After almost an hour of twisting, turning, sliding, plummeting, inching, and bumping along the most alarming dirt track I have ever adventured along, this is the sweet sight that greeted us.
Oh with what relief we stretched our legs and trotted off, these gorgeous, freshly whitewashed chimney pots – almost luminescent against the deep blue sky – beckoning us on.
The first building (and information board) to greet us – the telegraph office – which pleased Grandad, a morse code operator and enthusiast, no end. He learnt his skill as a young man during the second world war and then put it to good use in all those post offices he worked in – in those days the post office supervised the bulk of Australia’s telegraphic and telephone communications.
Then the three keepers’ cottages … with front porches and lawns to swoon over … I think that looks like the perfect spot for an hour or so of knitting or reading. Don’t you? :-)
And at last, the lighthouse itself. Green Cape Lighthouse. Built in 1883 – the first cast concrete lighthouse in Australia, the most southerly and second tallest in New South Wales.
There’s a wonderful story shared here by Beryl Royal, the daughter of lighthousekeeper Jim Duncan. Beryl spent five years of her childhood at Green Cape (pre World War 2) and describes a fascinating life that included homeschooling, the ABC’s Children’s Hour and Argonauts’ club, fishing, whale watching, pet wallabies, the thrilling arrival of the three monthly launch with their supplies from McIlrath’s in Sydney, and the endlesss maintenance of the lighthouse. She declares it a wonderful childhood. You really should take a peek at her story – it’s enchanting – finally convinced Grandad of the positive power of the world wide web.
There’s something about lighthouses, isn’t there? Ever since reading Five Goes to Demon’s Rocks, I have been bewitched. They truly do belong to a more romantic era – making such a courageous and resilient stance against the mercurial ocean – one that we, as tiny humans could not. They are our guardians – their lights flashing out over the seas whilst we shelter inside their elegant walls. Oh the sentimental inside me thinks it’s a terrible shame they are now all automated – and some, including Green Cape, no longer even used. There’s now a dreadfully utilitarian and ugly metal skeleton tower here to splash that light out over these heavy southern waters.
Ugh! A naughty, irresponsible part of me hopes that this ghastly thing comes twisting and clattering down in a storm. Obviously, I would never want any ships or boats put at risk – but how satisfying would it be to see this ridiculous, ugly, glorified ladder put in its place and it’s older, magnificent neighbour restored to its rightful position.
One feature that did DELIGHT us was this wee story board. It describes Green Cape as being not just an out flung bastion of government services and provider of safe passage, but a centre for the local settlers and farmers to gather and play … thus, the tennis courts. And the lighthouse families (’cause they preferred to employ lighthouse keepers with families, so as to best create “normal” and cheerful wee communities in these isolated places) were expected to take their roles of organisers and hosts seriously.
I cannot even begin to fathom how local families travelled to this lighthouse for a tennis party but oh standing amongst these lovely buildings, I could see the hustle and bustle. Trestle tables set up on the deep and sheltered porches, laden with food (including roasted black swan, parrot and wallaby!), children running about with their dogs, daring each other to silliness, mothers exhorting them to stay away from the edge! whilst sharing their tips for coping with the hardships of bush life, horses tethered further back amongst the melaleucas, fathers smoking their pipes and passing on the news of the day. I wonder how many tennis balls were lost to the sea!
The natural landscape is equally as lovely – breathtaking in fact. And there is supposedly a lot of wildlife – especially black rock wallabies, grey kangaroos, and seals. Sadly we saw none – but there was certainly plenty of evidence …
… I tried to introduce the girls to a spot of scatology but they were majorly unimpressed. So I took photos of all the different types I spied – perhaps if we are homebound by terrible weather and we lose all power to everything except my camera and all internet access except to my laptop, I may be able to twist Abby’s arm later in the holiday. Fat chance! She’d probably choose sleep as the only acceptable alternative :-)
Whilst Aunty Annie and Grandad meandered back to the car, the girls and I sprinted ahead to check out the Ly-ee-moon cemetery. It’s a small and sad memorial to just 24 of the 77 folk who lost their lives when the Ly-ee-moon, a passenger steamer that travelled between Melbourne and Sydney, drifted onto the rocks on a calm and well lit night – with the lighthouse burning I might add – and was broken in half. Lighthouse keepers did their best to rescue as many as they could and spent the next few days retrieving bodies but alas, the loss of life was great and most ended up lost to the sea. The captain and his first mate were tried in Sydney for manslaughter (yes, strangely enough, they were among the 17 who were pulled alive from the sea) and whilst they were acquitted, they were stripped of their offices by the Maritime Board and forbidden from ever holding a license again.
