the tarting up of a cheap lampshade & a hard rubbish lampbase

There were scraps left over from the 4 inches of floral quilt.  Mostly just the ends from each strip we cut.  Varying widths.  I kept them … you never know.  But late this afternoon, between a lovely, lovely long chat with tea & Abby at the kitchen table and leftovers for supper … in that autumn time when you’re waiting for the sun to sink ever faster each day, I knew exactly what I wanted to do with them.


Not quite Dresden Plate wedges.  Actually no wedginess at all.  But the tops mitred off like you do when making Dresden Plate wedges.  Without fail, chain piecing them is always such a delight – they look so pretty – they could almost be a wonderful necklace!

sewing the ends

Then I sewed them together, side by side, ’til they were a long picket fence marvellously thick with trailing flowers.

putting them together

Added a binding – both a smooth border and an edge to glue.

on with the binding don

And popped this pickety florally crown around a $14 lampshade from Bunnings (the giant hardware store), that is sitting atop a pottery lampbase I picked up from hard rubbish the other day.  There it was, sitting in the almost rain,  just waiting for me.  I’m beginning to wonder whether the neighbours pop these things onto the footpath just to see if they take my fancy before they plonk them into their bins.  Believe me, I turn my nose up at an awful lot.  Mind you, there were three beautiful old cedar doors today.  If only my car was a few inches longer …

very close

Back to the lampshade! The thin lawn creates such a pretty stained glass effect – will certainly keep away the winter darkness.


other side

Only now, looking at it here, perhaps they’ve not made a picket fence, but a row of gorgeous houses, rich with a cacophony of colour – houses that the Araboolies of Liberty Street would like to move into :-)  (one of my favourite, favourite children’s books – up there with Farmer Duck … who says you can’t create politically astute four year olds ;-)

looking up

Abby thinks these wee houses need clouds floating across that bare white sky above them.  Maybe, maybe a bird or two.

But just as it is now … a lovely way to welcome the quickly falling dark.




Thank you, lovely readers!  Your words, experience, wisdom, suggestions and empathy were so encouraging.  I read and re-read every lovely comment and will respond to each of you as soon as I can.

Right now, I’ve just submitted my last case study for the semester – respiratory complications in the postoperative patient – presented my research on the psychosocial impacts of metastasised cancer on a 45 year old man and how best to care for him this afternoon, and tomorrow, will set pen to paper on my second last essay of the semester – caring for a 72 year old, widowed mum with advanced Parkinson’s Disease in the home.  Full on.

But so engrossing – I really love the research component of my course – the body of nursing knowledge out there is so alive and stimulating and thoughtful.  And I feel so connected to my “patients”.  This morning, as I was putting the finishing touches on my presentation, talking about things such as the value of compassionate touch and providing care that focuses on a good life rather than a failed cure, my eyes welled up with tears thinking about poor Geoff – leaving his family when still so young with so much to look forward to.  I shall have to cultivate much steelier eyes before I meet a real Geoff.  Goodness!

Anyways … I shall probably be a bit quiet for the next few days as I finish up this current round of work.  But never fear!  There’s plenty coming up … hot water bottle covers, a finished Moomin quilt, appliques, crocheted chairs just for spinning, knitted shawls …

And you … enjoy your days, dear folk :-)  Thank you for all that you contribute to mine.



what i won’t be wearing


These are a pair of culottes.  I made them last Saturday.  Julian and Abby were out for the day.  I had a lovely new pattern and two metres of beautiful, crisp drill.  Exciting stuff for us sewists.

Now, it’s been a while since I made anything for myself that needed to fit accurately.  So I measured myself.  Overall, I was a size 18 [gasp].  Yup.  A size 18.  As for my waist – it measured a size 22.  I winced momentarily, recognising that yes, everything is a bit tighter these days.  Goodness, some things are simply unwearable.

In fact, since moving to Melbourne, I have put on 10 kilos [shudder].  Woot!  Imagine if I keep that up until I die.  Calculating that if I live to 85, that would be 3 kilos a year for 40 years which would make me 120 kilos heavier than I am now.  200 kilos.  Clearly that is not sustainable with life.

However, despite acknowledging all this out loud to myself, I continued to potter about with the culottes. Cutting out the pattern, pinning pieces together, and sewing them up.  In my mind’s eye, they were really cute. I had visions of wearing them with long ribbed black socks, black patent flats, a grey turtle neck and a jaunty black cardie.  My braids would be wound on top of my head. I’d be wearing my red sunglasses.  Oh I looked cute … in my mind’s eye.

