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rain 001a

So much glorious rain over the last few days.  Spring rain has brought wintery chilliness, but there is so much new growth in the garden, including the sunflowers and tomatoes hopefully planted a couple of weeks ago. 

There’s only one thing for rainy weather – baking, and lots of it.

baking collage

Pizza dough and bread from The River Cottage Family Cookbook, and raspberry Store Cupboard Chocolate Cake from How to be a Domestic Goddess.  And there may have been some chocolate chip bikkies too…

And great weather for knitting, with a start made on Colonnade too.  And if you still don’t understand the appeal of shawls, look at this.  (Isn’t that second one just divine!)  Oh, I really want to try to make a light and lacy shawl!  This one isn’t light in weight, but was too good to leave in the op shop…

P1100326

And some more of those diamonds of rain drops … (not actually on roses, we think this may be some kind of poppy, but are waiting for the flowers to be sure).

rain 001b

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spring 028a

Loobylu had the great idea of reviving the In/Out list in her post yesterday, and although I certainly don’t claim to be an arbiter of taste, here’s what’s hot and what’s not chez nous:

Hot Not
*Mango milk (with yoghurt) *Milo
*My new Olfa Rotary Cutter (whee!) *Patterns and pins and scissors and slipping and sliding
*Lightning McQueen (still) *Bob the Builder (poor Bob)
*Crunchy salads with red (purple!) cabbage and grated carrot *Not bothering to make a vegie meal component
*Planting sunflower seeds *Realising that maybe they should have  been planted in a different area
*Gorgeous new Francophile fabric from Retro Mummy that I couldn’t resist (and Corrie’s having a giveaway at the moment) *Indestructible pure lambs wool op shop jumpers that wont felt, despite hot heavy duty wash and hot tumble dry
*Standing up with the aid of furniture (if you are 10 months old, that is) *Jamming tiny fingers in drawers
*Wanting to knit the Colonnade scarf/shawl from the new Knitty *Being the last knitter on earth to catch on to shawl making
*Finding a cute crocheted shawl in the op shop *Not finding enough op shop things in natural fibres for a planned project
*Bendigo Woollen Mills Harmony (cotton/wool/lycra blend) is back!!!! *It’s a limited run, and my stash is too embarrassingly large to consider stocking up

 

spring 040a

Photos from a lovely jaunt to Prahran Market – ah! fresh produce (and sorry if this column thing is hard to read – I’m still struggling with formatting text here).

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I have always been an avid op-shopper since I was a student, gleefully seizing upon 50’s dresses, 40’s costume jewellery, 60’s printed jumpers and fabulous accessories.  It seemed that every trip brought forth a wealth of exciting finds.  Now it seems much harder to find good things in op shops, particularly clothing.  I think that there must have been a huge increase in the manufacture of cheap clothing in the last couple of decades, so that op shops seem full of poor quality, synthetic garments only a few years old if that.  The rise in popularity of ‘vintage’ clothing also means that the more interesting older pieces get creamed off to sell in specialty shops.  It’s even getting harder to find vintage knitting patterns and yarn now, and soon perhaps it will be harder to find early 20th century pressed glass.  I also have a thing for clear arcoroc dinner- and serving ware, but maybe I’m alone there …

In any case it is rare to get that thrill of a good find.  Recently I have been visiting the op shop as the next knitting swap I am taking part in is an Op Shop Karma swap, in that apart from something made from 100g of Bendigo yarn, the swap package must be made up of items sourced from the op shop.  The karma part refers to providing thoughtfully and generously within this constraint, as a monetary value that usually limits a swap package is irrelevant.  But I think that karma may also come into play in finding the right thing at the right time.  

I was thrilled to find the two baby blankets pictured above.  They are in perfect condition and beautifully made of mitred squares, and there are two!  Coordinated but not identical, perfect for my twins!  I have received many lovely pre-loved items for my girls, but it is rare that I get a set of two of anything, so often feel sad that one will miss out on a particular item.  I worry that these blankets were carefully and lovingly made by a skilled knitter as a baby gift, then not appreciated by someone who didn’t like the colours, or the fact that they were hand made.  In any case, they have found an appreciative owner now.

And the swap?  Well, I have a few ideas, but need to get out to another op-shop for more supplies.  This is what I have come up with so far:

op shop collage

 

award collage

As a relative new-comer to the world of blogging, I am always pleasantly surprised when I receive visitors and comments, so it made my day to actually receive a blog award!  The lovely Josephine Tale Peddler has awarded me the Honest Scrap Award.  (And I have stolen her image concept for this post*)  As this virtual award is for bloggers who write from the heart, I am extremely touched and flattered, especially given that Josephine herself  is such a fascinating and accomplished (not to mention prize-winning) writer in real life as well as in the blogosphere.

