Sunday, July 30, 2017

And that was my holiday

Unbelievably, my three weeks leave is now over, and I haven't done half the things on the list. I haven't done the tax returns, or put all the photos in the album, or cleaned out the cupboard under the stairs. I did clear out the "random documents" drawer beside the computer, and organised a thermal assessment of the house, which was depressing. A guy spent a few hours crawling into the roof and and checking the insulation (not much) and doing thermal imaging of skylights and doors and windows to check the gaps (massive). The big room has no roof insulation at all and there's no room for any to go in, and the whole house has far too much glass in proportion to the house - which is lovely, but thermally hopeless, and it will cost about $50k to double glaze it all. Which is quite a lot of money. We don't know what we'll do but I think it might involve thermal underwear .... which is where our furry snuggly blanket on the couch comes in - yes Pam, we do have quilts as well, but cotton quilts cannot compare to the delight of four square metres of fake fur. It is awesome.

I went down to the beach on Tuesday following the moving men with our old sofa and armchair - we realised it was only slightly more expensive to get them to take it to the coast than to take it to the tip ... so the sofa and chair are down there now and we will retire some of the old recliners we got with the house. I then stayed down for four glorious days on my own. Didn't get lonely, didn't get bored, just did a lot of my uni assignment, ate what I wanted, went for lots of walks and did some sewing as well. It was lovely.

Very hard to come back, but I did, and went for a cold windy run around the lake this morning. Which was considerably livened up by the Santa Speedo Shuffle. Nothing like fit looking young men in budgie smugglers and santa hats to take your mind off your own athletic pain.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Hipster vintage retro cushions

When I was in Hobart I had a look through some pretty cool shops that sold all sorts of groovy homeware things. Way groovier than I could ever be, but I like to look. So when the new couch needed some new cushions I let the boys pick some covers, and I picked some covers, and then I remembered that I'd seen cushions in one of the Hobart shops made out of old commemorative tea towels. Hang about! I thought to myself. I have crap tons of old commemorative tea towels ... because Nana Joan did a lot of travelling and was partial to a nice linen tea towel, and I have them now for some reason that is not altogether clear to me.

Anyway this is the purchased cushion section of the sofa. I chose the fur one, number one son chose the plain one and number two son chose the stripy one. We already had the herringbone fur throw. It is in constant use, between me, the children, and the pets.

This is the hipster vintage retro section of the sofa. There is one rectangular New Zealand Birds cushion, and two square "Australian 1976" commemorative cushion. I am fairly confident Nana Joan went to Australian in 1976 - probably with her church, they did a lot of group trips - and this is from then. They are backed in a natural linen, so as not to detract from the awesomeness of the tea towels. I did fully intend to do piping around the edge like the ones in the shop I saw but I don't have a zipper or piping foot for this machine, and it was just too difficult without one. But I think they hold their own.

Should I do more? I have Australian Birds, Lake Windemere, two from Papua New Guinea, another New Zealand Birds, one with all the flags of the Country Women's Institute countries, Australian Flowers, Norfolk Island and Birds of the Countryside, which includes a wren and a pied flycatcher, so I'm thinking England again. They are all marked "pure linen" or "Irish linen" - I don't even know if you can get linen tea towels any more. I can't imagine using them to actually do the dishes.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Some boring photos

First up is a very boring photo that I took at the beach - off-white carpet in a room painted ivory! Wow! The room gets zero natural light so we thought we would keep everything nice and pale. It does look much better with carpet in it, and much warmer. Now for furniture - cramming as many random boxes from IKEA as we can into the car each time we go down. Stylish no, economical yes. I hemmed the curtains after I took this photo, they are now above the carpet and straight. Well, straight-ish.

And this is the result of some winter gardening this morning. Chopping, pruning, coppicing, pollarding and trimming. And pulling dead things up. I gave the roses a very solid chopping, which they will probably be OK with, but the lamandras and the hakea might be a bit grumpier. But I like to see an empty-ish winter landscape with lots of room for nice things to grow back in spring. Hopefully.

