Friday, 23 December 2011

Currently 17

I'm on a short break from work, and I really, really want it to be the summer of skirts.  It feels like hols, doesn't it, when you can wear skirts and sandals.  Even though the weather man this morning told me it was currently 17 degrees, I resolutely stayed with the skirt, but put a jumper on.  Sheesh.  It's 3 days before xmas and summer hasn't come to town yet.

Apart from the aforementioned work on my new fabbo Toyota, I have the usual staycation plans for this time of year:
  • See a movie a day - yesterday it was The Ides of March - not bad - all about integrity, my favourite ethical value.  I went to the premium cinema.  Nice.
  • Read - I've just finished A Christmas Carol by Dickens (no, I hadn't actually read it before, have you?) and Bereft by Chris Womersley.  I can highly recommend both.  Bereft depicts a hot NSW summer (I wish), young man returned from the war, strange young girl in the bush, not quite knowing what is real.  Currently reading We need to talk about Kevin and Daphne du Maurier short horror stories.
  • Sew - I'm going to get the FBA on Sorbetto sorted once and for all.
  • Knit and watch Miranda series 1 on DVD
And there will be lots of time with loved ones and friends.  I do so like this time of year.  If only summer would come.

Thursday, 22 December 2011

Nothing to see here

Do you ever plan a great piece to write and put off writing until you have the results you want so that you actually have a story to tell?  No?  Maybe it's just me, then.

The great piece I wanted to write went along the lines of ... generosity of other crafters...fiddled and faddled until I got things sorted...lo and behold, here is a great piece of knitting...done by me...on a machine.

The only story I actually have excludes most of those storyboard pieces.  But... I do want to acknowledge the generosity of other crafters and say thank you, I'll get there yet. 

Some time ago, I blogged briefly about putting a call out on Freecycle and being handed a knitting machine. Yay!  Carrie and I spent an afternoon fiddling before we decided I needed a part.  Thanks to ebay, that part was no trouble to source.  A bit more fiddling.  Alas, no knitting yet.

Then a friend from SnB offered me this beauty that she rescued from her neighbour's nature strip.  Unfortunately, the only good thing about this machine is the gorgeous case with retro-style branding.  No go.

At around the same time, an extraordinarily generous and thoughtful friend sent me a message saying that an old family friend had a knitting machine and would I be interested in it.  Oh yes please.  She and her brother kindly brought around a fabulous, fully functional, double bed Toyota with loads and loads of accessories and punch cards and manuals and folders of course notes and knitting samples and bits and bobs the purpose of which I have no idea yet.  I was thrilled!
So, you see, I was hoping that I could set up things in a flash and have lovely woolly things to blog about by now.  Still no knitting, but guess what I'll be doing these hols!

Sunday, 13 November 2011


Some of the things that not watching telly has allowed me to do:

  • I cleared a path between the doorway and my sewing machine in the sewing room
  • I packed away all my spinning fibre that has been laying around merely for the purpose of admiration
  • I packed a small box of books for the Lifeline book fair (that was hard)
  • I caught up on my friends’ reading on Goodreads
  • I spent a lot of time fiddling with knitting machines
  • I listened to lots of very entertaining and informative radio (I learned that seahorses are fish with prehensile tails, thanks Norman)
  • I read newspapers – real ones

I miss watching the telly.  Sometimes I really do want to sit down with a glass of wine and enjoy Stephen Fry and QI.  Sometimes I want to plan a Jane Austen marathon.  And I want to knit.  I am so used to knitting while I watch the TV, that my knitting has suffered in the short time that I've been TVless.  Although, I did manage to finish off some crazy stripey socks for ma minette - Patonyle fake fairisle overdyed with Koolaid.
But the long and the short of it is... I now have a telly.

