Tuesday, November 26, 2013

new book : new look

i love a trip to the city, so much inspiration to store away for future grey days, not to mention catching up with my blockhead sister. apparently when we are chatting it's just like me in stereo, talking twice as fast as usual! my shopping was quite restrained until we took a trip to Yarns on Collie, where my sister became an enabler to my yarn addiction, "helping" me choose some skeins of colourful sock yarn and some interesting summer denim bamboo.

after a leisurely coffee on Freo's cafe strip, we went to the New Edition bookshop on High Street for a browse. i already have a couple of Japanese sewing books from Yoshiko Tsukiori, so i was happy to find Clothing for Everyday Wear on the shelves. these patterns are so different from what the big pattern companies offer, somehow girlish and ladylike with interesting details. when i got home i rummaged through the stash for some lightweight cotton and cut out pattern X a "drop waist funnel neck dress with pockets".

summery cotton

the other two books i have from this author are distributed by Penguin Books and the sizing has been updated for western figures. this book, although translated into English, retains the original Japanese sizing, so i had to grade up one size for my European hips. luckily these styles are accommodating for all shapes with their easy fit and gentle shaping, so all was well at the try on!

ladylike under the patio

i love this dress, it has a vaguely retro feel about it because of the drop waist, and when i wore it out today i got a lovely comment on how beautiful it is. i think it will be a valuable dress when the sticky heat sets in later in the year. there's still 25 more lovely garments to make from this book and when my daughter saw my dress she put in an order for one as well. i've got a feeling this was an excellent purchase, thanks to Di, and i've ordered some more Japanese sewing books as an early self Christmas pressie!

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

pattern magic in grey marle

i've had some questions about what's happened to this old blog lately and it's not that i haven't been doing anything, i just haven't wanted to blog about it. but in the interests of sisterly love (you know who you are), i'm going to make an effort to share what i've been making.

to start off, something a little odd. it seems i'm late to jump on the Pattern Magic bandwagon, but jump on i have, with gusto! my first few projects were made using the slopers provided in the book, but i quickly realised i do not have a Japanese physique, so these got passed on to my beanpole daughter. after trawling the interwebs, i noticed most people worked off their personal blocks to make the patterns, so i am doing the same.

normal front view

back with hoody section

this top is from Pattern Magic 3 for stretch fabrics and it is very quick and easy to draft and sew. i'm not entirely sure if i got the fit right because the back is not shown in the book. i might still take a smidge off the overarm/hoody seam to reduce the fullness in the back and pull the front neckline lower. i used some mystery remnants of soft grey marle jersey and the top is very comfortable and feels quite "normal" to wear.



 i couldn't resist trying out the hood as pictured in the book, but posing in my own special way! stay tuned for more pattern magic soon, this is too much fun to stop.

Monday, September 16, 2013

wearing the inside out

last week Thursday marked six months since Mum died. i read an article recently about how people manage life after bereavement, which stated that many of us only truly become an adult on the day a parent dies. i can relate to this statement, adding a further condition; that we only know true love when we see someone we care for pass away.

many people experience the love of a partner, the love for and from a child and even the devotion of a pet, but it's the self sacrificing love of a parent that can put all this into perspective. i was the last one to see Mum before she died, and i still feel deeply how much she cared when she sent me home to rest after an exhausting day, refusing my offer to stay with her that night. looking back i think she knew she wasn't going to last the night, she was in so much pain that she slipped away in the early hours.

Mum's favourite

we are told to be brave, to look to the living, to get back to work and normal life as soon as possible, that it's not wise to indulge in grief. "she's gone to a better place", "she's no longer in pain", "you still have your Dad", "you have your faith", all these comments are true and they come from well meaning intentions but when the funeral is over and everyone goes home, what are you left with? an empty place at the table, an absent grandmother at your childrens birthday parties, a missing confidante who knows you so well but loves you anyway. you don't just get over this.

