Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy 2011 to all

Just a quick look at my latest effort. I'm not at all sure about this one. The pattern and colour selection came from a pattern book but it is very bright and I'm not sure that I will finish it although I love strong colours. I rather feel for the poor little person that might end up wearing this. What do you think?
In my corner of the world yesterday was last year and didn't it go out with a bang. The noise of fireworks, in the housing estate oposite us, started at about and continued with great enthusiasm until a couple hours into the morning. We weren't dog sitting this year but if we had been I think I would have been under the bed with them. I'm not a fireworks fan. I know they're very pretty when they're not being just plain loud but I grew out of them a long time ago - they terrify animals, not just dogs and cats but horses can do themselves injury running into fences in panic - they waste an awful lot of money and can be downright dangerous in the wrong hands. "Bah Humbug!" I say.
So there. Now that I've nailed my colours to the mast, you'll know what an old sourpuss I am but I still want to wish you all a Happy New Year filled with all sorts of good things.
Bye for now until next time.

Monday, December 27, 2010

The man of the house at last believes that he has sufficient evidence to enable him to have me certified and sent along to a home for confused gentlefolk. Personally I fail to see what I've done that is so weird. You see one of the woodworkers confided in me that he needed a draught excluder for his garage as he didn't like the wind blowing leaves in under the door and making a mess. Now it happened that I had, in the bottomless pit that is my sewing cupboard, a bundle of curtain sample pieces that I thought might one day become useful. As well as that there was a bag full of clean discarded items, now only suitable for donating to the the op-shop for their rag bag. It seemed logical to me that I could marry this hoard together and produce the necessary draught excluder. Whoopee! A chance to get rid of some clutter. How big did it need to be? Answer - 17ft. - the width of a double garage door. So - much sewing and lots of stuffing later, this is what I produced.
Result: My friend is delighted, my husband thinks I'm nuts and you can't even see a gap where all that hoarded stuff was.
The finished work had to be rolled into this snail shape so that I could photograph it. The man of the house added the banana so that you can get an idea of it's size.
I hope your Christmas was a happy one. Bye for now until next time.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Woe is me.

My dentist has gone on his Christmas Break.
My dentist has gone on a spree.
Without him I can't eat my Christmas cake.
Oh bring back my dentist to me.

Wouldn't you know it; I've broken that darned tooth again - just brushing this time. But before you reach for the tissues to join me in commiseration, I must confess that it isn't hurting and apart from being really awkward to eat I can wait until my dentist returns to work. What is it they say about Murphy's law? What can go wrong will do so at the worst possible time. Right on Christmas Eve - yep, I'll agree with that.
Now that I've had a jolly good whinge I want to wish everyone out there in Blogland a Happy and peacefilled Christmas and a prosperous New Year - and if your faith doesn't follow the season then I wish you happiness in the pathway you've chosen for life.
Bye for now, until next time.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Just ducky

A friend had been looking for a waddling toy duck for her grandchild. She'd been to all sorts of markets, she said, and had not been successful. After going through the library of books on wooden toys that we have at the woodworkers club, the man of the house disappeared into his shed and this is what he produced. I loved it on sight and it went over very well with our friend too. The leather feet flap and cause the duck to waddle from side to side. I think it's really cute and got a bit of fun playing with it myself before we gave it away.....well, I didn't have a waddling duck when I was a little girl - just filling up a hole in my list of lifes experiences.
Back to winter today. Do you know the weather man predicted snow in high places. Not that I'm complaining - much more comfy than the sweltering temperatures we could be having at this time of year. Steamed pud for Christmas dinner is much nicer to eat on a cool day.
Bye for now until next time.

Monday, December 13, 2010

A lacey change.

I love the challenge of a lacy pattern and now and again take a break from the garter stitch that I use for blankets. Really, after the first couple of pattern repeats it becomes no longer a challenge as my memory takes over. Still the pleasure remains. Dodging my pet hate - sewing up, I knit to the armhole shaping then put all the pieces on a circular needle. No seams - luvly. I think it's more comfortable for the little one who will wear it too.
This time, following an enquiry with the welfare group that I'm knitting for, I'm using acrylic as very often mums in difficult circumstances don't have the washing facilities that enable wool to be washed carefully. If a garment can't go into a washing machine it can be more a nuisance than a benefit. I like to use a wool blend if I can as that washes well, but it can be difficult to find at this time of year.
I joined Ravelry this week. Goodness knows why as I have no idea what to do with it.
Dropped my camera this afternoon - disaster!! All my pics disappeared. I had saved all but the last half dozen or so on a message stick but I really wanted that last half dozen. So I went haring up to see the nice man in the camera shop near home who put my chip into his computer and rescued them, putting them on a disc. If I'd had my wits about me I could probably have done that myself and saved $10. Never mind, as I said, he's a nice man and the experience has taught me a lesson, actually two. 1. Don't be such a clumsy clogs and 2. Back up immediately.
The man of the house made chicken & dumplings for dinner and rescued the fruit cake that I forgot I'd put in the oven. He really is a gem, bless him.
Gotta go now, my turn to wash the dishes.
Bye for now until next time.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Just as we'd hoped.

