the loveliness of almost

on the chair tools

Silly old Melbourne’s been playing tricks on us lately :-)  Delivering up late winter days of beautiful blue skies, heaps and heaps of sun, and warmth!  Only then, just when we’re shoving the jumpers into the backs of the wardrobes, it throws us cold, wet, grey days – several in a row – just to remind us it is still only late winter and to put our slippers back on.

blue sky stitching pinned leaves

Oh all right.  Fair enough.  I’ll keep the slippers beside my bed and rejoice that I have lovely handknits to pull on when the cold fronts storm in.  But!  When that sun comes out …

thread prince

… I shall sit on the front porch and soak it up.

clouds rolling in camellias weeds

I shall embroider my very summery Fox.  Crochet my spring flowers.  Fill in the background of my Kaffe flowers.  I may even get stuck into some Christmas decorations and presents.

flower with sun nose tablecloth eye the back the front me beetroot and chickpeas

Because I have finished my nursing degree.  I have been to all my grad year interviews. I have several months of nothing more important – and perfect –  to do than look after my family, potter about our home, and throw myself into the myriad of unfinished crafty loveliness that fills up all the corners of Bootville .  And summer is almost here.

lemon

Yes!

in honour of our urban compost bees … a brooch

Oh, the perils of playing.  I had such a to-do-list this morning.  Wash the clothes, vacuum the carpet, bake a cake, stew the apples, pin out the next quilt top, work on the fox …  I was even looking forward to it!

But then, I caught sight of the little card chair from yesterday and thought about the cross stitched upholstery I want to make for it, and the beautiful cross stitch books that arrived a couple of weeks ago that I haven’t stitched anything from … and I decided to just sit down for a quick moment and have a play.  I would cross stitch something small and sweet and then get stuck into the list.  ‘Twas only 9am – plenty of time.

So I gathered my supplies and began stitching a bee – despite my immune system’s tendency to overreact, I do love bees.  And for the last several months, we appear to have our own colony – in the old compost bin under the old hibiscus tree in the back garden.  There are hundreds of the sweet little critters, darting in and out of the hand gaps for lifting the domed lid off, swooping about our garden, making the most of each flowering specimen as it comes into season.  When we had the terrible heat back in January and February, we could regularly hear our bees cooling their “hive” down – impressive stuff.  I would so love to get some protective clothing and a smoker for Julian and Abby so they could check in the compost bin and see what our bees are up to.  I bet it’s dripping with honey.  We’d have to call it “Urban Compost”.  No sweet countryside names for our honey :-)

book and scissors

And then, when the cross stitch was done, what to do with it?  It would look pretty with some felt – perhaps some of Mr. Fox’s petals …

the cross stitch with petals

And a backing, blanket stitched on to hide the working …

blanket stitched the back on

And maybe some crochet around the edge – I agonised over this for a bit – started with ecru, pulled it out, started it again, pulled it out, tried a red, pulled it out, tried a pale pale blue, pulled it out, settled on the green, pulled it out, persevered, fretted that it looked too twee, decided to live with it a while and check with my girlie – she usually knows …

crochet the edge

finished

Added a safety pin to the back … all the better for wearing.

added a pinOn a cardie

on cardie closeup

Or a bag

on the bag closeup on bag

But I do like it on the cardie.  Having a bee brooch does make me question the whole notion of adornment.  A bee brooch, really?  Why?  Sometimes I think to decorate myself is such a peculiar artifice – what real and measurable purpose does hanging baubles from myself serve?  And so then I go for weeks without earrings or necklaces or scarves or makeup, my hair just caught up in a plain bar clip – the same simple clothes each day.  Then I remember how much I love prettiness and colour, so drag out all the trinkets and brightly patterned clothes and enjoy them all once more.  I am a bit odd, aren’t I.  Perhaps my hesitation stems from the less is more approach that is so often lauded in our design culture.  So not me.  Perhaps I would have felt more at home in the Georgian or Elizabethan era :-) I LOVE pretty details.

love it on cardie

So, in celebration of more is marvellous, I pinned on my brooch to wear the rest of the day and realised it was 2.20 and I had only hung out the first load of washing and done NOTHING else on the list.  And poor old Abby was having a crappy day (thanks to a streaming cold and high school dilemmas) and I wanted to make her a chocolate cake for when she came home from school and I wasn’t here.  So, on with the apron, out with the mixer and I whipped up the chocolate cake from the Easter Feast recipes in April’s British Country Living.  Time enough, whilst it cooked, to wash the dishes, pick the obvious fluff up off the carpet, tidy the embroidery things, and make the bed.  Phew!

washing

But I didn’t show you Mr. Fox – this is him on Sunday – he’s come a long way since then.  He’s looking very charming and I am very excited about this chair.  It will sit at our craft table.

