Saturday, 20 December 2008

how to make slack arse oven mits

A great way to showcase a small amount of really special fabric. They get lots of use and visibility, totally practical, easy to make and always welcomed as gifts. A perfect project for a few spare hours.

You will need:

*Fabric for the glove outers - about 50cm x 70cm. Make it something special and make sure it is machine washable
*Fabric for the glover inners - about 50cm x 80cm. Ditto the machine washable and make sure it co ordinates well with the outers.
*Cotton batting to line the gloves - about 100cm x 70cm
*Hanging loops - I used cotton tape 12mm wide x 30cm long, but scraps of either your inner out outer fabric would do
*Thread for the sewing machine
*Scissors, pins, iron

How to do it:

1. Cut 4 outer mitts. Make em bigger than you think they could possibly need to be and then add a bit. You'll lose a lot of size in the seams and because of the batting and other layers and there's nothing worse than small mitts. Make sure you have right sides facing so you have two pairs of outers and not 4 all facing the same way. Pay attention to the pattern if you need to so bits face the same way and all that.

2. Cut 4 inner mitts. These are basically the same as the outers but a fraction smaller in every way except length. Make them about 5cm longer so you can turn the excess up as a cuff later.

3. Cut 8 pieces of batting. Make them the size of your outer mitts minus the seam allowance.

4. Quilt each of the outers to a piece of batting. Use a contrast topstitch. Go crazy. Press good and proper so they are nice and flat.

5. With right sides facing sew each pair of outers together everywhere except across the bottom opening. Trim the excess seam allowance from around the curves. And clip in to the crook of the thumb.

6. Turn the outers right side out and press the side seams open.

7. Quilt the inners to the batting. Yep, all 4 of them. Press them well. Then sew them together, clip and trim as for outers.

8. Put the inners in the outers. Makes sense, huh? Make sure you get them in good and tight as far as they will go. The bottom edges of the inners should be horizontal with the bottom edge of the outers.

9. Turn up the excess edge of the inners by 1-2 cm and then turn again to form a neat folded cuff all the way around the bottoms that encloses the raw edge of the outers. Slip the hanging loop between the outer and folded cuff on the side seam and pin in place.

10. Hem all round the bottom edge making sure you catch the loops well and add a few extra rows of stitching for strength.

in the garden

I'm really late to this party, but I think I might be a stayer.
Just love the Noro Silk Garden.

Love the way the colours move, love the feel of knitting it and the feel of the final fabric. It is at once so rustic and primitive, all nubbly and thready, and at the same time sophisticated and complex. Just love it. This is another of the Tweed Berets from Interweave Knits Winter 2006 (you may remember my last one) in a two row strip in colourways 82 and 86. Great pattern, fabulous yarn. It could be habit forming so lucky it is cheaper than crack (but only just).

Friday, 19 December 2008


The thing about fear is the way it can drift in to your life and gradually take it over. In small doses at appropriate times fear is a powerful and positive call to life. But an overdose of it starts to create the exact conditions you fear most - poor decision making, compromised immunity, a lack of resilience. It robs you of optimism and any sense of the future.

But as you get older and witness more bad stuff happening it is easy to let fear become a filter through which everything is viewed. Just the other day when D got home from work he recounted witnessing a couple of youngsters mucking about on a bike on the road and how he felt as he watched them that they were oblivious to the inherent danger they were in and yet his mind was playing out a whole range of bad outcomes.

I'm sure many people (especially mothers) will know what I say that when you have a young child you find you have become, perhaps quite suddenly, not only attuned to danger but too often thinking through a thousand terrible scenarios. Small children falling down stairs or running in front of cars or falling prey to terrible illness.

Newspaper stories can be quite gripping and frightening. I remember when Amy was very young there was a story of a mother falling whilst holding her baby. She hit her head and was unconscious, the child was crushed and smothered by her. Every now and then when carrying a child I think of that story and take extra care. It is easy to forget that whilst millions and millions of women safely carry their children everyday, only the very very few experience injury this way.

But being fearful makes you more alert to danger too, and your capacity to judge risk and make rational choices around danger is compromised. This is a biological thing, a chemical thing, as well as a psychological thing. When you become afraid nothing is safe and a mild fear can become a full blown panic it is hard to come back from.

