not a creature was stirring

appliquing the banner

Well, this little design has pleased me so much I’ve made it twice in the last week – with plans to make it again :-)  Once for an Instagram Christmas swap …. and once for someone’s present – shshshsh! And I’ll certainly make it again :-)

I just adore those little sleeping faces tucked into their quilty bed.  I think when I make it next, I’ll make some more faces – it could be a pattern with a variety of many faces and you could choose your own!  There could be all different sorts of boys and girls.  Teddies!  Dollies!  Dogs!  Cats!  Racoons!

It could be a veritable Ten in the Bed!  Hey – now that’s a fabulous idea!  Oh yes!  A much bigger quilt for a child with 10 in the bed and then words embroidered in blocks throughout the quilt.  Cute.

I got the idea for the little faces from a dolls quilt I’d seen on Pinterest where they embroidered the faces using a simple running stitch.  Here it is

And the felt applique – well, I just adore felt applique.  I often dream of making children’s books with felt applique.  I would love to do one of the animals we live with at Merimbula.  And then stories about children in Merimbula at times over the last 150 years …

I dream big.  I just need the organisation and discipline to sit down and do something about it.

adding the lace

You don’t need to know this wee quilt was pinned onto a vintage blanket, do you?  Because you know of course it was.

pin pin pin

And each room I worked in – piecing it on the little green Husqvarna in the front room – appliquing in the dining room – quilting in the spare ‘oom – my dearly loved sweetheart followed me round with her laptop.

Reading funny things out to me.  Working on her drawings.  Showing me what she’d designed next.  My, how I do love her.  I am especially grateful that even though she is a teenager and all, she still loves to spend time with me.

We have a lovely relationship.  We are both very blessed :-)

my companion

Unfortunately, one thing I’m not is Anne from Green Gables.  Do you remember how she reckoned she never made the same mistake twice.  She always learnt her lesson.  I don’t.  I regularly make the same mistake over and over and over.

Just this afternoon, as I lay on my bed tired and having one of those silly moments when I didn’t know what to do next (cooking supper would have been a good thing), I noticed my skirt was covered with little bits of thread.  They’re from all the unpicking I do.

Mmhm.  I am the queen of unpicking.  I looked at that minty strip of green with its red balls the first time I sewed it and thought – I could quilt it with a contrasting red and it would look really pretty.  Well it didn’t.  So I unpicked it.  Second time – I thought, I can DEFINITELY quilt in that green stripe with red – I just need to do it nicely.  Aaaaaaaaand I had to unpick it.

Same with the appliqued band.  Abby said warned “No!  Mum! It didn’t work the first time! Remember!  The foot kept butting up against the felt heads!” I cheerfully replied “Yes, but I know what to look out for this time so I can do it better.”  I didn’t. Unpick! Unpick! Unpick!

Tonight, I’ve got 4 rows of top stitching to unpick on two pillowcases.  The first one didn’t work.  Did I stop and reevaluate.  Nope, I just kept going.  Sigh.
quilting

tulip

But squiggly-wiggly?  It’s a bit hard to go wrong with that – I do love it so.

red tulip

Now here is Lily-Anne trying to learn … I thought maybe I could fit more of the verse on if I wrote the words out on paper as I guide to how big to make the letters.  It didn’t work.  Oh well.  I’m hopeful that the letters will become finer and smoother with practice.  I’m a huge believe in Practice :-)

I’m thinking of doing a Christmas carol next.  I just can’t decide which one – We Three Kings?  O Come All Ye Faithful?  I love both of them.  No! No!  O Little Town of Bethlehem.  With little appliqued houses.

didnot help

closeup of ginger

Look at the sun hitting the felt – doesn’t it make the texture so utterly beautiful.  And I love perle thread.  I know I said it above, but I adore felt applique.  It is my hands down favourite stitchy pursuit. Love. Love. Love. Love. Love.

close up of coco

writing

tulips

the whole

There you go.  A wee quilt of little people dreaming of Christmas.  That will be us in just 13 short nights !

