Friday, 31 May 2013

crocheting a field of poppies

I'm working on an exciting new project featuring Poppies for Remembrance.  I spent last night trying to read patterns, giving up and coming up with these little beauties.  I'll be making many more and hope to have details soon in case you'd like to join in too!  They're all meant to be Flanders poppies, however I only had a very small amount of black wool.  I've had to rather reluctantly buy some acrylic to use over the weekend - I say reluctantly because I am such a lover of wool.  I need to set up a photo for a promotion, so will need to make as many poppies as possible over the next couple of days.  More to come!

Thursday, 30 May 2013

tom's crochet cushion of blue and brown - complete!

It was a very happy boy who discovered I'd finished his crochet cushion last night.  Tom seems to have  the least handmade of accessories for his bedroom, something I will rectify as time goes by.  I think it makes a great start though!

The back was just a matter of alternating the blue and brown and carrying up the alternative thread as I went along.  I've tried a couple of different ways of doing this and think I nearly had it licked three-quarters of the way.  It didn't really matter what I did as the inside isn't going to be seen anyway.

Tom's new cushion will be just as at home on the bed as on the chair.  See how his two little buddies are so comfortable settling in?!  Teddy was a special present from nana and pa when Tom was born.  Mum and Joe trailled around the toy shops in Tralee (in Ireland, where we were living at the time) looking for what mum thought was the perfect present.  A little while after mum went back to Australia, Tom received Teddy's sweet little red knitted jumper in the post - the wool matching a kimono style cardigan that mum had also knitted for Tom.  It's nice to know that some handknits still fit, even if it is just on a teddy bear!

PS I don't remember where Puppy's stripey knit came from, but think it was something mum found at the op shop.

PPS Don't you just love the original names?!  Makes them easy to remember, I suppose!

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

on the wall: beautiful shadows

Tom's complaints about dirty socks had to pause this morning - just wait there til I get the camera!  The light bouncing off the mirror and on to the wall formed the perfect frame for Tom's shadow - if you know him, perhaps you will recognise it's not the happiest of faces on view!  Or perhaps you can tell from the furrowed brow - it really is showing up! - and the pursed lips.  Oh, but not a photo to be wasted though, I just love it!  Although Tom - well he thinks he looks like Julius Caesar...  something to do with the hair!

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

40,000 words and counting!

I passed a huge writing milestone last week - the 40,000 word mark!  As I keep writing, I'm becoming more confident about telling people about my project.  I am also happy to think that when I reach the end of my manuscript, I will simply start another and another and another.  Oh yes - and hopefully get published one day!  But first...  to finish this manuscript.  I'm actually up to 41,103 words in total and this month has seen the introduction of a lovely new character and another location where the main character will spend some time.  I know I've unveiled little of the plot, so none of this will yet make sense, I'm afraid.  Perhaps when I get closer towards the end goal I will be more in a position to give little bits away!

In the meantime, it's great just to have your support and as part of the accountability process.  I do love to have those encouraging words from the sidelines, prompting me along from out in the ether.  Now, I must sign off or I won't reach today's target!

Until next time!

Monday, 27 May 2013

the one with the horse

I love walking into the kids' rooms and seeing things like this - so unexpected that you have to look twice and wonder - what were they thinking?!  Sophie has tied her lego horse reins to a ribbon that is in turn attached to a paper lantern she decorated at school last week.  I can't wait to ask her about it when she gets home!  It's on a par with the sign we found stating 'no smoking on easter' (Joe and I don't smoke - well not for 13 years we haven't!) and the used toilet roll holder with a note on it: 'do not touch' then, in scribbly writing underneath, 'spider inside'.  With a lack of punctuation it's one of those statements that could go either way - were we not to touch the toilet roll at all?  Or just the spider inside?!

I look forward to hearing more about the horse on the ribbon on the lantern this afternoon...  will keep you posted!

It turns out the horse is there so Sophie has something to look at if she can't get to sleep - kind of like a mobile above a cot I suppose!