Within a few hours, the culottes were finished and I tried them on.  That’s when the whole mind’s eye thing crashed straight through that rosy glass window and landed in a tatty heap at my feet.

The culottes – so ironically covered in elephants – looked ATROCIOUS.  It didn’t matter that I had made the right size.  It didn’t matter that they fit.  They looked bloody awful.  There would be no cute accessorising with these culottes.

At this shattering point in the tale, let me share a wee bit of backstory (abby’s word).  When I was young I was sooooo thin.  Until my late 20s my weight was in the low 50s (kilos).  I didn’t have to do anything to maintain this weight.   I was just one of those thin girls (even then my waist was wide – Mum always had to allow a bit when sewing me skirts and shorts).

By 36, however, I was 72 kg (despite years of breastfeeding I never lost an ounce … only found more!) and that was a bit yuck.  I should clarify what yuck means to me.  I never read fashion or celebrity magazines.  I don’t window shop or collect catalogues in order to choose what I will need to buy in order to keep up with Ms. Jones this season.  So looking at myself and thinking “yuck” is not because I’m following a fashion industry or crappy magazine led ideal of what nice is.

Rightly or wrongly, I like long and straight and flattish things.  They appeal to my sensibilities.  I do look at films and history and vintage patterns and paintings and photos of my family, and I like lean.  I adore the long, light dresses from the Austen era.  I love the narrow skirts of the 20s.  The straight simplicity of the 40s.  Little cardigans.  Fitted turtlenecks.  A-line skirts. I liked being thin and straight.  At 36 I would put clothes on, look in the mirror and think “oh yes, I like that”.  Then, I would see photos of myself and think huh!  That surely isn’t what I look like.  Must be a dodgy photo.  Eventually, I gained a bit of insight/perspective and acknowledged that yes, that was me and I was fat.  At 36 I had back boobs, a protruding stomach, and no chin to speak of.  And it was yuck.

So, I went to Weight Watchers (having had several friends who’d done this and lost a heap of weight).  The very first session I was so revolted with what we were being encouraged to eat (low fat, low fat, low fat) that I never went back.  Instead, I was VERY sensible – no junk food, no sugar.  And I exercised.  I walked at least five mornings a week and went to the gym three mornings a week.  Within four months, I’d lost 10 kilos and oh was I pleased.  Even better – when I saw photos of myself – I not only looked like how I THOUGHT I looked, but I liked how I looked.

And I was so physically strong.  I possessed muscles I never knew existed.  I had awesome stamina.  It was very cool.  There was a flurry of dressmaking and that was such fun too.  I was still 10 kilos heavier than I had been in my 20s but I looked lean and healthy. Two years later I went back to work full time for 10 months – all the exercise stopped, I was often anxious and overwhelmed, and I ate thoughtlessly and often.  By the end of the year I chucked in the job and the weight was creeping back on.

Two years after that, I had moved to Melbourne and the chin was disappearing again.  The clothes were getting tight.  Did I like it?  No.  Did I do anything about it?  I did not.  I was so homesick, and like so many others before me, turned to food for comfort.  I love cooking, I love eating, I love sharing food with my family, I love shopping for food!  And here I was, living in a neighbourhood famous for its lovely, rich food.  Ah Aviv’s!  When I worked at the bookshop there was a nary a day that I didn’t duck next door for a piece of divine strudel, or almond meringue, or the prettiest sweetest biscuits you’ve ever tasted.   There was rarely a night I went home without bagels, challah, or croissants.  And that’s only Aviv’s – there are countless other marvellous little places we love visiting.  Is it any wonder I’ve managed 3 kilos a year – and again, I feel yuck.

On top of the aesthetic dismay, there’s the slow dawning of what all this weight is going to do to my body.  The more I study, the more papers I write, the more hospitals I visit, the more I understand that being fat is really unhealthy.  It truly is.  It’s not a conspiracy, or the fad of the moment.  Being fat puts me at a great risk of developing Type II Diabetes – which brings a cascade of disasters – lowered immunity, increased risk of stroke and heart attack, increased risk of blindness, increased risk of pressure ulcers, increased risk of kidney failure, increased risk of significant nerve damage, increased risk of skeletal problems, and increased risk of mobility problems – the last of which in turn, compounds all of the above.  That simply does not match up with our dreams of moving to the country and having our own little homestead whilst working as a nurse.

