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 🙂

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 🙂

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 🙂

Koalas

  

Nothing to do with knitting, but M got some good shots of a couple of our resident koalas yesterday morning with his flash new camera (zero retouching!), and I shall have my first go at embedding a video. 🙂 

This grumpy old koala:

  

Was very cranky with this one:
  

I managed to film a little of the grunting for anyone who hasn’t heard it, it’s a strange noise!

And eventually the younger one was evicted from the tree they were sharing.

He wandered around for a while before finding another tree.
   
 

B 🙂