tucked in

Oh I love vintage blankets.  Look at that colour and texture … just sings of warmth and comfort and homeliness, doesn’t it.  In that warp and weft are held the stories of Australian farmers and shearers, of local woollen mills and their talented weavers, of a time when small country towns produced their own woollen goods that were both beautiful and useful.  Of families whose working lives and security were woven into these blankets.  Of families who were warmly tucked in, year after year after year.

This beautiful specimen – a Physicians Standard Chillproof had a few holes by the time it found its way to Bootville.  And a few marks that no amount of gentle washing could remove.  So pieces have been carefully cut from it to make this and that.

This weekend … the first of my Scrabble cushions … inspired by a gathering of similar cushions at a cafe in nearby Hartwell.   And as we Boots just love our Scrabble, it seemed very fitting that I should make us some, designing my letters to be as similar to the lettering on our Scrabble tiles as I could manage.

at the tram stop binding and bark three standard chill proof

It didn’t dawn on me, until I had cut my letter and its score from the felt (pure wool, bought from one of our favourite stores, Winterwood) just how apt the B’s score is – three!  B for our wee Boot family and there are three of us – it was meant to be.  Since that moment I can’t stop humming this sweet song …

Three is a magic number.
Yes it is, it’s a magic number.
Somewhere in the ancient, mystic trinity
You get three as a magic number.
The past and the present and the future,
Faith and hope and charity,
The heart and the brain and the body
Give you three.
That’s a magic number.

It takes three legs to make a tri-pod or to make a table stand.
It takes three wheels to make a ve-hicle called a tricycle.
Every triangle has three corners,
Every triangle has three sides,
No more, no less.
You don’t have to guess.
When it’s three you can see it’s a magic number.

A man and a woman had a little baby.
Yes, they did.
They had three in the family.
That’s a magic number.

(written by Bob Dorough in 1973 for School House Rock!)

… our favourite rendition of which is sung by Elizabeth Mitchell on her lovely album “Your are my sunshine”.  I used to sing it over and over to Abby when she was little – I felt like it was written just for us :-)

looking down on the bricks

Without doubt, there have been many times over the last 20 years when I have longed to add another child to our family.  But you know, three is so very magical.  A special closeness comes with three, a connection that is present every single day … a small and constant cosiness just as warm and comforting as this here blanket.  I cherish it so very much.

a pretty kitchen curtain

I know I shall be making home – with glee and pleasure –  for the rest of my life.  Every time I pass an unusual gate, pore over the photos in a thoughtfully edited magazine, notice the way a group of colours dance together, realise how the light illuminates a particular corner of my home, or find a quaint piece of furniture on the footpath, I am inspired to move things round, pick up thread and scissors, and gather fabric.

For me, this is how our homes are built.  Piece by piece, with what captures the imagination at that moment.  Sometimes I try to plan what projects I will tackle – and sometimes I wish I could stick to a more precise schedule – but such lists usually fall by the wayside, as I am swept up in the moment of what I’ve noticed today.

Last week … this little pile of hand-embroidered, hand-crocheted doilies caught my eye.  They were stuffed into a bookshelf at a local op shop – STAPLED together.  Home they came.  Mum could see an eclectically decorated skirt.  I thought straight away of my work-in-constant-progress home and knew I wanted to look at these doilies every day.  Admire the tiny neat and skilful stitches and persistence of an embroiderer who made eight matching doilies.

They needed to become a curtain.  (“Ah!” said my family, “Another Lily curtain!”) A kitchen curtain!

pile of doilies

I made up the background of my curtain first – a piece of diaphanous bone coloured cotton that has an ever so slight print of neat metallic circles on it.  With a top and bottom border of wine red stripes.  Then I tackled the doilies – roughly tracing the back of each one onto vlisefix – I wanted them to sit completely flush against the background fabric and vlisefix is just the way to achieve this.

trace the doilies

There was much back and forth until they were in a pattern that felt right … as soon as I laid them on the background fabric, these linen doilies with their red and blackwork became gorgeous handpainted plates from an old Eastern European farmhouse taken carefully down from a kitchen dresser.

