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Monday, November 29, 2010

Red Crotchet Popcorn Garland

I was originally going to thread real popcorn garlands for Christmas this year but I just can't guarantee the safety of them with the dogs.
Lee at Killiecrankie Farm got me thinking with her crotchet leaf garland she has been making for Christmas and I remember my grandmother making me a bedspread when I was a young girl using popcorn stitch.
Using 100% wool also means that the garland will be safe around the lights on the tree and it can be hand washed and stored for many years to come.
I do 12 chain st (the last 2 I count as a treble) then I do 6 trebles into the 10th chain
I do not complete each treble. You yarn over and pull through once and then leave the next sitting on the needle so you end up with seven stitches sitting along the hook
you yarn over and pull through all of them together.....
this forms a popcorn.
Of course you can vary how many chain stitches between and how many trebles to determine the size of your popcorn but this is what I found effective and manageable.

....or if you have neither the time or inclination I am selling garland on etsy for $1/metre just tell me how long you need it.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Healing Heart Block

In the previous post I provided details about the Healing Heart quilt project that is being kindly co-ordinated by Shirley Goodwin in New Zealand.
This is my block.
It took about an hour and was made from recycled pillowcase material. I estimate it cost me about 5cents.
This block will be sewn into a quilt for one of the families effected by the mining tragedy in New Zealand this week, becoming an heirloom and a symbol of love and compassion.
Who would have thought 5cents in this day and age could go so far.

I already had the little heart cake pan out as I have been using this for my hanging Christmas decorations.
I often sort through pillowslips at the thrift shop as there is often good quality material barely used and still in good condition for making into aprons and napery. They usually cost me 50cents.
I needed 6.5inch square of cream material for the base as per the instructions (see link in previous post) and a very tiny piece for the heart.
Can you see the fabric marker in the top left of the picture? It is easily one of my most exciting finds and I have used it for so many projects. It writes a lovely fine line on fabric which is perfect for my embroidery designs but best of all, the line disappears in about 2 days after being exposed to the air. Love it!
I made a cardboard template and then traced around the fabric but cut this a little larger allowing for seam allowance/turn under hem. After a couple of snips on the inner curve I used an iron to press the fabric over the heart template, easing the fabric and folding as I went to achieve a nice neat turned under hem edge.
After gently slipping the template out, I then pinned it to the square and using the fabric pen I free-hand drew a rough outline of the map of Tasmania.
I used a straight machine stitch to sew around the heart close to the edge. I then chose a matching blue thread and went around the edge again with an applique stitch.
I also chose some embroidery floss in a matching colour to sew in the map line using a running stem stitch.
A quick press and voila....from Tasmania with love.
If you are also sending blocks for this cause, please post a link in the comments so we can all share.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Our Hearts Go Out Across the Water

Australians have demonstrated time and again their empathy and generosity for others in time of crisis.
We feel a particular affinity for our close neighbours in New Zealand.
New Zealand has suffered terrible natural disasters this year; earth quakes, floods and storms.
Lives have been lost along with agriculture and precious breeding livestock.

The latest calamity has left us on the edge of our seats, we have hoped and prayed along with you all.
We watch helplessly as yet another community mourns the loss of 29 miners.
Please know that we mourn with you and wish you a more safe and prosperous New Year.
I would ask you all to spend a minute in your day silently sending love and positive thoughts to our friends across the ditch.

Edit: Shirley Goodwin, a member of the Kiwiquilters, has made an undertaking to gather donated heart blocks to make "Healing Hearts" quilts to distribute to the families. Please follow the link for the address and instructions. A beautiful idea for a cherished keepsake with common bonds of humanity and empathy.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Christmas Gifts

When Emma was up last week she went through the fabric stash and has decided to make a set of place mats and napkins for some family members for Christmas.
She has chosen some pale yellow with some floral that tones nicely....
but it needed a little....oomph.

Her solution was to handiwork here and there, accenting and highlighting some features and colours, and it really made a difference. A little less washed out looking.
We passed a beautiful afternoon companionably working together.
Hopefully she will be up next weekend and will finish sewing all the pieces together.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Our 1st Growers Market

On Saturday Craig and I got up early and picked for about an hour and harvested lots of mixed greens, scape, some broad beans and lots of leeks. We took along our eggs which weren't many as Craig has been sells them to work colleagues.
The day was perfect and clear and mild. Everything remained fresh and bursting with vitality....

