… that finally turned lovely … phew!
Today I embarked upon a project that’s been wandering around the back of my mind for seventeen years. Mmmhmm! That seems like such a long time ago but the older I get, the more aware I am that it is but a blink :-)
Seventeen years ago I was working in the school of psychology at the University of Queensland – I was lucky to be part of a gorgeous team of women who were all so interesting and funny and lovely – there was a Sri Lankan law graduate, an American masters student in creative writing, a gorgeous Jain mum to two little boys, and a mad Zimbabwean woman who was dedicated to the politics of justice and women’s rights . It was also when we first discovered the internet – we each had our passions and would spend our morning teas and lunch hours sharing what we had discovered that day.
Several of us became members of the Folio Society (an English publisher specialising in beautiful editions of wonderful literature), we regularly sent away to Past Times (an English shop that sold lovely clothes and homewares based on historical artefacts) for group purchases – all of which we had delivered to work so we could unpack everything on the tea table in the main office and enjoy a group swoon – and had marvellous dinner parties which were filled with excellent food and heated debates. Well, the heated debates were the result of bringing our husbands along – we were all on the same wave length – “they” included a constitutional law academic who wrote for ultra-right wing think tanks in the US (oh my! the combination of him and the Zimbabwean activist was something else!), an English army officer and my chaotic Dutch anarchist.
After meeting a Canadian linguist who was into Medieval costumes at one such party, I was introduced to Folkwear Patterns. Swoon! My psychology friends and I quickly decided – all being fans and graduates of the 1970s and its love of hippy, folky gorgeousness – that the Afghan Nomad’s dress was our favourite. But at that time, you couldn’t order the patterns over the internet – you had to phone and it all seemed just a bit too hard. Then I had Abby, left my job and only thought about the nomad’s dress every few years – including a moment in the early 2000s when I made up a vogue pattern that looked reasonably similar but was so hideously unflattering and awkward that it became known to the family as the Mongolian wet nurse’s sack and quickly found its way into a bag for the Salvos.
Then, a couple of weeks or so ago, Alicia over at Rosy Little Things posted her version (and just today, another one!). It was one of those light bulb moments – oh look! it’s the Afghan nomad’s dress! Made by a woman who usually hates the clothes she makes for herself and she LIKES it and says it is flattering and lovely to wear! No further encouragement was needed (and the memories of the Mongolian wet nurse’s sack were dismissed). I hopped on the net and found that yes indeed, I could order it from their website. Easy peasy! In just over a week it arrived. It was like Christmas morning. I had waited so long for this pattern.
I pulled it all out of its envelope and pored over every detail – sigh! So exciting. Then visited Spotty this week for some fabric – they have the lovely Reprodepot range and it is on special – perfect.
And yet … when I gathered my pattern, fabric, pins and scissors this morning … it all seemed a little daunting. I was almost tempted to shove it all back in a bag and wait for the “right moment” to tackle it. But no! I’d spent all this money on the fabric and had the pattern I had coveted for seventeen years. I would plough on.
First, I discovered that the largest size was not my size. No, the pattern’s updated notes informed me that I was a 3x extra large. Oh my. That was more than a little dispiriting. I know I’ve become rather pudgy (oh! listen to the denial – I mean, overweight!) but 3x extra large – that sounds more like the size polo shirt my Uncle Kevin, who’s 6’5″ and an ex-navy footballer, would wear! (no offence Uncle Kevin :-)
So there were a lot of extra inches added to the bodice and waist band. Then it took almost three hours to cut out! This cannot be true – it is all made up of rectangles – three hours!? I think I must have spent a lot of time dithering. Three hours!
Finally, I had my pieces ready. I ventured into the spare ‘oom where the sewing machine has been set up over winter (don’t like my sewing shed in winter – too dark and cold). Chaos. Pure chaos. Let me tell you how much quality was added to the sewing experience by having to climb over spare computer monitors to get to the sewing machine, and having to stand with one foot resting on the printer whilst trying to iron the bias binding flat around the neck. Ugh!
The day was disappearing into a muddle of crankiness, frustration and disappointment. It took 3 attempts to construct the sleeves – finally, one was finished. As for the neckline and front V!?!? After two hours of spitting my teeth across the room, the unfinished, never going to turn out bodice was pettily hurled onto the kitchen table and I stomped off for my shower (at 2.50pm) before collecting one of the girlies for babysitting. Man was I cross.
