January 31, 2009

Clever little fox

I'm struggling t0 be clever this morning. Crafty, rather. It's taking most of my morning concentration to start laying out and cutting the fabric for the dress I'm making. I keep telling myself that the fabric was super-cheap, and so this is an experiment, with not much to lose. But it's all a bit daunting.

So I thought I'd share with you a drawing of a clever Mr. Foxito (he's Spanish) who popped up in my sketchbook the other day. I think he likes jazz, don't you? And goes to lots of opening nights at art shows (when there's free food). He's keen on sushi, too.

Ah, Mr. Foxito, I'm rather glad we met!

January 30, 2009

When the going gets tough, the tough make....


It's been pretty horrid around here recently, as evidenced by the chorus of flat sighs from Southern Girls. Hottest since 1908. But I can't even imagine how bad that must have been, with no cooling, no fridges, and no icecube trays in the shape of plastic penguins.

I came out of the (sweltering) bedroom into the (sweltering) living room this morning to find a listless dog lying on the floor, imploring me to make the heat go away.

He objected in principle to being dumped in the bath with the cold remains of my (cold) shower, but only for a moment.

'Oooh. Aaah. Mmmm, pleasantly interesting....'

And then the bucket of water was dashed over his head. Followed by wet dog racing through the house - oh well, it'll dry off in a jiffy. Like ten seconds.

So, that's why I was glad to have made Doggy-poles last night. Dogpops if you're Canadian. Dogsicles to the British, they are:
- dabs of vegemite
- scraps of ham
- slices of hot dog
Topped up with water and all frozen together in an ice-cube tray.

The little furry guy loves them.

PS - in case you don't consider this crafting news, the news is that the baby quilt is all finished and awaiting a photo shoot on the weekend before it's off in the post to Canada. We love the stripey binding!

The last photo taken; before the binding was on.

January 28, 2009

Striking gold at the oppy

With Victoria's heat wave now expected to be the worst since 1908, on Saturday I was ahead of the game: I had my wary eye open at the oppy for hot-day clothes.

Something suitable for work. Because, you know, that stash of lovely linen fabric is being a little slow in making itself up into some loose linen trousers. (How remiss it is!)

Here are a couple of delights from Savers. The truly gorgeous shirt was found when I picked up a wad of interesting-looking fabric dumped on top of the racks, thinking, hmmm - nice fabric - I could make something out of-ooh! It's my size! I'm rather in love with the shirt, 'though a thin elastic band around the bottom is unflattering. It's a work of mere moments to take it off and hem the shirt, and I've worn it twice already anyway, so clearly this is not going to hold me up.

Two shirts and two pairs of trousers for the grand total of $26. I'm just annoyed that I left behind an extra-large Mason jar that would have been just what I need for a batch of preserved lemons. Maybe next time....

What do YOU say when you see a large spider?

I was editing a primary school textbook yesterday, and the lesson I was reading was all about using exclamation marks.

The students were supposed to fill in the blanks by writing down what they would say in several different situations, such as;

What would you say if you scored a goal in footie or soccer?

And then:
What would you say if you saw a big spider in the bathroom?

Two things came to mind:
1. The blank for my response isn't long enough (or big enough), and;
2. I don't think I'm supposed to use words like that to answer questions in a primary school lesson.

Foiled again. I'll never graduate!

PS: The photo above is definitely not a spider. Which I suppose means I also fail in image recognition. It's a helicopter, but don't you think it looks like a bug? I've always wanted to use this image (taken by Mr Tacc) in my blog. Hoppo Bumpo, this one's dedicated to Argy and Bargy.

January 25, 2009

He's Here!

And I am an Aunty!

(If you want to goon, head over here...)

The accidental quilter

So. Have you ever felt responsible for drawing an innocent bystander into something?

There was that woman, just minding her own business peacefully in the fabric shop. While over at the cutting table, TinnieGirl and I were throwing bolts of fabric around and having a big discussion about the best colour for the sashing for a quilt.
We had about twenty bolts out, and all the blocks on the table, and it went something like this:

- Should it be luscious?
- How about dramatic?
- Mm, this is sweeter.
- Nah, that's too dull.
- Ick.
- Eek!
- Choose something totally wild and unexpected.
- No, silly, not that!
- What about - er, no.
- This one or this one?
- That one. No, this one. No, that one... No, ...

You've probably had those conversations.

That's why I invited TinnieGirl for my industrial-strength bargain fabric shopping extravaganza. To provide moral support and colour theory. Oh, and because it was lots of fun! Being a wise op-shopper, she chose a great cafe to tank up on the coffee and pancakes first, so that whilst I had a fabric rush in Rathdowne Remnants, she could run around with a nicely-timed sugar rush. (Ms. Pops, you were missed. We needed you to be the voice of reason.)

