Wednesday, June 29, 2011

A moment in the pantry.

This afternoon in the midst of the post school, pre-after school activities chaos, this mama was locked in the pantry.

Funnily enough she liked it in there. A lot.

It was warm and dark, the sounds of the world were muffled and it smelled faintly of spices and porridge.

She wondered if perhaps she had been a monk in a previous life. A monk who had spent long periods of time meditating alone in a cave in a foreign land.

The quiet, the peace, the serenity. mmmmmmmmm

Then out of nowhere, all of a sudden the door opened and her farmer boy was pushed in the dark, quiet pantry too.

They're kissing! They're kissing! Came the chorus from outside.

So they did.


They didn't even care when the door was opened and they were caught in the act.

All too soon the moment was over. The smallest needed help with the toilet, the middle needed a jar opened and the feta spread and the eldest had to be driven to her hip hop class.

The day went on.

Monday, June 27, 2011


A while ago I was sitting on a train knitting when the woman across from me leaned over and asked me what the red and green plastic things in my knitting were. I told her they were my stitch markers. The red one told me when I was up to the start of the round and the green ones told me when the patterned bits started and finished.

She was amazed. She told me she was 73 and that she had been knitting socks practically her entire life and had never seen such a thing. She told me she was upset her own Mother, also a sock knitter, had died the year before and had never seen one either, because she would have loved them.

I asked how they knitted socks without stitch markers and she said they used scrap bits of yarn that they dangled in the appropriate spots between the stitches. But scrap bits of yarn are a pain she said because they always fall out and get tangled and you are forever losing your bit in the pattern and guessing and making mistakes and undoing it.

I rummaged through my bag and found a couple of the plastic stitch markers and handed them to her. She was thrilled and so very grateful.

For the next few days I told that story to anyone who listened. I loved the evolution of craft materials, I loved that she was so thrilled with a gift of a little bit of plastic and I loved the thought of her future sock knitting being so much easier.

I was a bit embarrassed though because my stitch markers at that time (pic above) were pretty ugly.

A few months after the train story, I was having a discussion on Ravelry with Jen when she offered to send me some of her gorgeous stitch markers. Yes please!

They arrived today (pics one and three) and as well as making my knitting look and feel a bit special, it also kind of brings this stitch marker story full circle. Nice.

Thanks Jen! x

And today I cut into my vintage marimekko and made some curtains for the caravan bunk beds.

I think this means I am officially not a hoarder any more.

See ya. x

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Caravan baby.

I know this may sound ridiculous, but sometimes this impending caravan adventure feels like an impending birth.

I think it feels like about week 37 of a pregnancy.

We live in a small town and every where we go that's all anybody wants to talk about: When is the date? Have you got a plan? How do the girls feel about it? Have you packed your bags? Are you excited/nervous/ready?

There are lists upon lists upon lists of things to prepare.

Lots of specialised equipment to buy and borrow.

A new car to fit us and all the gear in.

As usual, my nesting is not of the cleaning variety but of the sewing variety.

I'm having doubts.

We can't agree on a name.

I'm sick of listening to everyone else's stories and I am ready to start our own.

It keeps me up at night.

I'm starting to fill the freezer with meals and snacks.

Despite the obvious, I'm in denial.

We have a special relationship with those about to embark on the same journey.

I could probably go on and on but you get the picture.

The truth is though that I'm surprisingly glad we are going off on this kind of adventure and not that. That I don't have swollen ankles and leaky boobs. That the biggest plan we'll have is no plan at all.

I've been struggling under the weight of all that I have to do over the last few days, but just now we took in some of the vintage sheety bedding and strung up some of the trims I've been crocheting and I liked what I saw. It looks like I wanted it to look. My vision is becoming a reality. It feels homey.

So over the next few days I'll start and hopefully finish nine curtains, sew three pillow slips and two fitted sheets and then I'll start packing. Possibly two weeks and we're outta here.


Thursday, June 23, 2011

Seven Circles.

