catching up

 

Oh my goodness!  Has it really been two weeks since I stopped by!  Are you still here?!  I was chatting with Mum this morning and she told me to get on over here and write a post, share some photos, and say hi to all the lovely folk who visit block-a-day.  She thinks I’m very rude.

So, being a dutiful daughter .. and missing you all (truly, the minute I sit down and start uploading photos I think, my goodness why did I let this go so long!) … here I am :-)

All is good here – the presentation went very, very well.  The last essay was squeezed out of me last Friday – the very last words not hitting the screen until 1 hour before the deadline but hey, I got there in the end.  Classes are over for the year and now I’m looking forward (ha!) to exams and placement.

Of course, in between those important tasks, there’s been lots more super fun stuff going on round Bootville.  But nothing much seems to be getting to the final finished and ready for showing stage.  I blame the crappy weather – totally dreary, grey, cold and wet.  So uninspiring.  So impossible to finish off painted projects.  So easy to sit in the armchair by the window and lose hours with never ending yarn projects on my lap.  So easy to think that nothing much is happening until I look on my camera and think “Oh yes – there’s been all that.”

So instead, let’s share some “doing”, huh?  Good!  And hopefully in the next few days, there’ll be some sunlight and warmth and this will lead to that lovely finishing we all enjoy so much :-)

orange

Glorious marigold coloured paint …

blackboard creating

… helping to transform an old hard rubbished bedhead into a blackboard.

green

Whilst celery green paint brightens an old thrifted and embroidered fire screen.

dollmaking

Lots of happy doll making

sideboard restoration

And lots of sideboard sanding and restoration … oh look at that – there was some sun.

christmas decoration making

Getting into the cross stitch – some new Christmas tree decorations from a beautiful book of Danish cross stitch patterns given to me by a sweet friend I met on Instagram – which led me onto the bay of evil to see if there were more such books, which of course there were, and now they’re here!

needlepoint straightening

The finishing off and stretching out of a pair of needlepoints – the girlie being a mere 6 years old, the monkey a grander 10 years old – and do you know, it took less then half an hour to finish them :sigh:  Now I just need to sew them up into rather sumptuous cushions.  That’s coming … truly it is :-)

quilting

The quilting and binding of a recently pieced quilt top – very pretty this one – and oh so very cosy on these silly cold days and nights.

rearranging

The rearranging of the living room and rehoming of this wee blue bookshelf, now in the bedroom.  It holds most of the children’s book series we have – more recent titles like the fabulously ghastly Unfortunate Events, the marvellously detailed Roman Mysteries, Spiderwick, the Adventures of Tashi, several of the American Girl collections, and of course Harry Potter.  As well as some awesome oldies like the Moomin Adventures, the Adventures of Green Knowe, the Wolves of Willoughby Chase series, Little House, Edward Eager’s Tales of Magic, the Borrowers … such good stuff.  Truly some of the essential ingredients of childhood and I do so love looking over the titles each day.  Remembering when I read them, when Abby read them, what we loved most, words and stories and habits that became part of our lives.

doll pondering

More doll making – my turn this time – inspired, at one of those moments when there were at least 20 more important things to do, to try recreating this dear little wooden doll in yarn.  Mostly quite pleased so far – but of course she’s missing her arms, hair, scarf and her apron’s not yet finished … As for the strange arrangement with the kewpie doll – well – I don’t know!

shawl finishing

The finishing of my Icelandic shawl which took for absolutely ever, being in lace weight yarn and all, and then I decided to add a crocheted edging in some Noro sock weight – which is now taking for absolutely ever to finish.  

needlepointing

Now when Abby needlepoints, she starts and finishes as quickly as she can.  I just don’t know where that comes from … odd.

knitting

The realisation that if I don’t put some serious hours into knitting this Stevenson jumper, it will not be ready to wear when we make our summer visit to Green Cape Lighthouse and I won’t be able to have Julian take some photos of me doing my best Kate impersonation.

costume making and wearingAnd more visits from dear Sacha, accompanied by incredibly late night costume sewing and a weekend of playful hilarity and adventure.  

Hmph!  Looking back at all this is quite inspiring – I’d quite forgotten we’d done so much – I might even go sew up those cushions.  Yes, I think I will.

the times that are

Oy!  There’s so much busyness around here lately.  Papers written.  Case studies endlessly researched and submitted.  Posters laid out and printed.  Presentations given.  This third year of nursing is full on.  I’m now in Week 8 of 10 intensive weeks of classes.  I’m so looking forward to a break.  There’s a short one coming up – and then a month long placement in an intensive care setting.  Have I already told you this?  I lose track of such conversations these days :-)

In amongst all the attention given to hyperthyroids and damaged lungs, failing kidneys and newly diagnosed epilepsy, asthmatics that don’t want to take their medications and wounds that will never heal, there’s been a few moments found here and there for the things that I know still define me … who I am, what I treasure, how I express myself.

