Friday, December 31, 2010

Better Cowl

We're off to New Zealand in September for the Rugby World Cup.  A cowl that keeps my neck and head warm will be of more use than a scarf and hat and it needs to be light weight as luggage weights are tight.

As the alpaca cowl didn't meet all of those requirements, I looked for another pattern.  The Imagination Cowl from Knitpicks was just the thing.

Knitted in Moda Vera Noir sock yarn (bought for less than $6 a ball at Scablight last Christmas sales), it took all of two x 100 gram balls.

I mistook the pattern initially but the flared lower edge works brilliantly and sits over my shoulders, while the ruching pattern keeps it close enough to the neck and face for warmth without strangulation.

This one is a winner.

The pattern is free.  It is Ravelled here and on the Knitpicks website here.

Mulberry scrumping

We went to a very special birthday morning tea for an old friend at the beginning of December.

Held at Canberra's oldest and quite posh hotel, we raced in a little late and breathless.  I apologised for our tardiness, but explained we'd spotted a ripe mulberry tree on the way in.  We were forgiven - our host and hostess had also seen it and fully understood the call of free and unattended fruit and were anticipating a visit on the way out.

We popped back in the early evening and collected a kilo of the very small but tasty fruit.  It became a mulberry and (donated) loquat crumble that evening.  Tonight we eat the last of it from the freezer.

Since then, a colleague of TOF's invited us around to help clear up her mulberry tree.  From that we made about 20 jars of the most delicious jam.  It's our first time with mulberries, but it won't be the last.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Alpaca Cowl

Knitted while we were up north with Mum this year.  It's a very easy pattern, but I am universally acknowledged as lace challenged and spent a good deal of time tinking this. 

Starting it in the car was not the best decision.

I used stash 5ply pure alpaca.  The ends curl and could have done with a few more rows of garter stitch.  Also it's not long enough to adequately cover the back of the neck while simultaneously keeping the ears warm.  Really needs another pattern repeat.  As it is, it will make a lovely neckwarmer. and fulfills my other requirements - lightweight and warm.

The pattern is the Fresco Basket Whip Cowl.  It is Ravelled here and free online here

Monday, December 27, 2010

Seven Things - Week 7


I will not complain about gifts.  They are tokens of appreciation and love and are treasured as such.  It would be churlish to resent thoughtful gifts just because I'm limiting my acquisitiveness.  Giving gifts is a joy and so is receiving them.

Most of the gifts we gave this year were consumables or gift certificates.  The kids are of an age where cash or iTunes vouchers etc. are best received, and most of the adults have enough stuff or prefer to buy their own but enjoy a bottle of something special be it alcohol, perfume or preserves. 

Is this a cop out with gift giving?  I don't think so.  The people I love get gifts throughout the year.  When I find something I think they'll like I buy it or make it for them.  The thought that goes into giving a gift, goes on all year.  I find it really difficult to buy on demand, particularly at Christmas, so the Christmas gifts are nods to the season more than anything else.

