Wednesday, August 13, 2014

My Obsession with Looking Like a Retro Sit-Com Character....

I think I watched too much tv as a kid. I realise it has infiltrated how I look.


First, there was the Mildred..yep. Uncanny!



Next there was the Mrs Slocombe...yep. Long lost cousins.





And now...introducing...THE ENDORA!!!!
Now excuse me while I go and buy some blue eye shadow immediately!!!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

vintage crochet cape

Finally finished this cape - it's from a vintage pattern which you can get HERE and I made it in vintage 10 ply purple peruvian wool(try saying that ten times quickly!)
As I suspected, it was a bit much with my purple hair.... so I dyed my hair orange.

 Yes - it goes MUCH better with orange...

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Farewell for now, Gleaners Inc

Long live the Queen - Our Queen Liz, Queen of Glean.
Alas, Gleaners Inc has closed the shop doors. Sparta Place sure is a lot more Spartan without it too! As the main brain behind the gorgeous ethical gift shop, Liz has been gone above and beyond the role of a stockist. She has been the champion of all things hand crafted, recycled and ecologically sound AND she's super cool.


With the shop she has supported makers around the country by promoting, selling and just sharing the love.  She has even packed our stuff up in vintage suitcases and taken them to the BIG markets like Finders Keepers to further our exposure and to represent us there.

 As a curator, initiating various group shows in the Stairway to Nowhere Gallery, she  has been inspiring. The Gleaners Inc art challenges have been open and inspirational. I really feel Liz has given me opportunity to extend my creativity and skills - to be brave and experiment. The exhibitions have allowed me to participate in larger festivals like Craft Victoria's Craft Cubed and Melbourne Fashion Week - something I could never have achieved as an individual.
And that's where the "Inc." part of Gleaners Inc is so important.  Liz has welcomed us all as part of the whole group hug that is Gleaners Incorporated. I feel lost without it already!

The good news is that Liz will still be the chief designer cutter gluer at Betty Jo Designs and that she has a new light filled studio in the hood to continue her work.  And I also have the feeling that Gleaners Inc may pop up again - I know I still feel incorporated.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

tiddely pom pom poncho

 A snuggly poncho from a recycled jumper/sweater.

You will need: 

1 large jumper/sweater
coloured wool
sewing machine
fork
scissors

Here is the jumper I started with. First up I cut off the sleeves - they became matching leg warmers. Next I cut the neck because my little girls didn't like the rolled neck ( I did!). I zig-zagged the edge, folded it, pressed it, pinned it and sewed it on the sewing machine with a straight stitch.

Measure the jumper on the person you are making the poncho for. Let it fall and drape how you want it to sit. Mark where the elbows are with a pin. Mark the length you want in the centre of the jumper.

Now lay the jumper flat and carefully cut from the just outside the neck in a straight line to the elbow mark.

REMEMBER TO PRESS WITH AN IRON before you cut or sew it! 

Make a curved (or straight for a triangle poncho!) line to the centre measurement and cut. Repeat on the other side - fold in half to match.

With right sides together, straight stitch the side seam to the elbow mark. 
Finish seams with a zig-zag stitch. DO THE STRAIGHT STITCH FIRST TO KEEP IT FROM GOING WIGGLY!

Press the curved hem with a steam setting on the iron. Pin the hem. 
Sew with a straight stitch then a flat zig-zag to prevent it un-ravelling.

Now the fun part! Raising the cute factor to the power of POM POMS! These little pom poms are made with a fork. That's right. A fork. Yeah! It's revolutionary! We've all done that, right? Just in case, here is a link.
Place the pom poms where you want them and hand stitch them in place using a wool needle. 
Now rug your little one up all snug!







Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Too Much Cake


A long time ago, way back when I had only two toddlers, I decided to make a cake for my eldest daughter's second birthday. I wanted it to look like her favourite picture from her favourite picture book, "The Baby Catalogue" by Janet and Allan Ahlberg. I almost had a nervous breakdown trying to create a wicker basket texture in the icing and felt as though I had failed miserably. 

Little did I know then that I was setting myself up for annual birthday requests to conjure a birthday girl/boy's dream in flour, eggs, butter and icing.

Growing up, we would pick a cake from the classic Women's Weekly Birthday Cake Book and my mum would recreate it beautifully - to instructions. We had the piano, the train, the clock, the paint pallet, the typewriter - so many!

My kids mostly seem to want to create original never before thought of cakes. Usually I take it as a challenge. Get excited...then stressed...then really stressed...then lick my fingers too much while using icing, then feel sick, I'm racing the clock, I'm spending  zilch time with the kids, I'm having structural disasters, there are cake crumbs flying everywhere and I'm feeling high on glucose like I've been snorting icing sugar. 


There have been Dolly Varden cakes, Eiffel tower cakes, swimming pool cakes even a Grotto of chocolate crackles to house a Virgin Mary statue. There was Shang from Mulan, a duckling,  Mr. Potato head, Trotro, My Neighbour Totoro, trains and more trains.

