Thursday, June 30, 2011

Giving Back marks the end of half of our year has gone, and I'm sure most would agree it seems no time at all since 2011 arrived.  At the moment here in Australia we are experiencing winter, and in recent years many organizations have tried to use the theme Christmas in July to help generate interest in fund raising, etc.  For my Christmas in July fellowship, I'm offering a little give away to say thank you to all those who care to visit and comment on my blog.

At the moment, I'm dreaming of a beach house, one with beautiful decor, no dust, no dirt, all the mod cons, and days of reading at the beach.  I realized today that it's been 18 years since I've seen the ocean!!  

If you would like to receive the cream damask hand towel with small inserts of Kogin embroidery [pictured above], please leave a comment here.  I will leave this open for a week or so.  I have used DMC #783 [old gold] for the embroidery, and hope that it will not be too obtrusive in anyone's home.  The hand towel is 100% cotton, made in Brazil.  It actually looks quite at home in my bathroom with it's imitation timber cupboard faces. 

Thank you again for such an enthusiastic response to my knitted shawl, and I must say your support helps motivate me each day.   

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

One Size Fits All............

Following my little preview a few days ago, I can now share what has been keeping me busy for the last three weeks!!  I am still not certain I will fly through the next graphed knitting project, but am confident enough to give it a red hot go again some time soon.  I am not even sure I'll wear this shawl, despite how beautifully soft and drapey it feels.

The back is very appealing, and I'm sure this shawl would prove quite a head turner.  In all honesty, I don't think I'd be comfortable wearing this.  I plan to wrap it up carefully, with mothproofing, and hope it will adorn some precious baby in the near future. 

The completed shawl, shown here, measures 48 inches square, now that it has been pinned out and pressed.  It started life as three stitches!!  The inner garter stitch square was knitted diagonally, increasing and then decreasing.  The 'first' border was then picked up on a circular needle and worked [and worked] until it was time to finish with the outer border.

A few years ago I purchased three x 100g balls of handspun wool from The Fibre Hut, near Gatton, Queensland.  I know nothing more than what is on the label, ie 100g, 2/22 pure wool.  I can't seem to contact the lady again, so perhaps her business has folded.  The needles I used were 4.00mm, which gave a light, open effect to the knitting, yet there is still a lot of solid ground to offer warmth. 

This shawl pattern was taken from an ANNA magazine dated 1983.  I was stabbing in the dark at times with the instructions, but after a few failed attempts, things finally fell into place.  For the technically minded, I have to tell you the last four rows of the first border contained just over 860 stitches.  It took me seven days of constant knitting to knit off those stitches with the outer border!!

In this grouping I've included the shawl as it appears in ANNA, as well as two different versions of the same design, taken from a small Patons & Baldwins book from yesteryear [price 2/6d].  The view on the right has been knitted with the garter stitch on the 'straight', and the b&w view shows a shawl which in fact is circular, knitted on two needles, with a slightly different border than the ANNA version.  This is indeed a tried and true design, standing the test of time.  I have always enjoyed the thrill of lace knitting, making numerous matinee jackets when we were all having babies.  It has been a number of years since I have actually knitted a garment that is supposed to fit someone, so I thought I might satisfy my urges with this, and worry about the size later.  I must say too that I did not have the corrrect wool as stated in ANNA, nor did I wish to spend time waiting on something to arrive, so I forged ahead with what I had, using a needle size which felt comfortable for the wool being used.  I had to add more rows to the original inside square, and adapt the lace pattern instructions from there on, as my wool was obviously much finer.  I think the finished article would have only been useful for a premmie baby had I followed the pattern.  

There seems to be a lot of hype surrounding lace knitting these days, with some spectacular projects being made.  I still have more than enough of this wool to do something else.  The whole project took a little over 100grams, and is honestly as light as a feather.

Thank you all again for your continued interest in the things I make, and the life I have here.  Your support is wonderful.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Costly Cotton/Contented Cows

I was out and about a little yesterday, and thought I'd share a few photographs of what is going on around the place.  With our never ending need for food and fibre production, it seems there is always something being planted or harvested.  Whilst some wheat is still being planted, some of the local cotton crops are almost harvested.

