Monday, March 28, 2011

Weekend Christening

Well, unusually for me, I neglected to take a photo of the romper I made for the christening we attended on Sunday.  Probably for the best; i had trouble with getting the crotch to sit right so I was not happy with it anyway.  I nearly did not give it to the mother but i managed to get it to sit better than it had been.  The problem I had was that the smocked panel was a fraction too wide which put the rest of the front piece out of whack.  And made it longer than the lining.  I unpicked the crotch three times before i was even passably happy with it. I hope that when it is on the baby, it sits better.  With more time up my sleeve I could have fixed it a number of different ways, but that was taken out of my hands with no notice given.
So no photos anyway.
What i do have to share with you is this:
It is a gorgeous Hardanger cloth that was sitting just inside the door of the church on Sunday, on a little table.  Sadly it looks to be stained; or maybe it is just in need of a wash, I am not sure.  It would have taken me ages to have done all of the wrapped threads.  A labour of love I am sure, by whatever lady made it.  My husband thought I was a bit loopy I think, taking a photo of a little table!  My son was more intrigued with the little bell sitting in the middle; it had  what looked like a dice in the top of it, it rotated and had religious symbols on it.
The other thing that has happened this week is the emergence of a wooden deck along the side of our house.  it was a plan we had when we extended our house a year ago so it is good to see it finally come to pass.  Hopefully the decking boards will go down on Wednesday and then it will be done, save for the roof we are putting on it, which will be done in a month or so.  I have photos but will show you later in the week when the boards go down.  And then, after 13 years, our little house will finally be finished; for now anyway!  Until the next grand plan LOL!!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

blog award

I have been fortunate this week to have been nominated for this blog award by two fellow bloggers, Linda and Karen. 
So now it is my turn to pass it along.
In no particular order, these are seven blogs that  I like to follow and read regularly.

Jenny at Elefantz
Linda at Billabongs2bling
Karen at ozstitcher
Jeannie at the Old fashioned baby room
Dianne at Beach textiles
Shirley at Shirley's twisted threads
and last but not least,
Dandelion Avenue

Thanks again Linda and Karen. It was fun thinking of other blogs to put here; I like looking at all sorts of blogs and can spend so much time sitting here and enjoying everything that the very clever people put up on the internet.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Picture smocking

I thought while I was in the middle of some that i would post about picture smocking. Maybe some hints and tips that I have found useful.
The friend who taught me to picture smock warned me that it was difficult and while she gets wonderful results with it, it seems to be a struggle for her.  On the other hand, i love doing it.  I am not too keen on all the backsmocking rows required but they are a necessary part of it I guess.

Ok, tip no 1; speaking of backsmocking:
Because picture smocking is usually only using sections of the pleated piece, something is required to hold it all together. So rows of cable are stitched along the back at regular intervals. Now the question is when to do these. Personally I prefer to do them first. If you do the picture smocking first, you then need to try to do your cable rows around the knots and short stitches that are made on the back of the work. So for this reason, I do it first.  Also, it gets the tedious bit out of the way; it is like eating your vegies first; and saving the good bit for the end LOL!!

Tip no 2 (there aren't many to go)
Keep the tension fairly light.  If you pull your stitches too tight, there will be a pulling in of the stitches when they are stacked on top of each other and it will not sit together. So not as tight as geometric smocking.

Tip no 3
I have read articles that suggest using  a small needle to keep the threads together; I do the opposite and use quite a large needle; i find the threads can lie flat next to each other and not be bunched up in the eye; just a personal preference. Quite typical of me not to do as I am told!LOL!
No 4
Speaking of thread,  four strands of stranded cotton are usually used. These need to be stripped ie, separated from each other and then laid back together.  This way they don't clump and will sit flat next to each other on the material, giving you a nice even coverage. Some people iron their threads; I have tried this but find I get good enough results without doing this.

There was something else i thought of but being after my bedtime, it has escaped my brain cells for the minute.
Picture smocking is fun and can give a real lift to children's clothes (or adults; these owls were on a jumper of mine, much to my husband's disgust LOL!!)
Take your time and enjoy it would be the only other things I suggest.  Dont stress and it will all work out.  It can take practise to work out how far apart to smock each row to get the design to be the right height; often people find their rows are stitched too closely and their design ends up too short. My problem is the opposite; mine end up too big. I have no idea how but it all seems to work in the end.
This was my first attempt at picture smocking; you can see hints of the background coming through; especially in the black.
Not bad for a first attempt. This was before I had mounted it into some fabric and made it into something for a gift.
well I hope this helps someone out there in blogger land.
'Night all, off to the land of Nod for a well earned sleep. (I have a heavy chest cold and have been coughing through the night; in my sleep too apparently, so i think I need all the sleep I can get)

I remember now (after a good sleep)
The last tip I have for you is to take your stitches deeper into the pleat than you would for geometric smocking. With shallow stitches the material shows through between each stitch.

