Saturday, April 30, 2011

Just wondering

Somewhere around the beginning of the last century we women escaped the tyranny of the corset and slipped into something a little more comfortable. I can't help wondering, when I look at these picture from one of my ancient magazines, just what on earth did we do with our waists.
Somewhere in the 1950s & 60s we found them again and started squashing them up into the tightest belts we could bear, even getting back into corsets again for a few insane years.
Oh, vanity thy name is Woman. Why do we do these things to ourselves?
I wonder if these fashions would look the same on us if we wore them today? The scarf wrap is not unlike some of the patterns I've seen in todays knitting books and would probably be very comfy to wear.
The patterns are here in the magazine but just listen to the list of materials required: For the dress, 5 large hanks "Anchor" Velveno, 4 balls "Anchor" Stranded Cotton, Knitting Pins, No.7. Knitting Needles, No. 12.
The scarf wrap uses the same yarns but in smaller quantities.
It was a different world back then. I can't even imagine what those yarns were. And what was the difference between knitting needles and pins?
Signing off in confusion and wishing you all a blissful weekend.
Bye for now until next time.

Sunday, April 24, 2011


On this day in 1914 a tiny baby girl was born. Four weeks premature, weighing only 4 lbs, seriously entangled in her umbilical cord she was discoloured from lack of oxygen and apparently lifeless. The midwife shook her head sadly, placed the tiny scrap at the foot of the bed and returned to attending to the mother.
The story would have ended there but from the corner of her eye the midwife caught the slightest movement from the baby and dropping everything she reached for a large ewer of water that sat on the washstand near the bed.
April mornings in country Victoria can be very cold and the water in the ewer was icey. Using this water as a shower-bath over a naked body would make anyone gasp for breath and that's just what the little baby did as the midwife emptied the ewer over her. Seconds later the bedroom was filled with the sound of a newborn baby yelling her protest. And so her life began. The tenacity she showed in clinging to that mere spark of life stayed with her for the rest of her days, defeating influenza during the pandemic, surviving diptheria, mending our shoes with leather, tacks and hammer, while Dad was away at war, and coping with anything else that came her way, including caring for my father for the last 17 years of his life after he was disabled by a stroke .
Yes today is my mother's birthday and although she has been gone from us for almost 14 years now, the 27th of April will always bring her close to me.
This photo was taken in early 1930's, around the time my father fell in love with Mum. He once told me that he was captivated by her lively personality and her ability to do anything with the incomplete left hand that was the result of the pre-birth damage that so nearly cost her her life. They had 59 years together.
Mum made all her own clothes so I'm guessing that she made this dress. I know it was two shades of pale green. I love the hat and the pretty shoes. As I've said before, Mum was a hard act to follow but I'm so glad she was my Mum.
Gotta go now. I hope you're enjoying this glorious day wherever you are.
Bye for now until next time.

One, two, or three pairs of hands?

Considering the number of times I show you someone els's stuff, calling this blog One Pair of Hands is a misnomer, isn't it? Today I'm at it again, displaying the work of two or maybe three pairs of hands. The man of the house has made this shawl pin from a piece of apple wood, collected after the pruning of one of our apple trees last year. That's one of Mum's doileys the pin is sitting on. I remember Mum making that doiley, many years ago, then tossing it to me casually and saying, "Here you are, do want a doiley?" What a question, I certainly did want it. I don't remember seeing her working from a pattern to make it. Mum had done so much crochet over the years that I think she had most of her patterns stored away in her head.
The very nice box is more of the work of the man of the house. This was made from some good quality lining boards that he purchased from the storeroom at the woodwork club. The doiley under the box is a table centre, but the awful thing is I can't remember whether it was Mum or Nana that made that one. Nana was always tucked in a comfy spot working away on something and she loved the pineapple pattern, so it could possibly be hers. I'll take a proper photo of the table centre and post it another time.
Sadly, I got so used to seeing all this lovely work about our house as I grew up that I didn't value it as it deserves and a lot of Nana's embroidery was used for everyday wear and got worn out. One day, long after Nana had gone, I realised that the well was drying up and so I put the remainder of her things away (though I know she expected me to use them and would have been hurt if I hadn't.). We're a complex mixture, we humans, aren't we?
There now I've gone and got all philosophical - maybe it's Easter that's made me feel that way.
I hope your Easter was a good one. Bye for now until next time.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Hello dolly.

