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Category Archives: Sewing

essentially serving in viral times

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Easily laundered and adequate for providing some protection when out shopping

In the strangely altered world that Covid-19 sees descending upon us – perhaps too slowly here in Australia, in the sense that federal messages lack clarity with regard to what is and is not allowable – stress is plainly taking its toll. Many of my fellow workers are finding it difficult to focus. The differing loyalties of private citizen and public servant are tested on a daily basis. We watch the numbers unfold and we keep working.

I can report that, from my perspective, the world is much quieter without planes overhead and with a reduction in the number of the vehicles passing our front door. As public service is essential service, I am still commuting daily by public transport. There are fewer fellow commuters. We are probably not the regulation 1.5 metres apart, but at about one person per double seat, that might be the best we can do for now. Nobody coughs. Nobody sneezes. I’m sure nobody would dare!

YoungB is now established in his home office set-up and officially working from home (or WFH, as the current jargon has it). My office has trialled it for a small team. There’s an overall business contingency plan (BPC) that is encouraging us to set up now, so that we’re all ready to jump should the word come from on high. Which “on high” that is may come down to being a decision as to whether we eventually heed state or federal edicts. Whichever it is, it won’t be up to me. I’ll just do as I’m told.

I have made a couple of masks that are definitely not hospital grade, nor intended to be. It is true that, in earlier days, hospital masks were made of gauze fabric, and sufficiently effective to have been around for many years. Times change, and newer production technologies mean that more effective materials are now available for those running the highest risks.

However, like those earlier hospital masks, what ours do is provide some protection against droplets: protecting us from the droplets of others, and others from our droplets. For the small amount of time Dr B is out and about doing essentials, it’s enough for him. He meets criteria for two of the high-risk categories and is increasingly anxious about the casualness with which fellow citizens are behaving in our neighbourhood. He can’t do anything about their behaviour, only his own. This mask helps to give him some degree of comfort.

The fabric is a very old cotton from my inherited stash, lined with a softer cotton that’s a plain, dark colour. The pattern is something of a hack from many of the excellent tutorials out there in www land, particularly YouTube. Dr B has a large frame, which meant that I needed to get the size right. I’m not convinced I got the pleats right – perhaps I should have used the iron more judiciously – but the resulting mask is a comfortable fit. I needed to tweak the length of the elastic to ensure a close fit around his face, but that was all. Most tutorials recommend bag ties for the nose-grip, but I used pipe cleaner because that’s what I had. It works.

To our immense relief, all our Italian family members are safe at this time.

Wherever you are, I hope all your family members are safe, too.

Stay home. Wash your hands. And take care. 🙂

 

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Sunday arvo in the burbs

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Everything at my fingertips, and that waiting square now done 🙂

Big mug of jasmine tea, good book, phone (in case anyone calls), (slowly) growing pile of granny squares, excellent daylight for ease of both crocheting and sewing (increasing number of squares with ends tidied), pleasant temperature… what more could you want for an afternoon’s relaxing?

Dr B seemed to think I was having not merely a relaxing afternoon, but a lovely, relaxing day doing nothing at all but read a good book and crochet some more squares for the baby rug. Obviously it must have looked that way to him. But by the time he said that – patting my shoulder as he passed my chair – I’d dealt with three loads of laundry and chivvied YoungB into doing a load for himself. Believe me, if Dr B had dealt with all of that, you’d probably still be hearing about it wherever you are! No matter.

He spent at least half his day with his guitar, working on Classical Gas. He did a spot of bike maintenance (both pushbike and motorbike). He did a spot of gardening (pulled up three weeds, I think). He hunter-gathered for us so that we didn’t starve (a most unlikely outcome). That is, he generally took things a bit easy so that he’s refreshed for tomorrow’s pushbike ride.

YoungB was out on Friday night: first at soccer with a gaggle of friends, then a Fringe gig with an expanded gaggle, before staying overnight with one of them and coming home late, then rushing into town for a family lunch and later a catch-up with another mate. It was a busy day and he was exhausted by the end of it, so looking for a quieter day today. He did a load of laundry (see above) and a bit of pushbike prep for the week, but that was about the limit of his exertion.

I hope your weekend has also been pleasant and productive 🙂

 

 

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the broad inspiration

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Funeral pyre stuff, with Tyrian purple cape.

I hope those long-ago cast members don’t mind my sharing this, which I happened to find after I’d made my current version of the costume.

