Saturday, July 30, 2011

weekend links

Thursday morning fog and frost

Good morning! Or good afternoon whichever the case may be. I wanted to thank you all for the encouraging words yesterday. Violet seems to be returning to her normal sunny self. It is always helpful to remind oneself that "tomorrow is always fresh with no mistakes in it" - Anne of Green Gables.

  • If you don't already know (I didn't) this was a great little tutorial for a lined zippered pouch.
  • Though you may heard of this by now,  (perhaps via these lovely bloggers sites here , here and here) if you haven't please take a minute to read.  If you feel strongly about this issue it is very simple to download and email a letter to the minister.
  • How adorable is this for a little girl? Also instructions for the girl-at-heart.
  • Make a simple colouring book to add to presents for little ones. I did this one yesterday, tying with twine, and gave one to my niece and nephew with handmade pencil cases.
  • Currently knitting this cute design

Hoping that you all have a simply wonderful weekend.

Friday, July 29, 2011

the everyday tote

The everyday tote from Weekend Sewing, had been on my project list for a very long while.  But the other night I had a sudden inclination to make one (late at night of course), with a vintage fabric I'd had set aside for it.

The fabric I chose is a very vivid woven print I had picked up in my op shop travels. My untrained eye is guessing it may be bark cloth. Can anyone more experienced shed a little light on this?

The project (mostly) came together well. It was quick to cut out and the main bag and lining were a breeze to sew up.

I say "mostly" because I did have a few issues with the binding. I would not line the binding next time, only the handles, as it created far too much bulk which made it extremely tricky to sew. The finished result was far from satisfactory, so it was all unpicked and I sewed the binding onto the lining by hand. Due to the bulk you can still see it, but it is far neater than before.

An inner pocket was sewn into the lining and space made for the mobile. Knowing what works now I do believe I could make this up in one session, as it was it took two nights.

As the name suggests it does fit everything in it and will no doubt be handy for a combined hand/nappy bag or to pop knitting or groceries into.

With all this sewing going on here lately you may be led to believe that I've had plenty of time on my hands. Unfortunately this hasn't been the case. At all. Violet is not a happy baby while sick, and that, combined with the general household chaos, and hubby working longer hours this week, has made for a very trying week. Sewing has been my sense of calm in the storm. I am not sure if it is the creativity or the distraction. Perhaps both. But it is surely helping me get through, what is otherwise, a difficult week.

Thursday, July 28, 2011


Lately I have been :-
  • Finally organizing my sewing space. Things were looking very bad in there for awhile. Material strewn all over the floor, the desk all cluttered up, and impossible to find anything.
  • Knitting dishcloths again.
  • Marvelling at how fast my little girl is growing up. Sitting up with no danger of toppling over is a new skill this week.
  • Loving salads with feta and avocado.
  • Bread roll baking. Might switch to loaves later in the week. But rolls are so handy for lunch box making.
  • Laughing at Luca getting creative with his food and then insisting I take a photo.
  • Appreciating the buds of wattle and wild flowers collected from the bush on the weekend.
  • Missing my Wednesday night fix of Offspring.

Hoping that your Thursday is a good one.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011


My last batch of cushions certainly had a good run. Though the stuffing (cheap polyester filled ones that came with the lounge) had well and truly had it's day,  the cushions were getting a little old and tired. But I'm thinking of saving the covers for "one day" verandah chairs. That is if I can train the dog not to sit on them. Anyway, on the weekend I stayed up until two in the morning sewing a new batch of cushions. There is nothing like a silent house to get things done is there? Sometimes sewing is better than sleep.

 Two large covers sewn.
  • the yellow cockatoo print (which I had left over from this project) from Beach Vintage 
  • pink print, a Japanese cotton, from Tessuti.

I didn't have quite enough fabric to cover the cushion so I joined it to a strip of the backing linen and added a ribbon that I had leftover from another project.

Cushion number three was sewn from a fat quarter from Yardage Girl, and mixed with linen and the Japanese print.

Our fourth cushion, smaller in size was sewn from a Tiny Happy print available in the Etsy store.

All the cushions were backed in a linen from Tessuti. I found it a little more economical to do it this way. They were finished with the overlapping envelope style. This is my favourite way to sew cushions, as they are neat, easy to remove and there is no fiddling with zippers. Oh, and I'm hoping you didn't see the loose thread.