One of my little wooden dolls has finally been finished. I don't think it will be ideal to play with as the legs and arms won't move. Interactive dolls are more fun. But it was an experiment and I'm not sorry I made it. I had to knit the tiny pants as only a knitted fabric would stretch far enough to fit over the feet for dressing the doll. And the shoes had to be burned on too as the toy won't stand in knitted socks. That little dress is an easy pattern for tiny dolls - knitted all in one piece from the neck down, there is only a little bit of seam at the back to sew. I closed the back at the neck and waist with tiny press studs as velcro would have been too bulky. The pleated effect in the skirt is just a 2 x 2 rib knitted on an odd number of stitches. Starting every row with two plain, two purl, creates this interesting rib which I find useful when knitting beanies and tea cosies, but it works well here too. The doll's hair is just a knitted scrap of mohair which is glued to the head. The doll is about 5 1/2" or 14 cms tall.
Well enough of this daliance. On to serious matters now - I've got a rug to tackle.
Have a blessed and happy Easter. Bye for now until next time.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Success at last.

I was all set to wave the white flag on this one. I've lost count of how many times I've pulled it out, chucked it aside and decided to move on. But it lay there taunting me and I had to come back for another try. Last night I worked the final stitch, and the man of the house said, "Thank goodness. I thought that one was going to haunt us forever."
I could have used instructions that included little things like 'miss the d.c at the top of each petal when working the star round' because I kept ending with the required number of stars and about seven chain still to be filled. I grabbed a pencil and paper and did my sums to work out what I was doing wrong and decided to have another try. I think you may have guessed that crochet is not my forte but I do enjoy doing it.
Now that all the trauma is over I am really pleased because I have learned a new stitch - star stitch. And wouldn't you know it? I'm not sure that I'd like a whole rug as I find the green a bit powerful and maybe black would be moreso. I'll go for a cushion cover first and see what I think.
Anyway, thanks for your help and encouragement and for putting up with my moaning.
I hope your day is being kind to you. Bye for now until next time.

Saturday, April 16, 2011


With confidence I took up hook and wool to work the rose centred square in my last post. All went sailing along pretty well too. I managed the centre flower without a problem but came to a screeching halt at round 4. Try as I might I can't understand the instructions in this round and can't get past the group of loops on the hook in the photo. I can make it look right if I work clusters of treble (American double crochet) but it's not what the instructions say and I really wanted to work it as it is in the book.
My expertise with crochet is about middle of the road but I usually manage to decipher written patterns and have made doileys, baby clothes and lace edgings in the past, but this one has me completely flumoxed. So, dear reader, I'm throwing it open to you. If I type out the directions as written in the book, I wonder if somebody out there in blogland will have a bash at it, then show me a picture of your success. I would be pleased to see how it looks when it's done properly. Here goes:
MATERIALS 4-ply wool. No. 12 crochet hook. Sorry, these are English instructions. I don't know the American equivalent of these items. I don't know what star-stitch is either.
The rose centre is worked in pale pink, the star-stitch in deeper pink, and chain and treble row in black. (I've used green)
Using pale pink, commence with 5 chain; join in a ring.
1st Round - * 9 ch., 1 d.c. into ring, working under the chain. Repeat from * 7 times more, thus forming foundation for 8 petals.
2nd Round - * 1 d.c. into each of the first 3 ch., 2 tr. into 4th ch., 3 tr. into 5th ch., 2 tr. into 6th ch., 1 d.c. into last 3 ch. Repeat from * all round.
Break off pale pink; join in black at centre of petal.
3rd Round - * 6 ch., 1 d.c., into centre of next petal. Repeat from * all round.
Break off black; join in deeper pink.
4th Round - 2 ch., working loops loosely, draw a loop through each of the first 2 ch., and one through each of the next 3 ch. along the circle (taking up the back thread only throughout). draw a loop through all the 6 loops on the hook, 1 ch., *draw a loop through the eye just made by the 1 ch., another through the back of the last loop of the preceding star, draw a loop through each of the next 3 ch. along the circle, and one through all the 6 loops on the hook, 1 ch., repeat from * 3 times more, 6 ch. to form corner. * repeat 3 times.
5th Round - * 3 tr. in the eye of each star of preceding row, 3 tr. into 3rd and 4th ch. of corner. Repeat from * 3 times.
Break off pink; join in black.
6th Round - Work tr. all round, working right through top of stitch and working 3 tr. into each of the two corner stitches.

