much trebling :: a Granny Christmas Bauble

one

It all started here.  Wondering what I’d get if I didn’t add any increases to a granny circle.  A-ha!  A granny bowl.  A very wee granny bowl.  It sat so prettily upon the table.  It was a jewel like jelly fish washed up on the sand.  A very pretty jelly wobbling on a fine china plate.  A limpet covering the low tide rocks with a floral carpet – oh I can’t wait til the summer holidays – Abby and Julian, I’ll need your help!

Or it could be half a Christmas bauble.  Oh yes.  I could definitely see Christmas bauble potential.  So, instead of rising from my desk and doing some of the sewing that awaits me on the kitchen table, I gathered my balls of cotton and began more trebling.

blues bowl how it begins

I do declare, choosing the colours to put together is such fun.  And they rarely turn out exactly as I think they will.  Well actually, I can’t really picture the finished combination when I start so as I finish I find myself thinking “oh that’s what you are – you’re so pretty” or “really?  hmmmm …. “.  Funny enough, when I show my family and ask which ones they like best, they almost always like the ones I’m not so fussed on.  Goes to show.  One person’s perfect cup of tea is another person’s dishwater.  Or something like that.

like a bo-peep biscuit elephant orange fingers

Now it was obvious that there needed to be two of each little granny limpet.  But true to Lily form, after hooking up the first two, I dedicated the rest of the day to making the first half of each bauble.  Because it was fun.

two

Until I had a wee pile of granny limpets.  By this stage, they made me think of patchworked echinacea.  So because my lawn has no spring bulbs shooting and summer flowers are a long way off,  I planted my limpets, just to see if they could indeed have a floral future – and they so could!  Wouldn’t they be so sweet lining a garden path for a birthday party!  You’d have to finish them off properly with a felted wool ball for the echinacea head, and have them firmly attached to the stick.  With a couple of felt leaves embroidered with the names of the party guests – then they could pick theirs and take it home as a party favour.  Much better than lollies.  Oh my goodness Abby – have another birthday party dear!  A flower fairy party.  What?  You’re 17 this year and flower fairies just aren’t your thing any more?  That doesn’t matter nearly as much as indulging your mother’s fancies!

wee bundle in my gatden beige red and yellow amongst the weeds

Sigh.  Well, despite it being a FABULOUS idea and I SHALL do it one day – for myself if needs be – these limpets are destined for more jolly things.  And so I stitched their shells together – turned them into ocarinas it did – and stuffed them with fleece.  Now there was a brief interlude when the first one – the yellow centred one below – had a crocheted yellow border finishing it off.  And it was as irritating as the chicken pox.  It just didn’t sit right and I confess, I was disappointed with the effect and cursing as I fetched Abby from school.  I’ve spent all day making these bloody things and there’s six of them and now I don’t really love them.

But when I got home, ripped that yellow off, and SEWED the two shells together with the same thread as the final border …. oh.  The chicken pox feeling cleared up immediately and I was much pleased.  I also changed the pattern slightly from the first yellow centred one.  It had chained spaces between the granny clusters – which made for a slightly floppsy integrity.  So they’re gone – making my limpets much tighter and more bauble like.

ready

facing swinging in the breeze swinging blue bauble front and side
red in the tree blue in the tree on the bench

I am very excited about this pattern – I hope to make many more – for our tree, for Nanny and Grandad, for Abby’s school teachers, for Mum to take to family in Vancouver at Christmas … I think they’ll make marvellous little presents.  Quick to crochet.  Frugal with the yarn.  Just right.

And I did announce, via Instagram, that the pattern would be here tonight.  But it isn’t.  Sorry.  I have written out all the instructions but I would like to take several more photographs to illustrate some of the more difficult-to-describe-in-writing steps.  And put it together really nicely as a proper pattern you could print off with my “pint of cream” details.  So that will happen tomorrow when there’s plenty of light to take nice, clear photos and I can coerce Abby into helping me with the layout.  Hope that’s okay and you didn’t have your yarn and hook ready and waiting.  Yeah right :-)

I also had a rather good idea involving some little secret bits to put inside … you’ll see.

the drawing satchel – a sale!

material

Thankfully, my people sleep in.  No matter what exciting things are planned for the day ahead – even CHRISTMAS DAY – my people sleep in.  This used to annoy me.  Then I realised just how very useful it is to have a good 2, if not 3 hours up my sleeve in the morning before they stagger out to the kitchen, ESPECIALLY when there is something special about to happen (ahhhh last minute present making!)

