Wednesday, 31 March 2010

stepping out

Just a quick post - really I'm packing up for a week's holidays. The departure has been delayed a little by our lack of, um, preparedness. But never mind. The sun is shining and now the boy child is napping so there's a wee moment for checking in before I check out.

Upper most has been my intention to blog about the fabulous time we had last Saturday night at the Zoo for Earth Hour. It was as lovely as I predicted it would be in my last post (you can see pics on flickr starting here). All the lovelier for the presence of other bloggers who had also been invited to come and get involved in the Zoo community. I didn't know most of the people there, though it was really super special to spend the night sharing my blanket with Ms Ric Rac, and a dinner table with Ms Pip and her clan. I also said a hi to Ms Stannard, and had lots of fun chatting to an ex-workmate who it turns out is the brother of a blogger I do know (his kids dug a groove with Amy too, and Wil before he got all over excited and boisterous thereby scaring the complete shit out of a girl twice his size). I also chatted to a few people I didn't know at all which was very fun - though I agree name tags would have been good, as would a handout with blog addresses to check out afterwards.

Other stuff? I've been raiding the remnant box at Tessuti again, and combined with a bunch of stash items I am planning on some heavy duty sewing while we're away. Since we left right at the start of winter last year I kind of skipped a whole year of warm clothes for the kids which means we're heading into this year without last year's left overs, so both kids are lined up for new jeans, leggings, warm pants, coats and a bit of something fun (because sometimes the super precious find in the remnant box or on Etsy dictates these things). I've also got a few quick things for me and a pile of repair and refashioning work and although I know it all seems completely ridiculous I am strangely optimistic...

The big box of old patterns arrived and I spent last night bleary eyed looking through them all. Lots of 50s, 60s, a tiny droplet of 70s, and a whack of 80s and across kids all the way to size 18 (although it should be said the vast majority in the old school 12/14 sizes). While I can't see myself using many of them (a few kids ones will be very useful), there is a lot of detailing I intend to examine very closely. Lots of fabulous collars and necklines and gathers and pleats and so on. Very interesting cutting styles and quite different from current pattern drafting techniques. I'll do a post when I have time to pull it all out and take pics and focus my unruly excitement.

I'm hoping to have at least a little internet connection while we're away, but it is yet to be seen whether the dongle can fight through the notorious reception black spot where we will be. If not, we'll see you back round these parts in a week or so. Have a fab chocolate season.

Friday, 26 March 2010

more scraps and snippets


The pants refit project progresses, some packed away, others in pieces all over the work room awaiting reassembly, my refitted home made jeans now very much improved are all finished except for a jeans button I need to get from the shops (because you can't reuse one that's already been hammered into place). And I finally hemmed the lux jeans I bought too so it all feels like I'm flying.


I've been reading quite a bit and getting loads out of it. It's funny how sometimes these more detailed, more complex examinations seem all too hard, and at other moments they hit you right between the eyes, make sense and are quite the inspiration. I started re-drafting my pattern blocks about this time last year and somehow it just wasn't gelling, but now I feel like I just want to work on this all the time. I don't know what's changed, but something sure has. My confidence has grown exponentially in the last few weeks.


I received an incredibly exciting and timely gift, given all that's going on in the work room. This dress maker's dummy belonged to David's grandmother. It is beautifully made in the real old school way - not a scrap of plastic or polyester in sight - and while it has seen much use it is absolutely perfectly sturdy and well formed. Fully extended it is still way too small for me, but I intend to make a valiant attempt to get it padded up to my size and shape. Just having it in the room makes me a bit excited, and I feel so lucky! And I hear a whole load of vintage patterns (many dating back to the 20's!!), boxes of buttons, trims and so on are not far behind when next we trek out to D's folk's place. Although I know many of the patterns won't be right for me I am dead keen to see them preserved, used, loved. No doubt there will be a post coming this way soon.


The second last of the swap tea towels arrived and I am loving loving loving it! All the way from Bespoke Uprising in Canada - thank you :-) I sense I may need to lose a few dollars Roisin's way very soon...

And I had a chat to my neighbour today while he was waiting for his electrician and made him a cup of tea. And when I went out later I found this on my doorstep. Cripes, the joy of the community never grows old. I dropped a few off down the road when I picked up Amy from her end of term play date and then scoffed a half dozen right out of the box. Thanks Bob.

