Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Our son has been busy with his air-brush again. No need to tell you what this one is. I'm told that it measures over two metres. The pic came to me via a mobile phone. I haven't seen it yet. Needless to say we're pretty proud of our boy and look at each other trying to decide whose genes supplied that talent. I've gotta confess that we have absolutely no idea.

The man of the house has just come in from the garden with a couple of lovely ripe figs. How did the corellas miss them? Lucky me. They polished off the plums that the man of the house had his eye on. Gotta be quick when the corellas are in town. I don't use nets as they are such a hazard to the wild birds. The plums aren't so important that we are prepared to endanger the little people that give us so much pleasure.

Bet you think I've forgotten how to knit. Not so, I'm working on a project that's not quite finished. More in a couple of days.

Cuppa tea time I think. Bye for now until next time.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

They're ba-ack.

Corellas, the little ones or the long billed variety, I'm not sure which. They're a little smaller than the sulphur-crested cockatoo and, thankfully, not nearly as destructive. Every year at about this time they descend on the parks and gardens around this area. Scattered across lawns and in the trees like an explosion in a tissue factory, they feed, I suppose, on the seeding grass. I think they like the seeds in the cypress tree pine cones as well though I'm surprised if they find any as the yellow tailed black cockatoos were through here a few weeks ago for their feast.
Funny little blokes, they sound like a mothers meeting on a busy day - everyone talking at once, very sociable and very noisy. Chattering among themselves....... "Oh yes, I know. Just like my little Albert, doing very well at school he is. Try some of this rye-grass, it's delicious. No thanks I won't have another cup of tea. I'll just pop over there to see how Mrs. Pinkfeather is getting on."
This is what they look like when they settle in our yard. And how they look when I try to get close enough for a photograph. Pepper is beside himself trying to decide which one to chase first.
Entertainment all round.
Bye for now, until next time.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Mishkah's knitting yarn.

Some time back I started to spin some yarn for my sister. It is actually the combings from her little pomeranian dog, Mishkah. Well, at last it's finished. Yes I know I'm slow, but I have so many things on the go at the one time that some things take longer to finish than others. Lack of discipline, that's what that is. Anyway, here it is. I'm quite pleased with it and I think my sister will be too. Little Mishkah is such a tiny little thing that it's going to take a lot more combing before there is enough to make anything larger than a hat or scarf. As it is I suspect there is a little of my neice's dog Hershe (chocolate coloured of course) in there too. I think a vest would be nice. It has come out at about the equivalent of about 8 ply but should be knitted on larger size than usual needles as the yarn is quite fluffy, though not as fluffy as the samoyed.
Looking forward to seeing what is made from the yarn.
The man of the house has just made a cuppa tea - that happens a lot at our house - so I'm off to enjoy it. Hope you're all having a great Christmas or whatever belief you follow at this time of year. Bye for now until next time. :)

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Christmas Eve in Aus.

Guess who's birthday it is today. Last year was one of the big ones and I decided to stop counting but they keep coming and here it is again. This morning the man of the house woke me with a pressie - a lovely glossy knitting magazine that I was too mean to buy for myself. Well I could feed a family of four for what those glossies cost. But aren't they lovely? So I've had a fun time browsing through it. Then there was a phone call from Toronto from our daughter & the gang (they're visiting family) and flowers from them into the bargain. A phone call from the Queensland daughter and one from our son and his partner - so I'm feeling thoroughly spoiled. Sigh - aren't I a lucky Mum?
Last year among my presents was this one from our son. Knowing how much I love elephants he painted this for me. Airbrush painting is a talent that he didn't discover he had until he was about 30 and he just keeps getting better and better. It's about 90cms square and has pride of place on our living room wall.
Must go now, cup of tea and some cake waiting - if I'm quick. Bye for now until next time.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

I've just finished baking another favourite for the man of the house. He loves this boiled fruit cake. I mix it in the saucepan that the fruit is cooked in which saves a bit of dishwashing. It's ideal for vegans as it has no eggs or dairy (man of house has an uncomfortable relationship with dairy products) Although the recipe states butter, I substitute olive oil. I could use margarine but I'm suspicious of all those creepy numbers on the side of the pack - numbers equals chemicals and we're already deluged with enough of those I feel. Its so easy to make that it is an old standby when an invitation says "bring a plate". If you'd like to give it a try here is the recipe: Prepare a 9" (23 cms) cake tin. (I lightly grease and line it with baking paper) Set oven for 180 deg celcius or 350 F.

Mix in a 2 litre saucepan:
1 cup light brown sugar
1 and a 1/4 cups water
Third of a cup of butter or olive oil. Oil is oilier than butter so slightly less won't hurt.
2 cups of mixed dried fruits.
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg, 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves.