Cue last Saturday – the day of our birdwatching adventure to Phillip Island.  Now, we’d only decided to do this the previous Monday breakfast after Abby had described the amazingly gregarious bird with a face like a parrot, the neck of a goose, the long legs of an emu and a fat, fat body that followed them around everywhere on school camp.  Thankfully, you can type this exact description into Google and it takes less than 2 seconds to tell you “that’s a Cape Barren Goose!”  They sounded so marvellous and their history since white settlement so incredible, I just had to see them for myself.

That gave me five days prep.  Five days to do a bit more research – during which I discovered Phillip Island is brilliant for all kinds of bird watching.  Five days to find some thrifted binoculars, plan and prepare a picnic, gathering drawing supplies, and make each of us a drawing satchel.  Now at this point, a non-sewist might say “Make drawing satchels!  Silly Lily, just chuck the stuff in the picnic basket”.  But a fellow sewist will say “Ah!  Of course!  Why not make a drawing satchel” :-)

However, I didn’t buy the fabric until Friday evening.  Which meant my drawing satchel production looked a wee bit doomed.  Until you factor in the sleeping-in habits of my people.  I’m up between 6.30 and 7.00 most mornings, so that gave me three hours to sip my tea, plan my bags, make Julian’s as the test run (he’s a boy, he doesn’t notice these things) and then whip up Abby’s and mine.

Which I did.  The design worked a treat (with minimal unpicking on Julian’s) and the satchels proved both useful and beautiful – the required test for anything made in Bootville :-)  In mine, I carried my drawing pad, a very dense little book of Australian birds, pencils, rubber and phone.  Abby managed to fit in half her desk … her laptop, 3 novels, drawing pad, pencil case, pencils, pens, phone, doll …

will it work done lift the flap

[ Julian's - the prototype - has a three slot pencil holder.
The revised design includes a five slot pencil holder
]

closeup abby's three bags amazing what she fitted in

So because it was so much fun making them, and they were even nicer to use, and could be used for all kinds of things (as Abby proved), and only used half the fabric I purchased, I made three more.  Which I am offering for sale through my shoplocket app in the right hand tool bar of block-a-day.

All three have a sturdy 100% cotton duck outer and are fully lined (body, flap and front pocket) with a contrasting 100% cotton poplin.  The strap is constructed with 4 layers with a reinforcing top stitch and 3 rows of stitching sandwiching it between the outer,  lining and flap layers – making it very durable. It is long enough to be worn over the shoulder for adults and across the chest for children.   The front pocket is designed to hold standard sized pencils and pens and the large pocket on the right is useful for rubbers, sharpeners and phones.  The flap is designed to cover the front of the bag completely, keeping the front pocket safe.

The price is US$14.  I will post worldwide.  Shipping is extra (currently calculated at regular post – registered, i.e. signed for on delivery will be extra) and will be added during the checkout process.

I have tried and tried to find a feature on shoplocket that allows the customer to add a note.  But have failed.  So please – in order to select which colourway you would like, please send me an email on the top of your order through shoplocket.  There are currently three satchels available -one in each colourway – but if the sale is successful I will cheerfully make more so please do enquire.

Let me see, what shall we call the colourways – the Olive Waves (lined with vanilla pigs on a chocolate background), the Navy Kanji (lined with winter white with a teeny black dot), and the Blue/Grey Birds (lined with blue and little bit multicoloured repeating scale pattern).

a glimpse of the liningSo there you have it!  The drawing satchel – handmade by Lily Boot – for all kinds of folk who like to be prepared!  Buy yours today!

a wee Christmas present for my blockaday readers …

{ The Tomten Christmas Band, copyright 2011 A Pint of Cream }

I’ve been squeezing Christmas cross stitch time in between all the other busyness that is our lives at the moment.  It began with the realisation, back in Bootville, that I couldn’t find our Christmas stockings and that, in fact, I hadn’t been able to find them last year either.  Hmmm … I do wonder whether “moving” ever truly finishes!

So, the day before we left Brisbane, after collecting Abby from school, I dragged her along to Amitie with the promise of a Bagelicious smoothie once I had picked out fabric and trim to whip up four new stockings.  Three for us, and one for Mum who has never had a Christmas stocking.  Disappointingly for Abby, Jenny, Judy and I chatted and ooohed and aaahed over the new Sue Spargo ribbon for so long that Bagelicious had closed by the time we got there (never mind, we had frozen raspberries and bananas and yoghurt at home so we made our own smoothies) but I did come home with a clutch of loveliness for the stockings.

