29 August 2013

Cotton Reels, Toilet Rolls and Pegs

After the excitement of the musical, the school has a 'Day of Repose' for all the children (and teachers) to recover. I had to work, but by all accounts it was a disasterously hilarious day, starting with a hot chocolate that was undrinkably bitter and moving onto a lamington that never arrived, insects that smash pottery and walls that leap out and bang you on the head. Ruby wrote it up as a blurb for a horror movie, which was pretty funny. They did make these little dolls though - Grace made herself, Nina appears to have made Sideshow Bob's sister and you can probably guess which one is Lily's.

28 August 2013

If Foxes are the new Owls, what are the new foxes?

Apparently Owls have been replaced by Foxes as the crafty icon de jour.

That article is a bit old now and foxes have probably now been shuffled out of the spotlight and replaced by some other cute woodland creature. It probably won't be a star nosed mole. Maybe a raccoon?

On our trip to New Zealand last year we heard much about the devastation wrought by the introduction of brush tailed possums to that country. About a century ago a couple of chaps had the bright idea to start a fur trade in NZ and imported possums for the project. Don't you already know how this story ends? Just like the importation of rabbits, and cane toads, what seemed like a good idea proved to be anything but. In our Melbourne backyard the possums irritate us by taunting our dogs and shitting on our car, but in New Zealand, land of birds and reptiles, the formerly vegetarian possum has begun stealing eggs from nests as their population explodes and they compete for food sources with the indigenous fauna. Possums are adorably cute, until you start viewing them as predators. So too, are foxes. They are everywhere crafty right now, and who doesn't love those pointy noses, gorgeous colouring and bushy tails? But foxes are to Australia what possums are to NZ. Do you remember those furry friend chocolates? Back in the day, when the chocolate bar was wrapped in silver foil and came in a paper sleeve, the wrapper provided information about the animal featured. You know the sort of thing - habitation, diet, population, threat to species. Nearly every animal featured - bilbys, bandicoots, sugar gliders, the black footed wallaby - was under threat from cats and foxes.

I'd love to make some little felt ring tailed possums, some bilbys or bandicoots - koalas would be a bit hackneyed, I think - too adorably cute for their own good. But instead I've made owls and foxes and raccoons. Perhaps it is just that other countries' cute animals are more exotic and therefore more appealing. Or perhaps it's just that we have seen so many representations of Northern Hemisphere fauna - squirrels, bunnies, deer - that rendering them in felt or other media is much easier. I confess I'm not sufficiently familiar with the bilby to be able to make an identifiable one. It would likely look like a weird rat. Nevertheless, my challenge is to start making a few indiginous fauna as well as their adorable exotic counterparts. Let's see how I go.

27 August 2013

Beach Weekend

We took Ruby's friend Indigo away with us for the weekend. All five girls spent hours and hours playing in the tree house. I guess they were orphans, judging by the graves of 'Ma' and 'Father'. We climbed the lighthouse and had our friends round for afternoon tea. They brought a passionfruit sponge, my favourite. Ruby and Indigo both have Doc Martens, but I note that Indigo's, though older, are in far better nick. Grace made a pom pom and has worn it every day since. She has barely taken off the fingerless gloves that she wore as a pickpocket in the school musical, either.  Nan and Pa came over and we climbed the ridge and made a fire and toasted marshmellows.  The wattle was out all along the Great Ocean Road.  You could smell the end of winter.  A typical weekend away, extraordinary in all the usual ways.

20 August 2013

Mousie Brown's Lunch Order

It's a been a while since Mousie Brown featured here. It is true that he has spent quite a bit of the year in a little tin with some friends, sitting on a desk under a pile of ephemera. But nevertheless, he has not been inactive. It appears that he is still attending that school with the extremely pricey tuckshop. Cheese roll, eleven bucks?!!

