Blinky Bill

  
Last week passed in the blink of an eye. They always seem to do in the lead up to Christmas. I can hardly believe that in only three weeks I’m off to Finland! Excited much? 
Oh. Yeah. 🙂 you could say that. 🙂
Last Monday saw the arrival of my order from the very talented Pauline at The Contented Crafter. I am SO thrilled with everything! Pauline’s artworks radiate joy and positivity :)) I can only show my own part of the order because the rest are Christmas presents, but this is the Purple Bohemian Light Catcher, now hanging in the train. 

   
 I am still looking for the perfect spot to hang it (this is really hard to photograph!). Pauline personalised this with charms just for me, a book, treble clef, babushka, fairy, angel, house, and a wish. I just LOVE it. ❤ I can’t wait to gift the other items at Christmas!! 🙂

  
  
Also on Monday, my gingerbread pig cookie cutter arrived. Hooray! I have read “Christmas at Bullerby” by Astrid Lindgren every Christmas since I was small, and although I make gingerbread every year, I could never find the right pig cookie cutter like they use in the book. I found this one on Etsy. 

  
It isn’t exact, but I plan on reshaping slightly to make it so. 🙂 So this year we shall have gingerbread pigs, hearts and stars just like the children of Bullerby! Hard to believe it has taken me about thirty years to finally fulfil this dream. 🙂
Tuesday saw the arrival of my copy of Handmade magazine in my letterbox, featuring my first pattern for them! How exciting it is to see things you’ve made professionally photographed and on glossy paper! Handmade is Australia’s top-selling monthly craft magazine, they focus on smaller, quick to make projects, all different crafts, and have been so lovely to work with. So far they have accepted five of my designs. My first pattern for them is for scalloped lace and cable wrist cuffs. 🙂 Vol 34, number 3 is the one with my design. 

   
 Wednesday saw the arrival of a little needle-felting kit I had ordered on eBay. Because I totally need another craft. I had wanted to try it for a while, especially seeing lovely creations on blogs such as Noemie’s, and it was a cheap investment all up: for a total of less than $20, I got the fleece, needles and holders, foam mat, leather finger protectors and two digital books on Etsy. Bargain! 

  
I managed to stab myself just taking the cap off the needles, so it wasn’t the best ever start. Here’s my first go, a mushroom. I moved the bloodied tissue out of the way for the photo. I haven’t decided if I like this craft yet. I’m having a go at a French Bulldog for my mum next.

   
 Thursday was apparently wildlife day. The goannas here are generally not afraid of humans. I love this guy’s expression.  

  
A koala and her baby also decided to play for hours right by the back deck. It was a hot day, so the mother was in ‘casual’ mode, until the fidgeting little terror harassed her so much she had to move. I know all baby animals are cute, but seriously…that little koala! Those fluffy ears! I wanted to hug him and squeeze him and call him George. Or Blinky Bill. I’ve never felt quite so lucky to live here as I did seeing this. :))

   
   
   
    
   
On Friday the little shrike thrushes left the nest by the back door. They all plopped out of the nest onto the deck one after the other, jumped around for a few seconds, and were off before I even had a chance to grab the camera! They grow up so fast. Bye bye birdies!
A yarn order also arrived. So yeah, I know I swore I would NEVER knit M another sweater. As you may already know, he is a giant, 6’7″ with a 50″ chest. I use this to justify my lack of knitting for him, and assuage my subsequent guilt. It takes many kilometres of yarn and many weeks of work, and my last attempt throughout a hot summer nearly killed me. But…what can I say…he’s SUCH a great guy. 🙂 I am biased of course. 🙂 But he’s had an amazing year and worked so hard and been so supportive, I really wanted to do something special for him. 

  
So I picked this cabled jacket by Todd Gocken from the Wanderlust collection (hopefully I’ll be able to install the zipper a little better than the one in the photo). The yarn for M has now arrived. It’s a lot of yarn. I used a wheelbarrow to get it from where the postie dropped it by the front gate to the train.
I’ve had an absolute casting on frenzy this week, for some reason a lack of time makes me try to do more and more and more. So later this week I’ll have some knitting to show, as I’ve cast on three thousand things, including two more of my own patterns. 
B 🙂

The Knitting Gods are Angry

I had every intention last Friday of posting about my week.
I wanted to show the little shrike thrushes by the back door, which have now hatched.

   
  
  
Also (snake phobics look away now) this skin, found inside M’s shed right next to my boxes. Given how much the skins shrink, there is no denying this guy is a monster. Just a python thankfully, the placid, gentle members of the snake family.

   
 M made me my lazy Kate, with a rather ingenious design. Clever bugger.

  
I also accomplished a few things last week. I’ve designed two new patterns and am now waiting on yarn. Also recycled two old dresses into skirts. I love shirring. I want to shir all the things. 

   
     Finished my fourth Metallicus, sans pocketses this time.

  
And started a fifth, so I’m well on track for my six-by-summer goal. This yarn was from deep deep stash. You know you have stash issues when you actually have a box designated just “rainbow mohair”. Wtf.

   
 But I didn’t get to post. And the reason is…stupid crochet.
I have teetered at the top of the slippery crochet slope for so long that I got cocky and complacent about my self control. ‘Crochet isn’t my thing’, I kept saying to myself. ‘Too old fashioned. It’s useful, but not addictive.’ Fool.
I had watched an episode of Knitty Gritty quite a few years ago in which the lovely Vicki Howell said not to be scared of crochet, and that just learning a couple of stitches was great for knitters. It doesn’t threaten your allegiance. It’s just useful for edgings and steeking. It made sense, and I got my neighbour at the time to teach me to crochet granny squares. From granny squares, I progressed to filet edgings and rag rugs, initially to use up old sheets, then just because I like them.