My success dyeing the light brown jeans darkest grey (seen here in one of my what i wore today set photos - for reference the previous colour can be seen in this photo here) spurred me on to finally tackle the cone of lace weight cashmere that dropped into my possession last year. I realise now I never photographed it when I got it, which strikes me as very odd, but it was a white/light grey marle twist. I wasn't at all convinced I liked the effect for a lace weight - it just didn't seem the right look for a lace shawl and 120gm of pure cashmere lace weight seemed like such an incredible luxury I was too scared to do anything more with it. So I pulled it out, skeined it up off the cone and very timidly washed it and lowered it into the dye pot.


I am thrilled to find to marle remains, though both strands are now grey, the difference between them is clearly visible in some places and just hinted at in others. My fear of felting meant I didn't so much as poke it, so the dye has taken quite unevenly, from a light grey to a true black, but I think it will knit up nicely. I'll swatch and then toss up some potential projects...

And I am looking forward with great excitement to this soiree tomorrow night. Tim Rogers!! I've been to night events at the zoo before and have thoroughly enjoyed them, even when I didn't really expect to. It's such a fabulous venue, the gardens are so beautiful and the presence of the animals adds a whole new element, but most importantly there is a certain kind of vibe that you don't much see with live music. Perhaps because we're all shut in together, perhaps because you have to make the choice and book ahead. Perhaps because kids are welcome. Whatever the reason, the crowd is always lovely. Everyone joins in, everyone is nice, everyone is smiling and relaxed. Sigh. It's going to be ACE!!!

Monday, 22 March 2010

a little bit o' here and there

I taught another of my Sew Inn classes on Saturday and it was great! A very balanced and focused group. Each one worked successfully on their chosen projects - which ranged from very first stitching pillow cases to sizing and altering op shop found patterns to sewing up vintage Vogue Couture dresses - and while I didn't pause for breath and finished up very tired, it was thoroughly satisfying from a teacherly perspective.

[And I picked up some juicy remnants while I was there which is a very exciting little side benefit of teaching at the most exciting of fabric stores. ]


~~

I paid a visit to the lovely ladies over at Ink and Spindle to lookie over some special sewing that's still on the QT but which show cases the very exciting new print collection they have just launched and meet a few new people in the neighbourhood. Even the junior soozs got a chance to run on the timber floors, chase the dawg, ooh and ahh over the fabric (Amy) and ooh and aah over the superior view of the freeway where not one but two white utes were on the verge with their bonnets up waiting for the 'canic (Wil). We inadvertently crashed a celebration so I got a glass of champers (thank you!) and the kids scoffed handfuls of MMs. Everybody happy.

~~

For the first time in so many months I truly couldn't count, I got a good long stint in the garden. Weeds were pulled, soil was tilled, compost was dug in, seedlings were planted and straw was spread. So deeply satisfying. And soon we can start seeing growth and budding and flowering and producing. Yay to new watering rules!

~~

D went away. A whole new exotic wild overseas location, sans mobile phone contact. Absolutely nothing bad happened (to him or us) and then he came home. I didn't even complain about being a single parent or anything AND we didn't even eat take away AND my mum and chief backstop was out of the country as well! I know, barely believable.

I am sure my new working/childcare arrangements had a lot to do with it. I'm still in shock kind of.

~~

I was the recipient of a wonderful, generous gift from a very talented lady. I am very grateful and surprised and honoured and still thinking through how I might say thank you in an appropriate way, and how I might be able to use some of it for something special.



~~

I broke my no buying clothes pledge.

I saw it might be coming back here, but a couple of devils in my ear were enough to egg me on to looking into it a bit more deeply. Finding the particular model I liked the most had a discontinued colour selling for less than 25% of the original price tipped me over the edge. Anyway, the whole things has snowballed into a major examination of my jeans/pants/shorts/trouser collection. The examination has led me to a few conclusions, and a major project to alter and/or throw away almost every pair of pants I own, AND perfect a couple of patterns for sewing my own. I'm detailing this project over on the Large blog since I think it's more about being big than anything else. Feel free to go over and look at a lot of photos of my arse in poorly fitting pants.