position them

Then, artfully ignoring both last night’s and this morning’s washing up, I carefully sewed as close to edge of each doily as I could, making sure they would never move.

ignore the mess

I even hung the new curtain without doing said dishes – having to take special care not to drag the richly striped border across sticky crumbs and soaking pans – ahh the efforts I’ll go to when a project simply must be finished before anything else can happen :-)  Do you get like that?  ‘Course you do!

hang the curtain from the other side little plates little plates length ways little reflecting circles pushed open

As soon as I hung this curtain, oh my heart sang!  It’s just lovely for our kitchen – the red matches our red kettle and mixing bowls and clock and baking dishes and kitchenaid.  We quite like red ;-) The white is just the right weight to close out the night but, when pushed back, let in the sun (not that there was any today).  And that image of plates – it was meant to be.  There was ample time to tweak and fluff and admire before frantically chucking everything into the sink and racing around the kitchen to restore some order …

all ready for julian… before Julian arrived home.  Not that he’d ever notice or mind if chores weren’t done but it’s part of making home isn’t it.   A nourishing daily practice – a way of expressing my love for my family and the little world we have created together – that I will never tire of.


New Zealand meets Iceland in a cardie

It’s completely done!  I’m wearing it!  It’s unbelievably cosy and warm.  I daresay it’s the warmest thing I own – that Icelandic yoke with its rich fairisle pattern – like wearing three shawls at once.

The body and sleeves of the cardie are knitted in my funny, funny Twilley’s of New Zealand Spin Knitting yarn that I found at the op shop  – one huge hank, shaped into an ottoman, with no joins.  I’ve not seen it anywhere else apart from a mention of the accompanying book on the Canadian eBay and a knitter in England who found a hank of it but wasn’t overly thrilled – seems that everyone forgot about it.  For my two cents, I loved it!

With the Icelandic yarn for the fair isle patterned yoke.  Absolutely gorgeous wool – it practically bleats it’s so wonderfully sheepy.

iceland post yarn

So here’s the Icelandic yarn – probably my most exciting mail ever – direct from Iceland – isn’t the post a wonderful thing.  From all the way at the top of the world to almost all the way to the bottom.  Of course I ordered miles to much green – I have enough left to make each of us a beanie!  Here’s the link their beautiful website – sigh!  So much goodness.  And this is where I found the pattern.

I think I would like to knit at least one thing each in wools from all over the world.  I’ve knitted with wool from Uruguay and Shetland and Peru and Montana and New Zealand and Australia and England and Japan.  There’s some from the Faulkland Islands I’d like to try.  And some from the Faroe Islands.  It’s a little bit magical I think.  Using a natural fibre from an animal that roams across fields so very far away from me – they send me a hint of all they experience in their beautiful fleece and I get to wear it.  Magic.

closeup chopping the steek

It was steeked – I love steeking.  Knitting in the round is so good, especially when knitting fairisle and the resulting steeks are absolutely nothing to be afraid of.  This time I followed the desinger’s instructions (as opposed to Kate’s).  I machine sewed two rows of reinforcing on each side of the steek, washed the cardie, dried it flat then cut, cut, cut.  Worked without a hitch.

Of course then there was zipper sewing in – I’ll admit there were a few goes at that.  The right side went in picture perfect first time.  The left side – I did it 3 times and am still not overly enamoured.  However, the zip does make for a snug cardie and I will certainly use one again.  I’m sure it’s like everything in life – practice will make perfect – well near enough for me :-)

the yoke velvet lining at top velvet lining down bottom

There were other new to me techniques too – this is my favourite kind of knitting pattern, one with lots of new things to try – I cast off the neck edge whilst sewing it over as you can sort of see below.  And I whipstitched velvet ribbon to the inside edges to hide the zip.  Pleased with how both turned out.

inside the yoke

Isn’t the fair isle wonderful on the inside.  I do so love fair isle – it’s like wonderfully quick embroidery.