For me getting older has not only made me more alert to danger though, it has also helped me make choices about what not to fear. I'm not scared of spiders or dogs, or riding in cars, or of being alone, or getting hit by lighteneing. I can make rational choices about the likelihood of something happening and not waste my energy on fearing it.

And I can also recognise I fear something for an irrational reason and push past that fear to do the things I really want to do - like flying which I totally hate but still do because I love to be somewhere else. I can choose to not be held captive by my fear a lot more of the time.

I've been thinking about fear a lot. There's been issues with me and my health, but there's been issues for other people in my life too. My mum had a recent scare about her health too and for a while we were fearful she may be facing her third turn at cancer, one of the really nasty ones. We are close and she is such a central figure in my life that thinking through that was very hard. Not to mention the way it made me reflect about the consequences of my own health issues for my kids.

And in the background there are always issues with Amy's tendency to be fearful, something I recognise from my own childhood and which confound me as deeply as a parent as they did as a child. That I can't help her be less afraid of things is something I feel deeply sad about.

Managing fear is an ever present issue. I'm not nearly as badly off as many but for me there are long periods of life in which fear plays a much larger role than I would like. The last six or seven months just seem to have been one thing after the next in the big scary world scenario and it is exhausting!

This week has been something of a reprieve from fear and I am so so grateful. To find out that my mum doesn't have cancer was an enormous relief. Enormous. For her so much more than me even (though, you know, that's kind of hard to imagine).

And for me at last there has been some diagnostic work that is shaping a future in which things might change for me health wise too. It's taken this long to get a grip because, well I am a complex gal. I have a multitude of separate things to deal with, but they have all been messing with each other and muddying the water. I'll most likely be having an operation which isn't fun but totally do-able, having some treatment for something else, monitoring something else a little more closely and getting advice from someone else about another thing.

So you know, I'm not off the hook. No quick fixes or having at all go away. No just taking a pill.

But I'm no longer in the dark waiting for the boogey man to pounce either, the rabbit in the headlights. I can get off the fear and start using my brain to get a plan to move on. I have learn this about myself - that once I can shift into the problem solving I can get through anything, it's the dark that scares me. In this I know I am not alone, and while some people manage life highly successfully by avoiding contemplating the possibility of anything that might be scary (the more darkness the better!), this just isn't for me.

Bring on the light I say.

Tuesday, 16 December 2008


Christmas is about excess isn't it?

Only explanation for why I might make a gold silk dress for a grubby six year old (and no it isn't made for a full forward - that's an adult size hanger making those super sleeves)

With complimentary cream silk petticoat of course.

And Shula had a hand in it too, with the giving of all the silk bits and so on. I'm hiding it away from snooping eyes (she is so a snooper) to be revealed with a flourish on Christmas day.

The delight will be enormous until she sees the pink and floral boogie board and then it will be just another thing she has to put away when the washing is done. Sigh.

Monday, 8 December 2008

actual crafting content

So refreshing.

A bit of snip snip, the buzz of the sewing machine, the whoosh of the steam iron.

Another pair like these, added to the crafted gifts pile for the birthday heavy holiday season. This time using Lara's fabric and some denim offcuts.

Fun, practical and eminently do-able.

Man it feels good to craft again after running hard to simply stay still.

Oh and PS - the crochet hexagons? 471. Years I say.

Saturday, 6 December 2008

there was much rejoicing

Waking up to find daddy home was the cause of much celebration this morning for the little people of the house.

The hula hoop from the village market was put together and hulaed, the hard hat was seized from daddy's bag and paraded. He's so thankful for the testosterone company (and the chance to glimpse and point at a penis belonging to someone other than himself).There was much joy all round.

While D had a catch up nap this afternoon, Amy and I upended the bag of hexagons and commenced sorting and counting. Shula, my awe daily grows.I'm reasonably confident of the final tally, though my scribe did have a few lapses of concentration so you know, maybe not.
Anyone want to hazard a guess? Because I totally bet no one can get within cooee of the final number. I sure didn't. Let me just say I expect it will take me years to finish this mastrpiece off,

And Suse, if you think I'm going to compete over edging these suckers you'd need to go out and find approximately 4 more bags of squares like yours to put us into the same ball park...

