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Thursday, April 29, 2010

Knit With Me 6

Farrow Rib

This week we are doing farrow rib. A very easy pattern that produces a lovely texture (and I'm betting it would hide a multitude of knitting sins too)
It's knit over a multiple of three stitches, I'm casting on 42.

Row 1: *K2, P1*
Row 2:  As row 1

Told you it was easy! But it looks impressive doesn't it.
I loved last week's stitch, "caterpillar horizontal" a very easy restful stitch after that week 4 "oblique rib" which I really needed to count and keep my mind on. They are good to do though because I think scientists are going to say one day that knitting patterns are an effective brain exercise for combating Alzheimer's (like crosswords)
I wonder if they have thought of including knitters in one of their studies?
 I would be grateful if any scientists out there could pass this suggestion on.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Foot Detox Patches

Has anyone tried foot detox patches?

This is not an advertisement I'm wanting feedback from anyone in the know...
The theory is that with all the chemicals and toxins in our environment today, our bodies cannot fully be cleansed of them and that they are carried to the part furtherest from our hearts - our feet.
The patches work on the same principle as poultices.
It's advised that they are worn over night while in bed and peeled off in the morning.
The patches themselves contain amongst other things;
ionic tourmaline minerals • chitosan • vitamin C • ginger • eucalyptus leaf • powdered pear shell • starch • tree sap vinegar • bamboo sap vinegar.
At the beginning of the process the patches come away the next day black/brown/greenish and sticky.
Apparently after some time, depending on toxicity levels, they will be less wet and discoloured. Make no mistake, it's not your body leaching black stuff, that's just the moisture from your feet mixing with the ingredients.
I was all prepared to be a total sceptic about this but I'm not so sure now. My feet are notoriously sad and broken from years in retailing (so I thought....maybe they are just toxic) but I have noticed that I am less prone to hobbling and wearing shoes like I haven't been able to for years.
Body de-tox?....I'm not so sure yet ...
and I was wondering if anyone else had any experience with these?

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Lest We Forget

"When you go home today,
Tell them of us.
Tell them for their Today,
We gave our Tomorrow."

Craig and I attended a well turned out dawn service at Longford today. I was sad that there was no hymn or Lord's Prayer.
I am proud to say that my daughters also attend dawn service (in Hobart this year). The prayers were missing in Hobart and Launceston services too. I think this is a shame.

For me and my children, ANZAC Day is sacred and a time to reflect and give thanks.
Anzac is so much more than men and women
It transcends the physical embodiment and encapsulates the very spirit of our nations.

"At the going down of the sun,
and in the morning,
we will remember them"

Lest We Forget

Additional edit:
I have linked Anzac Day above to a site that will explain Anzac Day.
I would also urge you to try baking these Anzac Biscuits (cookies) which are afirm Aussie tradition

Saturday, April 24, 2010


Some things have been inexorably been pulling me towards this point in the conversation this week so I have to come right out and say them....
and at the risk of sounding narcissistic....

Well Meaning Friend: "I think it does make you look old though"

Tanya: "You say it makes me look that is a bad thing"

I have been going grey since I was 16yrs old. I was once a rich auburn/chestnut with hair down to nearly my waist and thick as rope. At nearly 44, I am significantly grey, especially in the front half of my head.
It's not that unusual really. There are a lot of people with significant grey at my age but we're not used to seeing it because they diligently dye it.
I'm certainly not against dyed hair; in fact when I was 13 years old I used to sigh and dream of having white hair and having it blue rinsed and set every week like the old ladies did.
I have encountered a LOT of well meant suggestions that I dye my hair (and I have at times) because "I'm too young to be grey" or "it makes you look so old"
The later statement may very well be true but the problem I have with this statement is why it is said like that is a bad thing. It really places silent synonyms like; bad, unwanted, pitiable, unattractive with the word old.
Why in this culture do we denigrate old?
Why do we not celebrate it or at the very least accept it as our natural path.
Why is there this wrestle and reluctance towards this part of our life?
Is it because we have been bombarded with marketing and consumerism. Have these negative suggestions been subliminally planted in our culture by the billion dollar companies selling cosmetics and lifestyles.

