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Thursday, May 26, 2016

Yarn Tour 2016

I love this pattern so much I'm going to make one in every size. It comes in a boy and a girl version and can be perused, purchased and downloaded here $6.50USD.
The body is knit in the round until the arms and then split and worked front and back with a sew at the shoulders. 

I was being very frugal and using up scrap so ran out of the lighter coloured wool for the sleeves. In the pattern the sleeves are in the same design as the body however I chose to go a bit plainer using up the wool I had and I don't mind this version at all. You can find my project notes here on Ravelry.

I'm getting the posse together again and we are doing another yarn tour Tasmania on 16th July. We will be touring from Launceston to Hobart with a stop at historical Ross on the way down and then into The Lucky Ewe in Oatlands on the way back. Everyone is welcome but we are limited to coach numbers so it's first in with payment to secure your booking. Please feel free to contact me via comments or email this page or our facebook events page in the link above.

You can find our event page here and keep up to date with the info and shenanigans. This year we have yarn enthusiasts joining us from QLD and Victoria! 

Thursday, May 19, 2016

An Autumn Country Luncheon

I enjoyed a very special luncheon with "the girls" today. A belated house warming with my mum and a couple of her friends. They have been special amigos for many decades now since their nursing days and I feel very privileged to be included in their social calendar several times a year. 

It was lovely to be finally sufficiently unpacked enough to set a fine table.
They arrived with a bottle of Moet champagne and we toured the house and celebrated hard work and good country living.

Again, I failed you with photos!
For mains we had chicken pot pies and leafy salad.
The recipe is here
Mum is vegetarian, so instead, hers was caramelised mushroom and leek with a vermouth (Noilly Prat) and yellow mustard seed reduction. This was then enfolded into a white sauce and "pot pied"

I wanted the dessert to incorporate some of the last ruby rhubarb from the garden and I also fancied using sago; something nostalgic and oft overlooked. A quick google and I found this stunning recipe idea from Katrina Kanetani,

Instead of rosemary, I infused the panna cotta  with bay leaf. I took a short cut with the jelly and chose a packet of "strawberry and cream" from the cupboard. Several components that came together for a visual delight and interesting flavour combinations. The tart rhubarb, soft woody bay tones in the creamy panna cotta and the elderflower cordial infusing the sago, divine! I learnt a lot and it has given me some inspiration for trying some different combos with citrus and quince.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016


Drying clothes becomes a bit of an obsession for most Tasmanian families in the winter.
We line dry at every opportunity but because the daylight hours are so reduced, the washing must be brought in and "finished off" on drying racks, even on sunny days. As the sun sets in the winter here, the air quickly becomes chill and damp.

And on consecutive wet days....
When visiting, a common phrase upon greeting is"Excuse the washing...",
but by bringing it in we take advantage of the heating that is already in use rather than spending extra money using a dryer.

Now-a-days most people have collapsible white plastic coated wire hangers. Super portable and easily tucked away but not designed for significant weight and they collapse readily when trying to manoeuvre them.
I'm fortunate to have acquired a couple of vintage ones. They are a bit larger but certainly much more able to hold outer clothing. I'm not sure what wood this one is made from but it is time for a bit of wax! It folds up neatly and when extended to it's full spread it is locked in place by the angle cuts of it's "elbows". A really great design and maximises the space.
Solid rails are fitted and joints are strongly hinged.

The other one is an extremely simple style that concertinas together and stretches out with simple top and bottom rails. A pair of damp shearing dungas are quite heavy and this is perfect for the job.

We use electric heating and the clothes usually dry overnight. The electric dryer is seldom used but handy for linen wash days and the shearer's singlets.
A typical wash day for the shearer in winter is 2 or 3 pairs of dungas (thick pants especially designed for shearing), 6-8 singlets, 4 thermal long sleeve tops, 2-3 pairs of socks and 2-3 bath towels. He is constantly changing wet soaked garments all day to stay dry and warm.

I remember when the children were babies and toddlers. Going through several changes each day meant we constantly had ladened wire racks in the winter. Another good place I found to dry some smalls was on racks over the hot water cylinder. One of my neighbours had her husband rig up some pulleys and ropes on the ceiling so she could hoist up a drying rack to dry in the warm air near the ceiling like she did back in Scotland.
Care should be taken though. Never place washing directly onto a heater. Take care not to place too close to a heat source for fear of scorching and starting a fire and be mindful to keep washing out of "falling reach" near a fire place. Have patience and turn regularly and take advantage of as much sunlight as possible.

How is this oh so mundane but essential job done in your neck of the woods?

Thursday, May 5, 2016

The Cottage Hospital

Here is the story of the cottage across the road. This was the very first original hospital in Campbell Town. The research I have done is sketchy and sources are a little contradictory, especially on exact dates but I imagine this cottage was built in around 1835-1840?

It seems that it was leased for a hospital from about 1850 until 1859 when another larger site was sought. The hospital was then located on Bridge St till it burnt down in 1888 and the patients were then transferred to a new building in High St further up the town and this is still the site today.