And it was pure bliss making it.

 

the teachers’ presents


crafting table

Hmmm … it’s just occurred to me, as I uploaded these photos and thought back to the crazy busyness of last week, that this is my second last season of teachers’ presents.  It truly is so unbelievable it gives me a jolt.  Surely it was only yesterday that I cross stitched a Prairie Schooler Christmas Sampler for the lovely Mrs. Solomon and sewed it into a little hanging quilt as a thankyou for a wonderful Year 1.

That’s one of the curses of just one child.  There’s no second and third etc. go round.  Nope – only one chance to get it as close to right as you can.  And no time for savouring.  But I also know how privileged we are to even have one go and for that I am grateful.

We’ve always given teachers’ presents.  Maybe because I spent so many years working in education, I know just how lovely it is to have a student and her family recognise the contribution I made to their year and present me with something sweet and thoughtful.  I’ve always wanted to pay that forwards.

And I want Abby to understand how important it is to show gratitude – it’s a sign of respect and affection.  Maybe I’m just getting old and crotchety, but gee whizz, I think there’s a little less gratitude bumping around every year.  I want her to be one of those lovely people who are remembered and appreciated for showing gratitude.  It’s not hard or expensive – just a bit of time and effort.

Also – I am so very grateful for all that my Abigail has been given by her teachers.

She’s not the most straightforward of students and, apart from a couple of grim years half way through primary school (the Year 3 teacher – we seriously wanted to present her with the dirtiest lump of coal we could find – she was a drunk and a bully), has been blessed with lovely teachers who have always recognised her strengths, enjoyed her quirks and cheerfully walked the extra mile.

As for her high school teachers – my goodness, they regularly reduce me to misty eyes and choked up throat they are so wonderfully thoughtful, compassionate and encouraging.  No matter how grey and wobbly I become, I will never forget the incredible contribution they have made to our lives and will cheerfully sing Star of the Sea’s praises to all.

However, with the plethora of teachers Abby has in highschool, we’ve whittled down the handmade gifts to those who are TRULY marvellous.  For the rest we whip up a more generic but still homemade gift.  This year Abby chose her Japanese teacher – Mrs. Devine, her textiles teacher – Mrs. Pearson, and her Legal studies teacher – Mrs. Maraschello.

Well – no surprises who this cushion is for :-)  I am always a little dubious about themed presents – we can blame my Year 10 Music Teacher for that – she told us at the beginning of the year she HATED musical gifts.  But Abby assured me Mrs. Devine loves Japanese looking things so I dug this piece of simple sweet fabric out of the stash – I like to think it’s quite elegant and not at all corny – and found some pretty calicos to go with it.  I worked up the patchwork on the computer and quilted it with one single large chrysanthemum. It just seemed to need a yoyo in the middle.  Mrs. Devine was delighted.

japanese cushion

little people

The lovely pink and red fabric and the floral used for the binding are MADE in Japan – so that was an extra bonus!  And the blue check made me think of all those lovely indigo woven fabrics to be found in traditional Japanese textiles.

corner

yoyo

The crazy tote went to Mrs. Mara.  We gave her a cushion that last time Abby had her in Year 9 – Abby thought a bag would be a nice alternative for this year.  This was a truly last minute gift.  I had been mulling over the design for a few days and the night before Abby wanted to give it, even DREAMT about how it could go together.

So, Tuesday morning I was up at 5 knowing just what to do.  I cut and sewed the strips, used a dinner plate to make the circular bottom, added a heavy piece of cardboard (chopped out of the back of a large drawing pad) that I covered with the same red lining as the bag, lined it, added the strap and catch, sewed the two cylinders together and voila!  A tote.  I adore it.

