Monday, January 25, 2010

Felty Times and Twiddle Sticks.

I don't know what the 'twiddle sticks' are in this post - I just liked the sound of it. Maybe its all the crafty fun I have been having when I should really be preparing for the start of a new teaching term. I know that come the end of the week I will be obsessed with planning lessons and the crafty goodness may have to be moved to the sidelines for a little while. But for now...

As a little break from making Granny Squares I have been playing with felty bits.

Years ago I made some pretty felt brooches and sold them at the local markets. They were puffy felt hearts and I used a gold safety pin on the back of them. This time I am using proper brooch findings from Lindcraft - probably more secure (more expensive) but I did like the little gold safety pins too!

I hope you like them. The gnomy girl with the hat is not a brooch - she is far too big for that. Although, I tend to believe that with brooches, sometimes bigger is better. Possibly a finger puppet. We'll see. I will post them when I finish them all.

I love brooches. There is a student at the school I teach at who notices the vintage brooches I wear everyday and says 'I see your bringing brooches back miss!' and 'Nice Brooch miss', etc. Very funny. I am selling a lot of my vintage stuff on Ebay at the moment - I have too much stuff! Check out Ebay at 'smilesblue77'

This is my lovely sewing box. I have a vintage 'Witch' needle threader, vintage buttons and lace and a whole lot of other goodies. Slowly I am beginning to use these things.

I hope you have a lovely Australia Day tomorrow wherever you are!


A Granny A Day? Ok.'s coming along...

I am making a Granny Blanket. Pink. Pink pink pink.

Inspired by 'Meet Me At Mike's a Granny a Day Challenge'. I told you I would put up pictures didn't I?

I have to admit, I don't know if my joining of the squares is any good - I kind of made this part up myself ;-) This is a bit funny because 'Meet Me At Mikes' has just published the next of their wonderful Granny video series which tells you how to join the squares. Oh well, I can use this for my next project. And I have no idea what to do with the straggly ends on the reverse. But then, who cares really? I didn't even know how to change colour before!

I feel I really do need to also credit this site again: Linda Permann - you rock! So so easy to follow. Thank you!

Cup of tea anyone?


Sunday, January 24, 2010

Garden and Cosmos Exhibition: Indian paintings from a Royal Collection

A trip to the Art Gallery of New South Wales today to see the 'Garden and Cosmos. The Royal Paintings of Jodhpur' exhibition. It is closing tomorrow - so glad I made it. Stunning detail, beautiful colouring, opaque watercolour, gold, miniature people, animals, gardens, skies, waters and trees. Divine.

Jallandharnath and Princess Padmini fly over King Padam’s palace

Jallandharnath and Princess Padmini fly over King Padam’s palace (detail), folio 19 from the Suraj Prakash, Amardas Bhatti, 1830; 23.3 x 38.6 cm. Mehrangarh Museum Trust

From the Gallery's website:

A rare chance to see paintings from the royal collection of the Mehrangarh Museum Trust, Jodhpur and to experience the unique art tradition that flourished in the royal courts between the 17th and 19th centuries.

During this period, the region of Jodhpur – in modern-day Rajasthan – produced a distinctive and inventive painting style. Paintings produced for the private enjoyment of the maharaja and his court brought together traditional Rajasthani styles and combined them with styles developed in the imperial court of the Mughals.

The paintings included in the exhibition range from a handful of miniatures to monumental artworks depicting the palaces, wives and families of the Jodhpur rulers.

Later works depict epic narratives and demonstrate the devotion of Maharaja Man Singh to an esoteric yogic tradition. Jodhpur artists rose to the challenge of creating images for metaphysical concepts and yoga narratives which had never previously been the focus of the region's court art.

Makes me want to go to India. I am saving money, believe it or not. Had to hold off on buying the catalogue. Oh well, in memory and recorded here.

Death of Vali; Rama and Lakshmana wait out of the monsoon

Death of Vali; Rama and Lakshmana wait out the monsoon. Illustration from the Ramcharitmanas of Tulsidas (1532–1623) Jodhpur, c1775 © Mehrangarh Museum Trust

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Granny go lucky

The Lovliest thing has happened. After so many attempts, and so much pure frustration, I have made a 'granny square'. I made one!!! And guess what? I am on my second granny square! And guess what else? I reckon I could make quite a few a day - it does become easy, please trust me! Ok, once more, guess what else? I reckon I may even be able to move on to a more difficult pattern now!

I will show you the pictures when I can I promise...for now...A couple of pointers.

Find wool colours you know you will LOVE to use. I chose pink and navy, yummy.
Get the right crochet hook to wool - I got 8ply wool and a 4mm hook
Research and play with the basic stitches - 'slip stitch', 'chain stitch', etc.
Remember, a treble stitch is also called 'dc' or double crochet (Aussie vs US crochet language).
Use different web sites/books until you find the ones you like. For me, the Meet Me At Mikes video demonstrations were awesome and a really great starter. After that I did not want to keep watching each video so I found the 'craftstylish' blog which means I can have the pattern up on the computer and keep looking at it while I stitch - great pictures and very very clear.
Here is the granny this page helps you to make.
The basic double-crochet granny square is easy to learn how to make and is a great way to use up some of your yarn stash.