The basic layout is very similar to our home and has been very tastefully restored. The house sits alongside Johnson's Creek and has in the past been subject to flooding so the floors were quite buckled and had to be sanded to create a flat even surface again. They are still the original Georgian planks and made from Blackwood so they have a very dark character as the name suggests with golden veins. They remind me of peering into a dark forest where the sun penetrates in shafts and one glimpses the golden glowing richness of a tiger in the depths.

2009 Before Restoration

The original six paned windows are charming and I wish ours were still the same. A newer staircase to the attic also makes access much easier than our ladder-like climb and it was probably used for staff quarters. Below stairs are another four rooms with 6ft clearance and these rooms were probably used for stores and of course as a morgue. 


Here is an early rough sketch of Campbell Town Tas. not properly to scale but close and you get the idea. The date is unknown but it is definitely post 1855 as it shows the Red Bridge in use and Kean's Brewery on the corner close to the bridge. 

"A History Of Campbell Town" Compiled by Geoff Duncombe
"Campbell Town ...On Elizabeth" by Walter B. Pridmore
The Campbell Town Facebook page
Great Australian Secret page "Discover Tasmania's History"
Some images also sourced from a Domain listing 2009

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Whispers From The Other Side

This is our last major room to remediate and our project for winter. It has been "affectionately" dubbed, "The Pissoire". Although we have already scrubbed walls and floors several times with an enzyme destroying solution, the smell remains quite strong and I suspect we will have to remove the render from the alcoves either side of the fireplace.

BUT, a strange thing happened....

Yesterday I walked in here and I swear I could smell bread baking.
I didn't move from my spot, I just stood, and took a moment to enjoy being in this room for the very first time. The sun was streaming in the window and the smell of fresh bread wafted. So certain was I that I could even pinpoint it wasn't quite baked and had about 20 minutes to go. Do you know what I mean?

In the next room is a bread oven. This house, when it was first built, must have supplied baked bread to quite a few in the district this side of the river. and almost certainly to the original hospital across the road (and that's another story...). The oven is of significant size and so is the cooking fireplace. I suspect in it's very original form and intent, this house fed many more than just the inhabitants. 

It lasted no more than a minute, as I turned my head and smiled, looking into all the corners, the smell receded.....Was it a trick of the light? Did I momentarily pick up a time thread? Whatever or however you explain it, I'm taking it as a sign of positive encouragement.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Guest Book With A Twist

One of my family's most treasured possessions.

It used to be the back door on the Granny flat at my mum's. For now it is in our new garden shed.

All through the years, we have recorded everyone's height.
Family, dogs and friends.
A guest book if you will but with a twist.
It makes me smile to see the girls growth charted year to year and fondly I think of special school friends that grew with them and recorded along side.
A tear comes to my eye when I see "Nanny 21.11.98" exactly a year bar one day before she died. Roxy, Jet and Indy the wonder dog, gone but never forgotten.
I see brothers, sisters-in-law, cousins, partners and

And now it waits for Julien and his cousins - the next generations.
True family treasures are irreplaceable and un-insurable. They are warp and weft of intangible weaves.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Another Before and After Journey

While not as glamorous as an indoor renovation, this has been just as exciting and important for us. Let me take you on a journey as we salvage and renovate an old shed that has it's roots probably in the depression era. 

I've no doubt most would have demolished this poor soldier but trust me, trying to build another shed from scratch in a community where even the "skyline" is heritage listed would be no easy or quick task. We have dug around the perimeter and put in footings for the original walls.

It's profile shows just how sagging and decrepit this building had become. The goal is to keep as much of it's original character as possible and give it a future for a few more generations hopefully.

The beaten 44 gallon drum walls were a common building material of the depression era and provide a lovely patina for the old shed. Many of the upright supports are salvageable but the roof trusses and base boards were mostly all rotten.

A new bone structure...

The new roof for the shed was the corrugated iron that we removed from one of the ceilings inside the house. Hmmm, is that "double provenance"?

Some left over building materials left behind like this laserlight sheeting is also incorporated to maximise natural light as the shed is not powered. Free off cuts of patchwork pieces of cement sheeting lines the inside making it very cosy and weather proof.

The chooks, housed at one end, heartily approve of their new "villa". Weather and wind proofed, yet light and airy with access soon to their own private run and quince thicket. We have designed the new hen house to accommodate when we are raising new generations of day olds or when the separation of the sick/injured is required.

Far left is the new door into the hen house. I plan to paint some black hen silhouettes on this, purely for whimsy you understand. On the right you can see the nesting box with easy opening inspection lid, a big hit with young Julien when collecting eggs. The old milk can is our vermin proof poultry pellet storage.
(Note the lovely new cement floor throughout)

Plenty of recycled shelving...

Loads of character and reclaimed materials...

And a treasured family piece....but that is for another story.

We've kept as much of the old as possible...

And renewed. 

It is essentially the same shed. Exactly the same size and profile, but a little straighter and certainly more weather proof. It's a palace for the chooks and a handy place of storage for our less valuable items (read - my fabric stash and the children's left behinds! Sigh!)

This has given me more space for my preserving equipment and the shearer has gained a much more workable space in his garage for his "toys" too. Little by little, we have unpacked some more and moved our lives in. It all makes a house a home.

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