Sunday, December 18, 2011

A happy note!

This happy note is here to brighten your day. Thanks to my daughter Fiona for this lovely performance.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Australian Christmas Bells

This small plant belongs to the lily family and grows in the sandstone areas around Sydney including the Blue Mountains, and flowers in December, hence the name. I wish you and yours a very happy and peaceful Christmas season and may the new year bring you lots of creative ideas and wonderful projects to explore and share.

Monday, December 12, 2011

In an octopus' garden near a cave

Who knows what lies below the turquoise waters of Sydney harbour? I hope James enjoys this for his room. It was fun to add Nemo and Dory, and all the other sea creatures to keep him entertained. (Thanks to the Beetles for inspiration and yes, James knows the songs too) Finished size 23 inches x 37 inches (58 cm x 94 cm)

Technical notes: Great video on binding mitred corners

Learnt that my machine didn't want to sew with metallic thread so had to sew some designs by hand, and that sequins will melt if you accidently hit them with a hot iron!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Eriskay update


The Eriskay jumper is coming together with front, back and one sleeve completed. The only problem is that it seems I probably spun this natural-coloured Merino yarn from two different fleeces or perhaps from just a different section of the fleece. As a result, as you can see in the two balls of yarn, the one on the right is slightly warmer in colour. It doesn't look very different here but when knitted there is an obvious variation in hue. However I guess that is just a characteristic of homespun. This is the original homespun jacket that I recycled.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

In the pink

Two little garments for the smallest member of the family, a cardigan ready for next winter and a bolero to wear now for the in-between months. Sewing up and finishing a cardigan takes lots of time but the result is always worthwhile.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Chullo hats

Here are some of the chullo hats I have been making this week for gifts. I use a 4mm needle for the child's size and 4.5mm for the adult, and always start with a rib band to keep the hat snug and to allow for different head sizes. The contrast colour patterns are all different and knitted by stranding two or more colours in a fairisle type geometric design. I only use a maximum of three stitches to strand and carry the wool so that the hat is not pulled too tight. These chullos are made with Cleckheaton Country 8 ply wool and the contrast colours are alpaca and wool. The next ones will probably be in black, white brown and grey which are the more traditional chullo colours if using natural alpaca.

I used braids instead of an icord and added the contrast patterns depending on the yarns and colours I had available.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Wildlife in my garden

Although we live in an inner city area, we share our garden with a variety of wildlife, particularly many birds. Growing Australian plants certainly helps to attract native birds and recently we observed a noisy miner building a nest in a low overhanging branch of the eucalyptus ficifolia tree in our backyard. This is the same tree that next month will be covered in red blossoms and will attract the rainbow lorikeets. The female miner builds the nest and as they collect cobweb to line it I decided to help her out with a more luxious fibre. I attached some teased washed fleece to the bark of a nearby tree and the next day it had all disappeared. Checking the nest I could just see the fleece now forming a cosy lining to the nest.

As the branch is very close to the backdoor, we are now under attack everytime we step outside, as the nest and the two chicks are fiercely defended by the mother miner and several soldiers of her extended family. Trying to hang anything on the clothesline is a matter of running the gauntlet with swoops and clicking beaks diving from above. They are very feisty little birds. Thank goodness our resident magpie pair have their nest in a tree in the street. Here are some of the other visitors to our garden. 

A few years ago we also had a visit from a diamond python, but that's another story...

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Under the sea in an octopus' garden

Have learnt a few things about applique recently including the fact that felt is an excellent fabric to work with and gives a strong colour impact when placed against patterned material. The design is coming together well and when I finally add the beads for the eyes of the sea creatures and the gold sequins to the treasure chest, it should have a sparkle.This is just the cave at the bottom of the sea, and above this will be many other sea creatures swimming in the harbour.

Good news from the art competition - won first prize for the drawing section and several highly commended, but best of all, won the champion prize for 'best of show'. Didn't expect that!

Thursday, October 6, 2011


In the last month I have experienced an amazing transformation with my vision as I have had cataracts removed from both eyes. Fortunately I have been able to have the new synthetic lens for each eye adjusted so that I will not have to wear glasses for reading, sewing or for other fine work. In between the two operations I was able to complete the drawings and watercolours for the art competition and they are now all framed and delivered to the country ready for the judging later this month. Here is one of the small floral paintings for a preview. (19cm x 14cm/ 5.5inches x 7.5inches)

And my next project? An appliqued and quilted wall hanging of Sydney Harbour for my grandson James. Have finished the design, just need to buy some of the fabrics, and I'm ready to start...