I began stitching straight away – all will be simple stockings in lovely coloured linens with natural linen linings, each topped with different and gorgeous bands of Sue, a 4 inch strip of cross stitched linen and a wee trim of lace (from Nana Nicky’s lace suitcase – yep! lace suitcase).  All who observed my feverish stitching noted that the missing stockings were sure to turn up once I had made these new stockings.  And guess what – as I whipped out the bottom drawer on a wardrobe at Mum’s, just before the removalists were about to carry it out to the truck, there were the missing stockings.  :sigh:

But like the Father Christmas quilt, I have now made such good progress on Mum’s and Julian’s (remember – Mum has no stocking and Julian’s is very impersonal) that I’ve decided they simply must be finished in time to hang from the chimney with care.

For Mum’s cross stitched band I used a Danske Julemotiver pattern – the only alteration were the colour choices and the addition of an “A” for Alayne in between my sweet Christmas girlies.

For Julian’s, I got a lot more carried away with the basic pattern in the above leaflet – and ended up working up my own pattern on the computer.  Which is what I have included christmas tomtem band pdf 2 here for you.

{ The Tomten Christmas Band, copyright 2011 A Pint of Cream }

I know, I know, I know … it’s Christmas in less than a week.  But surely I’m not the only silly billy who’s still cheerfully plugging away with her needle.  Perhaps you have a last minute stocking, or a Christmas apron or tea towel or gift bag that needs trimming :-)

It’s sweetly simple and quick to stitch and it’s here for you as a Christmas gift from me.  So, while I’m unpacking boxes and downloading furniture – oops!  arranging furniture! (moving has made my brain go soft – can’t tell you how many times I’ve thought in the last week, “never mind, I’ll just hit edit undo!”) – you can plonk down by the fire or snuggle up in bed or on the sofa with a hot cocoa, or stretch out on the verandah in a nice cool breeze with an iced tea with plenty of ice (depending on what’s going down in your neighbourhood at this time of year) and stitch up some Christmas loveliness.

And think of me.  Sweating and grimy.  With my sore hips and aching back.  WISHING I was sitting in that lovely spot with that lovely drink stitching some Christmas loveliness :-)

Enjoy dear folk!

p.s. please remember that this is an original design and is available for individual use only.  Please do not reproduce or use for commercial purposes.  Ta!

p.p.s. when I tried out the link for the pattern it came up enormous and I had to shrink it (using that command – thingy) and there it was perfect.  hope you can work it out :-)

 

a gift for you this weekend

That is, a give away for everyone!

Abby’s been home with a cold for the last two days and we’ve been indulging in our favourite cosy pursuits – drawing, stitching, watching Agatha Christie films, Stardust & Princess Bride (they always go together) and reading.

One of the books we rediscovered was Ursula Le Guin’s A Ride on the Red Mare’s Back - so spooky and enchanting.  With beautiful illustrations and a hefty dose of Swedish folklore.  Which inspired a new cross stitch – The Red Mare.

If you have not had the delight of reading Ms. Le Guin’s wonderful tale, you may have met the Red Mare (or Dala Horse) at Ikea!  We look at the large – are they papier mache or wooden? – statues positioned around the store each time we visit and wonder whether we could charm a sales assistant into letting us squish one into our handbag – ’cause they never have them for sale!

So here you are … for all you Red Mare / Dala Horse lovers … The Red Mare cross stitch with a pretty nordic border and flowers.  I have included the instructions I put in with my other designs (available here) for those of you that haven’t tried cross stitch before but would love to give it a go.  It’s very simple and once you start, so very hard to stop!

Click on the red link below to download your PDF …

The Red Mare Cross Stitch Pattern and Instructions

I’m busy stitching mine up this evening – I’m half way through the mare’s body – and plan to applique it onto a denim tote I would like to sew up this weekend – it’s been on the drawing board for months and I’m hopeful that this sweet embroidery will be the kick in the butt I need to get sewing.

I also think it would look lovely as a needlepoint stuffed toy.  Abby wanted me to do that this afternoon but I had no red embroidery wool in the book box size box I have full of embroidery wool – every shade of blue and brown and green you could imagine with the odd skein of ecru and pink floating about but no crisp, fire engine red.  How could that be? Hmm … that just means a trip to the embroidery store.  What a shame :-)

If you have any questions, please email me.  And please remember, this is an original cross stitch pattern and I would ask that you do not sell the pattern or any finished cross stitches you make.  Thanks :-)

I do wish you a lovely weekend and many hours of cosy stitching!

