Tuesday, November 17, 2015

rainbow rag rug

I bought the zpagetti rug kit from Hoooked Zpagetti a few years ago. At the time all I could crochet was chain stitches as long as infinity. I watched the Crochet Rag Rug tutorial taught by Cal Patch on Creativebug for only a few minutes and had a ‘aha moment’ and the rest is crochet history!

Zpagetti t-shirt yarns are considered sustainable. They are made with off-cuts from new fashion garments sourced from European textile manufacturers. The colourful cones are perfect for upcycling in to your favourite crocheted projects.

I found the yellow and purple ribbon yarn quite thick and the pink, red, green and aqua ribbon yarn quite thin. At the start I had a lot of curling in to a bowl shape and ruffling when I tried a looser tension. Eventually I found a nice tension, although the finishing row does not sit very flat, the rug turned out great. Ravelled here. As you can see Archie is delighted and the rainbow rug gives a lovely atmosphere in his room.

I borrowed The Dressmaker book from the library to hold me over until I can see the actual movie. Yes, it's true; right now I do want to see the movie more than read the book! I mean for starters, Kate Winslet plays the main character and she is such a wonderful actress. The movie is set in dry, sparse outback Australia; there's spaghetti western music; 1950's haute coutre to squeal and dream about for weeks; and who doesn't love a good makeover for an underdog. Oh and some of the best Australian actors I've watched since childhood - Judy Davis, Hugo Weaving...

What have you been making, reading or watching crafty friends? Crochet peeps, any tips on how to finish a rag rug so it stays flat on the last row?

Joining in with all the crafty folks at Keep Calm Craft On and Yarn Along. You can too.

Update: This post was written just before the tragic Paris and Beirut attacks.  More than ever we need to stay united.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

the imposter shawl

The Imposter Shawl taken with my phone camera.

The boys playing with my new toys - a swift and ball winder.

Ready to get my knit on!

Archie "gently" immersing the shawl in tepid water with a drop of wool wash.

Using a salad spinner to remove excess water.

Blocking mats coveted over at Small Things and bought from Knitpicks.

I couldn't resist a quick Instagram post before blocking.

Named the Imposter Shawl because the stitch patterns mimic crochet and weaving but is all sneakily knitted including the “faux-crochet” scalloped edge. Overall the shawl was quick and easy to knit with a few new to me techniques. You can buy the pattern on Ravelry or check out the online class at Creativebug. Amber and Jaime are a lot of fun.

I used the recommended 2 skeins of Heirloom Romney and you knit all of it so there's no left over yarn. This coarser yarn is not as soft as merino or alpaca but will make for a long lasting garment and from a 'slow fashion' perspective this is a step in the right direction. After soaking the shawl in wool wash and blocking, it was much softer and quite dreamy in fact. I can't wait to wear The Imposter Shawl for many wintry seasons. My new swift was hand made by Mary's husband in the Cooma-Monaro area. Thank you Mr Mary.

I'm reading the Spring chapter in the Way of the Happy Woman.

Sara says Spring is an opportunity to bring to life whatever lies within. Awaken your creativity and let it be know. Encouraging right?

Break out of Winter Stagnation by getting up early and get moving - at the gym, on the mat, running or walking. The key is to be persistent!

Declutter to make space for new opportunities. The more clutter you have (including files on your computer) the more energy gets dissipated. Ask yourself is the item genuinely useful? Did I use it last year? Does it reflect who I want to be this year. I did a massive declutter when we moved to a smaller house but it's a constant thing with a growing family, crafting hobbies, bikes, skies, snowboards, gardening, tools...so many things!

Time to start eating lighter foods after winter stews and oatmeal. Sara offers a Spring green smoothie recipe, Cinnamon Amaranth Flax Porridge, Quiona and Asparagus Tabouli Salad. Yum and seasonal!

There's also yoga and meditation sequences especially for Spring detoxification - yin yoga for PMS, hot flushes and mood swings. Vigorous yoga flow to stimulate digestions and lymph, break up winter stagnation and loose weight. Sounds good to me!

What have you been making lately? Have you been Spring Cleaning?

Joining in with other crafty folks at Keep Calm Craft On 
and Yarn Along.

Sunday, November 1, 2015


Mowing on his own now.
Ear muffs - safe protection for outdoor work and fun for indoor play!