I cursed the dress. I cursed Folkwear. I cursed babysitting. I cursed the spare ‘oom. I cursed my uselessness. I cursed the “lost” day. After all these years of looking forward to an Afghan nomad’s dress, I had patently failed.
As I set off for school, the sky grew so dark and the wind that had been roaring around the house, shaking every window pane and sending branches from our oak crashing to the ground, grew even stronger. By the time I pulled up, it was raining and freezing. The perfect weather to match my mood.
And there was the little girlie waiting for me. A big grin on her face. Jiggling from one foot to the other with cold. She knew nothing of chaotic spare ‘ooms or non-existent waist lines or hideous bias binding. All she was looking forward to was a relaxing and fun afternoon with her nanny – me.
I took a deep breath and stepped out of the car. At once the cheery chatter began. We settled on a quick trip to the fruit and veg store followed by afternoon tea at a very posh bakery and then home for stories and homework. The frustration and anger began to slide away.
We ate nougat and drank warming tea. Bought vegies – and a pomegranate which she had neither seen nor eaten before. By the time we were ready to head back to the car the wind had all but disappeared, the rain had dried up, and in true Melbourne style, the sun was out and the sky was blue.
Once home, we cracked open that pomegranate – it was such joy to share it with her. She was utterly delighted, pulling apart the soft creamy membranes to find yet another cluster of ruby red arils and then gobbling them up – her fingers quickly becoming a lovely, sticky rich pink. She wrote the word pomegranate up on the kitchen white board so she could tell her parents about it, and we gathered up the leftover arils and put them in a bowl for her to scatter on her icecream for dessert. We hoped on the computer and read about the history of pomegranates and Iran – the pomegranate’s birthplace. Then we flopped onto the sofa and read the picture book version of the Anne Frank story I had brought with me (her class have been reading Morris Gleitzman’s wonderful story “Once”) which prompted a long and thoughtful conversation about what it must have been like to lose so much when you are still so little.
By the time I left at 6pm, the sky was still beautifully blue, the sun still shining, and the drama of that silly dress had not only completely subsided, but I had realised how easily I could change the construction and fix that bloody bodice (hm! just zoomed in on Alicia’s photo of her Bloomsbury version and I think she may have ditched the bias binding too!)
I drove home, delighting in all the flowering fruit trees that line our streets at the moment, cooked my family a lovely dinner and got to sit in MY cosy kitchen, listening to MY girlie’s stories of the day, crochet on my lap, the hook flying.
:: sigh:: Sometimes, I become so immersed in what is happening at that very moment, that I am incapable of standing back and working out how best to go forward. With hindsight, I should have counted the one finished sleeve as the day’s success and reminded myself that the goal of life is not to start and finish everything in one frenzied blitz.
This dress – which is truly symbolic of almost everything else I do – can and will be made – but one stitch at a time. Today a sleeve. Tomorrow another sleeve. Eventually the bodice will come together and one day soon, I will be wearing that Afghan Nomad’s dress and hopefully I won’t look like a wet nurse :-)
If I don’t finish something within the first few hours of starting it, I have a tendency to consider it a fail, and it is pushed back into the stash, only sometimes making its way back out. That’s the fail. Not allowing the unfinished item to become PART of my days, not the sole focus of one day. Instead, allowing myself to take on just the right sized bites, here and there, until it is finished. And to remember that there is so much more to a day than a finished sewing project – there are people to enjoy, experiences as simple as eating a piece of fruit to find success and happiness in, making the most of the opportunities we get to sit down together as a family with no other demands on our time.
Hmmm …. perhaps I need to print out this long and wordy post and before I start something new, have another read and remember that the creative process is but one aspect of who I am and how my days are filled. ’Cause when I remember that, when I allow that to happen, oh the days are so much lovelier.
There’s some serious landscaping happening on the season’s table. As you can see, it has taken the residents of mushroom cottage quite by surprise. However, I’m sure they’ll be thrilled with the final result!