We sold out in about an hour. We also had a couple of jars of rose petal jam and some of my lemon peel (which people should be using now for their Christmas cakes.
It was wonderful to have the opportunity to sell with other like minded people who are passionate about food being local and naturally grown.
It was a joy know that our healthy produce was going into homes within the village.
Here is the link to Collette's blog about her cafe and passions
We hope to be there next fortnight to feed the locals again and I hope you will come along.
Rituel Coffee was there with their fair trade beans that they specifically select and roast.
Also "Edible Landscapes" with trestles of seedlings.
Lot's of scrumptious baking and wood fired naturally leavened breads from Ut si.
But why wait a fortnight, call in to the cafe and meet Collette and Julien and be entranced by the French-style transformation of the little church in Perth (Tas) right in the main street.


Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Rose Petal Jam

Like fairy cups of shimmery magenta and fuscia velvet.
Petal by petal, each hand selected for pureness and perfection.
Heady scent fills the kitchen and makes me smile in a secret kind of way.
A romantic nostalgic kind of way.
Remember when perfumes and talc were simple fragrances like roses or Lily of the valley or sweet pea or violets.
I'm remembering shelf paper and correspondence stationary and bath salts.....
I'm making rose petal jam.
I love the surprise on peoples' faces when they bite into a scone with rose petal jam;
delighted astonishment.
There is nothing quite like it.
It's elegant, exotic and bespeaks of summer.
The recipe is in this post from the past

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Christmas Decorations

Lee at Killiecrankie Farm AKA Christmas Tree Farmer has put out the call for Tasmanian crafters to make Christmas Tree ornaments for the display at the Atrium Cafe.
I have quickly made some fabric heart shapes for Christmas tree ornaments from my fabric stash.
It is no co-incidence that I have chosen red and teal/aqua to co-ordinate with Lee's own scheme that she has passionately been working on. If you haven't visited here is a link to her crocheted leaf garland...inspiring!
"Peace on Earth" is stamped on fine lawn  and hand sewn onto the cotton heart stuffed with new poly fibre fill.
Blue Bird is a screen printed fabric cut motif and ironed on to contrasting woven cotton fabric and poly fibre filled.
These I hope will look very complimentary with Lee's crocheted decs.

Monday, November 15, 2010


This is Herman.
Herman is a friendship cake. It is a mixture of water flour and sugar that is left to the open air for wild yeasts. Fermentation takes place forming a natural leavening agent. This is stirred about four times a day and fed more flour and water and sugar on the fourth day. Then stirred and stirred and on the eighth day fed again.
At this point Herman is divided into five portions; one you keep, one you cook and three you give away with the recipe.
That is why it is called a friendship cake. I like to think also that all that stirring imbues the cake with lots of love and good the old tradition of all the family members having a stir and a wish while making the Christmas Pudding for luck and prosperity.
My Herman has the traditional flavours of grated apple and cinnamon and walnut. I also added cranberries.
The smell in kitchen had a decidedly Christmasy smell and I thought how wonderful the shared starter and recipe would be for friends at Christmas.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Sharing the Love

About a week ago my good friend Lee over at (1) Killiecrankie Farm sent me a blog award which is another way of sharing the love.
It's about sharing our admiration of others and showing you where we go for help, inspiration and support.
Everyone has their favourites but it's nice to find something new so here is my list of top 10 with heartfelt thanks to one and all for sharing.
2. The Bobwhites cos they never take themselves too seriously. Soap making, bee keeping and French cuisine and a sprinkling of wilderness experience.
3. Little Jenny Wren for motherly words of wisdom and whispers from the past
4. Urban Homestead South Africa for food gardening on the other side of the world but still in my hemisphere.
5. Joyful Chaos has the best story telling and candidly tells of growing up Amish
6. The Magic Onions for Waldorf type children raising activities
7. Housewife Eclectic for easy to understand IT explanations and tutorials
8. Saving the Season for living and eating in the season
9. Annekata for wonderful craft, hand sewing and European-ness (?)
10. Folk City for a bit of Retro-lovin'

