little travelling cups

cups simple tool ball of thread scissors

Such a grey and icy day.  The light was thin and scanty.  So, I did as Lucy does, and followed it – to a little sofa under the window, piled high with quilts and cushions.  Cosy indeed.  Supplies were gathered.  Plans were hatched for a set of little travelling cups that my Aunty Anne found for me.  She knew how much I loved the set Nanny and Grandad kept in their car’s dashboard when I was little.  Anodised.  In a brown leather (probably vinyl) zippered pouch.  I thought they were ever so cute and loved it when Grandad would pull them out and Nanny would fill them up with usually forbidden sweet and fizzy drink and pass them round.

Now I have my own – sans the zippered pouch.  Ah well – that can be sweetly remedied.

stitching top almost done adding the bottom

I’m not a huge fan of sewing with zippers or vinyl so chose the felt route instead.  With a wee bit of needlefelting, blanket stitch and my secret ingredient – elastic!

secret ingredient elastic at work

Natty huh!  Keeps the bottom from falling off my travelling cups and stops it from crumpling down when I put the top on!


trying it on

done

the snail the raspberries in my hand

The quiet snail, taking his time, enjoying the journey, seeking out treasures, stopping to make the most of the loveliest bits.  Just like us Boots when we go travelling.

It’s the only way to go, don’t you think :-)

 

 

little and ordinary

We all know that very few days come with a lovely “Ta-da!” moment, don’t we. Sometimes I feel a distinct sense of disappointment if my day has not delivered the pleasure of a satisfying finish – be it cloth, wood or wool – a sparkle to the bathroom, a line full of washing flapping in the sun, or a gleaming kitchen where everything is in its place and there’s a lovely meal cooking.

On a rational level I know that happiness cannot come from such external things, that I must seek that sense of contentment from within. And accept that some days will be very ordinary and that’s okay too.  Goodness, the notion of constant happiness is so ridiculous, so greedy, so selfish anyway.

Instead most of my days – like yours I’m sure –  are just full of little things.  And that sun – well it comes and goes.  So today, all I have is the ordinary – the unfinished – some little tasks finally done – some not …

frame

:: such a pretty thrifted frame that I’ve been planning a Mother’s Day applique for – and done absolutely nothing about it and now it’s Mother’s Day this Sunday – sigh – we’ll just have to admire it’s prettiness and know that someday it will hold something lovely.

gluing hands

:: finally, finally, finally gluing some little Erzgebirge men back together – a wee visor for the postman’s cap and getting that drummer’s bloody arm to stick in the right spot.

pencil sharpener

:: instead of reading for next week’s essay – putting together a little still life on my desk – sweet bookmarks, an old pencil sharpener, anodised travelling cups, a vase of pine needles – all with their own little stories that make me smile

rearranging the shelves

:: rearranging the shelves on my desk – well I had to put the shelves from the bathroom somewhere – the little folk and their animals are beginning to create their own tales on each of the shelves – the king with his pet elephant, the racoon seeking help from the wise woman, animals by the shoreline, Heidi’s grandfather …

it fit

:: fitting the old, vigorously washed and scrubbed meat safe (that had been not quite squished under the eaves in the back garden) into the bathroom corner – the tape measure said it would, even if at first it seemed completely impossible and I needed 4 squares of chocolate to soothe my peevishness  give me a moment to reassess – all it required was some aerial manoeuvring  - I KNEW it would fit – the tape measure doesn’t lie!  As for a fresh coat of paint – well, that will come.  Julian’s going to Dublin next week …

knitting

:: realising I had just the right colour blue to go with my mustard scarf – but not the right shade of soft grey-cocoa – oh well, that just means a trip to the wool store.

My kitchen’s a mess.  The quilt I started quilting on Saturday still isn’t finished.  I haven’t cleaned my teeth.  Or dropped the shoes off to the boot repair shop.  Or taken the rubbish out.  Or folded the washing.  Or found the tax return.  And it’s almost time for school pickup.

Ta-da moments – big fat zero.  But there’s been lots of little and ordinary bits and bobs.  That’ll do.

edited to add:  I got my teeth cleaned, scrubbed the kitchen, took the rubbish out and found the tax return.  And then, just as I was about to go out, for the briefest of moments, the sun made a dazzling appearance – always such a lift to my spirits – so I stuck some weeds into a vase and took another photo.  ’Cause that’s how best to celebrate the little and ordinary:-)

weeds in jar

sun came in

 

and then the cold and grey arrived

chimneys

Ah this weekend heralded the true beginning of Melbourne’s cold season.  Grey, drizzly days where the damp seeps into your bones and no matter how many layers you accumulate, you can still feel the cold.