Saturday, 25 May 2013

setting the birds free: decorative bird cage

As much as I love my little boy, I do love his daytime sleeps.  I'm not looking forward to him giving them up anytime soon!  It's my only time during the week, when Tom and Sophie are at school, that I can do my own work, write and sometimes have time left over for a little creativity...  like yesterday!  I finally managed to transform one of my birdcages from the tip (the other still looking beautiful hanging outside in the apricot tree).  This half yellow and white cage has been transformed with the most glorious green spray paint and now takes pride of place on our sideboard.
 It looked a bit lonely without anything in it, so some paper cranes (ones I'd made earlier - I didn't have that much time!) took flight and landed inside of their own free will.  A little spruce of the rest of the sideboard has transformed this space - I can't wait to see the low winter sunlight dappling through this afternoon - will take some more pics and update if I get the chance...
And the view from the top - see there's not a roof here so the birds can fly away at will!  And the green!  Amazing what a spot of spray paint will do.  I asked the salesperson at the hardware shop whether the spray paint was the sort that would be good on the railway underpass - she did a double take before realising I was only joking!  Now I'll be able to show her some shots of the bird cage so she can understand what sort of tag I have!!

Now, it's action stations around here - chaos is shortly to descend in the form of a 10 year old's birthday party.  I have the cake in the oven and a mini golf course to create.  Oh, sure that will take five minutes won't it?!  And please - cross your fingers that I have all of my windows in tact by the end of the day, I will be sure to instruct everyone in the gentle art of mini golf - taps, boys, not full swings!

Edited to add: 
Ah hah!  And that was what I was hoping for!
 Happy birds...
and fabulous shadows cast on the wall!

Friday, 24 May 2013

tom's crochet cushion cover - working with brown and blue

After the beautiful brights of Zara, it's hard to go back to other colours.  But...  in saying that, I think this layout has really helped the blue and brown of Tom's crochet cushion to work together.  I'm yet to do the back - am thinking of the alternating blue and brown will work.  That's for tonight's tv watching time.  Will see how I go!

Thursday, 23 May 2013

the neapolitan crochet cushion cover: the end!

 Ta da!  Finito, completo, it's done!  I finished most of the edging last night - I say most of it as I became a bit stuck working out how to finish it off...
It all started at the back... As my one piece granny square became larger, I started to wonder how I would get the cover on and off the cushion.  Perhaps I might just crochet the whole thing together and wash it as one piece when the time came?  Or...
... perhaps I could leave one small section open and fold the cushion to get it in and out...  And it worked!  Whenever I've sewn cushion covers in the past, I've made them with envelope style openings at the back.  For a minute or two I contemplated starting the back of this cushion again and trying something similar, but now I'm glad I forged on with the granny square.  I'm sure I can add a couple of buttons if I need to, but it seems to sit straight without them.  Now I just have to make a calico liner for the cushion as you can see straight through the crochet cover to the cushion itself.  Not very attractive!
Two new projects on the go.  More cushion covers...  or somethings.  Had another idea for the pink and blue squares on the left, so they may become something else.  Hopefully I fit in a bit of crochet today inbetween cleaning the house and running around after Jono.  Fingers crossed!

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

making helicopters and diggers and daddy and dogs and elephants...

... and cars and cockatoos and birthday cakes and all sorts of amazing creations!  This is Jono's first foray into playdough, having a very slack mum who hasn't made it for him until now.  Do you think it's textbook third child syndrome?  The poor little fellow!  Anyway, he's having a ball as I shuffle through the house moving piles of things from one room to another.  I haven't been feeling 100% this week, so it's been very quiet on the making front; the cushions can wait for another day!  I made a raw dough playdough for this mix, but it's not as smooth as the cooked recipe I used to make.  Anyone have a whizzbang recipe that's not too gritty with salt?!

Monday, 20 May 2013

sophie's birds: a fledgling business

Sophie's bird making is going from strength to strength.  She's started taking orders from her classmates during art and it's no small wonder!  They are amazing!  I love the way her little 6 year old hands are crafting these birds aplenty.  Their coloured tailfeathers finish off her work just perfectly.  I think I will have to set her to work myself!  Makes me even more desperate for a kiln, but it remains - as ever - on the long list of things to buy...  Perhaps if Sophie starts taking money for the birds at school, we could start a kiln fund!!

PS Fledgling business...  get it?!

PPS Sorry!