Monday, March 21, 2011

More baby sewing

I whizzed out this morning (a 100km round trip) to my closest material store (ok, almost the closest; the closest DECENT store) to buy some material for yet another baby present. My DH's cousin is having her baby christened on Sunday and we only decided to attend yesterday. Hubby mentioned that something home made would be nice.  I actually thought I was making the christening gown but after the deafening silence, I realised that plans had changed.  It turns out the godmother wants to buy a dress, not have it home made (arghh, can you imagine something home made; how terrible!!)
So anyway, off I trotted to get some material. I had an idea of making a romper of some sort, which then turned into a sleeveless romper/overalls.  it will look somewhat like this:
which is from Australian Smocking and Embroidery issue 86.  But true to form (my form anyway) it will have different smocking and as it is lined, I am going to extend the legs just a smidge and make cuffs on the bottom.  Cute!!
So, here is the material I bought:

How cute is the monkey material?????  CUTE!!!! I saw it a few weeks ago shopping with a friend but didn't buy any. It is a fine corduroy so perfect for the upcoming winter.  I dithered for ages this morning trying to decide what to make and so came home with both lots.  For baby Ayden this weekend I am making the blue starry corduroy into the overalls with a red lining and a smocked blue insert across the front. Probably not the anchors; they are cute but as i am time poor i might do some geometric smocking.
i am dying to have some spare time to get stuck into the green monkeys; what I have decided to do, for no real reason, is to make some overalls out of the green, line it with the yellow, do a smocked panel of the yellow and picture smock the monkeys across the front.  I would love to do it for this weekend but working out the graph will take time that I do not have so it will have to wait. 

Over the weekend I was busy smocking a nightie for one for one of the many babies that are coming.  I was so happy with it, all of it, until right at the end where the neck binding refused to go on right. This has been pulled out once already and is waiting to be done again.  Such a shame as the rest of the nightie is perfect. Not happy!!

I think it can go away and wait for a rainy day for me to unpick the neck and try it again. 

I am happy with the bear; she turned out so cute. It is actually a nightie I have made for so many baby presents.  I often do this bear; usually pink or blue to match the sex of the baby. I have never had the problem with the neck that I had yesterday.  Oh well, another one to go in the pile of UFOs.  I like to think that if I didnt need the romper so quickly I would spend the time trying to fix this one but who am I kidding; I am annoyed with it so away it will go!!!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Happenings of a Long weekend

Hi all,
it was a long weekend here; Labour Day holiday yesterday.  We used the opportunity of a three day weekend with good weather to take our boat out for a spin.
The kids and i have rarely had a chance to use it as last summer saw no water anywhere. Hubby has a twice yearly family fishing trip out on the bay (no women allowed!!!) so he has been out on it but it has been a long wait for the boys and I.  So we took it to Wodonga where we have family, and took it out on lake Hume.  In the morning the three of us went fishing. Caught nothing but sunburn; I did anyway.  Having very fair skin I am very meticulous about sunscreen, but it was overcast and while I keep sunscreen on the boat, we didn't use it.
In the afternoon when the sun came out we all slathered it on but I am told i was already red by then.  Oh well, it was only mild and most of the redness has already gone today.  I must just remember not to scratch my arms if they get itchy though - owwwww!.
In the afternoon we got the "donut" out and the kids and my brother in law had a go on that.
And now for a bit of perspective: last year, about this time, we had my brother-in-law's little quad bike out in the dry lake bed so the kids could have a play.  We were a good way out but now with the lake at 100% it is a different story.
This was last year; you can see the boat ramp behind my son;

Now, this was taken from the other side of the boat ramp but you can just see it; only the top sticks out of the water, in the previous photo all of it plus more dirt roads that people have made can be seen.

There is about 80 feet of water right here.
Nature amazes me; it is awesome that this can turn around so dramatically in twelve months.

The other thing I managed to do this weekend was some knitting.  I found this pattern here and decided for no real reason to have a go at it.  it is almost done now, I need to get some cable needles to finish it off as i can't keep decreasing in the round with the circular needle.
I thought the owls were very cute.  The only problem i have had with it is this: the colour of the wool seems to change halfway through the ball.  My son's Sackboy (remember him?) was done with this wool, and he

has a different coloured head and while it took me a while to realise it, once I did i was annoyed and frustrated as I had only used the one ball (and the three balls that I bought were from the same dyelot anyway).  Knitting this hat over the weekend, i realised the colour had changed, just about the level of the owls' heads.  It isn't too obvious, but where it does get obvious is halfway up where i had to use a new ball. I pulled it apart thinking that like the other two it would change colour also; but no, of course it doesn't.  So I have a very obvious line across the knitting that shouldn't be there.  Grrrr. My only consolation is that this wasn't for anybody in particular and the wool was very cheap. So live and learn; learn what I don't know.  But it has solved the mystery of Sackboy's odd coloured head.  It is more obvious in real life than in the photo.
Oh well, what's done is done.  I will finish this beanie and then possibly have another go at one.  It is a great pattern; very easy and very effective.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Weekend stitching, and other stuff

