28 February 2012

The End of Summer

Friends gave us these towels. Lily is convinced hers is the blue one. She's gonna be surprised when she can read.

Kids, water - mix frequently.

Cubby houses, anywhere, anytime.

I so do NOT get into Valentines day, but I do get into shortbread.

On hot boring days, jumping from the chair to the bed is as good as it gets

I used to make playdough nearly weekly for my playdough obsessed daughters. Like weekly visits to the library and regular trips to the museum, it somehow fell out of the repertoire. This was my first lot with Lily but not, I suspect, my last.

Mornings are starting to get a bit chilly. Goodbye Summer, see you next time.

17 February 2012

The Tale of the Talking Bobbie Pin

Once upon a time there was a bobbie pin, but not just any bobbie pin. This bobbie pin could talk! It was owned by Miss Right. Miss Right was a widow with one son called Jack. It was Miss Rights secret that her bobbie pin could talk and she never wanted anyone to know.

Now Jack was really wanting to be famous and everything. And he was about 17.
Now one day when Miss Right was having one of her little conversations with the bobbie pin, Jack just happen to be listening and before Miss Right could notice, Jack cried "golly" and ran down the street yelling "My mothers got a speaking bobbie-pin. Come quick".

So the town crowded around the house while some special inspectors came in and looked at the bobbie pin. It was forst to speak. Oh what a sight! but sure enough it spoke and the inspectors came out saying "No lie, no lie" then four by four the townspeople went in to see the pin. But it WAS true, they could not belive thier eyes.

Soon Miss right was forst to give the meuseum her friend the bobbie-pin, and she was terribly unhappy. but they were getting terribly rich. Jack was beginning to notice that his mother was unhappy and not jumpy as she used to be.

the pin was unhappy too and despretly wanted someone other than the crowd to talk to and all they did was open the flap and say "oh my! say coochie coo". How boring! So one day he thought of a plan...

So the next person who came he did NOT talk to!!!though the man picked him up and fiddled with him.
Then another women came and tried but he would not talk to her either. Not even the meuseum maneger!

So they called up Miss right to inspect it but when she saw it not talk, she new that it wasn't ded because it winked at her! So she said "yes it is ded"! and they said "well then here you go you have it back".

Miss right was delited to have her bobbie pin back and Jack thought that it was nice to have a change and get back to normal!

So they lived the rest of their life peacfully and they never broke out their secret ever again and they all lived happly ever after.

Merry Christmas to you Mama and happy new year. Love Ruby

My photos do not do this justice.  Ruby made books for everyone in the family and this was mine. I love so many things about it.

14 February 2012

04 February 2012

Mousey Brown

Nina and I had a rare day almost alone (Lily was there as well). She had been wanting to sew a mouse for ages modeled on these ones. She'd made the bed/box with her father and we'd managed to sew the mattress and pillow one evening, but the intricacies of the mouse needed time and concentration.
We were treated to a surprise visit from my niece, herself a keen little sewer, and my sister and I spent an astonishingly peaceful day with these two industrious cousins, ages 6 and 7, sewing their own projects side by side.
I'm sometimes asked about the children and sewing machines - how much do I let them do themselves, and how dangerous it is?

I'm neither an expert on sewing or children, but here is what I've done.

From about three or four they sometimes sit on my lap when I sew and 'help' guide the Fabric. When they can reach the pedal they sometimes operate the pedal themselves while I guide the material. Nina is an able girl and keen to do things herself, and she can use the machine by herself adequately on simple projects. She has sewn little bags and pillows entirely on her own and slightly more complicated things like pillow cases and a simple skirt on her own but with me standing close. For something even more complicated (i.e anything small or that involves curves) I'll help guide the fabric, and tell her when to stop and lift the presser foot to move the position and so on.

From experience with my own kids as well as various friends and relatives, I reckon from about 6, most children can sew reasonably straight lines without danger. We've never had an injury on the sewing machine and only a few finger pricks on pins.

