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Odds and Ends SAL

SAL ~ last one for 2021

You were all correct….my embroidered yoke needed time to talk to me, to tell me what was to come next.

I added more pistol stitches to each flower (although I think they may also be fireworks!); they gave the flowers/fireworks more oomph. Then it needed a line of stem stitch weaving its way. One line become a couple close to each other.

Once I had finished that I realised that the fancy, feathery yarn that was a feature of the front pockets would now work, as there is enough stitching to carry it.

My pattern was slightly out, as I found when I sewed the patch onto the yoke of the jacket….but not enough to worry me. If you look closely in the photo below you can see that the right shoulder doesn’t quite come to the sleeve.

And from the front

I am really happy with the jacket. It was the perfect weight to wear today, when the weather was cool enough to need an extra layer, but not something too heavy. It was fun to wear, and even the Fella said it looked okay. That’s high praise from him!

Thanks to the Fella for the photographs. He is improving, as he didn’t cut my head off in either of these!

This stitch-a-long is for our own personal sewing, so all the women on the list are creating wonderful things. Follow the links to see what they are up to. I am sure you will be amazed.

AvisClaireGunConstanzeChristinaKathyMargaretCindyHeidiJackieSunnyMeganDeborahReneeCarmelaSharonDaisyAnneAJCathieLindaHelen


Update on my possum problem

Neither the possums nor I have got the upper hand yet. I have doubled the number of strings to train the shoots up. A couple of shoots have reached the wires of the pergola, only to be eaten when they get to the top, but there are more inching their way up. I am optimistic, and determined, that I will succeed! However, to be sure I am still wrapping up the delicate little shoots at night. It keeps me amused!


I respectfully acknowledge the traditional custodians of this land on which I live and garden – the Wurundjeri Woi-wurrung People of the Kulin Nation, their spirits, ancestors, elders and community members past and present. 

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My art work Odds and Ends SAL

SAL

Last time I had finished embroidering patches on the pockets of my jacket and was eyeing off the yoke.

I have worn it a couple of times and it feels good to wear.

So, I decided to play with the yoke. The front ones seemed a bit too obvious, so I have begun the back. Another advantage of the back is that it didn’t have to be a close match of the pockets. However I wanted to keep some of the same elements.

The fabric is quite different — a mustard linen from a dress I recently made. The colours of the threads give it a different feel.

What is the same is the stitching. The outside border is coral knot stitch, then white chain stitch. The flowers are created with pistol stitch, which I think gives a funky feel.

Now I am a little stuck. It’s not finished, and needs more oomph, more wow. I tried the feathery yarn that worked so well on the front. It didn’t work on this 🤔. So I am letting it talk to me, to tell me what comes next. It doesn’t need to be rushed. I am sure there will be progress to show next SAL.

This stitch-a-long is for our own personal sewing, so all the women on the list are creating wonderful things. Follow the links to see what they are up to. I am sure you will be amazed.



Avis, Claire, Gun, Carole, Constanze, Christina, Kathy, Margaret, Cindy, Heidi, Jackie, Sunny, Megan, Deborah, Renee, Carmela, Sharon, Daisy, Anne, AJ, Laura, Cathie, Linda, Helen


I respectfully acknowledge the traditional custodians of this land on which I live – the Wurundjeri Woi-wurrung People of the Kulin Nation, their spirits, ancestors, elders and community members past and present.

Categories
Odds and Ends

My wardrobe

My latest stitching for the Stitch-A-Long has been freeform patches for a useful but uninspiring jacket. In that post I mentioned that I have been thinking about my wardrobe.

Like all good thinking there are a few threads (that pun is for you, Kate!) that have come together. A couple have been inspired by the Soul Craft Festival. (I would highly recommend this to you for next year!)

Thread One

Last year the various speakers and the warm and thoughtful Felicia herself encouraged me to think about what happens to our clothing after we have finished with it. I don’t have a lot of clothes to move on, but when I do move them on the op-shop is my choice. I realised that what I was really doing was shifting my responsibility for the garment to the op-shop. I felt good that I hadn’t sent it to landfill, forgetting disregarding that someone else had to make that decision.