Joining with the 52 project

Thursday, October 29, 2015

baby hat and booties

Our 'free range' friends moved from the Snowy Mountains to the seaside and gave birth to a beautiful little girl. I sent a small package in the mail - a beeswax candle and knitted baby hat and booties in Rowan softknit cotton; silver and sunset for a colour dipped look.

I borrowed Buddhism for Mothers by Sarah Napthali from the library. I've wanted to read this book forever.

"Mothers of small children are on their own. We often become painfully short of people we can turn to. In our premother lives working or studying, we probably had a community of people around us, including allies ever ready to discuss grievances or joke about difficulties.We may be feeling unheard, or worse judged."

These words would of been great comfort for me eight years ago when I had my first child! I like how this book is centered on the mother and illustrates an accessible form of Buddhism for every day life.  I've order a copy for home so I can take my time and read, pause and reflect mindfully, especially on the following chapters: Worrying about our children, Creating loving relationships and Finding happiness and loosing self-image. All very relevant for mums who often put themselves last!

So tell me, what have you been making and reading? Have you read this book?

Joining in with Keep Calm Craft On and Yarn Along.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

the craft sessions

Natural dyeing workshop, using native Australian plants.

Botanical dye pot using Eucalyptus Obliqua Messmate also known as Stringy Bark. Belinda Evans checking our progress.

Carmen gently drying fabric and yarn samples. Jars of mordants to help fix colours to textiles.

Display of our botanically dyed samples using Stringy Bark. An example of how to record your yarn dyeing results and underneath a basket of Belinda's botanically dyed yarns.

Samples from other students in the workshop of botanically dyed textiles extracted from Argyle Apple and Wattle.

Beattie Lanser demonstrating how to sew "The Beattie" dress. The pattern cutting workshop.

Sewing pleats on the Beattie Dress. The Beattie dress in linen and cotton chambray.

I knew I was at the right event when I heard the heartfelt and teary introductions the first night at The Craft Sessions weekend retreat of creative workshops, inspiring people and all things handmade.

I first discovered The Craft Sessions last year, over at Tiny Happy and incorrectly thought it was held in New Zealand. I was so over the moon when I realised earlier this year that it was held here in Australia, my friend was eager to go with me, and we were able to get tickets 'by the skin of our teeth' as registration sold out in 40 minutes!

The event was held in Melbourne's wine growing region at Yarra Valley Estate, an award winning venue for their commitment in environmental and social sustainability. We were served delicious meals three times a day which meant no cleaning up or eating cold foods for all the mothers! Fresh organic fruit and raw sweets from Harvest Cafe for morning and afternoon tea just an arm stretch away. In the evenings, cosy lounges, wine in hand and coffee tables covered in crafting books to peruse at your pleasure after a glorious day of crafting. It really was bliss and the perfect 40th birthday present from the hubby.

The first two days, Belinda Evans taught us how to naturally dye plant and animal fibers with Australian natives. In my early 20's I tie-dyed vintage lingerie slips worn as outerwear for a Retro Clothing store in Darlinghurst, Sydney. When it was 'Hippie Day' at my son's school last year, it ignited my interest in dyeing and more importantly to explore natural dyeing techniques that fit in with our families journey in natural and conscious living.

I have a bit of a crafty crush on Belinda not just on her natural dyeing and weaving pursuits but on her personal health journey too. Apparently she has a huge following, you'll understand why when you check out her blog,  Elements of Alchemy and her instagram account, I am Alchemy.

Belinda showed us how to prepare textiles for dyeing by gently washing the fibers. This is known as 'scouring' however that implies aggressive washing which you should definitely not do especially with wool. Adding mordants to the dye process to help fix colours to the textiles and how to record your botanical dye results. Animal fibers such as silk and wool are much easier to dye with than plant fibers such as linen and cotton. Natural dyeing is a waiting game and is full of surprises and fits in wonderfully with the slow crafting movement. 

Sunday I spent the entire day in the Beattie Dress workshop, an original design of Beattie Lanser. Beattie is a skilled textile designer with a bubbly almost theatrical demeanor. I was a bit stressed out with airline issues in safely transporting my brand new expensive sewing machine (another birthday present!) but at the last minute, the organiser Felicia was able to arrange for me to use Beattie's demonstration machine. So relieved! In the workshop we learned how to cut out a pattern, sew darts, raglan sleeves, invisible zipper, elastic sleeve casings, neckline binding and pleats. I sat next to Claire from Harvest Cafe and we had a good chuckle about my chambray fabric resembling the dresses Amish women wear. I was delighted as I watch Amish documentaries and movies and I find their needle work and pie making inspiring.