Boil for three minutes and leave to cool a little while you mix 1 teaspoon bi-carb soda, 1/4 teaspoon salt in 2 teaspoons of water and set it aside until you need it.
Sift together 1 cup of self raising flour and 1 cup of plain flour. (I use half wholemeal, half white and add the bran back to the seived flour.)

While the fruit is still in the saucepan, stir the salt & bi-carb mixture into the cooked mixture. (it will fluff up) Then working quickly blend in the sifted flours.
Good old cooks will probably tell you that this is naughty as the flour starts to cook the moment it hits the hot fruit, but I find that if you blend it all together quickly and get it into the tin immediately it saves about 20 minutes of cooking time.
Otherwise, be good and wait until the fruit is cool before blending in the flour.

Bake for about 35 minutes if the mixture is hot or 55 minutes if it is cold.

Test the cake with a skewer to see if it is done. You can enjoy it with a cup of tea or coffee or heat a slice and pour custard over. Either way it's jolly nice.

All this talk has made me fancy a slice for myself. I'm off to see if there is any left. Bye for now until next time.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Recycle Accomodation

Can you resist an empty shoe box? I can't. Throwing them away always seems such a waste. They're so sturdily made and useful for all sorts of things and I tend to stash them until I can think of another use for them. If I forget to label them it can be exciting to lift a lid to find what I'd forgotten I'd put in there. This one didn't get a chance to be stashed, I decided to turn it into a doll's bed-sit. Firstly I hinged the lid to the box with paper and glue, so it wouldn't get lost, then I covered the box with wrapping paper both inside and out. A pretty picture and some lace made the window and curtains and a cut-out of a fire and some icecream sticks made the fireplace. I used a scrap on wool fabric for the carpet beneath the bed.
For the furniture I made a real pest of myself and badgered all my friends for their empty match boxes, collecting 23 in all. The dressing table took seven match boxes and the couch 8. The armchairs took 4 matchboxes each. I stacked and glued the dressing table, reinforcing it with scraps of saved cardboard from cereal boxes etc. , covered it with white copy paper and used paper split-pins for the drawer handles. It's important to take the drawers of the boxes out before you start glueing, then put them back when the glue is dry. I didn't use a proper mirror but found some shiny silver card in some saved packaging.
The bed is from heavy card from packing cartons with the mattress base a flat box (more packaging waste) I covered it all with white copy paper. The mattress and pillow and bedding are scraps from my sewing offcuts.
I stuffed the couch and chair matchboxes with newspaper to give them some weight then wrapped them in white paper, firmly glued, before covering them with some cotton dress fabric - with stuffing in the appropriate places. I wrapped the boxes in the fabric like little parcels and glued the closures then glued all the boxes in place to make the furniture. I reinforced the base of each piece of furniture with some white card. For the seat of the couch I glued three boxes together side by side before covering them with the stuffing and fabric. The back of the couch was made the same way.
The family of dolls is made from corset laces stuffed with pipecleaners. Yes, corset laces (I had some in my stash) but you can use shoelaces. The hair is embroidery floss and the clothing T-shirt fabric (because it doesn't fray easily). The dolls heads are tiny circles on T-shirt fabric, filled with a little stuffing and gathered into a ball then stitched onto the bodies.
It was fun to make and it all packs back into the box to be put away when not in use.
Well I'm off now to take Pepper for a walk. We are getting so fit, Pepper and I and sometimes the man of the house comes too. Bye for now until next time.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Joe (one of the woodworkers) gave me this lovely little surprise a couple of days ago. It's a Christmas tree ornament cut from a scrap of pine. Joe made it on the scroll-saw and it's made from a single piece of timber - no glue anywhere. I'm still trying to work out how he did it. And its so delicate, only 10cms long. Why those fine bits didn't snap is beyond me. I suppose I should paint it silver and sprinkle it with glitter but at present I'm just enjoying the look of the timber. Thank you Joe.
We spoke to our daughter & her family on Skype and web-cam a few days ago. They are visiting an Aunt & Uncle in Toronto, Canada for Christmas. They wanted to experience a snowy Christmas, but honestly, 30deg. below zero (which its quite likely to be) is rather overdoing it I think. It was lovely to see them. Isn't modern technology amazing.
Still working on Christmas-gift sewing so I gotta go. Hope you're having a great day. Bye for now until next time.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Another blanket.

