Category Archives: Sewing

employment-go-round again

I’ll miss watching the progress – and the view ๐Ÿ™‚

YoungB’s contract is at an an end, so he’s on the job-hunt. Again. The thing about our recent elections – both state and federal – is that the change of government (at both levels) means that there are opportunities aplenty in different fields, some of which he might find appealing. He’s had his resume professionally tarted up – I beg your pardon; updated – and it’s impressive.

Me? I’ve officially notified the Powers That Be the date on which I’ll be retiring later this year. Leadership at work seems surprised. I don’t know why! My age is no secret. I’ve clearly been suffering work-related aggravations to existing health problems ever since I started there. I’ve made absolutely no secret of my intentions. Why is it suddenly unexpected, and something they hadn’t foreseen? You know that emoji where you smack yourself? Yeah. That seemed about the right response; but I didn’t.

Someone who appreciates why retirement is a good idea asked me what I’m going to do – apart from all the obvious things like crochet and knit, of course – and I said I might cook. She thought that was a wonderful idea. So did I. I like cooking. I would have to shoo Dr B out of the kitchen – it is his domain, after all – but I’m sure he wouldn’t mind me elbowing into his space if it means he has more time to do other things. I would bake, too. It would be gratifying to go back to making bread. That was one of my great pleasures that simply disappeared.

Dodgy back and leg notwithstanding, some routine exercise will also feature large. It’s most likely to be continuing the hydro-pool exercise classes that I presently attend. They’re generally kind in terms of both parts of the physique and, because it’s a therapy pool, the water is always wondrously warm. I would be free to join a book club. Or a gardening club. Or a photography group. Or all of the above!

I could once again suss out options for joining local choirs. This time, when they all respond with some version of, “We rehearse and perform during the day, during the week,” thus putting such delights entirely out of full-time worker contention, it wouldn’t matter. I’d have that availability.

I might by then have reached the top of the waiting list for eye surgery, and, postoperatively, be able to see better than ever – really ever, as I’ve been wearing specs pretty much all my life – and then I might be able to reinvigorate my sewing and make some inroads on all those projects that are presently too difficult. Oh, boy. And people wonder if I’ll have enough to do. Smack-yourself emoji again, I think.

Meanwhile, however, there’s a certain amount of excitement and tension around YoungB’s potential new job. There are choices in fields where he has qualifications and expertise, and there are choices in fields that would suit his outgoing personality. There are jobs with crossover. He’s already sent inquiries and job applications. It’s going to be an interesting few months, watching how everything turns out, but he is likely to have some much-needed downtime before starting in any new position, whatever the field.

During that downtime, I anticipate the mealtime conversation will centre on matters mechanical. I’ll be knitting in my room, if you’re looking for me ๐Ÿ˜€


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non-infirm Infirmarian

Late at night. Glad to get any photo!

For Girls’ Night In this year, our hostess proposed the theme of Playing a Part. Youngest Aunt suggested the main character/s from Vertigo, particularly referencing either the famous black dress or grey costume as worn by Kim Novak. I could have managed the hair. I’d have been prepared to endure an approximation of the shoes. But the dress, and the figure to match? Hiring the dress might have been the best option, had I decided to go that way. Half the fun of these gatherings is to see what everyone else manages on what is often a minimum-cost model. The more I thought about it, the less readily achievable it seemed.

If not the heroine/bad girl from Vertigo, then what part should I play? Serendipity saw me rereading a few bits and pieces from various books in Garth Nix‘s Old Kingdom series, in readiness for the new title that was released earlier in November. I happened to reread part of Lirael, the second book in the original trilogy. There was a description of Filris, a character who appears only once but at a moment of great importance.

Filris is the Infirmarian at the Clayrs Glacier. She is described as short and slight, with white hair and wrinkled skin that tans readily. She is said to be about 150 years of age. Like others of her clan, she has pale blue eyes. I didn’t need help for most of that, although I’m no longer slight, nor am I naturally tanned. Being the Infirmarian, charged with healing via the use of both Charter Magic and more ordinary means, appealed to me as something readily achievable and surprisingly appropriate. This is not to say that I am possessed of Charter Magic, more that I could come up with all sorts of quick and easy ways to represent Filris AND, as I have spent many years of my life in caring roles, both professional and personal, the fit felt right. Type-cast, you might say.