And although I bought some jeans I don't regret it. I feel like it has been a really significant purchase in terms of my longer term goal of only having hand made clothes. These are by far the most expensive pair of trousers I have ever owned (in terms of their full price which was $325, not what I paid which was $75 - which is still more than I have ever paid for jeans but which I understand is not really expensive in regular people's terms), and they are designed specifically for the high end plus size market (also a first). I bought them because I really wanted to see what the very best was like - and I really like these jeans (don't get me wrong!) but I don't feel like the jeans I made myself are really so far away. I feel arenewed enthusiasm for trying to better my last effort to get it closer to a better fit - and indeed a whole new way of looking at what I think a better fit really is.

In a bigger picture way this project is fitting into a new wave of excitement I am feeling about sewing more generally (I know, you didn't think I could get more excited did you?). On the one hand the pants refit project is giving me a focus that's allowing me to really work through a lot of small scale details about design and pattern making. By only looking at one type of garment first off I am getting a much better idea about the interaction of fabric and design without getting sidetracked by embellishments, endless design variations, prints and other variables that make some garments (like tops or jackets) more complex. In turn this is leading me back to a very strong desire to recast my pattern blocks and just generally get more serious about the whole deal.

And then on a parallel track this focus is opening up some other kind of sewing space in which I have been engaging in some real experimentation. A lot of these experiements aren't things I can blog about at this stage, some of them don't even result in something I would wear, but I have let myself take precious sewing time, added some fabric I am OK about losing from the stash and just seeing what happens. It's a lot of fun, and not really something I've done much of before. In an entirely different way it's helping me learn new things too, things I can apply to other garments and other situations, but lessons outside the strictly pragmatic frame I usually stick to when I am sewing.

~~

I've been continuing the more experimental moment with my knitting too, alongside the more pragmatic repeating of a recent success. After countless pairs that were simple variations of the universal toe up sock pattern I have branched out and picked up the wildest sock construction pattern I've ever seen. The pattern was pointed out to me by Di, who has an altogether more adventurous spirit with socks. I launched in and while it has taken me a while to perfect some of the techniques, and at one point I had to unknit one by one oh so so many of the stitches I had knit, and then knit them all again in a slightly more accurate way, I must say I am deeply impressed. I am almost finished the right sock, and slight imperfections aside they are super spunky and even more importantly superbly fitting socks. I will make them again and again, and then I will try them with stitch patterns built in because they are genius.

~~

Two more seriously good tea towels arrived too for the swap - and there's still two more on their way!

~~

This morning as Wil and I were walking to the tram stop to catch the town tram to childcare Wil was mesmerised by the sight of a propped up ute hard top cover.

W: What's dat? What's in dere? Id dat da engine?

S: No, the engine is in front under the bonnet. That's a big space where you can keep things. Like the tools you take to work or maybe your things to go camping.

W: Oh. I no like camping.

S: Really? I like camping! You get to sleep in a tent!

W: Oh! You go camping?

S: Yes! You sleep in a tent and have a fire, it's fun.

W: Like George?

S: (puzzled look)

W: Like Curious George?

S: Yes! Like on Curious George.

W: And sticks? You have sticks at camping? Like Curious George?

S: Yes! Like on Curious George you use sticks on the fire.

W: Sticks? Sticks and bricks? Like the House of Bamboo? [just for you Jus]

I could almost see those neurological connections being born...

Thursday, 18 March 2010

identity

There is often something going on in the blogosphere about copyright and theft. In general my views on this are more moderate than some. I tend to think much of it is based on ignorance (however unforgivable that may be), and a good dose on the simple common practice of the adoption of new ideas. It hurts people, especially those who make their living from it, but it also seems to me inevitable.

Every now and then something really fires me up though. A direct and indisputable carbon copy rip off of something or a large business systematically stealing designs from small scale designers and crafters, a certain kind of flouting of copyright when they think they can get away with it. That shits me.

But yesterday I was whacked to find 2 blogs I read (here and here) have been pillaged for posts to create a new blog, and a fictional identity. This situation is not unique, I know it happens all the time and lots of people have stories to tell. I know it happens, and I know in writing our blogs and telling our stories we open ourselves up to this kind of theft.