  • 1 pr shoes - Rocket Dog Mary Janes from Vinnies just in time to replace my old ones which died.  It's this sort of coincidence that helps me keep going with the challenge.  The universe really will provide when I need something, I do not need to keep unused items "just in case".
  • 1 knitting accessory - Vinnies
  • 1 pr boots - GIFT
  • 1 Tupperware container - GIFT
  • 1 washing machine
  • 1 hand trolley (to deal with washing machine as I've stuffed my hip gardening - an extreme sport in my book)
  • 1 TV/DVD player for the caravan
  • 2 hand towels - GIFT
  • 5 Tupperware playdough stamps- GIFT
  • 2 cook books - OP SHOP/GIFT
  • 2 bars handmade soap - GIFT
  • 3 decorative items - GIFTS
  • 2 Tupperware containers - GIFT
  • 5 prs jeans - OP SHOP/GIFT
  • 3 prs dress pants - OP SHOP
  • 6 blouses.  For work I wear a uniform (well a prescribed shirt or cardie which go best over black) so a plain dress or separates is my working week uniform with either jeans or cut-offs and a couple of shirts on the weekend.  I think I can be much more rigorous in the clothes culling and just keep a few things for "good".  - OP SHOP
  • 1 pin tray - OP SHOP
  • 1 glass jar (almost done with the buttons) - OP SHOP
  • 2 folders - OP SHOP
  • 2 prs handknitted socks - GIFTS
  • 2 boxes copy sheet protectors.  We go through these at work like I would go through chocolate if I had a different metabolism. DONATION
  • 1 stapler.  I don't need so many of these in the house.  This is a nice big heavy one and it's going to work - DONATION
  • 4 triangular bandages.  Remnants of my time with St John Ambulance.  Was going to use the fabric for pocket linings etc, but haven't and they are just hanging around - OP SHOP.
  • 12 reusable plastic cups - OP SHOP
  • 40 plastic sandwich boxes - OP SHOP
  • 17 baby-sized plastic coathangers - OP SHOP
  • 1 pr vintage leather gloves, lovely but too small - OP SHOP
  • 1 sketchograph - OP SHOP
  • 1 canasta set - OP SHOP
  • 1 book - OP SHOP
  • 3 Tupperware containers - OP SHOP
  • 1 sleeping bag liner, too small - OP SHOP
  • 9 crochet patterns - OP SHOP
  • 4 lengths fabric - OP SHOP
  • 5 embroidery transfers - OP SHOP
  • 1 Tupperware lid - OP SHOP
  • 8 crochet hooks - GIFT
  • 2 magazines - OP SHOP
  • 1 pillowcase - OP SHOP
  • 1 apron - OP SHOP
  • 1 plastic coat hanger - RECYCLING
  • 1 singlet, beyond redemption - BIN
  • 2 notebooks - OP SHOP
  • 1 scrubbie - GIFT
  • 6 polo shirts - OP SHOP
  • 8 old jumpers that would not felt - BIN
  • 1 washing machine - METAL RECYCLERS
  • 1 bench top grill. We decided to take these to the METAL RECYCLERS and see what we could get for them.  At $0.05, a large washing machine and the grill fetched the grand total of $1.25.  Would have cost more in petrol to get it there.
  • 1 pr shoes- BIN.  My Mary Janes died but the karma bank replaced them immediately from Vinnies.
  • 1 pr shoes, navy loafers that pinch - OP SHOP
  • 1 satellite navigation unit.  TOF's old one given to my brother GIFT
  • 1 biscuit tin - OP SHOP
  • 1 hanging organiser for wardrobe - OP SHOP
  • 2 jumpers - OP SHOP
  • 1 knitted scrubbie
  • 2 knitted cowls (these were knitted, but now they are blocked)
IN 9
OUT 176

Thursday, December 23, 2010

The Sort Out Starts

I won't check in every day on how I'm going with this challenge, but I need to celebrate my achievements and keep myself accountable.  A cheer squad might help in a couple of weeks' time when my enthusiasm wanes.
  • Half the ironing backlog done
  • washing up to date
  • Kitchen sink discovered under load of coffee mugs and cereal bowls
  • Pork, turkey and lamb cooked for tomorrow
  • 6 jars of old and runny plum jam turned into 5 jars chilli plum sauce
  • 2 cowls blocked
  • Jam and chutney under Mum's house sorted by type and date
  • Jars and bottles under Mum's house sorted into size and unusable jars disposed of  - ready to come home once my storage is sorted
  • Outs to op shop with only two ins in exchange
  • Presents wrapped


Sort-it-out Summer

I'm on leave from my paid job until 1 February. Nearly 6 weeks to get stuff done.

My peripatetic lifestyle (weeknights at Taph Towers, weekends Chez TOF with morning and evening sessions at Mum's to do whatever needs doing) has meant that I don't seem to have the time to do all the things I want to do, or if I have the time, the tools I need are somewhere else. And housework - once I've done Mum's I'm not all that bothered about it elsewhere. So there's a backlog of things to do. And now is the time to get my house in order - quite literally.

Here's a cut-down list of what I'd like to achieve. I don't expect it will all get done, but I do aim to advance all of it. The priorities are organising the storage under my house and clearing out some of Mum's, paving at TOF'S and curtain making.