Add to this the comment of a nurse educator I met recently who told us that her hospital has had to buy new beds because the old beds couldn’t take the weight.  That would be the weight of the patients – more than half of whom are obese – and the nurses – who are heading that way themselves!  This hospital had multiple occasions when a nurse would lean on to a bed with an obese patient and bang!  The combined weight BROKE THE BED.

Oh dear.  And yet despite the tight clothes (and growing stack of clothes that no longer fit), the disappearing chin, the health concerns, and the possibility of breaking a patient’s bed, I did nothing.  In between many weeks of acknowledging the yuckiness, I would tell myself, “Oh it’s not so bad.  Being big doesn’t make me awful.  Enjoying life is more important than fretting.”  Sometimes I even believed this.  Until the elephant culottes – they were the straw that broke this camel’s back.

Now one thing I’ve had drummed into me since studying nursing, is that every single person we meet is an individual who will experience life, relationships, illnesses, happiness, stress etc. in a unique way.  Everybody has their own compass to guide their lives.  And respecting that is the basis of human dignity and the starting point of every interaction I have with other people.  Which means, I get that this – my battle with weight and how I want to look – is about me.  This is not a judgement of other people and their choices.  It is simply and solely about me and what I need and want.

I want to be long and lean and strong and healthy again.  I want my chin back.  I don’t want to look six months pregnant.  I want to look cute in culottes.  I don’t want to break any beds.  I need to be able to bounce out of my bed early in the morning, feed our animals, care for my community, take long walks with my family, spend lovely afternoons swimming and playing at the beach, spend hours restoring furniture and building our home.

For me to do this, I need to lose weight – at least 15 kilos.  How?  Well … I’m walking.  I’m using Julian’s weights to build up core body strength, build bone density and increase my metabolism.  I’ve started skipping and sets of squats throughout the day.  And I’m being sooooo sensible with my food.  I’m following the I Quit Sugar recommendations – it’s amazing how many opportunities to pop something else in your mouth disappear when you eliminate those things that are full of sugar.  I have a chart in the bathroom where I shall keep track of the numbers.  And a beautiful, favourite, red checked, richly embroidered skirt lined with a dear little cream, lace trimmed petticoat that’s hanging in the front of my wardrobe for fortnightly try ons to see how the progress is going.

And I’m sharing this awkward tale with you.  This was the problem with my crocheted white smock I alluded to last week.  It was another instance of popping on my 3/4 length black pants, adding the white smock and asking Julian to take my photo.  Only to find that I looked nothing like I expected.  So in writing all this down,  I am hoping that having someone else watching as well will keep me on my toes.

I’ll let you know how it’s going – in three weeks time?  Hopefully there’ll be good progress to report.  As for the elephant culottes – I think I’ll chop them up into other things.  Because by the time they’ll look cute with those socks and flats and turtleneck and cardie, they’ll be tooooooo big.

~ loveliness found ~ 16/52

 if you would like to share your ~loveliness found~ moments from this week
please leave them in the comments or share a link to your place!

basket of knitting

~ a basket filled with beautiful but under-appreciated yarn, bought many years ago,
now being knitted into something warming & special
for someone very loved ~

extra warmth

~ dragged in from the sofa to my cold & lonely, late autumn bed,
so scrumptiously cosy ~

easter decorations

~ a little girl oohs and ahhs over the easter goodies still waiting to be put away
& then sighs that she feels sad for her mum,
she has to work so hard and never has time to make nice things
- a good reminder of how grateful I am for the blessings I have ~

butterfly pillowcase
new pillowcases

~ oh how I do love making pillowcases …
one for the little girlie & a pair for me,
such simple pleasure ~

new colour~ the end of the bleached look, thank goodness!
& with no papa to help, it’s up to mama to make it work -
I had performance anxiety ~

oast pancakes

~ Heather’s fabulous oaty pancakes, we love them so!
find the recipe here ~

freshly washed

~ the dust became more than I could bear …
time to wash the back door china ~

moomin quilt

~ tying the Moomin quilt – we’re working on the jigsaw principle …
leave it on the table with scissors, thread and needle at hand,
& it will get done in little bits of time ~

sheets~ finding the sun … & something to hang them on
I do declare I MISS the hills hoist ~



We cracked open our copy of Good to the Grain this morning.  Such a treasure trove of yumminess.  This morning, the pretzels were calling.  I feel a bit like Maria in Sound of Music when it comes to baked pretzels.  You know that bit where she sings … “somewhere in my youth or childhood, I must have done something good.”  Well, I think I must have eaten a pretzel somewhere in my youth or childhood and it must have been exceptionally good, because now, I only have to see a baked pretzel and I’m hungry.  Chewy, dense, salty.  Yum!