In accepting this award, I must reveal ten true things about myself, and pass on the award to ten other blogs that I love.  So here goes:

  1. I always thought that I would never have children, so it comes as quite a surprise to me that I’m now a mother of three.
  2. Although born in Australia, I am actually 3/4 Scottish!
  3. I have an irrational dislike, ok phobia, of buttons.  I’ve never liked clothes with them, and the current popularity for button jewellery and embellishment gives me the shudders.
  4. My mother-in-law was a showgirl at the Tivoli Theatre in Melbourne in the 1940’s.
  5. I have had basically the same hairstyle for 25 years.
  6. Although I normally consider myself discerning about food, I prefer cheap supermarket sausages to gourmet ones.  (Preferably well done and in white bread with tomato sauce.)
  7. I used to be a near-gym-junkie, going to the gym at least three times a week, and loving the Les Mills classes.
  8. I have very poor eyesight in my right eye, but my combined eyesight is such that I don’t need glasses.  It always makes me wonder if I’m missing something …
  9. I passed HSC (year 12) Art with a series of hand-dyed macrame wall hangings incorporating woven sheep fleece.  Apparently my overall score would have been better if I had expanded on the soft-sculpture jellyfish theme instead of the macrame.  We live and learn.
  10. I am obsessed with the film Les Demoiselles de Rochefort by Jacques Demy.  I wanted to name my twins after the twins in the film, and only half got away with it.  (Demy’s wife, Agnes Varda is my favorite filmmaker (apart from Mr Foxy).)

And these are some of the blogs, apart from Josephine’s,  that I love to read at the moment and would  love to pass the award on to:

  1. Michelle Giacobello, a talented painter, crafter and mother who writes eloquently of art and life. 
  2. Bellsknits, fabulous knitter and writer always with an interesting story to tell.  I love how her tales of the knitting community elevates the craft of knitting, and she is theKnitting MacGyver!
  3. Suse at Pea Soup, she knits, she dyes yarn, she talks about the good stuff in life and takes great photos.  And I love her humour.
  4. Jelly Baby Blog, Jo’s projects are inspirational, and she writes from the heart of the practicalities, joys and challenges of parenting.
  5. Attic 24.  I love to lose myself in Lucy’s gorgeously colourful world, and her crochet is so inspiring.  And she most generously shares her designs.
  6. Jaboopee, Elaine is an awe-inspiring sculptor and glass artist with a collection of misfit toys always up to no good.  And she makes a mean granny square lampshade.
  7. Neulova Narttu, well to be honest I can’t claim that Soile writes from the heart as I don’t read Finnish, but her blog is certainly full of heart.  I love her eye for colour, her personal style and glimpses into her life in Finland.  Oh, did I mention that she knits and spins like a dream?
  8. Plum Pudding, Megan’s pretty blog always inspires with family-friendly crafts, recipes and activities, and she has a love of vintage goodies.  Her spaghetti-dogs have to be seen to be believed!
  9. Clementine’s shoes, Di is an architect, mother and knitter/crafter who manages to be down to earth and incredibly stylish at the same time.  Again, lots of knitty/crafty/home-making inspiration, links and tutorials.
  10. Assemblage, Knitting , sewing, cooking and parenting with style.  Kirsten is a talented and generous knitwear designer (in her spare time when she’s not running her own architecture business), and her blog is a calming visual delight.

Merci beaucoup Josephine!

*Oscar winners (L-R) Mercedes McCambridge (Supporting Actress), Broderick Crawford (Best Actor), Olivia de Havilland (Best Actress) and Dean Jagger (Best Supporting Actor) during 22nd annual Academy Awards at RKO Pantages theater.
Location: Hollywood, CA, US   Date taken: March 23, 1950   Photographer: Ed Clark, Life Magazine

knit 072a

This is a scarf I made for the most recent Bendigo Woollen Mills Users Group swap, in lovely Bendigo Luxury in Ruby.  The pattern is Blowsey Ruffles, and it is freely available here.  Thanks Janine and The Inside Loop!  Although it looks a little complex, this was a really fun knit, the stitch pattern being logical and easy to follow.  It was fun to see the textures evolving with those wavy ridges and accompanying lacy holes.  And it was relatively quick in 10ply.  I think I will make it again.

And because my swappee had three little girls, I included some crochet hair clips I had made.  (Speaking of hair clips, have you seen Ysolda‘s owl?  Such a cute idea.)  I really enjoy putting together these swap packages, choosing the little extras and wrapping it all up in tissue and ribbon.  And yes, she liked it!

knit 073a

Now to get another couple of projects in before the next swap …

spring 009a

I know it started yesterday, but it really feels like Spring today!  The air smells of Spring, and it’s warm enough to throw open the windows and doors and let the air in, sunny enough to hang the washing on the line instead of on the clothes-horse near the heater.  Pleasant enough to enjoy lunch outside, and let the babies crawl out the door and on to the deck.

