31 May 2013

Oodles of Poodles

You never thought I'd sink so low did you?  Making all my girls wear matching skirts! But really, who could resist this hilariously adorable vintage poodle fabric, a gift from the lovely Kim?

These were very simple and the styles largely dictated by the amount of fabric.  I  put zips in the older girls skirts (that is quite a big deal for me, I'm not much of a seamstress).  I think they are fun and was surprised that even Ruby was happy to wear hers to school.  I thought she'd think the matchy matchy thing was way too daggy.  She was less thrilled about the morning photo session but we weren't late so...
Lily can look forward to six years of poodle-skirt wearing.  Poor kid.

Paula, if you read this, do you recognise Lily's cardigan?

30 May 2013

Lily's Quilt - now with added Winnie Hair

It has had a long gestation, this quilt for Lily.  For more than a year I have been waiting for inspiration to strike.

She requested red and blue and pink - not the colours I would have selected and I still don't know whether I should have listened. None of the other girls had a say in their quilts. Nevertheless I finally came up with a formulation I felt I could live with.

I do still feel that I made a mistake in the choice of the background colour. I went with Kona 'eggshell' and I think it is too creamy/yellow and should have been more like Kona 'snow'. Live and learn.

Initially I used 'eggshell' to join the squares, but that was definitely wrong.

I sampled grey, just using some ribbon to get an idea, but it didn't work either.  I was trying to balance out the pinkness but in the end I think I had to embrace it.

I think red was the right choice, though the quilt took on a different look than I had envisaged.

As I was quilting it up I kept finding hairs from our ancient old pug, Winnie  - you can spot one in this photo just coming out of the presser foot.  I had laid the quilt sandwich out on the carpet and had then been distracted, only to come back to find Winnie curled up on top.  I think I got most of them out, but if the odd hair got quilted in, well, perhaps that is a fitting tribute for the old girl, embroidered into the very fabric of our lives as she is.

I backed it in a grey and cream floral print.  I'm pretty sure it was called something like Art Deco but I now can't find it on the internet or locate the selvage.  It is very pretty and against the red binding is probably my favourite part of the quilt.

Not that there aren't lovely fabrics throughout:

There's some Denyse Schmidt Flea Market Fancy and some Storyboek by Jay-Cyn Designs, some stash and some spots as well as at least one fabric from each of the other  girls' quilts.  I liked each block, I like the granny squares design, but overall it is a little too pink for me, even though proportionally, it is just as blue.

(I could have arranged it a little more neatly on the bed, couldn't I?)  It does add a bit of cheer on a grey day to the rather dark room Lily and Grace share, and it complements Grace's quilt quite nicely.

Anyway, it was nice to finish it finally, even if I'm not completely in love with it.  Lily is thrilled and sometimes a thing just has to get done, doesn't it.  Or am I just kidding myself?  Whatever, it is done.

29 May 2013

Things May Not Be as they Seem

Corn flour  - prepared from wheat? 

I started this blog as a way of recording the things I make and the endless creations of my daughters.   When I began it seemed that these things were the most likely to be overlooked in the normal documentation of our lives, which inevitably celebrates the special over the mundane.

Creating is such a constant part of the life of any child that it becomes impossible to actually keep everything.  I wanted to be able to look back at those early leanings towards form, the choice of colour, the eclectic subject matter. This blog serves as a way to catalogue the development of skills that aren't necessarily evident in the school reports and birthday cards.  My own creations don't usually dwell long in this house  - given away as gifts or sold at the fete  - so I wanted to remember those as well.

When I browse through my blog, I am grateful that I have recorded it  - I'm sure I would otherwise  have forgotten The Chip Band, and The Jibber Jabber Sisters, and Rapunzel

But the danger with recording part of something, especially part of a life, is that it starts to look like the whole.  Browsing through my blog, one might believe that our days are all lovely walks and ocean swims, interspersed with quiet sewing and scribbling.

