Monday, June 28, 2010

Some Birthday Warm

It’s a most very excellent lady’s birthday today and if there is one person on this planet with a heart that is warm and open and generous, who also appreciates the handmade, it is she. With the lovely Lisa, it is not a question of whether she will turn up her nose at non-store-bought imperfection, because she absolutely ‘gets’ that with the making comes thought, deliberation, care and a gesture of friendship.

Nope, the risk is always entirely the opposite. So much does this lady appreciate time and effort, that even if she absolutely aesthetically abhorred a handmade gift she would never let on and love it still for all it’s warm intent.

This also extends to the baking of cheesecake. Lisa, below is how your birthday treats started out. Not quite the pile of crumbledness that ended up on your doorstep after the extended, kid-accompanied, mini-disaster-laden, (WHAT WAS I THNKING?) bike ride to yours.

Happy birthday Chook.

PS. The scrappy scarf was completely inspired (and slightly varied using a single/treble/single/etc stitch) by Nicole’s excellent version here. I also used a treasured Liberty print for the fabric woven detail – it works well for scarf double-sidedness. How to tie a scarf? Pop over to Leonie’s. (I reckon funkily-tied scarves could be the wintry way to spot a crafty blogger). The cheesecake? Be warned. Resistance is an exercise in futility. Which is why we all rode our bikes to deliver the rest of ’em.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

My Creative Space: Embracing ‘Wonk’ and Wising Up

I have my arms in the air. I’m victory-lapping. I’m motorcading on parade, blowing kisses to flag-waving, wide-eyed children, bearing the Olympic flame into the opening ceremony arena. And guess what? I reckon I’ve grown up a wee bit.

Not ever, never, ever, has anyone complimented me on anything without the prompting of my awful, internal, eternal: ‘Yes, BUT...’. It’s a vile and nasty affliction, that infinite, fruitless search for absolute perfection – and by crikey, it’s BORING.

This quilt is my first, from go to woe. There had been a whole lot of dithering over what should become of some hoarded fabric treasures and I’d, predictably, bored myself senseless. It took a craft camp and a ‘suck it and see’ approach to cutting into a colour palette of everything red, grey/blue, natural/whitish to get things moving. Move they did.

Even though there were so many things I would angst over and unpick and tweak if this was, say, a design job for a client, damnation it was refreshing to just let fabric strips stay where they (pretty much) fell. Not disillusioned by a long and drawn out editing process, I have since thoroughly enjoyed the meditative process of the hand quilting, the handsewing of the binding and lo! there is actually something to snuggle under – just like I said there would.

The bit that brings me such great joy, is that I actually love it more for the mistakes. The ‘horsey’, uneven stitches at the start of my hand quilting efforts, a discovered typo I wouldn’t change for the world, the brown and white stripe binding (that works better than a charcoal/white stripe which I was so sure would be the way to go). The brown and white was there in my stash and guess what, Myrtle and Eunice Graphic Designer Lady Who Should Know a Thing or Two About Colour – suck on them lemons! The overall effect is softer on the eye and the brown ‘reads’ as a warm grey anyway and how’s that for learning something new?

So, apologies for all the pics. I couldn’t help but indulge and celebrate a wee while. Right before I throw the thing in a nervous first wash, in an attempt to get that nice wrinkled quilty thing happening. I did not pre-wash any fabrics, and hooley cadooley, there are quite some number in there, clanging alarm bells.

I’ll be less convinced about all that victory lapping bizzo, if what I end up with, is a quilt gone PINK.

I’ve been up to the eyeballs in real life lately and am very much looking forward to grabbing a cuppa (or ten!) and checking out all the creative happenings via Kirsty’s place... (right after I pick myself up from the floor after a Prime Ministerial leadership spill of gobsmacking, breathtaking expedience).

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Da Da DAH! Da Da Da DAH!... (Think to the Tune of a Striptease)

Today I’m a blog floozy and playing over at Flowerpress. Susie publishes a monthly Show and Tell of Aussie bloggers and this time it’s a no holds barred, bare-all from moi. (Without feathers. With clothes. So not as scary as you might at first think).

Thanks Susie.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Bad Auntie Gift Giver Strikes Again...

I have an allergy to shopping. I have an anaphylactic-type reaction to large chain toy stores. Stand me in one such shop and I’ll break out in hives, huff and puff, sprint for the nearest exit on a panicked, adrenaline high.

Six months ago, I purchased a not-inexpensive, Chinese Checkers game from one such store. When I finally opened the box last week, I discovered that the pictured, very real, wooden board and glass marbles on the cover, in actuality translates to a faux plastic wood-look and light-as-air polyprophylene ‘marbles’ that PING! off the board when anyone breathes.

