on adventures.  Anywhere where there might be a need for notebooks and laptop, or a moment for knitting a few rows, or adding a few more stitches to an embroidery.  There are *always* such moments.  Having a basket slung over my arm also means that I don’t always need my handbag.  But I do like to be able to put my hand to purse, phone and keys quickly – something that can’t easily happen when they have been buried by wool or fabric.  And so … the felt pocket book.  Started last year, finished last week.  Hand stitched out of exceptionally rigid thick felt. I had to use the rubbery grippy fabric we use in the kitchen to open tight jam jar lids just to pull the needle through!  Measured to snugly fit each of those three essentials.

a pocket book what it holds back pocket

Decorated with a wee bit of applique, embroidery and needle felting.  Finished off with a pair of pretty buttons and a long tail of red ribbon to weave back and forth around the buttons in a figure 8 … the kind of ribbon that makes me think of old manilla folders, bound up with ribbon before being stored in cavernous cellars.

clasp close up of girl and dress in hand

I’m so pleased I finally finished this very useful little pocketbook (oh my, I can surely procrastinate!) and it’s so sturdy I’m sure it will put in many years of practical service.  The best kind of crafting – the hand making at home of objects which I know to be useful and believe to be beautiful.  Thank you Mr. Morris – your marvellous words inspire me everyday :-)

embroidery basket

a seagull quilt

closeup seagulls at the beach

You might have noticed, here at Bootville, that we’re rather fond of seagulls.  When I look through my photos here, and Julian’s photos that scroll through our tellie, lots and lots of seagulls pop up.  So when I found some darling seagull fabric last December, I just had to have some.  Seagulls on a pale duck egg blue background for long shorts for Julian – just right for wearing on Mum’s front porch after a day at the beach.  And these seagulls on a soft grey background … for a quilt of course.

started way back here

I wanted to stitch some lovely blocks – my sampler quilt hangs on the back of our sofa, and I often find myself admiring its cacophony of traditional blocks.  I’m especially fond of this one – I think it has the word “crown” in its name, but as per usual, I really couldn’t say.  Hopeless I am.  But I didn’t want tiddly pieces and I wanted to space the pieced blocks with nice big squares of seagull so we could best enjoy these funny feathered critters, strutting and squawking about.

almost the whole thing the left with stickToday … I finally added the last two borders.  Still in my tidy up mode you see, and now, almost at the bottom of a big jute tote that has made its way back and forth between Merimbula the last two visits, with nary a thing being touched!  The sashing fabric was cut straight – just so happens the design is on the cross.  Neat huh!  And I added the prairie points to the four points of the compass for a bit of extra oomph – and they seem to reflect the lovely points of the pieced blocks and the sharpness of those seagulls.

all those gulls squawk head poking out

I do think the artist captured so many unique expressions – each bird has such a quaint look.  Some busy, some cheerful, some stroppy, some tall and proud.  Just like those that strut about us at the beach.

strolling on the tram bench from our end

When I had to cut the fabric into two inch squares, I still tried to keep something of the gulls in each piece.  A beak, or a tail, a puffed up chest, or some feet.  Plenty to look at.

in the tree cornerAnd I’m very pleased with the colours I chose to sit with my seagulls.  I love the incredible crispness of the white – lovely and beachy.  And the rosy pink seems to bring out the gulls’ feet and beaks.  The dark purply print – so pretty with the pink and sits well with the dark outline of the gulls.  At least I think so :-)  All in the eye of the beholder isn’t it.

So now for the quilting.  Well … tying that is.  After having the kitchen table clear for a whole 20 hours, I now have the seagulls spread out atop a lovely thick, sandy coloured checked blanket.  Tying it on with grey perle.  Love this tying business.  Gets them done and on our sofas and beds.

And in this case … as we snuggle under it, I’m certain that our dreams will be extra full of those long, marvellous hours during which we share the soft warm sand with our friends the seagulls.

 

warming the bones

baskets abby

Oh the sun.  So nourishing.  And I so needed it today.  Monday, when popping on my spectacles, I realised that the right side of my nose was very sore.  The kind of sore your nose feels after meeting a cricket ball.  Not something I’ve experienced lately … cricket balls that is.  There was no redness, no swelling, no sneezing, no snot, no pain anywhere else – so sinusitis didn’t seem the obvious culprit.  And yet, just lightly touching the side of my nose hurt.  I expected it would pass.

Tuesday … ouch!  The pain had spread up the right side of my nose.  Still, I thought it would pass.  Wednesday … ouch! ouch!  My nose was no excruciatingly sensitive that talking and smiling made it throb.  And now – it was the left side too.

fu rosebush

This morning, for the umpteenth time, my Mum reminded me of a lovely student we knew who had developed such a bad sinus infection, it travelled to her brain and she suffered profound brain damage.  I know this sounds a wee bit melodramatic but seriously, this was a vibrant, energetic girl who one month was racing around school with the world at her feet, and several months later we were organising classmates to visit her everyday in hospital as she made a painfully slow and limited recovery.  So, on our way home from the shops, Abby and I called into the doctors to make an appointment for tomorrow.