I have spoken before on this blog about the trials of getting your kids to pose for your blog photos, about my lack of pretty white walls for backgrounds and about how uncomfortable I feel being in front of the camera, but today I experienced yet another photography problem.

Last night I cast off my seven circles and sewed in the ends and today I needed a photo for my Ravelry page. The only problem was that I was home alone with a three year old and it was raining.

I tried and I tried and I tried to take a photo of myself but it wasn't working. The camera strap got in the way, my neck was too liny, the lens was too big, it was too dark outside.

Then I had a brain wave, I asked The Twitter: Is there a trick to taking a flattering pic of yourself wearing a woolly necklace you just knitted?

Almost instantly I had replies: use a mirror, get a small person to take it, take 1,000 and choose the best, use photo booth and take a photo of it on someone else.

I tried the first four of the above.

But I still wasn't happy. I couldn't get the mirror photos to show the necklace without the camera in the way, my camera is waaaay too heavy for Miss Pepper, I did take 1,000 pics but they were all crappy, the best of the photo booth ones are above and not so hot and so I waited for the last one.

When the big girls came home from school, after the tantrum that almost had me turning back to school and leaving them there, I took advantage of the apologetic mood and snapped some pics.

It's too big for her and it doesn't really work with the school uniform but it gives you a much better idea than the ones of me.

The details are on Ravelry here. You should totally make one. It is a simple-pimple, quick pattern to knit and it is perfect for the person who doesn't like tight things around their neck yet craves a bit of snuggly warmth in the arctic depths of winter.

I hope you've had a great day. x

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

For Indi...just because...

Because the sheet I need for the quilt backing is still in the washing machine.

Because I have a gazillion things to sew for the caravan and this is not one of them.

Because Miss Pepper is playing quietly alone in the other room.

Because I am the queen of procrastination.

Because the scraps in my bin looked way too cute to chuck out.

Because I haven't made you a pillow case or doona cover yet and you haven't complained.

Because I hate the vampire t'shirt you currently uses as a hottie cover.

Because I made one recently for The Hottie Challenge and still had the pattern.

Because it often feels like I have no idea when it comes to the parenting of a 10 year old girl.

Because you let me hold your hand all the way to school today.

Because life sometimes looks complicated for a ten year old girl.

Because I adore you and think you are so ace!

I hope you like it. x

And my super duper brooch package arrived.
Aren't I a lucky duck!
Thanks Flaming Nora!
Thanks Susie.

See ya later hot potata! x

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Miss Ruby Red.

Model: made by me and the Farmer Boy.
Red cardigan: knitted by me, raveled here.
Buttons: vintage wooden from a garage sale.
Outfit: models own.
Hair: deloused, washed and brushed by Foxs Locks. (Does that sound like one of those tacky hairdresser names?)
Make up: mostly rubbed off on long car journey from home, still a bit of lippy on I think.
Tree: found somewhere in Melbourne, next to a playground, on the way to a wedding.
Crew: big sister watching from a nearby swing, small sister asleep in the car, Dad watching small sister and playing with his phone.
Photographer, director and all round bossy boots: who do ya reckon.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Count down til caravan.

Most of the time it feels as if we aren't going anywhere and that this winter is going to last forever. Same, same, cold, muddy, same, same... The truth is though that time is marching along rapidly and we will be outta here before we know it.

There have already been a couple of lasts and there are lots and lots of count downs going on. Last time I see my folks, nine more school days, nine more school lunches, one more pilates class, two more bush kinders, two more dancing classes...

And even though it feel like I am going about my normal routine, the extra things are different. I am putting clothes and towels aside, there is a car fridge in the lounge room, a monster truck in the garage, I am sewing madly and Farmer Bren is welding and measuring and painting.

This morning when Miss Pepper told me she doesn't like it when daddy is away because we are always rushing and I get grumpy, I didn't feel so guilty because I know that there will be a time soon when I wont rush and I'll have no reason to feel late and grumpy.

In fact, I think the main reason I want to go on this trip is to stop the clock. To slow down. To stop ticking things off my never ending list and to stop rushing my days away. To live in my body and not so much in my head. And to be here and now.

