Friday, May 27, 2011

Favourite Winter Colours

Now that the temperature has dropped, it's time to bring out a few pieces that I use at this time of the year.  The above knee rug is one I take with me in the car.  I'm not a fan of heaters in cars, they make me feel stuffy, so I need something over my legs for a while.  Goodness, even the Queen felt the need for a little leg warmth en route to 'the wedding'.

The design is called Hidden Wells by Mary Ellen Hopkins, a pattern I purchased from one of the patchwork stores.  These colours are some of my favourites for patchwork, so I really had no trouble using left overs from other projects.  I've quilted it using the simulated hand quilting stitch on my Bernina 170 machine, but I'm not sure if the quilting is visible on the photograph.  

I also love wearing this jacket, and thought I'd share it with people.  I'm not sure if the colour is showing correctly.  It is maroon rather than rusty red.  The jacket pattern, and different patchwork techniques/combinations are in a book I have - More Jacket Jazz by Judy Murrah.  Some of the combinations are really 'different'.

The back is quite different to the front, probably showing a lot more green, so I have quite a few options for colours in skirts and pants.  And, yes, plain skirts and pants are a must in my wardrobe.  I must say it took a lot of courage on my part to actually wear this, as I'm a little on the conservative side with my clothing.

I will also show a small section of the centre sleeve design.  This looks complicated and time consuming, but as it is done using the Seminole technique, it works up quite quickly.

Thank you all for the lovely comments on my little baby set.  I do appreciate the enthusiastic feedback.  I've packed it away nicely again, waiting................

Sunday, May 22, 2011

A Prized Possession

I have been meaning to share this little outfit with readers, as I thought you might like to see something that was made for me by my grand mother [maternal].  She had twelve children, and to be honest I forget how many grandchildren, in the vicinity of sixty!!  She didn't do a lot of varied crafts, but one thing she excelled at was crochet.  I think my mother told me that she made a little three piece outfit for each and every one of her grandchildren - to be worn at their christening.  This one in the above photograph is mine, made almost 59 years ago.

She didn't 'read' crochet patterns as such, often making up her designs as she went along.  This little matinee jacket is more like a batwing edge to edge coat, fastening with a ribbon tie at the neck.  I've tried to fan it out and place the little cap sleeves so you can get an idea of the design.

The crochet in itself is very simple, and seems to be done in a type of shiny rayon thread.  I remember the term Fibrone Silk being used when I was younger.  Just recently I noticed you can still buy something like this, and the description on the packaging says 3 ply rayon.  The little embroidered 'grub roses' were done by my mother I believe, Granny didn't embroider.  

The little booties are so tiny.   Bonnet and bootee design have a little more shell-like pattern.  I am the second in a family of four, and each of us have 'our set'.  All of our own children have worn the garments on the occasion of their christening.

My mother used to make lots of these outfits too for friends or family, often starting with a length of chain and working away down the the garment from the neck.  She could work that bullion/grub/roll stitch, something I've not tried in earnest, but I really must keep at it until I have it mastered.

I hope this little bit of vintage crochet is of interest to some readers.  Thank you all for popping in to prop me up after my knitting disaster.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

A Knitting Lesson

Each time I post and share a project, I like to display the finished article, hopefully devoid of mistakes.  This time I'd like to share a project with you, and make a confession.  This is not working!!!  I have lots of knitted lace table mat projects in ANNA magazines, but the instructions are given as symbols on graphs, something I've yet to come to terms with.   The above project was taken from a website offering free patterns [it is not from ANNA, and the instructions are given in written form].  I have to tell you this pattern had mistakes - incorrect row counts - and was incomplete.  I thought I could continue and end up with something like the original in the photograph.  

I can knit, but sometimes I lack the expertise needed to understand how patterns are formed, and perhaps this is why my project has now been pulled off the needles and, as a table mat, well it makes a good knitting lesson!!

I now understand where and when I should have worked certain patterning stitches, but to actually 'unknit' this on the four needles right back to where I needed to was going to take me longer than it's taken to get this far.  Therefore, in the interests of good commonsense, I'm starting again, but possibly with a different design.  

I do like this design, but there others I have that I like more.  After I suck it in and get over this setback, I'll be at it again making amends and getting on with another project.

I actually purchased two books from Fishpond, both dedicated to fine lace knitting, with both written and graphed instructions.  I'll be damned if I'll be beaten on this.  When the books arrive, I'll make a choice, ie use their patterns, or try one from ANNA.

Wish me luck.

I thought it might interest some of my readers to know all does not go according to the blue print.  This type of work is something I've longed to do for a number of years, so I will start another project ASAP, and hopefully have something very nice to share in due course.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Planning Ahead

I have been absent from blogging this week for various reasons, some not so good, but thought I'd share a few of my book/project purchases with readers.  I didn't embark on a monthly project this year, but silently resolved to try some new stitching techniques, as well as some things that are totally out of my comfort zone.  The above photograph shows a DVD I purchased early in the year, and the combined silk/wool in order to try some wet, and nuno felting.  I purchased the DVD here  but to date haven't even put it in the player to get my head around the process.  The beautiful silk/wool combo came from Dale at  This colourway is called Kimberley Dreaming and has been dyed for The Thread Studio by Jacinta so I hope I can do this justice when I eventually make the time.

Another technique that has been on my to-do list is Filet Net Darning.  I had been sent some filet mesh by a friend quite some time ago, and then earlier this year, another lady I've met via stitching sent me this lovely book and some more filet net, plus the needle, plus a little gift made using the technique.  I'm still whimping out on this one, but hang in there girls, I'll get to it ASAP.  I need to purchase some rectangular stretcher frames before I embark on this one.