It began with a duck. I have several books of patterns for felt animals and have seen felt ducks for sale at Winterwood and Little Sparrow. But did I have a pattern for a duck? No. There was no choice but to come up with my own. It took 3 gussets before I found the right shape – I simply cannot visualise things – I’m a try it and learn from my mistakes kind of person. So I know that next time I want a smaller beak and wings and I now have the perfect gusset shape. I want to make at least two more ducks for the spring table, but once there was one – sitting upright and all, thanks to a bottom full of pigeon peas – it was time to move onto creating the spring pond. Round and round and round …
Then it was onto the wee folk who will be dancing upon this spring table. I crocheted their wee skirts on the weekend – using the bamboo yarn from my wrap. Each skirt starts with a ring, then at least 1 round of half treble crochet, then onto a selection from the marvellous assortment of stitches from Mon Tricot.
Its so funny/sweet – as I plod my way through a new set of instructions – and some are so complicated – I recognise in the patterns I’m creating those that make up the doilies in my vintage doily collection. It sends a shiver through me when I think about the women who have spent thousands of years with thread and needles in their hands creating these delicate designs – beautiful – aren’t we so lucky.
Oh – and the skirts are adorning wee wooden peg dolls Abby and I bought from Winterwood on Saturday. My first foray into peg dolls and it is SOOOOOOO fun! Apparently you can get larger wooden beads for the heads, but they didn’t have any, so we haven’t used any. I quite like them with their little heads and think I shall stick with that.
The arms had me stumped for a while. I tried to coerce Julian into drilling holes through their “shoulders” for me on the weekend – but he had a dreadful cold and didn’t want to brave the man-shed – and I didn’t want to brave the drill press. So I tried wrapping pipecleaners around the “shoulders” – complete disaster – looked the hunchback of notre dame with a bad boob job. Then it finally dawned on me to use what I had – the peggy bit! So through went the pipecleaner, then I folded it to the height I needed and this – once wrapped with wool formed the shoulders, puffed sleeves and arms. Perfectly lovely! And I confess, I did a little jig and danced about the hallway when my first dancer was finished and waiting by the pond for the Maypole to be built :-)
There’s still a bit of landscaping to do – the cherry trees (stalks from the basil plant the chickens played with last month) need to be planted and have their blossoms added. And there are some wee farm animals that are waiting to move in – some lambs and piggies and chickens.
And I think a bee hive might be in order. Haven’t yet settled on a method of construction. And there might be some hair tweaking – that ginger haired lass looks like she’s wearing a saucer on her head – nothing the felting needle can’t fix. And the spare ribbons need to be wrapped around the Maypole. And those loose threads on the skirts need to be sewn in.
Eeeeee …. pure bliss! And the perfect holiday entertainment for this mama-nurse to be who thought her week’s holiday came AFTER her three week psych placement – not before. Good thing I checked my emails BEFORE catching the 6.50am tram on Monday morning.
I do so love creating :-)
Whilst visiting with the guinea pigs and rabbit lately, we’ve noticed that our dear Little My seems to have lost her sight.
She’s over five ears old, this stout little pig. She came to live with us when we were still living in the tumbledown cottage in Brisbane. Since then she’s lived through the death of her original partner (Snufkin – an unexplained and sudden demise a year later), leaping off the table and being chased around Mum’s front porch in Brisbane by Toph the mad dachshund – it was a manic five minutes of hysterical yapping on Toph’s behalf, frantic shrieking on Little My’s part, demented shouting and arm waving by Abby, Mum and me, clumps of guinea fur everywhere, and culminated in Little My scootling straight off the edge of the porch (1 storey up) and landing in the garden below – eeek!
There was a plane trip to Melbourne. The arrival of a new mate (the neurotic Wendoline) and rabbits. A holiday to Merimbula in the guinea caravan (a.k.a. a dog crate) that included two 8 hour car journeys. And daily visits from a crazy Fu who, after enjoying cuddles and snoozing with the guineas when she was a pup, now likes to hurl herself at the guinea enclosure whilst giving them a super bark. They don’t even bat their eyelids.