I bought my cushion inserts from here. The duck feathers just last so much longer than polyester. I had bought a small one previously and it is still in excellent condition almost two years later.

It is lovely to have a new scattering of cushions on the lounge and they add a bright  and cheerful touch to our neutral lounge. Sometimes a change is a very good thing.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

see a need

"See a need, fill a need". I am not used to quoting from kid's movies. But for some odd reason this quote, straight out of the movie Robots, seems just so fitting for crafting.

The need in this case being the issue of no dish drainer. They don't seem to make them with butler sinks. Beautiful as they are,  though if a little unpractical at times. Up until now I had been using layers of tea towels, but I had in mind for quite some time to make something a little thicker and more substantial to hold just a bit more water.

So in a spare few hours one afternoon I whipped up these for the sink. Strips of vintage tea towels and tablecloths, sewn into a patchwork.

I backed them with one of our hand towels (white being a highly impractical colour in our bathroom anyway), sewing right sides together, leaving a gap and then turning out.

I then sewed a border and closed the gap. Also "stitching in the ditch" to hold it all together. A little wonky perhaps, but it does the job surprisingly well. It's amazing how much water these mats can soak up.

It is satisfying to see a practical need and then fill it. Guilt free crafting in a sense. I may just need to make a few more.

Hoping that your Tuesday is a good one.

Monday, July 25, 2011


This weekend I have been :-
  •  Experimenting with my new camera. DSLR's are completely new to me and I am a little out of my depth. That one term of photography in high school just isn't coming back to me. But bear with me. That is one thick instruction manual.
  • Staying inside with the rain.
  • Hoping very much that Violet's cough improves soon. There has been a lot of clinginess, much  nursing and two slightly worn parents. Not that that matters at the end of the day.
  • A Sunday drive into the forest and packed picnic lunch upon which I forgot to pop my memory card in the camera. Oh well. You will just have to take my word for it that it was a nice picnic, if just a little freezing.
  • Knitting on the way to the picnic and learning that four wheel driving and knitting do not mix. Who knew?
  • Giving myself permission to not make the beds.
  • Reading and thoroughly enjoying Spaces.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

weekend links

What took my fancy this week :-

  • These would be just perfect for a simple homemade housewarming gift.
  • And while on the subject of teatowels, I've been quite inspired to turn a vintage European tea towel into a tote like this one.
  • The bestest, creamiest polenta recipe ever.  Though I don't add the cheese, but add a wee bit more butter. We love ours with bolognese sauce.
  • An old woolen blanket made into nappy soaker covers. Who knew?
  • And because I adore the poetry of Robert Louis Stevenson.

And so I leave you with this quote and wish you all a wonderful weekend.

"To know what you prefer instead of humbly saying Amen to what the world tells you you ought to prefer, is to have kept your soul alive."
— Robert Louis Stevenson

Friday, July 22, 2011


 Several weeks back, I received a beautiful package from the lovely Tammi of Little Poppa. I was asked to test drive some of the crochet pieces for her shop range. So I was most excited to open this amazing little package of hats and bootees. The pieces are amazingly cute and have become our favourite little going out pieces. Vibrant colours, beautifully handmade and the fit is perfect.

Tammi so kindly also sent some circular needles my way

Oops, we popped this one on back the front (the label is supposed to be at the back), but how cute is it? And no constant tugging town to keep her little ears warm.  Ear flaps are a godsend for cold climates.

The Little Poppa store will be opening very soon, so keep checking the Little Poppa blog in the next few days. I will pop up a shop link as soon as it becomes available.

 and in other packages :
 Bendigo wool for a jumper for Luca : denim mix

gorgeous little stitch markers from here

A few weeks ago I was so fortunate to be the winner of a cot sheet in a mangolime blog giveaway.  Take a look at wonderful range of nappies in the mangolime shop. The gorgeous mix of fabrics above is a patchwork strip on the cot sheet. Which makes me very eager to assemble Violet's cot very soon. Check out Anna's blog for a tutorial on how to make one yourself.

And also from mangolime these adorable little clips. Julia snapped them up very quickly!

Wishing you all a pleasant Friday.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

our house

A few of you have asked me about the house that we call home. For some reason I've been putting off this post, but as my camera sadly broke yesterday (unfortunately I dropped it!) , I needed to pull a rabbit out of the hat, or in this case, some photos deep from the archives.