My low-carb long-distance maintenance diet of eggs got me through a massive - for me - purchase of fabrics to make a dress, a shirt, four pillowcases -- and sundry haberdashery items. Yippee!

Back at the castle, the dragon guards the loot. (Some of it)
Dragon: (Thinking) Can I come out yet? Are there biscuits in this for me?

Anyway, back to the innocent bystander in GJs. There she was, minding her own business while we haggled cheerfully over quilt choices. That is, until we dragged her into the fray.

"What do YOU think? Black.... or china blue?"

She was pretty game.

Heck, I think she'd been hovering, so perhaps she wasn't so innocent. Within moments, there was a heated discussion again, Stranger Lady and TinnieGirl gave me a (much-needed) lesson in colour and in wedding quilt etiquette (which about boils down to: Don't presume). We ummed, we debated. We settled. I paid.

As I was pulling out the plastic, our not-so innocent bystander sidled up to the assistant. "I think I need to learn quilting," she said.

Ha. Another one bitten!

(- And what was she hanging out in the quilting fabric section anyway, if she wasn't just ASKING for trouble. Right?)


Tomorrow: striking gold at savers. And a nugget regretted.

Just to set the record straight

When saying I was going to 'have words with the kitchen help', I meant me.

Just in case you misunderstood (ahem).


January 23, 2009

Pah - pah - PAH!

Home from my early walk and a big bowl of strawberries for breakfast. Left over from last night, when they were cut up and soaked with a few drops of balsamic vinegar to make them sweeter than ever. Cool, too -- from being in the fridge all night with a dollop of nectarine coulis on top.

What's this? Hmmm...



I must have words with the kitchen help about the washing up around here.....

Thus confirming that strawberries, vinegar, nectarines and garlic are NOT a taste sensation.


January 22, 2009

My creative space

Mr. Tacc's understandably a little reticent about appearing in photos on my blog, but reading everyone's posts about 'my crafty space' made me want to draw you a picture to show what I saw last night.
He had the laptop set up on the one and only desk, which is where my sewing machine rests much of the time. (Debated point) Kindly offering to let me sew (don't get in the way of the woman who needs to sew!) he said he'd move off the desk.

And there he was, completely surrounded by encroaching piles of fabric, half-finished projects, quilts awaiting glory, scrap bags, boxes and bundles - and a faithful, slightly worried-looking dog asleep on the floor.

It was cosy, but we crafted. (Him words, me fabric)


January 21, 2009

Ladies who lunch ... and garden

You know you're with the crafty girls when the first thing they say is, "ooh, let's see the bracelet!", and the second; "You coordinated your outfit to go with that, right?"

- 'cause they know my handmade wardrobe options pretty well by now.

Of course, there were some hellos and such beforehand, but that's the gist of it.

Lovely lunch today with Ms. Pops, tea-towel terror of the West, and her partner in placemats, TinnieGirl. Guest of honour was jet-set jewellery queen, Handmaiden. I could have sat in the beautiful restaurant all afternoon, enjoying the breeze from big windows and the beautiful art on the walls. Where? Cookie, of course. One more reason to love that place.

Sadly, it was back to work and the reality of heavy construction-work moving commas and laying a perfect line of logos, regulation-width.

Four books off to press in the morning, and for the last week I've been like a flower professional before the Royal Horticultural Society flower show. A quick prune there, a top lopped off over here. Some gentle rearranging to show the best face forward. Crisis: An APHID! Pzsssht! Whew, wiped out. Did someone pack the florists' wire? Where's the florists' wire? WHO PUT THAT DAMN COMMA DOWN OVER THERE?!
Until finally, the whole towering construction: text, images, covers, spines, logos, Gold master CD-ROMs -- and my sanity -- are ready for the lawn-mower ministrations of the printers.

This illustration is total cheese. I couldn't resist. I mean, do they really shoot such falsely-staged shots anymore?

Somehow I always thought of printers as Vulcan-like swarthy folks in dark noisy caverns full of smoke-belching ink monsters. Taming the presses with iron forks on large poles -- that sort of thing.
(Aside: My printer's called Richard. He's very dapper on the phone from Adelaide, rather more of a choreographer than a blacksmith. But that's an aside: no doubt the heat's getting to me...)

My computer's ominous grinding noises are driving me wild: time to check the dinner plans and heave the husband off the desk where my sewing machine ought to reside. I've been crafting a lot recently, and though nothing's finished, there will be a thing or two to show in photos ere long.