This week I also read a stirring post in one of the blogs I follow, Easy Living The Hard Way. It's called "Is Ignorance Bliss" and discusses how little children and for that matter people, know very little about where their food comes from, which is a good read in itself, but half way down the post is another subject.
Holly was sent a (pretend) torn magazine ad in an envelope to her house, addressed to her and in such a way that this company makes it seem that a well meaning friend urges her to try this anti-ageing cream. It gave the blogger some pause for thought and me also dear reader. I hope you will read her post too.

There is that poisonous word,

Kind of sums it up doesn't it.

I'm not buying it.

I work in a medical specialist field and I see people of all ages, and yes, sometimes it is a pain to be getting old. But the beautiful depth of these people and their knowledge and wisdom is a delight to me. It's something I aspire to.
Wrinkled skin is not ugly; it's soft and silky and I can see the smiles where the laughter has been.
Grey hair isn't dull or colourless; it's the perfect softening foil for an aging face and it brings out people's eyes. It has so many shades and nuances.
I refuse to tell generations (or for that matter anyone over the age of 40 it seems) that they are ugly, worthless and far from perfect beings. They are not to be mocked or pitied.
Do we pity the toddler who stumbles when they are learning to walk.
I'll keep my grey hair thank you.
In my perfect world cosmetic creams would be paraded for what they are; skin conditioners that do make it more comfortable and protection from sun and wind.
They say beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Trouble is, beholders have been tampered with by marketing think tanks. There are a couple of songs that come to mind like Bette Midler's "I'm Beautiful Damn It" and India Arie's "Video" and "I'm Not My Hair"
These are the songs we should be singing to our children.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Knit With Me 5

Caterpillar Stitch Horizontal

Well I'll be honest, I didn't whip through that last pattern with my usual gusto. It was not the sort of pattern you can knit when you are a bit brain dead. Back to something a bit simple this week.

This is knit over multiples of 10 so I'm casting on 40 stitches
Row 1: *K4, P6*
Row 2 and alt. rows: P
Row 3 and 7: K
Row 5: *P5, K4, P1*

By now you may have at least 4 squares made. You may want to consider sewing the blocks together as you go so that it isn't a daunting task at the end. Doing this now will also create a random piece of work.
I love having the company as we knit along here and I am thankful for all your comments and suggestions.
Toria left some advise in the comments of Knit With Me 3 and suggested sewing together with a running whip stitch with right sides together. Will have more exciting photos next time.
Funkbunny (Knit With Me 4 comments) has also raided her local op shop for some wool and that's what we're talking about. Heirlooms for tomorrow from today's cast offs. I know Julie in Geraldton (Aust) is also creating a memory rug too.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Sneaking up on Roosters

Remember these little darlings?
They are were born begining of February. Out of the 21 chicks we have ended up with 15 roosters!
And they are starting to crow. There has been some calling of sorts that sounds like a peacock for a while now but usually at a decent hour and almost charming in a way...
But it's a little more authentic sounding this week and at the start of dawn too.
At first crow we've been jumping out of bed and throwing feed to keep them busy till a more decent hour but this can't go on. The time has come.

So yesterday afternoon we chose two who we thought looked the most mature...
We had a beautiful roast chicken dinner last night.

I woke this morning to another adolescent crowing. So I decided to try to sneak up and see WHO was crowing but it's not so easy. They all kept watch with such intent interest and nobody said a thing.

So I went behind the cubby house and hid for a good while (I'm in my pajamas and Blundstone boots and it's a bit cool mind), ready to spring out and identify the male and tag his leg with a ribbon of red.
It turns out that roosters know how to play possum! So I threw some more feed and stomped back inside.
Tomorrow afternoon another two....