So I decided to be more conscious about what I bought and made.

For example, I wanted to knit over this last Winter. Normally I make quick decisions without considering where a garment will fit into my wardrobe. This time I spent time considering patterns and wool to make the sort of jumper I wanted.

Unfortunately, when I finished knitting I realised that it was too small. Not unbearably so, but enough to make me overlook it when I was considering jumpers to wear. So out it all came and I knitted it up again a couple of sizes larger, only to realise that it was slightly too short in the body and arms. Same problem….I would overlook it and the time, materials and energy would be wasted. So, I undid the rib of the body and sleeves and knitted it longer. (It was a pattern that you knit from the shoulders down, so I could easy unravel it.) Now I enjoy wearing it. And each time I do I think about taking the time and making those conscious decisions to get it right so that I would enjoy wearing it, and have it for quite a few years to come.

Thread two

This is along the same lines of making conscious decisions….the ideas around wearing clothing that have positive values in them, and values that fit in with my own. Are they made from more sustainable fabrics? When buying this garment/pattern/fabric/yarn am I supporting an indie maker or local shop? Can I get a sense of the environmental and social impact of this garment?

I realise that there will always be some social or environmental impacts. And I am honest enough to know that I am only going to put in a small amount of research into those impacts, instead relying on the integrity of those I buy from. My aim is to be as thoughtful, considered and mindful as I can.

Thread three

For a while I have been wanting my clothes to be more interesting. I am so tired of reaching for jeans and jumpers and jackets.

So….

After listening to some wonderful women* speak at the Soul Craft Festival I was inspired to really think about my wardrobe. I even made notes and drew sketches of the garments that I enjoy wearing! I came up with some ideas:

  • I love, and need, my clothes to be comfortable. The tops I enjoy wearing pull over my head ~ no zips, buttons, belts. I like them to drape and hang, and to have pockets where possible.
  • I love layers, and scarves. This is great, because I don’t like being cold!
  • I want to get into the habit of really considering new clothes. Do I need it? Does it fit in with other things I have? What will happen to it at the end of its life with me? How was it made? Where have I bought it? Would I get pleasure if I made something like this rather than buying off the rack?
  • I want my clothes to be interesting. This might be handmade (like the patches on my jacket pockets) or a quirky brooch or a different combination of clothes.
  • I want to severely limit the clothes I buy from mainstream shops.

This is a very self-indulgent post, written mostly to get my thoughts in a coherent fashion. However I wonder if you have been thinking about your clothes? I would love to know what is important to you.


* These are some of the women who spoke at the festival

Meg McElwee from Sewliberated She says that clothes should be treasures and heirlooms, that reflect who we are and the story we want to tell the world. I like that.

Leeyong Soo who blogs at Style Wilderness. She has some wild creations made from op-shop finds. After looking at her work I was inspired to create the patches for my jacket. Mine are nowhere near as flamboyant as her outfits.

Katrina Rodabaugh. You may already know her work, especially those menders among you. I have just finished reading her book Mending matters

And for more inspiration:

https://www.instagram.com/tumanualidades.de/ was suggested to me by Dawn, who, by the way, makes the most beautiful jewellery.

I hope those of you overseas can access this documentary from the ABC. Jenny Kee and Linda Jackson were icons of the Australian fashion industry, and their creations are inspirational.


I respectfully acknowledge the traditional custodians of this land on which I live and sew – the Wurundjeri Woi-wurrung People of the Kulin Nation, their spirits, ancestors, elders and community members past and emerging.

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Melbourne Odds and Ends

Some Halloween joy ~ or we made it, Melbourne

I am not a fan of Halloween.

It is too centred around lollies and sweet things. And all those decorations that, at best, will end up in landfill.

But maybe I am a Halloween grinch because it is not my tradition! We didn’t have it when I was growing up, so I ignore it.