So I've been thinking quite a bit about this incident and what has really hit me about it. Perhaps that there are photographs of someone's child that are being claimed as photos of someone else's child. That photos stolen from one blog still carry the watermark of the real owner. Perhaps that posts have been backdated (in some cases to dates before blogs were even around) but include links and references to things so much newer. Or that a number of posts have glowing comments that are similarly backdated and perhaps are as fictional as the posts. There is an element in all this that is completely deranged.

This is something quite beyond the theft of works or ideas, these are thefts of identity by someone whose thought process are neither familiar nor rational.

And I find this profoundly disturbing. Not just in terms of the impact on those from whom identity is stolen - although this in itself is disturbing enough. But that there seems to be an increasing number of people in our world for whom identity is seemingly absent, or whose identity is insufficient to sustain a life. That they must resort to finding a life somewhere else which they can inhabit.

To me this is quantifiably different from someone who sees something you made, or a picture you took and thinks that is so great, I want it, I'm going to copy it. It's even hugely different from the I wish I had thought of that, I'm going to pretend I did and then make money by pretending it's mine. While I know there's a sliding scale here because for creative people what they make is inextricably linked to who they are and so if you copy enough of what they have made or thought up you are stealing some part of them, but to skip right to the end of that scale and say this is me, these are my children, this is what I cooked, this is the colour I chose for my living room walls and my latest cardigan...well that's not about stealing your ideas, that's about trying to be you. Lock, stock and all smoking barrels.

How are we going to respond to this kind of thing?

My earlier comment about inevitability of copyright breach is not an acceptance - just because it can be expected to happen doesn't make it right. If people steal your stuff you should aim to get it back, and sanction the thief where ever you can. As a community as well as individuals it is important we set standards and communicate to each other our expectations. We should be continually examining ourselves and each other and asking what's right, what's fair and what needs to be acted against. Just because it is hard, or because a legal framework may not be the best route to address the problem doesn't mean we don't all have responsibilities to work through these problems.

When it comes to identity theft it seems to me our obligations are even greater. If we want to go on blogging ourselves, and protecting ourselves from blatant theft, we need to be the regulators of our community if other mechanisms fail. We need to post on our blogs, leave comments on offending blogs, offer support to those who have been stolen from and call account to the blog hosts and technological facilitators of the criminal activity.

And not just in an angry or accusatory way (though it can be hard to leave strong emotions out of this). We need to recognise that this is an ongoing problem, and increasingly systemic problem and we have to come up with ways to stop it happening and we're less likely to do that if all we have to say is that this is someone's fault, or one person or host or tool is to blame. What are all the pieces of this picture that allow a thief to slip in unnoticed? How can we have some checks and balances, how can we protect the community as a whole?

I'd also like to say I hope I am not alone in thinking that the perpetrators here might need something more from their communities if this is the only way they can deal with their problems. I mean, are these the problems you have when mental illnesses are not adequately treated? Are these crimes being committed by people who in a different time may be have been spotted and diverted away from these acts of harming others? I don't know, it just seems to me that pretending to be someone else and blogging about it is not really compatible with any kind of behaviour society generally sees as OK - I mean it's not legal, it's not ethical - but since we gave up stoning people to death for committing crimes we've held onto some idea that people are capable of rehabilitation and the first step on this path is understanding why they have done what they have done. A crime is a crime, but if you can't look to the underlying problem you can't stop recidivism.

I don't really know where that leaves me. I'm angry, and shocked and upset for friends whose worlds have been rocked. I along with many others have complained to Typepad in the hopes they will remove the offending blog and do what they can to prevent the blogger from repeating this kind of thing. But I am also feeling a sadness and uncertainty about what that blogger will do next. What will happen to the impulse that led them to do this when this blog is gone?

Monday, 15 March 2010

an embarassment of riches

All my number seem to have come up at once.

First there was the yarn ball swap organised by T, over at T does wool.

I was paired up with Megan over at the scent of water, which was quite alright by me since I've followed Megan ever since she introduced me to Pakucho cotton back in the olden days.

She sent me a lovely package including some hand spun organic cotton, lovely buttons, trim, magnet, ceramic, fujoa chocolate (who knew?) and a much needed and loved key ring. Thank you so much!