We think of Little My as guinea pig extraordinaire – the indestructible – but I have a sad feeling that may be changing. I hoped into the enclosure yesterday with a bunch of fresh celery leafs. Miss Hinchcliffe (our current rabbit and Little My’s bestest ever friend) bounded up per usual and began feasting before the leaves had even hit the hay. Wendoline poked her head out from under the hut and shrieked for me to leave so that she could venture out and have her fill. Little My – whose usually right by Miss Hinchcliffe’s side - twitched her nose and began eating the hay at her feet. She then slowly muddled her way over the celery leaves, nibbling the hay as she moved. It was as if she knew it was there because she could smell it, but she couldn’t see it – she had to find it by taste and smell. Completely new behaviour.
Hmmm … her heart rate seems fine – racing, which is normal for guineas. Her appetite is in no way diminished. And when we picked her up she doesn’t complain or wince, but sits contentedly for a snuggle.
But she’s slower and her once firmly rounded body is looking a little leaner. And Wendoline and Miss Hinchcliffe are taking extra lovely care of her. Instead of darting about the enclosure, building new tunnels and playing amongst the hay, she just sits quietly, her eyes mostly closed, with one or both of the others pressed up against her. It’s truly heart-melting to watch. Wendoline grooms Little My’s face every now and then, and as the afternoon shadows lengthen, Miss Hinchcliffe lays one of her lovely, soft, long ears over Little My’s shoulders. They seem to know she’s old and frail. Who says animals don’t experience and express love, compassion and understanding.
Perhaps Little My’s just experiencing old age. Maybe something more sinister is afoot. Who knows. In the meantime we shall squeeze in as many cuddles as we can, keep filling the enclosure with her favourite lovely fresh vegetables – I shall even buy her some ridiculously expensive and out of season green beans ’cause they are her ultimate favourite, and wish for as much sunshine to warm that sweet little face as possible.
When she goes – if she goes soon – we can comfort ourselves with the reminder that she’s has a good life, this guinea pig. But we’re still feeling a little sad – she’s our last pet connecting us with Brisbane (do you know, it was two years this week just passed since our beloved Simon and Toph died – still unbelievable). And we love her so.
It’s a blue sky morning,
with a wind that’s blowing fair
It’s a jasmine scented morning,
there are spring buds in the air
It’s a gold sky morning,
with a sun that’s warm and bright
It’s a heart glad morning,
we are bathed in soft spring light
Abby Boot, 10 years
Oh, such a slow and sunny and lovely weekend morning. Crocheting a summer wrap / crochet stitch sampler. In bamboo yarn, guided by a vintage Mon Tricot book that I bought at the Bega Book Fair last summer.
I’m dreaming of summer morns sitting with Mum on her front porch, looking out at the glorious Pacific Ocean. And summer evenings, tinged with Melbourne cool, feasting with my family and playing croquet in the garden.
Spring, I’m so glad you’re here.
School free day today! Well, for the younger members of Bootville … this older one still had to dash into uni for a rural community nurse and adolescent pregnancy seminar. But when I arrived home, just on lunchtime, the girlie was still in her nightie – warmed up with the mushroom beanie and sheepskin slippers. Yes there’s sunny sunshine but my, that wind is still icy.
And here … the six kitchen chairs “won” on ebay, collected on Saturday and a colourful collection of stitchery – they looked so pretty on the glossy (chipped) black we decided to bring more out to make an impromptu flowery garden.
I crocheted this summery coloured owl for Abby – and thought this sweet owlette maybe needed some owl babies to perch with her on the spring table. Abby says no. She’s just a young owl herself and apparently a specialist bed snuggling owl. Hmmm …
This boyishly sweet fellow is Bede … we added wings for a’fluttering. I had initially thought they would stand out like ears – but that’s precisely what they looked like – daft ears. Just when I was ready to pop them into the wool basket for future reincarnating, Abby pinned them into this position. Yes!
Abby’s weekend creation … I think his name is Riyu … or Joon … I don’t think she’s quite decided. A feltie version of an original character she’s mulling over a story for. Did you see the tiny yellow bird she needlefelted onto his shirt? She has a lovely attention for detail.
Oh … and my beautiful girl. It was such a lovely blessing to come home on a weekday and there she was, all ready to play. I adore being at home with my girlie. We ate Italian pastries for lunch, finished Bede, cavorted in the garden and then snuggled up on the sofa and played Mario. I’m hopeless. She’s awesome. I spend a lot of time in the bubble of reincarnation. She drags me along behind her. Now, we’re making crepes for dinner. With lemon and icing sugar. And hot cocoa. It’s good stuff.