I wore clean silver jewellery, with the idea that it represented untarnished silver kept bright by Charter Magic. I wasn’t successful in finding anything resembling the moonstones on a silver circlet that denote a fully Awakened Clayr but you could argue that a healer would have as few adornments as possible. As I think you can see in the photo, I had stars on the cape I made. The stars are meant to be seven-pointed, to represent the Clayr, but I could only find the five-pointed variety. Basic clothing was as simple as a white top and leggings, and I made a green-and-silver belt that didn’t hold up as well as I’d have liked but lasted long enough. To suggest the healer’s role, I carried a bag with some herbs of healing – fresh rosemary from our garden, as well as fresh and dried lavender – and put my hair up in a bun to keep it out of the way. Sorted without too much effort. The fur-edged cape is not entirely true to canon. However, I knew it would be cool outdoors and I am notoriously bad at handling cold; almost like a real Clayr living on a glacier.

And, as if all of that were not enough, I grew up in Clare. It was meant.

I wasn’t happy with my representation of a Charter Mark, but the paler zinc almost worked. Of course, nobody else knew who my character was or had heard of the books. Of course, I was equally clueless as to who half of them were meant to be. It was fun swapping yarns about what/whose part we were playing. It was also deeply heartening to find a fellow crocheter with whom I could discuss yarns of other sorts; BWM is our preferred supplier.

If I was tired before all these fancy dress parties started cranking up – yes, I was – then I think I can safely admit that I’m now utterly exhausted, and ready for the working year to be over. However, the latest Old Kingdom title should be awaiting me tomorrow when I come home from work. I can probably keep my eyes open long enough to read a chapter or so of that. I would usually stay up all night reading, but see my earlier comment re exhaustion AND consider that it’s a school night.

I’m sure you’ll appreciate my reluctance to visit the Infirmarian ๐Ÿ˜€

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Posted by on November 7, 2021 in Crochet, Health, Sewing


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eye see you, finish line!

He’ll be able to see the finish line. Reach it? Dunno!

It’s such a busy time of year that I’m struggling to juggle my extra-curricular activities. I’m heavily involved in the making of our pool-noodle horse. As you can see from the photo, he now has eyes. I glued them on at lunchtime yesterday. What’s less obvious is that most of the rest of him is also now glued. My arthritic joints didn’t appreciate that amount of time spent using a hot-glue gun. Knitting and crochet don’t require such a steep angle or degree of compression, and my techniques don’t involve using all my fingers to the same extent.

My weekend is set to be spent communing with my sewing machine while I try to knock up some sort of “silk” top for the jockey. I have already dragged out more stash fabric. It won’t be a complicated garment, but the lightweight fabrics will respond better to sewing than to gluing. Also, sewing should be quicker, and kinder to my hands, than gluing.

The horse is still earless, as you can see. Once in place, ears will help keep his forelock tidier. Another team member is making those, ready for us to attach them on Monday. We don’t want to be finishing our steed on the day of the race, do we?! And, I mean, he has to be able to hear the cheers of the crowd on Tuesday. Right? If my hands haven’t recovered by Monday, someone else can wield the gun.

There’s another fancy-dress costume on the go for next weekend’s Girls’ Night In. It doesn’t require much sewing – thankfully – but while I have the machine stoked up, it makes sense to tackle that as well. That will be in between dealing with domestica, of course, mostly in the shape of endless laundry.

I have felt pulled in all directions trying to answer these various calls to craftiness. I have done nothing at all to YoungB’s blanket for over a week, but – as ever – I am diligently continuing to record temperatures. I will get there and it’s not something that was ever going to be finished smack on year’s end. I’ve said before, if it’s ready in time for his March birthday, I’ll consider that acceptable. The border will occupy me for a couple of weeks, I’m sure.

The other hiccough is babies. People will keep telling me they’re having babies, and they’re all due in March! I do want to make something for each of them, but it might be as simple as a knitted toy. I’m not offering to knit or crochet blankets. Nowadays, while I’m still working full-time, my energy simply doesn’t stretch that far.

Sew: the finish line for this part of the course is in sight. It will do as a waypoint. I’m not even going to think about how far behind the blanket is falling, or about any COVID-related issues that might be heading our way with relaxing restrictions. Let’s celebrate our progress and cheer ourselves mightily as we finish strong. We’re all champions ๐Ÿ˜€


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There’s probably some of this flannelette fabric still left in the stash ๐Ÿ™‚

Has the rage for oversize hoodies reached your part of the world? YoungB and I have often talked about sewing up something similar – but very simple, with minimum shaping – using fabric already in stash. This is the sort of weather when discussions about such a thing as an oversize hoodie return to consideration. He has a onesie – long story! – but it has a few drawbacks and isn’t necessarily the sort of thing you’d want to be wearing for a Zoom call.