Each little white washed rock marks a grave and there is a small memorial listing the known names. Most of the children listed were unnamed … for example, M. Hamilton and babe, H. Fotherington and daughter, etc. And then there was “Two unknown men with German accents”, and “A Greek, granted passage at request of Cook”. The cemetery is several hundred metres deep into the melaleuca forest. And whilst you can hear the roar of the ocean, the trees meet overhead, obscuring any view, and the air is still and eerie. The neighbouring bay is not called Disaster Bay for nothing.
So add Green Cape to your list folks! I wouldn’t advise taking Green Cape Road in the rain – beggars belief what would happen if you tried – I think it would be more like skiing then driving, and you’d quickly come to an abrupt stop thanks to the heavy forest. But on a fine dry day, pack a picnic and plenty of water and head out south of Eden and along the Green Cape Road. You’ll have a marvellous day and come home with a head filled with beauty and stories of bygone days, ears ringing with the thunder of the ocean, and the phone number for the accommodation folks at the New South Wales National Parks – yes! You can holiday in the lighthouse keepers’ cottages! Eeeeeeeeee!
Our first day of our summer holiday by the beach and I was given the privilege and delight of taking my dear old Grandad on an adventure. Soon after midday, we tootled off to take the long road to Tilba Tilba – home of Erica’s beautiful cheese. Grandad had long heard of the prettiness of this historical village and was very keen to wind round those mountain roads himself, sit in Erica’s cafe, and marvel at the beautiful countryside.
It is such a picture perfect wee village. I can so imagine living there.
We shared lunch at Erica’s cafe – including malted milkshakes using Erica’s latest from the farm product – beautiful, rich, creamy Jersey milk. Grandad couldn’t remember the last time he’d enjoyed a malted milkshake and made sure to slurp up every last drop. Oh yum!
She’s now selling it – unhomogenised – from her farm shop. If you ever find yourself nearby, treat yourself to a milkshake and make sure to take a bottle home.
Next door is the old community hall. It has served as a roller skating rink (when it was first built in 1901 – can you believe that! - they built a roller skating rink back then!), a storage hall for the cheese from the nearby cheese factory, a dance hall – whose floor was admired for miles around because of all that butter milk that sweetly dripped from the cheeses into the wooden boards – and now, a community arts hall.
At the moment, it is hosting an exhibition of local interests. Tilba – at first glance – looks like a tourist shopping strip. But as the community exhibition proclaims, there is so much more to the people of Tilba than a bunch of shops. There’s one gentleman’s collection of antique motorcycles, a collection of psychedelic vintage aprons, a photo montage of a family’s dog from the moment she arrived as a sweet pup, to her death a couple of months ago, the works of several local artists, an exquisite hard carved Windsor chair, quilts, baskets woven from the willows lining the Bega river, a collection of black and white photos of Tilba from 1985 to 1995 … Grandad and I had a marvellous hour, carefully reading and inspecting the exhibits, and then a wonderfully long chat with the local photographer who was caretaking that afternoon. It was brilliant! What a beautiful idea huh?! A exhibition of a community’s interests.
Then, we simply had to cross the road and check out the post office. Grandad began his career in the post office, as a telegram boy, when he was 15. He rose quickly through the ranks and travelled the east coast of Australia with his ever growing family, working in post offices from Barcaldine in the far west of Queensland to Launceston in Tasmania.