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Different, but definitely a close relative 🙂

If I’d allowed myself more time, I might have made something closer to this tunic style. I suspect that would also have required wider fabric. Most saliently, anything that required vast amounts of time was never going to happen. Right?! Right.

No more fancy dress nonsense now until Christmas. May your plans for that be making rather more progress than mine 🙂

 
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Posted by on December 3, 2019 in Sewing, Singing

 

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lamenting for thy hand, Belinda

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Re-creating an earlier costume and in part replicating the “lying on a funeral pyre” pose

I am not good at fancy-dress gigs. It’s historically verifiable that my Mum was very good at such things, even thrived on them. Occasionally, however, I don’t mind making the effort for a good cause. Themes are helpful but not always appealing. You might remember my long-ago agonising about what I could do that would be suitably jungly for a family birthday party!

This time, the theme was Queen for a Day. Many years ago, I shared the role of Dido in a production of Dido and Aeneas. The costume was not too extravagant, so I thought I could approximate it without too much effort. That’s what I did. I didn’t have any suitable old sheets, so I bought a length of cheap, narrow, cotton fabric. I folded it end to end, cut it, then sewed the selvages together, so that I had a piece of fabric about the right proportion to go around me twice and leave ends that could be tied at one shoulder. I didn’t hem anything, but I painted the edges of the resulting rectangle with a bronze fabric paint.

Tyrian purple being the name of the game for the real identifier, I bought a length of purple velvet (from the reduction table) and did nothing at all to it. When it came time to dress, I simply fastened the velvet to the front of the costume, and wrapped it around. I reckoned that later it would keep me warm (this proved to be a good plan). Although my original costume didn’t involve a crown of any sort, I decided that this costume would. I made a coronet from a metallic gold ribbon decorated with Phoenician-blue dots. Dr B insisted it needed a ruby. Of course, they’re the sorts of things I have lying around the house! I made do with a small stick-on red rosette.

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The idea’s the thing. Right?

Because I could – meaning that I still had them in my jewellery box – I wore the earrings that were part of my original Dido costume. The other Dido had slightly different earrings, which she described as hubcaps. Mine weren’t.

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More chandeliers than hubcaps, but they’ve survived remarkably well for cheap costume jewellery 🙂

May your long-ago bits and pieces now and then come in useful for theatrical purposes 🙂

 
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Posted by on November 25, 2019 in Family history, Sewing

 

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when you’re all a mob of crocks

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We recently tested the pergola, which doubles as our home gym. Even unfinished, it’s already a pleasant space for birthday celebrations.

So yesterday was Federal election day here in Australia. I tripped over at the polling booth and went sprawling. I smashed the glass in my watch, so you’d probably agree that it was a reasonably decent fall. Embarrassing, and because in front of so many people, no swearing allowed! The young couple who helped me up off the ground urged me to sit down and recover before I got going again, so there’s every chance I looked as rattled as I felt.

I’m happy to report that nothing was broken – other than the watch-glass, which has now been replaced – but I have a very swollen knee, lots of bruises and enough grazes to be messy. By the time we came home, I was hobbling so much (because of the swollen knee) that all I wanted to do was put my foot up on a chair with an ice pack that I could swap between my knee and various other aching bits of musculature.

Dr B has recently had some minor surgical procedures on both feet so, although he’s generally not too bad, by the end of the day he was also ready to sit down and put his feet up. Visiting cousins rocked up at the door, as they were going past anyway: she with both hands bandaged, he with one arm in a sling. We sat out under the pergola with a cuppa and admired Dr B’s handiwork – as you’d agree from what you can see in the photo, it’s a lovely space if a little chilly on a wintry day – all while commiserating each other on how much we hurt. 😀

I hope that you’re faring better, and that all your DIY projects produce such great results as Dr B’s most recent undertaking.

 

 
 

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catching up

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Dr B is making excellent progress with his creative task!

Isn’t it good when you share a meal with friends, and are able to catch up on everyone’s news? I don’t do it as often as I’d like. The Bs have far more of a cafe lifestyle than I do, mostly by virtue of their cycle outings (of whichever variety). Yesterday it was my turn with some old friends from my nursing days. One is still in the business, nowadays working as a midwife in a busy city hospital. The other has already retired. We met for our meal at a halfway-point eatery, and between swapping news of former colleagues and hearing about the exploits of children and grandchildren, a couple of hours passed swiftly and pleasantly.