Subtle changes too in our daily routine.  A bit of a pattern is developing, two daytime sleeps and a big sleep at night (still interrupted unfortunately) for the babies.  They are eating solids better, and not so reliant on me feeding them, which means that I might get a little more freedom.

spring 010a

On the weekend I ventured out alone with three children to meet friends at the art gallery to see the Dali exhibition.  I duly went in (hooray for prioity queues for parents with little kids), but had to concentrate so much on guiding a double pram and four-year-old through the crowds that I didn’t really see much of the exhibition.  But this adventure was really more about getting out and seeing our friends, also with children.  We did see the film Destino, a collaboration by Dali and Disney, which was really wonderful and worth the trip.  Eventually we headed out to the sculpture garden to let the 3- and 4-year-olds run around, while my friend’s older children looked at the rest of the show.  From what little I could gather, it looked like a very interestingly curated and presented exhibition.  Dali isn’t a straightforward subject and although historically important has perhaps been criticized for his overt marketing and commercialising of his own images.  I’m not sure how the exhibition dealt with this, but it did include examples of his many collaborations.

After a quick feed for the babies, Mr Foxy collected all my children to take them home for lunch, while Ms E and I went back to see a little more of the exhibition, then sped off to the cinema to see The September Issue.  Three whole hours to ourselves!  The film was a really well-made documentary about putting together the largest issue of American Vogue, with the natural drama of the interaction of the dictatorial cool-business-headed editor Wintour and the passionate and artistic creative director Coddington.  And some footage of Paris and frocks to enjoy too.  The whole thing was so nicely handled, truthful but respectful, dramatic but non-sensationalist, a welcome respite from the brash culture of tell-all reality tv.

spring 019a

There’s alot to like about seasonal changes and the opening up of possibilities.

LouiseBrooks1[Louise Brooks in Pandora’s Box, 1929*]

I know it’s a cliche to say so, but the internet is such a wonderful opportunity to feel part of things, catching up with he makings and doings of like-minded souls via blogs, forums or networking sites.  I always used to think that it was sad that people had to turn to the virtual to communicate with other people, but I’ve now come to value what it can offer.  I still love to see and socialise with real people of course, but in times when everyone is so busy, working or looking after their families, it is a boon to be able to connect in convenient moments offered by the always available internet.  And also, only a couple of my friends are actually interested in knitting and craftiness, so there is the bonus of access to unlimited inspiration and stories about my particular obsessions interests.  So it’s really an adjunct to, rather than replacement of, your usual social life. 

Although I’ve been looking at a small number of favorite blogs for years, and have even joined a networking site (well it is all about knitting), I’ve never really participated in the dialogue.  Just quietly lurking, looking, absorbing, getting enthusiastic and inspired, then going off to my own life. 

I guess that started to change a bit when I started this blog.  I started to look forward to comments, which made me more likely to leave comments on others’ blogs.  I joined some groups on Ravelry and even submitted the odd post in forums. 

knit 065a

Then I got involved in swaps!  Suddenly I was participating and eagerly checking for new posts on the forum.  Hearing about other’s progress and looking forward to seeing what everyone made.  Of course the major thing about swaps is trying to work out what another person would like, then making them something as a surprise.  Knitting (or crocheting) a present for someone who actually appreciates the work going in to it.  This alone may be something not experienced in normal life.  Oh, and someone else makes something just for you, too!

I just completed my second swap with the Bendigo Woollen Mills users group, and was the lucky recipient of a very generous package from Jaffa7.  Part of the art of the swap is ‘stalking’ your swappee to discover their interests and preferences.  Kelly was astute enough to guess at my love of 1920’s styles to make me this cute cloche and scarf, and also included some balls of my favorite alpaca yarn and the very shampoo soap I’d linked to a reference to in a previous blog post.  It feels very special to have someone you don’t know go to the trouble of thinking about and researching what you might like.  Thanks so much for your thoughtfulness, Kelly, I love it all!

swap2 collage

And there is to be another swap to be signed up for by the end of the week.  I haven’t yet, but think I might have to…   The theme is Op-Shop Karma– apart from something made with 100g of Bendi yarn, all items must be sought from op-shops, with the idea being that you use the materials to make new things a la Betz White or Amanda Blake Soule.  Could be fun, or nerve-wracking …

[*any resemblance between Ms Brooks and the matronly figure pictured below is entirely wishful thinking on the part of the blogger.]

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