Saturday we went to the movies – a very unusual event for us  in Melbourne given the price of cinema tickets here.  And it was Abby’s choice of film – Captain America, the Winter Soldier.  But it was fun nevertheless.  There’s something about disappearing deeper and deeper into a cinema – up the stairs, down the corridor, through the sound-proofed door, fumble along a pitch-dark passage, then into the dazzling light of screen-lit, steeply climbing rows.  That was followed by an afternoon of quilting whilst the rain pattered down outside and Julian cooked supper – a slow roasted beef that filled the house with its aroma and made the kitchen so warm the windows fogged up.

Sunday was the day I was waiting excitedly for.  I had supplies and family all ready for an adventure to Warburton and Mt. Donna Buang where I was hopeful we might see a sprinkling of snow, given the cold snap that had arrived with its snow to 1200 metres.

Alas, I woke at 6am with a dreadful migraine.  I staggered out to the cold kitchen, took my medicine, crawled back to bed, out again (the pounding right eye was accompanied by nausea), back into bed, out again, in again.  It was awful.  Finally, 2 hours later, I fell back asleep.  By 1pm the headache had reduced to a dull thumping in the back of my skull that turned into a swooshing rush of blood everytime I moved my head.  The rest of the afternoon was spent on the sofa, sometimes knitting, sometimes sleeping, sometimes watching “Jonathon Creek”.  Julian went in to work for a few hours.  Abby did homework. Great day – sigh.

gutter golden leaves

These things happen, don’t they.  But it wasn’t all a write off.  After finding that crocheted headkerchief in my stocking drawer the other day, I got to thinking up some more ways to make wintery headkerchiefs.

I don’t know why, but I am very fond of scarfy things tied round my head :-)  Cotton squares folded into triangles for summer, soft silky vintage ones from the op shop that slide off so quickly I spend more time tying them on then wearing them.  I’ve made bundles of Heather Ross’s summer bandanas from her Weekend Sewing book and worn them all year round.  And I love looking at the things other women tie round their heads – be it for religious, cultural or just plain practical-for-the-weather reasons, oh there are so many pretty ways to cover the head.  Those delicate muslin caps the Amish women wear, the folk head scarves of Eastern and Northern Europe, the gauzy wraps the women of India and Pakistan drape round their heads, those exquisite beaded and embroidered concoctions they wear in Mongolia – all so beautiful. I even love how the Queen ties those silky scarves under her chin when it’s cold.

I don’t know why we’ve moved away from headscarves and hats – such a shame.  Such potential for adding lovely hand work and colour to our days.  And oh, how I do love colour.  So first up on Friday night – a multicoloured crocheted headkerchief.  Using up scraps of Patons and Cleckheaton’s DK in the colours that just happened to be in the bag.  I made the triangle first, then added a band across the front that buttons underneath my hair, then a picot edge.

crocheted from back

crocheted from side

Then yesterday, in between the sleeping and the head throbbing and Jonathon Creek – another triangle – this time knitted – from Debbie Bliss Tweeds – simple increases on each side and down the centre – another crocheted band across the front with a button – another picot edging.

holding tree

from the back

shoes through the grass

close up at back

behind trunk leaves

photogrpaher

(thank you dear Abby for taking photos of your silly mama!)

Must say, today its warmth was very welcome – my it was cold and grey.  But working at my desk, with my headkerchief pulled over my ears (oh yes, might have looked a bit quirky bit it sure was warm :-), my shawl wrapped over a thrifted cashmere cardigan and my lambswool slippers – well, I was almost toasty.

one red leaf

Now – I have some nice olivey-green Malabrigo, a crochet hook and a cup of tea at hand.  My head is still aching a bit – hoping tomorrow I’ll wake up bright and sparky – and there’s a cosy evening of stitching ahead of me.  The best way to enjoy a Melbourne winter.

a fair isle tunic with yoke

supplies

Almost 2 years ago, I was sitting on the sofa each night, madly knitting up this beautiful Rowan yarn.  Bought from Wondoflex at a drastically reduced price it was exquisite to knit with.  Buttery soft and marvellously chunky, it knit up in no time.

The pattern – from the Drops website (if you’ve never been to the Drops website it is a treasure trove of free patterns – 71, 468 to be precise – for all kinds of yarn, in all different weights, for every season, with a healthy emphasis on Scandinavian styles – gorgeous stuff).  It was my first attempt at fair isle and a perfect choice.  The design was simple, there were never more than two colours working at once, and being chunky, that yoke absolutely raced off my needles.

ready for pressing

But at the time, I was chin deep in university work and heading off to my first nursing placement and apart from this strange glimpse on the ironing board, never took a single photo of my finished tunic.

front of

Well – this afternoon, Julian and I did a little swapsie.  I took photos of him in his handsome new waistcoat with one of his recent wedding anniversary ties (an especially lovely pure wool one, woven in Scotland which I bought at the oppie for pennies).  And in return, he took photos of me in my tunic.  And so – here it is – Lily’s version of the Drops Tunic 114-15 in Eskimo with short raglan sleeves!

almost detail side on detail looking up face full length

As for the crocheted headscarf – I have no memory of when I made it or what pattern I followed.  I found it yesterday stuffed into the back corner of my tights draw.  Must say, it’s inspired me somewhat.  If you peep into my window tonight, you’ll see me sitting there on the sofa, surrounded by colourful balls of DK working up some new headscarfs.  Seems to be the perfect season for them.  Oh, but that’s after I’ve finished oooohing and aaaaahing at all the lovely jumpers and cardigans in my Ravelry favourite’s file that I’d completely forgotten.  And scrolling through all the gorgeous tunics on the Drops site.