For the last couple of decades of his career – those that I knew – Grandad was a Post Master and oh, how we loved visiting him at work. He would set us up at the huge wooden counter at the general post office in Kempsey, supply us with scraps of brown wrapping paper, and give us the huge round racks that held all the ink stamps and we would stamp, stamp, stamp to our hearts’ content. When we had produced our masterpieces, he would staple the sheets of paper together into books for us. It was such fun!
Grandad’s history with the Post Office is so enmeshed with my family’s history, my childhood, and how I “know” Grandad that I always feel such a connection to post offices – especially the old ones. I drive my family batty when we are out and about in the countryside. I squeal, “stop! quickly stop! there’s the post office! I need to take a photo of it for Grandad!”
Our journey home, took us along the coast road. First, we boinged down a dusty track, broken up with cattle grids and gates, to the Tilba general cemetery which is perched on the edge of a cliff, overlooking the sea. It is breathtakingly picturesque … Grandad loved it and we stopped many times for him to whip out his camera (oh my, it must be hereditary!) and take a few snaps.
Then, we meandered through the farming fields, forests and beautiful fishing villages of the Far South Coast, noting the loveliest spots that we simply must return to.
Without doubt, number one on the list is The Blue Pool in Bermagui. Wow!
But without doubt, the highlight of the day was having my Grandad by my side. This beautiful old gentleman is a born adventurer and it was so wonderful to be able to provide him with the opportunity to explore the unknown. And oh, he did so enjoy it.
There were several times, as we drove along, that Grandad spoke wistfully about how much he loved driving. How buying a new car was always such a thrill. How there was nothing better than to pile the family into the car and simply drive. Discover somewhere new. Enjoy getting away. The wonderful feeling of escaping the every day. And how very sad he was when the time came to hand over his license. Admit that those days were over.
After one such moment, I squeezed his hand, kissed his cheek and told him how special it was to me – who has so inherited his love of “the drive” – that after spending my childhood driving around in the back of his beloved car to the next adventure, I could now treat him to the same. He gave a small smile, and replied that he supposed it was, yes he supposed it was, but it wasn’t quite the same nevertheless. As much as he loved exploring with me, there was just this wee little spot inside of him that still wished so fervently that it was he behind the wheel, strong and capable, and me, small and excited, in the back.
I can’t hold that against him. No, I can’t.
… if you pull up at this sign
… and follow this sun-baked, dusty track just around the bend
… with one sweet girl to help pick and one to mind that the fluffy one doesn’t get into the long grass – this is TICK country!
… you reach a wild plum tree, lavishly garlanded with rich red plums
… its ancient and twisted arms and legs, almost the only thing preventing the bank of the railway track crumbling into the field of cows beneath
… we came prepared, with the canning pot to fill
… not that we filled it completely, only half
… there’ll be more ripe treats to pick on our return – hopefully, there may even be blackberries
… but not the funny, little gnarled apples – even if we ever discover them ripe, I daresay they will all have been munched by the local wildlife.
… we returned to the car, mama pleased as punch with the harvest, friend charmed with such an Ann of Green Gables adventure, daughter composing an opera describing the hell that is summer cattle flies.
… time to move on, there’s still a few hundred kilometres to go
Eeeeee! As I write, Abby is at the birthday party we have sat through the last week’s heatwave for. Hmhm. Instead of heading up to Merimbula soon after Christmas, to hit the beaches, swim, laze and walk in this beautiful coastal village, we have sat here in Melbourne and SWEATED. Profusely.
At least, here in the city, we’ve not had to endure terrible bush fires and for that I’m very grateful and very sad for those who have lost so much. However, in another hour, this much prized birthday party will be over and we will be free to hop in the car and tootle across the Gippsland to my waiting mum, grandparents and aunties. Eeeeeee!
We’ll leave in the morning – so today, we’ve been getting ready. In all of the usual ways. Digging out the clothes we’ll need, dusting off the boogie boards, packing the sunscreen, choosing which books to take, making sure we have enough clean knickers, bottling roasted tomatoes, sewing promised pyjama pants for Nanny, making quilted lampshades, cleaning out the rabbit and chicken houses, shopping for extra forks and spoons, whipping up a batch of fruit mince tarts for Grandad, pinning out a finished quilt top, stencilling tshirts for Oscar and Sam … you know, all of the essential stuff that simply must be done before we can hop in the car.