We used a different mix of flours to those recommended by Ms. Boyce – working on Hugh’s 500 grams of flour for bread dough, we used 250 of wholemeal spelt, and 250 of rye.  Without any white breadmaking flour the proving was slow, but a couple of hours on the floor of the sunny front porch saw the dough double in size.


Rolling the dough out and folding the ends in to form the pretty little shapes was such fun.  Then it was back to the front porch whilst the baking soda bath came to the boil.  Have you ever added baking soda to boiling water – it was awesome!  Made us feel as if we were gathered around a cauldron rather than a pot.

boiling them

Abby took charge of bathtime.  She was meticulous with the timing – into the pot, 30 seconds, turn them over, 30 seconds, back to the tray.  It was amazing how much that quick bath plumped up the little pretzels.  Abby was suitably impressed – after being rather scathing – that they didn’t simply fall apart when dropped in.  I had faith :-)


The picture in the cookbook showed pretzels artfully sprinkled with flakes of salt.  As we sprinkled the salt, each flake hit a pretzel and fell off.  Hmmm …. so we used the regular salt grinder for flavour and then, not to be defeated, patiently stuck a few salt flakes on for effect.

As with anything home baked, the minute we sat down to enjoy the warm, fragrant and very tasty pretzels with butter, Fu stood imploringly, front paws on my lap, waiting for her own pretzel.  Funny pup.  And we – being silly owners – gave her one.  Off she trotted to the back garden, pretzel in mouth.  As soon as she saw me, watching from the back doorway, she stopped dead in her tracks.

i said its not mine

“What are you looking at!”

not my pretzel

“Nope.  This is not my pretzel. “

i have no idea how it got there

“And I certainly have no intention of eating it.”

I walked away – but not too far :-)  and as soon as I sneaked a look, there she was, stretched out, pretzel between her paws, licking and pulling and chewing …

now i can eat it mmmm chewy

… until it was all gone.

Being just Abby and I home, we still have plate full.  Perhaps most for the freezer and a couple for dinner with scrambled eggs.  Yes that sounds good.  And pretzel making?  Highly recommended!

4 inches of floral

piecing the squares strips on kitchen tables

There have been so many photos taken of these four inch squares of floral.  Each time I work with them, the richness of the colours and many different patterns so delight me I cannot stop at just one photo.

Mum and I bought the fabrics with our Christmas money from Old Nanny days after Christmas … they are the Japanese Lawns that Spotty stock and were reduced by 40%.  For years we have been smitten with the many gorgeous quilts we see put together with simple squares of floral – especially the Liberty ones.

Neither of us are able to afford a quilt full of Liberty (alas) but a quilt of Japanese Lawns when on special – oh yes!  Especially when we only needed to buy 25 centimetres of each fabric and then divide it in half – half for me, half for mum.  That way we were able to choose twice as many patterns and make our quilts as busy and vibrant as possible.

back at mums quilting it

I began cutting the fabrics up straight away – couldn’t help myself – iron, iron, iron, whip, whip, whip with the rotary cutter.  By the time we arrived at Mum’s for our summer holiday, I had a bag full of 4 1/2 inch strips and squares for both her and me.  And slowly, in fits and spurts, mine has come together.  Mum – who has the most glorious sewing studio, a room that looks out across her lush and pretty back garden to the mountains AND fills with honey like warm sunshine every afternoon – has done NOTHING with her strips.  Goodness me Mum!  What are you doing with your days!  Too much golf and playing with the neighbour’s baby methinks! :-)

I – not having the same beachy or baby delights – have managed to squeeze the blooming of this quilt in around the girlchild and husband, essays and classes, chores and little girlies (poke, poke Mum :-) – and am very pleased that now, with the advent of cooler weather, my scrappy floral quilt is all ready to go.

finished tossed on clothes horse bottom on clothes horse

It will be especially useful this winter.  I’ve decided – with willing consensus from Jules and grudging consensus from Abby – that we will NOT be using the heating this year.  Man, am I sick of approaching the letter box in fear of how huge that gas bill will be.  And let’s face it – we live in Melbourne, not Moscow.  Our nights get cold – usually below 10.  But the days are usually around 15 and frankly, all we need to do is pop on a jumper or shawl to be warm (Julian likes a beanie for his head – his fault for shaving off his hair).  At night – snuggle into a shawl and tuck a quilt around our legs.  And in bed – we’re toasty roasty with flannel sheets and quilts.  There are no water pipes to prevent from freezing so to crank up the heating each day and then wander about the house in just a long sleeved tshirt is simply ridiculous – bad for the environment, bad for the purse, and very bad for my letter box nerves.

