July 8, 2010

Groink, the reprise

So, I may be back in business. My sewing machine has been to see the nice Mr Librarian who also fixes machines, and it's had its innards cleaned and oiled and otherwise looked after. The auto needle-threader doohicky is broken but otherwise, we should be >groink<-less. We hope.

I got back late last night/this morning from a conference in Perth. Four days locked into conference centre, casino and 'entertainment complex'. And they write books about travel between worlds, eh. I feel like I've travelled between two worlds: the fake world of the casino and the real world of the farm. I'm so glad to be back in real farm-world with cold-morning attachment, lovely husband 1.0 and dog 2.1 version attached. In fact, I'm off to enjoy my Crackling Fire app. bye-bye

June 29, 2010

Hexagons growing - could it be spring?

So I went out to the old pear tree, and what did I find? Flowers everywhere, even in the cold winter sunshine!

I'm sure anyone who drove past thought I was crazy, running about in the cold, windy field, trying to get a quick picture before the wind ruffled my hexagons and sent them spinning across the paddock.

Stacks of hexagons, all ready to sew together. Do you find yourself obsessively counting them? I do.

I'd set a target of 45 hexie flowers in May, which was almost right -- I think I hit 42. It's amazing how quickly a project grows when you work on it every day, even if only for a little while (I do half an hour to one hour each day on the train). All different colours and shades. Lots of blue, plenty of red, and a little yellow and black to add excitement.

Now I'm sewing them all together and making approximately 72 billion plain white pieces to surround each of the flowers. I was sitting on the train, production-line making white pieces, and the woman next to me said, 'How many of those do you have to make?' To which I could honestly reply that I haven't calculated the total (because if I did, I'd lose heart and stop this crazy project altogether!)

June 28, 2010

That nasty >groink< noise

So, first seam on first damentop, let's call it 'shoulder number one'. I've measured and cut, pinned and checked, bought seam tape and consulted my book on how to sew knit jersey. The machine's feeling a little odd, but I think it'll be fin--GROINK. End of damentop sewing.

So this was last weekend, and I've been hunting for a sewing machine repairperson ever since. Me and the old Janome went for a drive on Saturday, but the sign I'm sure I saw advertising sewing machine repairs, isn't there.

In the meantime it's back to planning my garden for the spring. How about this photo for inspiration? This was a B and B we visited years ago not far from here, which had all sorts of 'junk' scattered amidst the plants and the trees. It was a wonderland -- although I felt a little sorry for the singer sewing machine (in the picture above).

So far, progress: I've almost got out all of the mint that bound up the vegetable patch -- mint will take all the available root space and spread like mad. I think it's had 5 years, maybe more, and some places are a solid heavy lump of mint roots. Over the last several weekends, we've hacked and pick-axed and ripped out all of the roots we can find. Most of the bed is resting gently under a nice warm blanket of manure (do your job, wormies!) and there's just a bit that remains to be done. A couple of months of organic rest, and then we plant in spring.

In the meantime, it's back to the hexagons, which are growing like mad (we've hit the upper 50s in hexagon flower production). Nothing like being forced to work only on one project, for results!

June 16, 2010

My reindeer cometh in

Not a ship, not a plane... my reindeer arrived yesterday with a saddle-bag full of goodies from the design ladies at Ottobre.

 Does my nose look big in this? 

Not merely content to replace the magazine I so wantonly lost, I also got a back issue and a copy of one of their basic multi-patterns, the excitingly named 'Die besten Damentops'. I'm sure I said damen-something a few times last time I tried sewing with jersey knit, but this set of patterns has got me all revved like the reindeer and ready to tackle stretchy plastic seam tape with the best of them. Wish me luck. This weekend is tops for Damentops.

June 8, 2010

Bits and pieces

I've been editing a book in which Little Red Riding Hood features. Or LRRH as she is known, for short hand, to her friends. It reminded me of this image I had stashed away in my 'Inspiration' folder, a Japanese stitching magazine idea that always makes me smile. I think my favourite bit is the playing card people, looking a bit out of place like a cross between extras from a filming of Alice in Wonderland and the old set of Dr. Who. Waving their arms. Oy!

I've been meaning to update you on the hexagon progress (good), but I have no photos. I feel a sense of having let down the blog but I'm never home in daylight. It's dark grey dawn when we pull out of the farm, too early even for the dog to have done much but stumble out of bed and gaze blearily at me as I whisper goodbye nothings about rabbits in his ear. Uhhnh, says the dog. I know how he feels.