with a flower
ah the sunin my cardie

And here it is on!  Actually, I’ve worn it every day since finishing it on Saturday :-)  Abby took these photos for me … after drenching rain all night and a frosty cold morn, the sun came flooding out – perfect for a quick stop on the way home from school for some photos.  As for the old trailer below – it’s been tied to the same tree on the way to Abby’s school for the entire, almost four years we’ve lived here.  Never seen it move – very picturesque and we reckon it wants to come home with us.  Now don’t you think we’d get a lot of use out of it – course we would.

skirt on trailer

Oh!  And the skirt – velvet jacquard cloth, bought three years ago, cut out the night it came home – and then left in pieces until last night.  Just the right colour for the cardie and just the right motivation I needed to sew it up.

Snug as a bug I am.  And madly looking forward to my next Icelandic jumper.


Oh I did have something very exciting and lovely – to me at least! – to share with you this eve.


Alas, after several hours of class (all dedicated to caring for a patient with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease – don’t smoke folks!  don’t smoke!  it’s an evil, destructive  toxin that will only ruin your life!) and a trip to the coffee roaster (still closed after 6 weeks renovation – drat!) and school pickup and a trip to the grocery store, the clouds rolled in heavy, dark and drenching and there was no HOPE of taking a single photograph of the finished delight.

Instead, we’ll just have to content ourselves with yesterday’s view … a long long long long ago finished quilt top – we’re talking the very first year I began writing here at block-a-day –  all pinned out and waiting …

pinned and waiting to go

… that has finally found its way to the quilting machine …

at the window


… and accompanied by this little gem – turned up really loud to overcome the hum of the machine – provided many hours of wintery, snug at home with my girlie bliss.


valleys hills gardens

Oh my goodness!  Can’t you just smell the freshly cut grass!  Delight in spring’s bulbs!  Smell summer’s frangipani!  Wonder at the magical persistence of dandelions!  That’s Kaffe for you.

So very glad to have pulled this one out of the sewing shed :-)

winter cosies for my girl


Each new season doesn’t really become a proper season until there’s the new season’s pyjamas.  This winter’s were a little late.  But – better late than never.  This winter soft, new, flannel pyjama pants seemed even more needed than before – this girl of ours, she just keeps on growing and growing.  The old pyjama pants were all ankles and cold bits so, with Abby finishing her week at work, I dug around in the sewing shed to find some lovely flannel for a cosy new pair for the weekend – and hopefully a matching pillowcase.  I wasn’t disappointed – there is soooooo much fabric in the sewing shed.

fnished pillowcase such cute fabric the cosy pile

I even found a new pattern – well, new in that it was a previously uncut pants pattern from a well used nightie pattern that I was able to cut a few sizes bigger than the old pants pattern. Thinking of those long legs, I even cut the x-x-large in the length and THEN added 2 more inches.

Within moments of Abby’s arrival home I talked her into a nice hot shower and into her new pants …. and they were too short.  TOO SHORT!  How could this be!  I added so much fabric!  And yet there was that hem – well and truly above the ankle, all drafty and cold.  Aargh!  (Both she and Julian wondered out loud why I didn’t measure her first – they’re so boring ;-)

too short

She just laughed, pulled them off, chucked them back on the sewing table and went to find something else.  Noooooooooooooooo!

However – there was some of the pretty candy cane stripe left over from the pillowcase – just enough for a nice deep, 4 inch finished false hem.  Surely that would almost touch the floor.

pillowcase down to her ankles

It does.  Phew!  And the poor dear, she’s been so unwell with a sinus infection that soft, cosy flannel pyjama pants are just what’s needed when the days are spent snuggled up on the sofa whilst mama bustles around you, so pleased to have you home and wanting lots of attention :-)

In fact, I think another couple of pairs are in order … good thing there’s plenty more flannel in the shed ….

a thrifted flannel quilt

trimming edges

Goodness, but the weather has been wet and blustery the last few days.  Such a good thing then that this marvellously warm and snuggly quilt was started and finished in record time!