: Sigh : So much to knit … so little time.

my photographerOh – and this here – it’s my handsome photographer.  Nice huh :-)

 

a knitterly dash to the finish line

the time

The day dawned so grey, so wet, so cold.  I layered on the wool, cooked breakfast for Abby, drove her to school, came straight home, made a steamy hot cafe au lait in a bowl, plonked on the sofa to hold it in my cold hands and drink it all up whilst it was hot.

For some reason, Wednesday just didn’t seem to occur to us this week.  Monday was Monday with all its usual Mondayness.  Tuesday had some errands, some shopping and babysitting.  Thursday will be a half day at school so Abby and I have planned lovely things for Thursday afternoon.  Friday – end of the week joy!  and we’re going to see The Midwinter Soldier (I think that’s what it’s called – the Captain America film – Abby loves Captain America).

But Wednesday – I hadn’t really thought about Wednesday and once that cafe au lait was all gone, I was at a bit of a loss.  So much around me to do.  So many lovely things started and just waiting for their next moment in the sun.  So many ideas boinging round my mind.

Then I decided.  It was cold.  It was dreary.  I needed something FABULOUS.  And what is more fabulous on a cold, dreary day than finishing a beautifully striped jumper and wearing it?!  Well I couldn’t think of anything.  So I photographed the time, picked up the jumper and got to it.

Four and a half hours and there were 15 more stripes of 4 rows each + 20 rows of ribbing needed to finish that last sleeve.  Hopefully there’d be time for a good steamy iron.  Even better if there was time to sew in some ends.  Truly amazing if there was time to crochet the red trim around the cuffs.  Who knows!

the sleeve 13 rows in

An hour later and I was six more stripes down – 24 rows knitted, 36 left.  Decreasing every 7th row – on the third pink row.

One – two (pick up the jig) – three – four – change colours – one – two (pick up the jig) – three (knit two together – slip, slip knit) – four – change colours …

after an hour 6 stripes down

Another hour – another 16 rows down.  Pace has inexplicably dropped probably won’t be time for stitching in ends or crochet.  Pick up speed woman!

2 hours left

Ooooh!  Getting there now and then, bugger! the pink ran out.  Tie in another ball.

bugger ran out of pink

Am sitting in front of the soap that was delivered today.  What is usually a lovely medley of soft fragrances is now becoming a bit overwhelming.  No time to move it.  Just keep knitting, just keep knitting, just keep knitting.

One – two (pick up the jig) – three – four – change colours – one – two (pick up the jig) – three (knit two together – slip, slip knit) – four – change colours …

the soap

Finished with the pink.  Off you go dear.  On to the ribbing.  90 minutes left and 20 rows needed.  Ever so pleased I decided I love deep cuffs and so kept on ribbing and ribbing and ribbing on the first sleeve.

done with the pink

Blimey do I HATE ribbing a narrow cuff on a circular needle.  Do I have a set of 3.5mm double pointed?  Probably.  Can I put my hands on them instantly?  Almost certainly not.  Have a quick look.  Nope.  Only 2 out of the set are in my jar.  Useful.  Fumble on with the circular.  So slow.  So clumsy.  Splitting every third stitch and dropping at least one every round.  Think – less haste, more speed, less haste, more speed.

ribbingAnd then, I stop and count and I’ve staggered around 19 times.  Haaaaaaa!  And it’s only 25 minutes til 3pm.  Round one more time – knit, knit, purl, purl, knit, knit, purl, purl …

Then it’s casting off time – off they fly  - yes, yes, yes!  I fill the iron, whack up the steam, leave it to heat whilst I throw on a turtleneck, some tights and a skirt.  Yes – in my mind’s eye, this gorgeous stripey jumper is always worn with a turtleneck, opaque tights and a nice full skirt.  With buckle ups of course.

wearing it

I carefully press on the inside.  Oh how beautifully that Patons Totem steams up.  My stitches look like lovely plump grains of rice in orderly rows.  As for my ribbing – you’d never know how much grief it gave me.

3.15 off I go.  Not a single end is stitched in – I’ve strategically pushed them / ironed them up under the hems.  The cuffs aren’t trimmed.  Ah well – there’s always that hour of spelling, times tables and maths problems.  Yes?  Yes!