looking towards car spread out fabric square

This here square with its reds and pinks and oranges and yellows and greys and greens is my utmost favourite.  Looks so warm and busy.  Makes me think of bees and sunshine and old English china.  I have another metre of it that I shall make into a scarfy thing.  With a crochet trim.  Better get stuck into that.

pinks and purples the ties blanket through the wood

This quilt – made from fabric so floaty and delicate – is backed with one of my beloved vintage blankets.  Cosy and soft.  And – continuing with the current, machine-broken trend – tied with perle thread.  You know – I wouldn’t have embarked upon all this tying had my machine not broke, but I have to say, I just LOVE tying quilts.  It is so simple and easy – none of the stress of yanking and squishing the quilt around the sewing machine, or fretting over lines not perfectly straight.  It makes the quilts so soft and smooshable.  And – it gets them done so quick.  I have boxes of quilt tops waiting for that magic moment – the moment when I have a lovely big sewing studio, with a big quilting frame for my machine, and heaps of skill to match.  That moment will not be arriving any time soon.  But tying on my kitchen table – just right for where I am now, and as I think I’ve mentioned before – when that magical moment arrives, if I want, my quilts will ready and “basted” for action.

on sofa from back of sofa

Now, my scrappy floral quilt is ready and folded on the sofa.  It had its first outing last night and I’m pleased to report, it was delicious :-)

p.s. Mum – get to your sewing machine woman, and then you won’t have to worry about leaving your firewood in the rain!  You’ll have a lovely warming quilt instead!



a quilted mat for the kitchen

supplies gathered sewing it by hand

The first stitching project I sat down to upon our return from our Christmas beach holiday earlier this year, was a quilted mat for the kitchen floor.  I have a silly pet hate – getting wet feet whilst I wash up.  I manage this effortlessly, regularly sloshing the water from the sink onto the floor directly in front of me.  Ugh!  Whilst I do appreciate that this is a terribly insignificant problem in the grand scheme of things, I do like to have something absorbent under my feet whilst washing the dishes.  Feels much nicer and leaves me with nice dry feet.

I chose an old dark bath mat for the base (won’t show the dirt!) and then some scraps from the sewing shed to quilt straight onto the bath mat.  Alas, only a couple of strips in and my lovely big quilting machine BROKE.  Yup.  I manage to snap the needle AND twist the shaft the needle screws into out of alignment.  Hmph.  None of my other machines have quilting feet so the only way this quilted kitchen mat was going to move forward was by hand.

My enthusiasm for such handpiecing and quilting was initially quite good.  This did not last.  And here we are in April with still no quilted kitchen mat.  Until this morning.  It was raining.  Dark.  Cold.  Julian left for Europe last night.  Abby was at school.  My, my! Perfect opportunity to plop onto the sofa, in from of ABC’s iView, and finish it off.

on the sofa done other end old towel hand quilting a nice corner

And I did!  Took one episode of “Great Ormond Street Children’s Hospital” and one of “Silent Witness”.  And a metal thimble.  Pushing my needle through the dense, hundreds of times washed and meshed border of the bathmat was hard work.  Well worth it though.  The colours and prints are so pretty – there’s fabric from here, there and everywhere … the beach quilt I made for Mum when she moved to her beachside home, Abby’s Moomin quilt, Caleb’s birth quilt, the Funky Monkey quilt that has not yet been finished, the reproduction shirting that was going to become a shirt but found its way into so many projects, it could now only make a shirt for a borrower.

It looks very jolly in the kitchen – especially with the pretty coloured chairs.  And best of all – it kept my feet dry when I washed up this evening.  Perfect :-)  Now perhaps I should make a backup so that when this one’s in the wash … or maybe I’ll wait until my quilting machine is fixed.

in situ

Ahhh … I do so love how pretty strips of fabric can be put together so simply to make something that is both marvellously functional and adds such light and happiness to our home.   Truly makes my day :-)

just add crochet

:: sigh :: I think I may need to put down the crochet hook.  If I’m not careful, every litle thing will wind up with a crochet trim.  I fear I will soon turn into The Chicken Sisters, Laura Numeroff’s fabulous picture book that Abby loved when she was little … omg!  Check out the knitted lampshade!  I think I’m already there!!!!

knitting chicken

Mind you – the one thing I’ve always wanted to add a pretty crochet trim to are my white sheets and I haven’t yet done that.  Just think … I could sit in bed all cosy and crochet at the same time.  I’d have to do it when Julian’s away so I could slide across the bed as required.  Hee! Hee!