But when I was talking to T about the swap it seemed she might be in the market for some hand dyed sock yarn, so we agreed to swap with each other as well, which was equally fine by me since T's blog is beautiful and inspiring.

Her package arrived all decoratively wrapped up and was filled with sublime yarn (by name and nature) and a whole assortment of lovely things, including a tea ball she managed to sneak past customs. Thank you T!!

In the meantime Ali started up a swap for seven days of specialness and that seemed like another fine idea to me.

Fran sent me a lovely big box of treats to open progressively over the week, including an amazing piece of weaving she did herself. I find this completely humbling, and more than a little inspiring to get a loom going. There was also some very nice sock yarn and a pattern designed by a friend of hers. Thanks Fran for a very special pack.

And of course, the tea towels are rolling in from the Wash the Dishes tea towel swap. As the organiser I found myself swapping with a, ahem, larger than average group of swap partners (the result of an overly complicated organising system, people ending up with wrong partners, bad maths, you name it) and the odd extra gift of the completely unnecessary but most gratefully received kind.


by craftapalooza


by nest studios


by jelly baby


by inner city garden


by myrtle and eunice


by kristen doran


by assemblage


by little fish creations


by floating world


by clementines shoes


by turning japanese

It feels like there's rather a lot of loveliness going on here and really, how good is that?

Saturday, 13 March 2010

experiment


Since getting back from Sydney this fabric (Hot Wire from Tessuti fabrics) has been burning a hole in my metaphorical pocket. Literally keeping me awake at night.

The reasons for my excitement are many, but it all boils down to this - it's an experiment. A very different kind of fabric, unsewn before by me, to make garments not really like things I normally make. The chance for failure looms large, the potential rewards of charting new territory irresistible.

So yesterday after procrastinating a fair while with chores and mending and other distractions (all the while thinking and edging closer) I cut into the Hot Wire. I won't pretend I wasn't nervous but it quickly became obvious that I need not have been. It sews like a dream. The overlocker loved it (nice tight seams with the 4 thread and no mucking about with tension and whatnot) and while I needed to adjust the fit a couple of times because it is so stretchy that the garments I was using as a rough sizing guide were too big, it took the alterations without a problem.

I started with a basic long sleeve T. I used another tighter fitting one as the basic model but I needed to make a bit smaller again.

I used bands and bound the neck, sleeves and hem because I figured this is going to be a garment that gets a lot of wear and I wanted it to stand up to a lot of work. I also wanted it to look 'neat' enough to wear to work. Very very happy.

Next up I made a cowl neck vest, based loosely on a tutorial by Kirsten Johnstone in Mixtape Issue 2 (November 2007).

This is super super simple to make and in a nice stretchy fabric you really can't go wrong. Again I had to take the first cut in a bit because this fabric really looks best with a bit of negative ease.

Again I bound the arm holes - at least in part to provide a bit of structure and gathering around the front bust line - but I simply overlock finished the neck and hem.

Worn together I like the two different finishing details.

I started with 2.5m of hot wire, and I still have enough for a small tank top I think. I will definitely be off to get some in black and create a fantastic set of mix and match tops. Now that I've got the confidence to sew with it, and know a bit more about cutting sizes, I think I might try something a bit more interesting and adventurous in the black overtop.

Perhaps something inspired by this book...and then, perhaps I'll get another colour and try something even more adventurous...

Friday, 12 March 2010

food for decadence

This cheesecake is very rich and extremely good - I don't recommend you make it unless there's plenty of people to share it with and don't even think about a little cream or ice cream on the side. May in fact induce hallucinations if consumed in sufficient quantity.

Pecan cheesecake

Ingredients
125gms crushed wholemeal biscuits
60gms melted butter
750gms cream cheese
Splash of vanilla
1 ¼ cups of brown sugar
3 beaten eggs
2 tbs flour
I cup of finely chopped pecans

Topping
½ cup of brown sugar
60gms of butter

Method
Preheat oven to 190-200oC
Grease springform tin.
Mix biscuits and butter, press into tin and refrigerate 30 minutes.
Combine cream cheese, vanilla, brown sugar, eggs, flour and pecans, pour over base and bake for 50 minutes, reduce heat in oven slightly after you put the cake in. It's cooked whent he centre is still a little wobbly. Let cake cool in oven after cooking with door ajar.
Combine topping ingredients over low heat until thick then pour over cooled cake.
Decorate with praline (which is crushed up hard set toffee with ground pecan mixed through) and whole pecans.

wil laughs


wil laughs, originally uploaded by Soozs.

