A Year of William Morris

It is finally feeling like Autumn, and we all breathe a collective sigh of relief here at Ravensridge. The body language of this koala says it all. We had actually never seen one sleep like this before, and I could empathise after the summer we had.   
It’s a magical time of year, beautiful, cool, sunshiney mornings and plenty of wildlife. Lots of koala spotting, wallabies and goannas hanging around my train while I’m working, and some black cockatoos. 

   
    
    
   
    

  
Atticus enjoying the sun.

  
Dougal enjoying unconsciousness.

  
Even the cacti garden flowered this year.

  
And dragonfruit threatens to take over the entire garden.

  
The wasps are also going crazy artistic in this weather. Most of the ones round here are stingless, including the mud dauber that built this on the laundry wall. I can watch them for hours sculpting with their little blobs of mud. (We don’t normally remove them, this one was just in an unfortunate spot and had to go).

  

I have of course been knitting and crocheting madly, which I will document next time. I am currently obsessed with Tunisian crochet. Crochet that looks like knitting! It makes me very happy. 🙂

  
I have also been enjoying more sewing and needlework. And in that line, my mum came up with an idea for herself that I am totally stealing. “A Year of William Morris”: a year of projects related to the art of William Morris and the Arts and Crafts period. Instead of always looking through the books saying ‘oh I’d love to do one of these one day…’, I decided I’m going to actually do some. 
When I gathered up my relevant books from all over the house and the train for inspiration, it became obvious this had been on the cards for a while.

  
Of course, this won’t be ALL I do for the next year, but it will be a consistent background theme. I have plans for cushions, a rug, a fire screen, a painting, cross stitch pieces and at least one quilt. After the summer hiatus, I’ve also resumed designing and am feeling very motivated! If anyone would like to join the journey, please do! 🙂 There can surely never be enough William Morris projects in the world. 
For Ravensridge, this one is of course on the list, ‘Raven’, from Beth Russell’s William Morris Needlepoint. It makes me swoon. I’d like to design a quilt to match, too. And maybe a jacket. 🙂

  
It had been a while since I did any proper needlepoint, so I practised with these projects. I finished my hazelnut cushion and a small rose tapestry, which I also made into a cushion to match the sofa. Both zippered, although I drew the line at piping. I think I was just procrastinating, really.

    

  
Finished a ‘cottage and manor’ cross stitch duo. These were from a vintage kit I got on ebay. They are suuuuper tiny, and were very hard on the poor old eyes. :/

  
And then, feeling warmed up, I started this, Project Number One: Peony Cushion. A needlepoint cushion, an interpretation of William Morris’ peony design from the book ‘Country House Needlepoint’ by Frances Kennett and Belinda Scarlett. My Year of William Morris is underway! 🙂 

  
B

February No-FO’s 

Well, I sailed cheerfully into February with high hopes to use this month to complete my unfinished knitting and crochet projects, which are -ahem- numerous. As it turned out however, life had other plans.
My ‘Finish it or Frog it’ plans hit a couple of snags very early on in the month with temperamental health and an unexpected funeral, the combination of which took the wind completely out of my sails. 
My February tally so far:

Finished – 0

Frogged – 0

Yep. Nailed it.
But c’est la vie. 🙂 Now the breeze has slightly picked up again, I have been really craving cheerful colours. I finished a little sewing, firstly a purple linen dress. 

  
And some Thai silk cushions to brighten up the lounge, made out of vintage serviettes my MIL rescued from an op shop for me. 

  
More bags for sale, including sock knitting kits.

   
  
   
In the knitting/crochet arena, I’m still working on my yellow cardigan, known variously as the pineapple, banana or mellow yellow cardy. It is, in fact, almost a finished object. But it needs pockets. And possibly a collar. The pattern is Quick Sand by Heidi Kirrmaier and the yarn is Rowan Creative Linen. I even did this huge gauge swatch. So proud.

   
   
My grandmother’s flower garden blanket is growing and growing, my Japanese crochet top is coming out too small so I’ll have to add a few more rows along the way, and I’m also crocheting the Vermillion Cardigan, from Inside Crochet magazine, out of Drops Lima. Only the sleeves and buttons to go. I’m hoping it will come up nicely with a good blocking.

  
Oh and I crocheted this simple ear flap hat too, not quite finished, but nearly. 

  
I went to make a Pom Pom for it from cardboard (haha, I love that Pom Pom is automatically capitalised), and remembered that I had a Pom Pom making kit when I was a child. I had a vague memory of seeing it somewhere in the train last year and went searching….. 

  
Woohoo! Even with all the bits inside still! 🙂 this is exactly why I don’t throw any crafty stuff away. So satisfying. In yo’ face, people that call me a hoarder!! 🙂 
I have two projects in the current issue of Handmade magazine, a journal cover and a lace hat…

   
 In my hunt for the Pom Pom maker, I also uncovered a pile of cross stitch and tapestry and long stitch kits, collected over the years from various sources who were throwing them out. I have never actually bought one. People give me a lot of stuff. Usually with the line ‘I want you to have it because I know you’ll finish it.’

  
Whoops.
But I have lately, in my confinement to extended periods of inactivity, been desirous of comforting, old fashioned embroidery-style projects. This one appealed to me, a lovely little Australiana cottage which reminds me of our place. And a cross stitch tapestry cushion cover of a hazelnut bush. These things are so kitsch, I just love them. It is essentially colouring in with yarn and I find it extreeemely relaxing. 🙂

   
    
 Around Ravensridge…Our baby shrike thrushes in the hanging basket hatched, grew and flew the nest.