The story of our house starts with a one acre block that we almost stumbled upon on a weekend drive one day. A year previously we had sold our first home in Wollongong and moved to Canberra. At that point in time it was not in our heads to even think about moving to the country. But a few weeks later we began to talk about it. We felt a sense of limbo where we were. There was the unaffordability of where we lived and I was reluctant to return to the workforce, wanting to stay at home with the kids. So after much research (and an awful lot of petrol) we took the plunge and bought the block. Which, I might add, was dirt cheap.

2009 saw us move into a local rental property while we settled into the area, starting new schools and a new job for Daniel. It was a leap of faith so to speak, but for some reason I felt calmer and more in control of our lives than I had in years. Fortunately things seemed to be working out and six months later, at the end of Autumn, we became "owner builders" and began excavating the building site and driveways.

Of course, our "almost flat" block needed far more excavation than we thought it would. Fortunately Daniel did a lot of the work himself,  holding several machinery operator licenses. I hate to think what it would have cost us otherwise.

Our biggest (and necessary) issue was keeping to a strict budget. We pored over kit home brochures and even visited display villages.  In the end we went with a local shed company who supplied and erected our house to lock up stage.  It saved us quite a bit as the outer structure of corrugated zincalume and colourbond roof were less expensive and required far less labour to put up. The colours we chose were inspired by the old shearers sheds with their rusty rooves that dot the landscape in the country.

Daniel, also a concretor by trade, poured the slabs himself. Unfortunately it hailed that day, making it very difficult to later get the desired finish on the floors.

Having a shed was also a necessary building for us. Afterall what would a man be without his shed?  A place to store the ride-on mower, and whatever else it is they need. Oh, and the car.

We had a local architectural draftsman draw up our house plan, whom we later became good friends with (another tree-change family).  A basic three bedder, one bathroom, big kitchen, and pantry and laundry in one. Lot's of light and open planned.

All doors and widows were from Ebay or salvage yards, most quite old, as I wanted to add a little "aged" character to our brand new house. This also saved us quite a bit of money in the end. And added a little headache for our builders.

Testing out kitchen colours - I went with the middle one

Our gyprocker was an old family friend (who lived in the area) with incredible talent who had previously worked on heritage houses in Sydney. With the high ceilings there was a lot of square setting to do, which he did without fault.

 Just about ready to move in. It was now Spring. The solar panels for the hot water system are yet to be put in.
And then we moved in. Just in time for christmas.

Taken just after we moved in. The walls are very bare.

 Kitchen : We were incredibly lucky to have a family member who owns a joinery so our kitchen was quite a bit cheaper than it would have been otherwise. I did splash out on the Villeroy and Boch sink, but I have to say that it is rather difficult to clean and does scratch. It is beautiful though, and fits so much in it. I fear I overwork it a little, having no dishwasher. Our oven was an ebay buy, an old St George double door oven, and very reliable.

Laundry/pantry : We combined the laundry inside the pantry thus saving on space. I must admit it is so much easier to keep clean this way.

Excuse the strange angle

Bathroom : Our cast iron bath was from here and tapware from here. I was very, very nervous about the black, but so glad that I went with it.
The basin was an old cast iron model, a bright green, scratched ebay buy that I had re-finished.
The large tiles were a faux marble finish and fairly inexpensive. With stone coving tiles (which hide the waterproofing).

Floors : Daniel had to hire a special machine for the final polish. Then we stayed up all night painting a water-based satin-matte finish by hand.

Walls: Antique White USA in Haymes Paint. Colonial style skirting boards and architraves.
 Heating :  We opted for a Nectre which keeps us toasty warm. One more word of advice is insulate, insulate, insulate!
And then on to landscaping... a whole acre

Our septic-watered grass

In the end we had house which was built from an idea conceived in our heads. Six months of weekends and frequently weeknights were spent on the building site. A great deal of stress, sweat, tears, joy and excitement went into it's making. Daniel spent weeks on end doing as much of the work as he could himself. But a lot of the work we paid professionals to do.

We saved in some areas and splurged a little on quality fittings where we could afford it. Quality over quantity and supporting Australian made where possible. We managed to keep our mortgage well within our means and so to this day I have been able to stay home, now with one little extra addition.

Would I ever build again? Perhaps, but not very likely. It has a way of turning your life upside down. It is a huge learning curve. In the end, though,  it is a short amount of time in the scheme of things and is not without it's rewards.