There is a bit of something in there for everyone I think.
Please don't feel obligated to perform the shout you guys, I just wanted to share what I eclectically read and it's nice for people to discover fresh faces and ideas.
The last bit Lee also did was write ten random things about herself....
Here are mine xxx

1. The most freaky feeling is when you have the dream you're falling

2. My favourite word is...."Chicane" I love the way it feels in my mouth

3. To de-stress I take a cup of tea and sit with my chooks

4. I love martinis

5. I actively campaign against Boxing Day shopping

6. I still believe in hand written and posted thank you notes, an email just won't do.

7. White linen shirts never goes out of fashion

8. I still have my teddy bear from when I was 4yrs old

9. The very first movie I saw with a boy was "Grease"

10. I was visiting my grandmother at the Gold Coast the day Elvis died

Knit With Me 27

Garter Ridge
It doesn't look as special as some of the patterns we've been doing lately but I think the simple patterns, though they don't shine, are good for highlighting more intricate patterns.
Choose as many stitches as you like...
Row 1: K
Row 2: P
Row 3: K
Row 4: K
I think I'll choose the dark purple for this one

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Modern Needlework in 600 pictures

I couldn't go past this find at the local op shop this week. It is from the 1930's and is almost like an anthropological look at womens' role in the home providing soft furnishings and clothing right down to underwear.
It has a heavy board cover and fabric spine and....well, a LOT of pictures. This would have been a very expensive book in it's time to produce with all the photos over 220 pages.
At first glance through I am fascinated by the myriad of techniques for hemming, button holing, seam finishing...

seam finishing

Much of the sewing is by hand and I find myself marveling at the time and patience and love that would be needed to complete an outfit in the 1930's. Hand sewing is making a comeback in some households but I for one think being able to machine neaten a seam is up there with sliced bread.
But these garments were meant to be worn for years....maybe some modifications for changing fashions, but certainly not the lightening speeds of fads and fancy that our fashion world dictates. The mouse wheel of consumerism does not make money if we are not buying into the latest fashions every season.
I know there are a lot of you out there who are lovers of the vintage. It's about the fabric and the decoration but I also know it's because you love the quality. Because you hand make yourselves, (sewing, crotchet, knit or otherwise) you have a great respect for every hand placed stitch.

trims and notions
Not only am I struck by how many techniques we have slowly lost over the generations of mechanisation and it's availability in the home, but also by the accoutrement's that we would no longer dream of doing ourselves.
The ric-rac style trims, ruffles, latticework trims and cording. Sometimes we might still make bias binding but mostly notions are all purchased items now.
Next I am struck by the changes now in our buying. Linen, napery, pajamas, lingerie....are usually purchased.

corsets and stay bodices

 Not that I am in total mourning for the "old" ways. I love the new fabrics and ways with underwear. I remember when I was little and had to wear those pure cotton bloomer type knickers to school. By the end of the day there was very little elasticity in the material and heaven help you if the elastic went in the top because that was all that was holding them on!
This book also tells the story of an era when laundering was more time consuming and garments were cared for.

dress preservers
Now we want to throw everything in the washing machine and dryer. Then garments were worn until they needed cleaning and were hung to air before putting away and sponging of spots.
It's no wonder the fabrics now wear out so quickly.
I haven't seen a dress preserver in years!
So I couldn't pass this book by. It reminded me of lost techniques and times before modern machinery was commonplace in the home. A time when quality and care meant things lasted and were not disposable.
So think back....before automatic washing machines, before home sewing machines and before the wonderful world of retailing for everything......
....and we think we are busy now! We don't even know we are alive!
If the world of petrol and electricity ground to a halt tomorrow, at least we still have books of reference like these....just in case.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Meat and the Environment

I am not advocating either way for meat eating or vegetarian lifestyles.
The debate is about looking at our food eating habits as a whole.
I'm suggesting to take an approach that looks at the cause not the symptoms.
Balance not knee jerks.