• TOF’s lounge room cut and paste
• Caravan nets
• Caravan wovens cut down and remade
• Taph Towers linen for master bedroom
• Taph Towers hang lounge room
• Taph Towers cut down cream from lounge room for other two bedrooms

• Clean and tidy inside (constant)
• Tupperware cupboard reorganisation
• Pantry reorganisation
• Under house storage complete organisation
• Reorganise studio

• Clear out under house (well get rid of the obvious stuff at least)
• Recook jams
• Reclaim jars
• Fabric sort
• Yarn sort

• Set up priorities for next 6 months
• Fleeces to be cleaned and carded
• Finish off stuff (constant)
• Make "yarn" for braided rugs for van
• Make recycled wool rugs for bedroom

• all of it

• Preserves as and when
• rotate deep freeze

• Weed
• Prune
• Fertilise

• Sort
• Clean
• Lay

Monday, December 20, 2010

Seven Things - Week 6

The arrival of the pavers has shifted my focus somewhat. 

We have to sort the pavers into the clean and the to-be-cleaned (ie have concrete smashed off them), and stack them in orderly piles not too far from where they will be laid and leave enough room for the bobcat to come in and dig us a spot to lay them.

It's bloody hard yakka and TOF's doing the lion's share.  When we're done it will double the size of the "living area" of the house by giving us a very substatial outdoor space.  We're discussing the relative merits of pergolas, raised garden beds and colourbond fencing and whether we'll create proper parking space for the car etc.

we were doing well until Vinnies had a half-price sale
  • 1 pr shoes - TOF $3.50
  • 1 all-weather jacket - TOF $5
  • 1 black skirt (new with tags) $3.50
  • 1 summer dress $2.50
  • 2 books (spending my birthday cash)  bought retail but at 40% reduction.
  • 1 project bag - GIFT
  • 1 notions pouch - GIFT
  • 2 hair clips - GIFT
  • 2 plastic coat hangers - the type that come with purchase - RECYCLING
  • 1 dress.  Standing in front of the mirror, lovely.  Sitting down however, poorly filled sausage. - OP SHOP
  • 2 cake tins.  The snowman cake tin and the Humphrey B Bear cake tin have been lying idle for at least a year.  I've not ever used either and am unlikely to.  OP SHOP
  • 1 skirt - OP SHOP
  • 1 tank top - when do I ever where pale pink?  I know why I bought it.  It was $5 and it was new.  I am getting better at not buying stuff just because it fits and is cheap, but there is the occasional lapse.
  • 1 pr socks.  Do you remember slouch socks in the 1980s?  Well these were the last captive pair and the elastic went.  BIN
  • 1 pr trousers.  Grey velour - why????  giving these to Mum. GIFT
  • 2 blue tooth headseats. Like penguins and swans they mate for life and their mates have departed - took out the magnets for creative re-use but otherwise - BIN
  • 5 books selected from the overflowing piles at TOF's.  I said if he could correctly identify the ones I'd removed he could keep them.  OP SHOP
  • 3 bags - OP SHOP 
Nothing finished but several things at blocking stage although just when the ironing board will go up is anyone's guess.

Does moving and cleaning hundreds of pavers count?  Not yet, but when the paving is finished, it is sooo counted!

IN 9
OUT 19

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Crumbs oh heck

OK, another exclusion - building supplies. I can't control them coming in and we're using them fairly quickly, so it's not a stockpile of the useless and/or unused items.

These arrived free from a neighbour today.  Don't know how many jars of jam they'll cost, but I suspect a few. 

TOF sent me the image with the message "Crumbs oh heck".  Can't disagree.  Guess we're paving this weekend.

Tip for Commenters

Please, if you leave a comment asking a question, put an email address in your profile or give some indication of how to contact you - a Rav name perhaps?

It's much easier to reply if I have some actual way of contacting you.  I don't assume that you subscribe to comments (I never do), and it's a really cumbersome way of assisting you.

Also, I am on the move a lot.  I answer most of my email (comments come to me as email) from my phone.  I don't have ready access to the blog from my phone, so a way of emailing you means you'll get a reply quicker.  I have not replied to some questions because it has been logistically impossible to reply to an anonymous commenter with no return address.