And of course our life is not like that at all.  Or at least, it is not only like that.  Every so often I put in a post, just to remind myself of how things are in the 90% of my life that is not stitching felt pumpkins and admiring my children's creations.

Occasionally friends make comments to me which indicate that, even though they well know the noisy, bickering, chaotic, messy reality of our lives, the 'blog truth' somehow prevails.  I've seen these posts on other people's blogs quite often  - the 'my life isn't perfect, you should see my messy house' posts, and I've always thought 'well yes of course, isn't it obvious?'

It occurs to me though that, some years from now, I may well have forgotten the noisy, bickering, chaotic mess of it all too, and may start to believe that our lives, circa  May 2013, were pretty much fetes and quilts.  So here is an anthropological record of an entirely normal morning that one day may provoke wistful nostalgia but which currently provokes me to near insanity:

someone is singing, someone is telling the singer to stop singing, someone is asking for something over and over again, someone is playing on the piano, someone pokes someone, someone howls, someone says 'for goodness sake, put your shoes on' and 'NINA WHAT ARE YOU DOING?' and 'no I can't peel your banana, you can see I'm buttering toast', someone has to get changed immediately because they have spilt milk all down their front and someone is asking 'can we go now? can we go now? why can't we just go now?' and is also saying 'you're going to make us late as usual' and someone else is saying 'don't look at me like that' and 'MAMA WHERE ARE YOU?'  eleventy bajillion times.  Someone is distracted halfway through putting on a sock, someone is brushing her hair or looking for the hairbrush or arguing over the preferred hairbrush, or insisting they have done their hair when the evidence is clearly otherwise, someone is saying they haven't had breakfast yet just when everyone else is ready to leave, someone is trying to find their reading diary, someone is trying to find their chess homework, someone is looking for fruit for kinder, someone has no leggings/tights/clean tops at all, someone can't find their shoes, someone tells them that are where they left them, someone finds that response very annoying, someone says 'Mama can I just hug you?' and someone else might say 'Oh Grace, in a minute' and someone might scream 'no I don't want that banana, why did you get me that banana?' and someone will say 'I don't ever want a cheese sandwich for lunch again, just so you know'.
It will be someones turn to unpack the dishwasher and someone wont want to do it and will want to return to the days where everyone unpacked the dishwasher together and someone will get exasperated by this discussion.  Someone will make their bed and someone will not make their bed and someone will be highly likely to end up making five beds.  Someone won't put their pyjamas away or won't get out of their pyjamas because it is too cold, and someone will ask if they can have raw sugar on their vita brits and someone is really not hungry and really only wants toast but the rye bread, not the chia. Someone's hair is crazy and unmanageable and someone doesn't understand because they never had curly hair and don't know what it is like and someone does not want to wear leggings or tights at all even though it is cold and someone will basically never wear trousers of any description, even super sonic trousers, and someone will be asking whether they can read their reader and someone will be told 'Not now Grace' and someone will be singing and someone will be asking the singer to please stop singing that really annoying song.

That's our morning, every morning.

28 May 2013


Four men, four synths


Vivid on MOCA

Crappy iPhone pic but you get the idea

the hotel

the closest I got to craft all weekend

When Craig booked tickets to Kraftwerk at the Opera House I was hoping for a quilting exhibition...
I'm joking, even I had heard of the seminal band, but probably wouldn't have thought to go.

I went mostly for the trip to Sydney and the chance to catch up with old friends, and I'm so glad I did - for both those reasons but also because Kraftwerk was awesome (and I use that word deliberately).  I was in awe of these guys, most who must now be in their 60's and have maintained such a pure commitment to the form and substance of their music.  Unsullied by anything like instruments or conversation (there were three words - 'goodbye' and 'auf weidesehen'), it was a mesmerising, hypnotic experience, complete with 3D effects.

The Vivid festival started, which was a lot of fun.  Really, Sydney just lends itself to spectacular outdoor events.  We had lunch at Rose Bay with good friends, the sun shone on the harbour as the sail boats drifted by, we stayed at a too-cool-for-Jules hotel, luxuriated in the absence of children, had delicious dumplings, swam in Harry Siedler's swan song, missed the kids and came home.