I bought the flannel fabric – well, the yellow, white and orange floral and the wee purple, green and orange cowboys and Indians – at the op shop recently.  It was one of those visits when it seemed that a person who truly loved fabric and embroidery and all that could be made with them had relinquished her stash in one great clean out … and there it all sat at the op shop.  Always makes me feel a wee bit wistful and sad for the sewist who has lost such a tangible part of her identity – and of course, I wonder what has happened, where she is now etc.  But very glad too that her carefully acquired and treasured goodies arrived at the op shop instead of the dump and that I was there to take advantage of some of these sweet pieces.

Both fabrics were very narrow – only 85 centimetres wide – and are lovely and thick, which suggested to Mum that they are quite a few decades old.  There was about one and a half metres of the floral and around 60cm of the little folk.  Given the limited supply and thickness, a very simple block was in order but I wanted something with a bit of oomph as well.  Thus, the very simple diagonal effect.

The orange used in the border is a regular cotton from my stash and the rest of the rich, buttery flannel border – also from my stash – is an Anna Maria Horner.  Practically sumptuous – everybody that picks the quilt up finds themselves rubbing their hands back and forth it has such a lovely nap.

The quilt top is backed with a pure wool, thrifted, vintage blanket – and by jigging and rejigging the layout, I was able to use up almost all of this single bed size.  As for the binding – strangely there were no minty greens or soft purples in my stash so rather than visit the store, I settled on a soft turqoise – gentle and pleasing on the eye.

my favourite binder

Most luckily for this simple quilt, my Mum both loves binding and is awesome at it.  So a few eves back, whilst I cooked supper, she whipped that binding on lickety-split.  (Truth be told, Aunty Sandra, she was a bit chilly and took every opportunity to layer her lap in quilts ;-)

done close up laid out binding the back

All finished just in time to tuck around poor Abby who finished up her week’s work experience with a dreadful cold – she looks and sounds so awful, the dear.

getting good use

It really is such a simple quilt this one.  Absolutely no pretensions to anything other than being the most frugal quilt I have ever made (less than $20!).  But it is truly unsurpassed in warmth – the heavy flannel and wool is so soft and snuggly.  And as for those colours – the whole thing has such a lovely sunny glow – just what a winter quilt needs.


fruitcake and summer dreams

Right-o!  On this, the first day of August, the sun is shining, the days are a wee bit longer (my goodness, it was still light at quarter to six this eve) and the song twirling round and round in my head is … “Summer is icumen in, loudly sing cuckoo!”  ‘Cause it’s good to be prepared isn’t it :-)

Oh I am an impatient woman.  Always waiting for the next season to come … but I do think that with each passing year, it is spring and summer that I long for the most.  So much colour, life and energy.  They renew me.

This morning, I was perched on a rail outside the university, classes were over and I was waiting for my Mum to collect me (goodness, no matter how old I get, some things never change), reading my book … Tracy Chevalier’sRemarkable Creatures“.  Have you read any of her books?  She really is a lovely writer – beautiful descriptions, such vivid characters, and her shaping of history and the women who move through it entrance me.  And this story – well, I think it is shaping up to be my favourite ever.

It tells the story of Mary Anning – the girl/woman who collected fossils along the coast of Dorset in the early 19th century (read this fabulous children’s picture book describing her story) and Elizabeth Philpot, a genteel, Austenesque impoverished spinister, who shared Mary’s fascination and together contributed an enormous amount to our understanding of the Jurassic era and dinosaurs.

One passage seemed especially pertinent to me as I shivered in an icy wind, determined to make the most of every amount of sunshine on offer … “When the sun drenched the hills I felt I could accept and even benefit from our isolation here.  When it was cloudy, however, or blowing a gale, or simply a monotonous grey, I despaired.”  Ah, Elizabeth, I understand.

Another, sent me to the shops this afternoon for ingredients … “Off you go now,  ask Bessy on the way out to give you a slice of her fruitcake.”

Fruitcake!  Fruitcake!  Just the smallest mention of fruitcake in a novel endears it to me – so wonderfully English and nostalgic.  Sends me flying back to my childhood when the Famous Five devoured slabs of fruitcake in every adventure, and my Nanny rarely arrived at our home without one.