Sunday, 19 May 2013

sundays in the garden: the new garden bed

Last week's rain and my growing impatience with a front garden full of cape weed have fuelled my desire for a new garden bed.  I dug up and turned the soil outside my office, then finally planted gardenias I've had in pots since December (!) and added other plants needing a home.  Since we planted out the side garden, some of the geraniums have filled out enough that I've been able to transplant some of them.  I've only ever started a couple of garden beds before, but I prefer to thickly plant them out, rather than have lots of gaps.  Then I transfer the plants as they grow and find them new homes.  It might be a bit more work, doubling up on extra digging and moving, but gives me the established look I'm trying to achieve.

I started off this afternoon's efforts by myself, but managed to tempt Sophie outside by saying it could be our shared garden bed.  She was delighted to choose places for the plants - including lavender, echeveria, pigface and thyme - then cover them with fresh autumn leaves I'd raked from out the back this morning.  The soil out the front is very poor, but by mulching with leaves and pea straw, they will break down in time and feed everything.  And without a garden budget, we're just going to make do!  I'd prefer to have a few plants die on me, than look at cape weed for the rest of my life!

Saturday, 18 May 2013

the neapolitan icecream crochet cushion - a work in progress

Didn't you just love neapolitan icecream when you were younger?  We did, apart from the strawberry, which kind of defeated the purpose!  But it always looked so pretty sitting in the container and I certainly liked the idea of the pink icecream, if not the taste!  This cushion is an ode, of sorts, to the perfect mix of icecream colours, plus an extra pink to add to the mix.  It's all from Bendigo Woollen Mills - wool I already had and it's not bad on my hands...  but again, whinge, not the beautiful strengths of colours from my old favourite Zara.
I've been making this over the past couple of nights and only have a few rows to go of the back.  The cushion which it will cover is only smallish, so it's been the perfect start for me with crocheted cushions...  another new crochet addiction!  It's just so nice to sit down at night and work on a project that's not for the long-term!  My sister Kate suggested I try making a few, now that I've mastered granny squares.  I have another three cushions to cover, so you know what I'll be doing over the next week or so!

Thursday, 16 May 2013

autumn comes to the garden

Our two ash trees are looking amazing at the moment, making me very grateful we built on a block that already had a few trees.  I wouldn't like to have to be starting completely from scratch - we already have enough to do in the garden!  The beautiful blue skies of mother's day are just a memory now and I doubt I'll be seeing Sophie in a t-shirt again for quite some time.  We're expecting weather in single digits over the weekend and into the start of next week - great for snow lovers, but making it freezing for everybody else!

Writing-wise, I have a target of 750 words today.  I became a little behind this week, due to having a sickie home one day and then sewing another.  Luckily I have set such a low daily target and it shouldn't be too hard to achieve...  that is, if Jono has a good sleep!

Anyway, must sign off now and write, write, write.  Wish me luck!

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

on these cold autumn days...

The granny love continues, last night using my ends of Zara...  It's been a much colder start to the week, fantastic to see some rain, but it's brought with it some icy cold weather.  I keep finding dog shaped tunnels in my bed - very frustrating when I've gone to the effort to make it, but obviously Minnie prefers it that way.  She's now snuggled up on these granny squares, having found them on the ground where I took this photo.  Cheeky girl!

Thanks for the yarn suggestions.  I rang Wondoflex in Melbourne and they said the only alternative to Zara is... Zara!  They didn't think I'd find the softness combined with range of colours in another brand.  Mum found some Heirloom Merino Magic, which I will try too.  If you think of anything else, keep the suggestions coming!

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

more granny squares and a shock wool discovery...

You can see the granny squares are becoming quite addictive!  As they're neat and small, it's so easy to get the wool out and whip them up while I'm sitting in one of the comfy armchairs.  Like an old crone, I beckon the kids toward me, encourage them to get out their homework and read to me while I sit down for a few moments....  bliss!  But my bliss bubble has been popped with a shock wool discovery...  my skin can't tolerate the beautiful bright wool shown in the granny squares in the background.  Whilst working with this wool last night, my hands became terribly red and itchy.  Even worse than this realisation was the one where I worked out I hadn't had any kind of reaction to the beautiful - but terribly expensive - Zara wool from which I crocheted my granny stripe blanket.

