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Friday, December 26, 2014

I Finished Something

I finally finished my Nuvem that I started as soon as I finished the Citron shawl in July. A very long knit but an easy one when you've got it established, good for TV or car knitting. The technical bits are here. It's knitted in a lovely blend of wool and silk that was a pleasure to handle and will be gorgeous to wear. It's slightly longer than I am high and weighs very little.

It was very hard to get the colours right in a photo. This one is more or less right. I think it looks like a lovely wooly silky seaweedy thing.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Hemming Jeans

No 'real' sewing to show, but I have proved that the sewing machine still works :)

Since my MiL died eighteen months ago, there was no-one to shorten George's jeans unless we paid $30 to the nice people in the little alterations place at The Glen. (Who do a great job but that's a bit pricey for jeans. We use them for formal trousers and the like). It's one sewing job I had never felt srong enough to tackle. I have spent six months being stared at balefully by two pairs of jeans/chinos and a husband, who proved the point at the weekend by busting the zip on a pair of summer pants and then tearing a pair of shorts so dramatically that all we could do was laugh hysterically.

I gave this tutorial a go:

and this is the result

I also did a black pair but that photographed badly. I am quite pleased with the result, let's see what George thinks when he gets home.

I also finished the shawl I;ve been working on for some months but haven't blocked it yet, so that can wait until I can post a picture.

Friday, December 12, 2014

On the Trail of My Sewing Mojo

I haven't done any dressmaking for a very long time. I have been in a total funk about fit and whatnot. But I have recently bought LOTS of pretty fabric and read books about fit (reread books about fit, actually) and I;m almost ready to do some real sewing.

This is one pattern I want to try. It is dead easy, so long as I can get some sort of correct fit. It's a bit short for me but that's an easy alteration. Tissue fitting has suggested some slashing and spreading is required. I am using a fabric that I like but won't cry over if I can't turn it into something wearable. I refuse to stand in this silly pose while wearing it though!

I've had this book for a while but had assumed that the clothes would not fit or suit me. After doing some heavy duty measuring and thinking I have decided to have a go at a tunic/dress. Slashing and spreading may be required again, plus lengthening the bodice. Again I;m using a nice fabric but not my favorite.

So I suppose this means I am about to launch into hopefully wearable muslins. Mind you, having washed the necessary fabrics, I really meant to iron them today and I have not, so I still have to do that.

Will post updates - even if they are tears and tantrums!

Wednesday, December 03, 2014

Warehouse Sale at Phillips Shirtmakers

Last week I went to this place, which was having a warehouse sale. I didn't go through the actual shirts, lovely though they are: I went for the fabric. They were selling off large quantities of shirting fabric, quite a bit of it 'vintage'. I don't know what vintage exactly, but I do know that new was one price and 'vintage' another, and I bought stuff from the vintage section (because I liked it, not because it was vintage in particular).


A hand-picked selection of unworn vintage shirts is availablefrom our archive.

Unbelievably in this era of cheap imports and overseas manufacturing, this company still makes shirts in a tiny factory in the CBD, Little Lonsdale Street to be precise. The fabric sale was held on the factory floor. The fabric storage area was rather cramped and uncomfortable. While I'm sure the women involved are going to do some lovely things with any fabric they bought, I don't think the mother with the small toddler really thought through taking her child to such a location; and I am certain that the mother with the huge pusher did not! I wanted to point out that having a huge pram blocking exits (no matter where she put it) was creating a fire hazard, which is a serious concern in any textile factory, but thought I would get told off for being mean to mothers (and please don't abuse me - if there had been a fire the baby would have been in the most danger of all).

You could fill a shopping bag with remnants for $5. I have a lifetime of remnants, but I did end up collecting a bag of various bits of white and off-white shirting fabric for embroidery purposes (and there was a scrap of pale blue in that lot). There was also a pile of remnants of the lovely fine iron-on interlining that is used in commercial shirts, which I added to the bag.

Baby Bear, fresh from an exciting morning rubbing shoulders with our State Health Minister (as was on the day, we have had an election since) launching a collaboration between Family Planning Australia and YEAH (Youth Empowerment Against HIV/AIDS) to improve sex education in schools, joined me and bought a bag of remnants to do exciting things with.

I also bought three dress lengths. They are all vintage cotton - the green one is seersucker.

And then I found these handsome vintage chappies. Carved from wood - roughly but with beautiful lines - and one of them wearing a silk bow tie. I;m sure they have a history but I couldn't find out anything at the time. Does anyone know anything about them?

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Geelong Fibre Forum 2014

I still don't have any embroidery pictures to show from Fibre Forum. I have been too busy studying and, since my last exam last week, slobbing out, to finish my embroidery. But it's next on my list of fun things to do, so maybe photos will come soon!