What a day it was. We'd been dodging rain drops all week but our Gala Day turned out fine and not too hot. I really got my 10 thousand steps in, helping to carry and set up the toys for this display. We handed them all over and got the chance to thank so many folk who help us out through the year. Those who donate paint and timber and, of course our wonderful patchworkers. As she does every year, Joe's lovely wife made 20 pretty quilts too, especially for the prams.
The picture here is only some of the toys that went to local welfare groups, there were 605 in all, but it gives you an idea of the kind of thing we do. In receiving the toys for her organization, one of the recipients said, "Every year I think the need can't get any worse, and every year it does." That's a sobering thought in this land of plenty, I think. Then there was the little boy of about 3 years, whose Dad's ticket won a toy in our fund raising effort. The little one's round-eyed "Ooh" as he accepted his toy made our day. We don't often get a chance to see a toy in the hands of a child. That was a real treat.
Planning begins now for the list of toys we will make next year. One of the blokes, who will be on holiday for a good part of next year has started on his toys already. It's addictive. We can't help ourselves and it keeps our little grey cells ticking over very nicely.
Anyway, a rattly feeling around my rib cage reminds me that I haven't had lunch and in my part of the world it's nearly 2.00 pm, so I'd better be off.
Bye for now, until next time.
PS if you want to get a closer look at the toys you can click on the picture to enlarge it.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Patches galore.

Today I'm singing the praises of the Pakenham Patchworkers & Quilters. These are the talented and generous women who dress the dolls beds & cradles that we woodworkers give away each year. Please pardon me if my hero worship is showing but I am always overawed by the work they do. This year they gave us 100 beautifully worked patchwork quilts, some of which I have pictured here, as well as little mattresses and pillows to go with them. If that isn't enough to keep their busy fingers going they also gave 56 full size quilts to a local welfare group that rehouses the homeless, many of whom are fleeing from abusive relationships. Then there are the 110 quilts for the newborn section of one of our big hospitals. And to add to that lot there was a whole swag of knitted blankets, dresses, jackets, bootees and hats for the newborns plus 60 little teddies. Small wonder I am staggered by their industry. I wonder how they find time to make quilts for their own families' pleasure, but they do that too. Well done ladies.
Today is the first day of Summer in my corner of the world; we're being threatened with a wet one which will be a novelty after about 13 years of drought. It's also perilously close to another birthday for me. I'm reversing the numbers this year - they sound better that way.
I'm off now to finish some sewing I started yesterday, then some baking I think.
Bye for now until next time.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Clever Denis

Denis, one of the woodworkers, has made a train. Not one of the usual type of toy trains that we toy makers make, but something much more elaborate. Have a look for yourself. This one is about 14 inches or 36 cms long, has all the bells & whistles (well, not whistles exactly, but it does have a bell) of a real model train. I really like model train sets. I can't resist the little tunnels, miniature houses with lights, pretend people, ducks on ponds, cars and vans, you know the thing. Denis has one of those too, with which he and his grandson play. Lucky grandson. I'm a bit blown away by this one because it's all cut from wood and fitted together so that all the parts work. Now I enjoy the challenge of a complicated knitting or crochet pattern, but, as I said, Denis's train blows me away. There is an awful lot of little pieces to put together and Denis tells me that it isn't finished yet. Clever Denis.
Next Sunday is our big day at Woodworkers. We have about 600 toys to give away and the representatives of the local community welfare groups that are to receive them will join us at a social gathering where we will hand the toys over. There will be the local Children's Choir to sing for us too. It's always a lovely afternoon. Like Santa, we've checked everything twice. All we need now is nice weather. Here's hoping.
Gotta go now; catch up with you again later. Bye for now until next time.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Just in time

I've been knitting like mad to get this baby blanket finished in time for a special charity event. My arthritic thumb complains but I employ the 'use it or lose it' philosophy and stick at it, holding the work in a different position to prevent aggravating the joint. The problem thumb is one of the reasons that I knit garter stitch so often as, for me, it uses less movement than the purl stitch. Fortunately I really like garter stitch.
I tried several edging stitches in both knitting and crochet but, in the end, I like the picot best. I knit the squares by picking up the stitches along the edge of the previously done one, and join them to the next one with a slip stitch as I go. It's no secret that I dislike 'sewing up' and dodge it as often as I can.
Next effort is to be a fair isle jumper (sweater) for a child. Done on a circular needle I can avoid the purl stitch for most of it. I'm not brave enough to tackle steeks.
My lovely dentist fixed my tooth today - bless him. You can bet I'll be really careful with almonds in future.
The man of the house has been baking and I can't bear to sit here any longer while those tantalising smells drift my way. I'm off for a cuppa and one of his coconut bikkies (that's cookies for our US and Canadian friends)
By for now until next time

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Surfacing to bake

Putting the newsletter together for the woodworkers, has, as usual, kept me out of blogging action for the past week. At last it's out of the way and I can concentrate on other things. Of course it's time to bake the Christmas cake that my family will share at Christmas time. Being the lazy thing that I am I'd happily go out and buy one; the Lions cake that is baked for charity would be my choice, but our grandson has a nut alergy and I daren't. He really enjoys fruit cake and so I roll up my sleeves and do the proper Granny thing and make one that I know he can eat. This cake is just a Dundee fruit cake which, after keeping for the weeks that remain until Christmas, should be delicious. I removed the nuts from the recipe and substituted chopped, dried apricots of the same weight. It is usually successful.
I use my dear old scales that my Nana gave us for a wedding present 49 years ago. They're still doing the job and they have the lovely advantage of being marked out in both metric and imperial measurements, so I don't have problems with recipes using either. Of course I'd like a nice new set of fancy digital scales but I couldn't bear to part with Nana's gift.
Hope you had a lovely weekend. It rained buckets here - typical Melbourne Spring but the heat will get here soon enough and then I'll really have something to moan about.
Bye for now until next time.