Or if you have a question about a pattern, for example, email me - my email address is in my profile.


Monday, December 13, 2010

Seven Things Week 5

Note to self:  This is hard when it's your birthday.  That aside,  I am enormously grateful to my lovely family and friends for all their gifts.  They were without exception thoughtful and appropriate.  I love that you all "get" me.

Also, I've decided that the counting of jam jars and sauce bottles is just too hard.  If this challenge is about getting rid of the unused stuff, then preserving stuff is excluded.  We use them all the time and there's a constant ebb and flow.  Definitely keeping the SIAA component though - a lot of creative energy goes into transforming a piece of fruit into a gift or deep winter treat.

  • 1 stash bag (ie plastic blanket bag with zip) - GIFT
  • 2 books (long term loan, possible rehoming, better count them in) - SORTA GIFT
  • 1 GPS unit (shhhh, it's TOF's Christmas Present) - GIFT
  • 1 compost bin - GIFT
  • 8 pieces Tupperware $8 garage sale
  • 1 apple corer/peeler/slicer - preparing for apple season and full on preserving mode $2 garage sale
  • 2 books, 1 for TOF, 1 for me (AWW Biscuits and Slice book - always handy to have and I keep giving them away) $2
  • 1 hand-knitted hand towel - GIFT
  • 1 pkt cards - GIFT
  • 1 Blue Willow trivet - GIFT
  • 1 Blue Willow trinket box - GIFT
  • 1 Blue Willow tea bag holder - GIFT
  • 4 Tupperware spice containers - GIFT
  • 1 framed photo - GIFT
  • 1 gift bag homemade soap - GIFT
  • 1 wooden toy - GIFT
  • 1 set decorative candles - GIFT
  • 2 reusable bags - GIFT
  • 1 decorative hanging - GIFT
  • 1 x 20l water container for verjuice making  $3 TIP SHOP
  • 1 nutcracker $2 GARAGE SALE
  • 2 cds - OP SHOP
  • 1 dvd - OP SHOP
  • 1 diary cover - OP SHOP
  • 1 Tupperware soup cup - OP SHOP
  • 1 magazine - OP SHOP
  • 1 strainer - OP SHOP
  • 28 men's shirts.  I collected a huge number of beautiful cotton men's shirts when Tiny's Green Shed was having a clothing clearout.  Originally it was going to be just a few for hankies, then I thought I'd patch myself some peasant style tops, then I was going to turn the fabric into yarn and knit or plait a rag rug.  Then I met a quilter who was looking for men's shirts for a very special quilt for her brother.  Her need was greater than mine (and more immediate).  I still have plenty for all the other projects I have in mind and I'd already removed all the buttons. - GIFT
  • 3 rolls knitting nylon - GIFT
  • 1 piece plastic ware - RECYLING
  • 1 baseball - OP SHOP
  • 1 wooden toy - OP SHOP
20 jars of mulberry jam
17 jars/containers preserved nectarines

IN 34
OUT 41

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Button It

And now you've heard about the history of dressmaking - cast your eyes over this blog post on dress fastenings by a volunteer with the Australian Dress Register.

So my button obsession is not so much compulsive collecting as amassing a research resource. 

Is so, too!

Image shamelessly pinched from The Shopping Sherpa because her pics are always excellent and mine suck.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Women's Work

Finally got around to listening to "A stitch in time: dressmaking in Australia" a recent broadcast on Radio National's Hindsight program.

To quote from the website:
Before the advent of cheap ready-to-wear clothing mass-produced in offshore factories, dressmaking was an essential and versatile skill in women's lives, something they could deploy to feel like a million dollars, or use to earn a dollar or two. This feature probes the role of dressmaking in the lives of Australian women across the generations, as a domestic economic strategy, a female accomplishment, an aspect of technical education, a livelihood.

Seriously, do yourself a favour, it's both fascinating and extremely well done.  It surveys the history from colonial Australia to contemporary bloggers.  Excellent.

The image is of Patricia Lee in the dressmaking class at the Canberra Technical College, courtesy of the ever fabulous ACT Heritage Library.