Saturday, 12 November 2011

An occasional walk - Oakey Hill

In an effort to shake off inexplicable emotional doldrums, I took Lily over to Lyons to walk up and around Oakey Hill Reserve. There are many tracks around the reserve, some in the shadow of the powerlines through the area.
This area was burnt out in the 2003 bushfires and my trusty map tells me that it is being rehabilitated with the original yellow box.  The native grasses are incredibly lush and beautiful.
 Lily kept a look out for snakes.  Well, I did, actually, and had to deter her from rushing off into the grass at every rustle.

 From the trig point at the top there is an amazing all-round view of Canberra and surrounds.
We walked through woodland, grassland and a lovely stand of she-oaks near the reservoir at the top, finishing up hot, thirsty, itchy-eyed and a bit sneezy.  But being outside on such a day sure did lift my mood.

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Turn off the box

My telly is on the blink.

Sound is good. Picture is bad. Shadows running across the screen give me a headache. No amount of banging on the side will fix it now. I wondered last night, as I tried to watch some rubbish (it was rubbish even without the image problem), what on earth I was doing.

I could get it fixed – it’s only a few years old. Surely it hasn't yet reached its built-in obsolescence date. But I’m going to defer fixing it. I’m trying something else instead.

I’m going to not watch the telly.

Radical? No, of course not. Many families do it, I know. But I’m a bit of a must-have-the-TV-on sort of gal. I only have a few favourite shows (QI, Outnumbered, Modern Family, ABC News), but I tend to sit around waiting for something I want to watch to come on. I call it knitting time.

But I’m going to give it a go, for a few weeks at least. No telly. And I won't be at a loose end at all.  I have a gazillion things I should be doing instead of watching telly anyway.  I’ll let you know how I go.

What about you? Do you watch the telly? Lots? Sometimes? Hardly ever?

Monday, 31 October 2011


Apropos of my last post, from which you may correctly infer that I was a woman of the 70s, I spun some gorgeous rainbow-y yarn and knitted ma minette a very retro rainbow-y beanie.
I think she'll like it.

Sunday, 30 October 2011

The (trying to be) Good Life

I have high hopes for my little patch of bushland. I don't want to interfere with the natural environment too much as I do love the frogs in the dam and the occasional kangaroo outside my bedroom window in the morning.  But there's plenty of room for me too.  And the dog.  And the chook.  And the vegie gardens.

I'm old enough to have watched the first run of The Good Life, and I know it's corny but I still watch the re-runs, and I just might even have the entire series on DVD.  How un-cool am I - I knit and I want to grow my own food.

Irrespective of un-coolness, I still get inspiration from those who are truly leading The Good Life.  This weekend, Allsun Farm near Gundaroo invited interested, trying-to-be Good-Lifers to see how they do it.
Joyce and Michael grow fields of organic garlic. 
They will be harvesting buckets of strawberries soon.
To say nothing of the chickens, the piglet, the broad beans, the herbs, the greenhouses full of zillions of seedlings, the orchards and the self-sufficiency in power, water and waste management.

I came home with my head full of plans and my boot full of heirloom tomato seedlings.

I've got a long way to go, but I'm trying to be Good.

Monday, 24 October 2011

An occasional walk - Mount Mugga Mugga

It was warm on Saturday but I didn't let that deter me from another occasional exploration of Canberra's nature parks. Mount Mugga Mugga Woodland Reserve is described as an endangered yellow box gum grassy woodland frequented by kangaroos and supporting a wide variety of woodland birds.  We saw those, and more.
 We started off at the access point on Mugga Lane and spent most of our time walking through the grassy slopes - not quite venturing to the top of Mount Mugga Mugga as it looked to be quite heavily wooded (and steep!).  This was more the scenery I enjoyed (that's Mount Mugga Mugga in the background).
 Weeds are a problem in these easily accessible nature parks close to the city, especially in the grassland areas.