And of course, our sweet little original “spring is almost here” owl … who’s already to fly away to reader number #8 – “sewn sweet home”- in England who’s prepared her leafy lanes just for him and is going to name him Ozzy. Send me your details “sewn sweet home” and I will prepare Ozzy for his migration!
Thank you dear folks for entering the giveaway .. it was so lovely to read the names you chose and to imagine my little owl so far away in your homes.
We haven’t had a good, slow, cosy Saturday like this in a while … bliss! After some quick goings-out in the morning we embraced the cold, cold, bleak, rainy weather, closed the doors (locked the back door which kept blowing open!), stuffed the draft stoppers along the doorjambs, made hot drinks, gathered our supplies and set up camp in the front room.
With an added twist (giggle) … when hard rubbishing a while back, I found an old television. Now, anyone who notices hard rubbish knows that huge old televisions are a dime a dozen. Horrible things … I don’t know what the dumpers expect is going to happen – the ugly huge television fairy is going to come along and turn them into spring bluebells. Yeah right! However, I found a glorious old television set from the 1960s/70s with an elegant wooden case, gold tipped cigar shaped legs, all the knobs … looked like it came straight out of the Brady Bunch’s den. So we hefted it (boy was it heavy!) into the car and brought it home (cue mum: what on earth are you bringing this home for – it’s revolting!).
It no longer worked, so I pulled out it’s innards – long, heavy, sharp and dirty work, and gave the television and it’s knobs a lovely and thorough clean. I had visions of popping a flat screened television into it and bringing it back to life. Which could easily happen one day, just not any time soon – slight problem of cost :-) Instead, yesterday afternoon, Abby and I (with secretive chuckles and hunting of cords and power supplies – we didn’t want Julian to know what we were up to – it was a surprise) shoved an old flat screen computer monitor in there and attached it to Abby’s laptop. Voila! A working television :-)
So, to the accompaniment of sweet chattering, snuggling doggles, crochet, sewing and plotting (Abby’s working on a new original character), and whilst the wind HOWLED and eventually the rain settled in for the evening, we watched the beautiful Studio Ghibli films “My Neighbour Totoro” (my favourite – I adore everything about this film – their falling-down country house, Granny, her vegetable garden, the gorgeous father, the responsible big sister, the full-of-life little sister, the helpful neighbours, the marvellous teacher, the soot gremlins, the cat bus (man I LOVE the cat bus!) and of course Totoro – mwah! mwah!) and Spirited Away (a very close second – explores much more complex themes – really gets the family conversation going about the nature of good and bad and the care we need to take when we define one thing as more valuable than another – what the consequences are – Mr. Miyazaki is a gift to our world)
Oh it was good :-) So good! Now, the morning sun is shining – Julian is out bike riding, Abby’s still in bed and there’s washing that needs to be hung out. And I know, that when Abby finally stirs, she’s going to wishing for those wintery clouds to roll back in …
Abby’s gone off to a Mario party this evening … Charlotte and Michelle’s 15th – or should I say, Mario and Luigi! Oh my, you should have seen them all – it was so colourful and wholesome and fun. There were Princesses, mushrooms galore, overalled plumbers, and all manner of characters I couldn’t put a name too.
Charlotte’s Dad had provided for some marvellous Mario Kart building (15 girls, each with their own foundational cardboard tea chest and plenty of coloured card, pens, tape, glue and all manner of decorations) whilst Charlotte’s mum was busy inside putting the finishing touches on tables groaning with party food and lots of mario-inspired games. After they’d built their karts, they had races around the block … Abby was still laughing when she arrived home hours later.
And Abby … why she went as a toad mama … the toad in charge! Things have been super busy around here with essays to write, drug calculation exams, babysitting, parent teacher interviews, and life, but last night, after getting home from the last of the interviews at 9.30pm, I settled down with the crochet hook and got going on the costume.