On our first morning we went down to Limeburners' Lagoon, a little bit of Corio Bay that is very close to Geelong Grammar, to sketch. The idea was to work on something inspired by our natural surroundings. Now, I still maintain that I 'cannot draw' but I can cobble together vague ideas which was all that was required. We spent a lovely three hours in mild sunshine sketching the bay and flowers/plants that were growing around us. A number of us also took photos to give us further ideas if necessary.

I really loved the bark on this eucalypt. In fact it was this photo that I ended using as the inspiration for my main piece (we also did a sampler which was quite prescriptive but very useful for practice). I sketched it when we got back to the classroom, fiddled with a bit of colour (also fiddled with some of the original sketches) and eventually, with guidance from our tutor, I narrowed down to a section of my sketch and used it as the basis for my embroidery.

I took quite a lot of pictures. I especially loved the lines and texture of this cracked mud. Over the years I have taken quite a lot of photos of interesting textures and things and this workshop gave me the confidence to think of them as being potential inspiration for other pieces in due course.

The Geelong Wool Museum is always worth a visit. This time round there was an interesting exhibition by Australian (though resident in the US) textile artist Ruth Marshall, whose exhibition Vanished Into Stitches is still on till 7 December if anyone is interested. She knits perfect reproductions of endangered animal pelts.  Her work is pretty stunning. I really liked her tiny reproductions of native marsupials.

And for some bizarre reason, the Wool Museum has this lovely exhibit above - Super Croc I think it was called - the skull of an extinct (thank god!) giant crocodile. Nothing to do with wool, but native to the area, possibly. With cool lighting. Very strange.

And of course there is yarnbombing outside the Wool Museum!!

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Citron Blue

This shawl pattern is actually called Citron Grand, but to me 'citron' sounds as though it should be yellow or orange or green, and obviously it's blue!

I knitted this on and off for months. It's an easy pattern but slow work, especially in very fine yarn. I enjoyed knitting it, and would make it again in a thicker yarn, perhaps sock weight. I knitted this one in Morris & Sons Laceweight, which is actually more of a cobweb weight, which is REALLY REALLY fine.

Despite the size (the picture of it on a bed is after blocking, on a queen sized bed) it only took 62 grams to knit!  Which is about a squillion metres.

I finished it off on the trip to Alice Springs and Adelaide in July. It possibly the only time I have ever used an iron in a hotel room - to block it!

And although I did not intend to produce a wedding ring shawl, when I wore it at Fibre Forum last month someone commented that it was so fine that it probably counted as one, So I gave it a go. And it does go through my wedding ring! This picture of it (photographic proof) was taken at Gloria Jeans in Box Hill at a knitting group meeting - they call it my party trick :)

It's as light as a feather and squashes into a tiny ball that can be carried about in a bag if required. Love it!!  But I am never knitting with cobweb again. I;m knitting something else in real* laceweight now, which is still very fine, but preferable. Goodness knows when that project will be finished but I willl photograph it when it is.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Lest We Forget

The 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month. The guns stopped on the Western Front. Now Remembrance Day commemorates all war dead. 100 years ago many still believed that the war, which started in August 1914, would be 'over by Christmas'. How tragically wrong they were.

Nearly 90,000 ceramic poppies at the Tower of London this year.

I can't find an origin for this affecting picture but it seems to have been used by a wide variety of organisations, often in connection with quotes from 'In Flanders Field' by John McCrae.

This seems to be a poster to advertise poppies for Memorial Day in the US (I hope I have that right, that's what Google suggests).


And this is an alternative to the poppy in the buttonhole on sale for Remembrance Day that I bought the other day. 

Lest We Forget

Wednesday, October 29, 2014


Yeah, so I seem not to have blogged since July. I could use uni as an excuse but I think I just lost the energy to blog regularly. I am going to attempt to come back a bit now. Even worse, I pretty much stopped reading blogs too. Making and reading brief Facebook entries was about as far as I got with keeping up with the whole electronic media thing.

Uni is almost over, one last exam in three weeks. It's been a steep learning curve, as of course university is supposed to be. It has been hard to accept that History, which I have an Honours degree in from the past, is taught totally differently these days and I can no longer write the good history essay which I used to dash off easily. Literature has been great fun though. I think my plan for next year needs to incorporate the mantra 'Answer the ****** Question' when I write essays and exam answers - I have an alarming tendency to answer the question I want it to be rather than necessarily the question as it is written down!!