But today we are talking thrifted smock.  White linen with nice pin tuck detail on bodice.  Now it has a crocheted mandala on the lower bodice front and a wee grey crochet trim around the neck.  Quite nice I think.  And awfully pleasant to do.

button hole twist

DSC_7018 in my lap glowing in the sun

The colours were from the wee balls of perle cotton I bought when we visited Bega at Christmas.  I love these balls of thread.  They always make me think of “button hole twist” – an item I regularly read about in novels set in or from the 19th century.  Of course, real button hold twist is made from silk and perle thread is cotton.  But I just like the notion.  Wee balls of button hole twist.  Mmmmm ….

closeup of mandala collar edging


If I was to do it again, I would make the concentric circles a little closer to each other.  Yes, definitely.  I always prefer things smooshed together.  I would also lift the whole thing a bit higher – that’s what you get for making it up as you go.  And looking at these photos, maybe it needs something inside the first circle to add a bit of density?  Something worth pondering.  These things are a learning experience, aren’t they.

There’s one other problem with the overall effect … which has nothing to do with the smock or crochet … but I’ll leave that for another day … later in the week?  Yes.  Today we’ll just concentrate on the niceties of life such as prettily coloured crochet.

full length

And in the meantime, I shall try very hard to leave the crochet hook in the needle jar.  Despite Mum saying how lovely a mandala would look on a little black cardie.  Hmmm … it would, wouldn’t it.


~ loveliness found ~ 15/52

 if you would like to share your ~loveliness found~ moments from this week
… & I would so love it if you did …
please leave them in the comments or share a link to your place!

pumpkins self serve

~ stopping on the way home at each farm gate stall
pumpkins & pears – perhaps autumn is here ~

currant buns with butter

~ if we call them currant buns, we can not only bake them anytime we want
but also imagine we are the Famous Five, ready for adventure ~

making pompoms

~ finally testing out the pompom maker
good stuff ~

lamp through window

~ oh the silly things I’ll do for a photo ~

pattern and fabric

~ a lovely afternoon shopping for fabric with Abby
which led to a VERY illuminating experience ~


~ the start of something very special ~

quilt on table

almost ready

~ making the most of when the mice are away …
or just in bed ~

reading adhoc scarf

~ but even when he appears, he’s happy to work with it
& make the most of what’s laying around ~

having a giggle with abby

~ now this is for Abby – one of the silly photos we took the other afternoon
just so’s you know we LOVE a good giggle at ourselves here in Bootville
oh dear :-)  we’ll have to add this one to the daft-looks archive ~

chopping a cardie

… as opposed to knitting a cardie :-)

the jum[er straight up the midle

It started with this jumper … I think I inherited it from an aunty … it’s lambswool with a bit of mohair.  Very soft and cosy.  But it was just a little claustrophobic as a jumper and it’s sat, unworn, in my woollens cupboard for the last three years.  So – time to go or change.  Change sounded like fun.

I measured to the middle of the front.  Chopped it straight up, cheerful as.  And not a single row began to unravel.  Knitting is so much more resilient than we often give it credit for!

band fabric sewing on the band

I found the perfect size piece of fabric – a 5 inch strip, full width.  Cut it in half lengthwise so I that I had 2 1/2 inch strips.  Ironed them in half lengthwise and stitched them onto the right side of the jumper, raw edges together, as I would a quilt binding.  I hand stitched this into place on the wrong side, taking care to keep the stitches as close to the binding’s edge on the front so as to help them hide.

adding the crochet

Then … a wee bit of crochet.  Oh, I couldn’t help it.  I’m just smitten with these sweet edgings.  I pondered a crocheted “brooch” on the upper left side.  Abby said yes! – but I think she says yes to most things just to amuse me.  Julian said no! – go for less is more, it looks lovely right now.  So I stopped.  Maybe I’ll make one that I can put on and take off.



I love how it’s turned out – looks kind of 1950s  - makes me think of a Miss Marple film.


It’s such a treat to wear now – so cosy! so soft! so easy!  I shall certainly be keeping my eyes out for another similar jumper – I’d really like one in red and one in grey.  Yes, that would be good.  Until then, pink is just fine.