A crocheted red cap (left over Beaverslide from the Blaithin) with lots of wee crocheted white rings sewn on with the long tails I left at the start and finish. A t-shirt appliqued with mario-styled mushrooms (vlisifex, the busy mama’s best friend in the sewing room) - smallish on the front and a giant one on the back. A pair of red and white corduroy pants – lovely fabric, so soft and cosy, made with our go-to pyjama pants that’s doable in under an hour! A pair of mushroom slippers … that needed a wee bit of repairing from the days of Toph the mad dachshund who just couldn’t keep her teeth off them. And a basket full of baby mushrooms, ready to be sent out into the magical world of Mario.
For Michelle, Abby asked me to make a felt dinosaur – apparently Michelle loves dinosaurs. However, I didn’t have a dinosaur pattern so tried to make do with a polar bear one instead – change the shape of the head, add some spikes and a spiky tail - that will work, yes?
Sort of. Lesson learned? If you’re going to fiddle extensively with the pattern, don’t leave it until 2 hours before the party (no, mum, I still haven’t learnt this lesson), ’cause when you wind up with a strange pointy red bit, sticking out from under the dinosaurs tail, whilst stuffing the dinosaur in the car on the way to the party, there is nothing you can do about it.
What you definitely shouldn’t do is roar with laughter until the tears are running down your cheeks after you point out this unwanted piece of anatomy to your fourteen year old daughter. Apparently, 14 year olds and 42 year olds don’t find the same things funny!
When Abby was little, we were utterly enchanted by everything she made or drew. I regularly had drawings laminated and every room had a rotating selection on display. Some made their way into thrifted frames … one of my favourites was her eight year old coloured pencil interpretation of the Mona Lisa which still hangs in a wonderfully ornate gilt frame in the hallway. Other drawings were decoupaged onto furniture and trays, painted onto t-shirts and tablecloths, turned into needlepoints … our home reflected our Abby, her love for drawing, and our love of her passion for art.
In the last few years, her artwork has become increasingly digital (apart from the almost hundreds of felties she shares her bed with!) and with the demise of our printer, our opportunities for sticking up our favourites has shrunk. But lately, she’s putting more effort into her original drawings (as opposed to fan art) and has created a truly lovely and very cheerful palette and I wanted a way to embrace this … to show her how much I love her attention to detail, how much I admire the hours she pours into her work, how much I want to share in what she values.
This was made a whole lot easier with Abby’s recent discovery of the British Paint coloured paint chips. No longer do I trek to the hardware store by myself – Abby jumps at the chance to ponder new colour schemes for her characters and their clothes. She was delighted to realise – after fourteen years of hardware store visiting – that she could take some paint chips home with WITHOUT having to buy the corresponding paint and her bookshelf is now stuck with different colour stories.
With the arrival of some newly thrifted kitchen chairs (our nicely upholstered ones were looking very vulnerable so close to the stove and food prep benches) … I had Abby choose a selection of those of her colours she loved best, we took these chips back to the hardware store, had them turned into sample pots of paint and we’ve been busy painting since.
Yes, our kitchen chairs are colour coordinated with Abby’s latest drawings :-) She’s so delighted and the colours are painting up so very pretty! Our kitchen chairs are conjuring up dreams of italian ice cream on the beach at Byron Bay. Or limoge tea cups. Or Abby’s sweet, quirkily dressed people and big, happy smiles.
Mmhm! I realise it might seem like such a little thing but it really isn’t. Just as it made her feel warm and cosy and loved when she saw her art hanging on the wall when she was younger, our embracing of “her colours” reminds her of how marvellous we think she and what she creates are.
And in years to come (many, many years!) when our dear girlie is setting off to create her own home, I have visions of these chairs making their way with her. Reminding her of her fourteen year old self, the hours she spent drawing … and her biggest fans and how much they love her.
p.s. consensus in bootville declares that the wooden cottagey style chairs are better than the cane ones – and since hard rubbish thrifting is fairly random in what it throws our way, there’s been some bay of evil exploring – and we’ve found 6 more to match the cottagey ones. They’re an almost identical match and a very humble price. The down side is they’ve been painted BLACK – old and battered but BLACK nonetheless. Oh well, if we do indeed “win” them, they’ll just have to have two coats of sealer before we apply Abby’s colours … I shall be painty for longer still.
ahhh … Julian’s been away for the last fortnight and you know what that means … hee! hee! hee! Why, mouse play, that’s what! Remember – when he was away this time last year (same conference) I painted the piano pale sea-blue.