Sunday, November 7, 2010


I don't mean to put you off your breakfast, but I was enjoying mine on Saturday morning when it became obvious that something was not quite as it should be. Investigation revealed that I had broken a tooth. My teeth have been around for a long time and I suppose they're getting a bit tired of the things I ask them to chomp on. This time it was a few raw almonds - really good for me, but not for my tired teeth. Fortunately the damage has not resulted in toothache as it is really difficult to get in to see my dentist even for an emergency. Goodness knows how I'd get on if I were rolling about the floor in agony. Well I'm not so I'll just have to put up with the jagged edge for a couple of weeks until I can keep the appointment to have it fixed.
Meantime I am enjoying the child's sweater I have finished. Stripes are a good way to use up a quantity of wool that is insufficient for a garment but this time I thought I'd turn the stripes into fair isle. I made the design small in order to avoid long floaters at the back of the work, and wove them in after each 2 stitches. I'm quite pleased with it. It's destined for a charity that I knit for so I'll never see it on its wearer - half the fun of knitting I think. Anyway just the knowledge that it will keep some small person warm is a pleasant thought.
My lovely bloke has just brought me a cup of tea so I'll say bye for now until next time.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

A sword of a different kind.

Bob the woodworker has made another of his replicas. This one is a sword and sheath and is actually full size (about one metre long). The sheath is lined with velvet to prevent damage to the sword as it is withdrawn and the whole set is decorated with little silver stickers which don't show up very well here. I had to stand on a chair in order to get a complete picture and you can see the grubby marks on the clubroom carpet where someone has spilled something. They're a loveable but messy bunch, these blokes, and a messy carpet is the least of their worries - however, if we run out of milk at morning tea time a riot is pretty well guaranteed to ensue. You've got to get your priorities right, I'm told.
We Victorians have just had our wettest October since 1975 and for the most part we are very thankful, except for Penny, the border collie that we are dog-sitting, who made her protests known at 1.30 am this morning. She's a dear old lady is Penny, very well behaved and uncomplaining so when she started, everso politely, to yap at the aforementioned indecent hour I thought I'd better investigate. She had, of course, been out in the rain, which worries her not, until she decided to go back to bed in her kennel and take her soaking coat with her, then the thought of the warm, dry indoors was just too much for her good mannered self. So, after a good towelling off (well what else did I have to do at that hour of the morning?) she spent the rest of the night in our laundry room. If the rain continues tonight I won't even bother to put her out in her enclosure. You're a Mum forever, you know, even if it's only to an arthritic old dog.
The sun's peeping through at the moment - that'll be nice for a while.
Bye for now until next time.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Clever fingers

Some people are so clever it's breathtaking. This beautiful rug was created somewhere back in the 70s or 80s by a brilliant craftswoman called Mary Strecker. This picture was published in the McCall's Book of Aphgans in 1980. I've had a look on Google and found that you can only get hold of these out-of-print magazines through dealers. I am so glad to have this little treasure.
I love the way the colours have been used to create the pattern although the stitch seems to be fairly simple - single crochet and double crochet (American terms). The rug measures 42" x 64" that's a little over a metre by about one-and-a-half. The quantity of yarn is, in total, 12 four ounce balls of 4 ply (American) Since I'm mathmatically challenged I'll leave you to work that one out but I think it's a bit over one-and-a-quarter kilos. It sufficeth to say that it's a heck of a lot of yarn and must have taken forever to work. The cushion takes only one ball of each colour. I must say I'm considerably daunted by the enormity of the task but if I were to try my hand at it the cushion would probably be my limit.
I'd better be off now; sunshine and a whole lot of weeds waiting to be pulled from my garden beckon.
Hope a great weekend is coming your way. Bye for now until next time.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010


Over the years I've collected an awful lot of craft books and magazines that I just can't bear to throw out. Sometimes I get really good, look at the things in some of the mags and say "Nah. I'm never going to make that." and employing great strength of will, send the mag to the op-shop. Not often enough, which means my stash of mags and books far outweighs the time it would take for me to make even half of the things I would like.
Anyway, thumbing through some of the said mags yesterday I turned up this picture and thought some of our crocheting bloggers might like to see it. Just a cute idea for a granny square. It's from a McCall's craft magazine published in 1980. Maybe I'll get time to try this one out before Christmas.
Gotta go now, we're dog-sitting Penny the border collie again and it's time for her dinner. Bye for now until next time. P.S. I'll post another picture as soon as I get a chance.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

A bear's tale.

