The importance of goals

I do not knit.

I understand the theory. I can (just) produce a scarf. I know my knit from my purl. But my actions in bringing these things together do not result in a thing of beauty. Until yesterday I could not cast on properly, I was doing something proper knitters look down on: half hitch casting on. I can cast off. Just about. In knit, not purl. I can’t increase or decrease.

And this is annoying. Because there are fabulous, gorgeous, light, delicate wafty knitted things out that that I want to make. So my challenge to myself is to go from “I do not knit” to producing a delicate wafty thing, without being able to take my knitting to Mum to sort out the mistakes.

This is the Book of Knowledge. Notice the helpful flash on the corner, so I know it’s suitable for me. It’s truly basic, starting with how to hold the needles. It does work up to the clever stuff though…

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This is what I produced today. I had the red ball of yarn and the cute needles stashed away at the back of a cupboard after someone who didn’t know I couldn’t knit gave them to me for Christmas. I think that long tail casting on’s quite OK, and the stitches seem quite regular. I was holding the needles properly and tensioning the yarn through my fingers (how hard is that stuff? But I have the trick of it now). I was doing it the Right Way. I now know how to count the rows, so I can tell you there are 8 rows of 28 stitches. Tomorrow I may try a little light ribbing instead of just stockinette stitch.

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This is what I want to be capable of. Not much of an ask, I’m sure you’ll agree! I look at the pictures and go “pretty!”. I look at the words and diagrams and go “pretty scary!”.

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And this is my goal – something delicate and wafty. If not this exact thing, then something similar. Maybe I’ll use my multicoloured mohair yarn… or maybe by the time I get there the moths will have munched it up and I’ll need to find something else to make it from.

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But there’s a long way to go before I get there, not least of which is learning how to read a pattern without scaring the pants off myself. And it’s going to have to wait till I’ve finished Happiness. I have just quilted square number 52. I’m over halfway. I may finish the hearts for the Friday Finish, but probably not the straight lines…

How’s your midweek going?


Happiness – creeping along

Screen shot 2014-04-29 at 6.01.48 PMThere are advantages to quilting the same motif over and over again in the coloured squares of this quilt. You can use a template, and mark the design as you go along, instead of running the risk of having a fully marked design rub off. You get better at judging how many stitches and how large those stitches should be in order to form the heart shape. You get in the groove.

There are disadvantages too. It’s a shape in the round. Which means you have to turn the whole quilt around to move around the shape. Personally, I can’t stitch from left to right, and there’s no other way to do it. And finally, there’s the disadvantage of sitting with a large quilt in your lap on a day that’s too cool for air conditioning and too hot to be swathed in heaps of fabric.

So I quilt in batches. I’ve done the two squares either side of the centreline, from top to bottom. And then from side to side. I do 4 squares at a time, and then fling the thing off to cool down.

I’m 36 squares down, 64 to go. Increasingly I’m of the opinion that I’m going to want more quilting to prevent the layers going baggy. But it’ll have to be something fairly minimal, just to hold the layers together, and straightforward, so I can do it in long continuous lines without the endless quilt turning. Either straight or slightly wiggly lines on the white sashing, I think.

Any thoughts or suggestions from my stitchin’ sisters (and brothers)? It’s got to be simple – I’m still hoping for a Friday finish for the quilting!

Triple, but no trouble!

They’re here!

Meet Julie Barbara, Guusje Margriet and Isabel Jannemijn, between 5 and 6 pounds each. The triplets were born on 26 April, at full term and without problems. So far, they seem to be spending lots of time asleep. It can’t possibly last – soon there will be loud demands for food, cuddles and nappy changes, followed a few years later by loud demands for the latest toy, chocolate and McDonalds, and then finally, expensive electronic items, unsuitable clothing and permission to go to loud music festivals/South America/Australia (well, I can hope, can’t I?).

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I’m looking forward to seeing which quilt their parents think goes with which baby – and whether I can tell them apart. It’s too early even to tell how much they look like each other; at present they just have the normal newborn baby face and it will take time for their faces to smooth out and the features to assert themselves.

That makes 16 nieces and nephews and 8 great nieces and nephews…. and I’m pretty sure it’s not going to stop there! More baby quilts in my future, I think.



Sunday Stash

I don’t do these very often, since I try not to buy stash items every week.

Mostly I succeed. But there was a sale on at Spotlight yesterday, with 40% off all yarn and lots off a wide variety of fabrics.  So, yes, I succumbed. Not a huge surprise.

Screen shot 2014-04-26 at 5.40.04 PMThis is my yarn haul. Since I have no idea what I want to make, just that I liked the feel and the colour, I didn’t buy much. The big balls are 100% pure wool 8 ply, 100g each. The bluey/greeny/purply ones are a colour called Ocean, and the brown/purple/ orange/charcoal ones are Volcano. I’m interest to see what happens when they meet in one place!

Screen shot 2014-04-26 at 5.40.21 PMThe small balls are an acrylic/mohair/wool mix, in 50g balls. No colour name, just a number. But I couldn’t resist the sweet spring colours. You’d think the climate here would put me off yarn. Nope…

Screen shot 2014-04-26 at 5.40.41 PMThis is 90cm of pink and white patterned lawn, reduced from $15 a metre down to $4.50 a metre.  I could not resist. I’m thinking more hankies. There was a gorgeous black and white print, but still at the full price of $18 a metre. I didn’t buy any, but now I’m hankering for it.  It was a mid size print of ginkgo leaves in black and grey on a white background. Lovely!

Screen shot 2014-04-26 at 5.40.56 PMThese are fat quarters for an as-yet undecided project. You could get 5 FQs for $10, another bargain. I love these colours together; I think it’s going to be a couple of cushion covers or a table cloth. It’s not enough to make anything larger unless I start adding different colours which I don’t really want to do. That acid green is just brilliant – I can almost taste lemon drops!