So easily amused.

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

the sydney trip

I'm not an initiator of adventures on the whole - it just doesn't occur to me very often to think up a destination and plan a trip. I'm a happy follower and I can also happily organise a trip once the seed has been planted.

So last year when Ellen suggested we take a weekend in Sydney I was happy to sign up. When D suggested I turn it into a girl's own adventure and take Amy along I upped the ante and the weekend morphed into a four day fun fair with back to back visits and catch ups as well as ample fabric and book buying outings.

The last time we went to Sydney was in 2006. I was pregnant (and still hiding it) with Wil, Amy was still just a little girl and I was waiting for my Masters to be accepted. We had a wonderful time I seem to recall and did all those things visitors to that city should. The sun shone.

This trip was so very different. The sun didn't always shine, and we missed a good many of the must sees and dos. We did not wander aimlessly through less familiar streets and parks. It was different, but in an entirely fabulously wonderful way.

What made this trip so very different was that since 2006 I have come to know a good number of fantastic people who live in Sydney. Instead of being a tourist I let myself be taken from place to place, visiting the people and places I have come to know from afar, and feeling more like a visitor than a tourist. And it was glorious.

On Friday Amy and I landed and immediately took advantage of Sydney's wonderful airport train service. Seriously, Melbourne needs to get its shit together in this regard. From airport to hotel in 10 minutes - no stress, no hassle. Brilliant. The Hyde Park Inn let us check in early, so we left our bags, had a quick look at the view - lovely - did a little happy dance about the extra bed they gave us free of charge and set out to meet up with Ingrid.

It is absolutely delightful to meet someone in real life for the first time and find them to be exactly what you expect. From following her blog and emailing her and doing swaps, I felt I had come to know her, but I know that people don't always live up to the image their online identity creates. Some people can give you quite the double take when you first meet them. But Ingrid and I chatted away at lightening speed as though we'd known each other for years, enjoying a speedy visit to Kinokuniya and then some really great Thai food in the food court downstairs (definitely an insiders tip - this place looks like every other food court blah blah, but was instead the most authentically Thai food I have ever had in Australia I think, just delishhh!). The time went like wildfire and in an instant she had to shoot off to pick up children and do other real life stuff, but not before giving me some super delicious yarn ready for dyeing from her shop, the Yarn Workshop.



Thank you so so so much! I've waxed lyrical already about Ingrid's Kiama when I used it to make G's Ishbel, so I am very much looking forward to knitting with it again - a lovely finished fabric but perhaps even more importantly a very nice yarn to knit with.

Ingrid also gave me a skein of pure silk awaba. The hardest thing about this yarn will be to stop fondling it long enough to dye and knit it - what a luxurious yarn! So excited to give it a try!

After our time with Ingrid Amy and I headed back upstairs to look through the kids section at Kinokuniya. I know for many of us the attraction to Kinokuniya is the Japanese books - more on them later - but really the whole store is really outstanding. We spent a bit of time here last visit to Sydney and all I can say is I hope they open in Melbourne soon. Amy chose herself a new book (she finished the first of her two travel novels before the plane landed!) and we set off in search of cake.

A little cooky bird had recommended La Renaissance to me as a perfect spot for the perfect treat so I figured that had Amy and I written all over it. It was quite a walk, in the rain, and Amy was flagging a bit, so it was lucky the cake selection lived up to our expectations.


While the staff were less than friendly or helpful, the raspberry tart was superb and Amy's fantastically over complicated layered sponge/raspberry mousse/passionfruit mousse/pinenut ganache/red glazed/macaroon festooned tower was a triumph.

I was very glad she couldn't finish it all and I got slops.

We scooted back to the hotel for a bit of feet up till our ride collected us for a visit to AB's restaurant. In the car on the way we got the call from Ellen to say her flight had been cancelled and while there was much gnashing of teeth and renting of clothes, it appearing nothing good was going to happen until the next morning, so we swore a bit about Jetstar and the way everything is run these days with no fall back position and pressed on.