Once there was a lovely, sunny golden, woolly sweater that had seen too many trips to the wash tub and had become a little thickened. The sweater's owner decided to take it to the op-shop where it ended up in a basket of woollies suitable for dog's bedding. Then along came a woman who just loves to work embroidery on thickened woollies and turn them into something else: hot water bottle covers, cushions, tote bags, pin cushions, the list goes on. This time the woman looked at the sweater and thought, "That would make a lovely teddy bear." and so the sweater went home with her. Sorry doggies, the next sweater can be for you.
The bear was made up with the wrong side outside as the fabric looked better that way. He was cut out using a paper pattern and sewn up on a sewing machine with polyester thread because that has some stretch and won't snap easily. He is stuffed with fibre fill which the woman just happened to pick up at the op-shop on a previous trip. His eyes are safety eyes but could just as easily be embroidered on as is his nose and mouth. The pattern is one that was put out by Tonia Todman several years ago.
There was enough of the sweater left to make another teddy plus a couple of pin cushions, which the woman is going to enjoy embroidering with flowers, and a pot-holder for the kitchen. The remaining scraps can be used to stuff the pincushions. Wool is really good for pincushions as steel needles & pins inserted in it won't rust.
It's a magnificent day here in Melbourne today. Hope you are enjoying yours wherever you are. Bye for now until next time.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

That time of year again

I can't believe our toy making year is almost over again. Everyone at the woodworking club is frantically painting and finishing to get our toys ready for our big give-away day in early December. I keep promising myself I'll take some real lessons in folk-art but each year goes by and I haven't done so. The problem is finding the time for lessons. I know, I know, I have the same amount of hours in a day as DaVinci and Michelangelo, but perhaps they didn't spend most of their time knitting. I've found that I can get away with a few daubs of colour that sort of look like flowers and until someone tells me I'm doing a crummy job I guess that's what I'll continue to do.
That's our breakfast room that's doubling as an art studio. The light's better there and that old table has taken some punishment over the years. Solid as a rock and as heavy as lead (OK I'm exaggerating) it's been a kid's cubby house, sailing boat, dressmaking stand to name a few so a few smears of paint are unlikely to upset it.
There are my cotton reels behind the pram. I finally got round to drilling the holes down their centre today, nails come next and then they'll be ready for action as little knitting Nancies.
Hope your weekend was a good one. Rained like mad here. Filling our state's dams up nicely. Almost 50% full now.
Bye for now until next time.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Burning ambition

We had a talk on pyrography at our Woodworkers Club meeting last week, and I had a try at decorating this little trug using my pyrography kit. The man of the house delights in calling it my 'pyromania'. The trug is only about 30cms (12 inches) long and is actually one of the little kits that we cut out for children to make up (with our help) but it's very useful for holding knitting or crochet paraphanalia so I made one for myself. I copied the floral spray from a book that I have on folk art and it came out surprisingly well. I'm committed now so I'll have to finish it off. I might put a little colour on the design, I haven't decided yet. Imagine - this sort of art used to be accomplished using a poker held in hot coals. It must have been extremely difficult to do. I doubt that I'd have had the patience. It's a good way to decorate a bit of plain wood when you can draw or even if you can't; there's always good old carbon tracing paper which makes an artist out of anyone. You can get some simple designs from all sorts of places: gift wrapping paper, birthday cards, children's colouring books. You can let your imagination run riot because there doesn't seem to be an 'overdone' switch.
Gotta go now, it's newsletter time again. Bye for now until next time.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Feral UFOs

The problem with stashes is that they can be difficult to control - or mine is anyway. Yarn purchased because I just can't resist the colour or price gets tucked away until I can find a use for it. Of course the cupboard gets too full so then various boxes and other hidey holes come into play. You need a really good memory for this kind of stashing, or else a very good filing system. Guilty Your Honour; I have neither, so when, inspired by all the lovely work I see when I go blog hopping, I went looking for the baby shawl I started yonks ago, a shameful shock awaited me. UFOs, WIPs, and WWTBS (that last one is 'work waiting to be started) are threatening to take over my place. I spent a good hour, sorting them into some kind of order, but really it was merely an exercise in moving the deckchairs on the Titanic. The iceberg didn't get any smaller. So here are just a few. The patchwork is the present WIP, a baby blanket. The purple and the pale blue are to be cardigans for me one day (they're the WWTBS) and the fair isle is a UFO.
I realised why I didn't finish the latter. It was going to be the sleeve of a child's sweater but all those little loopy bits at the back will get caught in little fingers and drive some poor Mum mad. So it will have to be pulled out and knitted with the loops woven in. Enthusiasm is in short supply for that project just now so it will go back into the cupboard. And since the others will take me at least three months to get through - probably longer at my rate of knitting - I'd better get busy.
So what am I sitting here for? I'll see you next time. Bye for now.
PS. I never did find the shawl .