It is one of the pleasures of having a partner with very different interests to my own. I'm sometimes the beneficiary of an unexpected delight.

20 May 2013

We are Somewhat Amused

Someone graffitied our spanking new letter box. I am sort of amused and sort of cross.

19 May 2013

Let the Light In

On a cold grey day in Melbourne, Ruby's drawing was a little shining light.   Though it's not a self portrait, Ruby also has blue fingernails and new Doc Martens.

18 May 2013

Stress Release

Things have been particularly hectic lately, so getting outdoors for a picnic is a good way to relax.

It is especially nice if a friend joins you.

Or two.

If you can identify the biscuits* from the teddy's satchel, chances are you went to an Australian primary school

 in the 1970's.....

Kitty has a white bread ham sandwich and a bottle of milk. Chances are she went to an Australian primary school in the 70's too.

These little folk have been keeping me pleasantly distracted when real life threatens to overwhelm me.

They are made from old wool jumpers and new wool felt.

Their satchels are just big enough to contain supplies for a picnic.

I'm thinking of adding some books, too.  What do you think a rabbit would read?  Alice in Wonderland maybe.

I even made up a pattern for the coats.

It's been chilly in Melbourne this week, so I knitted scarves too.

 I've no doubt there are more productive uses of my time, but few that would be as enjoyable.

* If you guessed the biscuits were a jam fancy and an iced vo vo, you probably also remember when 'God Save the Queen' was our national anthem and Countdown was on at 6.00pm on a Sunday. You may have coveted an ABBA lunch box (or owned one), worn terry towelling clothing, slipped, slopped and slapped and understood that bit of graffiti on Balaclava Station that read 'scratch out Fraser, the seven year itch'. Or you might just be very good with biscuits.

14 May 2013

Tiny Dancer

These are not actually dancers, they are tiny dolls, but they look a little as though they are twirling around in their stitched on mary-janes, don't they? I've been sewing these each night and find them strangely addictive. They are very time consuming - each one takes about an hour and a half. It's the shoes, and the hair that take the time mostly. I've made them out of thin strips of 3mm felt - the same felt I used for some of these houses. I am not yet sure what to do with them but they are really very satisfying to make. I never expected I would become a woman who spent her evenings stitching tiny little things that required her to peer over the tops of her glasses to focus. I'm sure a more exotic life was in my plans, but this one suits me well enough.

12 May 2013


Grace to Craig 'Where is your present for Mama?'
Me 'I'm not his mother '
Grace 'But you're his wife'
Nina 'Well, not actually his wife.  His common-law wife.'

Ruby made me Nigella's brownies.  If they weren't necessarily cooked all the way through, well, brownie mixture is delicious as well, isn't it?
Lily made me a lavender bag ( I was corrected when I called it a sachet) at kinder, and two cards.
Grace finger knitted me an awesome necklace in beautiful blue wool.
And Nina made me a pompom, which I know she really loved, so it was kind of her to part with it.

It is sometimes hard to believe that all these girls are really mine.  I looked at them sitting on the end of my bed this morning, thrilled with their hand made gifts, so healthy and so different, and felt amazed and incredibly lucky.

09 May 2013

If you want to die of cuteness....

Check out the creations on this blog. The artist, Mia Giedre Kaubryte – Schmidt, makes tiny little toys with tiny little accessories including coats and dresses and hats, picnic sets, quilts, moses baskets for the toy's toys. Oh it would be Nina's idea of heaven, and mine when I was a kid. If I'm honest, it is sort of my idea of heaven even now, at the age of 42.

07 May 2013

Monsieur Aubergine and other Vegetable Creations

We grew this bizarre eggplant in the garden. Nina decorated him for the now-annual vegetable sculpture competition at the Harvest Festival. He was so naturally fabulous he didn't need much adornment but check out some of the other vegie creations.

Aren't they great?