 

a few books and some (more!) cross stitch

There’s a new cross stitch in the shopOn An Autumn Lake.  Thank you so much for your lovely words and support for my little shop and its cross stitches – you have truly made my week :-)  I am so very grateful.

I have truly laboured over this cross stitch – it took me hours and hours to get the border and cornerpieces just right.  As for those trees – oy!  But so very satisfying.  My favourite part – I love the house, yet another one I’d move into in a flash!  And the wee people – I love cross stitching people … I’ve been making up some brooches with their faces and will hopefully have them ready for show later this week.  Along with some linen hand towels that have bands of cross stitch using the borders.  So many good things calling for my time.

And then there’s the reading.  I have to confess … since the bookstore closed, I haven’t visited another (bookstore that is).  I feel a bit over bookstores.  But I do have the family ipad and I’ve been buying all my reading matter as ebooks.  Eeeeek!  Part of me feels unbelievably guilty for doing this, but another part feels quite rebellious.  The book industry – not the retailers, but the publishers – has screwed the Australian consumer royally and frankly, I’m happy for them to take it in the neck for a while.  But we won’t dwell on that – let’s just talk books.

Since The Help and The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks (both amazing and heartbreaking) I’ve plowed my way through Cutting for Stone, Mudbound and This is Where I Leave You.  Three utterly different books.

Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese – unbelievably good.  Oh my! This man is a poet – a magical weaver of words.  It reminded me a wee we bit of Captain Corelli’s Mandolin in that its setting and history – Ethiopa – was almost completely unknown to me (in CCM it was first half of the 20th century Greece).  My only exposure to Ethiopa has been what I’ve seen on the news – violence and starvation – and a tiny glimpse of its beautiful mountains and animals in a recent BBC documentary on the Great Rift Valley.  Well!  There is obviously so much more to this ancient and beautiful country than that – the Emperor Hailie Salassie, the Christian church, the relationship between Ethiopa and the Italians and Ethiopa and Eritrea, the expatriate community – especially the Indian community.  The medical aspect of it is fascinating – I suppose I have a bit of a bias towards this because of my current study, but I lapped up every page describing surgeries and clinics and patients – awesome detail.  And the characters are incredible – I feel so very attached to them and feel the need to look back at certain chapters every day, so as to see them again.  They are so complex, many of them so generous and loving, the twins as teenagers – so very real, sometimes positively grating, other times breathtaking.  It was a HUGE story, every page captivating and beautifully written … You must simply must, must, must read it. What’s it about?  A family.  Love.  Loyalty.  Civil War.  Death.  But above all, love.

Mudbound by Hillary Jordan – totally different.  Almost more like a play than a novel – I could imagine it being read on the radio.  Set immediately post world war 2 in the Mississipi farming Delta.  Told through the voices of several of the characters – a white farmer, his wife, a black sharecropper farmer, his wife, their son – a tank commander who’s recently returned from fighting in Europe, the brother of the white farmer – a bomber pilot who’s also recently returned from Europe … I think that’s it.  Again, very good writing – Jordan does a beautiful job at showing rather than telling.  But heartbreaking injustice.  Really, really infuriating.  I couldn’t say it was one of those novels that have altered how I look at the world (Cutting for Stone has!) because there was little in the content that I haven’t read before.  But the very personal way the story is told, from all those different viewpoints – each one so very, very enmeshed in what is happening, but each in a different way – is what makes it a brilliant book and very deserving of its Bellwether Prize (for contribution to social justice).

After Cutting for Stone and (especially) Mudbound I needed something a little lighter – enter Jonathon Tropper’s This is Where I Leave You.  Oh my goodness.  Very, very entertaining.  Laugh out loud moments.  But also full of poignancy and wistfulness, of lives of promise that weren’t lived, and relationships that were allowed to wither and falter (and quite a bit of sex – it’s definitely not for the prudish).  It’s not at all preachy, and the main character has plenty of flaws – they all do! – but they are so real and quirky that you can’t help but warm to them (there’s even a moment where I thought, oh he’s not that bad about a man who had behaved ATROCIOUSLY!!!! – I smacked myself and got over that!) and think “Oh come on!  Try again! You can do it!”  An awesome story of family and love and love lost.  I enjoyed it so much I’m now reading an earlier Tropper novel, How to Talk to a Widower.

*sigh*  Now there are dishes to be done, family to go and join, school shirts to wash … so I shall love you and leave you for now.

the current bliss

there are cotton cloths, scribbled with colourful cross stitch on almost every surface of our home.

no matter how much care I think I’m taking, sweetpea keeps finding skeins of embroidery floss and bringing them to me … after she’s finished her version of embroidery.  This ususally involves one end of the skein being wrapped around the legs of the table in the living room, and the rest of the skein dragged through the house to me at my desk.