And now, I’m off to bed with a new lighthouse book … The Light Between Oceans, by M. L. Stedman.  It’s set on a tiny, rocky island off the southern coast of Western Australia shortly after World War I.  The protagonists are a married couple who are the island’s lighthouse keepers.  It begins with their rescue of a baby who has washed ashore in a small dinghy.  It’s beautifully written, so descriptive … Ms. Stedman has a magical way with words … and terribly moving.  Oh life is so complicated isn’t it.  It also feeds into my lighthouse fascination so well – oooooh, I can just picture the howling winds and enormous waves.  But there’s still a way to go and plenty to yet unravel.  So I shall say goodnight … and hang this newly chopped pink cardie on my desk chair until tomorrow.

Good night!

a stripy skirt for a lamp


:: tidying the mess – part 2

thread first the stitches adding chain closeup crochet red andblue
Started today with an early morning clinical prac – how to draw blood.  And practiced successfully on a very clever mannikin.  Not only did she give me satisfying amounts of blood from her cephalic vein but she didn’t even wince.

Also learnt how to empty a stoma bag.  Not quite as exciting.  But reinforced a lesson I learnt last year on placement.  My very first day of clinical placement, when confronted with a lot of bodily fluids of the odorous variety, I wasn’t sure how on earth I would deal with it.  I felt equally overwhelmed and pathetic.  How could I be a nurse if my stomach churned at the thick and often lingering smell of urine and faeces, let alone close contact with it.  Well, it wasn’t long before a patient had a significant “accident” – she cried and cried, apologising over and over.  In an instant, the smells and ickiness of it all disappeared.  I felt only love and compassion for this woman and it just didn’t matter. This thought/feeling – that this patient or any other was worthy of my love, compassion and care – has seen me through a lot of ickiness.

Then today, as I emptied the fake contents of the stoma bag, one of my fellow students who works in a residential facility shared a story about one of her patients who recently had a colostomy – a distressing procedure for most folk.  I asked her how she felt emptying the bag and she said she just felt so much compassion for her patient and his situation that she didn’t even flinch.  It really is true – and I’ve even found it works for patients I don’t really know.  I learnt in first year psychology that statistically, mums have the highest tolerance level of any other group in the population for ickiness.  Perhaps being a mum and a nurse is an especially good combination for ickiness toleration.

Anyways – you didn’t drop by to hear about poo!  So we’ll move onto pretty things, huh?  Like the special kind of tidying I like the most.  Today’s tidy – the piano lamp.

making the pattern cutting out the pieces

See, I bought a lampshade at Ikea a while back – it was in the seconds section – $2, plain white.  I could instantly see pretty fabrics and colours so brought it home.  Now, I’ve covered several lampshades in my time, but I have to confess – they’ve all been straight sided.  Easy peasy.  This one – steep angles.  Hmmmm …

looking messy

So I wrapped it in brown paper, drew lines where they needed to go and trimmed it.  Then – because I wanted the stripey look, I measured lines onto my brown paper pattern and cut them out.  I measured every few centimetres and placed a dash – so as to preserve the curve.  Then I cut each piece out, adding seam allowance as I went.  I pinned the pieces onto the lampshade, realised the $2 lampshade had no structural bits inside with which to PUT it on a lampbase, so stuck it on top of a small plain white one …. and left it there … for several weeks.  The above photo is how it looked day one.  Each piece was reasonably in place.  By day umpteen, the bottom piece had fallen off and was hanging off the piano and all the rest had slipped.  Good look.

one lampshade skirt

Today, first things first – I sewed the tiers together.  Then, in a fit of crochet fever that I’ve been suffering from since making the felted eggs, I sat and crocheted a small trim onto the bottom of each of the top five tiers.  You know what?!  I’ve decided, this is what folks did before we had industrially made rickrack.  I’ve done no research on this, my theory is pure lily-ology.  But as I look at it – a crochet trim makes the perfect rickrack.  Made to fit the exact length of fabric you have – no dodgy attempts at finishing the ends required.  In whatever colour you desire (or have thread for :-) and you don’t have to fiddle and faddle with it whilst you’re sewing up the seam, hoping it is evenly placed all along.  Must admit – takes about 5 times as long to do.  But – a very pleasant way to spend a few hours for a very sweet result.  What do you think – about the theory that is?  And don’t you just wish it was big enough to wear!  I do :-)

with fu

glowing red and blue done

Perserverance … ignoring the rest of the family … saw it finished by dusk.  I haven’t yet solved the problem of no internal bits, so it’s still sitting atop the other smaller shade.  But that’s not too bad – maybe I’lll add something to the bottom of it – might make it less conspicuous.  Regardless – I’m very pleased with the finished shade.  It looks just as I’d hoped it would.  Kind of reminds me of those amazing lamps where they’ve stacked up odd pieces of china for the base.  Must be the odd bits of fabric with their bumpy crocheted trims – bit like pretty teacups stacked in the cupboard.