I know many people lament the cost of their embroidery threads, but bear in mind that cotton is a trial to grow.  From the moment it goes into the ground, to the time it ends up in your needle, I just hate to think of the costs involved.  This is one crop ready for the picker.  In it's life cycle, it's been sprayed with pesticides on a regular basis, not to mention the various herbicides needed to arrest weed growth.  Goodness, it's even been sprayed with a defoliant to get it to this stage, ie ensuring the plant is dead and dry enough for the picker to work properly.

After it's been harvested, it is mechanically moulded into what we call a 'module'.  These are transported by road transport to the various cotton gins in the area.  You can see the 'harvested' bushes in the right of the frame.  There still seems to be quite a deal of cotton left - perhaps the picker wasn't working properly [??].

If you look closely at the solid mass you can see just how dirty it is.  Again, I hate to think how many processes it has to go through to make it 'worthy' for our use.  I've never had the opportunity to go to a cotton gin to see what happens to it.  I am by no means a person who is opposed to these methods, but I do think about what it takes for crops to be produced.  I can only say that cotton seems to be an environmental nightmare - damned if you do, damned if you don't!!!    Love it or loathe it, we all need it.

On a brighter note, I noticed the neighbour's lovely Hereford cows were back.  This little dam is really close to the road, so I took the chance to snap some of them as they socialized around 'the watering hole'.  You can see a wheat crop in the background.

Thankfully, with grass fed beef production, the need for chemicals and handling are kept to a minimum.  I never tire of seeing 'white faces'.  With all the breeds we have these days, the Hereford is still one of my favourites.  These dears are enjoying their days in the sun.  I imagine there will be some lovely little white faced calves in the Spring, can't wait.  The life cycle just keeps on keeping on.

I hope these few photographs are of interest to some.  I have always lived on the land, and I'm still extremely interested in how things grow!!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Hexagon Hype

There seems to be much interest lately in hand piecing, and especially the tried and tested hexagon shape.  My interest was sparked by this post on Katherine's blog:   I have always liked this shape, and it's usage in quilts, so am pleased it's making somewhat of a comeback.  I wanted to share the quilt above with readers.  I was given this not yet completed quilt top by someone.  It had been started many years ago by her mother in law, but she did not like it.  I knew the maker very well [she passed away a number of years ago].  My only brief was to try to finish it and perhaps give it to the local aged care home - probably putting finishing touches to it the day I'm admitted!!! 

You can see some of the fabrics used in this slightly closer photograph.  There really isn't much left to do.  It covers the top of this double bed.  I have some older fabrics of course - a legacy from MY mother in law.  I would need to buy some beige polycotton for the joining hexagons.

I've also included a photograph of one little mistake, which I feel I will rectify.  The lady must have had a bad day and attached two brown hexagons where beige ones should be.  Now, I am not trying to make fun of this lady's work.  I merely put this in because it's there!!

The lady who made this was very nice to me when I first moved to this district.  She was a 'crafter' and showed me much encouragement and support, despite our great age difference.  She was the first to take me under her wing, and gave me the opportunity to judge at local shows, showing me what to look for.  I look at this quilt with fond memories of her, and many ladies who gave me nothing but help and encouragement with whatever stitching I tried to do.  For that I am extremely grateful.  I would not have had the courage without their support in the early days.

I've been grappling with a difficult knitting assignment at the moment, which is probably the impetus for this post.  I have been telling myself for ever so long that I CAN knit following a graph, so I found this design in an old [1983] ANNA magazine which I thought looked 'simple enough'.  I knew I understood the way the pattern was formed so might know what to look for in my progress.  I found the graphs to be a little 'confusing', but I have continued on my merry way, ignoring the graph where I felt justified, and in the end I think 'my way' will be correct.  Perhaps I am being unjust, and it's simply that I don't understand how these things are graphed.  

I can't help but wonder and marvel at the patience of some people to work on something until it's right.  At the moment I have quite a bit of time to sit and nut this out, but what about those who don't.  Is it any wonder some people throw things in the cupboard and shudder every time they think about their aborted effort.  Over the last few years I've seen lots of errors in printing, etc., and thankfully, have the courage to challenge 'the pattern'.  I really feel for those who have not come so far, and just give up.   I don't think I'm anything more than extremely lucky, right place, right time, that sort of thing.  Where stitching is concerned, life has been good to me.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

More Vintage Crochet

I've had a few issues with power and Internet lately, so have been keeping a low profile.  The connection seems to be working quite well tonight, so I'll take the opportunity to share a few more of my crochet pieces and older pattern books.  The photograph above shows a little milk jug cover I have made.  It's been worked with #80 crochet thread.