I found this pattern in a magazine a few weeks back and thought I'd give it a try. I think it's more attractive than plain squares and it is dead easy to do as it's all plain knitting. The squares are achieved by knitting 3 stitches together at three intervals along the row and 2 together at each end. This is done on every second row. The squares are supposed to be made individually and sewn up later but I dislike sewing up so pick up stitches from the edge of the previous square and knit on from there. You can see there is one seam to be sewn to close up the square but I think the finished effect will be worth that little bit of sewing. It uses up small balls of yarn which I seem to accumulate in mammoth quantities. I am interested to see how it looks when it is finished.
Christmas gifts to sew today so I'd better get moving. Hope you have a nice weekend. Bye for now until next time.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Gala Day at the Cheese Factory.

The day the Woodworkers gave away the year's work.
What a perfect day. Lovely weather, lots of lovely people and super afternoon tea, oh and yes, lots of lovely toys. I'm proud of all the woodies for the work they put in and if you want to have a look go to Melanie's page at nunde, she took some great photos. Melanie is in my followers spot at the right; sorry I don't know how to do the link thing. I took a photo of the prams before they were taken up to the Cheese Factory to be given away. Here they are. The man of the house and other woodies made them and painted them and it was my job to paint the little flowers. Folk painting is not my strong point but you can hardly go wrong with a few daubs of colour. I had planned to make the flowers poppies but when I added the black centre it looked like a spider. I thought that would scare a little child so I got rid of it. Children see things differently from us don't they? I remember our oldest girl could see a bird in our kitchen wallpaper, when she was little, and regularly fed it with her dinner making a big mark on the wall near her highchair. It was actually the spout of a kettle in a kitchen design but her little two year old self didn't see it that way.
More rain in Melbourne today - wonderful.
Time to take Pepper for a walk. Bye for now until next time.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Bath time

No, I don't want to talk to you.

I said I'm not talking to you.

How could you do that to me. I thought you loved me.

Pepper did not enjoy his bath. The laundry floor is awash with bathwater, and the man of the house and I got considerably wet. Yes it took two grown adults to bath a protesting little poodle but he has forgiven us, especially as, now that he is cleaner, softer, and sweeter smelling he is getting a lot more cuddles. I'm told that poodles are needy little people and love plenty of attention. Certainly I find that praise and cuddles work very well when getting him to do what I want.
The man of the house has just brought me a cup of tea so I'm off the enjoy it. Bye for now until next time.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

One of the toys that will be given away this coming Sunday (our big Gala Day) is this lovely little dolls highchair, well twelve of them to be exact. Denis, one of the Woodies, designed the chair, scaling it down from a full size highchair and tweaking it here and there to make it nicer. Clever man our Denis. The tray of the chair lifts up just like a real chair. It was Stewart, another of the Woodies, that did most of the construction work on the chairs, also the painting. I think I did a bit of sanding on them.
That's Pepper getting his nose is on the act there. Have you noticed that about dogs; they can be sound asleep in their basket, then as soon as you start on something out the ordinary they're there, checking up on things. He doesn't know it but he's in for a bath today, first time I will have bathed him since he's been here. I wonder who will get the wettest.
Must be off to get on with it. Hope you're having a lovely day. Bye for now until next time.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

My creative space

Officially, since our youngest daughter & her husband moved out and took off to live in sunny Queensland three years ago, I have a sewing room, (lucky me but I miss my daughter)
Somehow most of my mess seems to migrate to the whole house, so I have no particular space. Baskets of yarn adorn the spot where I sit to watch television and knit, and the dining room table is the resting place for the latest doll that is being dressed. I use the top of my washing machine with a board on it to cut out small items for sewing because its a nice height and saves my aching back. Fortunately I have a most patient husband (bless him) and I do get around to putting stuff away every now and again. I manage to keep the couch and an armchair vacant for visitors to sit down. I have given up making excuses, I'm just plain untidy and I wish I weren't, I'd love to be neat and organised but after all these years I know its just not going to happen, my brain doesn't work that way.
Anyway, I finished off the garter-stitch set that I was working on. Added a hat and bootees and a picot edge. Here is a doll modelling it for me. I don't think any self-respecting baby would be ashamed to wear the outfit, so non purl-enabled knitters take heart.
Must go now, time to feed Pepper our daughter's dog. (dog sitting again while daughter & family are on holiday) Bye for now until next time.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Their creative space