The little girlie and I sat at the kitchen bench, first sharing afternoon tea and stories of school, then her working away at her tasks, me watching, nodding, prompting, answering, describing, coaxing, stitching, trimming and crocheting (a bit cold in just my turtleneck). The two of us keeping up that lovely patter I know I’ve grown to love over the last three years.  Oh I shall miss her when she heads off to highschool next year.

crocheting the cuffs

 And then, just as the weather cooled right down and the sun promptly vanished, every last end was stitched in and the cuffs prettily edged in red.  I pulled it back on over my head.  She cheered!

I did it.  I finished a jumper.  It took 17 days.  And I loved it so much I can’t wait to knit another one!  Mum has put in her order – she wants a dark grey and red one.  Mum always wants grey and red.  I’ll see … there’s a nice dark olive down at the wool store – there’s bound to be something that would look wonderful with it.

Ahhh … such a good use of an unexpected Wednesday.  And if you want to knit a lovely jumper – try this one!  It’s such a simple yet perfect darling of a knit :-)

wee windowsill gardening in pyrex

As we draw ever closer to the time when we leave this little house and Melbourne – only another 18 months – we are beginning to look about us and plan what needs to be done and what needs to be finished up, tidied or dismantled before we leave.  The garden is one of these things.  Despite a renewed enthusiasm each growing season, it’s not been much of a success over our years here.  A combination of poor soil, lack of sun – the concrete drive is the best spot and even it only catches the sun for a few hours in the middle of the day – no alternative water supply to the very expensive town water, and an enthusiasm and commitment that waxes and wanes – has meant our harvests have been few and rather lacklustre.

I guess just knowing it’s not ours and that anything we do is very temporary is a bit of a dampener.  And so we’ve reduced our gardening efforts – and dreams – down to the herbs at the kitchen door.  We’ll dismantle our raised beds over the coming winter months and pack away our small collection of tools for the move.

Instead, I shall continue to read and read and read about what we WILL do when we have our own land.  I shall continue to keep cuttings and notes on what I would like in our garden and how I would like to shape it.  A stand of Norfolk Pines – yes!  A hedge of camellias – beautiful!  A driveway lined with deciduous trees – some ornamental plums, some silver birch, Japanese maple.  Then there’s the orchard and the berry patch.  Flower beds.  Vegies.  The reed bed for the grey water.  Little garden rooms – for sprawling out on quilts and in chairs, for playing croquet, even for hitting a tennis ball.  Oh yes, I dream big :-)

Then there’s always the vicarious kind of gardening / homesteading – I love that too!  Watching and learning from those much more experienced  - and better situated – folk than I.  Pearl & Elspeth are truly inspirational AND live in the Bega Valley.  I love reading about their permaculture adventures – AND they built their own strawbale home.  Gorgeous family!  Fiona over at Inner Pickle is another self sufficient whizz I love keeping up with.  Oh my – what she and her family have achieved since their move to the Southern NSW coast is just brilliant.

Another creative soul I love following is the incredibly talented artist from Mexico Gennine Zlatkis.  Her artwork is beautiful and her home … sigh!  But what has really caught my eye lately are her indoor plants – gatherings of succulents here and there.  And so, with my outdoor gardening life kaput for now, I’ve turned my attention to the much more attainable, much more successful growing of succulents and other unknown lovelies on my windowsills.  I like it very much :-)

looking out the window living room pink and green sacha's little sausage girl

mumma with children rose pyrex coral sponge turned to the sun spiky

I love the amazing shapes, colours, and textures of the succulents.  So dramatic and stylised.  I love that I only need to water them once a week.  Goodness, I haven’t even bothered repotting them since bringing them home (I do have the potting mix in a bag by the back door – that must give me some kind of brownie points)  and yet every time I look at them there are soft wee shoots, new curls and longer stretching fingers to count.  They’ve tilted their sweet little faces to the sun and are doing so very nicely.

As for their containers – well, I didn’t want to spend any more money than necessary and quickly realised I had the perfect “pots” stacked in my cupboards already – Pyrex!  My green sweeties in the front room are lucky – they have a matching set of Pyrex bowls – they’re positively stylish.  Their cousins in the living room are very happy in their mostly mismatched set of Pyrex mixing and serving bowls.  And not only do the Pyrex add a nice decorative touch  they make superb saucers – you never have to worry about overflowing water and that weekly drink – I leave the water that seeps out during watering in the Pyrex and over the week, the plants drink it back up.  I don’t know why I hadn’t thought of it before.

And I’m keeping my eyes out for more – just today I spotted some amazingly tall and spiky cacti at a nearby florist – that would add some nice height to the gathering in the front room.

at night

Best of all these dear little plants can come with us when we move.  I want to have a lovely big glass wall in the kitchen that gets plenty of light and shall build open shelves in front of it for lots of lots of plants – herbs and succulents and ferns – maybe even tomatoes and chillies. I can see it all as I type – and I’m sitting in front of my sunlit plants in a comfy armchair having a cup of tea before heading into the Bega hospital to work, some knitting on my knee, a pot of soup steaming away on the stove.  Oh yes, my thumb might not be too green, but my imagination?  It’s gold plated.