YoungB was cold this morning, and rightly so. The temperature was around zero and the wind chill made it feel several degrees colder. I hauled out a piece of polar fleece from deep within stash and suggested he use it as a giant wrap. He was happy to do so, because it kept him warm. At lunchtime, we once again discussed making it into a garment. I have plenty of flannelette also in stash, which we thought would be suitable as the second layer. I might have to piece it to get enough fabric to fit YoungB’s current size, but that wouldn’t matter. If it keeps him warm, I’m happy to do it, and it would add to the fun element. At least, I think it would.

It wouldn’t be an Oodie. I’m not suggesting that for a minute. But it might be a quick way of making something cuddly and warm, with the emphasis on warm. It would reduce my stash and, if I’m careful – for example, use a kimono-style sleeve, unshaped hood and only a small scoop in the pouch pocket – then there should be little fabric wastage and not much returning to stash afterwards.

Temperature blanket? Yeah, nah. But you know what? At that temperature, you need a blanket. Am I right?!


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Pockets to hold protective armour – white original, coloured reproduction

A good number of years ago, I mocked up some pockets to hold kevlar inserts for motorcycling jeans – one was the single replacement above, the other a complete re-creation for motorcycling jeans that had none. Making pockets isn’t impossibly difficult. Right? Today, I’ve been looking at online tutorials for putting pockets in shopping bags, on the principle that you need somewhere to put your purse and your mobile phone. There are few things in life more annoying than reinventing wheels when you know there are patterns out there – often accompanied by videos – that already have the answers you want, so a bit of research was in order.

Having said that, I was happy to put all that away and accompany Dr B to a brief appointment in town. And, as we were there, and it was lunchtime, we decided we’d try one of the nearby eateries. It’s something I can’t readily do when I’m at work – as I’ve said before, half an hour is not enough time to go far afield – so it was a pleasant way to spend an hour or so on a sunny Adelaide afternoon. The menu offered a good range. Dr B’s pizza was light and tasty. My soup was also tasty. Best of all, the accompanying bread had a pocket.

It’s nice when your diverse themes come together. I hope that you, too, have been able to enjoy a conjunction of ideas from both craft and cuisine, however unrelated they really are ๐Ÿ˜€

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Posted by on January 7, 2021 in Food, Sewing


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overheard in the queue

Beyond repair, I reckon

There I was in the queue with my fabric, wondering about the colours and the fibre content and their suitability for the project at hand. Safely in front of me at the counter, another mother about to make something for an occasion muttered something like, “It doesn’t have to be perfect. It just has to be done.” I’d never seen her before and will probably never see her again, but she is plainly one of my tribe!

I mention this only because Dr B recently asked me to mend some old potholders that he’d managed to burn. Being potholders, perfection is plainly the least of the worries one might have around mending them. How could you not love someone who thinks they should be, or could be, mended AGAIN? But, you know, the potholders are old and even without Dr B’s cavalier treatment of them, they’re probably reaching the end of their useful life.

They don’t have to be perfect and they are unlikely to be done. I think the time has come for them to become part of the compost heap: further contributions to their useful life ๐Ÿ™‚

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Posted by on November 26, 2020 in Sewing


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ancestral colours

No question that he wore it better, ‘taches and all

Although I’ve been doing lots of sewing, it’s been mostly small things, or rescues, but occasionally I manage something larger.

For example, I once again made my costume for the annual Girls’ Night In fundraiser hosted by a former workmate. She comes up with lighthearted but challenging themes, and this year’s invited us to consider our ancestral origins. Mine being entirely Irish on the paternal line, and a mix of Irish, Scottish and English maternally, the idea of going dressed as a sack of potatoes held great appeal. “Murphy’s premium seed variety,” I thought.

However, the logistics of securing any filling matter so that it didn’t leak, and lining any hessian (burlap) sack to make it comfy enough to wear led me to think that if I had to make a lining, I might just as well forget the sack idea, make myself a green tabard that I could wear over warm, dark-coloured underthings, pin some identifying flags about the place and call myself colleen. That’s what I ended up doing.

Luckily, I have a large, well-curated fabric stash. Because YoungB’s primary school colours included green, I managed to find some untouched lengths that were able to be put to good use. I’ve been caught before without a warm wrap, so as well as the tabard, I included a stole (made from the remainder strip of the fabric). There wasn’t a hem in sight and I am yet to remedy that shortcoming.

At about the level of my collarbone, I pinned a White Rose of York on one shoulder and a shamrock on the other, then a St Andrew’s flag and a St Piran’s flag between them. That nodded to everyone without resorting to anything as obvious as a Union Jack.