That's it. I've checked my typing and it is correct. Looking at it again (for the umpteenth time) I'm wondering if the pattern was incorrectly printed in the first place. I'm looking forward to hearing from you.
Bye for now until next time.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Another find in my stash

Do you have a stash of craft books? I tend to hang on to them the way I do odd balls of yarn. I really love the old ones that are no longer in print. This one is probably about 60 years old and isn't it wonderful? Madame Weigel put out all sorts of crafty books as well as paper patterns for clothing. Mum used to use them all the time when I was little. My siblings and I grew up wearing Madame Weigel designs. The price of 8d. on the cover would have bought a couple of pounds of sausage mince in the 1930's.
I love the illustrations, just sketches of what the item to be made would look like - no photos. Aren't we spoiled with today's lovely glossy publications.
I remember Nana making a few of the items in this book but I've never tried any of them myself. That's about to change. I intend to have a go at the afghan rug pictured here as I'm interested to see how that rose centre turns out. If you click on the picture you may find that you can read those instructions, if you care to.
Must go now as it's newsletter time again and I've sneaked some time out to say hello to you. Hope your day is a good one. Bye for now until next time.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Just being there.

Our son and his partner live in the town of Bright in the Victorian Alpine region and this weekend we drove up to visit them. For us it was a four hour drive, not my favourite thing to do as I really don't like driving long distances, but small price to pay for the reward at the end of the journey.
If you're good at managing a sore bottom, stiff knees, stiff neck and aching shoulders (strikeout whichever doesn't apply) then you won't mind the long drive and there's certainly plenty to see along the way. What a joy it was to see the countryside looking so healthy with all the waterways full to the brim as we haven't seen them for many years.
And, of course, there was the knitting that I was able to do when it wasn't my turn to drive.
This time I did remember to use my camera - well how could I not - the view outside our door in the morning was too good to leave behind. That's the man of the house and I reflected in the water of Morses Creek that runs through the town, and there he is inspecting the Ovens River from a swing bridge that is guaranteed to make you feel as though you've been at the cooking sherry when you walk across it.
It's wonderful to see our son so happy with the woman that we look on as another daughter. In the end, for me, that's all that counts. We never stop being parents do we?
Bye for now until next time.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Housework is for the birds

I doubt that I'd get many arguments on that statement but in this case the housework really is for the birds. One of my greatest delights is the birdbath outside our kitchen window where I love to watch the birds at their daily ablutions. I've discovered that they're fussy little characters and really dislike dirty bathwater so I need to remember to scrub their bath every day or so or they simply won't come to visit. The picture here shows the bathwater that got the thumbs down from the local bird population and I can't say I blame them as they also drink it. So after a couple of minutes with the brush that I keep for the purpose, and a refill from our rainwater tank, I was rewarded with a visit by this little bloke. I can always tell when one of the magpies has had his bath as their water displacement rivals that of an ocean liner and when they have finished their blissful wallow in the lovely clean water I always have to go out and refill the bath. 5 star service at this establishment.
The man of the house and I took a lovely long walk this morning. Ooh I do like this marvellous Autumn weather.
Hope you're having a lovely day too. Bye for now until next time

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Smiley faces

Yesterday the Woodworkers Workshop was open as part of the Arts Festival that is being held in our town. A group of us gathered to arrange a display and do some woodwork so that the public can see what we get up to each week. I spent part of the day playing with my pyrography burner and putting a few finishing touches to some little people I've been working on. The fat little body with no arms or legs will eventually have those plus some hair (probably mohair knitting yarn) which I will glue on. I'll put some hair on the other two dolls as well. I thought the knitting Nancies should have faces too.
I've gotta tell you that this is a painstaking craft and I'm not sure that there is a future in it for me. I'd have had those faces done in half the time if I had been using a paint brush and paint but there is something about the pyrography that has a special appeal. I did start on a plate but that's not finished yet.
It was a super day weatherwise. Autumn is my favourite season.
I hope you're having a lovely Sunday. Bye for now until next time.

Friday, April 1, 2011


That feeling that I've had this experience before is with me today. Leg-warmers were the big thing back in the 70s I think (give or take a decade) and here we go again. Or did they ever leave us? They're such lovely warm things that I bet we've been closet wearers all this time. Now they've re-emerged and are more fashionable than ever. I've finished the pair that I've been making for our daughter. She plans to wear them with boots. In the World's Fastest Knitter Stakes I'm way back in the field but these are ready to wear now. I can't make any promises re the scarf I've started. That's baby fine yarn I'm working with as I wanted a nice drapey 'pashmina' effect. I feel a lengthy knitting spell coming on. Still, "slow & steady" etc........let's see how I get on.
Coldest April morning for 16 years here today. Hmmm - perhaps another pair - for myself this time.
I hope you're enjoying the weather wherever you are. Bye for now until next time.