It’s not that Julian is opposed to such projects. But he is fairly intolerant of the temporary chaos they create. Abby and I cheerfully work around the kitchen table being covered in furniture and paint pots for two weeks. Could Julian cope with this? No! Abby and I peaceably climb over the blanket box that is sitting right outside the front door on the porch, and siddle past the hallway closet that’s squished in at the end of the porch. Could Julian cope with this? No! No lamps beside the beds because there’s no bedside tables because it’s taken me two weeks to paint because I keep getting sidetracked – no problem, I just don’t read in bed :-) Could Julian do this? No!
It’s not just the chaos intolerance … he’s not actually interested in fixing up old stuff and making do. In fact, I don’t know that I’ve ever seen him with a paintbrush in his hand. I don’t even know if he can paint?! He can sand – I know that. He is a magnificent sander – he can turn old manky wood into something resembling marble worthy of a Medici palace. He just doesn’t like to get me that excited.
:: sigh :: good thing he’s amazing and lovely at other stuff. So, I shall keep saving up the wackiest and most intrusive of my around the house projects for when he’s away. Keeps me busy. Keeps Abby and me on our toes. Gives us a giggle. We revel in it :-)
And when he arrives home on that 6am flight, the house is sweet, ordered, freshly vacuumed and polished (my back is broken but hey!) - mostly! And all he has to do is admire all that hard work – which he does with sincere gusto … mostly!
edited to add: This wee owl baby definitely has air mail wings so please, folks from across the oceans, please do feel welcome to participate in the spring-is-almost-here giveaway! lily x
Monday … home from my child and family health seminar … determining what are accidental bruises vs. those exceptionally ugly non-accidental ones that we will see plenty of in the paediatric ward … needed something light and lovely after that. Sunshine and wool! What could be more relaxing?
The hours slipped away … the crochet grew … the colours warmed me all up!
Added some dried beans for structural integrity (I learned this term when I was a young university student – we knew a structural engineering student – he questioned the structural integrity of everything – made me completely paranoid – “do you think the flat has enough structural integrity for the piano?” - drove Julian crazy – now Abby wonders too!)
Hmmm …. but what is it? A-ha!
It’s an owlbaby. And since leaving the nest, she’s been seen in all the neighbourhood trees. I think she’s searching for spring … and there are tempting snippets everywhere!
About to burst-with-blossom trees …
Herbalicious re-growth …
Green, green, green!
And just in case we get too excited … a little more grey :-)
Abby even caught her by the tramstop – she was heading to the beach!
If you would like this wee owlbaby to fly your way, leave a comment – and a sweet name for her – and Abby will draw the winning family on Saturday!
She’s all hand crocheted in pure wool – a mix of the Aussie standbys Cleckheaton and Paton’s – from a pattern in my head … stuffed with dried pinto beans and merino fleece, with eyes fashioned from antique Chinese wooden beads (from a huge strand I found at the opshop). Not baby friendly … but infinitely cuddle friendly :-)
So leave a comment – remember to include a lovely name – and she could be yours!
Those late winter/very early spring blossoms may be out – and very gorgeous they are indeed – but there’s still plenty of chilly weather here in Melbourne yet. And the Blaithin is finished … finished! …. finished! …. and the girlie is wearing it! …. and the mama is thrilled to pieces :-)
Without a shadow of a doubt, this is the most beautiful and amazing thing I have ever made and I adored knitting every moment of it. I cannot praise Ms. Davies‘ pattern enough … it was a dream to follow. I learnt SO much and know that my knitting skills have been so stretched by this experience that I am now enthusiastic enough to try almost anything! I’m already plotting my version of the Blaithin – same marvellous construction but with some extra fair isle around the bottom edge and a different pattern in the yoke.
The Beaverslide worsted wool was bliss to knit with. Just bliss. Oh my, I do love it so. It has a scrumptious texture – so warm and cosy and wonderfully grippy. That steeking will hold like a dream and I know that after one season’s worth of wearing, the carried strands of the fair isle will be beautifully felted. And the colours – they are so rich and flecky. Such a pretty, pretty yellow – sounds just right to me to snuggle into “buttercup”. I cannot wait to place my next order … some more worsted for my Blaithin and a sport weight for a stripey, yokey Bohus style jumper. Yum!