Beattie circled the room helping people with the sew-along and at one point when she passed my table she cracked up laughing at the dozen of pins I used on just one side of the skirt. She removed them and placed two pins at the top and using her arms gracefully said "and let it flow." I love her to bits. She is so sweet and fun and super talented.

I had such a good time in that class. Some of us did not finish hemming our dresses, which is no biggie and easy to do at home, we were tired but elated. Sewing your own clothes really makes you appreciate the hard work that goes in to garment making. For me personally, sewing my own clothes is one small way of dealing with the awful fast fashion industry and the terrible treatment of the garment workers.

I feel truly blessed to have been part of The Crafts Sessions 2015. I'm still processing it all. So much more happened in that jammed packed weekend including free demonstrations - spinning, blocking with knits, spoon carving! It definitely deserves another post. Carmen and I snapped pics using only our phones but the lovely Xan took some great photos with her DSLR camera and be sure to scroll down to see the swoon worthy examples from the Textile Collage workshop.

The Craft Sessions creator, Felicia Semple created this wonderful 'unstyled' event to bring women together to learn, create and make. Her thoughtful words on mothering and crafting such as 'how intention is more important than mistakes and imperfections', can be found on The Craft Sessions blog. This is also where you can be on the look out for The Craft Sessions 2016 event. Maybe I will see you there!

Joining in with Keep Calm Craft On at Frontier Dreams and Yarn Along at Small Things.

Sunday, September 20, 2015


Max: Pirate for a day
Archie: Digs holes all over the yard and tries to chop down trees with his shovel.

Joining in with the 52 project at Practising Simplicity.

Monday, August 31, 2015


Archie: Making friends with the neighbours.
Max: Helping his dad stack wood for our wood stove.

Joining in with the 52 project at Practising Simplicity.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015


Red slouchie

Better colour shot here.

Chestnut slouchie

Two knitted hats for me and one knitted hat for a friend.
That's sounds like good knitting karma to me!

We've all been out with the winter plague for the whole of August! The big one was off school for two weeks. Croup, fevers and constant coughing; one after the other, week after week till lucky last me. 

A broken oven and a grill that turns off and on every five seconds I am really over winter and can't wait for Spring or Sprinter. Have you heard about this? I always assumed early seasonal changes were a sign of global warming.

I'm so relieved I had homemade chicken stock frozen in portions to add to slow cooked meals. I can't emphasize enough the health benefits of homemade stocks for gut issues, eczema, arthritis or as preventative health... If you don't already make your own stock and would like to, I've pinned a 'simple how to' by Natural New Age Mum on my Pinterest board. Once you start making your own you can't go back to store bought. I've also pinned Nourished Kitchen's explanation on Bones, Broths and Stocks. Very subtle but yes I want to be Pinterest friends and I want you to eat yummy homemade nourishing stock.

Out of the kitchen, I'm on a quest to find the perfect beanie. After learning how to knit in the round with Caddy Melville Ledbetter on Craftsy the possibilities are endless. No more knitting flat hats and sewing up the side seams for this little knitter right here. I'm an insanely tight knitter so I cast on the large with 4 extra stitches. I love the big slouchie outcome which incidentally hides my inner highly strung, tight knitting tendencies. Details ravelled here.

 How are your crafty projects and seasonal transitions tying in together?

Joining in with crafty peeps at Frontier Dreams for Keep Calm Craft On and Yarn Along at Small Things.

Monday, July 20, 2015


Max: Sawing wood for the wood pile. He's a great help to his dad.

Archie: Climbing boulders and rocks and hop, hop, hopping on flat ground. He's a delight to watch.

Joining in with the 52 project

Sunday, June 7, 2015


Archie: playing in the early morning snowfall, on the first day of winter, in the Southern Hemisphere.

Joining in with the 52 Project 

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

first snowfall and a knitted hat

Knitted hat with ear flaps

Morning snowfall in our front yard

Morning snowfall in our backyard

We woke to a winter wonderland on Monday morning, marking the first day of winter.

I also cast off a knitted hat. My first attempt at knitting in the rounding using 5 double pointed needles and circular needles. Demystified.

I took Caddy Melville Ledbetter's class using her own personal pattern. I made the large hat but it turned out quite small even though I thought my swatch was right. Although...a flashback has reminded me that a little toddler was diving across my lap trying to grab the measuring tape at the time and I even remember thinking 'that'll do' and handed him the tape:) Lesson Learned. Details Ravelled here.