For years I've admired the needlelace technique called Reticello.  Through the help of a fellow blogger Jenny I managed to purchase this lovely book in the hope of learning some of the filling stitches required.  Jenny kindly gave me a website address -  and after a few emails, and despite a language barrier, the purchase was set in concrete.  This book is wonderful, easy to follow, and printed in three different languages!!  Again, watch this space.

And, last but not least, are two more book purchases I made earlier in the year, with two more techniques I fully intend to try.  Both fall into the counted thread category, which suits my frame of mind at the moment.  I'm a little fickle in that I tend to work between classic needlework and techniques that are a little more flamboyant.  Who knows where my head will be in 2012!!

At this very moment I'm knitting my first ever lace tablemat on four needles, plus continuing the hardanger.  The days are getting shorter, but thankfully, both of these projects are okay for me to do at night.  I would like to have the hardanger finished for late July, as that is my daughter-in-law's birthday.

I hope Blogger will publish this post for me, it wasn't being very helpful yesterday!!  I notice other people have had issues as well. 

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Outdoor Images

Today is Mothers' Day, and I have to admit to spending it very quietly on my own today.  With the threat of rain tomorrow, some pressing jobs need to be done around the property, so my husband is working this weekend.  Yesterday was such a beautiful day here, so I decided to take him morning tea - scones with strawberry jam and whipped cream no less!!!  It also gave me an opportunity to see some of the paddocks that had been under floodwater.  The photograph above shows the unripened pod of a type of wild gooseberry that seems to have become rampant since the flooding.

This photograph shows the ripened pods, which do contain berries.  I seem to remember eating this type of thing when I was a child, but they don't look all that appetizing to me now!!  These are going to be a real pest if the introduced grasses don't get good weather next Spring, enabling them to flourish and perhaps choke out such things.

One job that has to be done is filling in large sinkholes or washouts caused by the water.  Some parts of this mess are twelve or more feet deep.  This used to be a levy bank that protected the cropping land from smaller floods, but it's been all but destroyed now.

 It's going to take quite a while to complete this task, very slow going, pushing soil from one place and moving it another, simple as that.  And, a rather tedious job at that.  Thankfully, at the moment the soil is rather moist, so the task isn't quite as dusty.

I also had a moment to look at the crop that is growing on the river flats [planted since January].   This crop is mungbeans, but as you can see from the photograph, it's rather uneven.  I actually didn't photograph the entire crop, it's just too unsightly.  Bad weather and disease have not been kind to it.

The green are the immature pods, and of course the black ones contain beans almost ready to harvest.  I believe the mice are having a wonderful time.  There are so many pods off the bushes and on the ground.  Here you can see the beans spilled out and wasted.  I wonder how many dishes of mungbean sprouts are sitting out there!!

One old tree beside the lagoon took my eye as I walked around checking the newest pasture planting.  I think the patterning on this tree is evidence of termite infestation.  No doubt the tree had all but died during years of dry weather, so they've moved in to feast on it.  I suppose we should try to find some beauty in the interlocking lines.  I think you can also see the floodwater mark on the tree.  I didn't notice that until I had the photograph up on the computer screen.  Oh, the lush green in the background is yet another flourishing weed.

I hope some of these shots are of interest.  Thank you again for your kind comments on my last post.  You are all so supportive.

I wish all a very Happy Mothers' Day.


Thursday, May 5, 2011

Conservative, Classic, but...............

........probably not very cool.  It's time to drag out my favourite blouses again, and wear them for another season.  I've had a love affair with pintucked, lace insertion [heirloom] blouses for a number of years.  However, I find that at the moment the relaxed cut of these are a little out of the fashion stakes.  I can soon wear a blazer over them, and hopefully disguise the fashion faux pas.  The blouse above has been made using cotton sateen, with my favourite Chesterfield front closure.  

This is a close-up showing the lace and pintucks.  The lace for this was purchased with the 'entredeux' look already on the edges, and is quite narrow, so I've used it liberally.  

I do wear this one as well in the winter, despite the short sleeves.  It has a lovely Swiss embroidered insertion - the swirling design is one I really like.  I am sorry the photograph is a tad dark.  I didn't seem to be able to find a good spot at all this morning to take photos. 

The close-up should show you the lace design.  This lace also had the entredeux look to it as purchased.  I always use rayon machine embroidery thread in my twin needles for pintucking.  The fabric in this blouse is the ever popular cotton/ramie mix.  I can't begin to count all the blouses I've made like this, using this fabric, with a variety of lace styles.  

Finally, I'll share this one.  It has a slightly different tucking style, lace quality, and colour.  I found this beautiful fine cotton/linen fabric in a small fabric store in Narrabri, NSW, and could see it's blouse potential.  It took me years to find the lace to match.  The colour in real life is a soft pink, with ecru undertones.  I had to tea-dye the entredeux prior to making up.

Again, I hope the close-up gives you some idea of the lace and tucks.  On closer inspection, I offer an apology for my lack of ironing prowess!!   These blouses are difficult to iron to perfection, and I often give them a quick press prior to wearing them.  They seem to become crumpled in my cupboard!  Perhaps it's time to cull a few garments.

These blouses are almost always worn with my obligatory plain black or navy skirts, with matching blazers or cardigans.  I know I'm not going to set any catwalks on fire, but at my age, well, I suppose I can give myself permission to wear something that makes me feel special, and too bad if it's not all frills and flounces, inserted panels, and bright, bold patterns and colours.  I do like some things a little on the 'wild' side, but seem to keep to a rather understated colour palette during winter.  

Thank you all so very much for taking such an interest in my crochet.  I hope my heirloom sewing from way back will be enjoyable viewing for some.  Sadly, I don't have good photos of the christening gowns I've made.  Heirloom sewing is something I do enjoy, but have not done for some time.