Show and tell

So while there are all manner of things going on in my life I can not control I decided to wrestle back some piece of mind by dealing with two projects that had been sitting and staring at me for months. Behold:

Niamh’s quilt:



Kill – I promise I will post it next week.

Grover’s quilt:





He adores it and keeps wanting me to FIXIT! on his bed so there are no bumps. I think it looks fantastic but do not look closely at the binding attachment. I was so over it by then even I was astounded at my dodgy work.

A face washer:

I used to rib PeaSoup Suse something chronic about her crocheted face washers (face cloths to some) – but she and many MANY other crafty types kept saying to me, have you used one? Once you use one you will never ever go back to using one made of towelling.

And you know what? They’re totally right. There’s something about them – that they’re soft but textured, that they feel beautiful against your skin, that there is something so fulfilling about using something daily that you made – that is quietly addictive.

The one above is made with Pakucho Organic Cotton and the difference between ones made with this compared to ones made with other, still high quality but different cotton yarn, is remarkable. I know there are technical reasons for this but attempting to explain that with my limited yarn knowledge would both be confusing to you, embarrassing to me and insufferable to yarn nerds. So I’ll spare you all the details.

So you see, good comes from difficult times. There’s also been some baking. AND I went for a run today.

Onward!

FINALLY! Pics!

So here is my intrepid fearless (not) Felix, and his first foray into sewing. He made a Plurbit from that awesome book Softies.

Don’t you love how he made them pants? Almost as much as if you pull the pants down on the first Plurbit, Mr Smuggle, up there on your right, you’ll find a doodle and bottom. Oh yes you will.

*****
The wedding quilt. So very proud of this one:

A throw quilt, 65″x62″, for their lounge room, in E’s favourite colours. 
There were some adjustments due to me stuffing up my seam allowances on those smaller four patch squares.
 
but MAN, am I proud of how it came together. Gorgeous ruby reds, stunning cornflower blues, punctuated with black
The colours came from a rug they have on their living room floor which they picked up on one of their intrepid travels through the one of the ‘stans.
 
The back is black linen with a row of the fabrics used on the front – such was my love of them all I wanted to showcase them twice.
I also relearnt how to do binding but did not finish it by hand. It was a time and sanity issue. 

None of these photos do it justice – done in poor light with the crappy camera. I hope you ‘get’ it though!

*****

Today was a day sans children. I got some blocks done for Grover’s quilt but nowhere near as many as I’d hoped. I wasted my precious time today and I’m crabby for it tonight. Harrumph.

old friends, new experiences, milestones

Today one of my dearest friends from school came over. We had not seen each other in ten years. We had not even talked that much or corresponded very much in that time. And yet today, she walked through the door (a darn sight THINNER), we gave each other a huge hug and then started talking. Four hours later she left.

Old friendships are a wondrous thing aren’t they? As we discussed our families and our respective ups and downs over the years it got me thinking. So much has happened to us and indeed we have probably changed quite a lot but at the same time having her sit in my kitchen using the same mannerisms and hearing her laugh just as she had all those years ago was just infinitely comforting.

She has recently bought a house relatively nearby and I am just so tickled to know we’re going to be able to see each other on a more regular basis.

Now, if I could just get K to move to Sydney …
*****
Yesterday I had a day sans children so I took myself into Surry Hills to check out some fabric shops. As you do.

I know. What an idiot.

Tessuti’s is one of those places I could hang out in all day. The most glorious fabrics, GLORIOUS, in a shop that is both buzzing and quiet all at the same time. It’s kind of like a library but with cloth.

I sat there for over an hour looking at pattern books and then probably about the same amount of time looking at fabric. It was exciting and awful all at the same time. All I wanted was for Suse, Sooz or Muppinstuff to just magically appear and natter with me and point out what would work or what wouldn’t, to laugh and be silly about my tension headache and to just make it more fun. That or to call Eleanor and escape it all together and go eat pastries somewhere.