And I know this will always be so.  Yes, there will be lots of nursing and probably more research and study too – ’cause that’s a big part of where my family’s future lies.  But there’ll always be time set aside for stitching and pottering, sharing the slow days with my girlie and dragging home treasures from the footpath, cooking and thrifting with my love and quilting until my shoulders ache.

Hopefully, this week, there’ll be more time to sneak in a few posts here at blockaday.  Share a few of the sweet stitchy things I’ve been working on.  Tonight, here’s a snippet of the times that are …

sitting room bee:: bees, bees, bees … it’s spring … they’re everywhere I look …
their buzzing fills my ears & my imagination ::

chair cover chair back

:: all this time at the  desk demanded that I do something
about last year’s thrifted desk chair … so I did …
& now it fulfills Mr. Morris’ command –
to be beautiful and useful ::

strangest ever hard rubbish

:: possibly the weirdest hard rubbish find ever … but oh, the fun
Abby & I have coming up with ideas for them
… leads to lots of giggles from us and eye rolling from Julian ::

an open spring window:: spring, spring, spring … open windows, soft air, soaring spirits ::

quilt binding

::  a quilt is bound … well the machine stitching part of it at least ::

blouse

:: a blouse is cut out ::

white chair

:: hmmm … not sure what this chair wants to be yet … still listening ::

custard

:: a kerfuffle of shopping and enthusiastic chickens
lead to there being 4 dozen eggs in the pantry  … lots of baked egg custard
… perfect writing food I say ::

abby

:: an election was held … Julian & I had the great delight (and pride) of sharing
with Abby her first election day volunteering … it was marvellous! ::

machine

:: so much to do … just the way I like it ::

And you?  What are these times demanding of you?

delia duck

before

head

This is Delia.  We found her at the op shop.  A bit battered.  Tatty tail feathers that suggest she may have had an unfortunate encounter with a wily ginger critter.  She needed a wee bit of tender love and care.

A good sanding.  A rich oiling.  Some sweet clothes for outings.  Ah yes.  Delia loves to visit.  And this being Melbourne, she needed a warming shawl, a pretty skirt and a wee felt hat.

DSC_9878 shawl embroidery

Oh how I love making these simple little pieces.  I knitted the shawl whilst glued to the television the night of our battle for prime minister.  Crocheted a lacy trim.  Added some embroidery.  Delia’s a french duck.  She has a thing for fine detail.

bow

The skirt/apron was whipped up from scraps lying on the table.  For my aprons, I fold the  fabric in half lengthways so the  bottom hem is the fold.  I sew the side seams right sides together.  Turn out and vigorously press.  Put two rows of gathering thread in the top of the apron.   Gather them up to fit.  Then finish with a quilt binding style waist band/tie.  Very easy with a lovely sharp and neat finish.  Of course, it too needed crocheted trim.

felt box

putting together the hat

Finally the hat.  So fiddly!  I cut two small circles of felt – the size of a twenty cent piece – and stitched each of them to a band of matching felt – kind of like a little felt drum.  Stuffed with fleece.  Then I added the felt flowers and stitched a narrow pink ribbon to the underside of the hat to hold it in place.  Delia is smitten and refuses to take it off – she even wears it to bed!

DSC_9930

beak up

ready for outings

Abby felt so cold, she wondered whether Delia needed wee leg warmers as well.  Delia just shook her head and pooh poohed such a suggestion.  Apparently French ducks do not wear leg warmers.

However, she did request a pretty button with which to fasten her shawl.  I acquiesced.  A felt one was made in the style of Delia’s favourite peppermint lollies.

DSC_9926

 

 

full length

ready

So there you are!  All ready for your outings.  Now you just make sure, Mme Delia, that you are home well before dark falls.  You wouldn’t want to run into another wily ginger fellow.

Besides – we’re so fond of you, we like you sitting atop the sideboard in the family room.  Just the right spot for quick quack-chats and strokes as we walk by.

whereupon we combine knitting, vintage embroidery boxes & the prime minister’s needles

edited at midnight to add:  and just like that (clicks the fingers) we lost our first woman prime minister. Abby and I feel quite sad.  Deposed by the greatest spoilt brat of all time.

See, yesterday Julian printed out the argyle charts for me from his vest pattern which meant I could start knitting the front of his vest today with all those little balls of wool which insisted on rolling round and round the floor in an infuriating way which meant I was hunting about for something to put them in when I remembered the vintage embroidery box that I restored a few weeks back that just needed the hinges re-attaching and whilst I was thinking and gathering all of this I was reminded of last night’s very spiteful attack on our prime minister Julia Gilliard for KNITTING.

box with wool

Now without doubt, the PM has had some dodgy moments over the last four years.  But she’s also achieved some very fine things and has at the same time been subjected to the most revolting personal attacks – many very sexist.  Attacking her for KNITTING – with claims that it made her look like an old crone, a man in drag, and completely out of touch with real women – is just the dizzy limit.  For god’s sake – the poor PM has to have some down time and why is knitting in any way an unacceptable choice.

