Monday, 28 October 2013
Inspired by my baby steps in embroidery on Carina's blog hop, I picked up this neglected Alphabet Sampler kit a few weeks ago. I bought it from Alicia Paulson's Rosy Little Things shop way back when. The kit sold out but if you are interested the pdf pattern is still available here.
I am in love with the base colour of the embroidery, and love that the design is screenprinted on to the fabric. It is helping me practice my embroidery stitches without too much thinking as the colours and stitches are all specified in the notes.
One thing I changed from the supplied kit was the needle. I found the short thin embroidery needle a pain and kept pricking myself. I wasn't enjoying it. I don't think that the work suffers for using a larger needle and it keeps me happy.
I'm also liking the embroidery crewel that comes with this, for those of you who haven't used it its a yarny sort of thread, different to the flosses I've used before, it doesn't separate as much as the floss and seems more immune to snarls, I like it. It looks much like the floss in the embroidery too, despite its woolly feel.
I've discovered too that embroidery is a great travel craft! Small, portable and involving minimal tools. Check! Perfect in fact for throwing in the bag as you walk out the door. Just the thing for our recent Hawks Nest trip.
I would be interested in knowing what needle the rest of you use. And your preference for floss or crewel? Or any clever advice. As usual, don't look too closely, and yes it is crumpled, from the travel you know!
Thursday, 24 October 2013
At last, some crafting to report! Well in actual fact there has been crafting all along, but not so much reporting.
A couple of weekends ago I got round to making Megan Neilsen's Banksia blouse pattern which I have had for over a year. I love the vintage style of this top, and the cute collar. Even better I found this lovely old thrifted fabric in my stash and knew they'd be perfect for eachother. I think its a cotton blend because it has stayed wonderfully uncrumpled, yet has a nice cotton feel to it.
I bought the Banksia and Darling Ranges patterns last year when Megan ran sewalongs for both on her blog. And while I didn't get round to joining in at the time I used all the sewalong notes in her archive and found them really useful. Megan's pattern instructions are very detailled, but I loved having her step by step photos to refer to as well.
Also useful were the many blog posts around the interwebs about making the Banksia pattern.
Some people mentioned in reviewing this pattern that they ended up lowering the bust darts. I made a muslin with this in mind, reading up on the dart and full bust adjustments which Megan explains on her site.
I was pleasantly surprised to find both unnecessary. In fact the sizing and design were pretty spot on for me though I did end up taking the sides in about half an inch each on each side.
Commercial pattern sizing rarely seem to fit my shape, which always surprises me as I think I'm fairly unremarkable and can easily buy clothes that fit. I often find these patterns either small in the chest and armscyces or too loose on the body. If I choose a large or medium I swim in it, but if I go with small it feels tight on my shoulders and I can't raise my arms!
I'm working up to learning a full bust adjustment, or even making a custom sloper or block to fit me and basing future sewing on that. There are some good instructions out there and some youtube videos about other adjustments. Has anyone done this before, I find the idea a bit intimidating but the instructions seem doable.
No buttons or buttonholes yet, I'm a bit scared of ruining it at this late stage! I will get around to it though, in fact I searched out matching vintage buttons from the stash and have chosen those beautiful brown ones on the right.
p.s. note to self, brush hair before taking selfie and work on gormless smile ;-) at least you get an idea of it on though!
I'm joining in with Christina today, my first time in her Made by Hand linkup.
Friday, 18 October 2013
If you are a long time reader you may remember this design which I first made as a t-shirt design.
Its always been a favourite of mine, I love the bright primary colours, and I'm not too sure why it has taken so long for me to make it into a print. Here it is at last, and I'm so pleased with how beautifully it has printed on the wonderful specialised thick matte card I use for my prints.
The primary colour scheme of blue and red and yellow would look great on a little boy's wall, or girl's. Especially those junior Bob the Builders amongst us!
As you can see I'm also offering personalisation of the print for a special custom gift, some special nursery art for a new baby perhaps?! I think they would make a lovely birthday or christmas gift too. Contact me if you have any requests for that wrench toting youngster in your life.
In the shop now!
I've also uploaded this design to my Flower Press shop on Society 6. You may remember last year I ordered a range of products and I was so pleased and impressed with the quality. Even better I ordered with one of their regular free shipping offers, so the prices were great!
So if you want a tool kit phone case, tote, cushion or canvas head over there.
Tuesday, 15 October 2013
Each season since then we have added and improved our vegie plots, eking a bit of sunny space here and there, and of course recently added our raised apple box planters. And one of the things our little inner city garden is best at is salad farming. We grow a wide range of salad ingredients now as you can see from the pic at the top.
Quick salad crops fit in well around our long summer holiday when the garden has to fend for itself and don't hog large parts of garden real estate for extended periods. And they fill that hungry gap between winter and summer crops quickly.
Also we eat salad five or six times a week, so its cost saving as well, unlike some crops I've grown before only to find a cheap glut of at the greengrocer when I'm harvesting my own.
It goes without saying that salad is a million times better with fresh produce, because its raw you can taste its wonderful freshness in every bite.
Did you know that leafy plants grow well in semi shade, if it fruits or roots it needs sun but many leafy plants will thrive in that shady spot in your garden, that's something I learned. And most of these plants will grow in pots happily too if you don't have available beds.