For now, I delight in looking in at my little windowsill gardens each time I come home.  They inspire me.  They nurture my love for green.  Fu likes it too.

in a sunday kitchen

cosySunday morning in the kitchen.  At first, the rest of the family sleeps on and it’s just me, a cup of tea, the radio and my dishcloth knitting (I’m working on filling a jar with colourful dishcloths – it’s a very nice way to start the day).  Slowly they join me.

reading

coffee

Julian brings his reading and wiles away an hour or so.  But then, after second coffees, he goes for a bike ride, needing to be outside on this crisp but sunny autumn day.

hill climb racing

cinnamon toast

I tempt Abby out of bed with toasted sourdough, lashings of butter and the left over cinnamon sugar from yesterday’s homemade doughnuts.  She’s always content to draw up a seat and keeps herself amused for hours.  Hill Climb Racing is a favourite this weekend (recently introduced to me by a little patient), but she also works on school assignments and progresses with her crochet.  Oh my, her crochet!  Wait til you see the pattern – it’s gorgeous stuff!

last chicken

Outside, our last chicken struts her stuff, so pleased to have the back garden all to herself …

fu

Fu assumes her favourite position – watching the world go by from the front room …

lucy

And Lucy curls herself up in a corner of sunlight …

barley ingredients spices

I start supper early.  Spicy Barley, Butternut and Apple Porridge and its simmering keeps the kitchen toasty.

tea and soup

The embroidery basket comes out, followed by the laptop …

embroidery wool

I have plans for some rather large jars with unusual and special contents :-)

pattern ready

The afternoon deepens – Julian, who has returned home and joined in the Hill Climb Racing fun, declares it cocktail hour.  And roasts a lovely leg of pork.  He’s good like that.

cocktail makers chaos

After hours of drawing and tweaking – and lots of added input from Abby and Julian who know just how that dolphin should look and what colour the lettering should be –  my pattern is ready and just before supper is about to served, needle comes to fabric.

cross stitching

savoury barley and butternut porridge

The kind of day – so restful and creative and productive and happy – that fills us with inspiration for how we want to build our kitchen in our strawbale home.  Plenty of room for cooking and making and storing, a lovely huge window for growing and sun soaking, perhaps even a pair of armchairs for reading and tea sipping, and a loooooong table with lots of chairs for days just like this, when we are so content to let everything else spin on without us, and stay right here in the kitchen.

weekending

donuts sock knitting cosy

Oh long weekend how I do love you!

Homemade doughnuts, fair isle sock knitting, teaching my girlie how to crochet, wool shop shopping, friends over for the afternoon, movie watching, clothes washing (that always makes me feel good at the start of the week!), and hours of lovely peaceful time around the kitchen table together.

Good stuff.

p.s. that cheeky little opportunistic doggle in the top photo STOLE a doughut.

 

the night max wore his wolf suit …

big hairy feet sneaky eyes

Whatever is hiding amongst the oleander?  Oh! It’s a Wild Thing!

wild thing

Julian’s Wild Thing!  I gave it to him for his 22nd birthday – the first birthday we celebrated together. He had a copy of Where the Wild Things Are when I met him – sitting there amongst the computer programming tomes and science fiction novels.  It was his favouritest book as a little boy.  I knew it from my childhood as well – but I must confess, I had been scared of it.  So when I spied this fabulously fierce little fellow at the University Bookstore, I just knew upon whose bookshelf it would feel right at home.

closeup of wild thing

A few years later, one of my wee cousins, Alastair, came for a sleepover.  He stomped up the stairs to our flat, pleased as punch to be so grown up as to have a sleepover all by himself, and whilst his mum and I had a cup of tea, he had a little explore.  After peering into our bedroom, he ran straight back over to his mum and whispered tremulously in her ear “Mum!  There’s a Wild Thing in there!”  It was so sweet/funny – and formal introductions had to be made before Alastair could be convinced it was indeed safe to stay.

cards scattered wild thing cheating

Wild Things have been a firm favourite in Bootville ever since.  Julian’s copy of the book became very battered as it was read over and over and over to Abby – by the time she was 3, both she and I could recite the whole book off by heart!  We made a copy of the audio book, borrowed from the library, and that was played on Abby’s little tape recorder until it literally wore out.  And there’s been many games of Wild Rumpus enjoyed at the kitchen table – always accompanied by lots of shrieks and the frantic slapping down of cards.