Yesterday I visited the Pakenham Patchworkers for their AGM. I had been invited to attend as the ladies had a great bundle of beautiful handwork that they wanted to give me for the Woodworkers. The members of this busy club dress the dolls cradles, beds and cots that we Woodies make for our Annual Gala Day toy giveaway. The pretty things that they make put the finishing touch to our work and we are very grateful. I came home with my car full to the brim with little quilts and mattress-pillow sets - enough to dress 70 of our toys. I learned that the quilt-in team comprises 24 workers and as if their gift to us were not enough, they also handed out literally hundreds of items to other needy recipients. I saw a table laden with knitted baby wear and toy teddies, made with the help of some knitters from a local retirement village or nursing home (sorry I can't remember which). These goodies along with some beautiful quilts were given to the Newborn Unit at Monash Medical Centre here in Melbourne. Over the past three years the club has given thousands of quilts away to the needy such as bushfire sufferers, victims of domestic violence and those families struggling with unemployment. My head buzzes with the figures so I won't quote them for fear of error. In addition they give away cash donations which they raise through special efforts. What a band. I take my hat off to them all.
Pictured are just a few, probably less than a quarter of the lovely quilts that were given away yesterday. The small ones on the table were for us, the Woodies and those plastic bin-bags are full too. I might add that a lot of them are in the workforce and so fit this activity into their spare time. (spare time - my goodness) There are some lovely people in the word, aren't there?
Anyway, I'm off to look for something useful to do. Hope you are having a nice weekend. Bye for now until next time.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Gasping for breath

No picture today, I'm still drying off after the wettest drenching I've ever had (short of going swimming or taking a shower). Just came home from shopping through the scaryest thunder storm. Rain driving sideways in great washes, lightning streaking the sky. Was I scared - you bet! I had to get out of the car to open the gate to drive into our carport and before I reached the gate I was drenched through to the skin. Gasping as each gust of rain hit me. The man of the house had gallantly offered to do the job but as he was driving and would have had to get back into the car wringing wet, so I got all brave and did it. I had to peel my clothes off and wring them out afterwards.
My goodness, what an experience. Anyway, all dry now. Bye for now, until next time.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

I love the simplicity of garter stitch. I love its folksy look. To me it always looks cosy. The knit stitch is the first one we learn and although it can be varied many ways to make fancy patterns, it has charm and versatility all by itself. Because it doesn't curl at the edges, garter stitch is ideal for beginners as it doesn't need a rib, so new knitters can get started on a project as soon as the basic skills eg. cast on, knit, increase, decrease and cast off, are mastered. I've seen some pretty classy looking tops knitted in garter stitch, jackets, hats, handbags, the list goes on. I've been playing around at my place with some odments of yarn and thought I'd show you some of the results.
The face washer is made from dishcloth cotton with a crocheted picot added later, - wrapped around a cake of soap and tied with a pretty bow it might make a nice gift or an offering for a Mothers Day stall. That's a baby's bib on the needles. The little jackets were actually made for dolls but they would fit a prem or new baby. I knit them all in one piece so that I only have to sew up under the arms and sleeves. The yellow one was knitted on bigger needles because I wanted a softer fabric. I'll add a picot edge to them too, I think, and possible embroider a flower or two.
Too wet to get out in the garden today. All that rain last night - luvly. Bye for now, until next time.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Guess what I've been doing this morning. It's cooler here today so I've been able to get at some of those weeds. Very therapeutic. Yes, that's a hole in the finger of my glove. I've worn the poor thing out. I've dodged a whole squadron of blood-thirsty mosquitoes - such noisy eaters - I'd never know they were there if they'd just keep quiet about it. Things I've uncovered: an azalea bush that's been struggling under a mass of erigeron (seaside daisy) and a dainty little pink pelargonium that I thought had died. I've filled a big wheel barrow with stuff for the compost heap but you can hardly see where I've been. I'll keep at it - remember that mountain.
All the while I've been listening to the baby magpies pestering their mother for food. Mum, Mum, Mum. Poor her - those kids are as big as she is. They are doing their best though, it's a scream watching them peck at everything to see if it's edible, wrestling with great lumps of bark and sticks bigger that they are then in the end going back to Mum, Mum, Mum. I'll bet there's not a Mum out there in blogg land that can't identify with her. Painting flowers on prams this afternoon. Nearly finished. Hope your day is a good one. Bye for now until next time.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Flanders Poppies.

I should have posted this picture yesterday - Rememberance Day. These lovely bright things adorn my driveway every year in Spring. Self sown from just a couple of plants that I grew from seed three or four years ago, in a nearby garden bed, they are never watered except from the rain and they grow in the most dreadful stoney ground that is dry, hard packed 1 centimetre gravel. For the few weeks that they flower visitors very kindly carefully avoid running them down with their cars and though I've tried to grow them elswhere they never do as well as in this most unhospitable spot. Sort of symbolic I think, considering what they've come to represent throughout the world.
So hot here these last few days, I've been up early to take Penny for a walk before it gets too sticky. I must say she wasn't very enthusiastic this morning - sensible dog that, knows when to find a shady spot and stay put. Hope you're keeping cool - or warm as needs be, wherever you are. Bye for now until next time.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