:: the daughter was dragged out of bed bright and early (10am) & we hit the shops for tshirts, cutlery, a bookish present for tonight, fabric (one always needs fabric)
& fresh mulch for the rabbit and chickens
… this involved bribing her with brunch at BreadTop ::
This wee dance, which can last up to 20 minutes, is how Abby has to begin the job of cleaning the rabbit house because Fu knows what we are planning
the minute the thought crosses our minds & “cooperation”
is simply NOT in her vocabulary ::
:: whilst Abby shovels, I quilt.
That’s fair, isn’t it? Of course it is :-) ::
:: there were two lampshades to make … almost identical,
to sit on Nanny & Grandad’s bedside tables.
Did it occur to me to sew just one 12 inch lampshade quilt
& then slice it in half horizontally?
Not until I’d started the second one (forehead smack) ::
:: we finish together, me sitting in the garden chair in front
of the rabbit house, glue & pegs by my side.
Her, spreading mulch & giving Miss Hinchcliffe
plenty of cuddles before we leave ::
:: & before I finish bottling those tomatoes … a quick test of the lampshade
… oh yes, they work just fine ::
Now, if you’ll just excuse me, I have a bit more to do before hitting the sack. We’ll see how much gets done and how much just gets shoved into a bag to be enjoyed in Merimbula :-)
Huh? She’s fifteen, when does she nap?
In the morning of course :-) For hours and hours and hours. My eyes pop open and body stretches around 6am every morning. It’s truly an effort to stay in bed past 7am. Besides, I love the freshness of the new morning – the light, the soft air, the amazing promise a new day offers. She sleeps through it, without a murmur.
And – it’s the holidays – so there’s no breakfasts to cook, lunches to prepare, school runs to make, classes to attend, essays to write … Whilst the teenager naps til 11am, it is unadulterated me time. Bliss :-)
I linger over my coffee, knit a few more rounds, mosey on out to the sewing shed, add some more rows to the seagull blocks, put the sleeves in my new dress. Back inside, put on the washing, tidy the family room, make the bed. Back outside, water the garden, gather the skirt, cut out the final corner squares, cut up some more strips of lawn. Back inside, hunt through the lace box for just the right piece, pick through the buttons for the perfect ones. Such a productive time. Just like when she was a tiny wee thing, and those few precious hours of respite/napping a day filled me with energy and enthusiasm for all the non-mothering things I could squeeze in.
These days, when she’s finally up, we sit at the kitchen table together and over brunch, plan the afternoon ahead. Its just as blissful in its busy mama-daughter way. This afternoon, however, a friend is over. I can hear them laughing and shrieking and chattering – it’s nonstop. Music to mama-ears. So there’s been even more stitching …
I’ve been channelling my inner Geena Davis a la Beetlejuice. One of our family favourites – Jules loves the revolting antics of Michael Keaton, Abby admires the gothic cynicism of Winona. Me? I watch it for Geena Davis’ dress – and the wallpaper, and the teeny tiny model of their town. But mostly her dress. I loooooooove her dress.
Of course, the down side to teenage napping is that the teenager is still perky and energised at 11pm, wanting to know what we are going to do next. Do I want to watch a movie? Do I feel like helping her with this sewing project. Are you for real!? I’m exhausted and ready for bed!
Oh sure! She says, I’ll come and chat to you in there. And so she does. Relaxed and lively at the same time. Filling my sleepy head with descriptions of characters I’ve never met, plans for new drawings, ideas for what we can do tomorrow. My replies become slower and more nonsensical and after a while, she gives up on me and heads off to her bedroom where she occupies herself til the wee hours.
And then it all begins again. Oh I do love the summer holidays.
In this new year, I’ve decided that our Sundays should be slow.