i followed the conventional wisdom of getting back into a busy life as soon as possible but found myself thinking of Mum every morning when i woke up, waking in the middle of the night remembering her pain and feeling overwhelmed by life. i knew something had to change. i thought about Mum and her choices in life. she always wanted to be near her father, rummaging in his shed, going fishing and tinkering with tools. she didn't want to follow convention and since i've spent some time with Dad, i've learnt that she was pretty headstrong about it!

another favourite

so now i've thrown caution to the wind, rejecting everyone's expectations of what i should do with my life. you only get one, right? why should i study a boring career because i'm good at it? who says i can't make my living from what i love? do i really need all this stuff to be happy? do i have to live in my home town all my life? i'm not alone in questioning my life, some of my siblings are having the same crisis. i suppose it's a growing up thing, but it's very cathartic.

i hope to keep Mum's legacy alive with my choices and i think she would be proud of me for making them. i won't stop grieving her in six months, six years or even sixty, but it's my grief and i'll cry if i want to...

Monday, June 24, 2013

three states of mind

it's hard to believe that it's little over one week ago that i left home again on another trip, east this time. i'm having to look out of the window in the mornings to remember where i am!

i'm renewing my acquaintance with the long roads and deserts of South Australia, which i visited almost 20 years ago. not much has changed on the Nullarbor, but i enjoyed the stark landscape of the "treeless plain". the shifting sands at Eucla are still trying to obliterate all signs of the early British pioneers and the relentless pounding of the sea shapes the sheer cliffs in the Bight.

Eucla jetty

Eucla telegraph ruins

cliffs at the Bight

it was a bit of a relief to arrive at the other end of the plain and see huge stretches of farmland again. i don't know how farmers do it, but i admire their optimism in planting crops every year in the face of the tough climate. i'd never heard of the "Australian Farmer" sculpture carved from granite by an amazing artist and his son, but i'm glad to have seen this imposing homage to the humble farmer placed in a little old town called Wudina, right near the wheat silos seen in every town in the region.

the Australian Farmer

driving north-east we went through the lush orchards and vineyards of the riverlands surrounding the Murray River. this amazing river sustains a large agricultural community in otherwise semi-arid land, with beautiful English style towns in close proximity to each other. i'm coming back one day to do a relaxed food/wine/drive tour needing at least a month to soak it all up. i'd also love to hire one of the many houseboats available and just "mess about on the river" as Ratty from the Wind in the Willows would. (any takers on that trip?)

Waikerie riverboats

crossing the border into Victoria we made our way through picturesque hillsides dotted with sheep and tumbledown farmhouses. the trees became taller and closer together, and i could imagine bush-rangers hiding in the gullies. more pretty towns and i was drooling over the century old cottages and huge trees with their autumn foliage. i was really happy to stop in Bendigo to have a closer look, and because i had a cunning plan for this town.

beautiful German architecture

three different states in this big country with so many ways to live and work. talk about broadening the mind, this is the way to do it!

Saturday, May 25, 2013

beach bum

can i ask you a question? can you tire of beautiful coastlines and spectacular sunsets?
 how many photos of beaches can you stand before you say enough?!
 well, i'm sorry to say that this post is full of these things, but can i help it that i'm always in such beautiful places?

following the coast line of Western Australia in the last two weeks i snapped these photos...

the wild Kalbarri coast and fiery sunset at the camp

beautiful warm sea at Quobba just after dawn

and this evening a perfect sunset in Port Denison
(i took this photo with my phone, it really was that amazing!)

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

wash day wednesday

I've had so many excuses not to sew this year what with my sewing room in a mess and stacks of mending and other boring 'must do' type projects piling up everywhere. It was all just getting me down until I picked up Scandinavian Stitches last month at my local Spotlight store.


This book, written by Kajsa Wikman includes lots of fun projects mostly using raw edge applique and free motion stitching, techniques made popular by designer Poppy Treffry. This 'wash day' picture to hang up in my laundry is my third project from the book. I've found the applique so enjoyable, it's quick, effective and great for a self confessed perfectionist like me, you really learn to let go as the more imperfect your stitching, the better it looks!

The frame I used has been lying around in my shed waiting for it's moment of glory. Just a few coats of turquoise paint and voila, a cheap and cheerful artwork for my bare walled laundry! I'm hoping it will make me smile every time I put a load of washing on.