Finally, keep dreaming of the beautiful pink crochet granny blanket you can make for the sister in law for Christmas...

Now that's a treat.


Thursday, January 21, 2010

Meet Me At Mikes - A Granny a Day Craft Challenge. What Have I Got Myself Into?

I have been absolutely hectic, doing anything but preparing for the new school term next week. My days are spent drawing, reading, explorations with felt (to be continued), ebaying, etc with sounds of Kerri-Anne Kennerly on TV in the backgound. I am looking after a friends house and the photo above is my makeshift studio mess.

I have been looking at Meet Me At Mikes - 'Granny a Day'. Yes, a definate craft challenge. I have been desperate to learn how to do granny squares but avoiding because of so many things to do. So...meeting my mum last night for dinner I had to sneak into Lindcraft for some late night shopping...

I came out with...
3 x 8ply wool - Black or navy (I can't work it out but it is a rich lovely black if it is black), baby pink and hot pink.
1 x 4mm crochet hook
Fabric chalk,
lots of colourful felt squares.

The beautiful Burmese cat I am looking after (Cherry) loved my goodies as much as me...

So, 7am this morning, ruthlessly following Pip's videos. It is risky to document my progression because it is somewhat pitiful. You know, at first I thought 'what??? A granny a day? More like a granny a week - maybe a month!!!' But I am actually thinking I may master this today - maybe tomorrow. I do think it is possible...

A couple of stuff-ups

Finally taking shape!!!

Her videos are really, really good. Worth following. But I won't pretend it is easy (neither does she!). I feel lucky I have been playing around with the wool and crochet hook for about a year, making only a couple of silly random crochet, made-up toys and many mistakes. So I know my chain stitch but that's all. I have now learnt treble stitch and even made my first little square.

It was when 9am hit and I changed colours that I ran into trouble. I have no idea where to go now. Time for a break - more ebaying, a shower, some toast, playing with my felt and MAYBE some lesson prep for next week.

Oh no. Don't know how to keep going after change of colour...
Break time.

Simultaneously rewarding and frustrating, a series of problem solving efforts. I think that is what art and craft is.


Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Looky Cooky Booky

I LOVE cookbooks. Sometimes, when I want to chill out in front of the tele and flick through an easy to read book, cookbooks are where I go to. I can rarely just watch tele - I always have to be doing something else. I have heaps - Nigella, Jamie, Rick Stein, Nigel Slater, etc, as well as some ol' 50s vintage cookbooks - great cakes and jams.

Do I cook from them? Sometimes. Mostly I just read them and pick up on little tips and good flavour combinations. I like to invent my own stuff too.

Anyway, my fave at the moment is a treat I bought myself at Christmas time with a little help from a Target voucher I got from my sister in law.

Stephanie Alexander's Kitchen Garden Companion: Dig, Plant, Water, Grow, Harvest, Chop, Cook by Stephanie Alexander

Stephanie Alexander's Kitchen Garden Companion. I love it. Tips for planting a whole range of fruit and veg, plus a special section for all those like me who live in a shoe box with no space for diggin' - potter's paradise. And a special list for ways that kids can be involved. It's not a cheapie, but I know that Kmart and Target sell it for a good price, particularly when they have a sale on. My copy was $80, but I know it can go for about $120?

I have some herbies growing - Greek basil, taragon, thyme, mint, parsley and chives. The mint has taken over the chives and the parsley, but I have now learnt to keep the mint in a pot by itself. I also have some cherry tomatoes which are snatched by the birds before I can pick 'em. The strawberries don't have any fruit, and the Christmas bush has lost its flowers for the season. I have only once seen a flower on the lavender. But do I love my plants? Yes, I just need some practice. Oh for a farm ;-)


Monday, January 18, 2010

A Blog I Love

Handmade DollFelt Doll CoatElephant
Crochet hairclipChristmas paper garlandCrochet necklace
WREN Handmade

I love looking at the blogs of so many beautiful bloggers who make very fine wares.

Just look for yourselves. Stunning.

She has an Esty store too.

My Favourite Things - Part 2

I just wanted to share some pretty things with you. Some I aquired from markets, some were given or swapped, some bought...

I LOVE this chest of drawers. Not very practical as the drawers are quite shallow but perfect for papers and christmas decorations and some craft supplies. I swapped the drawers with my last flatmate for a full length mirror. Lovely.

My bed has a little crochet blanket, again given to me by my last flatmate. Bless. Fairy lights adorn the bedhead and elfy dolly from a couple of Christmases ago rests peacefully. A very comfy bed I might add.

I bought these beautiful hand embroidered vintage pillow slips from a big ol' market in rural Victoria for $12 pair. They are so pretty. I have to admit that I refuse to sleep on them and move these pillows each night. I do however, rest my head on them when I am reading because it is such a shame to not feel like a princess.