Now I think I retire. I'm a complete disaster in the food colouring and icing confectionary department. I can't handle it any more.
  
All the birthdays come at once. In the last month I have made a swimming pool, an Olaf the Snowman from Frozen and a ten layer Princess and the Pea bed. 
 
(The princess and the pea was a ten layer cake - five cakes bakes separately) in different colours. The bed ends were pretzels I dipped in chocolate and put together)

It takes up too much time and effort and stress! I don't think I can do it! I'm no good at it! I AM that pinterest disaster person! I'm over it! I DON'T EVEN EAT CAKE! I AM ALLERGIC TO CAKE! I AM A CAKE-TASTROPHY!
  
Yet I know that when next year comes around and a little voice  says, "Please Mum can my birthday cake this year be the Taj Mahal in meringue" I will probably say yes.

Friday, July 11, 2014

book review: "Child of Twilight" by Carmel Bird

*This review is on my goodreads profile  and I read and reviewed it as part of the Australian Women Writers Challenge
"Child of Twilight"  by Carmel Bird. Published 2009 by HarperCollins.
Hail Carmel Bird,
Full of wit,
The word is with thee.
Blessed are you among women writers
And blessed is the fruit of your pen, “Child of the Twilight”
Holy Carmel, mother of story,
Pray for us readers now
And at the hour of our page turning,
Amen.

“Child of the Twilight” is a story spun by nineteen year old Sydney, an IVF child in search of her place in the scheme of things; an identity within the “curious nature” of her origins. She tells us she “constantly peers into the lives of those to whom I would be related, if I were related to anybody at all”. And here she finds “Roland the Good, Cosimo the Archivist, Diana the Manipulator, Rosita the Spinster, Corazon the Fertile and Rufus the Virile.”

Touching all the lives is the miraculous statue of the Infant Jesus, The Bambinello, at the Franciscan church of Santa Maria in Aracoeli in Rome. The statue was prayed to by Sydney’s mother, Avila, and also by a distant relative, Callianthe, mother of Father Roland the Good, who visits the statue only to find it has been stolen. The mystery is deepened rather than solved by the involvement of the trickster priest, Father Cosimo, suggesting the statue may have, in fact, simply chosen to leave. 
Back home in Australia, Father Roland is the priest at the school where Corazon (the Fertile) Mean, year 12 student, collapses from an ectopic pregnancy while in the art room, in front of her teacher Rosita the Spinster. Sydney then adds the “Mean” family to the mix as the story branches out to cover the past and present of the lives of the family of characters, while still riffing on the history of miraculous statues, the science of reproduction and the mysteries of faith.

The “free floating”, drifting nature of the narrator (or “Navigator” as she refers to herself) gives her a playful omnipotence, at once connected and disconnected from the tree of the characters, telling us important things brusquely and teasingly hinting at others as she leaps from branch to branch with the litheness of a woodland sprite.

The story twists and turns, folds and unfolds, eventually completely entwining with such deftness you hardly have time to catch your breath. I at once wanted more – more detail, more characters, more wonderful words – while still admiring the perfect restraint of it all.

The constellation of characters past and present, living and dead, dance in an intricate and whimsical tale of faith, magic, science, mystery, love and loss. The book delights at every turn. Read it. With Carmel Bird, you are in the hands of a masterful story teller.


Carmel Bird is an exceptional Australian writer who has written fiction, non fiction, short stories, essays and how to write manuals. Her blog is the blue lotus.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

A farewell quilt.

As you have probably guessed from the previous post our retiring school principal, Dionne, is an extremely well loved and respected member of our community. Some of the crafty parents at the school wanted to put our efforts towards creating a keepsake for her. This is what eventuated.
A sumptuously warm plum coloured quilt made from recycled jumpers.

With so many crafty people participating, was it a case of too many cooks spoil the broth? Never. In fact we proved the other adage to be true: many hands do in fact make light work. 

We enjoyed each other's company, shared our skills and talents - along with tea, sunshine,stories and cake. And their was plenty of warm unspoiled broth too.

Justine washed the jumpers, and then, with my industrial cutting machine, I was naturally in charge of cutting the many 12 cm x 12 cm square (under strict advice from task master Karen to be accurate! Yikes...no pressure.) 

We met at Jenny's warm light filled house and lay the squares out on the huge bench. Next thing multiple hands were rearranging and changing contrasting squares in a fairly hilarious felty crafty game of tetris!

Each row was labeled and stacked then the dueling sewing machines were brought out and lifted onto Jenny's generous dining table (I must point out that everything at Jenny's place is larger than life and of generous proportions - from the huge welcoming front door, to the huge sun-filled windows, to the huge old dog, Betty and most of all to the huge generous nature of Jenny herself.) 




Karen, an experienced professional maker, backed the quilt with a natural coloured linen and made her own bias binding from wool suiting.

Then all hands were on deck for hand stitching leaf designs and squares.Jenny finished it with a hand embroidered message in the corner and a colour co-ordinated bag to keep the quilt in. 
As you can see, Dionne loved it.  
And we loved making it. I learned so much from these women. Community-minded crafty company - the best.