It's a jungle out there

I'm fighting a losing battle against the weeds. There is actually a path in there, somewhere to the right of the birdbath, but it's very hard to find. I keep in mind a Chinese proverb that I once heard. Apologies to the Chinese if I've got this wrong but I think it goes something like, "If you want to move a mountain, take one stone at a time." So that's what I'm doing, only for 'stone' read 'weed'. Every time I go out there I yank up a weed (or two).
I hear my baby magpie practicing his warble. Sounds a bit like a rusty wheel that needs oil but he'll get it right in time. I read that a magpie's warble is like a fingerprint - no two are alike - and it is true that I can tell the front yard magpies from the back yard ones by their warble.
Anyway, I'm supposed to be vacuuming so I'd better get at it. Bye for now until next time.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

More wooden lace.

Our friend Joe from the Woodworkers has been at work with his scroll saw again. This time it is a plant pot stand. Can you imagine the patience that must go into creating this. Joe tells me that there are 690 holes in this work, that means that he had to undo the saw blade, thread it through a hole and refix the blade so that he could cut out the next little bit of pattern 690 times. I have managed a small wall decoration for a gift once, that required about 40 such maneuvers, and found that pretty tedious so I can really appreciate this lovely thing.
Not much doing today but I'd better go and do it. Bye for now until next time.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

For me dressing a doll is a bit like eating icecream - I find it difficult to stop. Fortunately time has set the rules here as dolly had to be ready by this coming week. Here she is with her layette. I was lucky enough to find a piece of knit fabric in our op-shop that will serve as a blanket and bound with some taffeta cut into bias binding strips it looks the part. After all these years I still have trouble getting bias binding right. Note to self: its stretched on the inward curve and eased on the outward curve. I think I've got it at last.
Unless it's especially required, I never bother with fiddly set-in sleeves as I find the maygar style bodice pleases children just as well and is actually easier to put on the doll. So long as it looks pretty children are easy to please - and much though I dislike it I have used Velcro for the closers as press-studs or buttons could present a choking problem for small children. The pink hat is actually a bit big so I am making another a little smaller. The doll is 40cms long so both the bootees and hats are a suitable size for a prem baby - if you're interested in the bootee pattern, here it is:
I knit loosely, so if you don't you may want to use a bigger size of needles but I used size 3.25mm (old size 10) with 3 ply yarn at 15 sts over 5cms.

Cast on 25 stitches - First row: Knit twice into the first stitch, knit 10, knit twice into the next stitch, Knit 1, knit twice into the next stitch, knit 9, knit twice into the next stitch, knit 1.
Second and all alternate rows: knit.
Third row: Knit twice into the first stitch, knit 12, knit twice into the next stitch, knit 1, knit twice into the next stitch, knit 11, knit twice into the next stitch, knit 1.
Fifth row: Knit twice into the first stitch, knit 14, knit twice into the next stitch, knit 1, knit twice into the next stitch, knit 13, knit twice into the next stitch, knit 1.
Seventh row: Knit twice into the first stitch, knit 16, knit twice into the next stitch, knit 1, knit twice into the next stitch, knit 15, knit twice into the next stitch, knit 1. (41 sts. on needle.)
Knit 5 rows garter stitch. (Knit every row)
To turn toe: Knit to the last 18 stitches, knit two together, turn work.
Next row: Slip the first stitch knitways, knit 5, knit two together, turn work.
Repeat the last row until 27 stitches remain. Knit to the end of the row.
Next row: Knit increasing into the first and last stitch to make 29 stitches.
Next row make ribbon holes: Knit 1 (bring yarn forward, knit 2 together), repeat instructions in brackets all along the row.
Finish bootee by knitting rib of l plain, l purl for 2 cms or desired length. 4cms makes a fold down top.
If you don't like rib just knit the same length in garter stitch.
To make up: Sew up back and foot seam (I use over sew to make a flat seam.) If you're making a fold down cuff, reverse the seam for the first 2 cms so that it will not show on the outside.
I crochet a cord about 40cms long using the yarn double and a size 4mm hook, to thread through the ribbon holes but for the doll I just use some narrow elastic.
I hope you have fun making them if you decide to have a try. Bye for now until next time.