I'm no expert, I'm still learning vegie growing, but I'm a fan, and here's my thoughts on what I'm growing:
I think Cos lettuce is hard to grow well. It doesn't like leaf harvesting and often bolts to seed in our garden. Mesclun types like oak leaf, mignonette and butter lettuces on the other hand are real cut and come again heroes. And they look so pretty mixed together. I grow these from seed planted direct though I recently read they won't germinate in hotter conditions. This year I've been collecting my own seeds from plants allowed to go to seed, but an easy way to get new types is a mixed punnet from the local garden centre.
I found out this year that there are actually two types of rocket. The large leafed annual rocket and the smaller leafed perennial wild rocket. If you're not sure which type you have, salad has white flowers and larger leaves, and wild rocket yellow flowers and small serated leaves. This is my first year with wild and I will be interested to see how well the plants last. I usually make repeat sowings of the salad rocket as it bolts to seed quickly, and I do love its pretty flowers.
Peas and beans
I love purple beans for the decorative splash they bring the garden. Scarlet runner beans have great red flowers. Peas are hit and miss for me, but the plants I have in this year, from a few sowings, are looking good. Broad beans were a new crop last year and fresh broad (fava) beans are a revelation. They have none of the bitterness of bought pods and I pop them fresh into the salad as they are or steam them for a couple of minutes to soften. Delicious, I promise. Sow seed at the end of winter for a spring harvest.
Chard, Spinach, Kale
Chard is the ultimate backyard plant. A few plants give continuously for months and I use the small leaves in salads and the larger leaves in canneloni and quiches. Just recently I added kale to my repertoire and I love the ornamental qualities these plants have, and rumour has it they a superfood. They also grow forever. Baby spinach is delicious in salads, full of vitamins and the plants are a lovely splash of green.
A new addition to my salads this year is the beautiful red veined sorrel gifted to me as seedlings. It is such a pretty plant and the slightly lemony salad leaves are a lovely addition to the leaf mix.
Another gifted seedling, I love the colour of my purple cabbage plants, I've been harvesting young leaves and slicing them up before adding their slight crunch to the salad. Fingers crossed they make a head soon and I can have homegrown coleslaw!
Coriander is another bolter which is remedied by repeat plantings. The seeds are quick to come up and the small plants can just be sown in any available gaps. Basil we cheat and grow from one cheap punnet bought early in the season in its own dedicated pot, so pretty. Its a great addition to onion, tomato, fetta salads when we're out of lettuce. Mint is another great addition and freshens any salad. Nasturtium doesn't quite qualify as a herb but its peppery bite is a great addition.
I'm using the tiniest baby beet leaves in my salads and also grating in fully grown raw beetroot into salad or roasting them with a slick of olive oil.
After a few disappointing years trying to grow full size tomatoes, I've resigned myself quite happily to the realisation that in Sydney, with our fruit fly problems, small cherry or grape tomato plants are the safest and happiest in our garden. I like the way they keep a ready ongoing crop too, so you always have a couple of tomatoes when you need them. The tiny red tomatoes in my photo are from a plant that survived winter in a very protected spot against a north facing wall and is still producing. My other favourite is the yellow pear variety which is very prolific and has a long season, so long in fact I used it to make green tomato pickles last winter!
Radishes and carrots
The quickest crops, and a great splash of colour when sliced through your salad. Plant in repeat batches so you always have some on hand.
The spring onions in the top picture were actually regrown from cut off rooted ends from purchased spring onions. I'd read about this online and to my great pleasure it works. Just cut an inch off and poke them into the soil then harvest the green ends for cut and come again.
One other piece of advice I came across this year and have taken to heart is to plant something each week. Formerly I would have brief periods of action when I bought and planted everything at once. With this new method I am filling gaps as I go, after harvesting another crop, or if seed haven't come up or have failed to grow.
p.s. Aren't these vegie photos on Kate's blog beautiful.
Friday, 4 October 2013
With so much happening last term and the year speeding up, we were
So last week we headed off to stay in Hawks Nest, a coastal town a few hours north of Sydney we've never visited. Its a beautiful part of the world, like so much of the Australian coast. We really loved it and will definitely go back some time.
My highlight was seeing whales up close for the first time! We saw humpback whales off the beach twice! I've only ever seen them before as puffs of mist on the horizon, so it was a rare treat. The first time we turned into a coastal lookout in the National Park and suddenly there they were, flashes of white and black a few hundred metres out to sea. As the afternoon sun got lower they came in close and breached a couple of times, just shot up head first with fins waving.
Just before this Mr Flowerpress had narrowly missed standing on a common death adder, that scary looking snake above, it even hissed at him! So our next encounter with nature was a great distraction!
We felt really spoilt then when we turned up for our morning swim the next day and one was swimming at our beach with us. This time I actually got a photo of the whale's back as he made his way across the bay.
Another beautiful spot was Dark Point with sand dunes which stretch for hundreds of metres. Here's a pic of me and my beautiful boys imagining we are stranded in the Sahara! We had fun running up and sliding down all this beautiful soft sand.
The next afternoon we got out of the rain at Bingo at the Golf Club. I had to talk the family into it at first but once we got our Bingo Dabbers and sheets, and J won the first round they were hooked! We'll definitely be going again some time.
Add to that some long walks, fish and chips, local Chinese, a couple of op shops and some board game action and it was the perfect break. We are feeling recharged and (almost) ready for the busy times ahead.
I hope you all got some relaxing times, or have some planned for this long weekend. Are you a road tripper? Do you know any great places we should try? Preferably with whales and bingo, and no snakes!