Possibly, to keep the blog rolling along, I should take a photo of the cover of every Lit book I study next year and post it :)

I've also managed to get to Fibre Forum again this year, this time to do hand embroidery with Carolyn Sullivan, who was a generous and entertaining teacher. I have no photos to show of that yet, not really - a number of photos I took for inspiration for the embroidery, but not the embroidery itself. That will follow in due course.

I continue to knit, slowly, and have developed a passion for laceweight stuff. Again, pictures to follow in due course.

Here's a few randomish photos to add some colour :)

Sirius wrapped up warmly on a cold night. There is a heater on the wall right above her!

This is a bowl of pansies, with a silly Halloween effect added to it.

This is a thoroughly sensible bowl of pansies :)

There was a heavy hailstorm a while ago. It sounded like gunfire on the roof.

And this cutie is called Fritz, who came to Fibre Forum to help his mum sell stuff. He was very affable and reminded me how much I love greyhounds.

And I have just realised that I seem to have nuked my list of blogs that I read. I think I got impatient with my computer and pressed something incorrect :( It will return. Hopefully I will be able to find everyone I want to read, once again, and maybe discover some new people!

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

Trip to Northwest and Central Australia

It's the first time I tried to do this, but click here and see if it gives you a slide show of my recent holiday. It takes you to my Google+ page and then you will see a thing with the post title - click on that. I think.

Edited to add - click on the picture with lots of blue sky in it, on the left hand side of the page. NOT the blog post bit.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

New Year's Eve in Adelaide

I'm useless at photographing fireworks so I didn't try. We went to the 9 o'clock fireworks on Glenelg Beach and it was a delightful family atmosphere and we really enjoyed it.

Then we went back to our hotel and decided to have a couple of drinks in the very pleasant lobby.  Well, they started handing out glow stick bracelets and stuff and getting quite festive so we ended up staying there till midnight, sipping expensive but delightful hotel drinks, and counted down the New Year. Totally uncharacteristic of us, the whole thing, but surprisingly fun!!

Yes, I know it's almost halfway through the year, but I do have several months to catch up on and this was pretty much the most interesting thing we have done in that time :)







Saturday, June 07, 2014

To State the Bleeding Obvious...

Clearly I have not been blogging for months.  In large part this is to do with starting a Bachelor of Letters at Monash University - a sort of second Bachelor of Arts for people who already have one.  Though only doing two subjects (a full-time load is four) it has been rather time consuming and energy sapping.  But goodness is it fun! I have now (almost) completed the first semester, doing Medieval History and a Literature subject. There is still a Lit exam to come in about ten days time.

We went to Adelaide for a week straight after Christmas, spending New Years Eve on the beach at Glenelg to catch the early fireworks, and then at the midnight festivities in the Hilton where we were staying. It was a very pleasant trip. We went to a fab Argentinian restaurant where I had some amazing food :

Anchovies straight from the tin, with lemon and parmesan chips.

Oysters with a light Asian sauce, very fresh and delish.

Moreton Bay Bugs with citrus butter - honestly one of the best meals I have EVER had!!!!

There were other nice meals throughout the trip but this was the only one I photographed!

I am resolving to blog more regularly again. And read other people's blogs - that has also fallen by the wayside. I hope to catch up with you all soon!!

Saturday, February 01, 2014

Baby Bear wanted a warm beanie to take to Europe with her for January and February.  I had a big bag of yummy skeins of handspun in a variety of colours donated by Yarnivorous when she left Melbourne a few years ago.  She expressed a desire for the beanie to be made from a selection of appropriate thick warm yarns, and this is the result.

It's just a very plain beanie with a double fold-up brim for extra warmth and a pom-pom.  I used The Knitter's Handy Book of Patterns by Ann Budd which gives sensible basic patterns for things like beanies, gloves, jumpers, etc based on the weight of the yarn.  Yes, I had to do a tension square!  And then another one because the first time I cast on I obviously had too many stitches!

Baby Bear says it is nice and warm, she loves the colours, and the 11 year old boy she is staying with (obviously, a whole family, not just a boy!) likes to steal it!

I don't finish things very often these days, but this was a quick knit for a specific purpose and therefore I actually managed to get it done.

Friday, January 24, 2014

A List

Courtesy of Pip Lincolne ;

I have taken a couple off weeks of blogging,, due to exhaustion, family issues and freaking hot weather.  Now a list looks like a good idea. In the first three weeks of 2014 I have been doing these various things, on and off.