Wednesday, September 29, 2010


Can you resist a gadget? I can't - hopeless. Its one of the traits that I inherited from my Mum. Back when I was a little girl Mum actually belonged to a gadget club which sent her a different kind of gadget every month. Many of the weird wonders that came our way are still in existance today and lots fell by the wayside. Handbag holders (to hang your bag from a table), honey pourers, bread slicers, a quick flip egg lifter for flipping pancakes and many more all got their chance to strut their stuff at our place before they went on the market.
Anyway, today I found this at the op-shop; it shouted to me, "Take me, I'm yours." and I didn't need a further invitation. I've had a go at using it and although I'd probably get quicker and less ham-fisted in time, I don't feel the need to abandon my trusty knitting needles.
The idea is interesting anyway. The stitches are achieved by pushing the threaded eye of the needle through a previous stitch, grabbing the loop that results and holding it while you withdraw the needle and take the next stitch. You must then push the needle through another stitch as well as the one you're holding, grab that loop and withdraw the needle again ready to take the next stitch. All this must be accompanyied with the appropriate mutterings such as, "Go through, darn you." and "Now what have I done wrong?"
So, back to the knitting needles. I mutter at them too sometimes, but we've got used to eachother.
Gotta go now. The kitchen floor needs a wash. Looks like being a nice weekend here. Hope you enjoy yours.
Bye for Now until next time.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Ah Spring

In my corner of the world Spring has arrived and everywhere I look there are blossoming trees and flowers - except in my exact spot, that is. We live at the bottom of a hill and all the cold seems to end up on our block. No kidding, some expert on the radio said that frost flows downhill, so I imagine that cold does the same. Anyway the upshot is that our garden flowers later than the rest of our suburb.
Still I have the helebores bravely keeping me company. Shy little plants, trying very hard to be flambouyant but I had to get down on my knees to get this photo. Also I have had the camelias positively bursting their buttons all winter and there are still a few of them left to enjoy - though not as many as in this photo which I took a few weeks back. Magpie babies have arrived, so it feels like Spring even if it is cold. I hope you're enjoying life in your corner of the world.
Bye for now until next time.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

From the past.

A very long time ago my Nana made a little Knitting Nancy for me. They weren't called that back then, they were just cotton reels with 4 nails knocked into one end and we used them to make a little knitted cord. These days that has a name too; I-cord and its very easy to make using two double pointed needles. Anyway, back to the cotton reels. It's just about impossible to buy wooden ones now, they're all either plastic or cardboard, so when I had a mad desire to make some knitting Nancies I had no option but to start from scratch and make some cotton reels. I am not a woodturner so the man of the house had to show me what to do and this is the result. I started out with a squared length of wood, turned it with a sharp thingy which is called a gouge, then sanded the result with coarse, then fine sandpaper, and now they are ready to be cut apart with a saw. Next I must drill a hole down the centre of each, for the wool to go through, and lastly hammer some nails in one end. That little one you see there with a cord partly made is a commercial cotton reel that I used years ago and had laying in a draw waiting to be reborn.
I remember how I used to love to change the wool colours often and couldn't wait to see the new colour appear at the bottom of the cotton reel. Nothing has changed, I can't wait to see that pink come through.
I used a toothpick to work the stitches over the nail heads. When I was little I used either a longer nail or a hair pin.
Gotta go now, I want to work on that pink until it shows at the bottom of the cotton reel.
Hope you're having a good day. Bye for now until next time.

Friday, September 17, 2010


Much as I like garter stitch and enjoy making rugs, every now and then I get a yen to knit something pretty (there is a limit to my Capricorn practicality). I love to knit lace and enjoy the concentration that it requires. I found this pattern in a book of knitting for dolls and have found that it fits a newborn baby quite well. I changed the instructions a bit and knitted the sleeves and yoke all in one instead of in separate pieces that need sewing together. I don't like bulky seams on baby things and no matter how I try I find a flat seam never looks as neat as I want it to.
Note the absence of buttons. The knitters group, that I will give it to, has a supply on hand and instructed me to leave the buttons to them to sew on. This group collects knitteds for Monash Newborn Centre which, I think, covers several types of needs from tiny prem babies to those whose Mums are finding times difficult at the moment. Its nice to think that my stash can be useful.
Are you a compulsive wool buyer? Me too. If its pretty and going at a good price I can't resist it. Do I need therapy?
Just finished another newsletter. Time to catch up on some sewing. A good day to be indoors, Spring is really not trying very hard but we've had some marvellous rain. The states dams are over 45% full now so that's something to be really glad about.
Must go now. Bye until next time.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

My lovely new book.

I'd love to show it to you but I'm nervous of contravening copyright laws. Its called "Color by Kristen" by Kristen Nicholas, and for anyone who loves Fair Isle knitting it is mind blowing. Just think cerise, chartreuse, orange, blue and gold, with embroidery added once the knitting is finished. I borrowed the book from the library and couldn't bear to send it back so I ordered it through Dymocks. If, on the other hand, you prefer your colours muted and in pastel shades this book is not for you as there is positive zing on every page. The book is full of patterns for all sorts of goodies: socks, gloves, hats and scarves, cushions, cardigans and a gorgeous coat. All are knitted in Fair Isle designs in colourways that would leave the islanders gasping. I can't wait to make something and then I will show it to you.
Meanwhile, here is my latest spinning project. A kind soul gave me a bag of alpaca fibre and I am spinning it up. I'm not at all used to alpaca but am pleased with the way it is turning out. I thought you would like to see the grubby stuff as it starts out to compare it with the finished yarn; so soft and very strong. I have no idea what I will do with it. Probably turn it into a lace shawl but that will have to wait until I make something from my lovely new book.
A beautiful day here today. I've spent time in the garden, ripping out enough grass to keep a horse going for a couple of days - oh my poor back but the results are very satisfying.
Hope your day is turning out well too.
Bye for now, until next time.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Blog Birthday