Monday, April 19, 2010

Headstone Cleaning

An odd subject, but one I've found is little known. This grave belongs to my mother-in-law's father.
He was buried in 1934 and although the grave had been attended regularly over the years, the gravel had become scant and mossy. The headstone itself was practically illegible and my mother-in-law was talking about having it re-painted. Mostly this grave is made from cast cement with a granite headstone. Pretty robust really but even on these surfaces chemicals are a no-no including soaps and detergents which are not ph neutral. You can get a product that is a non-ionic detergent that is sold at camera supply outlets that is pretty safe to use on most surfaces also but it is not a miracle cleaner and I have not needed it yet.
The first thing to remember is "first do no harm" so check everything over for any loose, flaking or unstable areas because you want to enhance not destroy.
It is surprising what a simple bucket of water and a good old fashioned bristle brush can achieve.
Mostly a scrub will remove dirt, lichen and moss. You can see the difference here between the two graves of similar age and material. We weeded and raked the gravel surface, picking off large moss clumps. We freshened it up with a scattering of fresh white gravel.
After a good scrub the headstone also became legible again.
It was a great result for about an hours work and no damage done.
I found this site very useful for reference and guidance.
So much information and history can be gleaned from cemetries and it's important to care for this often neglected area. My mother-in-law has derived such comfort from having a grave that reflects love and care and it proudly re-tells it's story now that the inscription is revealed again, telling of a father gone too soon in a time of limited medical knowledge, leaving a widow with two very small children. Not an uncommon story, but an important story non the less.

Guzzi Travels

Craig and I went for a ride to along the Frankford Hwy to Shearwater today with our friend Paul.
Weather was perfect and we had the best hot chips ever at the little shop near the water.
We then made our way back north east and over the Batman Bridge and into town down the East Tamar Hwy. The leaves on the trees are just starting to turn and drift softly like yellow butterflies. We had magnificent views of the Tamar River from some high sweeping bends before plunging back into hushed bush with tree canopied chicanes.
 I pillioned between the two bikes as the Guzzi is built for speed not passenger comfort!
This is our bike.
This is Paul's.

Not as much seat room but the padding is positively luscious compared to the Guzzi.
We arrived home and walked in the door to the smell of cooked bread and shared a simple lunch with Paul. I have been hankering for a ride these past couple of weeks with the weather so perfect. I love Autumn rides, not too hot, not too cold and the roads are usually clear of frost and water.
Paul is a great companion too. He doeasn't fang it or act irresponsibly and is happy to keep within speed limit laws with us and has lots of good conversation.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Coddled Eggs

Not many people have coddled eggs these days but I think they are a lovely way to have Sunday breakfast.
They are a delicious step up from a boiled egg.
These are my egg coddlers, also known as pipkins. They are made by Royal Worcester and are a vitrified porcelain body with stainless steel screw lids. You can also get glass ones and some have clamped lids.
To make the best coddled eggs you need lovely fresh eggs so that the white is firm and surrounds the yolk.
First butter the pipkin and lid (really this is mostly for an easy clean up I suspect) and crack one egg into each. If you have larger pipkins then you can use two eggs per pipkin.
Now here is where it becomes a little more glamourous than the boiled egg...
Add a sprinkle of salt and pepper (I use Murray River Pink salt crystals and fresh ground black peper but white pepper is usually the done thing) and a small knob of butter and a smattering of chopped parsley.
You can also add chopped ham/bacon/salmon, minced mushrooms and cream for something truly rich and sumptuous.
Now pop the lid on. It is only a cover to keep out water splash and to create a mini steam in the vessel so it doesn't need to be screwed on tightly, in fact its best not to. Now place them into a pot of boiling water so the water comes about halfway up the sides.
It will take about 6 minutes for a room temperature large egg. So from there you need to make your own adjustments to cooking time depending on how many what size and temperature. It is a longer and gentler cook than the plain bolied egg too which would otherwise be about three minutes.
Now you can see the perfect design of these lids, they can be lifted out with a fork tine or easily grabbed with a cloth. Common sense says; don't place hot vessel on a cold surface like your sink or marble board because the temperature shock will crack it. I put mine on a tea towel to absorb some of the moisture and then serve straight to table with lovely toasted homemade "soldiers"
If you are catering for a crowd at breakfast there is no reason you can't improvise and use 1 cup ramekins.
Butter them and put the doings in and cover with piece of greaseproof paper or the like, tying them on on using rubber bands. Then put them into a large baking dish of water in the oven. This coddle may take a little longer because they probably won't boil as such but it gives you time to make toast and maybe do some spinach or grilled tomatoes.

