Monday, February 2, 2015

The month that was

February - you're here ALREADY!! January, where did you go?? You flashed by so fast while I took things nice and easy - a bit of crafting here, fun with friends there, good times at home ...

We've been developing our garden since we moved here about 10 years ago to an almost bare block (obviously the two previous owners weren't gardeners) and although it's still a work in progress it gives us so much pleasure. Lots of lovely flowers to pick, there will be what looks like a bumper crop of tomatoes soon plus quinces to process and enjoy later in the year and the herb garden is productive.

Crafty endeavours this month have resulted in wee socks and an embroidered softie for a new baby in the family, two appliqued wool pincushions,  a little drawstring bag for my husband to put his watch and coins in while he's playing golf - first time ever he's asked me to make him something! - and my new super-duper bag. Love love love that fabric so much that I have bought an extra fat quarter for a tissue pouch and notebook cover.

My friends Kerith and Jeni and I got together this month for an overdue soapmaking session - we feel like MacBeth's three witches as we stir and cackle and hope for the best. Once the mix of lye and water is mixed with whatever oils you choose (for the last few batches we've been using a mix of sunflower, coconut and olive oil) it's like magic to see the mix come together and turn into soap. We made two lots each this time ( my batches are scented with lemongrass and mandarin oil for one lot and patchouli for the other) so won't be running out of soap any time soon. It's so satisfying to make and use and we have lots of laughs as well.

Longtime friends of my husband Peter's descended on Ballarat for a get-together over the long weekend; it was such fun. They've all known each other since primary school and are such good mates; I've known them all for 40 or so years and we all had a great time together.  Ballarat is an attractive old city and we love showing it off - the old buildings, the lake and the gardens are all so beautiful. One of the places we were very keen to show them, and that they all found really interesting, is MADE - the Museum of Australian Democracy at Eureka. While the main museum is in Canberra, this one is built on the site of the Eureka Stockade rebellion, where miners took a stand against troopers after long-term efforts to end unfair treatment and gain the right to vote. The battle lasted for only 15 minutes or so, and there were casualties on both sides, but it's regarded by many as the foundation of democracy in Australia.   Here endeth the history lesson. Just don't miss this place if you visit Ballarat - lots of great interactive displays and the flag which flew at the battle and is kept in a darkened room is very moving. Oh, and our cache of records was a hit too -  we all took turns at playing our favourite songs (and some oldies and baddies that made us scream with laughter too.)

So - that's January. I don't have to wonder what February will  bring - we're off to NZ for three weeks towards the end of the month then after just a night at home we're having a road trip in NSW for a niece's wedding plus a craft retreat at Nundle with lots of other crafty bloggers. Lucky us! We're away from home for nearly three months - friends (one of the old school friends and his wife - Peter and John grew up next door to each other in Forbes, Central West NSW) are moving in to look after the house and spoil the dogs (the dogs will probably be VERY disappointed when we come home!)



Saturday, December 27, 2014

SSCS 2014

So there has been lots of eating and drinking and phone calls to faraway relatives and generally feeling in a holiday mood. Ah, Christmas - so nice.

And Chookyblue's (chookyblue.blogspot.com.au) annual SSCS swap was, as usual,  part of all the feel-good stuff. My gifts went to Anne Heidi (lappemor. blogspot.no) in Norway. I made her some gifts with an Aussie touch and she loves them. I used Ballarat girl Emma Jean Jansen's Terra Australis fabrics for the pouch and the little drawstring bag. Patterns for both were by Aussie designers, as was the pattern for the stocking. The kangaroo buttons in the parcel are by Barb Smith in Bendigo (theodoracleave.com) and so is the button on the Christmas decoration I made, which was designed by Marg Low (marglowdesigns.typepad.com) another Australian.

My swap parcel for this year was from Clare in NZ, who blogs at craftladyinkiwiland.blogspot.com.au. As well as the lovely cross-stitched ornament shown in a previous post, and a yummy marshmallow star, Clare sent this lovely wall hanging which looks right at home with all my other handmade Christmas things. The holly branch she added makes it extra-special. It's not a great photo -sorry.

Thanks so much, Anne Heidi and Clare, for being part of my Christmas and special thanks to Chooky for making it happen again.


Sunday, December 7, 2014

Fun with fabric and felt

Me again. Just after deciding yesterday that I was over all this handmade-for-Christmas malarkey, along came Amy from Nana Company with a delightful tutorial she wrote for EHow. Are these  Christmas stockings cute or what (Amy's are gorgeous but I'm pretty happy with mine.) The very very pink one is for my daughter, the blue one for her boyfriend and I'm keeping the one with the star button.
I'm off to raid my big bag of felt - I feel another stocking waiting to be made. And you're heading over to Amy's blog to admire hers and find out how she made them, aren't you? Run, don't walk. Have fun.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Lucky me

The postie delivered a huge box of goodies today from Emma, my secret partner in the Instagram swap I mentioned in yesterday's post. I opened it straight away ( and yes, I was allowed to, so there!) and was amazed by Emma's generosity.  How could I not be - just look at what she sent.