And yet, I only ever bake one for Christmas.  Why?  How did I fall into such poor habits?  Well!  From this the 1st August, 2013, that will no longer be so.  There shall be fruitcake in the Bootville larder.  Perhaps a couple, snugly wrapped in brown paper that has turned glassy with butter, tied up with string, maturing nicely.  A sturdy slice of which is just perfect with a sliver of cold butter and a glass of milk.

But we needed fruit – my favourite recipe is Laurie Colwin’s Jamaican Babysitter’s Black Cake (can I mention, yet again, that this is one of my all time favourite, favourite, favourite books – the lovely, witty, thoughtful Laurie was a gift to all mothers who like to cook and laugh), via Nigella Lawson and it calls for over a kilo of fruit.  We use sultanas, currants, prunes, cranberries and a grated apple (not fond of raisins and cannot stand peel).  Mmmmmm … with a huge dollop of black strap molasses and 4 times the spice – plenty of cinnamon and nutmeg.

bike by the door bike riding attire with basket

how cool is my new shopping carrier … hard rubbished with mum & attached
to the back with an octopus strap … perfect!


Since the day was so lovely with sunshine, and we’re singing the “summer is icumen in” song, I took my bicycle to the shops …  it now lives on the front porch so that every time I leave the house I am reminded what a marvellous idea it would be to take the bike. I took the looooooong way there and the very looooong way back.  And I tell you, the trees and shrubs here in our neighbourhood, they know summer is icumen in.

wee nest

I spied waiting nests …



clusters of sweet white flowers and an ornamental fruit tree who had clearly set the alarm for very early …

mostly bare

a wee gathering of white, determined to show the rest of her tree how it’s done …

magnolias looking up at magnolias

sumptuous and velvety magnolia blooms turning gnarled and lopsided old trees into graceful beauties …

waiting to pop

little mustardy yellow pods all ready to burst over our streets with their frothy lilac bouquets …


everywhere camellias – clearly painted onto their glossy green bushes by the Red Queen’s gardeners.  Ha! Will you look at that – the tree that sits atop our neighbourly boundary is already dressed for the new season in tiny bright green leaves.

The changing of seasons truly is a blessing, isn’t it.  I love how each month brings forth to the stage its own performers.  Now the camellias and magnolias.  In another couple of weeks the ornamental fruit trees and the jasmine that smothers our backshed.  Then it will be the lilac flowering wonders that line our street and before we know it – the jacarandas will be welcoming in Christmas.

Meantime, whilst I add another cardigan, find my woolly slippers and wrap my cold fingers around yet another cup of tea, I shall sit in front of the warm oven, fragrant with fruitcake, read my book and smile with glee at the thought of yummy fruitcake and all that spring and summer goodness that will be here before we know it.


happiness in four small parts

yellow tights and red shoes

The sun is shining, full of warmth.  I have on my cheeriest mustard coloured tights and red shoes.  They make me think of this beautiful cardigan by my absolutely favourite knitter and I know I will just have to knit it. Yellow makes me so happy!


The Icelandic cardigan is finished, washed and awaiting its steeking and zippering.  Now on my needles – more Icelandic wool in lace weight.  Three heart shades knitting up in a simple triangular shawl.  So airy and squishy.  So looking forward to wearing it – it’s my mission in life to wear as many colours in one day as I can, especially in a winter Melbourne where black, black, black and a bit of grey seem to be the done thing.


A delivery of stamps.  From West Germany circa 1970s.  Eeeee!  So much prettiness.  Inspired by this marvellously creative girl to start our own collection of stamps … with a special purpose in mind.  But first there must be lots of collecting.

knit fabric st brendan

Fabric oh fabric oh fabric.  Oh how I love fabric.  And look at these – two sweet knits bought on super special for boat necked, three quarter sleeved tshirts.  Makes me giddy just thinking about wearing them.  And Abby wants one in the dear little fisherman print as well.  We’ll be matching.  He reminds me of St. Brendan setting off from Ireland in search of the Garden of Eden.  Must be the curly waves looking all medieval and all.