Thursday, April 15, 2010


I have finally worked out what I wanted to do with this design going around in my head.
It was inspired by a really cute 1950s caravan belonging to the Vintage Housewife. It is divine and vintage perfect down to the very last detail in poodle pink. Her blog is really something else and a must see for vintage homewares and fashion.
This is part 1, I am now working on a Vespa to go in the series.

I also put my "Inspiration Packs" into my etsy shop.

These have been popular at Markets for those wanting to make something new and outside their usual "box"
A few of my customers for these have been children too.
They contain a blank card and envelope and bits and pieces of card and paper scraps with ribbon, feathers, buttons, lace and genuine vintage emphemera pieces for co-ordinated collage work.
All you need is glue.

I am crotcheting a dishcloth in yellow to go with the tea towel above and I'm half way through my "knit with me square 4". I'm really starting to understand what my grandmother and mother meant about "not being able to see in this light". Good daylight is so precious to me now and dash old work gets in the way a bit!
I'm a big advocater of take the time for your crafting now for tomorrow you might have arthritis and cataracts! So many of us feel that we are being self indulgent when doing our crafts and have a certain amount of guilt attached to sitting and knitting etc instead of recognising it as another part of our homemaking work. I really like Rhonda's take on this subject at her blog Down-to-Earth. This is the link to her post about

Hope you all have a wonderful and crafty weekend.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Knit With Me 4

This week's pattern is called Oblique Rib and is worked over a multiple of 4 stitches.
I have already started mine using a very rich deep purple and I will tell you that I think a lighter colour will showcase the rib pattern better. If you have a lighter shade of scrap then I would recommend you use that and save the darker colour for a more obvious rib.
It is easy but to keep track of the rows I do like to sit and do at least the four rows that make the pattern. It's like a running rib in essense. I have cast on 44 stitches for this one.

Row 1: *K2, P2*
Row 2: *K1, P2, K1*
Row 3: *P2, K2*
Row 4: *P1, K2, P1*

Hope you are knitting along with me. Remember if you've just joined then click on "knitting" at the side for the other patterns and remember, it doesn't matter if it becomes a cushion, a knee rug or an heirloom blanket for a grandchild, its the opportunity to use up scrap wool that we are aiming for here.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Six Ribbons

This song and clip sums up our Sunday perfectly and I hope you will click on this link and enjoy it

We started the day with omelette made from our garden produce and listened to some Jon English songs. I always like to finish with my favourite,"Six Ribbons".
We then went to Evandale Market and met up with Craig's son and girlfriend. The day was quite chilled and the clouds were ominous and it had kept a lot of stall holders away so we enjoyed a quiet amble rather than the usual busy crowd crush.
We were very poor and had decided that today we had $9.60 disposable income between us and that I could spend $4.80 on whatever I liked or buy a coffee. I found a bag of Duplo for $4 but I dithered and it was quickly sold. I also found some beutiful second hand linen tea towels that I would love to repurpose for heat pads etc. They were $2 each but I reasoned that I already had too many incomplete projects.
So it was coffee after all.

We drove over to Perth (the next "village") and had a beautiful coffee together at Ut si sitting in the sun and the cold wind, feeling cosy in my scarf that my mother had knit for my birthday last year. Collette, who owns Ut si, a repurposed church, is of French decent and has given a decided French Flair to her establishment, including the garden. They source only seasonal and ethical food and if you click on the link above you can learn more about their ethos.
So after a delicious coffee it was home to an afternoon of embroidery, bread baking, bean harvesting. The chooks loved the old bean vines to go through and little sap sucking insects to devour. I harvested all the basil and painstaking washed it and combed through it for caterpillars etc (we are organic) and then froze it in water blocks for the winter when we will be pining for the fresh herbal hit of basil. I think we will get a frost soon.
A gentle day of fresh winds, cash poor but feeling blessed by abundance in so many things. Grateful for family and a wonderful partner who provide the threads in my rich tapestry.
I give you six ribbons.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Glut of Figs

We've finally come to the end of the tomatoes....nearly...and I made another 8 litres of spicy tomato sauce.
Cliff and Matt's figs are going beserk though. As we picked, Cliff and I were hidden under the massive boughs heavy with fruit and intoxicated by the aroma of fallen fermented figs. It felt just like when my brothers and I would play cubbies under sweeping branches and leafy hidey-holes. Most made it into the bag but some that I split while picking simply begged to be consumed in glorious stickiness. There is something very regal and sumptuous about sucking the jammy fruit from the skin, but also very child-like being covered in sticky sap and sugary juices.