So it was, because of a Chinese Checkers induced strop, along with a general toys-destined-for-landfill-miffedness, that another poor niece missed out on those pet shop collectible thingy whatsits and instead had nana-scented (lavender), wheaty warmth foisted upon her.

Just because my kid likes a toasty wheat bag, doesn’t mean her cousin does. As far as I can tell, my nine year old niece knocks about in more than a strappy dress in the mid-winter.

There’s still a bit of me that dares to hope, (what with the encouragement of frosty evenings and foggy mornings), that the birthday girl ‘gets’ that it was an auntie gift made with heart.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Hot Giraffe

A little while ago, the You Sew Girls (Nikki and her wee one), made a Hot Frog wheat bag from that pattern over there on the sidebar. Last week, the shortest You Sew Girl, designed me a wheat bag pattern in return. AND INCLUDED A SEAM ALLOWANCE (that kid so knows the express route to her Mama’s heart). Like I was never going to give this one a whirl!


Like all good patterns it was an easy one to adapt for my purposes – I stuffed the neck and head with 100% wool stuffing and confined the wheat bit to the body. My littlest was beside herself chuffed to finally have her own ‘growed up’ wheat bag.

We overcame the fitting-in-the-microwave issues with a session of giraffe yoga.

Meanwhile, as I type, my middle is in the living room designing a menagerie of wheat bags. Despite constant prompting, he hasn’t once considered a seam allowance.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

My Creative Space: Wrapped/Rapt

Friday night I learnt how to crochet in straight lines. Such is a life filled with glamour and veritable intrigue. The rest of the evening was spent exploring the joy of the double crochet, the associated chaining and turning malarkey, plus a basic kid wrap plan of attack. All of this happened in front of a cosy fire – rather than brave three minutes of frigid studio research at the computer. Talk about embracing the Drama Queen.

Sunday, the eldest kid enthusiastically (that’s actually cool, Mum!) climbed aboard the yarny wrap bandwagon while her mother looked on wistfully wishing chunky crochetwear complimented the curves. With enough Moda Vera Gracious wool purchased at a bargain $2 from Spotlight I could yet give it a whirl, subscribing to mother/daughter matchiness shock tactic distraction.

A more dignified (for one of us) excess yarn solution, is to continue along that doggy button theme and conjure up a new winter wrap affair for the pooch of the house. Last weekend she scored a homemade fur cut. All I’ll diplomatically say about that, is to note the sudden penchant for paper bags (on head) and a seeming reluctance to be seen in public. Truly a dog’s life.

The kid-wrap was inspired by Leonie’s and then by Michelle’s and of course you can get all snazzy-like and have a whirl at Kirst’s granny shrug version (with sleeves!), or her Smokey Sleeves Shrug (bigger sleeves!) or just be inspired by all the general vesty shrugness. While you’re over at the House of Shrug, why don’t you check in on those nice Creative Spacer types?

Wednesday, June 16, 2010


Today I knew I was ‘toast’ (in the Aussie slang ‘now I’m in trouble’ definition of the word), when the toaster worked. For six months the toaster has mostly not worked but if you stand holding the toaster lever-thing down, then you can produce some toast-ish something – unless you get lost in your own wee world, forced to stand still in a non-multi-tasking fashion and end up burning the stuff. So while mostly not working, the toaster has functioned just enough for me to stave off contributing to Landfill Mountain and the avoid-at-all-costs trip to one of those awful homewares stores. Plus we’re all likelier to grab an instant gratification apple, rather than stand about making hot, buttery bread.

Anyway. This morning I pressed down the toaster lever and it stayed put. Alarmingly, it waited a bit, then perkily popped up two pieces of perfectly browned raisin toast. While I ate with one eyebrow quizzically raised (mostly using my imagination, because I can’t do the eyebrow thing but the eldest has me in training), I noted my distinct sense of unease, then piled the kids in the car for the school run, then proceeded to not start said car.

A long, chilly, long, chilly, long, chilly, long walk to school and back later, followed by a visit from the RACV man and a started car and the small one fancied some raisin toast. Is some sort of weirdy kitchen appliance/automobile sunchronicity-thing possibile? As the car hummed in the driveway, I stood holding down the pesky toaster lever, became lost in all sorts of Twilight Zone-esque theories and presented the toddler with a perfectly burned scrap of toast.

Thursday, I’m ready for you.

Monday, June 14, 2010

So, I Return From All That Tropical Island/Hawaiian Shirt/Pina Colada Bizzo, Only to Find a Large Head Has Taken Up Residence in The Driveway...