The whole attack was not just petty – and yet another example of how poor Julia will be crucified no matter what she does – but demeaning to an art that is both useful and beautiful, too everybody who has ever picked up a pair of knitting needles and a ball of yarn, and trivialises the hours put into every jumper that has warmed a child, every pair of socks, beanie and scarf that has kept the chill at bay from one point of this planet to another, and every cardigan that has been worn with pride then carefully handed down to the next generation.

close up of the inside lid

Anyway, I felt inspired to drop Julia a line so I thought I’d share it here along with the pictures of the pretty embroidery box, now employed as an argyle ball holder  (scroll to the botton for the before shots :-) …

Dear Prime Minister Gillard,

sitting on the fence

As a woman, feminist, student nurse, passionate advocate for the rights of children, women, people with disabilities, and refugees, campaigner for environmental sustainability and animal welfare, and KNITTER, I would like to congratulate you on the lovely photos and story that appeared in this month’s Women’s Weekly.  I think your knitted kangaroo was very sweet and a lovely, thoughtful and personal gesture.

open

 I don’t actually read the Women’s Weekly, but saw the corresponding article on the ABC news last night and was outraged on your behalf by the snide, spiteful and immature comments made by Christopher Pyne, Julie Bishop and Trish Macrossin.  They clearly pay no attention to what their constituents get up to in their spare time.  We are not all passive consumers, chained to commercial media, believing every word of drivel served up to us by those who regularly seek to incite, demean and divide.  In contrast, like you, many of us seek pleasure and peace in creating something with our own hands.  And this does not make us less of a person or worthy of contempt!

the lid

I am so disappointed by the sexist culture currently flourishing here in Australia – especially with regard to you – where it is now even considered acceptable to ridicule, in a completely sexist manner, a woman who chooses to spend her precious personal time knitting!  No one challenged the rights of Joe Hockey, Christopher Pyne, Nigel Scullion, Barnaby Joyce,  or Peter Garratt, all who appeared in front of a stove on Annabel Crabb’s Kitchen Cabinet program, to stand up in parliament because they knew how to cook!

the lining

How dare people suggest that because you know how to wield a pair of knitting needles, that somehow makes you less worthy of your role.  The depth to which our public commentary will stoop knows no bounds and is sadly indicative of a dangerous tendency for so many in our society to be shallow observers rather than valuable participants.  

the unicron

If more people spent time exploring the real issues that beset this country, as well as turning their own hands to a bit of sustainable creativity, instead of constantly looking for opportunities to tear down, we would be a much richer, more compassionate, and productive society.

at the foot of the tree

 I knit in public all the time – on trains, in parks, cafes, at the beach – and regularly have such lovely chats with people of all ages and backgrounds – from rambunctious little Jewish boys at the local playground, to the heavily tattooed young man on the train, to the hardworking owner of our local Chinese takeaway, to the frail elderly ladies I have nursed in hospital, to the busy young students I share many of my days with –  who want to know what I’m doing, how to do it, what part knitting has played in their families’ lives, and how much they would love to try it. 

the cane

Knitting brings people together, creates goods that are both beautiful and useful, and expresses how much we think of someone, when we are prepared to dedicate the time it takes to knit them something special, warming and comforting.  

carrying it

I appreciate your knitting was probably seized upon by a publicity person as a means to help create a more human-you.  Be assured – it caught my eye!  There are many things you have done during your tenure that I applaud, and sadly, many things that have left me very disappointed.  However, to attack you over your practice of an ancient, incredibly intricate craft that has been perfected by both sexes and in cultures around the world for thousands of years – is infuriating.  

bursting with wool

It is also a petty, ignorant and sexist attack on all those hundreds and thousands of people in our community who seek to create something unique and beautiful with their own hands, suggesting no man in his right mind would do so and any woman who does is not to be taken seriously.

yours sincerely,

 Lily Boot

I do wonder how she gets up each morning.  It must be so dispiriting to be constantly attacked – even when you try to do something nice (she has knitted a kangaroo doll for Prince William and Princess Kate’s babe).

Whilst I am very aware the PM has many more important things on her plate a silly little part of me hopes that some aide reads my email and as the PM is striding off to another ghastly meeting, the aide is able to say “Hey!  We got a funny email from a voter who thought your knitting was cool and that the naysayers were totally out of line.”

It’s a forehead smacking time we live in.

Here are the before photos … found at a local op shop.  Have been searching for more ever since, but alas, no luck.

the ghastly before shot more awfulness the stuffing

How funny are these little lumps of stuffing!  You should look out for a little vintage embroidery box, dear reader, and if you need some help to recover it, email me and I’ll walk you through it!

Three huge huzzahs for all those who make things with their hands!