Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Dear Cam

Just for Cam, who is currently enjoying the room service but probably not enjoying much else about her 5-star resort stay, here is a blog post. It may be such a boring blog post that Cam will never make such a request again!

Owl salt and pepper shakers

I've been dying to show off these owl salt and pepper shakers, but it took a new camera, and the time I was wasting in the kitchen waiting for my potatoes to boil tonight to actually do something about it. I picked them up at a garage sale in Eveleigh (it was more of a front porch sale, actually) when I was walking back to Redfern station after vising Finders Keepers markets last December. The girl who sold them to me was so lovely. I couldn't believe she was giving these up. I think she couldn't quite believe it either, but I assured her they were going to live in a very owl-friendly home.

It's been really cold here in Canberra. Blue sunny skies, but freezing. Like 9-degrees-maximum-freezing, and stunning frosts that make the whole world  look clean and white. I took this photo early on Sunday morning while waiting for my lift to the swimming pool (the pool is heated and indoors - relax!)

Viburnum, frost

I've been having a lot of fun playing with my new camera*, but I really should read the manual. I'm discovering beauty in the plain through my lens, and I never knew powerlines and gum trees could be so damn beautiful. I have been taking photos of more than just powerlines though.

Handsome gardeners.


Vibrantly coloured orange and lemon marmalade from a friend. I can't wait to put this on my toast tomorrow morning.


Lemon curd tarts, using lemon curd made by me, and pastry shells from Essential Ingredient. Together, they are the perfect combination. (I now really, really want to get a proper macro lens.)

Lemon curd tarts

Get better soon Cam!! xoxo

* For those who have been asking, I got a Canon EOS 500D DLSR, with 18-55 mm and 55-250 mm lenses.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Got it


Impending unemployment be damned. I got my camera! I can't wait for daylight...

Thursday, June 24, 2010

My creative space - all sorts

Wasp fabric

My creative space this week has been dominated by indecision, mess and general ennui. Oh dear. Nothing for it but to head to the fabric shop, be assaulted by the riot of colour and the feel of the fabric. A few *cough* dollars later and I walked back into my house with my head held high, my mind buzzing with ideas and new fabric in my hands. My cutting board was out, my rotary blade sharp, and many bags were cut out that night. And that's what's great about shiny new fabric - I haven't had the chance to get sick of it yet.

Fabric for takeaway sacks

I'm hoping that the bag fairies* will be making lots of them while I sleep, so that I can have them at my next market at the Old Bus Depot on July 11.

I am currently making crocheted shawls eight and nine for the year. Eight is over half way done and I am loving it to pieces.

Bridal Shawl WIP

Nine, however, I am not in love with yet. I am doing a crochet-a-long with a friend, using exactly the same red yarn (Wollmeise) but different patterns. She is using South Bay, but I thought I would do something different and do Glorious Morning. We "hooked on" during Brown Owls on Saturday. But I like my friend's shawl more as I think the red yarn deserves something flouncy like South Bay, and not something geometric like Glorious Morning. I'm having total red shawl jealousy (mine's the one on top) but I will persevere to see how the pattern develops.

Red Vamp CAL shawls

Check out the other creative people over at Kirsty's! Go on!

* Let's be clear. The bag fairies are make-believe. I am the only person who makes these bags. But a girl can dream, right?

Sunday, June 20, 2010

So mama don't take my Kodachrome away

I have been contemplating getting a DSLR for while now, and with a trip to Central Australia coming up soon, the contemplation/procrastination has ramped up a bit. However there are all those other elements to consider, like how heavy it is, and how unsuitable it may be to carry over an 8 km hike on rocky tracks. Also I'm terribly clumsy. That's a big thing to consider when lugging an expensive and heavy camera around caverns and river beds. I bought my little digital Konica over 6 years ago, and it has served me well through almost 20,000 photos. It has taken some great photos despite the photographer and I'm kind of attached to it.

A friend loaned me her Canon EOS 500D for the weekend, but I was busy yesterday so played with it this afternoon. The weight of it is a little offputting, especially if taking it travelling, but boy - what a lot of fun it is!






Hmm. The power lines seem to have held aspecial fascination, especially when fooling around with the massive zoom lens! I just wish I was a better photographer. I love taking photographs. I just have a lot to think about, especially as this is a pretty big investment.

I wonder if I can fit a course in before the end of July when I leave?

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Oh hi, sewmojo

Oh hi, sew mojo, originally uploaded by quiltingmick / michelle.

Welcome back. You've been missed.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Crocheting disaster

A few months ago I started a crocheted cardigan which wasn't a Chevron Lace Cardi. I know - I was taking a big risk. And because I'm not used to making crochet garments (beyond shawls, socks, hats and scarves) I really didn't think hard enough about it.

I decided to make a cardigan called the Summer Breeze Cardi from Crochet Today magazine. My first mistake was deciding to make a cardigan which was originally made in 100% acrylic in a much heavier 100% merino wool. My second mistake was ignoring the fact that this was a bottom-up cardi, and not a top-down, and therefore much harder to fit as you go. My third, most serious, mistake was ignoring the very obvious armpit droopiness on the much-skinnier-than-I model in the pattern photo . Can you see it?