However I felt more fondly towards Halloween this year.

It was a beautiful evening in Melbourne, and we had just emerged, bleary eyed from six long lockdowns over the last 18 months. I went for a walk to the wetlands, a place I have walked almost daily over that time.

And it was alive with ghosts, witches, pirates, zombies, fairies and every other dressed up child. They were going to the houses that boarded the wetlands. There were picnickers, and adults walking with fairies on bikes and zombies on scooters. All around was the sound of children having fun.

These are the same kids that have missed out on parties, sleepovers, school camps, footy training, playing with friends in park, hugging grandparents. I could not begrudge them the joy they were finding in being together to get lollies.

I remembered how way back in March last year I was walking the same area, anxious about how the world would be, worried that we would descend into a dystopian future. Last Sunday I realised that this joyous event was a declaration ~ that we had made it through the lockdowns, that we had worked together (well, most of us!) to make sure the vulnerable were protected, that our sacrifices have given our stretched hospital system some chance.

It’s not over and care, masks and continued vaccinations are still needed, but it was so lovely to see all those kids being kids, the big grown-up kids too!


Melbourne experienced extreme winds last Friday, bringing down trees and power lines. Some homes are still without power. My internet has been off for the last eight days, but came on this morning. Yay!

Now I can catch up with all those tasks that require the internet, including catching up with your blogs. Things are just not the same on the small phone screen.


I respectfully acknowledge the traditional custodians of this land on which I live – the Wurundjeri Woi-wurrung People of the Kulin Nation, their spirits, ancestors, elders and community members past, present and emerging.

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Books of the Month Odds and Ends

The Undead Mr Tenpenny

That’s the title of a very entertaining book by my bloggy friend, Tammie Painter. It is Book One in her Cassie Black trilogy. Part of the blurb on the back of the book says:

“Cassie Black works as a funeral home. She’s used to all manner of dead bodies. What she is not used to is them waking up. Which they seem to be doing on a disturbingly regular basis lately.

“Just when Cassie believes she has the problem under control, the recently-deceased Busby Tenpenny insists he’s been murdered and claims Cassie might be responsible thanks to a wicked brand of magic she has been exposed to.”

From there the story rollicks along with Cassie trying desperately to solve the murder, learn how to control her own untapped, unwanted magic and stop her boss’s funeral parlour from being shut down. Oh, and deal with a powerful, evil magician.

I was quite charmed by this book. While Cassie manages to annoy just about everyone in her new magical community, she is a quirky character, with a very distinctive voice. Tammie’s writing is light and witty, and there were parts that made me laugh out loud ~ not something I often do when I read.

Stylish book cover

Fortunately for me Tammie’s books are not limited to ebooks. I like to have the solid book in my hand as I read. I like the look of them, the feel, the heft, and especially that you can easily flick back and forth. So, I used the ISBN and asked my local bookshop to order it in for me. As easy as that…although an ebook would have been quicker.

I am looking forward to reading the second in the trilogy, “The Uncanny Raven Winston” which has just been released. I’ll order it through Benn’s Books too.

If you are interested (and I hope you are, because supporting independent talent is always important) you can purchase ebooks here, or use this ISBN to order your real copy 978 138 697 7674. Remember, that’s a great way to support independent book shops too. Check out Tammie’s website to look at her blog and find out some of her other books and short stories. (I enjoyed “Domna” as well.)

Categories
Melbourne Odds and Ends

Out

This time a year ago like everyone else I was preparing for the pandemic. A State of Emergency had been declared in Victoria; museums, art galleries and libraries were closing; festivals, the Grand Prix, footy matches were abandoned; toilet paper was being hoarded and all of us became experts on how viruses spread.

We knew a lockdown was coming, but we had no idea of what that meant or what was to be at the end of it. Were we heading into a dystopian future? I bought dress material and potting mix, planned to learn Auslan, decided to clean out my cupboards and wash the windows. I still have the material, only recently used the potting mix, never began learning Auslan, and the windows and cupboards remain as they were. Fortunately we didn’t head into the dystopian future.

