Wednesday, May 25, 2011

I made a lemon, so I reached for the gin

It was a Stuff Up, but became Something Better.
I was doing some more pants lengthening for Clem, calculated the width of my add-ons wrongly, and they were too narrow.
Ditch and start again? No! Seize the opportunity to experiment!

I set my machine to zigzag, turned the pants inside out and narrowed the legs down. Chopped off the excess. Added the cuffs. Success - and slimmer pants, just how I like them on my boys!
By the time I convinced him to pose for these photos, the pants were sporting a few stains.

Hard to see, but it's a cute Kokka fabric with bees holding teapots and things.

I liked them so much I did the next pair slim, too.

The t-shirt was a super-quick embellishment project.
My sister-in-law gave me some lovely fabric remnants from Sprout Design. I cut out a picture, stuck it on with iron-on adhesive and stitched some embroidery thread around it. Done.
This week it's been husband away, kids sick, unable to go in to work or be social. These kind of simple but constructive projects help keep me sane. Look, I did something other than wipe snot!

- Jane x

Tuesday, May 24, 2011


Hurrah, I can finally post the triumphant Quilt Flapping On Line Shot!
The weather has been cruddy (which does not excuse that grass). Sorry, pics are not very bright'n'cheery.
And the back view! At one stage I was liking the back more than the front.
I washed it, for that crinkled effect (er, very) and to remove dust and marks after it had been dragged around for so long being hand-quilted. You can see the shape in the middle where I hung it over the drying rack by the fire. Attractive, non?

What have I learned from making my very first quilt?

1. It's addictive. Yes, I was warned. I can't see squillions of the things in my future but I did happen to fall hard for this fabric line and have some on its way, to make a quilt for my frog-loving ten year old.

2. I might be officially 'over' this hand quilting thing. I'll wait for the callouses on my fingers to go away and then we'll see.

3. Hand quilting is especially difficult where a couple of linen blend or home dec weight fabrics are joined together, and even more so if the same thing is happening on the back side too.

4. Contrariwise, voile is delicious to hand-quilt and I could sometimes get three entire stitches on the needle in one go. This is exciting, folks.

5. I should not read hand-quilting tutorials that suggest we're aiming for around six stitches per inch. In fairyland, perhaps.

Anyway, the froggy quilt can wait a while. I might even get Charlie involved in the making of it. What I am itching to do now is make some clothes. On the machine. For ME. It's been a while.

- Jane x

Wednesday, May 18, 2011


That damp thing there, that's a bobbin.

Maybe a year ago, perhaps more, he confidently pronounced this body part a 'bobbin'... and who were we to correct him?
He says is very precisely: bob - bin; you hear the 'i' as in 'pin'.
Even better, he sees bobbins all around him. A peach has a bobbin. My attempt at coffee froth art looks like a bobbin. Bobbins are funny, of course.
It was a beautiful day today. "All the white is turning to blue," he says, looking at the sky. He insisted that we go to the zoo, but "not the zoo I go to with Grandma, the other zoo". Er, what's at the zoo with Grandma? "Giraffes and meerkats." What's at the other zoo? "Not animals." Ah. The Botanic Gardens... opposite the zoo.
I only had my phone camera since I just wanted to be there, all for the moment and for him. He could have spent hours in this spot. No-one seems to mind that kids love to paddle and race leaves and flowers down this water feature. I suspect it was designed with that in mind, really.
Other funny word confusions from today: "They are all going in the same collection as us, aren't they?" (direction). And "tadpole" for "seedpod"... we'd seen and discussed both, then he found something he thought was a seedpod and called it a tadpole, then seedpole, and we had quite a discussion about all that.

He's growing so fast. Three and a half. In two terms he starts Kindy, and much as our time together can be frustrating and intense, I am already seeing it slipping between my fingers.
'Premature nostalgia' - a concept from Michael Chabon's book The Mysteries of Pittsburgh, that I read over and over in my 20s - that feeling of missing something already, when you're actually still within the experience.

I'm just going to try to put aside that melancholy and eat him up as much as I can. And his brothers, for that matter. More days like this. Does anything else matter nearly as much?

- Jane x

(I believe a film was made of that Chabon book; a bad film. I'm glad I haven't seen it.)

Monday, May 16, 2011

I am the tortoise

This is slow going, this hand-quilting thing, isn't it?