p.s. we’ve been to the Bernina dealer – and he was lovely – and we’re taking the machine in tomorrow for an inspection, a software upgrade (forehead smack) and some good old fashioned help with getting to know this alarming creature better.  Thanks for your kind words last night dear folk – your sympathy and suggestions truly took the edge off my mania.  Wishing you a marvellous day ahead.

intensely frustrated

Poor Julian and Abby just arrived home from work – Abby has work experience this week and she’s working in Julian’s office with the design folk – to be greeted by a blithering, sobbing, arm waving mess of a mama.  And they were so gracious.  So lovely.  So comforting.

They listened to my hysterical ravings.  Passed me tissues.  Gave me hugs.  Offered to go to the shops for supper’s ingredients.  And cook it.  Such lovely, lovely folk.  I am very blessed.

And why was I so upset?  Had a loved one died?  No.  Had I received any form of terrible news?  No.  Had I failed any of my university subjects?  No.

my nemesis

No.  I had spent the day trying to quilt with Mum’s new Bernina B710 and its stitch regulator.  Now, I know that Berninas with their stitch regulators are adored by all and sundry in the bloggy universe.  I have never heard a bad word said about them.  My grandmother has had her Bernina for more than thirty years and it’s an absolute trojan.  Up until today the only reason I have never bought a Bernina is that I’ve never had that kind of money to spend on a sewing machine.

quilt with gloves

After today, it wouldn’t matter how much money I had, I would never buy a Bernina.  Now I’m prepared to acknowledge that with lessons, things might improve.  However, I have sewn for more than 30 years.  I have used a wide range of machines including Nanny’s Bernina, Husqvarnas, Elnas (including dreadful ones from the 1990s that were greatly abused by highschool students), Brothers, Lemairs, Singers, industrial Pfaffs, Jukis and Toyotas – even an IKEA sewing machine.  I have never been unable to find my way around a machine.  Let’s face it, they’re sewing machines so all work in pretty much the same way.  And I’ve never met a manual that I haven’t been able to read, understand and put into practice.

a corner

Until today.  When Mum bought this machine, the Bernina agent told her that if you could use an iPad, you would have no problems using this machine.  Hmmm … that’s not quite what I found.  There is NOTHING intuitive about this machine.  The manual is indecipherable – well, not so much indecipherable as it seems to be written for someone who already knows how to use the machine.  Example – “prepare for using stitch regulator – lower feed dogs, add extension table, attach regulator.”  The end.  Um, where do I attach the regulator?  What needs to come off first?  Where’s the diagram that shows me how to clip it on?  I might add, that I clearly didn’t do something right, because my stitches were not regulated – I get more stitch length consistency on my regulator-less Husqvarna.  As for the motor that slows down when your hands slow down – what?!  As I slow slightly to negotiate a corner, the machine grinds to an almost halt, jerking along making mincy little skewed stitches that look to be a hundredth of a millimetre instead of the regulated 30mm it promised.  And starting off?  You need to start off with your hands in overdrive otherwise … mincy, jerky stitches.

with purple blanket

As for the bobbin case.  OMG.  Now, I have taught sewing to high school students on dreadful Elnas.  Trust me – high school students are experts at jamming bobbin cases.  I became very adept at pulling them apart and finding every last skerrick of broken thread. Which came in handy today – because for the first time since I was in my early teens, I jammed that bloody Bernina bobbin case over and over and over and over.  It is the most persnickety bobbin case I have ever met.  Ever.  I officially hate the Bernina bobbin case.  A feeling compounded by the fact that I either have to squat at the table edge to see the bobbin case in order to put the bobbin in just right, or tilt the machine away from me and then drop the bobbin in one handed.  In the end I was too scared to do that in case my evil side just let the monster-machine tumble backwards and smash.  All of my machines have bobbin cases on the side like this.  None of them are at all difficult to use.  None of them jam.