5 tired hungry kids who have been stuck in traffic for a stupidly long time do not for a peaceful dining experience make, so instead of being inside we sat under the front awning, let the kids go mad in the rain, yakked our heads off and I ate the best gnocchi I've ever eaten and only just managed to restrain myself from licking the plate when I had eaten everything I could using cutlery. AB assures me there was nothing complicated about it, but I think he's lying. The sauce had some kind of voodoo, let me tell you. Kim very generously dropped us back so we could collapse unconscious in bed - a very late night for a little girl who'd had a very big day.

Saturday dawned bright and warm - a perfect day for meeting up with more friends and hitting Surry Hills. Hard.



Amy and I wandered up to Tessuti which was wonderfully close and found Colette almost the instant we walked in the door. Which was something of a miracle since the scale and variety of the stock was so dazzling that I was rendered pretty much senseless.


I've harped on about how fabulous Tessuti's Melbourne store is, but Surry Hills is oh so much bigger that I was having heart palpitations. On the outside I was having a conversation that I think passed for normal but on the inside it was just all exclamation marks.

Amy was already on her knees picking buttons for her stash when Alison arrived and I walked around in a dazed fashion just working out some way I could stow away and live forever in the store, squirreling away bits and pieces of everything I could see.

But since this is real life and I had carry on only luggage and a finite amount of space to store stash and a finite number of hours to sew for the rest of my life, I exercised a little restraint.

Some double sided wool, wonderfully lightweight.


Some jersey in a print I love, which had sold out in Melbourne destined I think for a top something like this one.


Super spunky spotty jersey destined for a tunic for Amy - a gift from Colette, thank you! (You know, when Amy grows up she wants to be you, don't you?)

Some more of this gorgeous bengaline for myself and a friend because I am already worried about this shirt wearing out sometime in the next decade.

And so excitement of excitement, Tessuti has just managed to get in stock this fabric (called hot wire), which is similar to the fabric used in these clothes. I have a number of friends who wear Matalicus clothes and I have had envy about it for quite some time. Since their clothes don't really fit me and are certainly not in my clothes buying budget range, I have gone without. Now I am just itching to get sewing a couple of layers in this fantastic dark grey. I plan on getting some of the black when it comes in store in Melbourne too. So so so excited! Thanks Colette for cluing me in and giving me a chance to try it out! I'll definitely be reporting back about sewing it.

After so much heady excitement Alison, Amy and I took a refuelling stop to calm our blood pressure and up our blood sugar. At last we were joined by the even further delayed Ellen who had had the shortest end of the vagaries of flying stick there is and thus gathered set off for our next stop. I was feeling so sated from all my lovely Tessuti purchases that I managed to resist the temptations of the Cloth remnant table, which was some feat. Especially since there was a very nice and large piece of linen with a car print which Wil may well have made sweet love to if given half the chance. It is a lovely store though and I am sure I couldn't hold out for ever if I lived close by.

Next we went to Bird Textiles, which Ellen had been focused on to the point of nervous exhaustion since they were in the throes of a mega sale with lots of fabrics selling for below half their usual price. I am not sure how, but until we visited I had never heard of Bird, and that's quite possibly a good thing, since they are all the things this tigger likes best. Hand printed, sustainably produced, designed with flair and wonderfully full of their own character.

I bought enough of this panel printed jersey for a top for me, leggings for Amy and quite possible a T for Wil as well. I am looking froward to the challenge of using the print well!

I was also thrilled with their 'remnant by weight' policy, since this light weight cotton print will be perfect for a dress for Amy and came out at only $11 for 75cm of unbroken print, with an extra 10cm on the end after a flaw. Talk about happy!

Fabrics thus secured we all retired to lunch. Alison brought some home made gyozas, which left the curry Amy and I were sharing in the DUST, and in between stuffed mouthfuls I caught up with Alison's news. It seems completely weird that I have only met Alison once before in person, and that once was 3 years ago, 6 days after giving birth by Cesarean on a 40 degree days after an hour long ride in a non air conditioned car. I was not, as they say, myself. But after sharing our pregnancies, swaps, emails and, briefly, a blog, I felt like seeing he again was just another visit in many. A delight! And thank you so much for ferrying us around and the lovely lunch!