And the funny thing – Abby left the Christmas card on the dining table.  Then popped the present on Mrs. Mara’s desk without a note.  Yet, that afternoon Mrs. Mara sent a lovely email saying as soon as she unwrapped it and saw the colours and lovely sewing, she knew exactly who it was from and loved it.  That brought a happy smile to this mum’s face … and the daughter’s too.
the bag

side on

the toggle

princess

lined

flat bottom

Mrs. Pearson’s cushion.  Same pattern as Mrs. Devine’s.  A few different fabrics.  Same chrysanthemum.  And yet it looks so utterly different!  So busy and hot and energetic compared to Mrs. Devine’s cool, quiet elegance.  Hmph – amazing what colour can do, huh!  I used precious Owl and Pussycat fabric because Mrs. Pearson is a fabric guru and I knew she would recognise and love it.  She did.

owl and pussycat

close up quilting

looking across

pink corner

For all my cushions, I use Ikea feather inserts – they just keep their shape soooooo well.  They can be completely flattened to pancake thickness by a sleeping dog, then with a few punches, be brought back to looking plump and gorgeous.  And, hating zippers like I do, I always use a simple envelope back – but I like it to cross over by a good 20cm.  That way there’s no gaping.

cookie jar

The rest of Abby’s teachers – and darling Bob, the lollypop man – each received a jar with the layered ingredients to make Donna Hay’s Choc-chip and Cranberry Oat Cookies.  Recipe included.  They were a big success.  Highly recommended.

Next year – our last year of teachers’ presents – will probably bring more presents for the same lovelies.  But there will be an extra special one for Bob.

Apart from my grandad, Bob is the loveliest gentleman I have ever known.  From the very first day he has shown Abby such friendship and enthusiasm for everything she does.  He waves to me every morning when I drop her off.  And I make sure to come at least 10 minutes after the bell rings every afternoon, because sure enough, Abby will be standing there with Bob and they’ll be chattering away about what they’re both up to, flipping through Abby’s drawing books, carefully inspecting her latest doll, or he’ll be nodding enthusiastically whilst she tells him her latest story.

He’s like her grandad.  (Apart from my dear old grandad, poor Abby completely lucked out in the grandad stakes).  I’ve got those teary eyes and a lump in my throat just writing this.  Words cannot express how grateful I am to Bob for being there for Abby everyday.  I know that she knows that even when some days are a bit hard, there’ll always be Bob in the afternoon.  He’s a school treasure.

So next year, for Bob, there’ll be a quilt – with stars of course.

 

granny busy

out the window

new balls yesterday's four smiley little mouth snip new faourite

The morning may have dawned extra cold and foggy – but after a trip to my favourite Wondoflex for some extra balls of crochet cotton – the rest of the day was gloriously spring, spring, spring!

I spent it on the front porch, baking so warm in the sun that after shedding two jumpers, I simply had to get changed into a skirt and tshirt – which of course, proved a little chilly once the sun began to set and the night chill set in.  Ah, the change in seasons – keeps me on my toes.

And what filled my hands – why Granny Christmas Baubles of course!  All the photos for the pattern are taken, just setting it out now.

There was also a little extra something put together this afternoon – in a medium completely new to me – bamboo and wire – it was a bit fiddly.  But I think tomorrow – with some extra tweaking – it will be just right.  Especially when there’s more Granny Baubles finished for hanging.

supplies and tools almost

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.

on monday morning before I leave for a late

crumpled sofas

:: the sofas are crumpled with quilts … speaking of the cold but cosy nights we are having as we move past the winter solstice and once more towards the sun

crochet basket

new version

:: so many corners filled with so many projects … a little dabbling in last summer’s crocheted cotton throw, and turning a doily pattern, written for fine mercerised cotton, into something so much chunkier and more colourful – plans for something silly and wonderful!