I thought i would show you what I played with over the weekend.  Firstly are these two burp cloths that i managed to throw together. They were quick and very easy and have turned out much better than my expectation.  They go to the top of my list for easy and yet lovely (and practical) presents for babies.
Then I played around with a new pattern I found last week. They are baby shoes; very appropriate as i have numerous baby gifts to make.  The only problem I found with these are the size. these are supposed to be birth to 3 months but when I measured them against my babies' footprints when they were both a month old; they would only have just fitted into them.  So i will have to rethink the size i would make.  Other than that, they were easy and quick to make also.  And soooo cute LOL!!!

The other thing Id id was finish the four Wee care dresses.  They were done on Sunday.  Then yesterday I was invited over to see the neighbour's new baby, found out she was five weeks premmie, so the four dresses have been given to her.  I know they will be well loved. She is so cute, but oh so tiny.  A very much wanted and well loved baby she is.

As for the rest of these; we had a function last night just out of town to thank the kids who did such a good job at the 1860s dinner last week.  My eldest son who has gotten very interested in drawing took my camera (It goes with me most everywhere) and took photos of the place we were at. i have driven past this place so many times but had never been in. It is set amongst dense bush and is just beautiful. So i will leave you to enjoy for yourself.  I must say though, i just fell in love with this first guy; he was so cute sitting on a log overlooking a wonderful lake they have.
Son no1 took this one, it looks through to the fountain you can see in the photo above; very artistic!!

Function centre...

My son took this one as well, I am not sure why I am drawn to it, the starkness of the tree branches maybe??
On the way home, the sun was going down. I am often driving at this time of night but never have my camera so the kids had to bear with me with I made a couple of u-turns to see if I could get different photos.  This one isn't great, but I couldn't get into a position to get the shot I wanted and still have the car in a safe spot on the side of the road.
This last one was taken by my son, but as i saw the shot out of my rear vision mirror and then turned the car around so I could get it, until he took the camera off me; I claim half the ownership of it LOL!!! (Doesn't matter now but might when Show season comes up and we have to decide whose photo it really is LOL!!!)

Saturday, March 5, 2011


Come on, you know you all have them (well I assume you all have them; I know I do); those pesky projects that never got quite finished and have sat there waiting to be picked up again.

This year i am determined to get some of these projects out and finish them.  It is too easy to start more things, which are new and exciting and leave these tings in the cupboard. So, this year i will endeavour to empty my UFO box. i realise that this will never be empty, as other things get banished to the box but it would be nice to clear it just a little.
So, i will now show you what my plans for the year are (besides the baby presents that I am trying to do for two pregnant friends at the minute).

This I started when my kids were very little; my eldest when he was maybe three, in a fit of temper, poured blue cordial over it after i had told him off for something.  The cordial came off but the stitching has been patiently waiting for all these years to be finished. And as you can see, there is very little to go, just some leaves in the corner.
As my kids are now 12 and 14, i guess it will neeed a new home when it is done.I don't imagine either of my two will want it LOL!!


This is a tapestry I started a couple of years ago. I bought it really cheaply (it was being sold for charity) and I couldn't wait to start it. It is already trammed so shouldn't be too hard thought I. But with many many shades of green in it, it soon found it's way into The Box. I was hesitant in case i used the wrong green in the wrong spot and then ran out of wool.  I know i can ring them and possibly get more but my fear of failure stopped this work before it was barely begun. Even the white has more than one shade.  I would love to get this finished but can see it moving to the bottom of the pile.

This kit I won when i had a christening gown in the Royal Melbourne Show. I won the section which was sponsored by Rajmahal threads.  i got a box of wonderful goodies (thanks Rajmahal!!) including this goldwork kit.  All the poor love needs are her wings and she is done.  I started one, found it to be so fiddly that other things looked like more fun and she ended up in The Box.  So I really should get her finished. I think she is really pretty and I did enjoy making her.
This is something I started last year.  I hadn't done blackwork (bluework) before and bought this table runner which worked out to be exactly right for these teacups.  One is nearly done, with not much to go and then i will be doing another one up the far end and then either one or two up each side. I was going to do two on each long side but a friend thought it might be too fussy. I am still thinking about it.
I do have a reasonable excuse for this going into The Box.  I developed a very sore hand last year which, after numerous tests found nothing at all wrong, was decided to be an inflammatory issue.  Anti-inflammatories seemed to settle the issue, but it hasn't completely gone, so I still need to be careful. But while it was going on, I couldn't do anything much with my hand. Frustrating to say the least.  Now, sewing seems to be okay for it, but knitting and crochet are not good at all (hasn't stopped me though LOL!)
So this poor table runner needs lots of work on it and I really should pick it up again.
This last one is a very new work; started last month.  It is material i was given and over Christmas i thought it would make a lovely table cloth so decided to do a circle of daisies in the middle.  It was going along swimmingly until I ran out of thread, it is a DMC Perle 3; quite thick.  So i have now bought plenty more, from Sovereign Needlework  and have no excuse for finishing it.