Our feet up time between dates seemed minuscule before we set off again for Kinokuniya and a good hard look at the Japanese pattern books.


Despite the reality that nothing fits me, or generally looks remotely OK on my size and shape, there's much to learn and be inspired about in these books.


If you look at them as something more general than an actual pattern book, you can see that a collar detail here, a cutting technique there, a fabric combination here, an embellishment there can add to the overall design of other garments.



In between all the magazine ogling and the purchase of yet another novel for Amy (the kid reads like there's no tomorrow) and the examination of stationary and cute things for little girls, Ellen and I also had the pleasure of talking with Suzy. Suzy was living in Japan at the same time as Ellen, and at the same time I was in Thailand, so we got to know each other back when we were all expats. Suzy is always delightful company and again it seemed like we'd only just said hello before she was dashing off and we were jumping into the car for our next adventure.

This time the lovely Kristen whisked us off for some delicious Japanese food in Surry Hills at Sushi Suma. Very reasonably priced with the most enormous serving sizes I have ever seen, we had a fantastic dinner and stuffed ourselves while yakking our heads off. I've run into Kristen a few times now at Stitches and Craft shows and dinners and here and there and I enjoy talking to her a lot.


We were very appreciative that she came a long way to be with us and managed to fit a gelati on top of all the real food we'd already had!

Straight to bed - we were all exhausted!! (Though I lay awake for quite some time thinking about fabric and sewing. It's a sickness!).


Sunday was forecast to be a really crappy day, but of course, it was gorgeously sunny. Perfect for a ride on the monorail and the ferry over the Manly.

I know most people go to Manly for the beach, but we had only one destination in mind.



In the madness that is the most sought after ice creamery in Australia we met up with Kim, AB and all 4 of the boys and took the scenic route back to her place. All very glad of the people mover I can tell you! And I will just say that despite the absence of other children of the female persuasion and anyone even close to her in age, Amy slotted in like a little she totally belonged. It should be said that there had until this point been a lot of time in adult company, and an absence of mental going, all of which Amy had dealt with by simply whipping out a book any time she felt bored, but the boys more than made up for it with an embracing kind of vibe that transcended age and gender. In fact for the entire 24 hours we were at Kim's she barely nodded at me, a number of times declared her desire to move in and generally appeared to have entirely defected families.

All of which was completely fine with me since it meant more time for me to chat with Corrie and her lovely wee munchkins when they came for afternoon tea.

Kim whipped up scones to have with 3 kinds of home made jam (woot!) and Corrie pulled out some home made rocky road and fabric presents for us (thank you Corrie!) and we talked about her impending entrance to the world of four kids and the markets she's been doing and all the other crafty stuff she's been up to since I met her as a student in one of my classes all that time ago (2 years? Can it be?!).

Then it was time for pizza making and a master class on gnocchi (thanks chef!) and then a whole crap load of eating. AGAIN.



I was really impressed by how involved all of Kim's kids are in the kitchen and where I tend to want to skip the mess and get the food done faster, food preparation and eating seem to fit into a much more fluid kind of family life there. I think there's something in it that I need to explore! The kids all had a turn cutting up the gnocchi (which made for an amusing time for us adults eating it later) and then AB cooked off a sumptuous and simple butter and sage sauce for it. Talk about stuffed. Just able to roll myself over to the couch and watch I am legend before I retired to bed.

Monday started with the smell of frying butter - is there a better smell in the world than pancakes first thing? - and if Amy had any doubt about where she wanted to be that was the end of it.


Two enormous buttermilk pancakes later and the rest of the day was a blur of trampoline, cooking biscuits, and building cubbies while us grown ups slagged off the oscars red carpet coverage, cruised around the internet, ate left over pizza and drank cups of tea.

Really, why would we leave the house?

Except of course, in the end we had to go home.



A really big thanks to everyone who came and hung out with us, drove us, catered for us, forced us into buying stuff and generally made the trip the complete joy ride it was. Speshly you Kim, for opening up your home to all of us, feeding us and relaxing us and giving us beds to sleep in. We had a really really really good time.