I'm sure my small Ruby knitted hat will find the love at The Thredbo Beanie Festival.

How was your first day of Winter or Summer? Depends where you are in the world! What have you been making?

Joining in with all the crafty folks at Frontier Dreams and Yarn Along at Small Things.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

little sunflower jumper

A simple child's jumper in worsted Luxury yarn from Bendigo Mills in the delightful colourway, Sunflower.

As the days get shorter and nights longer and the last of the Autumn leaves fall, surely a big cuddly toddler wrapped in wool the colour of sunshine will help keep the wintery blues away.

I’m really happy with my first knitted children’s garment. Even though I didn’t understand the pattern on the neckline and ignored it completely, the garment still came together nicely.

I cast on for size 2 but realised the jumper was too small when I finally made it to the sleeves. I unraveled (internalising the pain while I did this) and cast on for size 4.

Much better and worth unravelling for. Archie looks so cute but most importantly it's nice and loose and warm and comfy for our snowy winters.

What have you been making?

Joining in with all the happy makings at Keep Calm and Craft On at Frontier Dreams and Yarn Along at Small Things.

Monday, May 11, 2015


Max: He gathers the fallen Autumn leaves in a great big pile, as if to collect for mulching, but then with great anticipation he throws the leaves up in the air and screams in pure joy.

Archie: Curiosity in his brothers' skate park scooter, he is thrilled in a guided joy ride.

Joining with The 52 Project.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

chill out wrap

Because isn't that what grandma's do? Chill out:) This is a modernised version of the granny shawl from The Chicks with Sticks. Perfect for Bubby (grandma) because truth be known she's a busy little bee and could in fact, chill out a bit more. It will be a nice surprise on Mother's Day when she finds it in her post box.

I used Stellar yarn in the colourway Garnet from Bendigo Woollen Mills. Bamboo and wool are a match made in heaven. It's so smooth and silky to knit with and nice and warm at a bulky weight.

When I was growing up the mother/daughter relationship was tough especially the teenage years. I had to break down cultural and language barriers. Living in a trillingual family with three different religions had it's hurdles. Food made from scratch and handmade things however have always bypassed any misunderstandings. It is one language we all understand: It tells the recipient that they are loved.

How will you celebrate Mother's Day this year?

Joining in with Keep Calm and Craft On at Frontier Dreams and Ginny's Yarn Along.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015


When I saw the call out for handmade bunnies over at Meetmeatmikes for The Mirable Foundation, I knew the Easter bunny I was going to make for Archie should go to a little peep that needed it more.

I used a pattern from a borrowed library book, Crafty Creatures by Jane Bull. I gave the bunny a waldorf twist with a felt crown and some woollen hair. Unless I plan on becoming a finger contortionist anytime soon I must remember to print out that pattern larger next time. I had an awful time turning the tiny sewn pattern pieces outside in and stuffing them.

Bunnies are due in by the 15 March 2015. All the details are at Pip's Mirabelbunanza post.

If you know of any charity sewing/crafty makings throughout the year, please let me know. I'd  love to help. I can always fit in time around home duties for small acts of kindness. It always feels good to do good doesn't it?

Thursday, February 5, 2015

orphaned joeys sew need pouches

After the bushfires a couple of months ago there was a call out for handmade cotton mittens for injured and burned Koalas. Now Wildlife rescuers are in need of soft cotton pouch liners for orphaned joeys. These were super easy to whip up. I made 5 sizes with a thrifted soft cotton flannette sheet.

If you would like to help, sign up here and thereafter you can download the pattern and get the postal address. Quick and feel good sewing.

Friday, January 16, 2015

bathing bird summer survey

Last winter I participated in a volunteer bathing bird watching survey.

The research is used to look at which bird species are using birdbaths to drink from and/or bath in, the changes between seasons (winter versus summer) and how garden habitats and what we do might impact on what birds visit us.

The Bathing Birds survey runs for 4 weeks starting on Friday the 23rd of January and finishing on Monday the 23rd of February.

Would you like to join in? Only for folks  and birds living in Australia:)

All you have to do is observe your bird bath for 20 minutes a day, 3 times a week. It's fun, you can involve the kids and you get a fancy new title, Bathing Bird Citizen Scientist.