But tonight, for a shot of flame, one of my favourite TV shows -- have you ever noticed how Food Safari nearly always features a shot of flaring flames above a stove with something wildly sizzling?

Can't you just imagine Maeve sidling up to the cook in her too-tight t-shirt, breathing 'Oooh, go on - do that thing where you make the stove flame up for me!'



January 15, 2009


About family. This is a photo of my Great-Grandmother holding my Grandmother. In 1915. Don't they look gorgeous?

We're awaiting the arrival of the next generation, any day now - a son due for my sister, in Canada. The farm animals baby quilt's almost done, and I'll have some pics on the weekend. All I need now's a name (will you decide when you meet him, geeker?) and a date to embroider on the label, and we're off.... (Well, from my perspective, of course. I'm sure this all looks a little different to my sis!)


January 14, 2009


I wasn't sure what I was going to post tonight, and have been looking at some photos for inspiration. Not just for the blog - for me. Last year's rush of excitement at getting back to drawing again has died away somehow, and I find that I haven't drawn a thing since before Christmas. It's all empty. Shake the jug; nothing comes out. I tried last night and the pen felt awkward in my hand.

I wonder if there are different kinds of creative personas we wear for different times and phases of our year and our lives. The looking-outward phase, the quiet mulling stage, and the time for resting.

I'm not sure what it is at the moment. Suffice it to say, I'm captivated by the amazing artworks made by craftspeople across the millennia. Like this jug in the V&A Museum, London, carved sometime before 1500 by Islamic craftspeople from one single rock crystal. One crystal. A false move in carving, and the whole thing would shatter.

I'm amazed at the skill built in one lifetime - which is, after all - so short. We went to the gallery on the weekend, and I saw a quilt from the 1840s, metalwork, pottery, paintings, prints. My head's gently whirling-full of ideas and images and so many patterns and colours that I'm halted in place, captivated by spinning colourful dreams.

Crafting continues, but the creative part of my mind has gone elsewhere for a while. I'm enjoying finishing projects and completing already thought-out patterns, but while my hands are making things, my creative mind is developing something entirely unknown. I wonder if something new is forming and thinking, in a creative chrysalis, sometime to emerge? It might be fragile. I wonder....

January 13, 2009

All about the American dollar

All you need to know is that it's whupped the poor Aussie dollar and kept it cowed for a good few months.

Not a good thing for a girl with a serious Etsy habit.

I went on Etsy blackout, but then the solution occurred to me. How to feed my habit? - Win stuff!

This little beauty arrived yesterday, courtesy of my favourite jewellry shop on Etsy, Puffluna. I've bought a few things over the years (if you're my husband, take note that I like her chunky jewellery, and my favourite colour is red. < base flattery>You can do the rest, you've got great taste < / Base flattery>).

Julie (Puffluna) runs a giveaway about once a month on her blog. That's how I scored an Etsy hit for downunder down-and-outs when I won a voucher. In US dollars. Lucky me!

There are several of my bracelet in the shop but Julie's such a sweetie that she made one slightly longer, just for me - just the size I like it! I have been wearing it non-stop since it arrived yesterday, and I keep looking at it and sighing. The Japanese owl reminds me a bit of Totoro.

Now, enough Ms. Nice Person. I have a beef to take up with you lot.

All this cynicism about cricket is completely and utterly unacceptable. You leave me no option but to embed subliminal secret messages into each and every post, brainwashing you as to the glories of the 5-day test match and the excitement of the bouncy wicket and trembly bales.

Yes, that's jargon - there will be a quiz later.

Matty agrees with me. After all, he's retiring at 37 (why can't I retire at 37?)
Question: Beauty and the Beast. Which one's which?

Oh dear. I had the first chocolate bar of the new year, today - and I think it has gone to my head.... (of which, more anon, when I have recovered from your shocking show on the cricket post.) At least Handmaiden's got the right attitude!


January 12, 2009

Spoonfuls of delight

Bubble_dancers Emma's owl

I've been hanging out at the Spoonflower blog recently, having a look at the wonderful creations other people have made and printed onto fabric using the service. Roll over the images above to see the credit, and click through to browse hundreds of interesting, diverse and amazing designs people have been working on.

Now if only the Australian dollar would bounce back up a bit...

Cricket for Crafters: a picture-post

Well, my secret is out. Cricket. That sport many of you refer to as akin to watching paint drying - an opinion I used to agree with but now, for many years.....

This represents excitement and the sunny days of summer:

So - why would a crafter be interested in cricket?

Well, it's well known that we are fascinated by patterns, particularly nice neat squares and lovely colours.