with abby reading

When the film version came out a few years back, just before we left for Melbourne, Abby took along 5 of her lovely friends from primary school to see it for her birthday.  Oh how we all loved it.  I do think Spike Jonze did a brilliant job – no, it wasn’t an immaculate translation of the book, frame by frame, but as an interpretation it was outstanding.  Exquisitely and imaginatively filmed with such a real and touching story.  As for the soundtrack – oh I went out and bought a copy the very next day.  We used to drive around Brisbane with all the windows down, the breeze rushing in at our faces, singing along to the second track at the top of our lungs.  Even now, I only need to slip it on and that beautifully haunting, childlike music transports me.

favourite on the chair

Needless to say, when I visited Spotlight a few days before Julian’s birthday this year, and there were bolts of Wild Things fabric lined up at the counter … well, all previous birthday present plans went out the window and I made him a Wild Things quilt instead.

binding red and orange arm

I bought the red, yellow, lilac, purple and black contrasting plains at the same time, went home, sliced them up into squares with thin black strips for borders, then spent a whole afternoon puzzling over just how it was supposed to go together.  I finally settled upon this layout a) because I felt it was the most striking whilst allowing Maurice Sendak’s beautiful illustrations to shine, and b) ’cause it reminded me of strips of film – a film of the Wild Thing playing through our lives in all its incarnations.  Then I had to take Abby back to the shop with me to choose the perfect green for the border – an adventure set deep in the forest.  I have a tendency to choose very olivey greens – none of which looked right – thankfully, she knew just the appley green it needed.

I pieced it frantically over the weekend before his birthday and had it a-l-m-o-s-t quilted in time for the birthday breakfast.  Backed with a beautiful vintage blanket and quilted with my scribbly-wibbly lines.  And the binding – Julian’s idea – he wanted something with all the colours in it.

blanket looking down

The birthday boy loved it!  For the first few weeks, it graced our bed.  There is something very endearing about coming to bed late, after knitting into the wee hours, or working on an essay, to find my husband, snuggled up under his Wild Things quilt.  Especially since Julian doesn’t have any mementos from his childhood.

on the fence post touseldBut now that the cooler weather is here, he’s brought it out into the living room where he sits with it warmly tucked around his lap each eve (we’re having our second winter without heating – saved a fortune last year!).  

I adore that our quilts are shared and loved and dragged around the house, out into the car, on picnics, taken on school camps, piled up on sleepovers, squished up into balls, spread out onto the grass, cuddled into by doggles, and quietly retreated under when an afternoon nap is needed.

As for a Wild Things quilt – well it’s sure to stand the test of time.

where peruvian wool, german woodruff and the norfolk pines of rainbow bay meet

Well in my mind’s eye of course!

It’s a busy and overflowing mind.  One which races with images, memories and voices, sounds, tastes and smells.  One that holds hundreds of lists.  One that plots out countless plans, dreams and conversations.  One that sometimes gets lost with longing for what I miss, rather than make the most of what I have.

Let me tell you, quietening this mind at night can be a challenge.

But every now and then, it makes wonderful connections.  Connections that draw the here and now towards the dearly held images and memories.  In a piece of floral fabric I see the curtains that once hung in Nanny and Grandad’s spare bedroom, or the covers of cushions on the their porch chairs.  Holding a vintage jug in an opshop reminds me of the jug Nanny served gravy in and I’m taken straight back to a giggly Christmas dinner where Aunty Jackie hoarded the custard, in its saucepan, on her lap.  In a dear little baby’s cardigan, I think of my old Nanny Dougall and her incredible attention to detail.  A jaunty children’s print takes me back to the family room of my childhood and I picture my Mum at the sewing machine, stitching up matching dresses for my sister and I.  Just the other day – a grey, drizzly, cold and lonely day – I found a vintage children’s beach towel that I swear Aunty Anne kept in her linen cupboard in the 1970s for when all the cousins came for the summer.  When I bring these things home to Bootville – when I add that fabric to a quilt, or stitch another piece into a skirt, when I serve Julian’s gravy in that jug, and fold that beach towel into a cushion cover, it feels so good.  My stitches and the time I devote to them, pull the web of my life closer and firmer, making it into a beautiful pattern that I can pull out and enjoy.

These poignant words, from the talented writer, knitter and sewist at Needle and Spindle (found via the lovely Kate Davies), sum it up perfectly …

“Hand made items preserve time in the same way that fruit is preserved as jam, not as the unchanged strawberry or plum fresh plucked, but as something cooked and processed to preserve the taste of summer.  Hand made items embody both the hours of making (time) and memories and feelings of people (the times) within the construction of the object…a true cultural artefact.”