 Are you sick of work-in-progress pictures of this quilt yet? 'Cause sorry, here come a few more.

 The quality of my hand-stitching varies wildly. I fear the stitches are a bit large in places, especially where I have used thicker fabrics.

This is a bit smaller and neater. I'm just winging it, really. Using a hoop most of the time. Any hints or tips would be very welcome. I learnt to use a thimble fairly quickly (and painfully).
The backing was large enough to wrap around and use as binding, so yay, I could machine-stitch that. Kind of proud of the corners, although I may hand-stitch them as well since that looks like it could sort of unfold.
I've quilted 13 of the 25 squares so far, at a rate of not quite one per day. Slow-and-steady. Doesn't make for very fascinating blogging I'm afraid.
Here's a cute pic of a sleeping boy as a reward for ploughing through the quilting post.
Miffy on the other hand looks completely wired. Perhaps she would like to do some hand-quilting for me.

- Jane x

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Going easy on me

Work has been overwhelming in the last couple of weeks. And it looks like my second career as a wildlife photographer isn't going to pan out. (Small joke there peeps.)
Honeyeater's butt with star dropper
Andy heads off on another overseas work trip next week. My folks are away. I'm feeling a little bit like I need to let a few things slide.
On a 'home day' with Clem, I let him watch a lot of this stuff:
(Picture hung before purchase of ginormous TV)
And when he had a babycino, and asked to 'do the chocolate sugar myself', I let him. For quite a while.

Later in the day I abandoned my small efforts at house cleaning and immersed myself in fabric while I let Clem play 'Red Fish' endlessly on my laptop.
I had just received this gorgeous stuff in the mail:
Tammis Keefe reproduction print
and used it, together with some old barkcloth curtain fabric that never seems to run out, to make Charlie a hanging wall pocket for his loft bed.
The fabrics actually go together a bit better than this low-light photo suggests.
This is it hanging from the picture rail, behind the railing of his high, high bed. It's mostly to hold the book he reads at night but it seemed silly to make just a single pocket. I beheaded two cats on the fabric (oops) but there is a whole one on there as well.
In the evening Andy and I watched Mamma Mia! which on the third viewing is only getting more fabulous. The colours are astonishing; I think the whole thing must be very true to some art director's 'inspiration board'.
Anyway. That was a Good Day. Even if a Bad Mama Day. And much needed.

- Jane x

Monday, May 2, 2011

Ten Tomorrow

Warning: very indulgent mother post ahead...........

The cake is baked, the present is wrapped and Dadda is on a plane home.
This sweet, wise, kind, clever, thoughtful boy (who is just starting to exhibit a little teen-oh-I'm-so-over-you-all attitude, on occasion), will be TEN tomorrow. I'm so proud to be his Mama.
I am 'Mama', too, because that's what he called me from the start.
Born long before we had a digital camera in the house, and only 14 months ahead of his first brother. I don't know what they'd do without each other.
He was slow to start talking, and has always taken his time to think before he speaks. He thought for three years before uttering his first pair of words: "hello honey", spoken to honey on his spoon. I always, always listen carefully to Charlie, because what he has to say is always worthwhile.
Except when he's about to get right in your face and say 'Baaaaaaahhhhhhhh!'
Since Christmas he has powered his way through the entire Harry Potter book set, and on the eve of his birthday has maybe about ten pages to go. He didn't read any today because I think he doesn't want it to end. A year or so ago he read Enid Blyton's Faraway Tree books through for the second time and shed tears at the end because it was over.
 A lot goes on in his mind and I will be anxious to keep him talking to us through the teenage years to come, lest he keep too much inside.
He's always been crazily flexible. As a baby he would fold his legs up and his body pretty much in half as we tried to pull the covers over him in bed.
He was born with an awesome head of strawberry blonde hair that I regularly let grow too long before I can bring myself to cut it. Oh, look at those sweet baby teeth!
When Charlie was six he got his own 'mini me', except this one talks.
(Can I ruin the photo magic here and say I cropped out the Wii controller?)

Charlie is so sensible, sometimes we call him an old man. We tell him he can save his sagely advice for when he has his own kids, and not waste it on his brothers, who are too busy letting every thought that crosses their minds spill out their mouths.
Charlie Ferris (for Bueller, of course, although you'd have a few words of advice for him, wouldn't you), YOU ROCK.

- (Mama) Jane x
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