I am looking forward to a cup of that fancy tea later and am dreaming of a fish pie made in my new Jamie Oliver pie dish. There's a needlebook and pincushion, chocolates, pins and two tissue holders.  That was all in one package, wrapped in a tea towel. The other parcel contained this wonderful cushion and I love everything about it - those happy scraps (especially the owl and typewriter key prints) the grey background the border and backing prints and the artfully concealed zip.   I'm feeling very lucky - and very thankful.  I  shared some chocolate with Mr LRH because I'm nice like that and because the poor bloke is a bit limpy after straining a calf muscle this morning while collecting food hampers for his church group to deliver tomorrow. I'm not nice enough to share that cushion though! Like Chooky's, this was a happy swap to be involved in - fun to give and receive, and that's what these swaps are all about.  

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Hello again

I'm way behind on the blogging front. Since my last post, there's been some good stuff and a little not-so-good stuff. C'est la vie.  Anyway, here I am again, enjoying life and making stuff.

I'm in two Christmas swaps this year; one on Instagram and Chooky's Secret Santa Christmas Swap, which I am doing for the 5th? year. The sewing mojo disappeared for a while - coincidentally with the appearance of a bad cold and hay fever for me and a bad cold and hay fever AND shingles for Mr LRH following a few days in Canberra - but luckily came back in plenty of time for crafting for Christmas.

Santa delivered my SSCS parcel nice and early - it was from Clare, who blogs at craftladyinkiwiland and contains this gorgeous ornament which will be displayed in my sewing room all year round. It's meticulously (and patiently) stitched on fine linen. And look at the instruction on the parcel's label  "Do not open until 25th December" - do you think she really means it? (I can almost hear Clare and Chooky in chorus : "Yes, she does!" Thank you so much, Clare, I can't wait to open the parcel - but I will, I promise! It's nice to have stitching connections across the ditch; as I've mentioned in a previous post, I was brought up in NZ after moving from Scotland with my mum and dad when I was two years old.

And I enjoyed making for my SSCS partner, who lives somewhere overseas. The parcel I sent was really light but was pretty pricy to send nevertheless; postal charges just seem to go up and up constantly. No doubt I'll be moaning to myself about this again in the next few days when I post parcels to my two brothers in NZ and cards to family and friends overseas.

The Instagram swap was also fun; I made gifts from brightly coloured fabrics (which took me out of my colour comfort zone - not  a bad thing at all) as these seemed to be my secret partner's preference.

Now I'm off to the sewing room to make a drawstring bag for brother number 3 - my brothers are all getting drawstring bags (it's okay, they don't read my blog) and a special coaster each. Choosing the fabrics has been fun - my youngest brother in Auckland enjoys painting, so his bag features paintbrushes; I'm using Melody Miller's wonderful arrow fabric from her Cotton and Steel range for  brother number 3 in Wellington (which doesn't mean he likes archery; I just loved the fabric and I hope he does too) and my brother in Townsville enjoys fishing, so his bag is patterned with - guess what?

But before I go, here's a little stitching-related extra. I live in Ballarat and today is the 160th anniversary of the Eureka Stockade Rebellion. The battle lasted 15 minutes, many of the rebels and several soldiers and police were killed and while the battle didn't go the miners' way, it's regarded as the foundation of Australia's democracy. Representatives of several stitching groups plus community members including little old me painstakingly handstitched a replica of the original flag with its stars of the Southern Cross. It was a very proud moment when I saw  'my' flag flying from a rustic flagpole early this morning at a ceremony at the site of the battle. It was a wonderful thing to be involved in.








Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Friday felty fun

My husband arrived back home on Friday afternoon after a road trip to attend his uncle's funeral in NSW.  I knew  we'd have lots to talk about so this little project was just the thing for FNSI. Cut with my favourite  Baby Go die, it's the fourth such brooch I've made recently.  Felt is lovely to work with and I have a collection of gorgeous colours so I'm sure there will be more.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Friday night with friends etc

I signed up for FNFW but in between making and eating vege soup, beer bread and Karen Martini's lucious lemon and poppyseed cake and watching a movie all I ended up doing was cutting some hexies for the drawstring bag I'm planning to make. The pattern is Judy's Dilly Bag, designed by Judy Newman from a very fine house. It's hand pieced - hmmm, not sure about that - and will use up lots of  the accumulated bits and pieces of fabric that I can't bear to throw away. This will be a long-term project so don't hold your breath.

Friday was a cold, snowy, indoorsy sort of day; this is only the second time I've seen snow in Ballarat in the 10 years we've lived here and it was beautiful to watch. Yesterday and today began with a bumper frost (-2 this morning)  that brought clear blue skies.

Yesterday afternoon we headed up to Daylesford for a concert featuring the Melbourne Scottish Fiddle Orchestra and two travelling musicians from Scotland, Chris Stout (fiddle) and Catriona McKay (harp). We'd last seen Chris and Catriona featuring in a fabulous group from the Shetland Islands, Fiddlers Bid, when they played at the inaugural 10 Days on the Island Festival in Tasmania years ago, so we knew it would be a great concert - and it was. And at the end of the concert, the musicians left the stage, still playing their instruments as they left the hall,  farewelling the audience in such an unexpected, happy way.