Tuesday, May 14, 2013


the big red car is continuing North, passing by huge farms, tiny towns and beautiful coastlines. i've been delighted by the cute mid-west town of Northampton, famous for it's annual airing of the quilts from the old buildings lining the highway. i found a well stocked general store with a better range of yarn than in my home town and an old shop being used as a communal sewing room. i almost missed my ride as i rummaged through the doilies in the op-shop, but safely stashed my treasures in the caravan!

Northampton church

heading further north, the scenery changed to scrubby dunes and dark red dirt as we made our way towards Denham. i was inspired by the colours of the bush and scribbled furiously in my journal as we went; eucalypt, spinifex, rust, taupe and steel. we camped that night at Eagle Bay, a beach side stopover without any facilities and no phone signal but utterly peaceful.

Eagle Bay

today it's back to civilisation and continuing in the tourist theme, we will be going to Monkey Mia tomorrow to see the dolphin feeding. a benefit of the long distances between towns means lots of knitting gets done and i've finished my fallen leaves shawl and started a new project. what i should be doing is studying my accounting books, but it's difficult when the view from the window looks so inviting...

looking out my back door

Saturday, May 11, 2013

on another planet

after an overnight stay in the beautiful fishing village of Cervantes, we chugged off in the big red car towards Geraldton. i convinced Dad that i simply had to see the Pinnacles, groups of strange looking limestone pillars created by years of strong sea winds.

at first i thought it might be a bit over-rated, but the closer we got, the weirder it looked! just walking through the desert area made me feel like an extra on Star Trek (the old series of course). Dad and I chose our favourite pillars to have a photo in front of.

Dad being a tourist

after inspecting the impressive Discovery centre we made our way back towards the coast, where Cheddar kindly kept my back warm while the cold sea wind almost took a layer off my skin; first hand experience in how the Pinnacles were formed!

hot dog

Friday, May 10, 2013

going through a yellow patch!

i'm getting ready, i'm packing for an unexpected journey!
my teenage son had to laugh up his sleeve when he saw me packing my knitting bag for a two week trip, and i admit it was the first thing i packed. forget suitable clothes, toiletries and blankets, it's the knitting that i can't live without. at the moment i'm knitting a shawl from a beautiful mustard 5 ply wool and the colour just glows.  it will be sure to brighten up the grays and blacks i usually wear in winter.

fallen leaves shawl in progress

it's been noted that i am a fan of yellow. i have a yellow bag, yellow shoes and lovely yellow roses in my backyard. i was pleased to see that after the scorching summer when they didn't flower at all, the autumn rain has brought out a flush of blooms. these were whipped off the bush and into a vase seconds after i took these photos!

i'll be sharing some more information about my journey in future posts and i'm sure there will be some funny stories to tell...

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

saturday crafternoon

what do you do when you have an only daughter who declares that she will never grow up to "sew and knit all the time like you do"? when you wish you had someone little to share all the fun of crafting with?
well, lucky me, i have some creative nieces who jump at the chance to have a crafternoon.

busy stitching

last weekend, Clarice joined me to make a softie from happy stitch, a cute book with projects for any skill level; in other words perfect for us. she chose to make the felt owl, and because i loved it too, i made one as well. can you have too many owls? i don't think so!

a proud little crafter

this project was easily achievable in an afternoon, and Clarice got to take it home to show her Mum who was as surprised as i was at her beautiful stitching and sophisticated colour choices.

my owl tried to escape

 a surprising outcome of our crafting was that my daughter actually put her iPod down for once to admit that she would like to make something with me next time. amazing what jealousy can achieve! as for me, i was energised enough to finish knitting my cowl. check out the pattern on Ravelry.

ta dah!

Saturday, May 4, 2013

wet weekend

slow as a wet weekend? i hope so...
i am loving the Knit Pro circular set - thanks Di!