Instead, after describing the strange pain to the nurse, she popped me straight in to see the next doctor with a gap in their schedule – such an unusual experience I didn’t know whether to feel alarmed or blessed!  The doctor was very attentive but could only find slight swelling with slight redness on the inside of my nose.  Like mum, she too was a bit concerned about the pain, so gave me a strong antibiotic to hopefully knock whatever is in there on the head before it grows any braver.  And if there’s no improvement in the pain by lunchtime tomorrow, I have to go back.  I’m disappointed to report, that so far, two capsules down, I’ve not yet had any relief.  But I’m hopeful :-)

stitching

a visitor

In the meantime, I know of a very comforting home medicine … sitting on the sunny front porch with my dear girl, our funny dog, some lovely embroidery … and our neighbour’s dog who thought it all looked too lovely to not join in.

blue sky

button close up

Such bliss … I almost considered keeping Abby home from school tomorrow so we could notch up a few more hours …oh yes,  the weather man has just said it will be sunny … hmmmm ….  And whilst stitching, my overactive, nursing-student brain visualised all those wee bacteria in my poor sore nose producing offspring without cell walls.  Bit macabre but I can just picture the little bacteria babes realising there’s nothing holding them together and bam! exploding into tiny pieces of uselessness!  Go keflex!

a lighthouse to warm my way

finished

Done!  After a “bit brisk” start to the morning … bit brisk is how my Grandad describes cold weather – you know, frost on the grass, the temperature gauge has almost hit zero and he goes out to feed the chickens and ducks in his shorts, a short sleeved shirt, work boots and the vest my mother knitted him when she was 15 (acutally it was a jumper but Nanny pulled out the sleeves), and when we said “Shut the door!  It’s freezing!”  he would reply, “Oh it isn’t!  It’s just a bit brisk” … there was an opportunity to toast myself on the front porch, coffee beside me, hand sewing on my lap.  Lovely way to settle into the day ahead.

This is my new hot water bottle cosy.  A lovely project to sneak into the long line of things that need finishing – instead of eating a whole packet of Bloomers (the kosher version of oreos and very good too!) to celebrate finishing my essays – I painted the lovely Green Cape Lighthouse that lives in my mind’s eye with felt and thread.  Virtuous huh!

the beginning

Started by drawing my pattern …

just a lighthouse

… and pinning it on to a piece of thrifted, vintage blanket.  I adore this blue check blanket – the only blue one I’ve ever found.  Despite being blue and white – colours not usually associated with the warm spectrum – it’s just so cosy looking.  And so very appropriate for a lighthouse.  I can just imagine the lighthouse keeper’s family snuggled under blue checked blankets in the keeper’s cottage as outside, the sea roars beneath the jagged cliff, the wind flattens those trees behind them just a little more, and the rain washes everything bare.  Green Cape is a dramatic part of the coastline – I’m sure the generations of lighthouse families that lived there saw a thing or two.

out come the threads

I loooooooooove getting out the thread box.  Such prettiness.

startingAnd over the weekend, in lazy hours here and there, I added more and more colour.

on the front porch

I’m very pleased with the lighthouse – it looks just like Green Cape.  Including the little domed building attached to the side.  I wonder what they did in there?  I’ve not had the pleasure of a lighthouse tour – only explored the outside.  But one day I hope to venture in.  In fact, you can stay in the lighthouse keeper’s cottage – oh my goodness, that would be my version of the ULTIMATE holiday.  Then I would truly feel as if I was part of the Famous Five :-)

radiant

But my favourite part of the cosy, hands down, is the sun rising up from the jewelled waves.  I love the image of a rising sun … I think there shall be more on this later in the week.

stitching

As per usual, I finished the edges with a quilt binding – some leftover floral for the top edges and left over blue from a quilt top I’ve been piecing over the last few days (yeah, like we needed another quilt top … it’s Abby’s fault … she insisted … don’t listen to her … she did!).

with the binding

Let’s look at the sun again, yes?  I adore felt appliques.  Ahhhhh … building up the picture with layers of wool and stitches until it is quite thick and so very textured.  It’s my favourite medium.

little rounded part

There it is again – the little domed part of the building … and the step like sides.  It does have those – they’re cut into the sides of the lighthouse.  Can’t imagine they serve any other purpose than being beautiful.  A very fine consideration for a building … something I think is sorely lacking in the ugly, utilitarian, here-one-moment-gone-the next rubbish we build today.

light and birds

The light and a few seagulls.  I don’t know what kind of light they had at Green Cape – I shall have to look it up.  But when you’re working with felt – a simple representation will do.

waves and sun

And there’s that sun and waves again.  Love!

with hot water bottle

Oh it will be so cosy when it’s nestled against me with a nice hot water bottle inside.  BTW – with regards to safety and hot water bottles, last night on the news, they reported the death of an elderly lady who heated her wheat bag up so much that when she took it to bed with her, it set fire to her bed and killed her!  How awful!  Tests done in England by the Fire Brigade have suggested you have to heat your wheat bag for 20 minutes to get it to the combustible stage.  Unbelievable.  We don’t have a microwave so have always used hot water bottles and I know they can scald if they’re not done up properly or if the rubber has perished and it leaks.  But I do think commonsense and a little bit of care keeps one safe and we’ve never had a problem.

all ready for tonight

I’m especially glad to have finished my hot water bottle cosy because I’ve hurt my back and oh that heat does feel lovely when it’s squished in behind me.  And no, I didn’t hurt it by manouvering hard rubbish into my car.  Or spending hours scrapping and scrubbing the dear little English Oak, drop leafed, gate-legged table that came home with us from the oppie on Sunday.  Or even sitting for too long at the sewing machine.  No.  I hurt it whilst at the loo.  Sitting on the loo to be precise – and twisting and leaning down to retrieve the loo roll holder that had fallen and rolled behind the cistern.  I blame my family.  If only I wasn’t the ONLY member of Bootville to actually change the loo roll, I would never have been in that position!  At least that’s what I’m telling myself ;-)

But all is well, because I have a dear little woollen, appliqued lighthouse to warm my winter.  Bliss!