All very well and good, but they don't last long and I have found a couple of recipes to take full advantage of this glut. The first is this Fresh Fig Cake that is baked in two tins and then sandwiched and topped with a fig syrup. This wonderful recipe used three cups of fresh figs in all. The aroma in the kitchen is pue bliss.
The other recipe I found was Fresh Fig Cookies and it will not surprise my readers to know that I was all out of walnuts so I substituted pumpkin seed kernals. What a sight they were too with globules of pink fig and green pumpkin seeds.....which made me think that if one was having an affluent week, then pistacios would also be very jolly as a substitute. Sounds very exotic and Iranian doesn't it.

In the basket there is also a huge pile of pears now in season and ready for bottling. I do love bottled pears on my Weet-bix. There is always something to be saving. I've also been busy working on new tea towel designs and my knitting of course. Perfect activities for our drizzly weekend.

In Search of Ghosts At Port Arthur

Port Arthur penal colony, established in 1830 as a male prison for criminals transported from the British Empire, operated for forty-seven years till 1877. The entire colony had to be self sufficient and create it's own infrastructure and was built on convict labour. The site also housed various free people such as; medical officers, parsons, families of officers etc.
It is a tranquil yet eerie place, entirely fascinating and requires a whole day to tour. The Isle of the Dead, an island upon which everyone was buried, is not to be missed.

By night they have ghost tours and all eight of us went on last Saturday night. Matthew was dying to take some photos to see if he could capture some ghosts but flash photography wasn't allowed. It was very entertaining and it was good to get yet another glimpse into the lives of Port Arthur. It was worth the tour just
to see the church and the old hospital lit up at night.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Knit With Me 3

seed stitch simple

The next pattern is seed stitch simple. The single purl stitch on the right side of a stocking stitch is what gives this pattern a subtle smattering of dots. It's very simple.
Using multiples of 4, I've chosen to cast on 40 stitches.
Row 1: *K3, P1*
Row 2 and alt rows: P
Row 3 and 7: K
Row 5: K1, *P1, K3*, P1, K2

These 7 rows form the pattern, keep going till you have a square.
Mine is in another shade of blue this week.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Seed Saver Packets Tutorial

It's Autumn here and time to save some beans for seed next year. The seed packets I make help keep my seeds organised and they are a great gift to give to gardeners, young and old alike.
This is also a great craft project for the children to help with as well.

First cut paper to 15cm (6") x 20cm (8")

  Fold 4cm (15/8") along top and both sides and 2cm (3/4") along the lower edge. Cut out squares as shown.

    Fold corners of lower edge to the fold line. Measure about 1cm (1/2") on the upper flap and fold a taper so that the envelope is neat when sealed.

Apply double sided tape and seal the edges except for the top of course until you have filled it.
You can always leave them plain but I like to pretty them up.

I make a set of 10 and bind them with a band of paper to give as a gift for gardeners to save their seeds or I fill with my own seeds to share. It's important to provide information on the packet like; the name of course (maybe add a photo), sowing times, use by date, general cultivation tips that may be useful.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Richmond, Tasmania

On our journey to and from White Beach our route took us through Richmond, a very old Tasmanian town est around 1825. On Easter Sunday we called into St John's, Australia's oldest Catholic Church. This is also where my father-in-law is buried.
Can you see the spire? It is all copper. St John's was built in 1836 and has a very old cemetary. It has spectacular stained glass windows but what really takes my breath is the beautiful Stations of the Cross. The parish ladies had done a wonderful job for Easter Sunday Mass with flowers on every window sill and flat surface. It looked very joyous.