There are a gazillion reasons of course but that's possibly the biggest.

Another reason is of course the styling of the caravan. It's like a big girl's cubby house.

So far I've made Miss Jazzy's and Miss Pepper's doona covers and I'm now working on ours.

And look what arrived in the mail this morning from the super talented Chantal. Is it wrong that I'm more excited about this stamp than the roof racks and tow bar and cargo barriers my Farmer boy just got fitted?

I can hardy wait to start stamping that snail mail.

I hope your Monday is a funday people. x

Sunday, June 19, 2011

A Sunday.

A Sunday in June.

A freezing cold, blustery, rainy, indoors day.

A roaring fire.

A fresh off the needles beanie. Raveled here.

A kid who is working her way through a twenty pack of new undies. She's wearing bright blue right now.

A pile of 32cm vintage sheets squares that are slowly being sewn back together again.

A gorgeous and generous gift of some sheet bits from Miss Jennie that I cut up before I photographed. Oops! Thanks Jennie. x

A little sister visitor who is crimping Miss Indi's hair and doing magazine quizes.

A pile of old caravan handles waiting to be attached.

A whole lot of time wasted with my new friend The Twitter. I'm foxslane there too.

A seven year old who is scared she might die because she ate half a big tub of off yogurt with homemade grape jelly.

A thought that I should probably clean out the fridge.

A caravan paint job on hold because Farmer/painter Bren had to leave for Melbourne for another funeral.

A new knitting project that looks like a jelly fish.

A wet pile of school uniforms waiting to be hung out.

A thought of a possibility that one day we might be ready enough to leave this place and head north and west.

What's your Sunday looking like?

See ya. x

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Crazy crafter?

Thanks so much for your stories and responses to my Made with love post, I loved reading them so much.

So I was wondering if you'd indulge me in taking the handmade question one step further.

I am pretty obsessive about my creating, as I know a lot of you are too. I am always walking around with bits of over-locker thread stuck to my clothes, I would always rather make something than buy something and there are often strands of wool dangling from my handbag and yet I still assume that I'm pretty normal.

But in the last few days I've had so many strange interactions that I'm starting to wonder.

If you are not a maker yourself, do people who hand make objects that can be bought in shops seem weird to you??

  • Last week a woman at the fruit shop told me she loved the twirly skirt I was wearing. Thanks, I replied, I made it myself. Oh did you? she answered. How very Sound of Music of you.
I wonder what she'd have said if I told her that I do in fact make my some of my kids' clothes from curtains and table cloths.
  • Last weekend at a playground with my kids, I cast off the cardi I was knitting. Realising I had enough wool for a beanie I asked the woman next to me how many stitches she had cast on to start her daughter's ribbed hat. You would have thought I was speaking another language by the look of confusion on her face. Yep, you guessed it, she had bought it from a chain store. For $12!! Why ever would you make something you could buy for 12 bucks?? she asked me. But in my defence, it did look like a chunky hand knit.
  • Yesterday the woman who made my takeaway coffee said she loved my red skirt. She said it was the type of skirt that makes people look twice. I thanked her, paused, and then added that I'd made it myself. Oh, she replied slowly, thaaaaaaat's nice.
It's silly because that's nice is a completely acceptable response, but if someone told me they had made something I had just said I loved, I would most certainly keep the conversation going a bit longer. Wouldn't you?
  • A couple of days ago I got a message from someone I once knew saying something like: I'm flicking through a baby fashion mag and there's a vintage looking floral dress in it that costs $98 and I finally get what you do.
Get what?

Don't get me wrong, for every confused comment about my crafting, there are many, many more complimentary ones. Just this morning a little boy at library time asked his mama if she could ask Knitting Kate to teach him to knit a cool hat too.

But was I so wrong in thinking handmade was making its way into the mainstream?
Do you have stories like these that make you feel a bit out of touch and alien like?

Anyway, it's almost time to get the girls from school I must go and pop my bonnet on and hitch up my wagon.