Then in July Melbourne and I went into an even longer lockdown. My list reduced down to making sure I laughed everyday and to find comfort in creating. And there was a comfort in knowing that all I had to do was stay at home and be safe. The roof over my head was secure, as was my income. Like everyone I learnt that there was enough toilet paper to go round and that food would be on the shelves.

Although most of our restrictions were lifted during October it is only now that I am feeling like going out and about. It’s a strange thing, because it is not fear of the virus that had kept me from wandering further than my neighbourhood. (My reduced fear is not reckless, our community transmission numbers are very low.) Instead I think I have become something of a hermit. Home feels safe, secure. I don’t have to go far to find what I need.

My health issues have made me reluctant to go far afield and I worry about the Fella. But really, I am just not ready.

Well, I wasn’t until Friday of last week.

I went, with my sister, to the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV) to see the Triennial Exhibition. What winkled me out of my hermit cave was combination of spending time with my lovely sister and seeing the exhibition.

And what a lovely day it was.

I caught the tram into town. I haven’t done that for over a year! I wandered across the Yarra to the NGV. I haven’t done that for over a year! We were amazed by the exhibition. I haven’t done that……(!) To top it off Judy and I had a delicious lunch in the restaurant and chatted. We have talked a lot over the year, and she has been one of the people who has kept me afloat.

The Triennial exhibition is a wonder, a collection of contemporary art and design spread through out the gallery. I am sorry I can’t show you the really amazing ones which involved light shows and changing digital images. If you follow this link you will see some of the exhibits. Maybe you will just be happy with some of my photos. If you live in Melbourne, and are ready to venture out, you have until mid-April to see it.

Yep, that chandelier is made from glasses lenses.

So yes, it is time to leave the hermit cave and remember what life used to be like.

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Odds and Ends

My online pottery class

You may remember that I signed up for an online pottery class, thinking “How on earth is this going to work?”, but loving the idea of it.

It worked really well, thanks to the good organisation of the tutor, Vincenza. There were four weekly online classes with clay and materials provided by her. Over the three weeks of making I made a flat plate, a little bowl, a vase and a bird.

My favourite is the little bird, because it sits so nicely in my hand.

The vase is a slab pot. To construct this you wrap a slab of clay around a cylinder. I used a beer bottle, which was the perfect shape! Decorating it was tricky, as nothing seemed satisfactory, until I saw the tassels on a scarf. I added some more marks.

The fourth week was glazing. We had dropped our greenware work to Vincenza, who did the first firing, the bisque firing. When she gave them back she added little pots of glazes in the box.

The finished pots…

My best results from the course was to rekindle my desire to do more pottery. I did it many years decades ago but it sat on the back burner during that time. Next year I will look around for a somewhere to do some more. That should be fun 🙂

Also it was a delight to do something unexpected during our lockdown.

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Melbourne Odds and Ends

Oh, fabulous day!

Today, Melbournians emerge with our unkempt hair and our huge grins into our new ‘COVID-normal’ life.

Because we have done something extra-ordinary; we have got our case numbers from over 700 a day to 0, and 0 deaths, for two days running. Two Double Donut Days! To put that into perspective, on the 5th August we had 715 cases while Belgium had 334. A couple of days ago Belgium had 15, 622.

I don’t want to gloat, but rather celebrate our achievement. We got here with a strict and long lockdown which has been very hard for so many people. So much repair will be needed.

Today, for the first time for months, we can sit down for have a coffee and a meal. We can go into a shop that is not an essential service ~ art shops! We can catch up with friends outside ~ I am off for a picnic with friends! We can leave our homes for whatever reason we like. (Previously we had only been able to leave for 4 reasons.) We can live our lives.