Thursday, May 2, 2013

it's that delicious time of the year again

aah, Autumn... i've said it before and i'll say it again, it's by far my favourite season of the year.

it's the time for exploring and rummaging

it's the time for running through lovely fallen leaves

it's the time for cosy handmade mitts

it's the time to create an inspiring new knitting bag from recycled and felted scraps

it's the time to fairly stuff that knitting bag full to bursting with last years UFO's, ambitious new projects and yummy, scrummy new yarn. mmmm delicious!

Friday, April 26, 2013

acting like a granny

when i was younger, well quite a bit younger, being called a "granny" was the ultimate insult. it meant you were poking your nose into things you had no business poking your nose into! secretly i've always rather liked grannies, even the scary ones in fairy tales, and i especially like all the stuff they have crammed into their  homes.

granny china

my own grannies always had nick knacks on display, colourful blankets and highly coloured paintings in ornate frames. their homes smelt of potatoes cooking on a kerosene stove, wood polish and coffee, such a comforting blend to all the kids. even the whiff of an old book can transport me back there now.

granny painting

all this nostalgia goes some way to explaining my love of second hand shops. i can always find some granny goodness there like the dinner set and the painting, and like all grannies i love to save a few pennies while i'm shopping!

the honorary granny - dottie angel

the next best thing to finding original granny gear, is creating it yourself. i love nothing more than making piles of crocheted blankets, hand knitted jumpers and bags to stuff all those projects into. strangely though, all this activity never seems to reduce the yarn stash, another granny habit i'm happy to adopt...

granny string bag

Saturday, April 20, 2013

there and back again

it's been very quiet on this blog for a while, but it's true to say that our lives have been anything but. although we have been busy trying out new crafty stuff, learning a new career, dealing with kids and actually making things, the will to share all of it with others hasn't been there.

our beautiful Mum passed away on the 12th of March, loving and calm to the end, and there's a huge hole in our lives that can't be filled. even though we know she's no longer in pain and in a much better place, we miss her enthusiasm for life, how she cheered us on in everything we did no matter how insignificant.

a happy young Mum

she taught us all how to knit, sew and crochet and was a keen gardener, but what was most important to her was to be a Mum, a homemaker and a wife. this blog would never have happened if it wasn't for her encouragement, so it seems right to continue on, and we have some big plans. expect to see some changes and, all going well, a little Etsy shop to get a small piece of excellence!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

treasure seeker

last weekend I decided to get back into the habit of "garage-saleing", something I used to do every Saturday. it's so exciting to get the weekend papers and scour them for the best sales to go to, and luckily i've now got a little helper to go with me, since Abby found she enjoys the treasure seeking as well.

cut-work lace skirt

at first we got a little discouraged, when turning up the same boring stuff we see at the local op-shops. our last stop was a deceased estate, which i always hesitate to go to because i feel like a vulture picking over someone's precious things. then i thought about the help it is to the people sorting out an estate, for us to take things away and treasure them all over again.

lovely lemon lace blouse

i found some lovely clothes and linens, but my favourite purchase was this old suitcase, still in quite good condition and just needing a bit of a clean. all the catches still work, although a little rusty, but i'm thinking it will work perfectly to house my vintage sewing patterns which need a bit of cosseting!

vintage suitcase

love the label!

these last few days i've been carefully soaking and hand-washing the garments, with a few surprises at how pristine they turned out, and also some horrors at dye running. in some ways vintage lovers are a bit like museum curators and i've found it best to err on the side of caution when washing old textiles. i've got a beautiful French silk scarf printed with the Eiffel tower that is completely shredded because i put in the washing machine to get rid of that musty old smell they sometimes have. shame, shame, i only had to learn this lesson once and now i hand wash everything!

lacy Gatsby style dress

i also scored a pile of old Women's Weekly magazines dating from the late 1950s to late 1960s. i remember Mum buying this English magazine when i was a kid, and it still had that same pink cover. back then i used to read "The Robins" but now i love reading them for the knitting patterns, gardening advice and answers to personal problems. even the ads show how different women were expected to behave and think just 50-60 years ago. i hope to scan some of these pages for your enjoyment and share some vintage knitting patterns in PDF form if i can manage it!


vintage magazines

all in all, i'm very happy with my bargains, and can't wait for next weekend when we can look for treasure all over again...