I was looking at it all with the intention of finding a pattern for a frock to m.a.k.e. to wear to the wedding of some wonderful friends in February. I want something simple yet a statement and that I did not spend the whole day either adjusting or not moving my arms (almost a physical impossibility) because of pit marks.

But of course, having this intention on top of actually sewing an item of clothing being an entirely new experience  – because quite frankly the blue screen printed flamingos I did on a pink cotton, elastic-waisted sack skirt we made in Year 7 doesn’t count – meant I was kind of paralysed by indecision, no working knowledge of patterns and the whole weight of the ‘it must be perfect!’ attitude I naturally bestow to any activity I am attempting for the first time.

And weird things happened to me. Like I saw this and just fell in love with it:

I mean, it’s pink and floral for God’s sake.

But it had this weight to it and a sheen smoothness  (even though it was 100% cotton) that made me incapable of not stroking it. To the point it was almost creepy.

And this

was called parrots or some such, even though I couldn’t see parrots in it .But it was a very dark navy and the background was an off-white cream kind of colour. Again, just delightful but hello, my brain was in some sort of disassociative state from the body it was clearly going to have to cover.

I absolutely fell in love with these:

Imagine them sewn along the hem or neckline of a dress? Talk about turning a dress into a statement! I still think I might get some of this. Just to have.

I know. I don’t know who I am any more either.

This was exquisite:

And made me want to make a ballgown in some 50s sort of feel.

This was also gorgeous on a far more contemporary scale and after chatting with Sooz late – and I mean L.A.T.E last night – I think I might get some to make a little straight skirt. Well, by little I mean not flared. Because me, I’m pushing maximum density (once again) over here.

But through all of this I was so tense because while there were a few dresses I kind of liked none of them screamed ‘this is perfect!’ which, as we have established is a bit of a mantra for me.

See these linens?

I want a kicky little shift dress in every single one. Get on to that will you.
  
So I had a debrief with Sooz last night because I was not feeling positive about the whole experience. And she said something to me she’d already said once before but I am a bit slow when it comes to hearing the advice. I know. Half way to solving a problem is recognising you have one. Shut up already.

I realised a far better way to be approaching this is to simply be looking to make a dress. Any dress! Sure, preferably one I will wear but lets not even pin our hopes on that. And from there, let’s look at the wedding outfit possibilities. Sweet.

So, I’m going to buy me some cheap and nasty linen from SpitSpotlight and make myself a frock. If I like making the frock I may even make another one.
*****
Grover is basically toilet trained. I know! It was all his decision and yes, he is really quite partial to doing a wee in the garden rather than in the toilet and – apparently – the best place to do a poo is on the back verandah on the car playmat but you know, he hasn’t worn a nappy during the day for more than two weeks.

Now, normally I’d be singing the praises of this event but it has coincided with us moving him to a normal bed and him deciding to drop his day sleep.

I’ll just let that last point sit with you for a minute.

But the moving into a normal bed – we’re doing this because I’m bored of cots. There’s been a cot in this house for over a decade and I’m ready to see the back of them. Also, I was getting really sick of him just yelling at me from his cot when he wanted to get up – like some warped butler service.

I no, so dumb.

It has totally turned his sleeping routine on its head. Before when it’d take over an hour for him to go to sleep (just as it used to take Felix at that age) he’d just roll around in his cot and tell himself tall tales of adventures passed. Now he just gets up and gives me the absolute shits.

I’m so over it but going back to a cot is not worth the tantrums and tears either.

Yes people, case study of stupid woman who hasn’t learnt anything by Child #4.

And the day sleep. OH MY GOD people. I am mourning the passing of the day sleep. Sure, Felix dropped his at 18 months but Jasper spoilt me by keeping his up until about 3 1/2. Oh sure, Grover will have a sleep but it won’t happen until mid-afternoon and then he’ll happily snooze away – just to be nice and refreshed for the night time performance of killing his mother slowly by being up until 10.30.