I have kept going at a mad pace all week but I don't feel like I've accomplished anything. Lots of invisible tasks like re-hemming the curtain in the dressing room because it was fraying, hanging the last pictures from the hallway re-paint that have been poked under the spare bed for over a year, doing the tax return and organising the electrician to get the exhaust fan replaced. Once that's done I can re-paint the bathroom ceiling because it's gone mouldy with no ventilation... the fun never stops. I have also taken eight bags of clothes to the salvos, had two lunches with friends and spent FIVE HOURS with number two son getting an MRI on his ankle. His appointment was for 1.00 pm and they finally took him in at half past four. It was a free one at the public hospital so hard to be too cross about being bumped for lots of emergencies ... but it was a very long and boring afternoon. We will go and see the doctor in a week or two and get the results.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

A finished quilt!

Would you believe it, I have actually gone and finished a quilt. After being sidetracked by trivia like work, family, study and weaving I felt the pull of the sewing room and I finished off this scrap number that I pieced months ago.

Not very exciting - scrap blocks and half square triangles - it was when I was in my "use it all up" mood and there were SO MANY scrap blocks in the drawer. This didn't make the tiniest dent of course. I also want to use up one of the two rolls of batting in the sewing room because they take up so much space ... that's a pretty strange reason to make a quilt isn't it. But a very good reason for actually finishing one off! There are another couple in the queue and I plan to get to them soon.

Straight line quilting, several inches apart, all very utilitarian. It is called "Ten Dollars a Day" because I was grocery shopping yesterday at Aldi and actually thinking that, if I had to and it was just me, I could feed myself on ten dollars a day, which it takes me less than ten minutes to earn. Isn't that ridiculous? When has food ever been that cheap? It wouldn't be very fancy food, but I could keep body and soul together. I was thinking this as I piled in the completely unnecessary smoked trout and soft cheese and beer....

I am currently half way through three weeks' leave. We are so quiet in the midwinter break at work that I'm taking leave again like I did last year (although not so much of it this time) and trying to catch up on domestic chores. This morning I went to the butchers to order a ham for Saturday's Christmas in July party, the hardware for a new exhaust fan and a hair trap for the shower, the mall to pick up some photos to put in the album and some cushion inserts for the covers I am going to make for the new sofa, I've just hung out the washing and now I'm off to the chemo ward for the regular injection and then into town to meet a friend for lunch. This afternoon I will attempt to make an intelligent contribution to the on-line tutorials we have to do for the uni course, some more of the reading for the assignment, then take number two son off to the first rehearsal for his new production and cook the dinner. Who has time to work? I mean really?

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Holiday week

It's the second week of the school holidays and we have had a lovely few days at the beach. The boys bitched and moaned of course because they cannot live without internet ... but once we were there they were fine. The weather was beautiful - cold but clear. And not nearly as cold as Canberra, although we had a few nights down to zero.

We went for walks along the beach, visited the sting rays and the pelicans, had back yard fires with bacon and fried bread, and drove an hour up to Ulladulla one day to poke around. And see beautiful Mollymook beach - I hadn't been there since 1995. It hasn't changed much. Some keen beans were swimming or surfing but far too cold for me. We went up the light house and watched for whales for a while - saw some not too far out flipping and flopping! It is very exciting when you see the first spout, then a tail, or a fin, or whatever they call them. We didn't have binoculars but still got a good look at them. Next time we will be more prepared (beanie and scarf against the wind! And binoculars) and stay a bit longer.

I also made a skirt, in keeping with my new resolution that the coast will be for garment sewing. My new loom is completely not portable and I find it too hard to drag patchwork up and down to the beach. I always forget what I'm working on. So the coast is where I keep my patterns and dressmaking stuff. It's not like I need clothes at all, it's just to keep me occupied, so no harm if I pick at things slowly over the months. I quite enjoyed making the skirt although it's very plain - I will take a photo when I wear it. These are the boys on the breakwater at Ulladulla. It was such a beautiful day.

And here are the pelicans down at the boat ramp. Just to the left of us is the fish gutting table, so you can throw your fish guts and heads into the water for the pelicans to take. They can't pick them up off dry land though - we know because we watched them try, it is quite funny to watch - and the seagulls get those ones.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Two cotton scarves

Here are the two scarves I made from the five-metre mercerised cotton warp. Again, 24 epi and a simple pointed draft. The one on the left is plain weave, and the one on the right is a twill that goes one way then the other, which gives a sort of zigzag effect. 