the fox

Tomorrow – I WILL pay attention to the list.  Truly, I will.

christmas

Such a merry Christmas round here with moments of …

the boot

:: packing ::

last minute sewing

:: last minute stitching ::

under the tree

:: receiving ::

gifting

:: giving ::

tieing the pudding

:: tying ::

steaming

:: steaming ::

dancing

:: dancing ::

cooking

:: cooking ::

brining

:: brining ::

snacking

:: feasting :

reading

:: reading and re-reading old and new Christmas favourites ::

relaxing

:: relaxing  ::

picture making:: reflecting on and sharing what
Christmas means to us and why we love it so ::

Thank you for all of your encouragement and friendship throughout 2013.
It means so much to me and so often provides the extra oomph I need to push me through the busy and demanding times we often find ourselves in.

I do hope you and those you hold dear are enjoying a wonderful festive season,
whatever your special celebration, and that there is much love, kindness and joy.

stitching for martinmas

don't want it to end

Ah the best laid plans and all, huh!  I am in the throes of writing a tutorial on pinwheels and squares within squares.  It was to be all done and dusted by the end of the weekend and posted here for my mum, for any of you dear readers who are interested, and for me to check back on when the need arises.

But those best laid plans are sometimes so easily lost .  There I was on Saturday, beautiful weather, all my sewing things set up on the table outside – even my machine and iron, under the umbrella, sun, gentle breeze – such good spring jolliness – stitching and writing and photo-taking – having a blast!  And then I got stung by a bee.  I’m a little bit allergic to bees (my father is SUPER allergic to bees) and so we do take bee stings a little bit seriously – 25 mg of Phenergan and constant supervision from a reliable adult seriously.  So my outdoor sewing fun came to an abrupt stop.  I took my tablet, and spent the rest of the afternoon traipsing around after Julian (he had things to do and I needed to stay close just in case I began to puff up) and dozing on the banana lounge.  Hmm.  So much for the patchwork tutorial.

Sunday – dreadful weather so no more outside sewing.  Besides, I had the worst Phenergan hangover and spent the day in a bit of a fog.  The patchwork tutorial – nope.  Monday – lovely stay at home day for everyone (funny old Melbourne with its extra long weekend for a HORSE RACE).  Abby visited friends, we did some shoppings.  The plan was to finish the tutorial …. but …. see, I bought a lovely red velvet cushion cover at Ikea and I had this idea …

A special felt appliqued cushion for Martinmas!  It had been fluttering around my imagination for a while, and you know, with those best laid plans scattered from one end of the house to another, it just seemed this was the perfect time to settle down to a good bit of stitching.  I know I’ve said this before … I love making pictures with felt and embroidery.  Love, love, love.  I’ve discovered I’m especially fond of saints – maybe I was an iconographer in a former life?

So, I settled down at the kitchen table with my tracing paper, suitcase of felt, and google for some pointers on just what St. Martin looked like and off I went.  Such.  Bliss.  Did I say I WANT to be an iconographer?  One who works with felt and embroidery.  Yes please.  Sign me up now.

Today … why more of the same loveliness.  And thankfully, the beautiful weather was back, we all headed outside and there were no more bee stings.  Phew!  Instead there was sooo much stitching, game playing, breakfast, lunch and cocktails, reading, drawing, angle grinding … the rabbits cut the grass, the chickens dug dirt holes and sunbathed in them, the dog danced on her back legs trying to catch flies … perfection.

As for St. Martin – so close to being finished.  I just have to add the other cross to his lapel thingy.  And finish his book.  And then stitch him onto the red velvet and bob’s your uncle.  And it’s not even Martinmas until next Tuesday!

drawing smile felt suitcase putting the pieces together setting up outside favourite inspiration a tangle of thread part of the story dappled light game

If I had to choose one thing I love best about my St. Martin, it would have to be his wrinkles.  I was a bit unsure about stitching them in, but he just looked too smooth and young as he was so I took a deep breath and began stitching.  I think they really worked out well!  Will certainly be using wrinkles in future works.

And all the colour.  I love colour.  I love reading about how churches and statues in medieval and renaissance times were chock full of colour – every little thing brilliantly illuminated in glorious colour.  Why not, I say.  Wouldn’t it an absolute wonder to restore all that colour to the ancient churches of England and Europe.  Woot!  That’s why my St. Martin is a richly coloured dear.

ageing him the back

I’m always a bit partial to the back of my work.  It’s like a puzzle – sometimes you can almost see it, other times you can’t.

finally the book inside

Now – thinking ahead – I’ve already done St. Lucia.  Definitely need to do St. Nicholas.  Perhaps the Three Wise Kings?  Mary?  Absolutely!  And Wencelas?  Definitely need to do Wencelas!  Thank goodness I had a Catholic schooling – it’s given me so many to choose from!