Do any wool lovers know of another beautiful, soft 8ply merino wool that is brightly dyed, ultrafine and doesn't cost up to $12 per ball?!  If so, I would love to know, otherwise I will be spending my children's education funds on a rather costly wool habit!!  Or else, using up my scratchier wool and spending the children's education funds on a rather costly skincare regime!!


PS The granny square in the foreground is the gentle granny!  The blue in the centre is cotton and the pink is a bamboo cotton mix - neither of which affected my hands, but I don't think they were cheap either!

Monday, 13 May 2013

the happy quilt

There are ends to bind and loose threads needing to be removed, but for all intents and purposes this quilt is finished!  What started out life as a not very attractive woollen blanket, is now known as the happy quilt.  It was a huge effort, finished today in testing circumstances with a busy two year old running around the house...
The piece was so big, I found it dragging as I sewed it on to the blanket top.  I moved my sewing machine to the floor instead and used my knee to operate the pedal!  Very unconventional, but it worked!  My back is aching now, though, I must admit.  I am walking around like an old woman!
The back - I am in two minds as to whether I will cover this.  Not doing anything til my back stops aching from today's efforts!
And last night I learnt how to make granny squares.  I can't believe I found a tutorial I could actually understand - thanks to Heather at Little Tin Bird.  Heather is a genius at explaining how to do things, she is if I can understand them!  I'm not keen on my colours there, it was more about the technique.

Anyway, chaos ensues, must sign off and hope I will have more granny squares to show you tomorrow - in much better colour ways!

Sunday, 12 May 2013

happy mother's day!

Croissants, tea and the latest issue of Country Style in bed!  Bliss!  As I lay there looking at the beautiful images of people's homes, it filled me with inspiration.  Instead of moving on to the newspapers, I leapt out of bed and on to the computer.  I'd like my mother's day to be about creation, indulging myself in my own projects for the day...  Sounds pretty reasonable, don't you think?!  And we're looking forward to lunch with mum and MSF later on - Joe and the kids are on duty and we're going to enjoy a simple forage of fresh ciabatta with ham and whatever else they rustle up in the supermarket deli.  Tom's on chocolate pudding duty, so I am especially looking forward to dessert!

Saturday, 11 May 2013

dancing queen: rocking the crochet headband

Have you ever seen the likes?!  This custom made headband had been intended as a cowl, however I made my foundation chain too big....  No matter, its new owner is delighted with her beautiful headband, made with Zara leftovers from my granny stripe blanket.
It's quite apt that Soph should have such a 70s inspired headband just as she's discovering the joys of Abba.  Having joined the school choir, Sophie is rocking out 'Dancing Queen' and 'Mamma Mia'.  So inspired is her younger brother, that Jono can be seen standing on a chair singing along 'Dancing Queen' himself - very cute!

I will try again with the cowl...  hoping 20 less stitches will do the trick!

Friday, 10 May 2013

crochet without patterns - striped photo frame cover

I spent yesterday wondering which of unfinished works in progress I would attend to next...  my blanket of knitted squares or the one in stripes?  Or my needlepoint tapestry?  But somehow I kept coming back to crochet.  It had to be something simple, so I didn't need a pattern.  I figure that now I know I can make pretty striped rows, that was all I needed to do!  I remembered a basic frame I had that could do with a bit of brightening up...
It took a few tries to get it right.  I crocheted another few lines first, but the colours weren't quite right and I donated the piece to Sophie, who has now requested something to go around her neck.  I will be measuring her up for my version of a cowl...  tonight's project!  Anyway, back the work above...  I made four separate pieces, sewed them together and then then attached the cover to the frame with extra wool.
It really was an episode in persistence because I sewed one of the shorter pieces on the wrong way TWICE!  Firstly I sewed it on back to front, then I sewed it on to the other short piece, instead of the long one.  Joe was very proud that I didn't throw the towel in and walk away from the job!  So there you have it, a crocheted photo frame cover...  I'm still not sure whether this is the equivalent of a crocheted toilet roll holder, but I think it's pretty cute all the same!

PS This is Sophie's first clay bird - it's so cute with the feathers sticking out.  It was even more gorgeous before it fell on the floor of the car and received a flattened beak!

Thursday, 9 May 2013

tales of the granny stripe: the end!