Making : A pair of socks for George and a shawl for me (in cobweb weight yarn!)
Cooking : All sorts of things, I've been having fun cooking different things.  The latest fun and yummy thing was a grilled peach, pecan and proscuitto salad from Matt Preston's new book (though I left out the goat's cheese).  I've also been barbecuing a lot.
Drinking : Quite a lot of New Zealand white wine.
Reading: I'm about to start 'Enders' Game', after seeing the film late last year.
Wanting: A happy resolution...
Looking: At my beautiful dog :)
Playing: James Reyne last time I had music on
Deciding: That life wasn't meant to be easy
Wishing: That some things were easier than they are
Enjoying: Reading, watching, knitting, thinking
Waiting: For a certain university administration to get on with their job and allow me to enrol!
Liking: My Weber BBQ
Wondering: When will a certain situation become more bearable than it is at present?
Loving: The immense choice of books available to me in my TBR 'pile'
Pondering: Why?
Considering: What?
Watching: A lot of the Ashes series - more cricket than I have watched in the average summer
Hoping: For a brighter future
Marvelling: At the variety of weather Melbourne loves to throw at us all the year round
Needing: To lower my anxiety levels
Smelling: Rose geraniums
Wearing: Today, jeans and a Tshirt. Yesterday, a long black sleeveless dress.  Melbourne weather!
Following: Oddments of the Australian Open
Noticing: How quiet the house is while Baby Bear is overseas
Knowing: That nature vs. nurture can be a redundant concept
Thinking: About alternative histories and speculative fiction
Feeling: Sometimes paralysed with anxiety, sometimes quite cheerful
Admiring: Bravery
Sorting: Clothes and shoes for charity
Buying: As usual, too many books
Getting: Enough sleep, surprisingly
Bookmarking: Knitting patterns on Ravelry
Disliking: The REALLY hot days
Opening: My laptop far too frequently throughout the day, often for no productive purpose
Giggling: At the stream of emails George is receiving from a friend

Wednesday, January 01, 2014

Sheep Art of Kaniva

This is a companion piece to the one I did on the Mooving Cows of Shepparton.  I look forward to finding other interesting country towns to profile in this way for you :)

They are gorgeous.  I am going to let the local website, and the photos I took last week, speak for themselves.

'Two years ago, local artist Sharon Merrett had an idea that her hometown of Kaniva could embark on a community arts project to celebrate the town's sheep history with a flock of painted sheep.
The idea grew with a stencil day held in November 2010 where over 100 property stencils were bought in to record Kaniva's sheep history. Oral histories were also recorded and an extra piece of wall was painted to fit more stencils bought in later on. A small 'Sheep Art' committee was formed and they applied for funding to various bodies for community groups to purchase and paint a flock of fibre glass sheep. Although these applications were unsuccessful, local businesses and community groups were willing to get behind the idea and donated money to enable the project to proceed. A special mould was made to create a smooth sheep that could be painted as a canvas based on the Texcel breed by The Sheep Bloke


The appeal was put out for community groups to partcipate to paint the proposed 30 sheep. The response was overwhelming, overall 37 applications were recieved, but the group initially only had enough money to purchase 20 sheep. (Another 16 sheep will be painted in 2012 and added to the flock.)
Several workshops were held where local groups shared their stories artistically using the sheep as canvases.This was also the first community arts project for the town and for some people, it was the first time they had painted anything. The project has been run soley by volunteers and clearly demonstrates the volunteering that forms the backbone of small towns like Kaniva. Furthermore the sheep themselves help showcase the large amount of volunteer community groups needed to create a vibrant small town.

The following organisations are represented in the present flock of sheep: KDPAA, Kaniva A&P Society, Kaniva Cancer Council, Kaniva Rotary, Purple Starfish, West Wimmera Women in Ag, Kaniva Leeor United Football Club, Kaniva Traders, 1st Kaniva Scouts, Wimmera Regional Library Corporation. Kaniva College, Kaniva Kinder, Kaniva Playgroup and several local artists.
Other groups waiting to paint a sheep in 2012 are: Kaniva Community Roadhouse, Kaniva 1st Guides, Kaniva Lions Club, Kaniva Foreign Wives, Probus, The Salvation Army, LINK, Day Centre, Oasis, Kaniva Childcare, Bills Gully and more local artists.

the industry

Kaniva has traditionally been a very strong mixed farming region, but since the decline of the wool industry in the 1980s, many farmers turned to growing agricultural crops. However there are several famillies in the district who are committed to improving sheep genetics, both for wool and meat production. With the growth in the lamb market and strengthened wool prices, farmers are now seeing the rewards for their commitment and belief in the industry.
There are several farming famillies that see a bright future in the sheep industry including Hannaton, Oakdale White Suffolk & Prime Samm Stud, Omad, Blue Hills, Duenclin, and Hayelle. Of particular interest is local Kanivaite Damien Hawker, who started his sheep stud Omad whilst still at school and has also gone on to become a professional shearer. Dinyarrak Dairy's Robin Smith is also a fascinating story of diversification - milking sheep to make speciality soaps!'