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Dyeing wool with Eucalypt leaves

Thanks to Lyn and Maria for their comments about the homespun bag and interest in the colour obtained from Eucalypts. I decided to add a few notes about my experiences using the leaves as others may also be interested. There are over 500 varieties of Eucalypts in Australia but only a few give really good colour for dyeing wool. as most will only provide pale shades of fawn. The best colour is from those trees that have greyish leaves and among these Eucalyptus Cineria is ideal as it produces a range of rusty colours through to a red earth depending on the strength of the dye and how long the wool is left to soak. The best colour seems to come from dried leaves. Because I particularly wanted this dye I planted this Eucalypt at our place in the Blue Mountains some years ago and had access to the leaves as it grew. Now it is a large tree and the leaves are well out of reach so can only be cut with an extension pruning tool!

Friday, September 2, 2011

The Gunnister Man

Sometime in the late 17th or early 18th century, a traveller died near Gunnister in the Shetland Islands, Scotland. In 1951 his body and all his possessions were discovered preserved in a peat bog there and among these articles were several finely knitted items including gloves and a drawstring purse. These are the earliest examples of knitting from Shetland and are made from homespun wool in natural colours with a red wool dyed from a plant material used for the pattern. All the articles are now preserved in the Shetland Museum. Scroll down to see a photo of the original purse here:

I recently found my version of the Gunnister Man's purse that I made some time ago so here are some photos to show you. The wool is my own homespun in natural colours and the red earth colour was dyed using eucalyptus leaves. The purse was found with several coins but I made some tokens and beads from Fimo instead. As a link from Scotland to Australia (my Scottish ancestors arrived here in 1853) I decided to add some emu feathers and a kookaburra feather. I also spun some of my hair with the merino fleece from my family's sheep as a personal touch.

Monday, August 1, 2011

What happened to July?

After a visit to family in the country, I have been busy working on some drawings and paintings for an art competition in October so I think that is where the month has gone. Tomorrow some of the family from Melbourne, including my two little grandchildren, are arriving for a week or so. July of course was also the month of Le Tour and being a natural night owl, I watched Cadel's progress each night fully confident that he would win, and he did! Congratulations Cadel, what a champ! (Managed to do quite a lot of knitting too).

Have recently found this company here in Sydney - Superfine Wool Australia - and it is very well recommended by some friends. I'm always keen to support a quality Australian Made product. Purchase of the yarn is by mail order and there is a great range of colours. Prices are very reasonable and the 8ply Mudgee wool is excellent value. Have added their current price list and colour range on my side pages. Have a look, You will be pleasantly surprised.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011


July and August are birthday months around here so here's some gifts I've just finished making.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Afternoon Tea

Growing up in the country in the 1950’s, one of the daily events was afternoon tea. This consisted of several cups of hot, strong tea and was accompanied by one of my Mother’s delicious cakes or square cracker biscuits (‘Simply Serve with Saos’) topped with a large slice of a home grown tomato. It was also an opportunity for a break from work and a pause in the day for the family members. In those days, the very same teapot that appears in the photo, wore a tea cosy made by my Nana who was an experienced knitter and expert at making very fine Irish crochet. Her tea cosies were usually multi-coloured and probably knitted from leftover wool as life had taught her to be frugal. So this is my ‘Afternoon Tea Cosy’ with homemade fruitcake, made with memories of a very happy childhood. Join me for a cuppa?

The Royal Souvenir teacup from 1902 of Edward VII (Queen Victoria’s son), that was given to me years ago, is very unusual as when it is held up to the light it reveals a portrait of the King. The ceramic has been moulded inside in such a way in various thicknesses, that it forms the portrait. Amazing!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Mystery Knitted Object ...Revealed

It's a ...

Rosie Posy Tea Cosy

Variations:  As tea can be strongly staining when spilt, I used a darker wool for the body of the cosy rather than pastels, and also kept all the roses the same colour as I think this is a more elegant combination.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Mystery Knitted Object 3

What on earth could these be? Still have to make at least another four to complete the project. The blue/green tube is now folded in half and sewn together.

Here is a clue on how they will look... Hope this all turns out okay...I'm sure someone knows what this is by now...

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Mystery Knitted Object 2

The mystery object has now become a tube but it's not a hat, a scarf or a cowl and it will be folded in half to complete. I think this probably gives the game away... The burgundy wool will be added next.