Lovely, creative, even full … but slow. No rushing to get things finished. No hurtling from one end of town to the other. No frantically squeezing in the impossible before Monday comes around again. No catching up on housework, homework, nursing work. Kind and thoughtful words only. No demands on each other’s time. No guilt. Slow and gentle.
There’s but three weeks until Abby’s new school year commences, that means three weeks until babysitting starts up again. Six weeks until university goes back – and oh, it’s going to be such a full year – acute care, preliminary and advanced. Long, intense placements in busy acute care hospitals. As for Julian – well, he works so hard all year round.
Already, I feel a bit daunted. Not ready for such busyness. How has the long summer break begun to disappear already? :sigh:
So …. Sundays should be … need to be slow. Wake up slowly, share a slow and peaceful breakfast. Potter about our home, giving ourselves time to recharge after the previous week, a long and lovely day to exhale before the new week begins. A day in which we look after each other. Enjoy each other. Allow ourselves to move gracefully into the demands of the new week. Not in a panic that oh-my-god it’s here again already.
We practiced today – just Abby and I (Julian’s away for a few days) – and we did okay. We could do better. We have another couple of Sundays to practice – to tweak this slowness. Figure out how best to plan ahead for slow.
I think it will be good. A bit like landing on Free Parking when the Monopoly board is full of hotels and greedy landlords. A moment to go “phew!”
… slow and steady – completing another step on an ongoing costume project – blue sleeves.
… pottering along with slowly building quilt blocks and coming up with a workable bodice pattern.
… a simple dinner put together with those ingredients that are at hand, that require very little preparation, and produce very little washing up.
… a peaceful evening – our favourite distractions accompanied by some delightful BBC drama.
What do you think? Do you need to build some slow into your weekends? Are you already doing it? Let me know how you do it – how you would like to do it – how it works for your family.
Yesterday morn, before being completely won over with excitement at my drop waisted dress, I was actually cutting out a new sun frock for Abby. We found this darling apple fabric – 100% cotton lightweight drill – at Spotlight.
I’ve not previously been a huge fan of Spotlight – the quality of their fabric was never that great, the selection was limited and my suspicions regarding their business model were reinforced the day a manager in a Brisbane store told me (she was clearly having a bratty day) that “No we don’t sell the canvas for needlepoint nor will we ever be selling it. We don’t care that one is pretty useless without the other, we simply sell the DMC wools cheaply in order to put the small competition out of business and when that goal is achieved, we (spotlight) will reduce our stocklines to the basic cheap and easily moved items.” I was floored to say the least. And cross and depressed, given how many independent embroidery stores Brisbane had lost by that stage – the very reason I was in Spotlight.
However, this year has seen quite a revolution at Spotlight – our two closest stores – Carnegie and Moorabbin – have delightful staff and the dress fabrics have been plentiful and gorgeous. There’s not a visit goes by that I don’t fall in love with at least 10 different fabrics. Their Japanese lawn is exquisite and they’ve had the Denise Schmidt patchwork fabric – yum! One of my Spotlight “friends” tells me they have a new buyer and that the staff are all freshly inspired and excited both by what he’s brought in and how much it has pleased the customers.
Anyways – back to the apples. Yet more lovely fabric which Abby thought was charming and requested some. So’s we didn’t end up with two metres of fabric that just lurked about the cupboards for months on end, I made her trawl through the pattern books and find a piece of clothing she’d like made up in the apples – this is her choice. Quick, cute and versatile. Perfect for the hot days we are currently sweltering through and it will look wonderful, come the cooler weather, with a turtleneck or collared blouse underneath and thick tights. As you can see – Abby practically glows in the dark she’s so pale, so she donned a wee cardie to keep the sun off her shoulders – sensible child that she is.
And now – she and Jules are off to Momoku – a local Japanese cafe they visit each Saturday for lunch. It’s their thing. Me – I’m sitting down to a large bowl of chopped up watermelon, feta and olives (thanks Nigella!) and then … maybe some knitting, maybe some patchwork, maybe I’ll make a start on the lilac dress.