And then home in the cold full dark, the stars are bright some nights. I put on my wellies over my work tights and a big fuzzy jacket over my dress and me and the dog, we go out in the pitch dark to say hello to the Totoro tree. Hoo-ho. Hello tree. It's huge in the dark and seems to go up forever.

June 1, 2010

D'ya remember when...

.. I got a copy of Ottobre magazine and was all excited about it? Well, I also bought a single back-issue, of their autumn/winter designs (it being autumn then), and when it arrived, I pounced on it with glee, took it on the train with me to read on the way home from work-

- and promptly lost it.

I spent days convinced it had just slipped out of my purse under the filing cabinet, but no. Completely gone.

No more lovely autumn coat, cute trousers or funky overdress shirts for work. Humph

So today I finally bit the bullet and re-ordered a copy. I've seen it (briefly), so I know I want to make several things in that issue! And while I was there, I ordered another one, and a t-shirt pattern pack, too. In for a europenny, in for a europound.

Now I just have to sit and wait for the boat (plane/mule/reindeer) to get here ALL THE WAY FROM FINLAND. It could be a long wait, but luckily I found fifty-two billion unfinished projects when we moved, so I have plenty to do to pass the time...

May 29, 2010

Rain, rambles and roses

It's one of those quiet, blissful Saturdays at home. The first weekend in many that we're just 'around', settled in, not packing or unpacking, enjoying. It's cold and rainy, and a perfect weekend for staying in with the fire crackling and something nice in the oven. Pottering, I think they call it.

Pic by Mr. Tacc. Morning misty. 
It's been a busy and stressful couple of weeks, so I didn't sleep well last night, my brain ticking over and wakeful. (I keep looking for the 'off' switch, no such luck yet.) So I got up, made a cup of coffee and sat in the window of the study, watching the ducks waddling one-by-one down the farm track past the window, the galahs scrubbing under the tree, and the misty rain falling. Pretty soon, the rain stopped and the dog was all too happy to go out with me (in my stompy-spotty galoshes) and wade through the long grass down to the other end of the farm.

When we got back, we found these beauties! Lettuce mix and coriander for seed. I'd cleared out this old barrel pretty soon after we moved in because I wanted to get a few things in before the cool weather. These are the first to grow, but there are twenty or so garlic plants shooting up from quiet spots tucked in under the roses, and broad beans just sprouting, to be the first home veggies in spring. They're up a good three or four centimetres and going well.

Lettuces and coriander for seed

So the day turned out well: some sewing, some baking (shortbread, and a lemon tarte), and a nice brunch out together at a gorgeous tucked-away local cafe that Mr Tacc discovered on Friday with the writers' group. We're definitely settling in, and weekends at home are grand.

I hope your weekend is shaping up to be sweetly relaxing too!

May 23, 2010

Hexagon update

Pic by Mr Tacc.

End of the weekend, and I thought I'd better drop in with an update on the progress of the hexagon quilt. It's been cold and sunny, misty mornings, and there has been a lot of sewing on the train recently.

Last weekend, I laid out all the squares with Karen's help, and we decided that they would look lovely and sunny if each one was surrounded by a white or off-white ring of hexagons. In for a penny, in for a pound, or a bushel, or an eyestrain or something (if a bunch of sheet is a 'flock' and a bunch of crows is a 'murder', then a bunch of hexagons should surely be 'an eyestrain of hexagons', right?)

Well. So I'm up to number 38. And one with a nice white surround.

But I've run into a little problem. Not the eyes, not the fingers, nor the scraps of fabric falling out of my bag onto the floor of the train. I've got to check my hexagon template and probably re-cut some of my recent-est pieces. (That's a word. Trust me, I'm an editor. Ha.) It seems I may have fallen into the age-old trap of letting the paper template get a little trimmed on one corner, and now the latest pieces don;t fit together so well, not without some jiggery-poggery.

So it's back to cutting paper templates, and re-sewing the pieces onto them, and then maybe I can finish the remainder of my May target of 45 hexagons towards a little quilt.

May 7, 2010

Hexagoning, humming and hawing

So, the hexagons were unearthed from somewhere third-drawer down. We've had a few visitors, and that meant that some of the recently unpacked stuff got hurled willy-nilly into drawers and suitcases, and ignomiously shoved under beds. I think this weekend, with showers forecast, is going to be the time to sort out the front room, aka the sewing room.

I've had a little fling with the hexagons on the train, and I think I've made another six. Idly mulling while I stitched, I worked out that if I can make 2.2 hexagon flowers per train journey, that would be 92 in a month. Of course, I've got reading and proof reading to do on the train too, not to mention a few nice little naps like this morning's cosy snooze (I do like these big comfy quiet country trains) -- so let's set a reasonable challenge of 45 by the end of May. Ha. Let's see!