Note: I have edited this post since yesterday in the hope of making these instructions easier to follow. Cheers :)

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Any Excuse

A friend is collecting together a barrow load of goodies for a fund raising effort that he's running and so I jumped at the chance to dress this baby doll for him. (I never did grow out of dolls) Here she is (yes she's a girl) in her singlet & nappy waiting for the rest of her clothes to be finished. I love to make several pieces of clothing so that the new little owner can change the baby, so there are a couple of dresses, jackets, jammies, bootees & hats coming up. Almost done except for a few finishing touches. I can't knit the jackets for this doll because those fingers will get caught in the knit and drive a poor child into screams of frustration. The best kind of hands for a play doll to have are little fists - so much easier for a child to dress. I wish manufacturers would realise that. Anyway I've made the jackets out of some stretch towelling - courtesy of our lovely op-shop's fabric odments box and I think they'll be satisfactory. Gotta go, hand sewing to be done. Bye for now until next time.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

New Visitor

Just as I hoped, there is another baby magpie on the scene. Here he is waiting for Mum or Dad to feed him. If only his parents would come and gather up some of the snails I come across when I weed my garden. I could provide the poshest French cuisine just from my pot plants alone. But no, they dig up my lovely worms - big fat ones - and I wince every time I see another one being dragged from it's comfy hole. I used to make myself late for school when I was little, rescuing drowning worms from rain puddles (you could walk to school in those days) or picking them off hot pavement and popping them into grassy spots. Never mind, little magpies have to eat. Spent the morning weeding the pots (and feeding the mosquitoes) which only showed up how much re-potting I should be doing. Its all go, isn't it?
Must go now, Penny needs a walk. Hope your week- end was a good one. Bye for now, until next time.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Some strange washing?

It's not every day you see furniture hanging from a clothes line but this is how the toymakers at our woodworking club cope with the problem of getting our painted toys dry. There's never enough room in the painting shed and many's the time I've backed into wet paint and come off second best. Then someone came up with this bright idea and it works. They're dolls beds and little helicopters hanging up and some doll's cradles in the background. It's all go, at the moment, to get all the toys finished for the end-of-year giveaway event. Back at home I've still got to get the flower decorations on the doll's prams. Really must get my act together.
Bye for now, until next time.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Finished at last.

Both of my grandsons have grown past the stage of wearing Nana's knits. Though they'd never say so they are much too cool for knitted sweaters. Even their woolly caps are a special kind. The last time I made a jumper for them, one had Thomas the Tank Engine on it and the other a teddy bear flying an aeroplane. (they were 3 yrs old) So these days I spend my time knitting blankets for whichever needy cause is most prominent at the time. I must say I enjoy making blankets as they don't require much mental effort - shaping etc. and as I'm probably the most lazy knitter I know, I dodge sewing up too. I usually pick up stitches along the edge of one square and knit the end of each row into the adjacent square as I go. Sometimes I do the diagonal decrease in the centre of each alternate row that turns straight knitting into a square. I'm lucky to have a really good op-shop near home where I am able to pick up odments of wool at good prices. I try to use wool wherever possible as some countries cook on open fires and wool is the safer option. I've learned to recognise wool in two ways - one is the smell when the yarn is washed (quite distinctive) and the other is to pass the end of a strand of the yarn through the flame of a candle, quickly extinguishing the burning end and allowing it to cool. Burnt wool will crumble to ash and leave the yarn clean whereas acrylic or nylon will form a hard blob where it was burnt.
Anyway, this one's finished at last and I think I might start on some baby knitteds next, one of our neighbours is to have a baby in a few weeks. Also I have another doll to knit for. Better get cracking. Bye for now until next time.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Penny's visit

Since our dear, much loved Kelpie cross died many years ago we haven't had the heart to own another dog but I get my doggy fix every now and again by dog-sitting Penny & Pepper. Pepper you've already met, Penny is a border collie that is owned by a friend of ours who is off for a week on the South coast of NSW. Penny is very patient with me - puts up with all my soppy doggy talk and hugs and allows me to throw a ball around the back garden for her. She's a funny thing, I can't take her for a walk on my own, she gets very distressed if the man of the house doesn't come too. Once, after her repeated attempts to turn back for home, I actually had to take her right back into the house so that she could see for herself that the man of the house was not there. She was OK after that. Penny is very obedient and well behaved, she just has this thing about leaving one of us at home. She won't go without me either and keeps checking to make sure we're all together when we take her for a walk. Pepper, on the other hand, couldn't care two hoots, so long as he gets his walk. Just like humans, they're all different.
Anyway it's time for that walk so off we go. Bye for now until next time.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

New Baby

The baby magpie has come to visit at last. All round and fluffy and gripping the branch in a very wobbly fashion. He doesn't know I won't hurt him so without a better camera I can't get any closer than this. That's him - that little blob of grey and white up there among the leaves. There will be another along soon as I can still hear squeaking from the nest and they usually produce more than one baby per season. Without interference he/she can be expected to live for about 20 years.
All the crocheting that is happening at present has got me inspired. Ferreting about in my old books today I have found a pattern from the seventies for a granny square hat. (I love my mess) I think I'll try it out. Watch this space.
Bye for now until next time.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Weeping buckets