This close up will show how the crochet forms a little cup and saucer.  This type of cover was really used a lot when I was a child, as the milk was always put on the table in a jug.   'Our' milk came from the dairy, and was stored in large glass bottles in the refrigerator.

The pattern for this little cover is in this very old booklet that was given to me years ago by an elderly aunt.  It's almost falling to pieces, and has moved with me many times.  It will be with me for life, as I treasure it greatly.

I have also made this little swirly doiley from the above book.  I love this pattern, made up of simple double crochet, and chain/picot loops.  This little piece is only quite tiny, and is worked in #60 thread.

Another old booklet that I have has some lovely old tea cosy and cushion patterns.  I have made several of them over the years, and thought I would include it in this post.  The tea cosy in the bottom left corner makes up particularly well.  I've always been drawn to the 'van dyke' pattern in crochet.

I have received a request from a reader regarding a pattern for the little baby matinee jacket I shared some weeks ago.  Unfortunately, at this stage I do not have a 'written' pattern.  However, I would not mind working out what my grandmother has done, and then endeavour to write it out.   The lady may come back here to read this, and if so, please do not hesitate to email me and I will try to assist with this project.  I am unable to contact her, as there is a 'non-reply' on the comment.

I seem to have been quite busy helping outside of late, and not getting so much stitching done, but I have been working a little on a bit of knitting in the evenings.  It is very cold here tonight [well, cold for Queensland].   I have a good store of wood inside and am off to settle into a bit of that knitting for a few hours until bed time.  I hope everyone is keeping well.  

Saturday, June 4, 2011

It's Gr8 to be 8!!!

Just recently our little lady celebrated her eighth birthday, and as most of her classmates were having parties this year, her mother decided she should do likewise.  Thankfully, the weather was perfect and the girls all had a wonderful time.  It was decided to only ask the girls from her class and after-school care.  Of course, the main attraction was the jumping castle, a real hit.

And what birthday would be complete without the gift opening.  I thought this pose was just typical of girls, so had to include it.  All we could hear were giggles most of the day.  They are all lovely little ladies and seem to get along really well.

The egg and spoon race was fun too - the guest of honour doing her best to get to the finish line without losing her egg.  If you look closely, you will see her faithful little dog supervising proceedings.  Unfortunately, the 'race' was held in an area where the background seemed to be the 'service' area, sorry!!

And, of course, the birthday cake.  The order was a chocolate cake, with purple icing, green writing and lots of sprinkles.  I think the store did a great job of interpreting the dream, and it certainly went down well....yum.

This photograph seemed to sum up the day's activities.  It was very tiring for one of the guests, and all I can say is he was 'dog tired'.  He is her constant companion, but he just couldn't take anymore!!!!!

I must say a big thank you to those friends who have emailed me about my previous post.  Blogger has been in a rather belligerent mood lately, and some people have been unable to leave comments.  I feel privileged to receive personal notes of encouragement - people making time to pass on such lovely comments despite difficulties.  Your support means so much to me.  


Wednesday, June 1, 2011

A Crochet Table Runner

I've been busy lately trying to finish a table runner I started a few years ago.  I had only actually made six of the main motifs, so I've really done most of it in the last week.  This is made up of 18 small 'pineapple' motifs, four picot wheel motifs, and several picot half and two-third motifs [lots of ends to weave in], and then a simple outer area is done to finish it all off.

The design is in this booklet, Crochet Monthly, an English publication which I used to buy years ago.  I have quite a number of them, but I've done almost all of the pieces in this issue.  Many of them are based on the 'pineapple' design which I know is a little old hat, but these are quite delicate, and I find they look lovely on timber furniture.  My daughter in law has claimed all of the mats I've made so far.  

Perhaps this close-up will show a bit more of the design.  This mat has been made using DMC Cebelia #40 thread, using almost all of a 50gm ball.   The sweet little lady bug clock is a gift from a lovely friend in the UK, something I shall always treasure.