To top it off, I borrowed a silly Guinness hat from YoungB (a St Patrick’s Day acquisition that looked much better on him). This had the value of keeping my hair tidy and my head warm while simultaneously advertising my bona fides, all of it without too much effort on my part.

I think I’d call that a win ๐Ÿ˜€


Posted by on November 23, 2020 in Family history, Sewing


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its time will come

Wrong colour entirely

With regard to sewing, you won’t be surprised to hear that it’s all about masks at present. When we were not in the middle of such an uncertain present and sedate parties were once again taking place – no dancing, reduced numbers, but able to happen – I did make that gent’s evening scarf for YoungB so that he could wear it to the fundraiser.

You might recall that we’d all agreed our fabric choice was an excellent colour; it’s shown in the above photo. However, although we’d audited it against a black shirt, when we put the finished scarf against the black suit – perhaps a denser black and certainly a greater expanse of it – YoungB and I uttered immediately and simultaneously, “Way too bright.” Dr B concurred. YoungB went on a quick hunt during his lunch break and tracked down something far less eye-catching. The scarf may yet find a use, but is presently folded and stored.

Dr B liked it so much he asked if he could have one, too, so it’s a good thing I bought extra fabric (truthfully not quite THAT much extra fabric, but I can make it work). A second scarf is cut and pinned, and also awaiting its moment.

May your colour choices always be precisely the right ones ๐Ÿ™‚

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Posted by on November 22, 2020 in Health, Sewing


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survival and silliness

New baby on the tiles

Although my two weeks of being back at the office was something of a slog, I turned up on time, every day – except for the day when the bus was late. Well done, me! There were some silly moments at work – I was the jockey in our team’s COVID Cup entry, for example; my pool-noodle horse and I came second – but it’s a busy time of year so it was generally a simple matter of head down and nose to the grindstone.

I managed some sensible sewing to balance the touch of silliness. Most relevantly, I dragged YoungB’s cycling bibs from the waiting pile and finished adjusting them. He was happily sporting them while commuting to the CBD on his new velocipede, and will soon be doing so again.

New bike, you say?

YoungB’s first ever bicycle was second-hand, and he used it till he grew out of it. Since then, he’s been fortunate enough to have several brand-new bicycles, sometimes gifts from his indulgent Nonni, sometimes necessary upgrades to accommodate his increasing size. Although new, they have never been latest-model, top-of-the-line numbers (see comment re increasing size: you don’t buy expensive bikes knowing the rider will outgrow them).

Since securing non-casual employment, he has been saving assiduously with the aim of buying himself a latest-model, top-of-the-line bicycle. Recently, he did just that: channelled his savings into the purchase of a brand-new pushbike with top-notch technology. The reduced price was probably a lockdown special, but everyone loves a bargain. Right?

In view of the fairly poor road surfaces on which he commutes, the most important feature of the new baby is that it has disc brakes. I see it as an extra safety feature, and I’m all for as many of those as can be managed to ensure his ongoing survival. Like all our bikes, it’s insured and has its own padlocks – goodness, don’t they increase before your eyes! – and it already looks like a long-time family member.

I’ll let you know if there’s a naming ceremony ๐Ÿ˜€

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Posted by on November 21, 2020 in Cycling, Sewing


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bigger than a crowbar

Neat enough end result

There I was, hemming YoungB’s trousers, and, well, the size of the needle I was using had to be seen to be believed. It was even larger than anything my Mum ever described as a crowbar, so I’m not sure what descriptor to use. A pile-driver, maybe?

As ever, it was a combination of dark fabric and working late at night. I find that threading needles is tricky enough at the best of times. I could hold a smaller one, I’m sure, although it would aggravate my arthritis; but I wouldn’t be able to see to thread it to start with.

In any case, I was quietly pleased with my efforts. Needlework 101, I think, because not complex sewing. But it was presentable and YoungB extremely grateful. You’ll undoubtedly laugh with me when I tell you that I had to think about how to do herringbone, as it’s such a long time since I have used it.

Someone might point out that the woven tape should be a much narrower, grosgrain ribbon. I agree. However, I had none in my stash. Time being of the essence, I used what I could find. It will work for the purpose.

Next job? The scarf. I’ve managed to locate my stash of spare bobbins, and reckon I could probably deal with a test sew tonight. Or maybe that would be pushing my luck, despite both scarf and lining fabrics being much lighter colours.

Whatever you’re sewing, I do hope that it’s easier for you to see, whether you’re handsewing or using a machine.

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Posted by on October 20, 2020 in Sewing


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