Not the buckets weeping - me. Well actually just a surreptitious little tear now and again. You see, we have a niece who is a trauma nurse and she, along with several other Intensive Care nurses have put together a book, compiled and edited by Tilda Shalof, of essays describing a day in the lives of each of them. Our niece sent us a copy and I have been reading, enthralled. The battle they face to save the life of each patient defies my understanding. I don't know how they can do the work they do but I'm awfully glad they do it. Sometimes they win and, of course, sometimes the battle is lost and they feel each defeat keenly. Aren't they wonderful? May whatever Supreme Power it is that guides them continue to do so with the richest of blessings.
Raining buckets today - Oo it is luvly - our tanks are overflowing.
Bye for now until next time.

Special Anniversary

We've just arrived back from East Gippsland where we were visiting old friends. Lovely to see the area looking so green and lots of dams full, water laying in lots of hollows in the paddocks. Not a very special look for our more Northerly Aussies as they have had flooding earlier in the year but for we parched Victorians every little drop of rain is precious.
The special Anniversary? The man of the house has been in Australia for 50 years yesterday it slipped by without us even noticing. The anniversary of the most important day of my life.
Bye for now until next time

Monday, October 12, 2009

Isn't this pretty? Joe, one of the woodworkers at the Woodworker's Club that the man of the house and I belong to, made this little wheelbarrow using a scroll saw machine. Joe has an exceptionally delicate touch and turns out lots of beautiful work. I've got to tell you that every one of those lacey holes is cut by removing the saw blade from the machine, threading it up through a drilled hole in the work, re-fixing the blade in place, cutting the hole then doing the same thing over and over until the lacework is done. You can go mad doing that sort of thing and you need a lot of patience. And I should also tell you that the whole thing is only about 20cms long by about 12cms high. Beautiful job, Joe.
Our daughter took us out to lunch today to celebrate the birthday of the man of the house. Lovely grub and no dishes to wash so I enjoyed his birthday too, lucky me.
Bye for now until next time.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Just For Fun

One of the fun things about reaching my senior years is the fact that I can do nutty things and get away with it. In fact its almost expected of one. So here is one of my nutty things. Being a knittaholic I accumulate an awful lot of wool ends. Sure I use them to stuff cushions and soft toys but just for fun I decided to join them all together (the pieces of about 30cms and over) and knit them up into a blanket. I push the knots to one side of the fabric leaving one side smooth the other fluffy and there it is, a nice cosy rug. I knit it on big needles and in strips of about 45 cms wide then sew them together when they get to about 180cms long. I left about 25cms of the seam unsewn in the centre of the first two strips that I put together so that It can be worn as a poncho while I watch telly though the man of the house usually grabs it for that. I don't care if anyone thinks I'm nuts because its fun and its warm and I'm using up waste wool. Daughter & grandsons visiting today so I gotta go. Bye until next time.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Day of Surprises.

No pics today. Have spent the morning tidying (long overdue). The man of the house calls me a "messy pup" which, considering the age bracket I fit into, is very kind of him. So the silence of the morning has been punctuated from time to time with shouts of "Ahah! So that's where that got to." Untidy people live a very exciting life as we're always coming across pleasant surprises in the form of something we were sure we had lost. I keep meaning to improve but I never have. "Turn Over A New Leaf" was the term my second grade schoolteacher used to use. That one kept me in a quandary for some years as I never could work out where the leaf was that I had to turn over or what it had to do with my mess.
Anyway, a cup of coffee and then back to work I think. Wonder what I'll find next? Bye for now until next time.

One good turn.

Wouldn't you know I'd get it wrong. Yesterday's blog was supposed to start with the waving hand at the top but I forgot that you have to load the pictures backwards. Note to self: write things down so you don't forget them and keep trying.
Anyway, I'm spinning today - not the kind that makes you giddy but the spinning wheel kind. I promised my sister that I'd spin the combings from her little pomeranian dog's coat into knitting yarn. Now before you start advising the man of the house that he should book a nice padded cell for me I must warn you that I've done it before - spinning dog hair that is. Some dogs, (the spitz variety) have a double coat that consists of long outer hair and a softer fuzz close to the skin that keeps them warm in Winter and sheds in the Summer. The fuzz is good to spin and makes a lovely soft, washable yarn. Once its washed there is no doggy smell and its incredibly warm. Our daughter's beautiful Samoyed, unimaginatively named Sam, comes under the spitz heading and sheds great bags full of fuzz everytime he is brushed. Here's one of the scarves that I have make from the yarn that his fur makes. If you can stand mohair and angora you could tolerate doggy yarn as it has pretty much the same sneeze value. Bye for now until next time.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Not waving, drowning.