I met an ambitious young man this week who is up and coming in his political party. He is vegetarian as he believes that the production of meat for consumption places huge environmental strains on the planet and has a negative impact.
This same young man also admits that he is not a good vegetarian and his diet consists of lots of processed and packaged foods and leans heavily towards grain based food. Doing the math here is difficult certainly to get a quantitative figure but I'm pretty sure it's an environmental impact trade off for yet another.
Not only is his diet heavily weighted with processed food, but he also has no idea about his local seasonal produce. So when he goes shopping he decides "I need fruit I'll have; watermelon, oranges and strawberries" (but it's the middle of winter)
So back up the truck here....the oranges are Californian and have been shipped from the other side of the world, the watermelon is totally out of season and so are the strawberries that have been artificially grown in heated sheds. The final horror is that the watermelon has been GM for a seedless variety so consumers don't have to worry about pesky seeds.
I've been vegetarian a couple of times in my life and I know how the body craves "fuel" and is not so easily appeased when there is no complex animal proteins to break down. You have to eat smart and you have to eat well.
The suggestion I put to you is that it is possible that while trying to negate an environmental impact on the planet with the abolition of one practice, you actually place a greater strain on it through other practices.
It seems to me his abstinence from meat was knee jerk.
We would be far better off educating about a more balanced and conscious consumption of food. Thinking about the real costs associated with what we eat.
We need to improve farming practices. Feeding our livestock properly would be a start....did you know that vast numbers of livestock in intensive farming situations are fed cheap corn? This was never meant to be their staple diet and they are not healthy on it.
The livestock industry is massive and growing but so is our population. Is it exponential? I don't know but it sure isn't rocket science to figure out that you can't keep producing more people and not have more food demands. Maybe globally we are going to have to look at population control. The world is like a petrie dish of ever expanding microbes. One day it's going to get ugly!
Here is one last little piece to add to this argument. The same people who argue that meat livestocks are taking up and ruining vast amounts of land are also the same people who happily purchase cashmere that has been produced in China because it is so cheap. To corner that market though, and to produce so cheaply, China's precious land is fast being turned to desert.
Don't despair! All of us have an impact and our very existence makes it inevitable. What I am saying is let's think about our actions on a broader level, weighing cause and effect, cure rather symptomatic relief.
I mean you wouldn't drive 100km away to fill up with fuel at petrol station X because they are always 4c/l cheaper....would you???
By all means eat less or no meat but be just as mindful of the environmental cost our other habits are responsible for.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Knit With Me 26

Vertical Bobble
This is knit over 8+3 stitches. I'm casting on 43 stitches.

Row 1: *K3, P2, make bobble (p1, k1) twice into the next stitch then take the 2nd, 3rd and 4th sts over the 1st st, P2*, K3.
Row 2: P3, *K2, P1, K2,P3*
Row 3: *K3, P5*, K3
Row 4: As for row 2

This would be a great pattern for a teapot cosy or a hot water bottle cover. I'm sure there are plenty of people trying to think of Christmas gifts at the moment.

Monday, November 1, 2010

The Shot Tower

Craig and I headed South at the weekend for a visit with the girls and some adventures....
Just 11 km from Hobart in the suburb of Taroona is a familiar landmark to most Tasmanians. The shot tower was completed in 1870 from dressed sandstone blocks and is a 48 metre tapering structure built to manufacture the balls of shot for muskets etc. There is a spiral staircase of about 300 steps with a central shaft. The ingots of mixed metal were hauled to the top, re-melted in a furnace and then poured into a colander above the shaft. As the molten metal dripped through the holes, it formed into spherical shots as it plummeted to the vat of water below where it was shovelled out and sorted for size and quality.

It remained the tallest structure in Tasmania for over 100 years and was in use till 1905.
This climb is not for the faint hearted or those with a fear of heights (or spiders). About 95% of the stair treads flexed significantly and maybe I've watched too much TV but I could imagine only too well my foot going through one and hanging in mid air. Halfway up Tegan started having flashbacks to the time she really did fall down a stairwell and experienced mild panic and hyper-ventilation. Emma was only concerned that she was going to encounter a spider from the supremely ancient cobwebs ( really, that's taking preservation too far!)
The views from the top were stunning but it was blowing a gale and I really really needed a nervous pee so I couldn't enjoy it anyway.
When we got to the bottom, all three of us were trembling from our fingers to our toes. Craig, who knew his limitations with heights needed no more proof than the looks on our faces to validate his decision not to pay for the privilege of fright.
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