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.

argyling and the marvellous Joan Aiken

that can be a verb, yes?  Sounds like a strange form of mining.  I’m wracking my brain to see if there’s any analogy between knitting argyle and mining …. no, I’m coming up blank.

suitcase

Nevertheless, that’s what’s going on here in Bootville.  Because there are only 5 days left to argyle before the birthday arrives on which I said I would have the argyle ready for wearing.  Gasp!

peek inside

Silliness aside – and disregarding the insane number of little balls of wool that perform square dancing on every row – knitting argyle – my first attempt – is very pleasant.  The yarn is Jamieson and Smith’s 2 ply jumper weight which is so very lovely to knit with.  It’s so very woolly!  You only have to lay two strands next to each other and they snuggle up.  And the soft halo that floats above the surface of the knitted fabric is so beautiful.  Yum!  When I knit with this yarn, I don’t ever want to knit with anything else.

holding it open

And I’m knitting on 3.25mm needles which is also strangely addictive.  When I was a young, flighty knitter I was very much of the notion that the bigger the needle, the fatter the yarn, the better.  Now I say, nonsense to that!  There’s something very very good about knitting up a fabric that is fine and light, yet so warm and durable.

hard to fathom

Oh, the pattern.  It’s Keith’s Vest by Veronik Avery.  I like her stuff – very classy.  The back, of course, was easy-peasy-easy-peasy – back and forth, back and forth, straight up.  The front – well, trying to read “the pattern” took a few quiet looks, a few frogged rows, finally an a-ha moment and then the decision, once I knew I was in the right spot, to not confuse myself any further by looking at “the pattern” and just keep an eye on the photo. And follow the lines.  It’s a bit common sense really.  It’s working – currently.  I’ll have to pay attention when the armholes start decreasing but that’s okay.  They’re only armholes and I don’t think the argyle really touches them much.  Nope, just checked, there’s no argyling going on near armholing.  I am looking forward to the bands.  Oh yes!

bunched up

And it has to be knitted on the bed – with all the little balls rolling around in front of me.  And that’s okay too because I am so tired this week – that time of the month, and early morning classes – that sneaking in a couple of hours each day,  to sit on the bed, pillows scrunched behind my back, the fan blowing on my face, a cold drink by my side, is really nice.

coming my way

Actually, that’s why I’m knitting right now, and not reading (rereading a favourite children’s series, because really, don’t you think, the really good children’s books are better than any grown ups’ book I’ve ever read).  Because I know if I read, I will fall asleep and then I will not wake up in time to fetch the little girl from school for an afternoon of homework.  So I shall knit.

stolen lake

Besides, there’s only five days to go before we reach the birthday.  And I promised.

growing

Pop over to Ginny’s to check out her yarn along friends – there are some beautiful places to visit and lots of pretty yarn :-)

 

weekend drive :: crowdy bay & a wee lighthouse

A weekend with a little driving adventure is the best weekend of all – well, I think so :-)  But often, during these busy months of school and work and study and placement, it’s all we can do to keep everything running smoothly at home, let alone pack a yummy picnic and set off for a whole day.  Fortunately, the summer holidays provided plenty of opportunities for little – and big – driving adventures, so I’ve plenty to look back on over the next few months.  I thought I’d share some of them here –  this weekend, I bring you the little known, quiet hamlet of Crowdy Head.

Most of the beautiful bay, of which Crowdy Head is but the southern tip, is a National Park so the only access to the long beach is from this spot, or the northern tip – Diamond Head.  Originally, Captain Cook named this point “Indian Head”.  The Australian writer, poet, and social justice campaigner Kylie Tennant, suggested he may have named it so after catching sight of, through his spyglass, a group of the local Aborogines – the Birripi people (I think this is their name, but if I’m wrong, I do apologise and please let me know!).  Later it was renamed Diamond Head because of its abundance of sparkling quartz in the cliff faces.

kylie tennant's cottage(picture retrieved from:
http://www.theaustralian.com.au/travel/a-writers-hut-among-the-old-gum-trees)

Kylie Tennant, whilst living in nearby Laurieton, with her husband (the local schoolmaster) and children, was so delighted with this beautiful spot, she built a wee shack for writing, watching the animals, escaping from it all … not much is known about her time here.  But her book “The Man on the Headland” provides an enchanting description of this place and its local “hermit” Ernie Metcalfe.

Despite my many, many trips to the southern tip as a child, we never ventured north, so the delights of Kylie’s Beach, the Diamond Head Walk, the Mermaid Walk, and the many picturesque cliffs, coves and inlets of this part of the park are unknown to me.  I intend to remedy this at the next opportunity!