My other UFOs which should be done is this smocked dress which just needs buttons and these Wee Care gowns which just need press studs.

I hate that i will get something so close to being finished and leave it for something new.  My problem with the pink dress is that I have two friends who are expecting, and I do not know the sex of the baby for either. So I started this and then began thinking of all the gender neutral things i could do.  What i need to do is take the half an hour to do the buttons and just get it done.
The Wee Care gowns haven't been waiting too long. And the fourth one has only just been finished with the smocking during the week so i was waiting for all four to be smocked before i did the studs.

So, that is my plan for the year.  We will see how far I get with all of them.  And then maybe I might make a start on this:

Which has all the material here, just waiting.  I hadn't done any quilting quite this involved so I was chicken and didn't start it.
But no quilting until some of these things are done.  Hubby will be happy: while I am finishing these projects, I have no excuse to go buy more fabric etc. Although who needs an excuse????

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

1860s dinner

As I have mentioned, our town has officially turned 150 so to celebrate they held a dinner on the Main Street (among other activities).
People coming to the dinner were encouraged to wear period clothing so a friend of mine asked if I would make her a dress. Of course I said yes, if only to see her actually wearing a dress!  Halfway through the making of her dress she said I should go so I had to make one for me too.

Saturday was the night of the dinner. Dresses were done so I was very excited.  As someone who has been on various committees, it was nice going to an event that i did not have to plan or work for.  Or so I thought!!!

They had local teengers being the waiters for the night so anyone interested turned up Saturday afternoon for some very rigorous training.  My two boys (aged 12 and 14) wanted to go so off we trooped. While they were doing that I ended up helping to fold serviettes and set the places. (I can't for the life of me understand people who stand and watch others work and do not join in).  The kids were put through their paces and while the lady was strict with them, she got the results. By the evening, they looked like a professional group of waiters that had been working for ever.  Not like a group of kids.  Not a single plate was dropped, no glassware was broken. I used to be a waitress and i can't claim that so they did very well.
Dinner was very nice and the day which had been quite warm turned into a cooler evening. Still a little muggy. The biggest problem was the rain, which was not heavy but very constant, so our skirts got very wet and dirty.  Luckily for everyone else who hired their dresses, they could just hand them back; I will have to wash mine.  The bathtub is looking good for this job i think.
Our dresses turned out well, but I htink mine, being quite heavy material, was too heavy for the petticoat so didn't flare out as much as I would have liked.  My friend's did as she had much lighter material.
The ladies from the local Historical Society had lots of fun watching me try to hold my skirts up in a ladylike fashion while I tried to cary plates etc and keep out of the water. LOL!!

So, some photos for you.  i dont have a great one of my dress, but I may be getting one later.  There was a professional photographer there so we are trying to get some from her. In the meantime....

The marquee while it was getting set up (before the rain)...

My shoes, which were new but very comfortable, especially since i haven't worn heels for yeeeeears.  As my friend and I ended up helping to serve meals (we served the gluten free meals so the kids wouldn't get confused) my feet were sore by the end of the night, walking up and down this long row of people.
My little bag that I made, and then ended up taking a basket as well so this ended up sitting on the table, looking nice!!

My friend and I went to the dinner in this old car.  i turned it sepia for fun and to suit the era.  Ok it is a 1920s car going to an 1860 dinner but it was sooooo much fun.  We thought we were royalty, waving to everyone we saw.

And finally, my two boys and I.  (See the skirt doesn't flare out far enough at all, so I am a bit disappointed in that).It really needed a hoop which I was determined not to use but I didn't have time to be fussing around and changing things by the time it was done.If I had've been able to see it better in the mirror, maybe I would have changed it for a hoop.

We had a lovely night, the boys had a great time.  All the guests got a commemorative champagne glass which is really lovely.
And yes, for anyone keeping a close on such things; my eldest son is taller than me; not so much in this photo but I did have heels on.  I told him to stop growing late last year and he seems to have ignored me.  Who knows how tall he will be, but I am feeling quite short lately LOL!!!