With this project, Nina sewed the mattress, pillow and pillowcase by herself (I sewed the spare pillowcase), but with me standing close giving directions (quite explicit directions - "stop now, two more stitches, slowly here" etc). She sewed the head and limbs but I drew a line to indicate where she should sew and helped guide the fabric as these were very small pieces. I sewed the torso - this was very tricky with the arms and legs inside, and even then we had to whipstitch the side. She is good at whipstitch. I did most of the bagging out of the limbs as they were so small and we stuffed an arm and a leg each. I attached the ears to the head as these were a bit difficult, and started her off attaching the head to the body, but she finished it. The main difficulty I've found kids have with handstitching is getting the hang of pulling the needle through the fabric without pulling the thread out of the needle. Nina has done a fair bit of handstitching now and has mastered this problem, which saves me a lot of re-threading. She plaited his tail and I stitched it on.

I started her off with the face embroidery, but she did the rest. And she knitted the little blanket entirely on her own, apart from help casting on and off. I've found that most children can manage knitting needles competently at about 6 or 7. I'm sure there are some younger prodigies out there, but 6-7 seems to be when a lot of kids 'get it'. So far we've stuck to garter stitch and nothing complicated like increases or decreases.

I'd consider this to be more of a joint project than something that Nina had made herself. But she certainly did lots of it and was very thrilled with the results.

She wrote her mouse a tiny chapter book called "The Middle of Nowhere" about a cat called Mincey who goes wandering and gets lost.

Grace came home from her kinder having learned a new song about Mousey Brown, which was fitting and has become this little fellow's name.

(I've just been told that the box is not finished and that the rough edges will be sanded and painted, but the likelihood that I'll get round to taking more photographs of it is slim, so I'm gonna post this anyway.)

The Skip

We hired a skip into which we tipped broken bricks, concrete rubble, miles of vine, off-cuts from old projects, ancient dog bedding and other assorted detritus. I'm fairly sure that no one would have scavenged in our skip and found a treasure. Not like our friend who found a Featherstone chair in someone's hard rubbish. It's not often that I work up a sweat from physical labour, and it was a hot day of weeding and cutting and shovelling and carrying.

There is a relief in getting rid of things that have accumulated. I visit some blogs just to look at those clean, sparse spaces in which other people manage to live.

Tonight, as I type, I am hemmed in by a small pile of books we bought at the school fete for next to nothing but for whom we have no shelves; a cluster of photos; the Yellow Pages, not yet returned to its shelf; a nest of cords and wires; an ipad recharging; a community of Lego; a bundle of tax documents; a pile of medical stuff waiting to be filed somewhere; a model of a Karmann Ghia; a bulging pencil case that ought not be on my desk; sheets of piano music; a box of tissues sitting on the Norton Anthology of Poetry, Fourth Edition; an old issue of Art World; the ipad cover I knitted; a short stack of CDs that have something to do with software; a landline phone; a pink and a green texta; an empty tea cup; a piece of half eaten (not by me) cheese; an empty cufflink case; a broken geode; a rusty screw (really a rusty screw, not a cocktail) and a tape measure. This is not unusual.

I took the photo above of the shelf at my kitchen window, just exactly how it was. How some of these things ended up there, I do not know. On it's own, isolated in this photo, it looks alright, almost deliberate. But it is just one of many shelves and benches on which gather collections of things. It is not restful - partly because it represents work I need to get done (return the sunscreen to the bathroom cupboard, dispose of the candy cane in some way, find a place for the ostrich feather) - and partly because such clutter, when found in every corner and on every surface, is just too visually frenetic for my tired brain.

I am not a meticulous person. I find it difficult to maintain systems unless they are extremely easy and convenient to use. I will never consistently file things chronologically or alphabetically, but I can stretch to generally putting one sort of document in one area and another sort in another area. My linen cupboard invariably and inexorably descends into a mess of fitted and flat sheets of all sizes, randomly stacked to fit, despite periodic attempts to keep like with like.

I know I am never going to live in spartan surrounds, however much I sometimes long to. It is not my natural inclination and, with four little folk around, not possible anyway. But surely there must be an achievable compromise between the impossible ideal, and the cluttered reality.

Does anyone have a wonderful idea, a fabulous system, an easy and convenient method of stopping crap from breeding in all the little corners of their house?  I'd love to hear it.

02 February 2012


(just to complete the series)
That's the last of the photo quilts for now. Hopefully some actual quilts soon.

01 February 2012