But Crowdy Head – it is part of my childhood dreams and memories.  The hot and sticky drive, always accompanied by the incessant and fierce drone of cicadas, from Nanny and Poppy’s to the beach – that always seemed suuuuuuch a long way (only 7km actually!).  The beautiful little waves that were always perfect for my sister and I with our boogie boards  The wee fishing harbour where Poppy’s friends kept their trawlers.  The co-op where we’d buy freshly caught prawns for lunch.  The squat white lighthouse, that I imagined holidaying in and keeping an eye out for smugglers, just like Famous Five.

close into shore all the way to the edge the paddler the pebbles little lighthouse from the fence towards harrington swirly down below looking up looking back to the bay keepers cottage

(the site of the lighthouse keeper’s cottage – the Crowdy Head lighthouse was demanned in 1928, very early, so unlike most of its lighthouse cousins, there is no keeper’s cottage for holiday makers to stay – such a shame – the views are magnificent!)

pretty edges

When we last visited here (four years ago) it was looking very neglected and dingy – I stood here with Julian, dismayed and almost disbelieving, declaring that the REAL lighthouse must have been pulled down, such a sorry sight stood before me.  But this visit, the little lighthouse is looking splendid!  Thank goodness the Taree Shire Council saw fit to restore her to her former glory.  I especially loved this little insignia – painted by someone with a steady and quirky hand.

VR 1879

It’s charming naivete reminded me of a wonderful picture book Abby and I enjoyed when she was little.

loud emily waving her parents off title page

Don’t you think!  Oh I do have such a romantic and sentimental spot in my heart for the ocean and all the good bits that go along with it.

Hope you enjoyed your weekend adventure to Crowdy Bay!  I did.

 

clara and nellie

crocheted edgings

Perhaps you noticed the “”110 Crocheted Edgings” book on my tray the other day?  It belonged to my other Nanny (that is, not the one who is married to dear old Grandad, but my father’s mother). Mum passed it on to me a few years back now.  It was in this bundle of goodies …

the bundle

 

… that appeared during the great wool tidy up.  Oh yes!  The number of treasures that were unearthed during those days of wool untangling and winding made the tedium of it all well worth while!

This is only a small bundle of books, pamphlets and loose notes – collected and written by both my Nanny – Clara, and her mum –  Nellie. Nanny adored her mother and I remember her home being stuffed to the brim with all sorts of books, linen, clothes, fabric, furniture (including the piano her mother taught on), and bric-a-brac that had been her mum’s.  Her mum died when Nanny was only a young mother herself – I have a letter that Nanny wrote her Mum just after the birth of my dad and just before Nanny Nellie died – I have tears in my eyes and a lump in my throat just thinking about it – it was so touching and vulnerable.  She must have missed her mum terrible.  Very soon after her dad remarried a woman with two daughters who, whilst happy to move into the family home, did not want most of Nellie’s belongings – so Nanny promptly removed them, carefully stored them, and spent the next 40 years carting them about.  I clearly inherited her genes – I’m dreadfully sentimental and cannot bear to throw anything out – as our jam-packed garage, shed, sewing shed, and Julian will testify.

stitch guide edgings

The crocheted edgings book is particularly lovely.  Even Julian thinks that page above with its illustrated stitches is quite a prize.  And I’m finding the little book especially useful for my crocheted face flannels.  I stumbled upon these via the talented Kristin at her lovely blog Cozy Made Things and just knew, as soon as I saw them, that they were my cup of tea.

in front of me

So, whilst in Brisbane, I slipped off one afternoon to visit my old favourite fabric shopping haunt – The Quilters’ and Embroiderers’ Store with Karen and Leah – and bought several fat quarters.  That was a mistake.  Clearly a fat quarter is much too big to be a useful face flannel.  But a quarter of a fat quarter is a little miserly.  So I ended up cutting a square – 13 x 13 inches – from each of the fat quarters which left quite a bit of waste.  Ugh.  If I’d just bought 35 cm I’d have had two face flannels for a little more than the price of one fat quarter – and still a bit of leftover that could go in the scrap bag for a future scrappy flannel quilt.  And that would have worked very nicely because Mum, Auntie Anne and Nanny have all claimed the first round of face flannels I’ve made!  I may need to indulge in a little mail ordering – ohh look at that, they have 616 to choose from – and I won’t be making the same mistake next time.

start with blanket stitch number 26 done corner

Now I’m not sure whether Kristen doubled hers.  I didn’t – Mum wondered whether I should, but it would have made it very bulky and they would take ages to dry.  So,  I simply overlocked the edges, then ironed 1 inch hems on each side with mitred corners.  Then, using my 4 ply Paton’s cotton crochet yarn, I blanket stitched around the edge.  This makes for a super easy first round of crochet.  For this flannel, I used edging number 26!