blue sky

:: the back door opens to the first blue sky in days … look at our funny winter trees – the oak still dressed in its autumn leaves, the flower buds already colouring and tentatively venturing out on the magnolia

umbrella

:: first morning in ages that I haven’t had to take the umbrella with me on my morning visit to the chicken and rabbits

unknown berries

magnolia

:: more signs of our strangely bothered climate (look around you Prime Minister Abbott and Environment Minister Hunt – you woefully ignorant, head-in-the-coal, intellectual and moral pygmies!) – the birds never touch these berries so nor shall we.  As for the magnolia – best flowers it’s ever produced – even if they are several months early

srtichokes
tea and crumpets

:: wintery mornings call for tea and honeyed crumpets, then more tea, and more tea and more tea and more tea … as for those artichokes – they’re just so pretty but I’ve never cooked with them – hmmmm ….

vintage stools

:: smiling at our newly thrifted kitchen stools.  They absolutely don’t fit in our kitchen, but we’re tolerating them there at the moment.  Red re-upholstering would be just the ticket – yes?

a very cosy nook pins

:: making the most of the few hours I have at home before heading into the hospital for a late – making time for my home’s ordinary everyday needs as well as sneaking in a bit of creativity every day is essential for maintaining a cheerful perspective during these long and intense weeks of placement!  When I don’t do this – and focus manically on the here and now – the long hours, the constant learning, the stress of new and tricksy things, the relentless insomnia – I forget that what I am living right now, is not what the forever more is going to be!  Pinning out a quilt, chatting to the chicken, tidying the corners of Bootville is a good reminder that nursing will be an extra string to my fiddle, not the entire orchestra.

stuck pins

:: how DO these pins get so entwined!  More baffling then coat hangers.

ready for christmas bunting

:: two left over strips of festive vintage blanket – perfect for a Christmas banner – and perfect time to start thinking about this as we turn the corner of the year!  Oh how I love Christmas :-)

bloody eye

:: and finally, as I pull my hair back and clean my teeth, I am reminded that viciously rubbing one’s eye when it’s itchy is NOT a good idea.  Oy!  I look as if I’ve been in a pub brawl!  My poor eye!

So – any moment now, one of my fellow nursing students will be pulling up outside my home and we shall choof on in to the hospital together for another afternoon in the ICU.  It’s full on my friends, full on.  I’m seeing things I never knew existed – and lots of things that are not usually visible.  I’m caring for needs I had never before imagined.  But when, for the first moment, it feels a bit overwhelming and a sense of horror begins to creep into my thoughts, I look into my patient’s face and all I feel is love and empathy.  It goes a long way.

 

christmas pillowcases

 

piecing them

As usual, once I started thinking about Christmas giving for this year, my head was full of all sorts of wonderful and creative ideas of homemade.  I was going to sew up and print tshirts, make a wooden cutout of a traditional Swedish clock, start and finish quilts, piece and quilt table runners, applique cushions, fill jars dressed in crocheted covers with homemade lollies … it was a lovely list :-)  I even thought I’d try my hand at creating a mini world in a broken terracotta pot with succulents … check it out here, it’s entrancing.  I just hadn’t factored in how tricky that four week placement would be – especially once I added in the bad back, endless hayfever, hours of driving, and insomnia.  It certainly wasn’t the sort of Advent I’ve enjoyed and loved for many, many years.  2014 – I definitely need to start early!

However, on that last Friday of working, I rushed home, out to the sewing shed, gathered an armful of fabric (the pieces I wanted to use had been percolating in my mind for the last few days) and set to work.  Christmas pillowcases.  I pieced and ironed and measured and cut and it was bliss.  Such bliss.  And by suppertime, 2 pairs of pretty pillowcases were ready for giving.  Just a shame I’d missed the last post before Christmas.  Never mind – they’ll arrive in the New Year and be just as fresh and useful.