The above pink sandstone a little left in this picture is the back of my father-in-law's headstone. The piece was excavated from one of the children's backyards and was found to be suitable and large enough for the headstone. This is also where my mother-in-law will lie and share this stone, with her second husband, beside her first husband and her beloved son Simon. The grave you see immediately next to Brian's, surrounded by a rail, is dated 1857. This older part of the cemetary is built on asmall but very steep round hill. I can't help but try to imagine hand digging the graves on such a slope. Consequently over the last 180 years with natural land slip and erosion, many of the older stones have slipped and are on a severe lean.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

The Cottage "Kitchen Sink"

Many of you will be familiar with the "My Kitchen Sink" segment that regularly appears on Down-to-Earth blog and in fact my kitchen was featured a few weeks ago.
This is the kitchen in the cottage at White Beach. The cottage belongs to my mother-in-law and late father-in-law and sits right opposite the foreshore of wedge bay.
As you look out over the sink, the view is ever changing with the weather, changing the water from turquoise to slate grey, sharp sunlight or drifting sea mists enveloping bright red fishing boats.

The cottage is filled with family memories. It was my father-in-law's second marriage and my beautiful mother-in-law has successfully made a holiday home of blended families and shared experiences. Old black and white photos, a daughter's kinder painting from 1976, someone's hockey sticks, a treasured stuffed toy cat made from an old chenille bedspread, great grandmother's flour canisters and umpteen packs of playing cards. There is no TV or mobile reception, instead we play our way through old records and play charades and backgammon on the porch.

For those of us who waken early, a very long walk around the white sand of the bay littered with oyster and mussel shells. We stop to laugh at the funny shuffle the seagulls do in the tide shallows, trying to dislodge small crabs. Everyone we meet is relaxed and friendly and smiling. The area itself is steeped in history all around with the ruins from convict settlement days. Gently we are infused with a sense of well being and slow down and just "be".... a part of history, a part of family, a part of generations to come.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Convict Coal Mines

We went to the Tasman Peninsular for Easter and stayed at White Beach which is about 10 mins from Port Arthur. Many of you will know that Port Arthur was the site settled by the English as a Penal Colony for their  convicted criminals in the 1830's. Lesser known is the coal mining operation begun on the other side of the Peninsular using convict labour, around the 1840's.

The picture above shows the ruins of what used to be the infirmary, the chapel and cookhouse. They were made from huge sandstone blocks cut from a plentiful quarry in the area. In the foreground you can just see the ruins of some of the cottages belonging to free people and married officers made from sandstone and convict brick.

Also on the site are the underground cells where convicts were punished most monstrously; during their working day they toiled in pitch black in the mines and then were returned to the pitch black of an underground cell. This cell was pitch black but is naturally flooded with light because of the flash. You can get an idea of the size of the cell though, and the thick walls would also have been deprivatory for other senses too. Nothing to see, nothing to hear, no-one to communicate with, left in a never ending world of misery. Surely the hospital was used for a regular stream of men gone mad.

This settlement covered quite a large area and had many significant structures built but in the end the coal was inferior in quality and the operations declined and were eventually abandoned. The bush has reclaimed most of the areas but the site is managed and maintained very sensitively and is well documented for visitors. Amazingly admission is still free and views alone in the area are worth the visit. Most people come to Tasmania and visit Port Arthur (which takes a whole day) but if you take the time their is so much more to see in the area.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Knit With Me 2

Last week the first square was 7 x 3 flar rib.
Here is mine in a beautiful cobalt blue.

This week is sand stitch...

using multiples of 2, I've cast on 42 stitches...
Row 1: Knit
Row 2: *K1, P1*
Thats it! Very easy and it creates a scrumptious tactile square that looks good either side with the Easter break I should be able to get two of these squares done this week.


So here is my next square underway in scraps of Aarlon Royal in steel blue or slate blue???
It's a joy to knit with this wool and I know these scraps are going to make a beautiful heirloom piece.
Something for the generations.
Hope you can follow and knit with me or if not, the patterns are here for when you are looking for a project.
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