Screen shot 2014-04-26 at 5.41.24 PMAnd finally, the white cambric broderie anglaise trim I’ll be using for my posh white nightie. I looked at lace and didn’t like any of it much – there was too much nylon and not enough cotton for my liking. This will be softer and less scratchy but will add a bit of girly detailing.  I’m going to make the shoulder straps and neck finish of white 1″ bias binding, and this will sit along the binding.

The Gardens of Chiconia 13

Meet the new members of the team…

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There’s not a lot of ground space left in the tropical garden, and one entire section of fence is now entirely covered with passionfruit vine. The other fenced side has the banana tree, gingers, heliconia and monstera in front of it, so not much space for climbers.

Screen shot 2014-04-26 at 9.51.03 AMScreen shot 2014-04-26 at 9.51.44 AMHowever, alongside the patio is a long stretch of fence which has nothing growing near it. It’s a little shaded, both by the patio roof and by the large palm trees next door. One end gets quite a lot of sun, the other quite a lot of shade.

At the sunny end, I’ve planted the Orange Trumpet Vine (Pyrostegia venusta). It grows fast, loves fences to scramble over and has bright orange trumpet shaped flowers in great profusion. At the other end of the fence, next to both the patio and the tropical garden, I’d like to plant the Purple Wreath (Petrea volubilis). My only concern is that it may be too shady, so I’m going to transplant it into a larger pot and place that where I hope to plant it, to see if it likes its surroundings. The sun here is very bright and very hot, so it may be sufficient. If not, I’ll have to find it another home, but I want to make sure it’s somewhere I can see it, because it’s spectacular. The leaves are thick, crisp and papery, and the surface feels exactly like fine grit sandpaper. The flowers are also papery and stiff, but are a fabulous shade of lilac to purple. It’s also available in white, which isn’t nearly as pretty in my opinion.

Screen shot 2014-04-26 at 9.52.16 AMScreen shot 2014-04-26 at 9.52.38 AMI also got out there this morning before the heat really got going, and weeded everything. All the interlopers have now been abolished. There are very few palm shoots coming through in the desert garden now, so all the hard work last year has paid off. One or two are still creeping out to see if I’m paying attention, and get swooped on promptly. I do NOT want another palm tree out there. There’s also thousands of baby purslane plants giving it a good old try, but I’ve had no mercy. My succulents are looking pretty decent. One, which started life as a single leaf snapped off a neighbour’s plant, is now knee high and putting down some serious roots.  My second aloe vera, also started as a single leaf, is about 20cm high, and all the originals bar one are reproducing themselves madly. There are dozens of baby chalkstones, kalanchoe, aloe, echeverias and sedums. I’m doing something right out there…

Screen shot 2014-04-26 at 9.51.22 AMMy gotu kola has now gone from a slightly tragic little droopy pot plant to one that’s making a bid for world domination in one corner. The basil’s huge. The coleus is now nearly waist high, and continues to flourish so long as I nip the flowers out regularly. If I let it set seed, it’ll die back.

Screen shot 2014-04-26 at 9.52.55 AMSadly, my frangipani is not happy. I think it has brought with it the rust from the parent tree, and most leaves are spotted. Some of the new leaves are also curly and deformed. If it doesn’t do better, I’m going to have to get rid of it, as it’ll never thrive.

Happiness is ♥ shaped

My favourite quilting spot, with Happiness making  itself at home

My favourite quilting spot, with Happiness making itself at home

Well, not the whole thing. Just the quilting.

I’m pleased with how my Happiness quilt is moving along. The hearts are looking good! The more eagle-eyed and anal among you will have observed that I’m quilting the hearts in white, rather than the teal thread I’d originally planned. This is because I found I didn’t like how the teal stitches looked on the pastel colours of the back. So, back to white and all is good.

I haven’t been able to give it much time in the last few days, so I’ve only done 16 hearts out of the 100 that have to be done, but they aren’t at all troublesome to do, the shape is small so it’s easy to pick up and put down without stopping in the middle of some complicated pattern, and I love the simple, clean shape of the hearts. And it’s so pleasant not to be wrestling the thing through the measly 5″ throat on my Janome to machine quilt it.

Now that my sewing machine’s back, I’ve also got ready the first two lawn hankies to send off. Three more are cut out and I just need to do the slightly fiddly job of mitring the corners. If I’ve promised you one – or even two – I haven’t forgotten, they’re getting done slowly. The machine is running beautifully, nice even stitches, quiet, the needle threader is mended and the tension is correct. Something else to be  happy about!

The shops are closed today for Anzac Day, otherwise I’d have been down at Spotlight, shopping for white bias tape and cotton lace edging and narrow ribbon for the nightie I’m going to make. Perhaps tomorrow, when they have 40% off all yarns and I may also find myself involuntarily stuffing balls of wool into my basket… My haberdashery impulse control is very, very poor.  It’s no good telling myself I have to finish Woolly Thing first. If it’s there and it’s beautiful, it’s mine!

I should be out there weeding my desert garden, which is bristling with uninvited guests. But sewing is so much more fun than stooping…

It’s time to remember

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To all the Diggers who have hung up their hats,
we say thank you.

Thank you for the sacrifice you made, thank you for the freedom we take for granted, thank you for enduring the horror of war on our behalf. Thank you for showing us that mankind has its redeeming moments amidst ugliness and conflict.

Today is Anzac Day.  All over Australia and New Zealand, in Gallipoli and northern France, at dawn today people stood in silence to remember and give thanks.

Gone but never forgotten.

We will remember them.

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