   
     Then a few months ago, Craftsy offered the ‘My First Crochet Cardigan’ course with Sara Delaney really cheaply. I got it, adding it to the twenty or so courses I’ve already bought and haven’t watched (if I watched them all, man I would be pro at so many things! Except that too many of the instructors talk to you like you are a complete moron and I just can’t stand it). 
Flash forward to Friday…’Before I write my post, I’ll just have a quick look at that crochet video’, I said…’See if I like this instructor’…Two days later…back, two fronts and half a sleeve done.

  
Apparently crochet is like a ‘thing’…there are magazines, books…even patterns on Ravelry. Who knew? Everyone but me. Crocheting clothes, it turns out, is really easy. And REALLY fast. And fun. And addictive. And kind of sculptural. 
Dougal Maguire knew something was up. 

  
M even made the fatal mistake of asking me what I was knitting. 

  
Then guess what… And I wasn’t even playing yarn chicken. I should have had plenty of yarn, according to the pattern. ‘That doesn’t look like much left,’ I thought a few times. Eventually I grabbed the scales and…no. Nowhere near enough left. Frickin’ frickedy FRICK.
The knitting gods punished me for my disloyalty. Vengeful bastards. They know I should have been working on my Finland Sweater. And I am, I promise…it’s just reeeeeeaaaalllly boring. 

  
But I so wanted that chunky grey cardy! 😦 I wanted to put patch pockets and big bright yellow buttons on it! 🙂 So I have to frog it and will try again, but only after I have completed the necessary penance, which is three thousand million miles of stocking stitch on 3.5mm (US 4) needles. Then….I may just convert to the dark side.
B

Thursday thingies

This week began with an encounter with a 6ft long king brown snake as thick as my wrist. It was attempting to get into the ceiling of our outside pantry, a building that is half sculpted into the surrounding rock. I didn’t get a photo unfortunately as I was too busy running in the other direction, but maybe next time. It was up there, at the top of the hidden staircase.  
A further encounter was much more pleasant. I have a ‘fairy path’ that M cut for me through the undergrowth from the train to the front gate, and this guy was ambling up it. He picked a rather small tree to climb up, and wasn’t too bothered when M stroked his back, although he looks a little indignant. I am informed it was ‘reeeeally soft!’ 🙂

  

   
We discovered a nest in a hanging basket by the back door and M used remote shooting with his fancy schmancy camera to get these shots. It’s a shrike thrush. Trying saying that ten times.

   
   
We’ve been working in the garden despite the heat, and still uncovering surprises. 

Surprise pineapple.

  
Surprise rock wall. The wall itself was fairly obvious, but only when it was cleared did we discover the three seats built into it. I am calling it the ‘three bears’ wall.

  
M’s orchids are flowering. There are several vanilla orchids going crazy too, very excited to think we may end up with our own vanilla pods. Because this is a scruffy ‘wild’ garden, we are keeping it low maintenance.

  
    
  
I have now had five patterns accepted by a magazine here in Australia, so much of my time lately has been spent writing patterns and ‘secret knitting’ – wrist cuffs, tea cosy, journal cover, hat and bag. But there are also WIPs galore.

Finland sweater creeping downward
  
My fourth Metallicus

  
One sock completed in Lana Grossa Meilenweit ‘India’. I frickin love this. 🙂 

  
And a scarf that I’ll post a free pattern of shortly.

  
I’m expecting a big yarn order any day now, and soooo excited!!

But in the meantime I received the most perfect gift…
  
Something for the knitter who has everything…..a surprise present from M.

They are sterling silver, beautifully made by a Canadian jeweller called wearthou on etsy. You can imagine my excitement. 🙂 I never want to take them off. 🙂

  

B 🙂

Recycled Tea Light Christmas decorations

  
I know it’s early. 🙂  But October has, as usual, sent me floating happily away on my initial wave of Christmas excitement and anticipation. How I love it! ❤ Because I will be spending 3 weeks in Finland just before Christmas this year, I am being super dooper organised. I’ve posted before about all my crazy recycled homemade decorations, but thought I might revisit a tutorial from a couple of years ago for decorations that recycle tea light candle holders. I always have a stack of these left over from my oil burner, and this weekend I’m making a long garland out of them for over the window. 🙂
  

Materials:

Small sharp pair of scissors

Empty tea light containers (they are rarely completely empty after use, but any excess wax and wick holder will just come out as you go so there is no need to clean them out)

A knitting needle (small sized dpn) or empty ball point pen for the embossing

A cutting mat or old magazine to lean on 

Sharp needle and thread for hanging

A caution: this stuff is SHARP! The cut edges and scraps are very very sharp so please be careful.

Instructions:

First cut the edge of the container into 8 equal segments.

I find the easiest way to do this is divide it in quarters first, then halve them.

   
    
 After the 8 segments have been cut, flip it over and flatten the metal out, pressing down from the back. Use something with a flat base to do this, such as a book or a piece of wood.

   
Now cut each of the 8 edge sections into points.

 
  
Flip it over so the inside is facing up – it looks best if you do the embossing on the internal side. Resting on the cutting mat or magazine, use your knitting needle or old pen to emboss designs in the star. This is easy to do and you will soon see how much pressure is required to get a good effect. Use the photo as a guide, or come up with your own designs. Flip it again to see the finished effect.
   
   
Use the sewing needle to carefully puncture a hole in the end of one point (I actually did this over a small nail dent in a table top) and thread the hanging tie through. Tie off and you’re done! These look great on the Christmas tree or threaded in a line like a garland, or hung from a hoop at different lengths to make a mobile. You could add a moon shape to that as well. If you rounded off the points, they could of course be non- Christmassy flowers too.

  
Here’s the link to the pdf version. 
B 🙂