Finish 3 of 2020

Not crochet, you may be glad to know…

A while back, I wrote about making a porch swing from an old seat. At the time, I had every intention of getting straight on with re-covering the cushions and making everything lovely out there. But like so many good intentions, it failed to materialise. The porch was cluttered with my huge table, leaving not much space. I was de-motivated…

Then, yesterday, we moved the big table back inside, to the sewing room, where it is now extremely handy. Out went the small table I’d been (not) using as a desk. It’s just large enough for 6 people to eat around, which is the usual number of small family gatherings. I rearranged furniture. It looked nice, but the cushions on the swing were decidedly tatty. Enter my budget makeover. Towards the end of last year, I’d gone shopping in BigW (think Target, if you’re in the US) and spotted this:

I loved the dark green and white tropical print, but not for my bed. For the porch swing! The quilt cover and two pillowcases cost the astronomical sum of $9.

I chopped the end off the two pillowcases to make squares, serged the seams and behold! Two cushion covers. I chopped either side and the top off the duvet cover (saving the press studs along the bottom edge), serged the seams and voilà! Seat cover! I had enough fabric over (and more) to make a tablecloth. I think this must be the best, cheapest (and perhaps quickest) budget makeover I’ve ever done. I’m still wondering what to make with the quite generous pieces I have left…

And it’s (start and) Finish No. 3.

And Another Thing

Sorry about the silence from Chiconia recently…

I’ve been a bit busy recently: visits to the dentist (the usual polish and clean bill of health), the optometrist (new glasses again this year), unpacking more boxes in the sewing room/office area, setting up my new desk, hooking up a large new monitor to my laptop, repairing the Husband’s work clothes. All necessary stuff, but not really post-worthy.

However, the yarny clear-out continues, and a new Thing is evolving. I had 4 x 100g balls of Cleckheaton California 4 ply 100% wool, 2 in the Ocean colourway and 2 in Volcano. Not enough to make anything much with, but gorgeous colours. I also still had 4 balls of the Moda Vera Tarantino in the rust and ochre shade left over from Woolly Thing. So the plan is to make another Thing in the same sort of style but maybe a bit shorter, using the California for the two ends and the Tarantino in the middle: Ocean, Volcano, Rust Rust Rust Rust, Volcano, Ocean. Only time will tell if there’s enough to make anything wearable. If not, it’ll be a really gorgeous huge cushion cover. It’s evening work, for while I’m watching/listening to TV. Also on the agenda is covers for the back porch swing seat cushions, cushion covers for the reclining chairs out there, and still more repairs.

Hopefully I’ll have something more interesting to show you next time!

Finish 2 of 2020: the Woolly Thing

I love those occasional lightbulb moments you get.

They more than make up for the days (and sometimes weeks) of blah that I sometimes feel when faced with current or impending projects.  Having given myself FINISH as my 2020 word, I’ve tasked myself with finishing as many of the stalled, abandoned, unloved and uninspired bits and pieces lurking in the dark corners of my Cupboard of All Colours. Half of the top shelf is the yarny stuff. I don’t knit, I can barely crochet, but I have trouble resisting really nice yarns, especially the tactile ones.

Woolly Thing was started six years ago, and is thoroughly stalled. It’s in two shades of variegated bouclé yarn, and was originally intended to be a large, thick and snuggly shawl for cool evenings, but it’s far too heavy for this climate.. Like so many things, my ambition outspanned my skill, and I abandoned it when it still lacked about 50cms of length. It was too hard, too hot to work on here in north Queensland and so warm, when would I wear it?

Enter the inspiration. I read Margaret’s recent post about the Skye Wrap she made, and the idea was born. I would convert Woolly Thing into a sort of Skye Wrap, but in crochet instead of woollen fabric, unlined, and with a closed shoulder instead of a button shoulder opening. It was already the perfect size. All I had to do was crochet the seam together, leaving enough of an opening for the head to pass through and a slight roll collar to form. It was done in an hour. I wove the ends in. All done. Now, what to do with it?

My friend Dale who lives and blogs in northern NSW, has the same winter climate as I used to have. We enjoy the same casual style of dressing. I thought she might give Woolly Thing a useful home. And she will! I’ll carry it down for her when we head south in mid February. I’m happy to think a sad abandoned project will have a new life keeping her warm in chilly weather.

On with the next thing!


In case anyone’s interested, the yarns are Moda Vera Beauty in Rust (wool/soya/acrylic) and Moda Vera Tarantino in Rust and Purple (wool/acrylic/polyester). Both handwashable at 30°.

First start – and finish – of 2020

It has become traditional for crafty bloggers to review their output at the end of the year.

I’ve decided to change things up a bit. No ‘here’s what I made’, because you’ve all seen it anyway, yes?

I have, however, chosen a word for the year ahead to inspire me, and my word is going to be FINISH. It’s a habit  I’ve got out of in recent years, and I’d like to change that. Finishes are good. Finishes make me happy, and they empty the cupboard (ready for more stuff, naturally…). And in that spirit, I began my first project of the year on 1st January, and today, 3rd January, it’s already finished!  Good start, eh?