Aren’t the buttons sweet? They came from The Button Shop – an institution of Glenferrie Road, Malvern. A very sweet elderly friend tells me that this is where the best buttons come from … she both grew up in Malvern and raised her own family there and the buttons for every item she knitted or sewed them came from The Button Shop. A few weeks back I met a lovely woman at the park (she with her grandchildren, I with the little girlies) and she was wearing a marvellous cardigan she’d just finished that morning with glorious buttons from … The Button Shop. Yes, it’s certainly where the best buttons come from.
And chosen by Abby … she chose everything – the pattern, the colours, the buttons. And if she chooses to wear her Blaithin in 2012 with black skinny jeans and her red tie then that’s just marvellous. I hope this will be her comfort cardie that she will wear for the next few decades. It will surely see many changes of fashion!
Oh I’m raving aren’t I! Sorry :-) I’m just blown away. We ordered the wool in mid June. I started knitting when it arrived just over a week later. I finished the knitting a few weeks back … it was almost a let down – like finishing a marvellous book. It did take another few weeks to work up the courage to finish it off. I know, weird, especially considering I had just sliced it down the middle. I had to join the icord bindings, finish the underarms with kitchener’s stitch, sew up the pockets and add the buttons. And it all sounded a little daunting .. well not the buttons. But when I finally sat down with my instructions and needle, all of it was fine – I should have done it the very next day after finishing the knitting! Nevertheless, a whole fair isle cardigan knitted and wearing in under 2 months. That is setting a new standard of creating for me folks. Yep – a new way of doing things.
My favourite part – apart from the dear little blaithins (flowers) themselves? The pockets! Man I love those pockets. I shall never knit anything again that doesn’t have inset pockets! The fact that you can create these is yet another example of the magic of knitting.
The very best part is that Abby loves it just as much. I do so love warming my family up with my knitting.
Thank you oh thank you Ms. Davies – you have made my knitting career!
I think this cherry red number may be my sweetest ever thrifted find! Can you tell what it is? (you dolt lily, you’ve given it away in the title!)
It’s a vintage exercise bike!
It’s also the only hard rubbish that has ever truly excited Julian. The weekend after I carted it home, he had it out the back, cleaning, polishing and repairing it. There were a couple of parts needed to be replaced – the kotter pins (they hold the pedals on) and the chain ring. The original items had been worn out. Oh, and the pedals – there was one original pedal and one dreadful one.
The kotter pins we had to buy new from Richmond cycles, but the other parts came from Julian’s stash. Yep, he has a MIGHTY stash of bike parts and frames. I believe 40 frames came with us to Melbourne. Mmmhm! Good thing our backgarden is lined with funny little old sheds :-)
The only addition I wanted to make was a basket on the front. Not that I shall be riding this sweet bike to the shop any time soon – but for reading. See, it’s sitting near the window in the front room and I hop on once a day for a 30 minute ride – it’s a good work out and awesome way to get warm – and in my wee basket sits our iPad for reading! I have to admit – an iPad is a far easier read on a bike than a traditional book – absolutely no probs turning the pages.
I bought a cheap little basket at Ikea and, to protect my iPad from scratching (what a spurious claim made for Julian’s benefit – what I really mean is, taking advantage of another surface to decorate with fabric!) I made it a wee lining. I used a very pretty strawberry tea towel mum gave me to line the inside – looked pretty with the bike’s cherry red paintwork – and added a red striped border with a little bit of applique to the outer edge.
And the bears? Do you remember that wonderful book by Audrey Wood – The Little Mouse, the Red Ripe Strawberry and the Big Hungry Bear? So funny and wonderful. Abby received a copy for her first birthday and it was a huge favourite that we can still remember the words to! Well these are two wee bear cubs who’ve found themselves a red ripe strawberry and there’s no wily mouse to eat it! The bear silhouettes were drawn from a cookie cutter.
So early each morning, no matter what the weather, I can pedal away. There’s no cars, no slippery tram tracks and I can read … perfect!
p.s. I had thought to decorate the basket with crocheted flowers, but Julian insisted that should any appear, he would dismantle the bike. He feels very firmly about bikes and crochet.