This week has been all about the granny stripe - hard for you to guess, I know!  And it's over, finito, finished and I'm already thinking of what's next...  try to finish some other works in progress that will be getting a bit jealous, knowing that the granny stripe skipped the queue!  I finished the blanket edge just in time to snuggle under it and watch a recording of Sunday night's episode of Call the Midwife.  Very therapeutic!
Hopefully it will endure the rigours of family life and won't end in pieces in a three way blanket pulling competition (which has almost happened once already!)...
Otherwise I will be stealing it away to my room and won't share!  But who could blame me?!  If you thought your hard work could be in danger, you'd protect it too, wouldn't you?!

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

granny stripe blanket - just a little bit more to go!

 Can you see it?!  The blue edging, signifying the end of the very loooooooong process of making this blanket?!  I am nearly there!  Just one more night...  only a little bit left to go, the yellow and white rows took longer than I thought they would.
I can't tell you how pleased I am!  The poor blanket is living in a cupboard now, in case the kids manage to unravel the blue row, which is tethered rather tenuously waiting for me to get back to work...
And a close-up!  Time to run and get the kids, looking forward to sitting and listening to their school readers tonight as this work comes to an end.  See you tomorrow!

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

lucy and lucy's granny stripe blanket: racing to a close

Does it seem strange to name a blanket?  Well, you tell me, because every time I look at this blanket, I think 'Fiesta'!  And I'm about to have my own little celebrations now, because after all these months, my granny stripe blanket is almost finished.  I'm now on the second row of my external border and plan to do two more before I declare this work in progress complete.
I am completely in love with it - the pattern, as mentioned previously, is from the very clever Lucy over at Attic24.  It's very easy to follow, the most difficult part is at the start where you have to keep count for the foundation chain.  After that, it's just stripe after delightful stripe with do stress whatsoever!
The Zara wool has been just beautiful to work with - this accounts for all but the white, which is from Bendigo Woollen Mills.  I'm mad on the Zara colours - I wish we could get something similar from an Australian company as I would buy it in a flash!

Hopefully there will be more photos to show you tomorrow - the finished product!

Monday, 6 May 2013

heart-shaped cushion - a team effort!

Busy hands - big and small - got to work yesterday making this heart-shaped cushion for one of Sophie's school friends.  Sophie drew the picture of the little girl and stitched it by herself - just needing help with threading the needle and the occasional tangle - then I set to work assembling everything.  We found a heart shape online, then printed it out and traced it on a cereal box to make a template (Sophie thought she was very funny walking around with it pressed to her chest: "I've got a weetbix heart mum!").
The dots on the back had been attached some time ago and were crying out to be used.  I sewed around them on the machine to make sure they hold tight.
I'm delighted with the different stitches on my sewing machine - they make very light work of embroidery.  And something I wouldn't finish in a lifetime - believe me, it would end up as just another work in progress!
And just another look at Sophie's little girl - cute!  It's actually worked really well, combining the hand stitching with the machine embroidery.  Sophie's delighted with her work - as she should be - and we think we'll be doing this again for another present or two...

Sunday, 5 May 2013

escape if only for a day - autumn in bright

 Embracing the concept of doing nothing, we took off on a day trip to Bright on Saturday.  I've always wanted to get there at this time of year to see those beautiful autumn colours.
We were not disappointed!  I took over 300 photos and would still be there clicking away, if not for having to get home...
We arrived to find the whole town mobbed - I'm not kidding!  Roads were closed, there were buses and cars everywhere, with numberplates from all around Australia.  Bright really is becoming an autumn mecca!
Unbeknownst to us, we'd arrived on the day of their autumn parade.  We soon joined the crowd and watched as community groups, schools and businesses made their way down the main street of Bright.  We particularly loved the huskies!
These super-coordinated people made spinning hoops look easy - I had myself convinced I could do it too!
There were floats festooned with floating pompoms...
 ... and pipe bands marching in time.
 I loved seeing the shadows cast by the autumn light and waited to see the full shadow appear on the concrete from this couple above - one of my favourite photos from the day.
 I loved the stone and iron in this memorial gate near the river - just stunning.
We all agreed that this town knows how to do autumn - it was a feast for the senses.  We'll be back!