little houses close up lace

This set is for my dear old Nanny and Grandad.  They love the pretty old fashioned look and Nanny will especially like the reproduction pieces in this.  That gorgeous blue paisley is one of the Julie Rothermel reproduction fabrics from Sturbridge Village.  More of it to come!  The two reds are civil war reproductions from Karen at the Quilter’s Store – she has the most extraordinary and beautiful collection of reproductions – I have never seen its like anywhere else.  Oh how I loved just standing in amongst it all.  Let alone loading up my arms with bolt after bolt, then staggering off to the cutting table to ask for just 30cm!  And the the wee houses – well they’re not reproductions obviously but add to the whole charm of it, yes?  They’re from my wee houses quilt that is a.l.m.o.s.t finished.  The beautiful blue stripe is a fabric I found at The Fabric Store a few years back – it has a wonderfully crisp and sturdy hand.  And the broderie trim is from The Button Shop in Glenferrie Road – the old gentleman who owns this store has an awesome collection, some of which I think has been sitting there for at least 30 years.  My kind of place.

floral and patches
little gumnuts favourite fabrics

with chair legs

And for one of my sweet aunties – a riot of colour and florals.  So many of the pieces have been used here and there.  I love this – it’s like my quilts and cushions and trims are all cousins.  There’s pieces from Caleb’s quilt (Cousin Elena’s babe), Gumnut Fairies from Francesca’s quilt (Cousin Clara’s babe) and my blue crosses quilt, some Anna Maria Horner from Mum’s picnic quilt … I picked up the floral background from Karen years and years ago.  I had long forgotten plans for it … never mind.  That’s the fun of having a stash.  And the trim – why from that Button Shop again :-)  If ever you’re in Melbourne and you feel like stepping back in time, you really must visit it!

tumbled side by side stacked up

So here they are, my quartet of Christmas pillowcases, beautifully pressed and folded (thank you Mum) and waiting for the reopening of the post office on Monday morn.

ready for posting

Perhaps I should start next year’s Christmas pillowcases this summer!

 

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.

a wee christmas tree

 

I’m sorry I’ve been so silent this December.  It’s this placement thingy – it’s been really hard.  The first two weeks – agonising back.  Now into the last of the second two weeks – streaming hay fever.  All four weeks – relentless insomnia.  I’m so buggered.  And so over it.  

Only four days to go … then I am anticipating a terrific summer of loveliness and lots and lots of creativity.  Until then …

higher up number 1 the fiddler blue goose girl rosy 10 looking down the wax one a cluster 14blew over insituOh my goodness, aren’t we hurtling towards Christmas!

I do declare that you folk in the Northern Hemisphere have it so much easier.  Down here, Christmas coincides with the end of the year – end of school, end of university, end of placements, winding up of work – and the start of the long summer holidays.  So there’s always so much else to finish before we can truly prepare for and enjoy the beauty of Christmas.

Perhaps I’m just feeling it more this year.  But here we are, 16th December and there’s still a week’s worth of nursing placement and assessments to finish before I can truly hang up my busy year and revel in the Christmassy-ness of it all.

On the creative side, there are so many gifts started – and none finished.  But one thing I have managed to stay atop of is our Advent Tree.  This year, we are using the funny little tree I collected from hard rubbish on a grey rainy day a few months back.  At the time I christened it the Oehlenschlager tree – I  declared it was to be covered in cross stitched Danish Christmas decorations as per the lovely book a sweet friend from Instagram gave me in return for Mr. Pollack’s vintage glass juicer.

However, I need another couple of years stitching before the tree can be suitably decked out in these wee stitchings alone.  So – the Advent Tree.  And given we simply cannot find the Tomtems we have used for many a year, I picked up the crochet hook and got stitching.  I give you Advent Roses.  Each with its own wee numbered tag.