(Image of an antique doll's quilt from Fiber Fantasies)

This all brings to mind pleasant consideration over what sort of layout to use. I'm thinking that once I have 50 flowers I may go back and add an outer ring: I really like the double-ring flower garden patterns I see out there on the web. But then again, maybe not: I also like this antique quilt style of layout, too.

(image from article about historical quilts)

Mine is definitely a scrappy unplanned colour scheme. There are pinks and dusty greens, shocking orange and some wild large prints. I didn't love the look when I laid the single florets side-by-side, so maybe they need the unifying influence of a second ring to each flower in a coordinating colour. I'm thinking of choosing a soft green or two, or a petrol blue and navy. We'll see. It's a work in progress!

April 28, 2010

Country crafting

We're getting used to living in the country. It's taken a while, but gradually the heap of boxes has receded and we can see the windows again.

We're spending some time indoors and a lot of time out there, exploring this new place. Kookaburras in that tree, incredible mushrooms over there. Cold mornings, frosts and quickly lighting the fire in your jammies, then sunny afternoons and quick dark to night. Stars. Mist.

Why didn't we do this earlier?

I've unearthed the sewing machine, and with all this cold wind and with mornings and evenings on the train, I think there's going to be some crochet happening. We'll see.

February 23, 2010

Exciting sewing stuff


After my sewing frenzy (way back at Christmas), followed by the incredible illness (boring), and the working too hard February, I finally got back to the sewing machine on Sunday night.

And just in the nick of time!

Look what showed up in the mail yesterday:

MM-hhm! I had been hearing about Ottobre magazine online for a while now. Lots of sewing bloggers rate it very highly, so I quietly put it  on my Christmas list, and my lovely parents got me a subscription. Just the women's clothing magazine; I don't have kids to sew for, but I love what I've seen of the patterns and wanted to give it a try.

You can preview what's in this issue on their website.

I can't decide what to make first! I'm not likely to make the cover top, but look at the preview to see the retro trousers and tops, and my favourite, the blue silk and linen ensemble. I think I'll need to practise before attempting the delights of the blue tulip-skirted coat.

Yippee! Thanks Mom and Dad!

February 19, 2010

Can you help your national library?

If you are in Australia, and you're hanging out in op shops or other vintage-treasure hunting spots, you might want to have a look at this plea from the National Library of Australia.

Quoted from the National Library eNews for February2010:

"Wanted: Missing Issues of The Australian Women's Weekly

Are there any old issues of The Australian Women's Weekly gathering dust in your shed or under the bed? If so, we want to hear from you.

The Library is digitising issues of The Australian Women's Weekly dating from 10 June 1933 to 15 December 1982. We have checked our holdings and identified missing copies - we need your help to fill these gaps.

The Australian Women's Weekly has been published for more than 75 years and offers a unique insight into the social fabric of Australia.

In association with Australian Consolidated Press and the State Library of New South Wales.
Visit The Australian Women's Weekly Digitisation Project homepage to view our list of missing copies."


February 11, 2010

Note to self: buy a bigger sketchbook


Sometimes it's annoying when you hit the edge of the page. 

Still painting, still sketching. Stomping the streets, sketchbook in hand. 

This is the first layer of watercolour for a portrait I scribbled tonight. It might stop there, as it's so delicate I rather like it...

February 1, 2010

For Zachary

This one's for my little nephew, just turned one.

I've been keeping up with the plan to draw something every day (or almost), which cuts down on blogging time a bit. And still some days I'm out there wandering the internet, looking for inspiration.

One of my favourite places for a bit of fun and a reminder of all the wonderful ways the world can be drawn, is Chicken Nugget Lemon Tooty. This blog is a Dad's postings of his kids' drawings, but boy, these kids can draw. It's a fun place to hang out for a few minutes to see what they've been doing. A year or so back, before I'd found the site, they posted a challenge and asked any ilustrators out there to respond to their drawings with a version of their own.

So my challenge that day was set by a four-year old. I had to draw and paint something inspired by her image.

Here it is:

Seems to me they're having a great deal of fun!

January 1, 2010

For Jennifer

I hope the fun run was ... fun! (Lack of sleep not withstanding.)

P.S. I promise that tomorrow there will be some crafty goodness here. God knows, this used to be a craft blog! Well, there's been sewing a-plenty today, at one point it turned into a downright, no-doubt about it, bona fide finishing frenzy

Details soon, but first, sleep.