Pretty pillow detail.

These are a whole lot of beautiful little antique vintage bottles found by the man and given to me to adorn my bathroom. They sit up high so I don't do much with them except sometimes put little white flowers in each. Little inkwells and medicine bottles, etc.

I fell in love with this painting at a beautiful antique shop in rural Victoria. I bargained down from $150 to $130. It is hard to see as the photo is not great but it is a watercolour original and painted very very well. I usually spend very little on my pretty finds but this was too good to leave behind.

These cups are retro pretty perfect. Royal Doulton. Bought from a market at a nursing home for about $25 I think. I love the colours and design. I think they would be perfect to hold little orange chocolate mousse for a dinner party.

Pretty poppies.

So, there we go, a few more of my favourite things. So many things I buy that I love are from markets and usually cost under about $20 or $30. Who needs new stuff these days?


A darling ditty

This is a lovely card a friend has framed on her mantle. I 'googled' it and found the makers at the etsy shop letterarypress. Unfortunately this card is sold out but there are other little dittes and quotes by other literary geniuses.

So quirky and lovely.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Collecting treasure

We, yes we, just keep finding 'stuff'. I wish I could say it was just me, but no, it is both of us which means double the 'stuff'. Slight problem. If I had a big place to live and somewhere to put all of these neat finds it would be ok, but my rental is the size of a shoebox.

This is what the man brought home the other day. I do like these finds though. The painting is from the 70s and looks like it is from the 70s, and the mirrors, well, someone's trash is definitely my treasure.

Maybe I will pair down the paint on the mirrors and paint them shabby chic white. Who knows. For now they will sit in the corner...

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Somewhat dotty

This is my current work. It has taken quite a long time, with all the dots and fine detail. Whilst I am using oil paints, I am treating the paints very much like I do gouache with very little blending and bold blocks of colour. Old habits die hard I guess - I have used gouache since high school - small scale, very opaque, using little tiny brushes.

It is on the same size wooden block as the finches. I will stick with this size for quite a while as I have had a whole heap of boards cut.

I am not sure about this work and despite wiping it once and almost wiping it a second time, I like it enough to now keep going. Will keep you posted.



We are housesitting for a friends and whilst I consider myself to be super responsible, the area of fish minding is significantly lacking. It is such a cliche but yes, after only a week and a half we killed the fish. Yes, dead. Gone. Kapput fishy.

I kept looking at the fish bowl expecting fishy to be there, and felt very sad when he wasn't. It doesn't take long for animals to grow on me. There are two possible reasons for the death of the fish. Firstly, we have had really hot weather, almost heatwave conditions. And he was placed next to the stove top where I cooked many sausages, etc. Secondly, I think both the man and I were feeding the poor thing when we both agreed he would feed him. I just can't let go.

I really am an animal lover so the loss of dear fishy was quite traumatic. Seriously.

Our friends have littlies and I would hate them to return to an empty bowl. So here is the replacement. He looks not very much like the other one. I don't think I will say anything until they ask. I just hope I can keep him alive for the next three days until they return.

We're all going on a summer holiday...

Last winter...

My last holiday was in winter in the Alpine region of NSW. Snowboarding very badly and spending more time lying on my back then traveling down a mountain. It is amazing how the landscape can change in just a few months.

This summer...

After an exiting but exhausting first year of teaching art to high school boys, I so needed to get away. I LOVE my new job and am so grateful I spent so many studying years being in a high state of stress and anxiety to be able to do what I am doing now. By the end I actually found I loved being at uni, but this year it was time to get a 'real job'. By Christmas however, I realised I hadn't really breathed much in a year. Time to flee...

My first ever proper road trip, where the car is packed and a vague route is marked on the map, was amazing. Probably because there were no expectations of where we were headed and when we would get there. Avoiding the cities and traveling through the countryside gave me just the break I needed. And while the man drove, I typed my honours thesis. Go the multi-tasker!!!

Here are some pics of some of the pretty things we saw...

This is the same Alpine area as the photos above, this time with no snow. Beautiful snow gums, pretty wild flowers and rare alpine orchids - orchids that people from Europe come to see. What you can't see in the photos is the giant blow flies the size of 5 cent pieces. Arrrggghhhh.

So many rivers to swim in and to fish in. The fish were way too clever for us though, so more time was spent swimming than fishing.

This is a photo and little movie of the beautiful little bird I painted (see my last post). So friendly and pretty.

I couldn't believe these shiny little bugs. They were tiny so this shot was captured on a zoom lense.

Christmas dinner. Rainbow trout stuffed with herbs and looked with local olive oil and lemon. Yes, we finally caught one fish (the small one in the middle) and went to a trout farm to get the two big ones. To be honest, the wild trout in the middle caught by the man was more delicious than the farmed ones.

Many llamas or alpacas (I am not sure of the difference, please educate me if you can).

Many birds.

Storms over fields.

I am loathe to think I have only two weeks left of holidays although I can't complain - yes, teachers get the best holidays.