Yes it's a year since I started this blog. I really didn't think I'd last half that time and I've got to say I have been encouraged by those of you who have visited my site. Indeed many times I have decided to fold up my tent and move on only to find that some lovely person has popped in to say hello and I decide to stay a while longer. I must say it's a real buzz having visitors from far flung lands as well as those who pop in from just around the corner but its also a bit overwhelming - finding something to say that might interest others is a challenge. Also, two years ago I was completely computer illiterate and have not yet learned to pretty-up my site to make it worth looking at.
Now I come to a problem: I am delighted to have 3 new followers and would like to visit them but they don't appear to have sites - so, to Pattas, Jontina and Sue, hello and welcome. I did try to send a message when I clicked on your little pictures but got myself into a big mess there - found I'd joined my own site. Perhaps you might leave a comment for me and then I can answer you.
Not much doing here today. The man of the house is in bed with the dreaded lurgy, poor love, and I am plying him with hot lemon drinks etc. However, I plan to weild the crochet hook for a bit today. After looking in on some of your sites I am inspired to lift my game. Really ladies you do some beautiful work. I'm off to put the kettle on and then to round up some of my smaller odments.
Bye for now until next time. P.S. The camelias are from my garden. Winter has some compensations doesn't it?

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Bits & pieces.

What to do with all those short ends of yarn that are not enough to knit up into anything is always a problem. I hate throwing them away and they tend to mount up a bit. I thought I'd use them up in an old fashioned granny blanket. I know I should have been adventurous and done some pretty stitches but, pretty stitches equal holes and holes let cold air through. Blame it on my practical Capricorn nature but I thought I'd fill up all the holes with wool so have done this rather utilitarian stitch. I've worked out that it takes roughly two-and-a-bit arm lengths for the centre part, four for the second round and five-and-a-bit for the third round.
I must be insane because I hate sewing up and darning in ends, but I leave a long end on the last round and use that to sew the square to its neighbour. That saves a little of the darning in thing. To make a blanket 40 inches across by 70 long will require 336 squares. That'll keep me out of mischief for a while, won't it? I've done 97 so far.
The first one of these that I made was many years ago before I was married and my Mum, Nana, and my Sister Thelma all helped. Thelly was only twelve at the time. It's still around, though Mum & Nana aren't and so, naturally it's one of my treasures.
I managed to clean up the mess I'd made of my last post. Clicked in the wrong place and lost my URL and posted images, then doubled up on the latter in an attempt to fix it. Oh dear, 'bear of little brain' in trouble again.
But it's Spring!! That's better, and the man of the house is taking me out for dinner tonight.
Bye for now until next time.

Monday, August 30, 2010

A quick Hello.

I'm supposed to be working on the newsletter that I write for our woodworkers club so I've got to be quick. Just thought you might like to see some more of Bob's work. Bob's the woodworker who likes to make miniatures. These are his latest creations, some dinky little cannons. No they don't work (Bob's things usually do) but they're clever.
Just for fun I'll show you the children's toy he made. These are a couple of clown figures that, when bumped with a finger, race eachother, wobbling down the pegs that hold them, to the bottom of the board. Lots of fun but every time someone slams a door in the clubroom, they're off, rattling down the board to a chorus of cheering. I don't know about children but a whole lot of noisy senior citizens are getting a great deal of fun out of them. Well, that's it now, I really must get on with this newsletter. Hope everything is well at your place. Bye for now until next time.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Op-shop find.

Whilst not exactly obsessed, I find it difficult to pass an op-shop without popping inside to see what goodies are on offer. Our local is a beauty; packed to the hilt with good things for which other people have no further use and being sold at really good prices. I found 7 balls of this beautiful, soft yarn there a couple of weeks back and just couldn't resist it. The colour depicted here is way off the mark; can you believe it's really the deeper, almost plum colour in the second picture. I'm sure there is a way of fixing that but not by this 'bear of little brain' I'm afraid. Anyway, our daughter loves the shade (the plum colour, that is) and I knew there would be enough to make a scarf and cap for her, so for less than half it's normal cost it became mine.
So eager was I to give it to our girl that I forgot to take a photograph so she kindly sent me this pic, taken with her mobile phone. I made the yarn (a blend of wool, mohair and nylon) up in a lace, Shetland stitch that is called heather. She is delighted with it which means that I am too. Good old op-shop.
Only four days to Spring, not that I'm counting or anything but this has been a jolly cold Winter here in Melbourne.
Have a nice weekend everyone. Bye for now until next time.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

A love wrap

A couple of years ago I joined the team of knitters who call themselves 'Wrap With Love Inc.' The organisation was started some time back in 1992 by a caring and concerned woman called Sonia Gidley-King who, unable to bear the thought of so many underprivileged people suffering from the bitter cold that happens in some parts of this wonderful planet of ours, decided to do what little she could about it. So she started knitting 10" squares from the bits of odd yarn she had about her home and invited others to do the same. Twenty eight squares collected together and sewn up four across by seven down makes a blanket that will fit a single bed or wrap a freezing person. I'm told these blankets can save a life. This was the first of 220,000 blankets that have been sent to countries all over the world, including Australia, in the past eighteen years. Non political, non religious, the organisation never sells the blankets; they are gifts given with love. Based in New South Wales its a bit costly for those of us here in Victoria to get our work to the warehouse so some of our knitters volunteer as 'drop off depots' and undertake to accept and transfer the blankets to the central point in Alexandria from whence they will be sent out to keep somebody warm.
As we have no drop off depot in Melbourne I have put my hand up to do the job. Oops, now I'm for it. I have no idea how to go about it. Good foot-soldier me - not much of a comanding officer. I think I'll start by making a nuisance of myself and contacting trucking companies who might be willing to stow a bag of blankets in a corner of a van heading interstate, where it will be picked up by the Wrap With Love carriers. Please wish me luck.
Sadly Sonia left this world just recently after a long illness and will be greatly missed but what a legacy she has left. Vale, Sonia.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