Monday, December 06, 2010

Seven Things Week 4

So last week was a nett gain.  A tempting way of coping with such weeks is to save things up for when not much is happening, tossing-wise or like last week, when I was just too busy to concentrate on decluttering.

The beauty of only having to find 7 things as a goal - one per day (where ever I am) is totally doable. I usually do more because I'm weird that way and very hard on myself, but if last week was 100 and this week is 7, that's fin e - it only has to be 7.

I can't hold off deliberately, that way madness lies. Sometimes I'm delayed by circumstance - just can't get to the op shop or other intended recipient of my junk largesse, and so they aren't counted until they are gone.  If I waited until the end of the week, though, I'd be paralysed.  Once the decision is made, I really want it gone.  This is one of the reasons a lot goes to charity rather than being sold online or through the newspaper or even freecycled.

Sometimes, though, I look at things and think I really should get rid of it, but I shy away.  These things go eventually, but I find I need time to let go.  Regrets come from letting go to soon and often result in an influx of unneccessary things to fill the emotional gap - it's a bit like starvation dieting followed by a binge.  Often it's because I really want to find the right home for it.  If I rehome it rather than just give it to the op shop etc, I feel I have done the right thing by it.  This is not the same as saving things to get rid of on a rainy day.


  • 1 Tupperware container (fits Collection Development Policy) GIFT from Tip Shop (the love us there)
  • 1 George Foreman grill  (ours had an accient last week, we were going to get a new one but we got an as new one from the Tip Shop for $20)
  • 2 paper patterns 50c each OP SHOP
  • 1 Liz Jordan cardigan $4.50 OP SHOP
  • 1 negligee BNWT $3.50 OP SHOP
  • 1 shirt for TOF $1.75
  • 1 bag SECRET SANTA
  • 1 DVD (Ed Wood with Johnny Depp - I do collect JD on DV) $2 GARAGE SALE
  • 1 pr bespoke down ski pants for TOF - Mont - we love local manufacturer Mont who will make to fit.
  • 2 glass cannisters (more buttons rehoused) - OP SHOP
  • 2 tops - GIFT
  • 3 books -my vintage Billabong books with original dust jackets; gift to my niece who loves old books (can't imagine where that comes from!) - GIFT
  • 1 decorative bottle.  Merely decorative and never used as a vase etc. - OP SHOP
  • 1 casserole dish - GIFT
  • 2 Tupperware chopping bowls, one I bought, one was a gift.  Only used twice, I prefer a good knife- OP SHOP
  • 1 Tupperware sandwich box - OP SHOP
  • 2 glass jars unsuitable for preserves - RECYCLING
  • 2 novels, read and not going to be read again - OP SHOP
  • 1 Tupperware jelly mould (small) - OP SHOP
  • 1 electric kettle.  I bought this at Bing Lee Marrickville for a silly amount of money (or so I thought at the time).  I remember arguing with myself that I was allowed to have a sleek stainless steel look kettle rather than a ceramic jug left over from work or a plasticky nasty from the supermarket.  It took over a week to allow myself to buy it.  It's done me well, but it's too small at just a litre and I picked up a 1.7 litre jobby at a garage sale for a few dollars (between 1 and 5, can't remember) and can't justify keeping the old one as a spare.  Yes, I am aware how silly it is to tell the story of an electric kettle, but it's part of the release process. - OP SHOP.
  • 2  plastic containers - OP SHOP
  • 2 glass biscuit barrels (rarely cook and when I do, there's vintage tins and Tupperware) - OP SHOP
  • 8 golf umbrellas.  We bought these for Happy Spider's wedding last year because it was a drizzly day.  They were used and then we stored them.  Spidey needed them for another purpose this week, so now they are hers. - GIFT
  • 1 Tupperware sandwich box - OP SHOP
  • 6 prs pantyhose.  I stockpile hosiery, but these are too small - GIFTS
  • 1 calculator - OP SHOP
  • 1 Bodum pear-shaped thing - OP SHOP
  • 2 Tupperware vases - OP SHOP
  • 1 Tupperware soup container - OP SHOP
  • 1 bag - GIFT
  • 1 plastic mug, damaged and unrecyclable - BIN
Work has been brutal so no finished things this week

IN 10
OUT 47