Friday, 5 December 2008

looking up

No, the mr isn't back. A false lead yesterday had me going to bed with visions of a home coming today, but it isn't to be. Soon, soon. Maybe tonight?

But I am miles better and that alone is cause for much celebration round these parts.

And while the flesh has been weak of late, the mind has been well occupied with a range of wonderful inspirations.

I am (surprisingly) enjoying the simple knit gift projects I have been working on since finishing the delightful dropped stitch scarf. One complete sock - yay! and a good start on a cashmere cross over neck warmer (from 101 one skein designer projects).
I also delighted to get this in the post so I could block the Hanami at last. Total convert to blocking wires. Transformative. Love this design and the yarn, but the finished stole is too small, really it is a scarf. I'm seriously thinking of doing it again in a heavier weight yarn with a few extra stitch and row repeats...

And whilst lolling about I have been doing a spot of inspired browsing in Interweave crochet, Interweave knits, Cotton Time and Cotton Friend. Check out the pics over on flickr (sorry I can't be fagged doing a zillion image links today).

I have also been greatly inspired by some tools and materials that have come my way through the de-stashing efforts of others.

A huge thanks to Nichola, who decided she no longer needed her yarn swift (such restraint) and thereby saved me and my arms from countless hours of extremely tedious yarn winding. So so so grateful. So grateful! Thanks Nichola.

And the completely insane inundation I experienced from Shula was so totally overwhelming I couldn't even begin to photograph it. Those who read Shula's blog will be aware she's moving house and turning over a fat stash leaf, so me (and several of my friends) got to pick over her voluminous cast offs. Seriously, like an entire ute full. Over 100kg I reckon. Really, worthy of a whole post or maybe two.

I kept a mountain of delectable fabrics, including some totally groovy 50s lampshade fabric unlike anything I have ever seen or touched (and so in keeping with my current fetish for mad men) and some great striped jersey I think I may have seen somewhere before.

And most especially worthy of mention was a plain old plastic bag Shula tossed in with the rest, which opened to reveal this pile (no, I haven't counted, but there's LOTS) of crocheted hexagons. Made from the finest tapestry wool in the happiest, funkiest selection of retro colours. Shula had started edging them and piecing them before she abandoned the project. So I'll be off to the Victorian Tapestry Workshop to source more of the edging colour and making this the 2009 project to end all projects. I am in LOVE!

There were also a mountain of books, only a very few of which I kept. And after everything was well plucked by half a dozen of us I sent the rest to Amy's school, where the art teacher specialises in textiles and is now floating three feet off the ground.

So Shula, thank you from deepest down on behalf of myself, Suse, Di, Katerina, Nikki and BSW primary :-)

Esther and I did a swap of stash yarn and I scored some lovely Sirdar sock yarn, destined for the next wave of knitted gifts.Thanks Esther!

And finally, just to prove you can't judge a book by its cover. Delicious and nutritious mushroom soup. I know, it looks like mud.

Tuesday, 2 December 2008

the marginally less worse but still really crappy week

I am at last getting better. Still a long way from well, but not feeling so much like I might keel over dead any minute.

Sure you are all relieved to hear.

Wil is also improving.

And despite our current run of the worst luck ever, Amy's foot is not infected or failing to knit.

Yay for us.

But D is not faring so well. I spent (I kid you not) a whole day trying to get through to Thai Airways here in Australia, since D has no hope at all of getting help in Bangkok (he's # 597 in the queue and they are helping something like 100 people a day). At one point I actually made it onto the call list and was put on hold which I thought was a good thing. When a full hour had elapsed (seriously, 60 whole minutes) they freaking CUT ME OFF. When I called back the recorded message said the office was now closed. At 1pm on a Tuesday. Right-e-o then.

So no joy there. I can't see him getting back until next week at the earliest, and even that will require a stroke or two of luck.

So you know, here's to more luck.

Speaking of which, I feel very lucky and thankful for my neighbours. I've said it a few times here before, but seriously people, community is the only thing keeping us together right now. I try hard to build my community and man oh man it pays off. I've had my kids (and me) ferried around, my kids picked up and looked after, meals cooked and grown up conversation while I've sat on my backside and just let things slide. Not to mention my bathroom doors decoded.

If ever you're wondering whether the effort to get to know and bond with your neighbours is worthwhile, don't. It is.