See ya. xx

ps. Farmer Bren's beanie Raveled here, even though I could have probably have bought it cheap.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Made with love.

A few weeks ago I knitted this little Milo for my parents to give their friend's baby granddaughter.

The baby's grandmother is a pretty amazing knitter herself and her great grandmother had been the most amazing tapestry artist.

These might seem like incidental details, but to me they are most important. You see due to the fact that I am still quite a slow knitter and I don't have a huge amount of time in my life to knit, this little vest probably took me a couple of nights to finish.

The fact that this baby has wool in her blood (ha!), means her family will appreciate and understand it. They will know that it was knitted especially for them, with love.

A few months ago I knitted a similar vest for a baby and when I hadn't heard back, I asked the Mother if the baby had worn it. She replied that it'll be a great addition to her wardrobe if they ever bring her to visit us in chilly old Daylesford.

Isn't it cold in Melbourne in winter too?

I knitted her the six month size so if they don't come and visit us in the next few weeks, there's no way it'll still fit when we get home from our trip.

This baby does not come from a crafty family and it made me think that they would have liked a vest bought from a baby shop just as much. I probably could have bought a lovely one for the same amount of money that I spent on the wool.

To me, a handmade gift is the ultimate gift. Because it is my world, I understand the care that is taken in choosing a suitable pattern for the recipient, selecting and purchasing the appropriate supplies and then the time it takes to actually make the present.

I guess we often have the same issue on our market stalls when people ask why our free range, organic eggs cost more than those from the super market.

I've been thinking about this for a while and asking around and it seems that many crafters have unhappy handmade present giving stories of their own. A pair of hand knitted socks that are too good to wear, a quilt that is packed away in case the kids spill something on it, a beanie that was chucked in the wash and felted.

And then there are the happy ending stories, the dolly that was carted around until her arm fell off, this Milo that was worn by that precious little baby on her way home to Norway, the dress that has been worn by every girl in the family.

It's a risk this handmade present giving business. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't.

Do you give handmade?
Do you choose carefully who is lucky enough to receive your handmade goodies?
Have you got a handmade prezzie success story/disaster?

The Norwegian's Milo Ravelled here.

Have a wonderful day. x

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

In and Out.

Out: My FlowerPress Brooch swap.

My doily brooch, some small love heart brooches, some Australian animal chocolates, a little purse I made and a Foxs Lane card.

...a little appliqued t'shirt (it's always nice to add a little surprise) and Foxs Lane card, all tied up with a vintage sheet selvage ribbon.

...a little t'shirt surprise, a Foxs Lane card, all tied up with a vintage sheet selvage ribbon.

In: The most divine doily tea towel from gorgeous Susie at Flower Press. It's a caravan prezzie. Hooray!! Thank you so much Susie, I adore it. xx

Out: A bunch of interchangeable circular knitting needles Mary lent me when I was trying to decide on a brand. How ace is blogland! Thanks Mary.

Out: A doily brooch and a couple of love heart brooches for Miss Jennie just because.

I often wonder if the post office people draw straws when they see me coming.

Have you had any fun mail lately? Hope so.

And be honest, were you hoping this post was about something a bit more exciting?

See ya! x

Monday, June 13, 2011

The journey.

The fabric selection.

The ripping of strips to even up the edges.

The saving of these strips for some future project. Maybe a crocheted rug, maybe plaited bracelets, maybe something else entirely.

The over locking of the edges and admiring the fairy floss like fluff and threads.

The sewing of these long strips together and then the top stitching.

Are we there yet? Are we there yet?

Can you imagine how many times I'll hear that phrase over the next few months??

Yesterday we drove to Melbourne and had lunch with my Grandad who is going overseas for a month, played at a playground, went to a cousin's wedding and sang karaoke and ate chips at the after-party.

Today we are having a home day and my folks are coming to play.

Tomorrow Farmer Bren will drive to Melbourne for a funeral.

What are you up to?


ps. We love you R and J. xx

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