looking up in situ

And the piano corner looks nice and tidy now.  Phew!  Another tick off for the list.


tidying the mess – part 1

pin cushions and binding

Well … this afternoon, Julian, Abby and Sacha headed out to the airport.  I was left standing in the kitchen wondering what to do.  Research for next week’s essay or studying for tomorrow’s philosophy quiz were completely out of the question.  Vacuuming … could be very valuable given the amount of Fu fluff that is everywhere, but deadly boring.  Hmmmm …

I could sit and mope.  Bit dull.  And wouldn’t be useful.  No, not at all.  I could plonk onto the sofa, maybe knit, maybe watch some television.  This I almost did … but then I looked around at the terrible mess that has overrun the craft corner and table and decided some serious tidying was in order.

french general heidi grandads hat


in the shopping bag You know the kind of tidying when you SEW your way through the piles.  Yes :-)  My kind of tidying.  Terrifically practical.  Marvellously productive.  Immensely satisfying.  And so very, very necessary! So I started with this here bag.  Packed since our CHRISTMAS holiday to Merimbula and shoved under one piece of furniture after another since it’s return home.  Yes, there’s been some serious avoidance where this bag’s concerned.

not much to go

I even started with the most guilt inducing.  Abby’s Christmas present … her Moomin quilt.  Finished but for the final border across the bottom.  That should be easy enough to tackle in the time it takes for one to drive to the airport and back.  In fact, there was enough time to finish the quilt top, give the front room a vigorous, proper tidy, walk up to the shops for a few groceries, and cook supper.  Win!  Win!


looking up

with pegsOh I do love how this sweet quilt has turned out!  The only newly bought fabric is the red background with the little mushroom houses, foxes and dwarves.  The rest is from the stash.  The Moomin fabric and the gorgeous pieces of Marimekko were gifted to me several years ago by the loveliest woman in Finland.  Thank you so much dear Anne!  I knew the time would come when there would be the perfect project for them :-)  The other bits and pieces were collected here and there.


moomin mama moomin little my

In designing it, I started with the Moomin fabric.  I didn’t want just plain squares, but DID want something that would let all these dear little characters sing.  Thus the darker borders (Marimekko) with the clean and vivid red, pink and white floral corners, and finally, the crisp black and white spot that reflected the simple black and white drawings of Jansson’s Moomins.

The poison green represents the round and round and up and down of the Finnish forests in which the Moomins make their home.  The feed sack turquoise with the little children in their pyjamas with their pillows … remembering how, when Abby was little, she would hop into bed and I would pull over the armchair and read and read and read.  Filling her sleepy, dreamy head with Moomin adventures and magic.

The next border – the squares of red and the wonderful boughs with twinkling baubles (I think this is a William Morris fabric – not sure) will remind us that this Moomin quilt was made for Christmas.

little houses in the woods in the grass corner

Finishing the sides is a red and white Scandinavian fabric – a tilt to the Moomin’s cultural heritage.  And last but not least … the whimsical red fabric, the flower-filled, blue summer sky, and a bit more Marimekko.  They’re little houses, see!  In amongst the trees.  I was thinking of the little summer cottages the Scandinavian folk build in their forests and around their lakes.

You can read it in or out.  I like out to in.  We start in the summer cottages amongst the tall tall trees – slightly magical in itself – reading Tove Jansson’s wonderful tales and poring over the quirky pictures.  Then, at night, when we’re asleep, we’re able to wander through the valleys to Moominland and tag along on the many adventures these dear little folk have.

waiting for her

Yes I do love it!  I can even imagine myself, years from now, reading the Moomin books to Abby’s children who will be snuggled under this quilt.  For now … here it is on her bed, waiting to hopefully bring a smile to her face on what will be the first quiet night we’ve had in a long while.

To finish it, I have the perfect blue and white checked blanket to quilt this flimsy onto and I’ve promised the girl child it will happen before the weekend’s out.

p.s. oy!  when I pegged the quilt top onto the garden swing it was immediately obvious that I’ve put the left checked border on upside down – bugger!  That’s what you get for late night Christmas sewing.  I foresee a bit of unpicking.