With caution, of course. There is no room for complacency as we have not eliminated the virus. Recognising that the home is one of the most dangerous places, visiting indoors is restricted to one family a day. Sitting with family and friends is something we have been longing to do, but because our guards are down, it can be the place where the virus will spread. Indeed it was larger family gatherings that rapidly spread the virus in June.

I can visit my Mum! I am seeing her on Friday, and the thought of taking her out for a coffee brings a smile to my face.

For a couple more weeks we can only travel within 25 km ~ the trip to Mum is 22km! There is still no travel in or out of metro Melbourne. Mandatory mask wearing will stay for quite a while yet.

To be honest, I am still a little dazed by it all, and still thinking it through, reflecting on that strange liminal time. Undoubtably I will have more to say in later posts, but for now I will enjoy my friends, my Mum and a latte in a glass rather than a takeaway cup, sitting at a table. And celebrate the simple things, the important things.

Categories
My art work Odds and Ends

How about this for an unusual online activity?

There are so many wonderful things to do online. Have you been sampling some? I have listened to a range of talks, from topics about mountain pygmy possums (just the cutest animals), through feral pests, to edible weeds, as well as visiting museums and galleries and attending online concerts and book launches. However, today I began what I think may be the most unusual thing to do during this period of restrictions ~ an online pottery class!

Sew-a-longs, watercolour lessons, life drawing classes all seem quite doable online, but pottery? It made me laugh every time I told someone about it, and made me smile whenever I thought about it.

Many years ago, when I was doing my teaching diploma, I sub-majored in Art, specifically pottery. I loved it, and did classes for many years after that. Life changes and goes in different directions. It’s a very equipment heavy art form; paper and paint aways seemed easier. But the idea was always there…..one day.

This class is organised specially for Seniors Week through my local council, for October. Our first session was this morning. I was rather flustered at the beginning as I was under-prepared. It was my own fault as I hadn’t read the emails that came last week to register my address which meant they hadn’t been able to deliver the supplies. The tutor, Vincenza, very kindly dropped off my kit last night. I didn’t realise until five minutes before logging on that there was an envelope with instructions. The Fella was highly amused to see me dashing about collecting the things I needed!

Despite that rush I had a wonderful time.

The kit had all the important things, especially the clay, already cut into useful sizes, a little container of underglaze, a rolling pin and other odds and ends.

The kit

The class met over Zoom and Vincenza took us through making slab plates. Then we had time to work on our own, asking questions as we went.

My task over the week is to make two slab plates ~ one is to be textured and on the other I am to sgraffito (draw) into the underglaze. We can attach a raised foot if we like.

First plate ~ work in progress

The texture on this first plate came from rolling the banksia cone over the clay. The darker areas are from the ink of the paper I was rolling on. Vincenza assures me that the marks will burn off in the firing.

And yes, these pieces will be fired. Firing the clay was something I was unsure about, as the logistics of it seemed daunting. It seems like Vincenza will collect all our pieces in a couple of weeks and take them to a kiln for the bisque firing. I am not sure how, or if, we will glaze them.

So, I am off on a new adventure.

I love the way people are thinking about how to do things differently, and really appreciate that this is available to me. It has already brought me joy. And did I mention that it is free?

What have you enjoyed doing online?

Categories
Melbourne Odds and Ends

Another story, to (hopefully) make you smile

My Dad’s story seemed to resonate with you, so I thought it is time for another. (If you are not sure what I am talking about, you can catch up with my earlier post. Or you can dive into this one.)

Just a little background: The story is told by Dad about his grandfather, Bill Mason, who lived in a little house in Canning St, North Melbourne. Grandpa Mason is quite a character, as you can tell from this story, which probably happened in the last years of the 19th century.

Grandpa Mason was a bricklayer by trade and like most working men of that time he rode a bike to work. He loved to tell us tales of when he worked on the railway viaduct over Flinders St, and the building boom of the 1880s.

One job he was working on was a row of terrace houses over Moonee Ponds way. They were up to the second story and it was time to knock off, and as always the practical joker, he said to his mate, “I’m not going down the ladder, Jack, I’m going to jump into that pile of sand.”