But first I think I might vacuum – then, no matter what comes after, I shall feel oh so virtuous. Yes, that’s a good plan.
It’s so hot. So so so so so so hot. When we step out into the sun, we are assaulted by gusty winds that feel like a giant hairdryer. Everything is parched. Apparently it’s the beginning of a hot dry summer – the like of which we’ve not seen for four years. Ugh!
So … we went in search of air conditioning. Cheap airconditioning ( do you know how much we paid for two adults and one child to go see the Hobbit at the regular cinema the other day – $56! – that’s not cheap airconditioning). The kind where there’s plenty of comfy spots to sit and knit whilst the children play.
Yes, we went back to Ikea. Our favourite hot day haunt. And I wore my new drop waisted dress that I stitched up this morning in the sewing shed, in my underwear, with the fan blowing full tilt on me.
I used a white linen blouse I bought from the opshop ($4) and plucked off the washing line this morning – crisply fried in the hot sun – for the bodice. All it needed were the side waist splits undoing and sewing back up as part of the side seams. I then chopped off the narrow hem – couldn’t be fagged unpicking it – too hot!
Then I added two rows of gathering thread to the most glorious piece of fabric that my mother has been carting around for 30 years. I have nagged her incessantly for it, for the last 10. She was never going to use it herself. Nor is it anything like what she usually wears whereas it had Lily stamped all over it. Finally, she gave in (I think perhaps, she was just sick of listening to me whine and sick of trying to find storage space for her fabric) and I GOT IT! Ha!
I sewed it on to the bottom edge of the white bodice. Then cut a sash – two full widths of 8 1/2 inches wide from a gorgeous piece of Japanese lawn – folded it in half, mitred the ends, sewed it up, left a small gap, turned it out the right way and gave it a good press. Then I carefully pinned it onto the bodice where it meets the gathered skirt and top stitched it down – top and bottom – leaving a few inches at each end so that I could tie it.
It’s so soft and floaty and comfy. Perfect for a dreadfully hot day. And pleases my 1980s sensibilities no end. I’ve come to understand that the fashion that truly stays with you forever is the one you fell heavily in love with as a demented teenager. I adored – and still do! – the dresses of that era and my Mum and Aunty Anne made me so many pretty ones. As for the sash – why the ’80s were the era of the Liberty sash – we wore them with everything! I even wore a fabulous red floral one with navy linen shorts, a white polo shirt and navy leather deckshoes – terribly smart. I probably even added a strand of pearls and my great grandfather’s silver fob chain :-) Ooooh and have you seen the other revival back in the stores – coloured leather deck shoes! They are identical to the ones I wore in 1986. I was so tickled to see them again, I almost forewent the grocery shopping and bought myself a pair ;-)
Yes, if it’s going to be a hot dry summer, there is nothing more appropriate to wear than a soft, loose, cotton or linen drop waisted dress. Now, where’s that lilac coloured blouse I’ve not worn for years … and I promise not to buy any deck shoes.
We never did give you a good look at the finished birthday armchair. So, on this dreadfully hot day (40 degrees celsius – ugh!), since we were going that way, we decided to take the armchair back to its site of adoption for a wee photo shoot.
Yep, here we are – on the nature strip of Dandenong Road / Princes Highway. Miles from the city. Where the trucks roar past and the view is bleak. (No girl children or crazy mamas were endangered at any time during this photo shoot – we were parked in the parallel, one-way, dead-end service street.)
This is one of my favourite hard rubbish finds (I always say that, don’t I!). Despite it’s rather hideous dark olive green vinyl cover, it was in beautiful condition when I picked it up. It had clearly been very well made. Once the original vinyl was off, the materials and workmanship underneath were impeccable and thus, very easy to work with. I saved the original metal label and reattached it when I was finished – Van Treight – furniture of distinction – gorgeous! I think they were based in Sydney – the label on the bottom declares this to be a Visitor’s Chair.