 On the lower rise, one can see the city and Mount Ainslie to the north.  Clearly I wasn't the first ever visitor, as I deduced from the clues of the cairn (in the foreground)...
 ...and the fact that Hoggo wanted us all to know that he had been there too. (I assume 'he'. Is that wrong of me?)
 On our way down the slopes, I had a lovely view over to the east, where the clouds were building up and threatening rain that never eventuated. 

We met a brown snake on the way back, but fortuntately I can leap very high and very fast when I need to. Miss Lily is always on the lead, so she had no option but to leap with me.

A warm Spring day, a long walk somewhere new and the excitement of kangaroo and snake spotting makes for thirsty work.

Sunday, 23 October 2011

Whither creativity?

After my recent burst of creative activity, that mojo seems to have gone into hiding. Only for a while, I hope.  I can't even be inspired to knit - gah!  But I did get to finish off ma minette's PJs - just in time for a sleepover last week.
 I put together the collarless shirt from McCall's 2146 and some standard kid's pants, using this gorgeous vintage fabric and flowery buttons from stash.   
It was apparently the perfect outfit for a post-dinner, pre-bedtime picnic with dollies and teddies. 

It's very satisfying sewing for littlies, especially when this little one loves the things her nettie makes for her.

Sunday, 9 October 2011

An occasional walk - Mount Pleasant

At Floriade last week, I picked up a brochure on Canberra Nature Parks.  Did you know that there are 33 separate reserves around Canberra that are designated special grassland or woodland areas?  Living in (or near) Canberra gives us all easy access to these green areas - in fact I'll bet there's one at your own back door that you may even take very much for granted. 

I happen to think that we are very lucky living in (or near) the bush capital.  I've lived in this region for a lot of years now and I've spent lots of time bushwalking in Namadgi, but there is a lot of bushland closer to home that I haven't really explored. 

So with my new map for reference and individual maps readily available, I have decided that Lily and I will visit and explore all those parks that will allow dogs - and many do. I'm pretty sure that Lily misses her mate Ralph as much as I do, so long walks in new areas are just the thing for us both.

This week we had a wander around Mount Pleasant. 
Years ago, when I worked at Russell, I sometimes took a lunch time walk or jog around Mount Pleasant, but never did I stop to listen to the birdlife or notice the imperfections in the gum leaves.
 Or the heart-shaped bark, not yet sloughed off the tree.
Indulge me while I introduce you to my neighbourhood, occasionally.

Saturday, 8 October 2011

Simple and secret sewing

Earlier this week, I made a couple of simple little treasures for birthday girl, Daughter1.  Although taking care of a toddler and a baby leaves her with little time for sewing, I know that she enjoys it when she does and I wanted to supplement her current fairly basic supply of tools and notions.  As well as buying her some excellent scissors, a new book, some gorgeous fabric and other bits and bobs, I made her a pin cushion (Amy Butler fabric) and a needle case (Ma's felt).
Happy sewing and happy birthday, my beautiful girl.

Friday, 7 October 2011

Sew Day Friday

It's the last day of the sewing week. And although I promised a Sorbetto muslin, this is all I have...
 Where did the day go?

I spent much of it obsessing about the detail in the MPB boxers sew-along. Today was bias day.  I've made my own bias before, but this time it had to overlap and then become a flat-felled seam lookalike.  I also discovered the bar tack stitch on my machine.  It's a bit wonky, but the other side will be better.
I'm still crazy about the flat-felled seam.  But my question is:  when they meet like this (below), should they be offset or matching?  I think offset is preferable as it gives less bulk, but does it look odd?  Granted, this is the crotch seam and I'm showing the wrong side, so you may think it doesn't matter, but this is an exercise in perfecting techniques, not necessarily in whipping up a wearable garment (of course, I want that too).  So... offset or matching?

Although this was not the productive sewing day I had planned it to be, I did manage to fit in a long walk with Lily, a hair cut and some chores.