He went to the edge of the scaffold, swung his arms and pretended to jump. You guessed it, he overbalanced and finished up backside buried in the sand, arms and legs pointing skyward.

“What the hell did you do that for Bill? You coda hurt your bloody self.”

On this job were two labourers. Olaf was a Swede, a big solid chap, an ex sailor off the sailing ships. He did all the rigging and scaffolding, and Mick, he looked after the bricks and mortar. According to my grampa these two were always arguing. Olaf said Mick was as thick as two planks.

Here was my grandpa half buried in the sand heap, and Mick telling him how lucky he was that he put the heap of sand in that exact spot. If he had put it over there, “you woulda missed it Bill and hurt ya bloody self.” Olaf pushed Mick out of the way and he and his mates, still laughing, dug Grandpa out of the soft sand and straightened him out.

By now my Grandfather was very stiff, very sore and very sorry for himself. Now, how to get Bill home? He could hardly walk and the last thing he wanted was to sit down. So Bill’s mates decided that Bill wouldn’t be back at work for a few days. They lashed his hod and level to the bar of his bike, his trowel, bolster and brick hammer into a bag, put the bag over his shoulder, lifted Bill onto his bike, and pointed him in the direction of North Melbourne [about 3 or 4 km away] and gave him a shove. Now that’s real mateship for ya. Probably, as soon as he left the site, they would have been laying bets as to whether he would get home without falling off his bike.

So far, so good. Grandpa Mason reached Canning Street and home, still on his bike. But by now he was even more stiff than he was half an hour ago. He couldn’t lift his leg to get off the bike.

So there’s Bill Mason riding around in circles in the middle of Canning St, yelling at the top of his voice “CLARA! Come and get me off this bloody bike.” [Clara was his wife, Dad’s grandmother.] Well, either Clara wasn’t home, she didn’t hear him and knowing my grandfather I find it unlikely that she didn’t hear him, or she thought the old fool had had one too many. For whatever reason, Clara never came out.

Bill had one choice and one choice only ~ fall off the bloody bike. By this time he felt that half of North Melbourne were out in the street laughing at him. He had no option but to fall off the bloody bike in front of all those bloody women and kids. I bet that didn’t improve his temper any.

Mum said “For weeks after, whenever he went out walking he had to walk in the gutter; he couldn’t lift his foot high enough to step up to the kerb.

But t didn’t cure him as a practical joker.


And a bonus shorter story for you, about my Dad’s experience as a bricklayer

According to the Macquarie Dictionary, a hod is a portable wooden trough for carrying mortar, bricks etc, fixed crosswise to the top of a pole and carried on the shoulder.

Every builder’s labourer would have his own hod. The length of the shaft would depend on how tall, or short, the labourer was. When it was on his shoulder the shaft would be around 30cm clear of the ground. To load it he stood near the stack of bricks holding the hod in one hand just below the vee of the trough. Around 10 brick were loaded into the vee. He put his shoulder under the trough, straightened his legs, then up the ladder two or three stories, unload, then down the ladder and do it again.

Carrying mortar was the same procedure, except they would go to the mortar board, load the hod with a shovel, hod in one hand, shovel in the other. All the mortar and concrete in those days was mixed by hand, no motorised mixers.

When I was about 16 my Dad was building a brick house in Moorabbin. After spending a day on the board mixing concrete by hand I thought I would die. A day or two later my grandfather handed me a hod and said, “Here lad, have go with this”. I soon discovered that I couldn’t even balance it while loading it with mortar, and when it was loaded with bricks I could hardly lift it, let alone carry it up a ladder. I decided there and then that labouring wasn’t for me!

Even today I look at those lovely old buildings around Melbourne and think of the men that built them and marvel at their skills.


(The house as the feature image is the house Bill Mason lived in, and where my Nana grew up. After a couple of renovations I am sure neither would recognise much about it’s more glamorous self, except the facade.)