   
   
A typical Queensland huge summer storm threatened to hit us, but passed by quickly slightly to the north of us with only light rain. Phew.

  
The summer rain has brought out a scattering of fungi.

   
   
And I received a lovely ‘Valentine’ from M, Scrivener writing software for my new computer. Ironically, I am in love with it. Totally. In love. Where have you been all my life, Scrivener? ❤
And I mustn’t forget this, a little cheer up present from book depository. I am So. Excited. To make this. :)))

  
There will be FO’s next time. I swear. 
B 🙂

Australia Day and Linen

Australia Day yesterday, which meant the traditional BBQ and kayak up at the bay. 🙂 Except it was hot and belted down rain for half the day, so Ma and I stayed in the air conditioning and only M and Poppy went out on the water.   
  
My steady ‘pacing myself, one a day’ plan for my Grandmother’s Flower Garden afghan failed, as expected. Those little hexies are really addictive! 🙂
 I am using almost all scraps for this, and in the end I decided on a ‘peacock’ sort of colour way, greens, purples and blues, set off by grey paths around the flowers, mainly because that’s what I had a lot of. The flower centres will be mustard.
My usual summer depression has been lifted slightly with some linen. 🙂 I am working on my Japanese top (that’s the pattern in the background, in case you thought I was joking when I said it was blurry!). It takes a bit of patience and a good daylight lamp, but it’s coming along.

  
Pure linen isn’t the easiest to knit or crochet with, but I love the end result so much that I persist. Here’s a few yarns in the current project queue. 

  
The thicker yellow is Rowan Creative Linen. In a strange synchronicity with Bekki from Dartmoor Yarns, I had a great desire to make a yellow cardy. I’ve never made anything yellow before in my life. Inspired I think by this one from Drops.

  
More project bags off the assembly line.

  
     
   
Unfortunately I can’t yet share all my weekly projects this time around, so some random pics about the place from this week instead.
Our wildlife watering stations attracted a visit from another goanna (in centre of pic by the black container).

  
Friendly chicken and camera shy M.

  
Excited to find this Lively Rainbow Skink, a beautiful example of a breeding male. 

  
Synchronised cats.

  

  
And Ravensridge, sweltering at dusk. Roll on winter!

  
I am thinking about having a ‘Finishing Off February’, to turn some of my myriad WIPs into FOs and frog the rest. I figured if I made a ‘no casting on rule’ for Feb, that would be a start. Naturally, I then totally panicked and cast on four more things. Just in case. Sigh. Still, I think I can do it. February FOs, here I come! :))

B

Creating and destroying

I’m late posting this week because this was one of those weeks where I went backwards more than forwards. If you look at time linearly, anyway. Spatially, I guess I was just creating and destroying at the same time, in no particular order.

Hot weather makes my concentration evaporate. The end of the week saw 3 full days of knitting and crochet frogged in a fit of pique. Everything went in the time-out basket. I don’t want to talk about it.
In total frustration, I buried myself in vintage patterns to self soothe. It worked. 🙂

  
Stitch by Stitch was an English series of pattern magazines. I found these folders of them at an op shop (charity shop) for a dollar each years ago. I hadn’t revisited them since I began to crochet, and was pretty excited to discover a whole new range of weird and wonderful patterns that I had previously ignored. But…wow. Late seventies/ early eighties was a special, special time.

   
Shame M’s not a bit more hipster…and 20″ smaller in the chest….

 I don’t know how to begin to comment on this one. Ummm…that’s an awesome… tuxedo jumper.

  
It’s easy to mock, but I do so affectionately. There’s actually plenty of patterns I’d love to make. Who doesn’t need a rainbow pompon bath mat?

  
And a lot of the cable patterns never go out of style.

  
Eventually I forgave my own projects enough to allow them out of the basket. This was one I had started four times. 

  
Four times through the whole waistband to discover my gauge was out, or the yarn wasn’t appropriate, or both of those were fine but it was huge for no apparent reason…and why was I crocheting a pair of shorts anyway for fricks sake? I have no good answer. I just liked them. I never thought in a million lifetimes I would ever be a crocheter of shorty shorts. But everyone is full of contradictions and paradoxes I guess. Queensland’s heat has warped me. I plan on doing a lacy camisole to go with these as summer pjs.
Also, because I accomplished a pair of shorts with a fourteen page photo-rich tutorial, I feel I can definitely tackle this. Which has no instructions, a blurry diagram and is in Japanese. What could possibly go wrong.

  
My passion for grandmother’s flower garden quilts has extended to the crochet version, to use up DK scraps. Nevermind that I have three fabric versions on the go too. :/ This is an Amish hexie pattern.

  
One hexie a day should have me finished in a year (Ha! Because I’m so methodical and consistent, that plan is sure to work…) 🙂
Bags bags and more bags. I like making them.

   
   
And to finish the week…a knitted hood. Because…oh it was one of those weird weeks. I dunno, I just felt like it. This one is into the shop too. 🙂

  
And the shrike thrushes are back! They chose a different hanging basket on the back deck this time. They took ages to build the nest, then an egg got laid every day for three days.

Here’s the first one.

  
Found a cool wasp’s nest that had fallen down.

  
A couple of goannas visited too. Bottom left of the first photo, amongst the Old Man’s Beard.

   
 
Next week, if it cools down, I will be back to the knitting, including some secret projects for secret people. 
B 🙂