Each morning, long before Abby arises and according to a long held Bootville tradition, I hang the day’s Advent Rose somewhere in the house and it’s Abby’s job to find it and hang it on the Advent Tree.  I must confess, she doesn’t do this with the same gleeful anticipation she possessed ten years ago – ahhhhh the teenage years.  But we all enjoy the sweetness of it nevertheless :-)

I’ve even managed to keep up with the stitching of the Advent Roses – there were the perfect project to pack for morning tea and lunch when I was nursing in the Oncology Ward – and extras made lovely gifts to sweet patients.  However, a small hitch has only just emerged.  I still have 7 to make … and I cannot find the wee basket that is stuffed with the pretty Brown Sheep rosy yarn for the centre, some left over cream, red and mustard Beaverslide from Abby’s Blaithin, a ball of green Paton’s leftover from Abby’s Owl Sweater, and a ball of buttery Rowan leftover from my fairisle tunic (that I don’t think I have ever shared!).  That’s right – the whole basket has vanished.  I’ve just spent the last half hour first walking briskly through the house confidently looking here and there, then slowly – slightly worried – poking into each corner, and finall,y grumpily crawling around under furniture and behind doors … I even checked the car.  I cannot find it.

It must be here somewhere.  It’s almost certainly in the living room.  But as Julian has observed many a time before – crafty things are sneakily camouflaged here in Bootville.  And I have a terrible track record of tucking things into forgotten corners.

A-ha!  Found it!  Behind the sofa cushion – no wonder I couldn’t shove the cushion back into place each time I sat on the sofa over the weekend.  Never mind.  Now the kitchen is glowing, the washing hung out, the chooks in bed, a glass of milk is on the bedside table and I am ready to hop into bed and stitch a bouquet of Advent Roses.

Yes, little by little, this Christmas is coming together.

mrs. chamber’s apron

facing me blowing sideways the back

This year’s beloved teachers’ gifts – aprons.  First off the rank – Mrs. Chambers.  Had to be done, she’s leaving early.  I bought the fabric weeks ago, but true to form, only started pulling it together this morning.  Sigh.  I never learn.

Mrs. Chamber’s is Abby’s Japanese teacher – and such a lovely, lovely woman.  Very caring, interested, generous, compassionate, and always excited to do more for our Abby who loves her Japanese classes.  She even gave Abby a beautiful Japanese book she’d seen in a university bookstore earlier this year.  She knew Abby would love it and put it to good use, so she bought it for her and gave it to her.  Yes, Mrs. Chambers is one of several women we have found at Abby’s school to be such gifts.  And we love her.

laying on the chair the flower

Now, my Year 10 music teacher once told me that she truly hated being given presents that were music-themed.  She was a funny woman – sarcastic but very entertaining and her scorn for themed gifts left a deep impression. Thus, each year I try to think of something that reflects each teachers’ interests, but that isn’t corny.  With Mrs. Chambers’ apron, I wanted fabrics that were rich and beautiful and wouldn’t look out of place in a pretty kimono – but weren’t japanese fabrics and were not put together in a traditional Japanese way.

I think this combination of colours is just right.  And the sumptuous flower created by the Dresden plate, is a nod towards the Japanese love of gardens and flowers. I always have a chuckle over the flower beds in Hayao Miyazaki’s films – in his world, everything flowers at once no matter what time of year it is – either a reflection of his yearning for constant beauty or Japan is indeed peculiarly blessed :-)

trying it on

It’s my own design – and I am mostly happy.  I wanted it to be very covering so its wearer could get really stuck into the Christmas cooking without any of their special clothes being splashed.  So I’m pleased with the skirt part of it – but the neck band – oy!  That took 4 lots of unpicking before it was the right length.  As for bodice – I did chop off an inch before attaching the skirt, but I reckon it could almost come up another inch.  Perhaps it also needs to be a little more triangular?  Hmmmmm ….. And the waistband – too wide.  I don’t know what I was thinking when I cut it.  I don’t like mean little narrow waistbands but I think this one could lose at least an inch.  Never mind – there’s three more chances to perfect the pattern.

with the colander on my head

Besides, I like THIS one so very much, I think I may make a dress version – make the skirt meet at the back and button down the middle.  There’s tonnes of the florals left and I only have to walk up the road to Darn Cheap Fabrics for the stripe.