Needless to suggest, the neighbours and local dog walkers have been buzzing with some consternation. The guerilla knitting was bewildering enough for many but now poor Slav, who lives directly opposite, has developed a nervous tick. There is only so much continual, direct eyeballing, from a two metre, bronze, ex-(dead) Prime Minister, one can take.

John Next Door, in a burst of heroism, has volunteered to put us all out of our misery and deliver Alfred to the nearest truck bound for Canberra, while the Mr does his level best to fly ahead and find Alfred a more suitable home. In an attempt to minimise the alarm of peak hour motorists, John Next Door will undertake the Head-on-Trailer commute in the cover of pre-dawn. Only then, will many around here be breathing easier over their corn flakes.

I won’t be breathing easy until I get the call from the Mr somewhere around Thursday, informing me that the right pins fit in the right holes, that it didn’t rain so the concrete set, that the stonework is beautiful, that Alfred looks perfectly at home and with a bit of luck, the Mr might make it back in time for dinner and that celebratory pina colada.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010


Get any of that?

With thanks to Nelson E. Ross and his 1928 edition of ‘How to Write Telegrams Properly’. Nelson, my apologies for my frivolity and excess. I am a sender ‘guilty of economic waste’. I am some words over the fifty word basis for computation and understand (with head hung low) that I shall be charged accordingly, based on the minimum extra multiple of ten regulation.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Nice Weather For Ducks

A weekend with a bit of that.

A lot of this:

None of this (kid in denial):

A whole load of this:

Then this:

Before back to this:

Finally, four hours of this:

Accompanied by this:

(which is really just knitted Mum-of-gymnast code for calm and collected on the outside, fingers and toes tightly crossed, DON’T FALL OFF! DON’T FALL OFF! on the inside).

Thursday, June 3, 2010

My Creative Space: Only About the Making

I reckon we could be in the running for one of those rare-as-hens’-teeth, short and snappy, Myrtle and Eunice posts. There is no story to weave in to the latest crafting escapade, no fly by the seat of the pants parenting disaster. There is only pure, unadulterated, stitch by knitty stitch repetition, the odd bit of unknitting, then knitting again.

Ishbel isn’t so very difficult, but she isn’t waiting-for-the-gymnast, or playing-Connect Four-with-the-Middle-(who does not subscribe to any fast game is a good game! theory)-while-the-youngest-sits-on-my-head, craft. Slippery needles and Eki Riva Alpaca 4ply and the fact that I’m up to the lace bit requires some application.

Ishbel is all the things I love about knitting: the textures, the hard-yards process. So far, for me, sewing is about reaching the finishing line relatively unscathed. But knitting is all about the bit between A and B.

It’s only about the making.

See a whole lot more space-making via Kirst’s place...

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Flogging a Dead Horse

Because I’m a bit slow on the uptake, the day after I morphed the glittery size 16 ladies jumper into a toddler dress and the two year old refused to ever, not ever, (not even when hell freezes over) wear it, I thought I’d give the clothing the toddler thing One. Last. Whirl. Leonie recently posted a tute on a simple (and you can make it reversible!) wrap skirt. There was nothing to lose.

Whipped up in a jiffy, I went with the suggested kid-friendly velcro closure. Half the morning battles these days, are initiated by two year old I DO IT MYSELF! frustration. With a minimum of help, the kid can manage dressing with velcro.


She loved the skirt long enough to get her in the car for a visit to the glorious McClelland Gallery + Sculpture Park.

Long enough to wave at the inspiring Dame Elisabeth lunching in the cafeteria.

Long enough for some impressively sized sculptural pieces to go entirely unnoticed.

Long enough for the smallest (kid-height) details to undergo intense scrutiny.

Long enough to FREAK OUT at the weird, echo-ey voices coming from the sphere-thingies...

Long enough to dig out the fish escape route.

NOT long enough to find the car and be back home.

Turns out velcro skirts are even easier for a toddler to remove. Turns out ripping off a skirt provides great dramatic effect at the height of a hissy fit. Turns out the toddler only ever wanted to wear the same sleeveless party dress for seven days running, including the frosty autumnal morning bits (dead horses all fallen by the wayside – at least she’s not nudey). Turns out Mummy should plaster a ‘KID IS NOT COLD EVEN IF SHE LOOKS BLUE’ sign on her own forehead, to ward off the holier-than-thou tutting that comes from supermarket shopping on the same day as Discount for Pensioners Day.

Flogged horse pronounced clinically dead and buried sans fanfare.