I will add here – Nanny Clara would be alarmed at the use of such thick cotton.  She used crochet hooks that were so fine, I cannot even SEE the hook.  As for her crochet thread – it’s almost the weight of regular sewing thread!  Extraordinary.  Also – her local haberdashery had a very fine service to offer their crochet customers – a machine that you ran your fabric through and it evenly perforated a quarter inch in from the edge – which allowed for very elegant work indeed.  When I was in Taree recently – their home town – Mum and I did look for this shop – but it had gone.  Funny that.

Just writing “edging number 26″ makes me think of a rather crazy but awfully fun idea.  Another book I inherited from Nanny Clara included delicate pieces of lawn that she had practiced different sewing techniques on – different seams, hems, collars, inserts etc.  One of the pieces had several horizontal folds in it which she had finished in a variety of ways.  Can you imagine a lovely big piece of cotton/linen (don’t want plain linen, it’s too stretchy) that I iron neat horizontal folds into – and stitch them, like big pinch pleats.  The I could “divide” the piece of fabric into five even columns, and crochet each of the 110 edgings, so that it becomes a sampler!  Then I could back it, bind the edges and hang it on the wall.  Oh my goodness!  I’m so excited at the thought, I’m twitching.  It would be so beautiful.  I would do them in a selection of soft, gentle, antiquey colours.  Nothing bright.  It would have “old world charm” :-) Oh my goodness!  I’ll have to run up the road to Darn Cheap again tomorrow!  ‘Cause you know, I was thinking, that’s a lot of face flannels to use all 110 edgings.

Mind you, I am planning to crochet around the edge of my latest quilt.  In red.  I think it will look fetching – we’ll have to see ;-)

Now the rest of the post is taken up with photos of my favourite pages from the bundle … there are so many wonderful projects in here that I will be occupied for the rest of my life.  Take a peek …

weldon's practical crochet

:: this is treasure of a book – so much goodness inside

ardeen's cotton advertisements

:: the advertisements are just brilliant.  And I love the advice “to just write to us” should you need anything.  Can’t you imagine ladies sitting down at their writing desks after breakfast and elegantly penning a quick note to the wool store in time for the morning mail.  Goodness, the wool would probably be delivered the very next day.

useful doyleys

:: I love that these are “useful” (others were handsome – not that Julian thought so) and that they’re spelt D’Oyleys.  Intriguing – I shall have to look that up.

two pretty shawls

:: I love this picture – their hair, the chairs, the properness of it all.

little girl

:: oh my goodness – this little girl – isn’t she a darling and so cosy!  She most likely couldn’t hear anything either.

wendy the waaaf

:: I don’t know about you, but I definitely want a Wendy the WAAAF!!!  Truly, I shall make her – and she shall sit on my dresser.

butterflies

:: I’ve not heard of stiletto work, let alone tried it – have you?

the coronation

:: a memento from the coronation of our current Elizabeth.  Shows all the places the processioned passed.  So sweet.

beauty tips

:: I was a bit puzzled by a whole bundle of “beauty tips” – both Nanny Clara and Nanny Nellie were so against this kind of frippery – they were good Presbyterian women who did not have time for fancies – they would have thought it positively outrageous that a good moral woman had TIME to fret about wrinkles.

the other side

:: then I realised that on the back of each carefully saved beauty page, was a crochet pattern.  Aha.

black book

:: Nanny Nellie’s cook book – her writing is so curly and ornate I can barely read some of it …

jam drops and bible cake

… but Jam Drops and Bible Cake sound good.

recipes

:: Nanny Clara’s recipes.  I love that people wrote down recipes and saved them.  Yet another thing we’ve lost – what with our plethora of lavishly produced cookbooks and internet recipe sites.  I keep meaning to start keeping hand written copies of our favourite recipes – but never seem to find them time.

So there you go – a wee glimpse of a face flannel – I’d better take some photos of the rest before they’re all parcelled up and sent away.  And a little wander through the past.

You see, I HAVE to carefully keep all of my things so that women, three or four generations from now, will sort through my boxes of funny old things with a laugh of delight and awe. :-)