I did an upholstery course when Abby was a toddler. Every Saturday morning, for a whole year, I traipsed along to a local trade college where I rebuilt a genoa armchair (one of those armchairs from the 1930s with hugely fat, rounded arms). With the help of a marvellous tutor – Ian, a retired master upholsterer – I learnt how to sew in springs, put in webbing, build an arm, seat and back with the traditional layers of material, make my own piping and attach it, button backs, to upholster first a “petticoat” of calico, then the special fabric on top.
I learnt that you can NEVER pull the fabric too tightly. That I always left too much fabric behind when I attached a piece – Ian would hack it back without mercy. That if you can’t see it, use scraps of whatever happens to be laying around – thrift is the name of the game. That if you start with a sow’s ear, you will end up with a sow’s ear no matter how much effort and money you put in. And tack, tack, tack, tack, tack … and then tack some more. We had air pressured staple guns – woot! Were they empowering or what! I really loved the course, and whilst I know I don’t have the skills, expertise or experience to pull off something like a genoa by myself, the more I have practiced over the years, and the more I push myself, the better I get. Every piece of fabric I cut or staple, I can see Ian standing beside me, exhorting me to do better, try harder. He was awesome.
It is such a comfy chair – it sits in Abby’s room, under her window. She spends hours sitting in it, reading or drawing. Often, at night, it becomes Julian’s or my chair, we sit beside her before she falls asleep and she tells as all about her day, or the latest book she’s read, or anime she’s found, or drawing she’s finished. Or we read – sometimes aloud, sometimes parent and child just reading their own thing in companionable silence.
As for cost – the fabric was reduced to $5 a metre at Spotlight and I only used two – what a find! The tacks were less than $5. A new cushion for the seat (the old had DEFINITELY been peed on) was about $40 – I bought a really good quality upholstery/memory foam from Clarke Rubber which the young man meticulously cut in the required wedge shape. The rest of the supplies were things we had around the house – thrifted blanket for the petticoat – gives it such a smooth finish – staples, covered buttons, red flannel, strong crochet yarn, and a random piece of cardboard to give the top edge at the back a lovely sharp line.
An absolute gem – and a much loved birthday present. One that I hope Abby will enjoy for years and years and years to come.
Oh, I do so love hard rubbish! Such a shame there were none of our birthday chair’s relations there today! (Julian’s wiping his brow with relief :-)
Call me silly, but over these long summer holidays I walk into my kitchen and the busyness of the day is spread out across our table and it just looks so pretty and engaging that I get a little thrill about the loveliness of our days at home together. There’s our afternoon cup of tea – with the cosied teapot putting out steaming cups half an hour after the first. The River Cottage Preserves book – looking for a little guidance on how best to proceed with my 6 kilos of roasted tomatoes. There’s the needlefelters from earlier in the morning, a lily-designed needlepoint I dug out of a bag and am quite delighted with – just need some more wool to continue, and the perle thread box. And – Abby’s Christmas sneakers.
Yes, Mum will testify, I truly thought I could start and finish these on Christmas Eve. Yep, I did. Did I meet this ridiculous goal? No, I didn’t. There’s a big surprise. But today was the perfect day for a post-Christmas finish. With that afternoon cup of tea at my side, I plonked down in our very aromatic kitchen, wielded the embroidery needle, and man! They turned out cute as!
I must confess, the paint didn’t adhere to the sneakers very well – no matter how many coats I applied, it just kept vanishing. Julian wisely pointed out that they would have a ton of sizing on them – water proofing and all. Ha! So the mushroom colours were not as vivid as I had expected, given previous success with tshirts.
However, once I added the embroidery – especially the wee strands of grass – I think the mushrooms really came to life. As for the girlie’s response – I know I’m onto a winner when she says, as she ties the laces – “These are so cool! Can we buy another pair of coloured sneakers and paint Meeku (Japanese vocaloid) on them!”
Why mushrooms? Seems teenage girls – especially those into cutesy-Scandi-Japanese stuff are really into mushrooms. They also look sweet with the folk from Moominvalley. Which can be seen below … the birthday t-shirts. More freezer paper stencilling and a wee bit of embroidery.