I have really enjoyed my week at home sewing.  By proclaiming my self-imposed challenges, I felt committed to try my darndest to finish off an item a day.  Even if I didn't completely meet my goals, I certainly learnt some things of value:
  • Sharp scissors are the bomb.
  • Consider the appopriate machine needle for the job.  I started each day with a new needle - a bit of overkill perhaps, but it made me think carefully about the right needle for the fabric.
  • Press, press, press.
  • I can do flat-felled seams (I might have mentioned that already).
  • When doing french seams, trim the first seam allowance of stray threads or fraying bits, so they don't poke through the second seam.
  • Measure, measure, measure.
  • Days can pass very quickly.  Too quickly.
Thanks for reading along.  I'll continue to post my sewing exploits, and will welcome your opinions of Sorbetto when she's done.

Thursday, 6 October 2011

Sew Day Thursday

Today I made a yellow top.  I don't like it.
The fabric (from stash of course), while very cute, is not well suited to my age or shape.  Small floral print? What was I thinking?  The design is way too full - very smock-like, and I haven't worn a smock top since the 70s.  And I think I hemmed it too short.  All in all - fail. I wouldn't mind so much if it was just a fabric fail.  I'm using stash fabric and I'm happy to treat my first attempt at a pattern as a muslin (hopefully wearable).  But New Look 6868 will not work.  Not on me anyway.  (I must say that I feel very brave putting up such an unflattering photograph.)

However, I did have some wins today:  previously untried seam techniques.  I can hardly believe I have never sewn a french seam or a flat-felled seam before today.  They are too easy and they create a great finish.

I did french seams on the shoulder and side seams of the failed yellow top.
 And a flat-felled seam on my boxer shorts for the MPB sew along
So, my time at the sewing machine today was not a total waste.

Tomorrow, I'm going to do a muslin for the Sorbetto top, because Michelle has generously offered to part with some brown voile and I want to make sure I get it just right before I use such lovely fabric.

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

No Sew Day Wednesday

 No sewing today - but I did have a good excuse.  I could not resist the call of a (partly) sunny, warm Spring day, so Carrie and I took off to Floriade.  Blooms, devonshire tea, giant fish, victory garden, chilli tastings, more blooms, lunch then home.
After a lovely morning, the afternoon challenge was to work on my recent Freecyle find - a Toyota KS 787 knitting machine.  Carrie was feeling very positive about the challenge and even brought over some knitting projects to finish off once we got the thing working.  Armed with instruction booklet, a couple of dozen bits and pieces and a refreshing glass of water each, we sat in the sunshine and tackled this little monster. First go - great!  It seemed to work.  Sort of.  For two rows.  Try as we might, even dashing inside intermittently to check various you tube videos, we could not replicate our first attempt.  Eventually, we gave up, made a pot of tea and took out our crochet instead.  However, I have since found a better manual online, I did order a missing piece from ebay, I plan to watch every online video I can find and This Little Monster will sit on my coffee table until I master it.

In sewing news, I will be gathering up all the already-cut pieces for my yellow top and cutting out one pair of boxers tonight.  Ready for a double dose of sewing tomorrow.

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Sew Day Tuesday

Second day of the sewing week was supposed to be:  brown skirt.  Well, it would have been this brown skirt if I wasn't so 'she'll be right' about my sizing.  Hmph. I cut the wrong size - too small.

So,  second day of the sewing week is: blue and brown skirt.

Fabric:  from stash - feels like a light linen blend.
Pattern:  Make it Perfect A+ skirt
Mods:  none
Mods if I make it again - I'm not sure that a skirt needs a yoke as well as a waistband - I'd probably dispense with the waistband.
Rating:  a simple pattern but probably designed for someone a bit less, um, curvy than me.  Front and back are exactly the same.  I think I need a bit more shaping.
Not wasting any sewing time, I have also half made some new summer PJs for ma minette.  This vintage cotton has been in my stash for a while now, and I just love it.  I'm on a bit of an orange jag at the moment, and this is too cute.  The top will be a little button up short sleeved affair - cut out but not yet stitched up. 