A Bevvy of Bootees

I imagine it's no surprise to other avid knitters if I confess that the thought of taking a week off from knitting is not my idea of a holiday. Naturally, when I packed my case for my Queensland trip, needles and yarn were the first on my list of essentials. I did forget sunblock, but who needs that in Australia's sunny state? (joking of course, I burn easily, and Queensland's sun can be really fierce). I could have forgotten a whole lot of other things but never my knitting. I always take a circular needle as it packs easily and safeguards against the horror of losing one needle.
At present I'm working on baby things for charity and I love making these little slippers. The pattern is one I invented when I had grand ideas of writing a knitting book for beginners - you know, the sort of thing that doesn't require a whole lot of skill. I never got around to writing the book but I love making the slippers; they don't require any real concentration, can be finished in an evening and use up scraps of leftovers. Unfortunately I don't know any little feet that I can try them on for fit or suitability but they look OK on one of my big dolls so I'm hoping for the best.
They'd probably be good for bigger feet too. I must try them out on larger needles and thicker wool. If you're wondering how I fix the ties - I just work the ribbon or cord through the knitting at the ankle, using a sewing needle with a large eye, once the bootee is sewn up.
Not much doing in my part of the world today. The man of the house has gone off to the woodworkers club so I think I'll do some vacuuming. I find that shoving the vacuum cleaner around warms me up on these cold mornings. Spring next month - luvly.
Bye for now, until next time.

Saturday, July 31, 2010


Claude is a little black fruit bat (Flying Fox) that was caught in fruit netting and suffered a badly torn wing.
Love them or hate them, bats are important little animals, vital to the survival of our native forests as their long-ranging flight ensures the propogation of regrowth. As they feast on the nectar of flowering native trees and plants the bats pollinate in a much wider range than that of bees.

Sorry, I still can't do links, but if you'd like to learn more about the bats above is the web address.
The wing is very delicate and cannot be stitched so his carer has glued the tear together and supported the mend with medical tape. The little tartan coat he is wearing will immobilize the arm while the tear heals. If the mend is successful Claude will need physio therapy to get the joint working again - administered by his carer. They're a dedicated bunch, these carers - volunteers who mostly have full time day jobs but are happy to turn out at the drop of a hat to rescue an injured animal. If the wing will not heal, Claude will have to be euthanized as he will be unable to function in the wild and, although he would make a lovely little pet, to keep him in captivity is illegle in Queensland.
Claude was lucky; the fruit grower in whose net he was caught notified Queensland Bat Rescue who expertly removed him from the tangle and took him to safety. Although the bats are neither aggressive or vicious, like any injured animal they may bite or scratch their rescuer so it is important that well-meaning members of the public don't touch them.
I was interested to learn that bats are not rodents but an offshoot of the primates (more like us) and that research is at present being carried out to learn more about their remarkable immune system. It is also comforting to know that the dreaded Hendra virus (also carried by feral cats) that is linked to the flying fox cannot be passed on by them to humans. It's only once the disease comes into contact with horses that it becomes dangerous to us.
I am sincerely hoping that research is being done to learn why that happens and how it can be fixed in a manner that will benefit both species.
That's all for now, until next time.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Look who's coming to dinner.

Tim is a wild brush-tailed possum. As far as I know he hasn't been rescued from anything, he just knows where to find a good meal. Every evening after sunset Timmy bangs on the back door of the sanctuary homestead and, once the door is opened, he scampers into the kitchen to tuck into his dinner. He is totally uninterested in the family sitting round the fire chatting and quite comfortable with my approach to take his photo. Nobody has taught him that it is rude to eat and run so as soon as he has cleared his plate he is off again, heading for the back door, with his beautiful tail floating out behind him; there he sits and waits until the door is opened for him. He then he disappears into the night.
Tim's visit was a special treat for me as although I put fruit out for the possum that lives in our woodshed, I have never yet made his/her acquaintance.
Must go now till next time.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Pretty Jack

Jack is an unwanted pet rainbow lorikeet that was given to the sanctuary. He has been released but chooses to stay around where he can cadge a feed from any of the feed trays that are put out for the kangaroos. He does have a feed tray of his own but the world is truly Jack's oyster and he believes he is welcome at everyone's table. He will land on the shoulder of anyone who ventures out into the yard, sidle up to their ear and drawl a seductive 'hello'. And quite without shame he seems to prefer women. Oh you devil, Jack.
Feed time is never a problem for the horse in the second picture, and no, I don't think he has a name.
Bye for now, until next time.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Meet Pedro