He won’t go down for a sleep mid-morning or lunchtime so there’s no point trying. But then by 3-4pm he’s wretched – for himself and those around him.

Hello rock, let me introduce you to hard place. Let’s dance!

Purple cats, one-eyed gremlinbats and other ridiculously crafty activities going on around here

Say hello to Purple Cat. It certainly doesn’t look like the picture in the book but I am very proud of her. See that patterned belly? That is from one of mum’s old aprons from the 60s. See that BLANKET STITCH! Well underneath the blanket stitch on the belly is also a zig-zag edging to safeguard against fraying. See the fabric? It’s an old pillow case. I’m so THRIFTY!

Stop me now, I’m only moments away from referring to it as being ‘darling’.

See that felt? It comes from a little haberdashery shop in Mona Vale run by an elderly gentleman who seems to permanently have his reading glasses perched on the end of his nose. Well as permanently as I can allude to on two visits to the shop.

Her arms and legs are a bit thinner than I had imagined or wanted but that may be perhaps because I adhered to the seam allowance. I’ve decided I hate cutting out patterns and so there was no way I was cutting out four limbs all over again.

Meanwhile, Felix had made his own little pattern for a creature and waited as patiently as a nine and a half year old can for me to create it for him. Little was the operative word and I had to create a bigger version for him.

We’re not sure if its a bat, or a gremlin so, it’s the one-eyed gremlinbat. See those buttons? From the big jar mum has kept for decades. The eye is a crystally number but apparently I got it wrong as the button I used for it’s butt

was meant to be its eye. Whoops.

Oscar has requested a purple cat too (both he and Jasper claim purple as their favourite colour) and is waiting for it. I would say patiently but we know I don’t tend to lie over here.

THEN

If that wasn’t enough, the boys and I sanded back the Ikea table and chairs we’ve had since Oscar and Felix were teeny. The Ikea kids furniture is nowhere near as good as this anymore plus it’s all smaller. So, for the princely sum of $15.50 (two spray cans of gloss enamel paint) we have brand new furniture:

It was CRIMINAL how easy it was. AND it was touch dry in TEN minutes.
AND
I KNOW so much news!
Do you remember several weeks back me telling you about this old wingback chair we had? That Mum and Dad had been given as a wedding present from some family friends? That was covered in delightful BLACK VINYL? With the springs falling out of the bottom? And that I’d bought some fabric from Ikea and we were getting it recovered? SO MANY QUESTIONS.
Well, the upholsterer brought it back last night:

I am absolutely thrilled with the result:

Some of you are probably recoiling in horror, but I am in love:
And that should really do for one post. 

Welcome to Bizarro World – also known as the time I made a fucking cow.

When I first started blogging with Bec all those eons ago over at Glamorouse (which is doing very peculiar things in terms of its ‘look’) we were part of a little community of bloggers which was bizarrely very craft focused. I blame Bec. Apart from being a huge braniac and loving riddles she can also sew. Or is it knit? Or probably both.

Anyway. It was a bit weird really because I had not sewn anything or been particularly ‘crafty’ for years. Decades even. In fact, doing craft activities at home with my children positively makes my neck itch – all that setting up, all that mess and what? All for three minutes of mayhem and an hour of cleaning up? Meh.

But when I was at school I did do a fair bit of craft-type stuff. Not dress making mind you – I’m still damaged by family members who make outfits in floral stretch cotton with elastic waists and cowl necks – but stuff like cross-stitch. I like cross-stitch. All that order I guess. In fact, when I was on bed rest during Oscar’s pregnancy I started a mammoth one of cute little elves playing musical instruments in the forest. I know. WTF. I blame pregnancy hormones on that one TOTALLY. Anyway, it’s about one quarter finished and now has some great stains on it from the hoop and where I’d threaded the needle. Oh I’ve pulled it out over the years and thought, I must finish that and maybe put each of the boys’ names and their date of births along the bottom. Curiously each of those times probably coincides with being pregnant. Funny that.