Firstly – Snufkin … Abby’s hoping to costplay as Snufkin later in the year. That’s a costume that’s going to take a lot of mama’s time and ingenuity. Until then, I rather love the tshirt and would like one for myself …
And Little My (yes, our dear old guinea pig was named after this chaotic & diminutive madwoman). It was fun using two colours – nothing fancy, just had to keep a very steady hand – heightened my desire to learn how to screen print. Oh what fun we could have with screen printing!
Little My and Snufkin both lent themselves to the silhouette style of freezer paper stencilling – their shapes are so distinctive. I thought the Hattifatteners would turn out really well too – then, as I visualised the finished product – I realised I would be painting my teenage daughter a tshirt that would look like it was covered in c*nd*ms with funny hands. Y-e-e-e-e-s. Not quite the dress code I encourage :-0 Haven’t yet tried Moomintroll – I think he would just turn out looking rather blobby. Hmmmm … needs more thought.
So there you go. The birthday tshirts and finished sneakers. I’m so lucky and glad that my girlie still loves the handmade.
This is the tangle of yarn that tumbles out of one of my cupboards when I open it. It is buttery soft Twilley’s Freedom that has lived there, in a tangle, since I tried crocheting it into a chevron stripe rug. Do you know how many rows of a chevron stripe rug you can crochet out of a single ball of Twilley’s Freedom? One. It would have cost almost as much as Abby’s yearly school fees to pursue a queen bed size chevron stripe crochet rug in this yarn. I abandoned it.
This is my teapot. It would be ever so nice to be able to tell you that I always make my tea in a teapot – one that has sat warming whilst the kettle boiled, a fine bone china cup by its side. But that would be a dreadful lie. Abby and I almost always share a teabag – we both like it weak. But this morning – no teabags. And yet – lots of tins of tea – gifts from family and friends who clearly assume I make my tea in a teapot.
This morning – no choice. The tea was made in the teapot and muchly enjoyed. However, before I got to the bottom of all that tea, it went cold. Such a shame! There were three good cups in there. Thus – the tangle of yarn.
Out came the trusty crochet hook – I chained until it fit, joined it in the round and added another row of single crochets for a snug collar.
Then continued adding rows of single crochets with increases as needed – stitch, stitch, increase, stitch, stitch, increase – and so on. To start with, most rows were yanked out and stitched again – needed to get my bearings and all. And despite crossing my toes (fingers otherwise occupied), the orange didn’t make it and had to be ripped out. Hmph! Such a shame.
Never mind – plenty of blues and greys and just enough pink for a bit of liveliness. When I reached the sharp curve back in at the bottom – stitch, stitch, decrease, stitch, stitch, decrease – and so on. And a bit more yanking out and redoing. Crochet is so forgiving.
Didn’t really look like much when I’d finished – specially where the funny hole was for the handle. But a quick bit of needlefelting changed that …
Ta-da! A teapot cosy – specially made for my teapot which has never conformed to the many teapot cosy patterns I’ve bought over the years. When confronted with that enticing Ravelry screen, I never remember the shape of my teapot. Of course, such forgetfulness (stupidity?) would be easily remedied by a quick trip to the kitchen, but that always seems like too much effort when flaked out on the sofa.
And I like how it kind of hooks up to go over the handle – adds a dash of something.
Might just inspire me to use up the tea leaves after all and give those teabags, with their ludicrous amount of packaging, a rest. I shall give the cosied teapot a test run this afternoon with a thick wodge of Christmas cake and butter and let you know ;-)
… the colour of love & happiness
… of my favourite foods, my favourite sunsets, my favourite fabrics
… of my newly received and much loved sandals, sunglasses and kettle (thank you sweet indulgent family :-)
… symbolising, on this first day of the year, a new year filled with love, happy times and the sharing of good, wholesome meals – including 9 litres of roasted tomato and lentil soup – mmmhmm … especially for those late autumn and winter evenings when we are all too tired to cook!
To the lovely friends and family who stop by here each day, may 2013 bring the same blessings to you … along with a good helping of that of which you dream.
I love red.