While we were away we had the pleasure of staying overnight at a private animal sanctuary. Friends of our daughter own a mountain top inland from Brisbane and rescue all sorts of native animals as well as a few abandoned horses. Once rehabilitated the animals are released but they all get names on their way through. Pedro is one of several orphaned grey kangaroo joeys. Mostly he sleeps in his home-made pouch unless he is feeling sociable and then he is free to hop around with the others. He is only a few months old and (if I remember correctly) will continue to be hand reared untill he is about 18 months old. Although they are not related Pedro is a 'big brother' to Katy. I think that's Katy on the right in the second photo. They are best buddies and can often be seen cuddling like children. I tried to get a picture but though I sat for ages they waited until I had put the camera away to comply.
I don't remember the details of their rescue, but most of the joeys are orphaned as a result of road accidents.
That's little May being bottle fed, she's a tiny wallaby joey, only about 30cms (12 inches) tall. I got to feed Pedro which I think was the highlight of my week.
Feeds for the babies range from every 4 hours or so to once or twice a day depending on their age - quite a job.
I'm supposed to be folding newsletters so I'd better get moving. The man of the house has promised me a cup of tea - lovely - so I'd better look as though I deserve it.
Bye for now until next time.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Wherelse but Queensland

Yep, that's where we've been for the past week. Oh, bliss! Warm hands, warm face, warm feet. Breakfast on the verandah in the morning sunshine. And into the bargain we got to stay with our youngest daughter and her husband who abandoned ship (Melbourne) and washed up in the Sunshine State about 4 years ago. We packed so much into that short week and yes, I did use my camera this time. At present I'm working on the monthly newsletter that I write for the wood workers, so I haven't time to play with my holiday pics, but I'll get to them s.a.p.
Look what bloomed while we were away and was waiting for us when we got home - my lovely kootamundra wattle - ooh it makes the Winter just that wee bit easier to bear. Kootamundra is actually listed as a weed in our area, what a pity. And here is Mr. Magpie too. A friend took this pic for me as I'm slightly challenged in the photography area.
The man of the house has just brought a hot drink to me (bless him) Warming my hands on the cup is really pleasant so I get to enjoy it twice.
I hope you're having a nice weekend wherever you are. Bye for now until next time.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Tiny things

I really like miniatures though I don't think I have the patience to create really intricate ones. I had some fun making this little set of furniture from the scraps that I retrieved from the off-cuts bin at our woodworkers club. I cut the pieces out on the band saw (my favourite machine) and glued them together. Sometimes I use tiny nails but mostly the glue is so good that it will break the wood before it will fall apart. I knitted the baby's teensy dress on very fine needles using fine cotton. (honestly, some people just don't have enough to do with their time.)
It's a beaut hobby because it hardly costs anything, even the bedclothes are scraps of left-overs. I did buy the paint though.
The newsletter looms again and I'll be busy with that for a while, so I'll see you in a few days. Bye for now.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Bob's Rocking horse.

I thought you might like to see this dinky little rocking horse. Bob, one of our woodworkers enjoys making miniature toys that really work and this is his latest. I photographed the teaspoon with it so that you can see it's size. Those stirups (is that how you spell that?) are small key rings, and the horse really rocks back and forth like the full size model. The mane and tail are ravelled knitting yarn.
Bob has won prizes with some of his work and I love to see what he is going to think of next.
You should have heard the din here this morning. After lighting our fire I forgot to close it up (its a slow- combustion wood burner) and it got too hot. Our smoke detectors didn't like that one bit and made the most dreadful noise. Its good to know they work. After several minutes of madly fanning the detectors with a book (the nearest thing I could grab) they settled down again.
Memo to self: Don't do that again. My ears are still ringing.
The man of the house is taking me out for a spaghetti dinner tonight. Vegetarian lasagne, my favourite, Yum.
Bye for now until next time.

Monday, June 28, 2010

A cardigan for the shed.

Almost finished. Only the collar to be done (in black). I've made this cardigan for the man of the house. The one he wears in the shed (among the sawdust and wood shavings) has been mended so many times it is unrecognisable but you know what he does don't you? Yes, that's right, he wears the dreadful thing out in public, mends, darns and all. A raid on my leftovers stash produced enough wool to put this effort together and I am satisfied with it. If it does make it out to the shops I am not going to hide my face and pretend I don't know him.
Somewhere back in the 70s the dear man discovered that this style is his favourite (no buttons, easy to unzip if he gets too hot) and I've been making it roughly every couple of years ever since. I've lost count of how many. To vary them I usually put a cable or Aran pattern up each front. This is the first time I've used stripes. I was really lucky and found a nice black open-ended zip in our local op shop (I do love that place) and so the cardigan has cost me very little.
Oh dear. Now you may have guessed what he said when he tried it on, "It's too nice for the shed. I'll just wear one of my others out there and save this one until it's starting to look a bit old". Solution: I plan to make another in all sorts of bright, mismatched stripes and garish colours that he won't dare wear in public. Even then, I'm not taking any bets on whether that will work or not.

We've passed the shortest day and, theoretically, should be heading for warmer weather. I'm not convinced. I know we have at least another two months of freezing cold to go before Spring - perfect knitting-by-the-fire weather with a mug of cocoa to hand. Loverly.
Hope you're having a good day. Bye for now until next time.