For more information and registering, visit Bathing Birds website.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

koala mittens

After the recent bushfires in South Australia, Victoria and New South Wales cotton mittens for burned Koala paws are needed. Koalas are often the first victims to perish in a bush fire. Wildlife rescuers find survivors with severe burn injuries to paws, claws, face and ears. It's not uncommon to find koala babies sitting in trees crying, distressed and alone. Doesn't this just tug at your heart?

This post at Down to Earth alerted me to a call out from the International Fund for Animal Welfare group. Handmade cotton mittens are needed for burned Koala paws for daily changing of dressings and application of burn creams.

Finally when the children were asleep and I cleared the dining table, I washed and dried some fabric from my stash and whipped up some soft cotton mittens in the wee twilight hours.

You can download the mitten pattern and find the postal address at IFAW

Update: The call out for Koala mittens has been incredibly successful. Immediate attention is now needed for other Australian native wildlife: Pouch liners for possums, kangaroos and wallabies. A new pattern for pouches will be uploaded soon.

Friday, January 9, 2015

crabapple pie

Four months ago we swapped eucalyptus trees, kangaroos and possums for a quintessential small Australian house with a big back yard in a little suburban town. Surrounded by diverse trees lying in their winter dormancy we were crossing our fingers once Spring arrived there would be signs of fruit trees.

Our backyard is a jungle of overgrown trees, shrubs and ridiculous amount of rocks with various areas strangled in a noxious ivy weed that snakes love to bask in. First priority after we moved in was the ardious task of clearing the yard and making it safe for the children to play in. Still continuing! Rob's hard work has paid off with the discovery of an Apricot tree in the far back corner of our property. Apricot conserve recipe coming soon!

The children and I have spied many promising apricot trees and wild cherry plum trees and red and green apple trees (exact identifications to come later) on our walks to our local bakery. However, across the road from our house is an unusual apple tree now heavily laden with fruit. I asked an older lady walking her dog if she knew what the tree was. I suspected that original residents of the area could definitely identify the local trees. "Crabapple tree," she responded. Predictably one minute later I was madly researching Crabapple recipes on Google.

From what I gathered Crabapple tree is an ornamental tree that is often neglected for their fruit. It is too small, tart and sour however a great baking and cooking fruit. In the case with pie it is best made with vanilla bean rather than cinnamon which is traditionally used when baking with green apples.

The boys picked a basket of Crabapples for me and I made them a scrumptious sweet Crabapple pie in return.

The flours and sugar used in this recipe is interchangeable so use what you prefer or have available in your pantry for this frugal pie recipe.


2 cups organic plain flour
2 tablespoon caster sugar
100 g cold unsalted butter, cut in to cubes
1 egg, beaten
40 ml ice-cold water

Pie filling
30 Crabapples or enough to fill your pie dish. Leave skins on,scrubbed and washed
1 cup of golden unrefined natural caster sugar or any granulated sugar of your choice
1 tablespoon of flour
1 teaspoon of organic vanilla bean paste or essence
Half a lemon, juiced

In a food processor, process flour, sugar and butter until mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add 40 ml ice-cold water and process until mixture forms a ball.

Divide dough into two pieces, one slightly larger than the other. Wrap in plastic wrap, and chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 200°C.

To make the filling, simply cut crabapples in to quarters then cut out core and seeds. I cut half of the quartered apples in to pieces because I wanted some really soft apple pieces and some chunky. Combine all ingredients in a large mixing bowl except for the egg.

Using a lightly floured rolling pin, roll out larger disc between two sheets of baking paper big enough to line the bottom of your pie dish. Line pie dish with pastry. Roll out remaining pastry disc to fit on top of your pie and put in the fridge until ready to use.

Place filling in pastry case and line with top pastry and seal edges. Brush with egg wash. Make 3 small incisions in pastry top to allow steam to escape.

Bake for 40 - 50 minutes or until golden and juices bubble through the incision on crust.

We ate pie not long after it came out of the oven (it was 10 pm!) but wait until it cools down if you can. The next day we had a second serving with good quality vanilla ice-cream.

Why we forage:

Foraging is another way we can reduce our food miles and increase eating more locally and seasonally.

It seems absurd and wasteful to pass by a sustainable and abundant food resource and head to the supermarket to buy what is already available and free within arms reach.

By involving our children in the forage-to-table process our children learn where their food comes from and have fun too. They also experience a taste of a "real" childhood just like their grandparents did foraging in woodlands and forests in Europe.

Do you forage? Have you discovered edible food on your local footpaths and parks? Or in your backyard? Apparently it is a bumper crop year and some people have discovered fruit trees in their own backyard they weren't even aware of.