Summer Breeze cardigan

I ignored all the warning signs as I was making it. The fact that this was a bloody heavy cardi, that the arms were tight, and that I was going to run into strife with the length of the yoke. The smaller sizes only have 3 repeats of the yoke pattern, whereas the larger sizes were 5 repeats. This just wasn't going to make sense.

So I finished it in late May, and I tried it on before deciding to wet block it. I knew it would grow with the blocking, but I wasn't happy with the lumpiness of the fabric as it was. I blocked it. It grew. The fabric was great though.

Autumn Breeze cardigan

In this photo you can see that it fits great on the shoulder, but uh-oh. There's that armpit droopiness. All 4 inches of it. The weight of the sleeve makes it droop even more, and the sleeve is supposed to be sitting on the elbow.

Autumn Breeze cardigan

And here's what happened when I pulled the underarm up within the vicinity of my armpit. Too much shoulder, and it doesn't sit as nicely around the chest.

Autumn Breeze cardigan

And the back is way too baggy for comfort (and good style).

This cardigan is beautifully warm. I love the colour. I love the yarn (Cleckheaton Country Naturals). I love the fit from the shoulder up. But I can't wear it. The way it is - with the armpit droopiness - it's too uncomfortable.

I think it's worth saving though. Krafty Kuka and I have been discussing this cardigan in terms of dressmaking this afternoon (why I didn't think along those lines before is completely beyond me). I'll be ripping it back to 4 inches below the bobbles, and starting the yoke again from there. I'll see how it fits, and if it does I'll crochet a button band to the front sections.

Wish me luck!

Monday, June 7, 2010

Green shawls

The fifth shawl for the year was actually a test pattern. I offered to test a pattern called "Heron Shawl" for a girl on Ravelry who had created this beautiful shawl, showed it off on the crochet thread of the Shawls forum, and thought she might like to offer it as a pattern. I had done some testing before for a designer, but not a full pattern.

Green Heron Shawl

This was a lot of fun to crochet. As it was a test, I had a few problems with the amount of yardage used, and a couple of row instructions. I could have finished it in two days if I hadn't needed to ask questions of a designer on the other side of the world, but I'm not complaining. This was my favourite shawl yet.

Heron Shawl

In the end, you are left with a crumped mess of fabric. The beauty is in the wet blocking - you end up with a shallow curved shawl with beautiful stitches, the ribs looking like the wings of a heron, hence the name. The yarn I used was Wollmeise Twin 80/20 in Farn. The green doesn't come out very well in the photos, but it's the same green as the dark green pencil in your coloured pencil set. I really love it. It's bold and bright and looks great worn with black. I'm keeping it.

Heron Shawl

While Shawl number 6 slumbers while I think about how big I want to make it, Shawl number 7 was a project with a deadline. When I asked my friend to hypothetically pick the yarn for the hypothetical shawl that I might be hypothetically making her, she picked a variegated green in Cascade Heritage Painted sock yarn, colour "Forest". Originally this yarn was being made into another pattern for my friend. I started it last Saturday in Melbourne, but by Tuesday night I had only progressed about 9 rows. My quilting group (that rarely quilts but are nifty with hooks and needles) came over that night, saw that I was hating the pattern, and kindly ripped it out for me, instructing me to find another pattern. I chose Flying Diamonds, just like my first shawl.

Shawl number 7 - for Tash

in the end it took me only four days to crochet. It was a battle to finish in the end, but I had it blocked by midnight on Saturday night to give it a day to dry. I hope she likes it. I think she will.

Shawl number 7 - for Tash

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Come on lady - do the motivation

Late winter afternoon - inside

It's late Sunday afternoon. I'm sitting in my sewing room for the first time in weeks. The sun is streaming through the windows. I do a little bit of mending, and then turn my attention to some half-made sack bags ... and wonder "why?". Why am I doing this? More importantly, why am I not enjoying this?

Late winter afternoon - outside

I look outside and wish I was there. Even though I know I've already spent the whole morning in the garden, getting my hands and boots dirty for the first time in weeks. It was so good to get back out there, and not feel the pull of the sewing machine or the pull of my bed after all the viruses I've had lately. It was especially good to spend an hour this afternoon hiking on the side of a mountain, enjoying the sounds and smells of the bush. I've promised myself that we will do a hike every weekend during winter. I need to balance my spare time a lot better than I have been. I need to stop saying "yes" when I really want to say "no".

Better get back to it then

I'm going to cook a big batch of shepherd's pie and chilli to keep us in warm winter food for a couple of weeks. So the sewing machine is being turned off for the evening. It can wait until tomorrow night, when I'm hoping the motivation and love will return.

It really does need to return - I have another market in a month.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

In the meantime ...

Autumn leaves

... there have been autumn leaves ...

Nandina berries

... Nandina berries brightening up the winter garden ...

St Kilda vs Adelaide

... an AFL match ...

Green Heron Shawl

... and another shawl.