Yes, I think it will make a very fine Christmas Day dress.  And fingers crossed, Mrs. Chambers will be tickled pink by her apron and put it to very fine use.

 

at our beach, at our magic beach

favourite spot belongings

dimpled rock

cross stitch

My favourite spot.  Nestled in amongst the glowing red and honeycombed rocks, the turquoise water tinkling close by.   Cardigan dropped within moments.  Cross stitch on my lap.

tall bird setting out gulls fighting for the rock

Sea birds gather.  Small black ones duck and dart amongst the gentle waves.  Every now and then one catches a fish and must frantically throw back his head to choke it down before it escapes.  The seagulls preen and strut, fighting over the perfect perch.  Right near my spot, the surfers enter the water.  See how they have wetsuits on?  I don’t have a wet suit and despite the best of intentions, when that first wave splashed my knees, it was sooooooooo cold I dared not go in, lest I developed an atrial fibrillation!

water turned wild

Then, after a lovely long sit in the sun with my Christmas cross stitch, a fierce wind comes up as the clouds darken and stomp across the sky! What was tranquil and gentle becomes stroppy and impatient.  Within moments, those sweet baby waves are rushing up the sand to catch my quilt.  It’s time to retreat.

circling gulls

And yet, by the time I’ve gathered my things and climbed back up the hill, the clouds are looking sheepish, declaring they didn’t really mean it.  The wind drops a little, as does the sea.  The silly seagulls forget their earlier quarrels and dance loopy dances in time with the wind.

Such a magic beach.

the packing of a wee suitcase

This wee “genuine hide” suitcase came from … you guessed it!  Mr. P’s dumpster.  I love vintage suitcases so had been on the lookout for one each week.  It wasn’t until the very last week (yes, I know, ’tis sad, but it does appear that there will be no more dumpsters outside Mr. P’s home) that this little treasure appeared.  Filled of course.  Mr. P filled everything with everything else.

Now? Why it’s packed with my version of the good things in life and coming to Merimbula with me.  Eeeeee!  I have a WHOLE week with no classes.  So tomorrow morning – with my trusty travelling companion, Fu – I am jumping into the car and heading up to Mum’s for a few days of sun, sand, swimming (serious, I bought new bathers, just ignore the two cold fronts lurking in the Bass Strait), lounging on the front porch, and lots of good quality pottering (aka sewing).

empty suitcase

~ there’s the sweet fabric Abby chose to line the wee suitcase with, so that I may pick Mum’s brain on how best to line it …

fabric for lining

~ some stretchy red cotton and pattern to make my first ever pair of leggings.  Don’t worry, I shan’t be wearing mine with SHORT tops – I have nice long, concealing smocks in mind …

leggings

~ some new white t-shirts for Julian …

tshirt

~ quilt fabric carefully chosen by one of my little girlies who’s moving to Sydney next term (bit sad about this) …

fabric and gloves

~ aha! the long smock to go over the red leggings, already cut out …

smock

~ a pair of trousers, recently thrifted by Jules, which need their cuffed hems taking up (please Mum) …

trousers

~ & my current infatuation … an absolutely gorgeous Danish cross stitch book which the lovely Kristy from #castoncastoff gave me when she came for tea this week  … she went home with Mr. P’s lemon juicer :-) …

cross stitch

There – it all fitted!  Well sort of.  I had to pop the three cross stitch thread boxes and the jar of quilting safety pins into a separate bag.  Now – do you reckon that if all these projects fit into one wee “genuine hide” suitcase, that means they are eminently do-able in the four short days I will be at the beach?

full

Hmmmm … I know.  Possibly a bit hopeful.  But I do thoroughly believe in being prepared :-)  Now I just have to find me a belt to hold this suitcase shut.