Do you read Male Pattern Boldness?  As a little side project I'm joining in a sew-along over there - boxer shorts that will become part of my summer jammie wardrobe.  I think I bought these cotton shirting fabrics at a wardrobe clearout held by Queanbeyan Players a few years ago.

Monday, 3 October 2011

Sew day Monday

First day of the sewing week: navy linen pants.
Simplicity 2372 has a very simple pants pattern - an elasticised waist is fine with me for weekend wear - I'll never tuck a shirt in anyway. 
Fabric - navy linen from deep dark stash
Mods - I omitted the pockets
Mods if I make it again (which I will) - it's a bit long in the front so next time I will shorten the front crotch line by about 2-3cm.
Rating - very wearable and a good alternative to jeans.

And look at that!  The sun came out in time for me to photograph Monday's sewing efffort.  I think that means that the rest of the day will be in the garden.

Saturday, 1 October 2011


I'm on a little staycation this week (gotta love two long weekends in a row - who wouldn't want to take those intervening days off work).  I'm determined to make good use of my at-home time and, while I have lots of reading to do and long walks with Lily and some vegetable planting if winter ever departs, I also have a sewing commitment.

My challenge to myself is that every day, from Monday to Friday, I will sew a complete article of clothing.  Shall I say that again?  Yes, sewing every day, and actually ending up with five new pieces to wear. I'm pretty sure I can do it, and then maybe I'll stop whinging to myself every morning about my paucity of things to wear.

So...the list, in no particular order:
  1. navy linen pants (already cut out and ready to go)
  2. brown lined skirt (also ready to go - except for the lining)
  3. yellow summer top (good to go, too)
  4. I think I have to do Sorbetto - what do you think? - seems everyone else has, and I can be a bit of a follower at times
  5. don't know about number 5 yet as I'm waiting for inspiration to spring during the week
Stay tuned.  I'll report in daily.

Oh, and by the way, I received a lovely comment via Ravelry on my Urban Shells scarf from the designer herself, Katherine Crombie, and she is featuring my photo on her pattern page on Rav.  That's nice.

Sunday, 25 September 2011

Searching for some joy

And I don't have to look too far...
...another little one to adore.
I'm so lucky.

Saturday, 24 September 2011

Thank you, stranger

Earlier in this week in which nothing could dry my tears, I managed to learn some new crochet skills and use some lovely Fibrewebs yarn to produce the Urban Shells Scarf.

I do think it’s pretty and it’s soft and light and very wearable.

But (click away now if you have no interest in emotional tales) this week has been too too sad for me to delight in such things.  After days of anguish on my part, and pain on his, just yesterday I had to say goodbye to My Best Boy, Ralph. For twelve years he has shared my life, and I cannot believe the loss I feel. Pet owners, I’m sure, will understand. Others, maybe not. It’s strange how empty the house feels.
However, I want to say a very sincere thank you to that person who, all those years ago, took their puppy to the RSPCA because he ‘barked a lot’, and so gave us the opportunity have this sturdy little companion as part of our family. Thank you, stranger.

Sunday, 21 August 2011

The bush was grey a week today

I do love this time of year - enjoying the sunshine while there is still a nip in the air, wondering if we'll wake up to another frost tomorrow, anticipating spring time.

While we still wrap up in lovely warm knitted scarves to greet each day, the bush teases us with hints of the warmer weather on the way. All through winter, the bush that is my backyard (yes, I'm very lucky) gives me olive green and brown and grey, but today on my morning walk with my intrepid explorer companions, the otherwise muted bush offered me this...

It's not yet Wattle Day, but I love to see the wattle bursting from its buds.

In this region, wherever you look, you can see the golden wattle shining through the bush. However, my intrepid explorer companions are way more interested in the kangaroos bounding away down through the gullies.