Isn’t that so lovely!  And as batty as it might sound, it’s exactly what I felt when I found this gorgeous sock pattern, last Friday night, after coming back to Melbourne from my week’s trip to Brisbane to help care for family.  Those rich shades of green and blue, with their lovely straight lines and ordered branches/leaves, reminded me so much of the Norfolk Pines of Rainbow Bay, standing tall, elegant and timeless against the magnificent blue of the ocean, the brilliance of the sunlit sky, and the smudgy mist of the hinterland.   Sitting on the sofa in cold Melbourne, so far away, these socks made me feel closer to that which I love, and I knew I had to find me some wool and get knitting!

pattern

norfolk pines

I had spent Thursday afternoon at Rainbow Bay, with Mum, Aunty Anne and Aunty Cate.  In the very small and southern corner of Queensland, where it meets New South Wales.  Where I spent hundreds of weekends and summers as a child, a teenager, then as a mum with her own little girl. Oh it was so lovely.

We visited the Dbar cafe for lunch …

dbar

walked the cliff top path remembering the ships sunk off the coast of Australia during WW2 …

log

stopped at the rail and peered down into the rollings waves, hoping for surfing dolphins …

scanning for dolphins

followed the trail down the steep cliff to the tiny cove with its “frog”…

the frog

passed the old porpoise pools where the crazy folk stand out on the Point Danger rocks – Uncle Keith always declared every 7th wave would wash any fool who was standing there straight off – put us off for life …

surfer with wave

channel

Round to the surf life saving club – where my favourite beer billboard “From where you’d rather be” now adorns the clubhouse!

mum and cate

lifequard

from where you'd rather be

… and down to the water’s edge …

looking through the pandanus

down to the sea

leaves

Mum sat under the Norfolk Pines (just saying now, when we have our land in the Bega valley, I am planting a line of Norfolk Pines) – not the Pandanus ’cause they were heavy with their drupe (that’s the word for their huge heavy fruit – you learn something new everyday, huh)

pandanus

pandanus not

and I reckon had one of them fallen on her head she’d have known about it – and watched as Aunty Anne, Aunty Cate and I had a lovely long swim.

silvery

Oh, it was heaven.

grandads school

view from the classroom

greenmount

is grandad here

(I wonder if one of these little people standing “at ease” is Grandad!)

Then we hopped back in the car and drove up the hill to the little old school Grandad attended as a wee lad – he tells us all the time about sitting in the hot classroom with the boring school teachers looking north down to Kirra and longing to run away and go for a swim, then south up to Greenmount where he knew the Boicke brothers would be – one sitting on top of the hill watching for the shoals of fish, the rest in the pub down below.

This small corner has barely changed in 30 years.  There’s always combi vans parked alongside the park, their backs stuffed with mattresses and cheerful towels draped here and there to dry.  There’s always families with tired sandy children, and mums and dads with their arms full of towels and boards and umbrellas.  There’s always older folk walking slowly along the paths, looking out at the magnificent view, stopping now and then to sit on the park benches that are shaped like old wooden surboards.  There’s always teenage girls strutting along in their bikinis, and teenage boys with their board shorts and rashies, their surfboards tucked under their arms, their faces smeared with zinc.  The air is filled with the lovely roar of the ocean, and the occasional shriek of the seagulls.  And there’s that smell of salt and coconut oil.  Yes, coconut oil!

Isn’t that wonderful?  That time-stands-still quality.  Oh it melts my heart.  The joy is almost overwhelming and I am so very grateful for every moment I am there, filling my soul, replenishing my mind’s eye.

So when I gathered my supplies today – my pattern written by a Londoner, based on a plant that grows in Germany, knit in wool that came from Peru – and headed out into my sunlit, autumn Melbourne garden – that was a full 13 degrees celsius cooler than I had been last Thursday at Rainbow Bay – in a strange but lovely way, all those sights and sounds and stories and happiness  met me there in the little green and blue stitches I made on the thinnest needles I’ve ever knit with.

swift

wool winder

(Nanny’s old wool winder)

the start coraline lucy sunbaking

on the kneeprogress

And I dream that when I pull these socks on – hopefully before winter’s through! – I will know they belong to me because I’ll be wearing a little bit of Rainbow.

a table cloth skirt

table cloth

Did you notice the Australian wildflowers table cloth in last night’s post?  On a lovely heavy cotton/linen blend, with colours so rich and pretty?  I found it at the oppie recently.  Now, truth be told, if you’d dressed your table in this cloth back in the 80s or 90s, I’d have given a little eye roll and thought “ew”.  Wasn’t I horrible!  No appreciation for Australian wildflowers in any way, shape or form back then.  I’d have thought it the height of dagginess.  Throughout the 00s – I left plenty such cloths behind in the oppies, only having eyes for the sweetness of the Scandinavian and German cloths or the wacky designs of the 50s and 60s.