I am so utterly besotted with my cross stitch at the moment.  As I move through our days, cooking, washing, cleaning, sitting on the train, walking between lectures, studying, I catch my mind playing with colour combinations – should I have used 453 for the shading of that eye or would 842 have looked better?  Should the side borders of the autumn lake picture have acorns or fish?

And then, during the blissful hours I set aside for working on my patterns, I am so very focussed, creating shapes on the computer, trying out colour after colour after colour of orange for the blaze of autumn foliage, or the right shade of rosy pink for the cheek.

As for the houses … this is perhaps my favourite part of the pattern .. I just imagine all the different houses I would love to live in.  They always have an attic – with bedrooms of course – and they are always full of colour.  Mmmm … I love building houses.  I can’t wait until the day Julian and I get to build our own home with real wood and real paint on real land.  It would be lovely if it was indeed by a lake, or overlooking the sea.  As long as my family are there and there’s grass and trees and sunlight outside, I’ll be happy.  Well, and lots of colour.

Then I rush back to the cloth, grab my needle and try the combination I’ve just settled on.  Sometimes, it’s a surprise, but most times, these dmc colours have become such friends over the last 22 years that I once I lay my stitches on my cloth, the image peeks out at me so sweetly that I have to jump up and go find Abby or Julian to show them.

Once, after sewing up countless pillowcases for Christmas presents, I said I wanted to be a pillowcase maker when I grew up.  I’ve changed my mind.

I want to make cross stitched pictures.

 

they’re done! they’re done!

Today, the fourth day of August 2011, I bring you …

This is my new shop and the name all my patterns and goodies will be sold under.  Abby and Julian are responsible for my logo – I’m so thrilled with it!

And here are the first two patterns … (if you click on the pattern cover, it will take you to its etsy page)

This cross stitch pattern combines my love of stitching with my favourite childhood books and my dear little dachshund Toph. As a girl, there was nothing I enjoyed more than curling up with “A Secret Garden” by Frances Hodgson Burnett, “Anne of Green Gables” by L. M. Montgomery and “Alice in Wonderland” by Lewis Carroll.

In “Hidden in the Garden” I have popped “Anne” into one of her favourite dresses – one with puffed sleeves! – and set her down, with Toph and the magical key, in front of the almost hidden door to a beautiful secret garden. The robin sits atop the wall, inviting them in with his song. And the words of Dickon, the Yorkshire lad and Mary Lennox’s dear friend, remind us of how good it is to get our hands into the earth and help things grow.

There’s elements of Alice with the perspective – my Anne will have to duck to fit through that door! But this element also weaves in my love of the naive art of colonial America – a style where the artist would incorporate all the elements of life that were important to the commissioner of the painting, no matter how peculiarly they fit.

The camellia tree sings of the gardens where I live. At this time of year, August, it looks as if the Queen of Hearts herself is in charge of our gardens and has sent round her minions to squish on as many reddy-pink blossoms as they can to our huge, old camellia shrubs.

The borders draw on my long infatuation with traditional embroidered samplers.

and …

“The Whale and her Girl” draws together some of my daughter’s favourite picture books – the fields of lupins from “Miss Rumphius” by Barbara Cooney, the girl and her telescope from “Loud Emily” by Alexis O’Neill and the lighthouse perched on the edge of the cliff from “Birdie’s Lighthouse” by Deborah Hopkins.

The glorious seascape, sparkling sun and beautiful whale remind us of one of our favourite places in the world – Byron Bay. We have been holidaying there since I was a little girl. The beach is lined with huge old Norfolk pines, the lighthouse – visible from miles around both day and night – glows on the most easterly point of Australia, and twice a year, the whales sail past on their long migration to and from the cold depths of the Antarctic. It is a truly magic spot.

The lines from Emily Dickinson’s poem – whilst really describing her garden! – send me straight to the warm, balmy sands of the Pass at Byron – I can feel that soft sea washed air, my eyes are filled with sunlight, and I can feel the rise and fall of the waves as I float over them.

My perfect day.

They are available as PDFs – instant satisfaction – and include a colour picture of the chart, the chart (spread over four pages so it is easy to read), the thread key, and some cross stitch tips for those that would like them.

Okay … back to the drawing board – the little shepherd is almost here.

p.s. sorry I haven’t been posting – I felt that I couldn’t until I had finished the patterns – what a dope!  I know!