tidying the mess – part 1

pin cushions and binding

Well … this afternoon, Julian, Abby and Sacha headed out to the airport.  I was left standing in the kitchen wondering what to do.  Research for next week’s essay or studying for tomorrow’s philosophy quiz were completely out of the question.  Vacuuming … could be very valuable given the amount of Fu fluff that is everywhere, but deadly boring.  Hmmmm …

I could sit and mope.  Bit dull.  And wouldn’t be useful.  No, not at all.  I could plonk onto the sofa, maybe knit, maybe watch some television.  This I almost did … but then I looked around at the terrible mess that has overrun the craft corner and table and decided some serious tidying was in order.

french general heidi grandads hat

knitting

in the shopping bag You know the kind of tidying when you SEW your way through the piles.  Yes :-)  My kind of tidying.  Terrifically practical.  Marvellously productive.  Immensely satisfying.  And so very, very necessary! So I started with this here bag.  Packed since our CHRISTMAS holiday to Merimbula and shoved under one piece of furniture after another since it’s return home.  Yes, there’s been some serious avoidance where this bag’s concerned.

not much to go

I even started with the most guilt inducing.  Abby’s Christmas present … her Moomin quilt.  Finished but for the final border across the bottom.  That should be easy enough to tackle in the time it takes for one to drive to the airport and back.  In fact, there was enough time to finish the quilt top, give the front room a vigorous, proper tidy, walk up to the shops for a few groceries, and cook supper.  Win!  Win!

finished

looking up

with pegsOh I do love how this sweet quilt has turned out!  The only newly bought fabric is the red background with the little mushroom houses, foxes and dwarves.  The rest is from the stash.  The Moomin fabric and the gorgeous pieces of Marimekko were gifted to me several years ago by the loveliest woman in Finland.  Thank you so much dear Anne!  I knew the time would come when there would be the perfect project for them :-)  The other bits and pieces were collected here and there.

closer

moomin mama moomin little my

In designing it, I started with the Moomin fabric.  I didn’t want just plain squares, but DID want something that would let all these dear little characters sing.  Thus the darker borders (Marimekko) with the clean and vivid red, pink and white floral corners, and finally, the crisp black and white spot that reflected the simple black and white drawings of Jansson’s Moomins.

The poison green represents the round and round and up and down of the Finnish forests in which the Moomins make their home.  The feed sack turquoise with the little children in their pyjamas with their pillows … remembering how, when Abby was little, she would hop into bed and I would pull over the armchair and read and read and read.  Filling her sleepy, dreamy head with Moomin adventures and magic.

The next border – the squares of red and the wonderful boughs with twinkling baubles (I think this is a William Morris fabric – not sure) will remind us that this Moomin quilt was made for Christmas.

little houses in the woods in the grass corner

Finishing the sides is a red and white Scandinavian fabric – a tilt to the Moomin’s cultural heritage.  And last but not least … the whimsical red fabric, the flower-filled, blue summer sky, and a bit more Marimekko.  They’re little houses, see!  In amongst the trees.  I was thinking of the little summer cottages the Scandinavian folk build in their forests and around their lakes.

You can read it in or out.  I like out to in.  We start in the summer cottages amongst the tall tall trees – slightly magical in itself – reading Tove Jansson’s wonderful tales and poring over the quirky pictures.  Then, at night, when we’re asleep, we’re able to wander through the valleys to Moominland and tag along on the many adventures these dear little folk have.

waiting for her

Yes I do love it!  I can even imagine myself, years from now, reading the Moomin books to Abby’s children who will be snuggled under this quilt.  For now … here it is on her bed, waiting to hopefully bring a smile to her face on what will be the first quiet night we’ve had in a long while.

To finish it, I have the perfect blue and white checked blanket to quilt this flimsy onto and I’ve promised the girl child it will happen before the weekend’s out.

p.s. oy!  when I pegged the quilt top onto the garden swing it was immediately obvious that I’ve put the left checked border on upside down – bugger!  That’s what you get for late night Christmas sewing.  I foresee a bit of unpicking.