The friend who is still in the business doesn’t live far from me, so we travelled together. She’s another who knits and sews, and would like to learn crochet but is time poor now. A particular joy of our homeward trip was our quick duck into a fabric store, one where we’re both VIP members. It’s not far from home for either of us, so barely even a detour. She was looking for something she could use to refresh the old, tired, three-panelled privacy screens in her hospital’s nursery. We bought some lovely animal-print curtaining (in both colourways, to be used alternately so that one side presents taupe, cream, taupe and the other side cream, taupe, cream). It should sew up beautifully and look a treat.

The style of curtaining uses stretch wires at top and bottom. I have recent experience with that, because I made a small, privacy curtain for YoungB, so that he wouldn’t be constantly disturbed by a neighbour’s sensor light going berserk. I used some old furnishing fabric and put a wire only at the top. That was mostly for haste, but also because YoungB’s cabin presents problems when you try to screw things into its walls. So, although my crochet projects might not be completed, I have had a small sewing success.

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Curtain in a hurry, with some installation challenges unmet. However, YoungB loves it because it keeps out enough light that he can sleep. That’s all it needs to do.

When my friend drove me home, we checked the progress of the Bs’ building work: as the top photo illustrates, they’re going great guns (and they were both working on it yesterday). They did some catching up, too, in their case with a chippie friend who is our unofficial consultant (he has lots of good, sensible advice for safely working alone and will be getting a slab of his favourite tipple when the project is done). YoungB will shortly have a run of almost a week off, so he’ll be a great help with the roofing. They ought then to catch up sufficiently with the work that we might have a fully-roofed pergola by the end of next week. Bonus. And exciting-issimo.

As I implied, I’m not caught up on all my crochet WIPs. The green market bag needs handles, but I have to count stitches at least a little bit so that the handles are centrally located. I have, however, just about finished a knee-rug for work! Yet again, it’s made with some of that 8-ply (DK) synthetic green yarn gifted to me by a friend, and more of my variegated scraps, held double. So it really is thick and, this time, it really is quite small. I think my starting chain was about 60. It will work fine in the office, which is where I intend to use it. I will catch up with finishing all of the other small bits and pieces, but not while I’m watching TV. For me, because of my poor eyesight, that’s sometimes a little trickier than simply dealing with a piece of repeating-pattern crochet. I can manage, “One treble, one chain,” ad infinitum! The photo is somewhat dull, but I think you’ll get the idea: a quick and easy pattern that produces a lovely, squishy finish.

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Scrappy stashbusting stuff. And small, but enough to cover my knees so that I don’t get too cold at the office.

I hope you’re also catching up with your crafty projects, and old friends.

 

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sew, wine bottle carriers?

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Bourbon bauble. Image copyright the Grove.

In the past, I have generally not been too “Bah, humbug” about Christmas. Nowadays the comparison tends to be to the Grinch, but in my neck of the woods that’s an alcoholic cocktail. In the interests of full disclosure, I advise that it’s currently the cocktail jug of the week at my local pub. I know that because I was there with YoungB the other night, having an after-work cocktail. We drank bourbon baubles (see image), whose main note is ginger, but the green looked appealing and equally refreshing. I’ll stick to Ebenezer Scrooge as my comparator, lest I confuse myself.

In any case, cocktails aside, what I’m trying to say is that in the past I have made a lot of effort not to be Scrooge. This year? OMG. It’s all too much. We have had an insanely busy year at work and there’s no end in sight, although we’ll down tools at the end of next week and not have to pick them up again for a fortnight. Now, if I could simply sleep for that fortnight, I might face 2019 with more equanimity than seems presently possible.

I’ve been fortunate enough to have had a round of workplace Christmas lunches that have been pleasant breaks from the office. But if you’re out having a good time, you’re not doing the urgent paperwork, even though you’re actually working. it’s a conundrum.

So, sewing? I wanted to make some shopping totes for various family members – that would be those for whom I haven’t crocheted anything – but, you won’t be surprised to hear, I have decided that wine bottle carriers are half the size and – being unlined in the version we use – considerably less effort. Dig out the owl hessian (burlap if that’s more meaningful) and stoke up a jug of green cocktail liquid: there has to be some sewing time in there somewhere!

Oh, I’m sure you’re all much better organised. But just in case you’re not, let me wish you good luck with all your making 🙂

 

 
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Posted by on December 15, 2018 in Crochet, Sewing

 

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