18 August 2013

The Amazing Adventures of Spencer and Spike

If Ruby had been a boy she would have been called Spencer. If her best friend Indigo had been a boy she would have been called Spike. They have a lot in common, these two, not least a love of drawing. This is the beginning of their alternative universe. So far they've only drawn Indigo's older brother, Nick, reimagined as a teenage girl.....

16 August 2013

Amaya the Gluestick

Ruby's world is changing. Its all about friends and collaborations. I like the 'About the Authors' page especially.

15 August 2013

Anti Animal Cruelty Game

Nina made up this game - progress by being kind, regress by being cruel to animals. I'm not sure whether I like best her tiny writing, her very neat layout, the sentiment behind it, or the array of options she has provided for feedback from her teacher, Hannah.

14 August 2013

The Jealousy

No idea what this is about but it's a story I'd read and a film I'd go to see.

13 August 2013

What Does a Horse Say on Your Birthday?

Craig turned 47 last weekend. Nina explained that the horse decorations and riddle was appropriate because 1 August is the horse's birthday (in the southern hemisphere). I don't know how or why she knows that.

Lily drew a picture of our old dog Pablo.

Grace drew a picture of Daddy.

Nina made a teeny tiny mouse and a teeny tiny surfboard (it's the third surfboard she's made for Craig now), packaged in the handmade horse box.

And Ruby made her famous ooey gooey brownies. They are very very good.

We went to the footy and sat in the cheer squad and waved flags and pom poms (Thanks Terrence and Bede) and I discovered that Bulldog supporters have a strong sense that the world, most especially embodied by the umpires, is against them and their kind. I was quizzed about my affiliations by the man sitting next to me who must have sensed that I was not 'born a bulldog' like our eldest, who has the certificate to prove it. We provided Lily with the unique (amongst our girls) experience of watching her team win and we had a crazy late dinner with friends in Chinatown which the kids survived fuelled by lemonade and spring rolls.

12 August 2013

Whole Cloth

Though I haven't been posting a lot recently, I have not been idle.

I whipped up a small batch of whole cloth quilts. I love making them because they come together so quickly - usually within one day - and really showcase a fabric.

These are all just one metre of 2 quilting fabrics, and with such a small item I thought I'd experiment a little bit with quilting techniques.

This one has overlapping concentric circles. You can see that my quilting has a long way to go. I initially started using my free motion quilting foot and then realised that it was actually easier with a walking foot. Nevertheless, lots of wonky curves, but after a wash and the inevitable rumpling up, I am reasonably pleased. And I just love the fabric.

I played it a bit safe with this one and went for a stippled 'seaweed' effect. I've done this a bit and feel pretty confident now. I tried to make it a bit more polished as I'm planning on donating it, along with my linen 'Maggie Rabbit' to the silent auction at the fete. The top is 'Glimma' by Lotta Jansdotter.

With this last one, I tried straight lines. I didn't want them evenly spaced but I did want them straight, which I didn't achieve - some veer off slightly and I really don't know why! I abandoned the masking tape half way through as it didn't seem to be particularly assisting me in keeping the lines straight. I really admire people who do meticulous, perfect work. I am in awe of those who can achieve the perfect mitred corner. That will never be me, but I am improving. I have no doubt that, five years from now, I'll look back on these and shudder at all the mistakes and terrible sewing, just as I think with embarrassment about some of the things I sewed as gifts years ago. On the other hand, I make things with love and joy and that must count for something, don't you think?

06 August 2013

Patchwork Scarves

On Sunday a few of us met at the school to make patchwork scarves for the school fete.  It was a busy weekend at the school, with parents and staff painting the backdrop for the musical next week and the fete preserving team making vats of chutney and preserving lemons.The faint aroma of vinegar, tomato and onion infused our fabrics, but after an airing on the clotheshorse they smell like sunshine (amazing as there was so little of it around).  These are backed with upcycled corduroy, cut up woollen cardigans, and linen off cuts. They were very pleasurable to make - quick and satisfying.  And I really like the results too.