Drowning in a sea of weeds, menaced by marauding mosquitoes (cue theme music for Jaws - Da dum, da dum, da dum.) Fighting a losing battle with all the aches and pains to prove it. There are some compensations, however; daisies put on a show no matter how I neglect them. Even the poor orchid valiantly defies the slugs. Oh well, onwards and upwards. I'll get at the weeds again tomorrow. Bye for now until next time.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Potato Boston Bun

This is especially for the man of the house - its one of his favourites - no butter in it you see, that means he can eat more of it. (his reasoning not mine). I usually make it with left over mashed potato (no onion or pepper) but if you want to start from scratch I find that one good sized potato is plenty. I cook the potato in the microwave for about 4 minutes then mash it with a potato masher. Here's the recipe if you'd like it:

1/2 cup each of mashed potato, caster sugar, milk, dried fruit (I use sultanas)
1 cup of self raising flour. (I mix wholemeal & white)
Beat the sugar & potato together until they are creamy (I use an electric beater)
Stir in the remaining ingredients until well combined.
Pour mixture into a 7 inch (18cms) sandwich pan and bake at 180 for 35 to 40 mins. Test with a skewer as for a normal cake.
I ice it with vanilla flavoured icing and sprinkle the top with coconut. I put about a teaspoon of melted butter in the icing as I find it holds its shape better, but of course that's optional.
It's yummy spread with butter but nice without if you're watching your colesterol.
You can bake it in a loaf pan for probably the same length of time but I've never done that so I can't say how long it takes.
After two hours pulling weeds yesterday you can't even see where I've been so I'll be back at it today. Ah Spring. Bye for now until next time.

Friday, October 2, 2009

The man of the house has been working at his wood-lathe and here is the result. At first he said it was a cake stand for someone who is on a diet but then he decided to make this teensy bird for it, so now it is a bird bath for very tiny birds. It was made from a couple of nice little pieces of wood that he didn't want to throw away. Woodworkers can be quite miserly with their bits of wood; every little scrap must be looked at twice before it goes into the fire to keep us warm. It can be quite embarrassing to go walking with them as you never know what they will pick up and bring home with them - old, discarded fence posts, builders offcuts - its all fair game.
It's not raining at present so I'm off to the garden to pull some knee high weeds. Bye for now, until next time.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Beaut new book.

I couldn't resist this lovely book. I found it in one of those catalogs that come in the mail and sent away for it. 99 Granny squares. How could I resist? Being mathmetically challenged I haven't even tried to calculate how long I'll have to live in order to make a rug from each pattern but just looking at the pictures is a treat. Of course I needed another craft book like needed an extra head but next to being a compulsive yarn buyer I'm a compulsive book buyer - totally addicted. I've tried aversion therapy - you know that's where you swamp yourself with your addiction until you can't bear the sight of them and I've got to tell you it doesn't work. So now I'm off to swim in them, wade through them, roll in them, breathe them in. And when I'm totally intoxicated I'll pick up a crochet hook and try out some of those pretty granny squares. Bye for now until next time.

Monday, September 28, 2009

One of the wee folk?

Bob, one of the woodworkers, gave me this funny little man. Bob likes to make wooden toys that move and has made some very cute little working models. This little one was intended to be a tiny puppet but Bob was not happy with it and, rather than throw it away, handed it over to me. Bob suggested that I should paint it but I'm not so sure. I rather like its natural look.
Here is a little doll that I made for my first grandson when he was a baby. At age 15 and over 6 feet tall, he is well over baby toys and dolly found her way back to my place several years ago. If I can work out how to do it I'd like to make her the header of my page. Wish me luck. She is knitting a patch on her shoe.
Its absolutely freezing here today, as it was over the weekend also. In a few months I'll be whinging because it is so hot. Some of us are never satisfied.
Bye for now, until next time.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

New Shoes

Perfick!! I'm really pleased with these little shoes. The doll that was given to me to restore came wearing only one little vinyl shoe, the other having been lost many years ago. I pulled the shoe apart and used the pieces as a pattern for the new ones. I used a scrap of damask that I found in my stash and lined them with some taffeta. If I'd had some vinyl handy it would have been a lot less work but I'm happy with the way they look anyway.
If you think that strap was too difficult to get under the foot of my machine to sew a buttonhole you're right. I used press studs instead. So dolly got new shoes and since I enjoyed making them so much, so did a couple of other barefoot babies in my collection (yes, Grandma plays with dolls). I'll keep this pattern because it was easy to make.
Raining like mad here at the moment. Wonderful! We really need it.
Hope you have a lovely weekend. Bye for now, until next time.