the thread

And the computerisation!  Frankly this is a bit of thing for me.  I don’t see why machines that have worked beautifully for over a century need to be computerised these days.  Do we really need to be able to set our sewing machines to perform an embroidery sonata of the Simpsons?  Or fake some cross stitch on a teatowel? Hm?  I think not.  Even after reading and rereading the manual, I could not get the needle to stay in the needle down position consistently.  The button for dropping the sewing foot sent that foot up, down and half way on a whim.  Whatever happened to that nice simple lever at the back you just flicked with your fingers – AND IT WENT DOWN EVERY TIME?  Woe betide you bump the settings whilst tilting the machine back to drop in the bobbin – ’cause then when the machine finally moves forward instead of jamming for the 7th consecutive time with the needle wobbling about like a loose tooth, you find yourself zigzagging instead of quilting.  And after every bobbin jam, the machine would get stuck on a flashing screen with a picture of the bobbin with a big red cross over it.  No buttons would respond and I’d have to turn the machine off and then on again – like a bad Windows desktop – to recover.  And it takes longer to start up then my Mac.  Really?  Computerised sewing machines – bah humbug I say.

close up

Add to the above whinges a needle broken into three and the constant breaking of the top thread – a perfectly lovely new reel of Gutermans – and I had a horrid time quilting with this Bernina.  And as for threading the machine!?!?  Why is it that new sewing machines have to look like featureless Hebel Blocks – why can’t we still have the tensioning features visible so we can see what we’re doing instead of hidden away under white plastic?!?!?  Now I sound like I’m on that BBC Grumpy Old Men show.

This makes me so sad.  I have been hanging out to try this machine.  I thought it would be magic and put all my funny old machines well and truly in their place.  Not so!  And – poor Mum!  She paid so much for this machine – calling it her machine that will see her out – and it’s ghastly!  Already she plans on sending me to the class – a “free” class that she had to pay for to guarantee her a spot which has already been cancelled once and now won’t be run until the end of August (hey! buy our very expensive, difficult to use sewing machine and then LOOK AT IT for three months because it’s so impossible to use!) because she doesn’t think she would understand it.  And then, of course, I would have to teach her.  I’m already shuddering in anticipation.

Now, I have no thread left – there’s more in my bin then on my quilt top – so there’s no more quilting for tonight.  But having persevered for half the quilt, I can’t see any alternative to simply buying more thread tomorrow and keeping on.  Unless I wait until the end of August.  Ugh.

It’s a good thing the fabric in this quilt is so cheery and warm – it was the only bit of light in my quilty day.

midwinter gold

bucketful limoncello lemon curd golden

Buckets and buckets of lemons, fresh from Mum’s tree.  Full of zingy sunshine to warm our hearts and tummies on these cold wet days.

Squeezed into our tea.  Whipped into lemon curd and slathered onto granitas.  Steeping in vodka for Julian’s favourite summertime drink.  Salted and squished into jars for cooking.

Tomorrow there will be lemon drizzle cake and bottles of lemon juice ready to preserve and store.  Yum!


starting small

Ah!  One of the many joys of having my Mum come to stay (I write as I savour the last of tonight’s apple crumble) is having a terribly keen co-conspirator when it comes to hard rubbish.  So, Sunday, we set off to the wilds (read: never before travelled to parts of Melbourne), and perused the footpaths.  There was some very fine rubbish to be spied.  And shoved into the car.  And all pulled out again.  And repacked with great finesse by Mum.  Her skills in this department are legendary.

hard rubbishing

Our favourite, most exciting, most discussed find … 6 beautiful antique oregon interior doors with original door fittings – lovely copper knobs and plates.  There they were, at the end of a hard rubbishing afternoon – stacked neatly on the very edge of the footpath.  Almost tottering into the gutter.  The car was already full.  So we raced (metaphorically of course) home.  Quickly emptied the rest of the goodies.  Then raced back … in the dark (thank goodness for the GPS – can’t even imagine life without it) … and the freezing cold … and loaded those six doors carefully … with literally 1/4 inch to spare … into the boot.

lined up doors knobs

temptation too great

First chore today … get the six doors out of the boot and remove their fittings so as to stand them neatly in the shed, each awaiting a good stripping, sanding and polishing.  The fittings … they are safely stored in plastic box waiting to be polished.