And art quilters look for interesting and unusual patterns everywhere.

(No, that is not me with a scorebook, stats cards and a radio. There's cricket, and then there's obsession....)

Why else do we like cricket? We love fabric, and we appreciate its bright colours and draping qualities:

And if it all gets a little slow for a while....

Well, we can always pull out the scrap bag and make brooches.

Five brooches, made at the MCG; many overs, plenty of interesting people watching, a mild sunburn and a lovely day. That's why I love the cricket.


PS. Photo credits, all to Mr. Tacc., except for the one at the bottom. (And I'm in trouble for forgetting yesterday...)

January 8, 2009


I've been having a lovely time messing around on the computer, playing with patterns.

I think this is why I'm so in love with fabric: it's partly about the heft and feel of the fibres, and a lot to do with colour, but the pattern repeat and the way it spreads across the surface of the fabric is fantastic. Endless possibilities for sewing it together into different things.

These patterns aren't my own: they're traditional design, scanned and muddled-about with in a pretty superficial way. But they'd make nice quilting fabric, or paper, or something fun. Or, modified into embroidery designs and quilting patterns. For now, I just play with the colours, and that amuses me....

Hey, what happens if I press these buttons?


Endless fun...

January 5, 2009

Slouching around on a Vespa

Ok, here's a thing. If you're sitting on a classic Vespa, you have to sit perky and look groomed, right?

Well, now that the gift-giving season is temporarily abated (I won't say over), I can show you my slouchy take on Vespa style.

This bag was made with love and late-night finger-pricking for my closest friend. I saw the gorgeous heavy cotton in Amitie and thought of her immediately - we both adore Italy, and she got married there recently, lucky girl. We love and talk about food constantly, and we both like to pack killer lunches for workdays, so it's big enough for a plastic tub or two, or a sandwich and a book, or any number of other good things....

The lining and strap are of the fabric I used on my living room curtains, which sounds bad, but is good when you know that it was a super-soft and luxurious expensive end-of-the-bolt that I picked up for a song at Rathdowne Remnants before they moved. It's snuggly, but strong. I ended up with meters and meters of it. Mmm.

In retrospect, I might have included some interfacing to stiffen up the sides of the bag, but now that it's done and the dust had settled, I think it's great as it is.

Best of all?

I used exactly half the scooter fabric, so I can make another one... for me!

January 4, 2009

Little Things

This little coin purse was finished yesterday, with much thumping and banging (who said there would be metalwork involved in sewing? Ha!) It's the progeny of my purse frame class efforts in December with Nikki and the gang (Bellgirl called it a choir, but that sounds more like a 50s pop group) -- and it will soon be heading off in the post as a little surprise for someone. On further details, my lips are sealed!

Today's the last day of my holidays, and it's back to work tomorrow. Ending the holiday as we started it, we are showing around some out-of-towners today, friends of friends, with a road trip out of the city. Part of me wants to stay and sew, ekeing the most out of this hoiday for my most relaxing hobby, but the other part has been out for a walk and seen that it's a beautiful morning, set to be gorgeous day. Do you ever want to cram more than one day's worth of fun into the days you've got?

I suppose that's my theme of the new year - trying to resist cramming - with all of the connotations of stress, discomfort, and shoddy workmanship that it implies! - and enjoying the moment. Be a little less demanding of myself. Learn to follow what's important, not stress about the unimportant things. Right. And with that, I'm off to zip up a couple of seams before we have to hit the road!

Toodle pip.


January 2, 2009

Away... and back again!

I hadn't intended to take a blog-break, but with the onslaught of Christmas I felt pulled apart. All I wanted for Christmas was to stay at home, nose stuck in a book.

I knew a break was coming, and when it finally did, I pulled in my horns, tucked the sheet up over my head, popped the 'Back in 5' sign on the door, and hibernated. (There's four metaphors for you. Want some more? No? OK.)

Lime baked cheesecake, mangoes and sparkling rose.

So, we've had quiet days and a stack of books. Shortbread came... and went. A similar fate met the cheesecake. I spent a day with my best friend, and we scored booty on the side of the road in the form of an abandoned armchair. We went fabric shopping. I sewed, sketched, slept in, sorted out, dusted (my goodness), and slept some more. It's all very ordinary, but sometimes it's quiet everyday home life that you need.

Baby grow for the nephew whose arrival is anticipated any moment now.
Red fabric fused to light interfacing; satin-stitched to the grow. My drawing.

Here's a little something I made today, and I'll be back around the traps with comments and posts. I couldn't leave my little part of Blogland - but it's been nice to be away -- at home -- for a while.

toodle pip, back anon.