I kind of rebelled against this bizarre cohort of bloggers for a while – in a ‘what the hell am I doing hanging with this knitters when I don’t even know how to knit* let alone want to – and headed off to find my like kind – the cooks.

But you know what? The food bloggers are a bit of a weird bunch – apart from Smitten Kitchen and The Pioneer Woman who I check in with daily – there are very few I ‘connected’ with. It just seemed more competitive, less of a community and more of a bake-off.

And so I found myself drawn back again to the world of crafting bloggers. Goddamnit.

Oh, don’t get me wrong, I never left some of the crafty buggers but their world just seemed so mysterious to me. I mean, Suse can twitter and knit. AT THE SAME TIME.

And I’ve sort of got that fan idolisation for Sooz who seems to whip up highly complicated things in outrageously short spans of time. I won a hat made by her a few months back and while it doesn’t fit my Halloween-pumpkin sized head it fits my mum and as summer approaches I will be able to marvel at her remarkable sewing more days than not. She also made me a great (or what some in the crafting world would call a ‘darling’) little grab and run bag that just holds my wallet, sunglasses and phone. I drag that bag everywhere.

Don’t even get me started on Alison over at  6.5st  – her blog is as stunning as the creations she produces. Intimidated? MUCH.
 
But it was Pip at Meet me at Mikes which I think made me think there were projects I could do – her world is as much about craft and creation as it is about imagination and creativity. Suddenly what all these wonderful women do so easily seemed a little bit more accessible? That’s not the word – but I guess she was doing things that weren’t just sewing or knitting or crotcheting and that just opened my craft-bigoted mind.

I would stand staring at her book in various book stores unable to justify the outlay in our current church mice financial status. Then through good luck or planetary alignment I won a copy through her website.

And I guess just owning such a book unlocked one heck of a door because first there was this:

Which technically I still haven’t finished (it needs a varnish on it because it feels like you’re standing on a wall. You know, because it is technically wall paint.)

And then there has been the purchasing of fabric from Ikea for no other reason than I.liked.them.

And then.

Then there was yesterday.

Yesterday I made something called a ‘softie’ – a cute soft toy. OH YES I DID.

The pattern and instructions came from Pip’s book. The project was by Fliss Dodd for an “Udderly lovely cow” and it was suitable for “the confident beginner”. It should take about three hours to make.

So naturally I thought – how hard can it be!

Let’s just say that cutting out the pieces took me a good hour and a half.

I re-learnt how to fell stitch (I really wanted to blanket stitch but I couldn’t find a YouTube video showing how to do one around the edge of something which is attached to something else – the only ones I found were on the edge of something on its own.) I did some French knots. I DEVIATED FROM THE PATTERN. Just a little.

I had to use a sewing machine. Behold the Beast:

My mum bought this in the early 60s. She still has the operational book (in pristine condition) and I learnt to sew on it in the early 80s. It is all steel and subsequently weighs a tonne. It’s quite intimidating.

Anyway. I got to bed at 2am because with GOD AS MY WITNESS I was going to make this FUCKING COW in one day.

Behold, the Fucking Cow:

See those ears? They’re backwards. But do you think on realising this at 1.30 this morning I was going to unpick them and fix it? Correctamundo!

Jasper saw it this morning and immediately claimed it as his own.

There was quite a violent exchange between Jasper and Grover under the dining room table for ‘Moo’. And I really was beginning to think it was a fucking cow.

Until Jasper saw the pattern by Jhoanna Monte Aranez for “Zing the polite cat”, threw ‘Moo’ the Fucking Cow to Grover and said he wanted a purple cat. NOW.

* This is technically not true it’s just been so long since I have knitted that I just find the whole process incredibly tedious.