Here's a close up of the twill one. The warp is just one colour - a pale blue. Weaving is so different from quilting with colours. You don't have to think about whether the colours match each other because they are not next to each other, they are actually mixed in together. Perhaps more like painting? I don't know, I don't paint.

Here is the plain weave one. I did different warps to mirror the weft - a thin green stripe, then pink, then blue, then a fat purple stripe and back again. It is quite light and dainty because again I think the 24 epi is too far apart for a plain weave in this cotton. Live and learn!

I used my new fringe twister to finish off the fringes. So much fun! And it's nice to have a professional finish. To be honest I don't know if it's much faster than doing little plaits, but I like the look of it. The fringe twister has instructions for adding beads and things to the fringe which sounds like fun ... maybe next time.

And here is it sitting on our new IKEA sofa. After 17 years of hard use we have finally gotten rid of the old one and found something new to sit on. It is very boring and is an enormous corner IKEA sofa in beige! Could we get any less exciting. But it is super comfortable and it was heaps of fun to put together. My husband stayed out of the way and removed the packaging while number one son did the tricky things with bolts and screws and I wrestled the cushions into the covers. Teamwork! We definitely had a feeling of satisfaction at the end. Getting rid of the old sofa it proving a problem though - we would be  happy to let it go for free to anyone who wants to come and pick it up but so far no takers. We might have to pay someone to take it away....

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

More from Hobart

The rest of the course went really well - I think I learnt something but it's hard to know what really sinks in. We have to do two written papers over the next few months - one smaller and one longer - so that will be the proper test. I'm using this as an expiriment to see if I want to do further study. I've been tossing up the last few years whether I do some post-graduate work, but I've always chickened out. It's hard when the kids are younger - although I know people do it - and whenever I get some spare time I would rather do something crafty than intellectual! But I shall see how the research part goes and if it's OK I might take it further. It's not going to make a blind bit of difference to my "career" so I really do have to want to do it for its own sake.

This is a house in Arthur Circus in Battery Point - I did a self-guided historic walking tour on our free day. Such funny tiny houses but apparently very expensive now. There are lots of lovely old houses, with beautiful views to the water.

This is the Aurora Australis - the icebreaker - much bigger than I thought it would be! I always thought antarctic boats were little tugboat things but that is, now I think about it, quite stupid. The only thing I know is that I will never set foot on it, unless it is dry dock, and maybe not even then.

And here are Tasmanians doing what Tasmanians do - sipping organic chai latte and listening to a three piece band outside an old theatre at a farmer's markets. I had a wonderful vegetarian empanada and sampled various cheeses. Awesome. Back to Canberra and work and reality today.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Hello Hobart!

Oh dear, another week since I posted! I've finished the next two mercerised cotton scarves but I can't take any photos because I am holed up in Hobart this week. Just when you think you can't get any further at the arse end of the world you wind up in Tasmania ... but I am not disrespecting it at all because it is a lovely city. I am doing a parliamentary law and procedure course at the university of Tasmania which sounds a bit dry but is actually quite interesting. There are a couple of dozen people doing the course and we all work in various parliaments in Australia and NZ, so it's kind of like a university course and kind of like a professional development course. Which is good - relevant mostly and lots of like-minded people to swap geeky stories with.

They're keeping us fairly hard at it but Hobart is small enough to be able to go for a walk at lunchtime and after lectures and see quite a bit. Above is Salamanca - a largely intact Georgian waterfront - convict labour and a very dodgy history but now all art galleries and hipster bars. Of course. Hobart managed to avoid a lot of unrestrained development in the twentieth centurty (poverty and neglect rather than good decisions, although I may be doing it a disservice) and is now very lovely to my Canberra eyes. 

We have been spending some time in Parliametn House as well as the university - it was originally the customs house and built in 1830 before becoming the parliament in 1856. It is much less ornate than the Victorian Parliament which is full-on mid-19th century neo-classical and has pillars and columns all over it. This is much more charming. Although very inconvenient, and most business is carried on in dodgy 1960s extensions. 

We have a free day tomorrow (Sunday) and I'm going to wander around some more and see what I can see. You would think there would be some wool shops and weaving shops but I can't seem to find much ... or nothing that's open on a Sunday. I'll start at the farmer's markets and see where my feet take me!