Regular readers will recognise the fabric, particularly as I only finished the top I used it for a couple of weeks ago. I didn’t work to a pattern. I had only the amount of fabric you see, plus the odd small scrap. So I had to wing it. There was enough to make a nice bucket tote.

In the midst of nutting the process out and trying to avoid more unpicking than was strictly necessary, I have discovered an interesting fact. There is no way (short of a computer program and an A3 printer) to reliably produce an ellipse with a given circumference. There’s a formula for determining the circumference of an oval if you know the a and b values*, so in theory you could work back from a known circumference to get the a and b, but it’s many years since I did that much algebra. There’s a way to draw an oval with a pair of compasses, but it’s not the right shape for a bag base, too round. I needed an ellipse. So I winged it, as with so many other things.

The bag lining was two fat quarters from my stash and a spotted scrap for the base. The outer base is leftover fabric from another top, overlaid with a clear vinyl layer repurposed from the packaging from a set of bedding. It’ll keep the base clean and dry. The loop and clip are leftover commercial bias binding and the carabiner was liberated from the Husband’s basket of Useful Tiny Things. The bias binding around the top edge is home made bias binding, left over from yet another dressmaking project. Only the green leather handles are new and bought especially. It almost qualifies as scrappy, doesn’t it?

It’s going to be a gift for my friend Chippy, and she will have to wait until I see her in 57 days for our joint holiday down south. 


*In case any of you are in desperate need of this information, it’s C = 2 x π x √((a2 + b2) ÷ 2), where a is the major axis and b is the minor axis. No, I didn’t think so…. But isn’t it a pretty formula?


BM&I #43: Parterre blocks 9 and 10

Blocks 9 and 10, ready on time this time!

After running late last time and making a rather dodgy job of it due to the eye problems (all better now, I’m glad to report), I thought I’d better make a bit of an effort. It’s a good job the Husband’s working day shift this New Year’s Eve – we have to go to bed at 8.30pm – or I might have had social plans. Not.

Some favourite scraps used here. The oldest piece is nearly 20 years old; it’s that yellow flower head in the top photo, a scrap left over from a baby quilt I made for a great nephew in about 2001. I really hate throwing fabric away….

Bee, Myself and I is a forum for ‘selfish sewing’; any stitchery which is purely for pleasure and not to a deadline or for anyone else. The original concept belongs to Carla of Granny Maud’s Girl. To find out more, you can click through on either her blog link, or using the button a fair way down in the left hand column of this blog.

Now, the next one is due on my birthday, so I might bring the posting day forward a day, or postpone it, depending on what’s on.

Until then…

Home is where you are

… if you make up your mind to it.

Sixteen years ago, I emigrated to Australia by myself, leaving behind friends, family, job and everything I knew. It wasn’t that I wanted a fresh start so much, more that I felt that in Australia, I’d actually come home. I brought very few things with me (5 cubic metres, 20% of a shipping container), but what I brought was the core of what made where I lived home. And home has come to be… just where I am, rather than linked to heritage, memory, family, nation or geography.

The Husband’s lovely niece is leaving home very soon, to go to University. She’s looking forward to it, and many of her friends are going too, but still, it’ll be different, not her home town, the home she shares with her family. I wanted to give her something from home, of home, so she can begin to form a core of things to surround herself with, the germ of ‘home is where I am‘ that I brought with me. It’s a quilt, of course.

She loves purple. And I had all my F²F³ blocks, the Amethyst & Slate colour scheme that I hadn’t done anything with yet. So at dinner on Christmas Day, I asked if she’d like a quilt for her new home, and I showed her photos of the blocks. She’s keen 🙂 I was short by three blocks, so I’ve made one and have two more to put together, and then I can make her quilt. It’ll need a wide border; the blocks only make up to 60×72 inches, and it won’t make up to full queen size, but it’ll be a nice bed topper and a generous snuggle quilt. I’ll put it together the usual way; I’d like her to have it sooner rather than later, so hand quilting is not on the cards here.

The layout may change. I’m not in a rush, it can fit in around other things. But I’d like to give her a gift to start her own personal core of stability. It’s a good way to start her independent life.

It’s going to be called Heaven for Beginners because of this quote:

“Home interprets heaven. Home is heaven for beginners.”
Charles Henry Parkhurst

The best Christmas gift…

Sometimes, the unexpected ones are the best.

This is 43mm of rain, which fell between 7pm on Christmas Day and some time during the early hours of Boxing Day over central and north Queensland.

There was no shopping, no queuing, no wrapping, no label. No money passed hands. No labour to make it, whether properly paid or slave labour, adult or exploited child. No rainforests were felled to create it, no petrochemical process involved. It certainly travelled many miles, but no fossil fuels were burned, no pollution created.

Despite the thousands of families who’d already set up their Christmas tables and barbecues outside, not a voice was raised against it. It has brought comfort and joy and relief and reprieve.

Now that’s what I call a Christmas gift.