But now … well, I’d have to say I’m converted.  With age has come a much greater appreciation for the beauty and delight that lives right on my doorstep and so, the other day when I spied this cloth hanging amongst its boring plain relatives in the table cloth section, I snatched it up with delight.  I love looking out for these flowers as they glow at their special time of the year.  I love watching the bees smoosh themselves into the red flowering gum.  I love how the brightly coloured birds in Mum’s garden screech indignantly at each other as they squabble over the sweet nectar.  The flowering kangaroo paws remind me of the magnificent kangaroos that lollop down Mum’s street and gather in the grass at the Pambula beach each afternoon.  I even love the heady scent of the wattle, despite it making my eyes itch – it takes me back to my school years where wattle was planted alongside the Year 9 classrooms and science labs and once it flowered, you knew the school year was on the downhill run.  Yes, I’m truly converted.

However, Julian is not much of a table cloth fellow, and the linen cupboard is literally popping with table cloths so this sweet cloth needed to take on a different role.  Besides – I wanted to enjoy it regularly!  And so a table cloth skirt was born.

stork leg close up

I cut the cloth in half so that the longest side gave me the most length and the little wattle baubles formed pretty borders.  Sewed it up, turn over a hem, and added elastic.  But it still needed something else – a pretty red and white spot!  With a deep ribbon of blue rickrack. (p.s. the lovely red vintage cardigan is also recently thrifted from the oppie – Mum found it!)

fulllength holding it out

It is so cherry and pretty and I don’t mind saying that each time I wear it, someone comments with delight :-)  I even had a lady at the patchwork store follow me down the aisles to ask if that was indeed a tablecloth because it was the prettiest use for such a tablecloth she’d ever seen!

heavy dew new tree children bee unopened buds against autumn leaves lookingup sun and blue sky

It is the perfect skirt to wear today.  A day filled with a rich blue sky and lovely golden sunlight.  Such a treat after four days of dark gloom and rain.  Mind you, the dew is so heavy it took only a few footsteps before my shoes were wet through.  I’ll have to get the leather wax onto them.

wet feet the back

Guess what I have in the sewing pile now … one of those fabulous floral German cloths with the border of little men and women in their sweet costumes.  It’s a square one, identical to one that I use regularly and those I grew up with.  Mum and Nanny had them in yellow and green and blue – as a child it just seemed natural to me that you should have blue and white china on your table with floral cloths bordered in little men and women.  I was always so surprised to find other folk DIDN’T have these on their table.

And you know what’s going to happen to it, don’t you!

 

all that has happened

Oh my goodness … 2014, what a year you are shaping up to be!  Almost four months past and I’ve barely caught my breath.  Now tonight, here I sit in my layers of wool and sheepskin slippers.  The bed is laden with blankets and quilts.  The rain patters outside.  Summer has well and truly finished.  Autumn never really arrived … or if you caught glimpses, I must have been deep inside the emergency room of the children’s hospital and missed them completely … and now it’s almost gone.  And I’ve not popped my head in here for ages!

In fact, this is the third night I’ve sat down to write, but then I’ve thought … well, what on earth have I got to say?  I’ve been lurching from one chaotic period to another.  Nothing much has progressed on the crafty front.  No show and tells ready and prettily photographed  :sigh:

Then I decided to empty the camera card and what did I find?  Empty camera card? Evidence of chaos?  A visual reminder of what happens when you are frantically writing up one university assignment after another, whilst working full time in a completely new and unusual environment with a massive team of nurses and doctors that seem to completely change with each shift, accompanied by a husband who’s overseas working for a month, a wonderful Mummy who steps into the breach and keeps Bootville running, followed by a dear old grandad who suffers a terrible stroke and needs us by his side quickly and a darling old grandmother who doesn’t know what their life holds for them next?  Is that what’s on the camera card?

No, not really.  Instead, there are glimpses – here and there – some more weeks than others – of a life that is still being lived with good cheer.  There’s been lots of keeping close to the ones I love, birthdays celebrated, an endless appreciation for the old, battered and quirky, a never before experienced explosion of autumnal knitting, a coming together of quilts – old and new, a treasured opportunity to hold my Grandad’s hand whilst he rests in hospital, beautiful hours sitting with my Nanny whilst we knit together and ponder what may come next, a very special opportunity to rekindle a close relationship with a dear aunty, a much appreciated trip to a favourite beach, tablecloths turned into skirts, an adored friend visiting for Easter, wee dolls being needlefelted, moments of sunshine in the garden …

Yes … it would seem that whilst I have been away from here for a very long time – the longest ever I think! – and spent many, many hours at the early and late ends of the day caring for little people and their families; the spirit of Bootville lives on, and the goodness that makes up our crazy, busy, love-filled, creative lives gets squeezed into the corners no matter how fast the time flies.

table cloth borders sewn borders attached birthday quilts sewn quilting cocktails sipped newly thrifted shelves fabrics were played with dirty lamp fizzy clean lamp pea soup cardie dishcloths were knitted cardigans multiplied dirty sideboard clean sideboard mum visited ready for home nanny's knitting bag family rainbow dollls made friends came husbands relished autumn welcomed even more knitting

And that’s so good.  See you tomorrow – yes?