packed away

Just what,  you might ask, are we going to do with six oregon doors.  Well – you may have heard mention here in Bootville that we don’t plan to stay in Melbourne long term.  No, not at all.  Our dream / hope / scheme is to move to the beautiful Bega Valley (near Mum) in the near future – when Abby has finished school.  I will hopefully find work as a registered nurse (the NSW government is currently building a stonking new hospital in Bega – yes!), Abby will probably study and potter and explore … all those things young adults do.  Julian – he hasn’t quite decided yet – I daresay there shall be some telecommuting and occasional working away from home on specific projects, but lots and lots of home stuff too.  Most excitingly, we hope to create our own little homestead.  Small and modest at first.  Some animals.  Gardens.  The ability to generate our own energy.  That kind of thing.

And at the heart of this new and much dreamed of Bootville, will be our very own strawbale house. We hope to build it using as many local materials as possible, designed just right for us and the way we love to spend our time, with as many reused treasures as we can find.  This weekend’s six doors – our first tangible step – will be our internal doors.

glimpse of wood

There’s a long way to go – lots and lots of funds to be saved, plans to be pondered, rejigged and honed, and you know, this is life, so there’s sure to be plenty of drama and wistfulness with the occasional disappointment thrown in.  But I do know that towards the end of this decade, we will be sitting in a cosy room in our gently built, full of stories and memories home, with this here door glowing warmly behind us.  Its rich timber with its lovely imperfections of age will have been smoothed by my hands.  The knobs and plates will be shiny and merry.

And we’ll always have a giggle and shake our heads in wonder about the night Mum and I discovered them.  Now that’s my kind of home.

the madeleine quilt

little triangles

There was the prettiest fabric at the shops the other day.  More of the marvellous Reprodepot fabric.  In even lovelier colours and crisper prints than the last lot, and just bursting with potential.  So I bought some.  Just a half metre piece each of three of them and then a Japanese cotton with little Parisian streetscapes – which is where the Madeleine reference comes in.

litle red women blue and red block with scissors

And in between still being mama to Abby and partner to Julian, nursing and sleeping and the squeezing in of chores and washing, I found a few hours to do some piecing.  Ahhhh … bliss.

As I pieced, I wondered how big to make this quilt.  As is the lily-way, the finished patchwork will be quilted onto a vintage thrifted blanket.  Which are still to be found in thrift stores, but certainly in diminishing numbers.  And I thought about how one day, there will be none left.  And wondered what Abby will find at the thrift store – so much of what is produced and consumed today is such utter rubbish – and all made from non-renewable resources.  Made me feel a little glum – the future of thrifting looks a bit bleak if you ask me.

So this made me determined to use the most of every blanket I have.  Every blanket that is in good condition should be used to its very edges.  Which means that the Madeleine Quilt will really need to grow a little more.  (Maybe that means a bit more fabric … hee! hee! hee!)

And then I wondered what I will DO with all these quilts that have to be made as big as the blankets.  Because – I am rather abashed to admit – I really struggle giving them away.  Hopeless at that really.  Especially these days when most of them are made from fabrics that have been collected and hoarded by me for years and years, and then of course, quilted onto my precious blankets.  These quilts truly become stories for me – of love and  adventures, of trying times and peaceful times, of where we were, what we were doing, and what we loved at that moment.

Which is all a very long and rambling way of saying I then hit upon a wonderful thought.  Walls.  See, when we move to the country in a few years time, we want to build our own home out of strawbales.  With lovely mud rendered, chalkily painted walls – that would look just lovely with quilts hanging from them – perhaps I could change them every few months.  Plenty of windows that quilts could hang across.  And there’ll be two spare rooms for family and visitors – with four beds between them – more quilts needed – piled up especially for wintery nights.

Yes, there’s definitely room in our future for more lovely, full blanket sized quilts.

Yes, I think marrying the Madeleine Quilt with just the right vintage blanket will demand a little bit more fabric shopping …

a start